This amazing photo is from a glass plate negative we recently purchased, and shows a Chicago Union Traction streetcar RPO (railway post office) unpowered trailer car. CUT existed between 1899 and 1908, which helps date the photo. This car may previously have been a cable car trailer, before being pressed into mail service.
Instead of trains, planes, and automobiles, today we have a generous helping of classic bus, trolley, and train images courtesy of noted transit historian William Shapotkin. We thank Bill very much for sharing these with our readers. Even if you are not a huge fan of buses per se, and some electric traction fans aren’t, you still may appreciate seeing some of these locations, which offer views that you typically don’t see here on this blog. Many are contemporary to other streetcar pictures we have run, and show what types of equipment the CTA was running along with the “L” cars and streetcars that we often feature.
On the other hand, if you do like rubber-tired vehicles, then “hop on the bus, Gus!” And even if you don’t, chances are there are still plenty of railed vehicles here to keep you happy.
Please note: All photos in this section are from the collections of William Shapotkin.
This photo shows an old wooden Met car on the CTA’s Kenwood shuttle in the 1950s. The view looks east from the Indiana Avenue station. The south side main line continues off to the right. Service on the Kenwood branch ended in 1957.
This image, showing CTA bus 3676 on Route 82A, was not identified, but it clearly shows the Logan Square “L” terminal with connecting bus transfer area in the early 1960s.
CTA buses at the Western and 79th loop.
The old South Shore Line station in Gary, Indiana in July 1984. (Paul Johnsen Photo)
CTA Route 59 bus 5610 is at 59th and State on April 26, 1972.
CTA trolley bus 9392 is at the Montrose and Narragansett loop in 1965. This loop has since been removed.
A Metra train stops at the Mont Clare station on the former Milwaukee Road West Line on April 13, 1999. The original station at this location was demolished in 1964, and my father and I sifted through the rubble. We found several tickets, some dating back to the 1880s, which we donated to a local historical society. As far as I know, these are still on display at the Elmwood Park Public Library.
Chicao, IL: looking south on Holden Court (under the south side “L”) toward grade-separated crossing with the St. Charles Air Line from 15th Street in March 2000. (William Shapotkin Photo)
The Roosevelt Road streetcar extension, crossing the Illinois Central on its way back from the Field Museum and Soldier Field. The date is unknown, but service ended in 1953.
CTA 518 at Halsted and 75th on February 22, 1954. Streetcar service on Halsted ended three months later. (James J. Buckley Photo)
CTA 652 and 678 pass each other at Halsted and 75th on February 22, 1954. (James J. Buckley Photo)
CTA 6148 at Halsted and 75th on February 22, 1954. (James J. Buckley Photo)
Chicago Aurora & Elgin 434 at the Seashore Trolley Museum in July 1963.
A Chicago Aurora & Elgin freight train at National Street in Elgin. The style of Kodachrome slide mount dates this picture to between 1955 and 1959. (Although passenger service ended in 1957, freight continued for nearly two more years.)
CSL 5130. Bill Shapotkin adds, “This is an E/B 31st car, having just crossing under the South Side ‘L’. View looks west (from Wabash).” We ran another picture of 5130 on the same route on our previous post Spring Forward (April 19, 2018).
CSL 5154. Bill Shapotkin adds, “This is a W/B 31st car at State St (South Side “L” in background). View looks east.” Again, we previously ran another picture of this same car on the same route in our post Spring Forward (April 19, 2018).
CTA bus 2566 is at 119th and Western, running on Route 49A.
CTA bus 5723 is at the Western and 79th loop, probably in the 1960s.
CTA bus 6541 is at the Western and 79th loop in 1953. Meanwhile, a postwar PCC (built by the St. Louis Car Co.) goes around the loop. Streetcar service on Western ended in June 1956. Jeff Wien writes, “The caption states that it is 1953 in this photo. I would guess 1948 not long after the loop opened. There is virtually no landscaping anywhere and the sidewalks look like they were recently laid. Later pictures of this loop showed green grass and bushes which was typical of CTA loops until they decided to asphalt over everything (ie: Clark-Arthur loop).” Andre Kristopans: “Bus 6541 at 79th/Western is definitely soon after loop opened. After 79th was converted, this spot is where 79th buses loaded, and 49A’s loaded about three bus lengths back, on the left side of the driveway (see 2578 shot following for new location).”
CTA bus 2578, running on Route 49A, is at the Western and 79th loop. When PCCs were introduced to Western Avenue in 1948, buses were substituted on the north and south ends of the line, which were spun off into extensions of Route 49. New loops were built, this being the one on the south end of the line.
