Reflections in a Golden Wye

This photo, showing a mirror at the North Shore Line's Milwaukee terminal, was taken on January 21, 1963 (after abandonment) by Allan Y. Scott for the Milwaukee Journal. You can see the photographer in the picture, apparently using a Leica M2 or M3. This picture came from the collection of the late John Horachek. Rather than being a double exposure, it seems like the ghostly image of an Electroliner was applied to the mirror using a stencil and a product known as Glass Wax.

This photo, showing a mirror at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee terminal, was taken on January 21, 1963 (after abandonment) by Allan Y. Scott for the Milwaukee Journal. You can see the photographer in the picture, apparently using a Leica M2 or M3. This picture came from the collection of the late John Horachek. Rather than being a double exposure, it seems like the ghostly image of an Electroliner was applied to the mirror using a stencil and a product known as Glass Wax.

For today’s post, we are going back in time, often even further back in time than we usually do, to feature some important historical images. Each one is like a small ray of light, that form a beacon when taken together, illuminating the past, like the reflections in a mirror.

It’s the earliest, and oldest pictures that are the hardest to find. So, we’ve had to redouble our efforts to seek them out.

In addition, we have important news about our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s. We recently received a small number of “author’s copies” from the publisher, and the book is now a reality. We hope you will like the results.

Our initial order is on the way to us, and we are confident that we will soon begin shipping out books to our contributors and everyone who has ordered one in our pre-sale. All such books should be in the post prior to the July 12 release date.

More information about Chicago’s Lost “L”s, including how to order, can be found at the end of this post, or you can click on the link at the top of this page to go to our Online Store.

We would like to thank Kevin Horachek, Andre Kristopans, and William Shapotkin for their contributions to this post.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

As a practical matter, color photography didn't exist in 1910, which is the postmark date of this postcard showing the Lake Street "L" at ground level in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago's west side. The view looks west from Central Avenue along South Boulevard (or, more appropriately, Lake Street, since the name did not change until the line reached suburban Oak Park). The "L" was extended there in 1901. This colorized photo may date to a bit before 1910, though, as by then, the Chicago & North Western trains, which ran parallel to the "L", had already been raised onto the embankment where the "L" joined them in 1962. This is a westbound train, as Lake Street ran left handed in those days (as did the C&NW).

As a practical matter, color photography didn’t exist in 1910, which is the postmark date of this postcard showing the Lake Street “L” at ground level in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s west side. The view looks west from Central Avenue along South Boulevard (or, more appropriately, Lake Street, since the name did not change until the line reached suburban Oak Park). The “L” was extended there in 1901. This colorized photo may date to a bit before 1910, though, as by then, the Chicago & North Western trains, which ran parallel to the “L”, had already been raised onto the embankment where the “L” joined them in 1962. This is a westbound train, as Lake Street ran left handed in those days (as did the C&NW).

The same location today. This portion of Lake Street was renamed to Corcoran Place in the mid-1960s, to honor the late Chicago Alderman in this area, who was a close friend of Mayor Richard J. Daley. Lake Street used to run north and south of the two railroads here for a few blocks between Pine Avenue and Austin Boulevard. There were no duplicate street numbers.

The same location today. This portion of Lake Street was renamed to Corcoran Place in the mid-1960s, to honor the late Chicago Alderman in this area, who was a close friend of Mayor Richard J. Daley. Lake Street used to run north and south of the two railroads here for a few blocks between Pine Avenue and Austin Boulevard. There were no duplicate street numbers.

I recently purchased this turn-of-the-century photo showing a Chicago Union Traction streetcar on the Lincoln Avenue line. CUT existed from 1899 to 1908, when it was absorbed into Chicago Railways. Sharpshooter's Park is where Riverview Amusement Park opened in 1904, which narrows down the time of this photo to circa 1899-1903. But the car itself looks like the "Matchbox" type, which was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1903. Car 1374 in this series has been restored and is at the Illinois Railway Museum. In 2015, the body of car 1137 was found in Wisconsin, where it had been used as an addition to someone's house. It is now in Grass Lake, MI.

I recently purchased this turn-of-the-century photo showing a Chicago Union Traction streetcar on the Lincoln Avenue line. CUT existed from 1899 to 1908, when it was absorbed into Chicago Railways. Sharpshooter’s Park is where Riverview Amusement Park opened in 1904, which narrows down the time of this photo to circa 1899-1903. But the car itself looks like the “Matchbox” type, which was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1903. Car 1374 in this series has been restored and is at the Illinois Railway Museum. In 2015, the body of car 1137 was found in Wisconsin, where it had been used as an addition to someone’s house. It is now in Grass Lake, MI.