CTA bus 5066 is turning north from Leland onto Western, running Route 49B in 1958. Here, riders could change to the Ravenswood “L”, today’s Brown Line. The station has since been rebuilt. Jeff Wien adds, “I believe that the photo of CTA 5066 at Western & Leland was taken in 1956 rather than 1958 as stated in the caption. Route 49 was converted to motor bus in June 1956. The photo shows the streetcar tracks still exposed as well as the overhead wires in place. I would imagine that the wires would have been removed by 1958, and I seem to recall that the City paved Western Avenue not long after the streetcars were removed. The City built the obnoxious overpass at Western and Belmont shortly after the streetcars were removed in 1956.”
Passengers board CTA bus 5470 at the Western and Berwyn loop on Chicago’s north side. Route 49B was the northern extension of the Western line.
CTA bus 3528 is on Route 54B (South Cicero) on Cicero at 26th, circa the late 1950s.
CTA bus 2543 is heading east on 103rd Street at Longwood Drive on Route 103 (103rd-106th Streets) in the late 1950s. The building directly behind the bus is now occupied by a Starbucks. Our resident south side expert M. E. writes, “Not showing in this picture (because of the trees) is Chicago’s only castle, on the northwest corner of 103rd and Longwood. (Longwood is at the bottom of the “hill”. Did you know: The land atop the “hill” is geologically called Blue Island? It begins north of 87th St. where the Dan Ryan’s Woods toboggan slide was.)” On the other hand, Stu Slaymaker says, “The shot of ACF-Brill bus that is labeled, 103rd and Longwood, was actually taken at 111th and Longwood. My old neighborhood. Out of the picture behind the photographer, is the R. I. Suburban Line Morgan Park-111th station. The used car lot on the right corner, was a Texaco station in the 1960s. The trees are so lush, you can’t see the Walker Branch Library, at the top of the hill.”
CTA 3449 is on Route 31 (31st Street). Not sure which cross street the streetcar is on.
CSL 3425 is on Route 31 (31st Street) at Pitney Court. However, the date provided (1946) must be wrong, since this line was not converted to bus until February 29, 1948. (Thanks to Daniel Joseph for pointing that out.)
CTA 5493 is heading south from the Western and Berwyn loop, on Route 49B (North Western). This picture was taken after streetcar service ended in 1956, as the tracks appear to already be paved over and overhead wires removed.
On August 9, 1953 CTA bus 5306 heads west on Route 6 – Van Buren Street at Racine, next to new temporary Garfield Park “L” trackage that went into service the following month. at right, you can see the existing “L” structure, which was torn down the following year.
CTA bus 5499 is at DesPlaines Avenue terminal in Forest Park, running on Route 17 – Westchester, which replaced the Westchester “L” in 1951.
CTA 2365 is operating on Route 58 – Ogden at 26th and Cicero Avenue in the late 1950s.
CTA 6814 is on 115th Street at Michigan Avenue on Route 115 in the 1960s. Bill Shapotkin adds, “This view (correctly identified as 115th/Michigan) looks east.”
CTA 2718 and 2734 at 74th and Damen.
CTA 3620 at 54th Avenue in
CTA 3620 at 54th Avenue in Cicero, the end of the line for the Douglas Park “L” (now the Pink Line).
CTA 2603 at 119th and Western, the south end of Route 49A.
CTA 6532 at the Western and 79th loop, running on Route 79.
Chicago & West Towns 848 at the DesPlaines Avenue CTA terminal on August 7, 1980. The second overpass, behind the bus, was for the Chicago Great Western freight line. That bridge and tracks have since been removed. (Ronald J. Sullivan Photo)
Westbound Rock Island train #113 at the 91st Street depot on April 5, 1970. Our resident south side epert M. E. adds, “The caption says this view is “at the 91st Street depot.” Not quite. The view faces north. The train is curving from west (along 89th St.) to south. Notice the railroad crossing signals and gates in the background. That trackage joined with the CRI&P traffic to the east. On that trackage ran the B&O Capitol Limited on its way to Washington DC, as captured in https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/proofs288.jpg , although in that photo the Capitol Limited is inbound to Chicago.”
The interlocking levers at the 91st Street Rock Island Tower on July 3, 1969.
The lineup board at the Rock Island 91st Street Tower on July 3, 1969.
The interlocking levers at the Rock Island’s 61st Street Tower on January 5, 1969.
Tower man Roy Bliss and Assistant Tower man Jack Poehron are flagging all trains by the burned-out Rock Island 61st Street Tower on April 20, 1967. The wooden tower had opened in 1898.
Rock Island train #11 (with engine #621) passes the burned-out 61st Street Tower on April 20, 1967, the day after the fire. 61st was the end of the four-track section running from LaSalle Street Station in downtown Chicago.
Rock Island train #19, as seen from the 61st Street Tower.
Rock Island 61st Street Tower on December 8, 1968. (Looking north at movable point crossing- RI “in” (L), NYC “out” (R).
The Rock Island 91st Street Tower on April 5, 1970.
The Rock Island’s 91st Street Tower, where the railroad crossed the PRR “Panhandle” route, as it looked on August 17, 1974. As you can see, the tower has received a new coat of paint since the last picture.
Baltimore & Ohio #5, the Capitol Limited, passing by the Beverly Junction Tower one hour and 50 minutes late, on April 5, 1970.
CTA bus 8829 is at Ashland and 95th in 1973. Daniel Joseph adds, “If the destination sign is reliable, I believe this bus is on the #45 Ashland Downtown and not on #9 Ashland.”
CTA 2528 is at Ogden and Cermak on Route 58 on April 29, 1961. Bill Shapotkin adds, “Yes, this is indeed Cermak/Ogden — the view looks west.”
CTA 5863 at the Ashland and 95th Street terminal, south end of Route 9, on June 20, 1973. (John Le Beau Photo)
Chicago & West Towns bus 777 at the CTA DesPlaines Avenue terminal on March 17, 1974. The terminal has since been redone. The two sets of stairs on DesPlaines Avenue appear to provide a way for pedestrians to cross a busy street where there are no stoplights. (John Le Beau Photo)
CTA “New Look” bus 9441, running on Route 17 – Westchester, is at the DesPlaines terminal on June 28, 1977. Since the previous picture was taken, the set of stairs on the west side of DesPlaines Avenue has been removed. Since the other stair still appears to be in use, it seems as though the CTA decided to extend the walkway to the platform area, so that commuters would not need to go up and down so many stairs.
CTA 9461 is at Catalpa and Broadway, operating on Route 84 – Peterson on September 1, 1980. (Ronald J. Sullivan Photo)
CTA 8417 is on Route 17 – Westchester in June 1971. (John Le Beau Photo)
PACE 6338 is heading south on Harlem Avenue on Route 305, having just gone under the CTA Green Line “L” in December 2012. (Mel Bernero Photo)
PACE 6225 heads west on Route 309 – Lake Street at Harlem Avenue. To the left, just out of view, is the former Marshall Field’s store in Oak Park, a local landmark. It later housed a Border’s bookstore, now also gone. This photo must have been taken a few years ago, as you would see some new tall buildings if you took the same picture today. Unable to move outward, Oak Park is moving “up.” (John Le Beau Photo)
CTA 2527 is at 25th and Laramie in Cicero, the west end of Route 58 – Ogden. The date appears to be the late 1950s.
Chicago & West Towns buses 839 and 804 are laying over in the middle of the street at Cermak and 47th Street in January 1979. This is near the border between Cicero and Chicago, and also adjacent to the old Western Electric plant.
RTA bus 8107 at the West Towns bus garage in oak Park on April 12, 1981. (John Le Beau Photo)
RTA 8049 at the West Towns garage in Oak Park on May 28, 1978. This is now the site of a Pete’s Fresh Market. (Ronald J. Sullivan Photo)
PACE bus 2092 is exiting from the CTA DesPlaines Avenue terminal in April 1992. Where the bus is, was once the approximate location of Chicago Great Western freight tracks, which spanned DesPlaines Avenue via a bridge and then connected with the Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal tracks. That portion of the old CGW right-of-way between here and First Avenue has been paved, and provides a connection to the Prairie Path, which starts at First Avenue.
CTA 1806 is on Route 84 – Peterson at Western Avenue on April 21, 1957. (Michael N. Charnota Photo)
This slide was labeled “Oak Park,” but actually, it’s on the border between Elmwood Park and River Grove. PACE bus 22550 is heading west on Grand Avenue, going over the long crossing of the Metra Milwaukee District West Line on route 319 on May 8, 1993. There has een much talk over the years of grade-separating these tracks, where some accidents have occurred, but so far nothing has come of it. (Ronald J. Sullivan Photo)
RTA bus 496 is at the Brookfield Zoo on December 11, 1977. Andre Kristopans adds, “Bus 496 is on an OSA (Omnibus Society of America) charter. Note the “9” covered with tape.” (John Le Beau Photo)
RTA bus 8044 is at the old West Towns garage in Oak Park in March 1983.
CTA bus 4580 heads west on Harrison at Springfield on March 7, 1991.
CTA bus 1112 is at 115th and Perry in February 1983.
South Suburban Safeway Lines bus 702 is northbound at 119th and Western, probably around 1970. Our resident south side expert M. E. adds, “South Suburban Safeway Lines went north on Western to 63rd, then east to Halsted, the heart of Englewood. Actually, east to Union, south to 63rd Place, and west to the L station at Halsted and 63rd Place, where it ended its northbound run. Southbound, it first took Halsted north to 63rd, then west to Western, etc. The other thing to notice in this picture is that Western Ave. was not as wide south of 119th. This is because the Chicago city limit is 119th, and south of that is Blue Island.”