CSL "Sedan" (aka Peter Witt) 6283 appears to be southbound on Clark, just south of downtown, in this circa 1940 photo. Don's Rail Photos: "6283 was built by CSL in 1929." This might seem unusual, that the Surface Lines had the capability or even the desire to build their own streetcars. But CSL was very much involved with the project that eventually created the PCC car just a few years after this, and it was CSL and not the ERPCC that had the two experimental pre-PCCs (4001 and 7001) built in 1934. Eventually, the CTA became the largest stockholder in the Transit Research Corporation, the successor to the ERPCC.

CSL “Sedan” (aka Peter Witt) 6283 appears to be southbound on Clark, just south of downtown, in this circa 1940 photo. Don’s Rail Photos: “6283 was built by CSL in 1929.” This might seem unusual, that the Surface Lines had the capability or even the desire to build their own streetcars. But CSL was very much involved with the project that eventually created the PCC car just a few years after this, and it was CSL and not the ERPCC that had the two experimental pre-PCCs (4001 and 7001) built in 1934. Eventually, the CTA became the largest stockholder in the Transit Research Corporation, the successor to the ERPCC.

Chicago Surface Line experimental pre-PCC 4001 in 1935, running on Route 22 - Clark-Wentworth. 40001 was built in 1934 by Pullman-Standard and was retired in 1944. The body has survived and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Here, it still has the striped trolley pole.

Chicago Surface Line experimental pre-PCC 4001 in 1935, running on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. 40001 was built in 1934 by Pullman-Standard and was retired in 1944. The body has survived and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Here, it still has the striped trolley pole.

Chicago Surface Lines experimental pre-PCC 7001 on Route 22 - Clark-Wentworth in 1935. It was built by Brill in 1934 and retired in 1944, scrapped in 1959. Here, it already appears to have a dent on the front end.

Chicago Surface Lines experimental pre-PCC 7001 on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth in 1935. It was built by Brill in 1934 and retired in 1944, scrapped in 1959. Here, it already appears to have a dent on the front end.

Don's Rail Photos: "51 was built by the SP&S in August 1941. It was purchased by the North Shore in December 1947 and was completed as 459 on November 22, 1948." Here it is at the Portland yard on September 9, 1946.

Don’s Rail Photos: “51 was built by the SP&S in August 1941. It was purchased by the North Shore in December 1947 and was completed as 459 on November 22, 1948.” Here it is at the Portland yard on September 9, 1946.

A two-car train of North Shore Line Silverliners in Milwaukee in 1962. Larry Sakar writes: "The train is northbound at the north end of the 6th Street viaduct (which no longer exists). Below it on the right of the train is what was then Fowler Street. Today, that is St. Paul Ave which in NSL days used to end at 6th St. All of that changed when The Milwaukee Road built their new station at 5th St. Impending construction of the Marquette interchange and the end of the Milwaukee Road's 4th & everett St. station gave the city the opportunity to continue St. Paul Ave. beneath 6th St. to connect with then Fowler St. which then became the continuation of W. St. Paul Ave. The warehouse next to the train is also long gone. If you were standing here today you would be looking at the Milwaukee Intermodal station on the right and the main Post Office immediately next door east. If you look two blocks down on the left that is where the present day HOP Streetcar terminates. The train is northbound at the north end of the 6th Street viaduct (which no longer exists). Below it on the right of the train is what was then Fowler Street. Today, that is St. Paul Ave which in NSL days used to end at 6th St. All of that changed when The Milwaukee Road built their new station at 5th St. Impending construction of the Marquette interchange and the end of the Milwaukee Road's 4th & everett St. station gave the city the opportunity to continue St. Paul Ave. beneath 6th St. to connect with then Fowler St. which then became the continuation of W. St. Paul Ave. The warehouse next to the train is also long gone. If you were standing here today you would be looking at the Milwaukee Intermodal station on the right and the main Post Office immediately next door east. If you look two blocks down on the left that is where the present day HOP Streetcar terminates."

A two-car train of North Shore Line Silverliners in Milwaukee in 1962. Larry Sakar writes: “The train is northbound at the north end of the 6th Street viaduct (which no longer exists). Below it on the right of the train is what was then Fowler Street. Today, that is St. Paul Ave which in NSL days used to end at 6th St. All of that changed when The Milwaukee Road built their new station at 5th St. Impending construction of the Marquette interchange and the end of the Milwaukee Road’s 4th & everett St. station gave the city the opportunity to continue St. Paul Ave. beneath 6th St. to connect with then Fowler St. which then became the continuation of W. St. Paul Ave. The warehouse next to the train is also long gone. If you were standing here today you would be looking at the Milwaukee Intermodal station on the right and the main Post Office immediately next door east. If you look two blocks down on the left that is where the present day HOP Streetcar terminates. The train is northbound at the north end of the 6th Street viaduct (which no longer exists). Below it on the right of the train is what was then Fowler Street. Today, that is St. Paul Ave which in NSL days used to end at 6th St. All of that changed when The Milwaukee Road built their new station at 5th St. Impending construction of the Marquette interchange and the end of the Milwaukee Road’s 4th & everett St. station gave the city the opportunity to continue St. Paul Ave. beneath 6th St. to connect with then Fowler St. which then became the continuation of W. St. Paul Ave. The warehouse next to the train is also long gone. If you were standing here today you would be looking at the Milwaukee Intermodal station on the right and the main Post Office immediately next door east. If you look two blocks down on the left that is where the present day HOP Streetcar terminates.”

A Chicago & North Western train of bi-levels at the Milwaukee station on the Lakefront in 1962.

A Chicago & North Western train of bi-levels at the Milwaukee station on the Lakefront in 1962.

This is how the Chicago & North Western's right-of-way looked in Winnetka in July 1964. We are looking south from Elm Street. This area was grade-separated around 1940, with some financial help from the federal government through the PWA agency, in a similar fashion to how Chicago's Initial System of Subways was built. The North Shore Line's Shore Line Route ran at left until July 1955. (William Shapotkin Collection)

This is how the Chicago & North Western’s right-of-way looked in Winnetka in July 1964. We are looking south from Elm Street. This area was grade-separated around 1940, with some financial help from the federal government through the PWA agency, in a similar fashion to how Chicago’s Initial System of Subways was built. The North Shore Line’s Shore Line Route ran at left until July 1955. (William Shapotkin Collection)

An eastbound Lake Street "L" train is in Oak Park in July 1960, running alongside South Boulevard. (William Shapotkin Collection)

An eastbound Lake Street “L” train is in Oak Park in July 1960, running alongside South Boulevard. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound C&NW commuter train stops in Oak Park in July 1960. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound C&NW commuter train stops in Oak Park in July 1960. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound Chicago & North Western commuter train departs from Oak Park in July 1960. Note the ground-level Lake Street "L" station at Marion Street at left. Just over two years later, the "L" was moved to this embankment. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound Chicago & North Western commuter train departs from Oak Park in July 1960. Note the ground-level Lake Street “L” station at Marion Street at left. Just over two years later, the “L” was moved to this embankment. (William Shapotkin Collection)

An eastbound C&NW "scoot" (commuter train) has just departed the Elmhurst station and is seen crossing York Road. The view looks west. (William Shapotkin Collection)

An eastbound C&NW “scoot” (commuter train) has just departed the Elmhurst station and is seen crossing York Road. The view looks west. (William Shapotkin Collection)

What was billed as Manhattan's last elevated train heads north on the Third Avenue El on May 12, 1955.

What was billed as Manhattan’s last elevated train heads north on the Third Avenue El on May 12, 1955.

CSL 5769 on Route 5 - Cottage Grove-South Chicago circa 1940. According to Don's Rail Photos, Nearside 5769 "was built by Brill Car Co in 1912, (order) #18322, It was retired on November 8, 1948."

CSL 5769 on Route 5 – Cottage Grove-South Chicago circa 1940. According to Don’s Rail Photos, Nearside 5769 “was built by Brill Car Co in 1912, (order) #18322, It was retired on November 8, 1948.”

CSL Pullman 621, signed for Clark and Devon, is apparently running on Route 22 and headed north on Clark, having just passed Lake Street in this circa 1940 scene. The Shreve Building, built in 1875, was located at the northwest corner of Clark and Lake. Its construction was supervised by William Warren Boyington (1818-1898), who designed the landmark Chicago Water Tower. Not sure when it was demolished.

CSL Pullman 621, signed for Clark and Devon, is apparently running on Route 22 and headed north on Clark, having just passed Lake Street in this circa 1940 scene. The Shreve Building, built in 1875, was located at the northwest corner of Clark and Lake. Its construction was supervised by William Warren Boyington (1818-1898), who designed the landmark Chicago Water Tower. Not sure when it was demolished.

CSL pre-war PCC 7024 is eastbound on Madison Street at Mayfield Avenue (5900 W.) circa 1940.

CSL pre-war PCC 7024 is eastbound on Madison Street at Mayfield Avenue (5900 W.) circa 1940.