South Suburban Safeway Lines 714 on Western at 79th on October 4, 1975. (Michael N. Charnota Photo)
CTA 871, running on Route 49B North Western, is at the Western Avenue stop on the Ravenswood “L” in June 1973. (Michael N. Charnota Photo)
CTA 5567 is on Western near 63rd Street on April 20, 1972 (Route 49). Our resident south side expert M. E. adds, “Notice Cupid Candies on one corner and Fannie May Candies across the street.” Jeff Weiner adds, “CTA 5567 appears to be at Western and 62nd, as the City maintained a traffic signal there for the Sears store. Until a closed-loop system was installed, the 62nd signal operated fixed-time during store hours, and went on yellow-red flash when the store was closed. After it was modernized, the operation was semiactuated, with coordination to the other signals on Western. Until it was modernized, the median signals were on concrete “blockbuster” foundations, replaced with mast arm signals afterwards.”
CTA 5978 is at the Western and 79th loop on June 20, 1973. (Ronald J. Sullivan Photo)
CTA Pullman 312 on Kedzie. Bill Shapotkin adds, “Car is working #52 — Kedzie-California and is laying over in California at Roscoe. View looks north.”
CTA Pullman 444 at Armitage and California in January 1950.
CTA one-man car 6184 at Lawrence and Luna in 1949.
CTA 336, in June 1952, is on California Avenue at Augusta Boulevard.
Chicago Surface Lines 474 is on Belmont at Clark in May 1947.
CSL 1644 is on Route 6 at Division and California in May 1942. The Divison and Van Buren car lines were through-routed starting in 1937.
CTA 5574 at an unknown location. Jon Habermaas writes, “Photo appears to be on the Halsted route where the line is on private right of way along Vincennes Ave., paralleling the Rock Island mainline… in the background you can see the Washington Heights Rock Island depot and a cross buck along the Pennsy’s Panhandle division, which crosses Vincennes Avenue and the Rock Island just south of 103rd Street. The car would be around 104th and Vincennes Ave.” Our resident south side expert M. E. adds, “Mr. Habermaas’s description is accurate. I will add that this private right of way started at 89th St., just south of the CRI&P Beverly branch viaduct, and ended around 107th St. where Vincennes veered farther west from the CRI&P main line. And more historically, this right-of-way originated for the Kankakee car, which had its barn at 88th and Vincennes and ran on Halsted as far north as Englewood.” Andre Kristopans: “Car 5574 SB at 105th or so. You can just make out the 104th RI station in the back, and PRR crossbuck to the right in the distance.” (Robert W. Gibson Photo)
CTA 1749, one of the few old streetcars repainted in green, is at Cermak and State in January 1954, running on Route 21. Note the steam engine in the background.
CTA prewar PCC 4038 is eastbound on 63rd Street. PCCs ran on this line between 1948 and 1952. If the address on the building is any guide, this is probably 122 East 63rd Street.
Illinois Central Electric bi-level car 1514 at the Blue Island Yards on April 23, 1978.
CTA trolley bus 9553 is on its last run, a fan trip held on April 1, 1973. Here it is on Fullerton Avenue near the Milwaukee Road freight line. This was one week after trolley buses were taken out of service.
CTA Marmon-Herrington trolley bus 535 at North and Cicero.
Recent Site Addition
This photo was added to our previous post More Mystery Photos (July 29, 2016):
BEDT 0-6-0 #16 in Brooklyn, NY on October 9, 1982.
Chicago Subway Lecture
Samuel D. Polonetzky makes a point during his presentation at the Chicago Maritime Museum on July 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
On July 25 2018, Samuel D. Polonetzky, P.E., B.Sc. gave a presentation before the Underwater Archaeological Society of Chicago, of which he is a member. The topic was “Crossing of the Chicago River by the State Street Subway.” He showed actual motion pictures of the construction of the Subway in 1938-40.
Mr. Polonetzky is a Civil Engineer who served the City of Chicago, Department of Streets & Sanitation for thirty five years, rising from Engineer-In-Training to Acting Chief Engineer. During this tenure he acquired a deep knowledge of Chicago’s public rights-of-way and the underground infrastructure. He is also an active member of the Illinois Railway Museum at Union IL and a Life Member of the American Public Works Association.
The Underwater Archaeological Society of Chicago meets in the Chicago Maritime Museum located in the Bridgeport Arts Center, 3400 S. Racine Av. Chicago Ill. 60609.
The film shown is called Streamlining Chicago (1940), and you can watch it here:
Pre-Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways
There are three subway anniversaries this year in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.
While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960
Building Chicago’s Subways will be published on October 1, 2018. Order your copy today, and it will be shipped on or about that date. All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
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Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
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