CSL Pullman 329 is on Route 21 - Cermak Road, possibly at the west end of the line, circa 1940.

CSL Pullman 329 is on Route 21 – Cermak Road, possibly at the west end of the line, circa 1940.

CSL 1801 is signed for Adams-Downtown in this circa 1940 photo. Part of Route 7 - Harrison Street went downtown via Adams Street. A nearby truck is delivering Ogden's Milk.

CSL 1801 is signed for Adams-Downtown in this circa 1940 photo. Part of Route 7 – Harrison Street went downtown via Adams Street. A nearby truck is delivering Ogden’s Milk.

The U.S. Patent Office in Washington, DC in the 1920s, with a streetcar out front, apparently powered by conduit via a electric plow running in a trough between the two rails.

The U.S. Patent Office in Washington, DC in the 1920s, with a streetcar out front, apparently powered by conduit via a electric plow running in a trough between the two rails.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 403 at Laramie Avenue on July 19, 1933. It was described as "red with gold trim." 403 was a Pullman product, built in 1923. Sister car 409 is at the Illinois Railway Museum. The view looks to the northeast.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 403 at Laramie Avenue on July 19, 1933. It was described as “red with gold trim.” 403 was a Pullman product, built in 1923. Sister car 409 is at the Illinois Railway Museum. The view looks to the northeast.

CTA trolley bus 9421 on February 12, 1973. Andre Kristopans adds, "Trolley bus 9421 SB on Pulaski at Sunnyside (4500 N). Old police station, now community center, on right." William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9421 on February 12, 1973. Andre Kristopans adds, “Trolley bus 9421 SB on Pulaski at Sunnyside (4500 N). Old police station, now community center, on right.”
William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9458 on February 10, 1973. (Michael N. Charnota Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Bill Jas: "The pic of the Pulaski trolley bus is just North of Grand. You can see the old streetcar power house on the right. The same building that later collapsed onto Jimmy’s Hot Dog Stand."

CTA trolley bus 9458 on February 10, 1973. (Michael N. Charnota Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Bill Jas: “The pic of the Pulaski trolley bus is just North of Grand. You can see the old streetcar power house on the right. The same building that later collapsed onto Jimmy’s Hot Dog Stand.”

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric

The North Shore Line started out as the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric, before it was reorganized by Samuel Insull in 1916. Here are some early photos that reflect that history.

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric station in Lake Forest. It was torn down around 1970, 15 years after the last North Shore Line trains ran here on the Shore Line Route.

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric station in Lake Forest. It was torn down around 1970, 15 years after the last North Shore Line trains ran here on the Shore Line Route.

A close-up of the previous image, showing Chicago & Milwaukee Electric car 10. It was built by Pullman in 1899.

A close-up of the previous image, showing Chicago & Milwaukee Electric car 10. It was built by Pullman in 1899.

After the North Shore Line abandoned service on the Shore Line Route in 1955, their former Lake Forest station was used as a campaign headquarters in the 1956 presidential election. (Chicago Tribune Photo)

After the North Shore Line abandoned service on the Shore Line Route in 1955, their former Lake Forest station was used as a campaign headquarters in the 1956 presidential election. (Chicago Tribune Photo)

A Chicago & Milwaukee electric buffet observation car, from an undated postcard. Don's Rail Photos: "401 was built by Jewett Car in 1909 as parlor-buffet car. In 1917 it was converted to straight coach and retired in 1935. It was leased to Chicago Aurora & Elgin and renumbered 142 in 1936. It came back for a short time with the CA&E number in 1945 and sold to CA&E in 1946. It was retired in 1953."

A Chicago & Milwaukee electric buffet observation car, from an undated postcard. Don’s Rail Photos: “401 was built by Jewett Car in 1909 as parlor-buffet car. In 1917 it was converted to straight coach and retired in 1935. It was leased to Chicago Aurora & Elgin and renumbered 142 in 1936. It came back for a short time with the CA&E number in 1945 and sold to CA&E in 1946. It was retired in 1953.”

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric's Zion station, from a postcard postmarked 1911. The religious fanatics who started this town made the interurban build a large station, in anticipation of rapid growth that did not occur.

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric’s Zion station, from a postcard postmarked 1911. The religious fanatics who started this town made the interurban build a large station, in anticipation of rapid growth that did not occur.

The Chicago & Milwaukee electric station in Libertyville, from a real photo postcard postmarked 1906.

The Chicago & Milwaukee electric station in Libertyville, from a real photo postcard postmarked 1906.

Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Birney car 334 at 6th and Clybourn in Milwaukee. Don's Rail Photos: "334 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in December 1922, #2625. It was retired in 1947 and scrapped in April 1948." The C&ME name was used on these North Shore Line city streetcars, since that was the franchise holder in Milwaukee.

Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Birney car 334 at 6th and Clybourn in Milwaukee. Don’s Rail Photos: “334 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in December 1922, #2625. It was retired in 1947 and scrapped in April 1948.” The C&ME name was used on these North Shore Line city streetcars, since that was the franchise holder in Milwaukee.

North Shore Line wood car 305 (former Chicago & Milwaukee Electric) in Kenilworth circa 1930, running as a Chicago local on the Shore Line Route. Don's Rail Photos: " 303 thru 305 were built by American Car in 1910 and were almost identical. In 1939 they became sleet cutters and were retired and scrapped in 1940." (Kenilworth Historical Society)

North Shore Line wood car 305 (former Chicago & Milwaukee Electric) in Kenilworth circa 1930, running as a Chicago local on the Shore Line Route. Don’s Rail Photos: ” 303 thru 305 were built by American Car in 1910 and were almost identical. In 1939 they became sleet cutters and were retired and scrapped in 1940.” (Kenilworth Historical Society)

Did Not Win

They say you can’t win ’em all, and we certainly don’t. But while we did not win the auctions for these images, they definitely still worth looking at:

1899 New York City Shopping @ 22nd St & 6th Avenue L Train Glass Photo Negative recently sold for $247.50. Looks like the 6th Avenue line was still using steam power then.

1899 New York City Shopping @ 22nd St & 6th Avenue L Train Glass Photo Negative recently sold for $247.50. Looks like the 6th Avenue line was still using steam power then.

I did not win this auction, but I still think this is a pretty neat picture, of a four-car train of CTA 4000s southbound at Bryn Mawr in 1970. This is a southbound Evanston Express. By then, only freight locos were using the overhead wire here.

I did not win this auction, but I still think this is a pretty neat picture, of a four-car train of CTA 4000s southbound at Bryn Mawr in 1970. This is a southbound Evanston Express. By then, only freight locos were using the overhead wire here.

The following three glass plate negatives were identified as “1915 New York 7th Ave Subway Explosion Collapse 7 Dead.”

The next three glass plate images show women working as streetcar conductors on the New York Railways during World War I:

North Shore Line box motor 230 at the Milwaukee Terminal in 1941. By the late 1950s, the apartment building at rear had been torn down.

North Shore Line box motor 230 at the Milwaukee Terminal in 1941. By the late 1950s, the apartment building at rear had been torn down.

Book Review:

From Garfield ‘L’ to Blue Line Rapid Transit
by David A. Wilson
Dispatch Number 11 of the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society

Congratulations to David Wilson on his excellent new book From Garfield ‘L’ to Blue Line Rapid Transit. I would naturally like this book, since these are subjects I have written about extensively, in my own books and blogs.

Like many other people my age, I became fascinated with the extensive changes going on in the west side during the late 1950s, as construction of the Congress Expressway proceeded west and approached suburban Oak Park. I recall seeing the Garfield Park “L” and Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban trains, but I never rode on them. We mostly took the Lake Street “L” downtown, and until 1962, that still ran on the ground west of Laramie.

I recall seeing “L” cars parked in Lockwood Yard, and I vividly remember our first drives on the new Congress Expressway, which partially opened in 1955, although it only went as far as Laramie Avenue (5200 W.). It was extended in stages in 1960, first to Central Avenue (5600 W.), and then all the way through Oak Park and Forest Park, to connect with existing highways west of there. I have naturally been a frequent rider on the Congress line (today’s Forest Park branch of the Blue Line) my whole life.

So, I have been interested in learning the details of how all this came to be for a long time, and I have been researching this subject ever since I was a small child. This interest culminated in my 2018 Arcadia book Building Chicago’s Subways, which is available from our Online Store and elsewhere.

The approach I took with that book was a comprehensive overview of the entire subject of Chicago Subways, starting with the river tunnels, first opened in 1869, the extensive downtown freight tunnel system, the various subway plans that were hashed out over 40 years, the Initial System of Subways (first started in 1938), and its culmination in the West Side Subway in 1958, as the Congress rapid transit line was originally known.

This is a large topic, and therefore it should hardly be possible for anyone to have the “last word” on these matters. Chances are, after we are all long gone, others will still find new things to say.

Dave Wilson has lived in Oak Park for a long time, and is also fascinated with this history.  His new book concentrates on just the transition from the Garfield “L” to the current Blue Line setup, and therefore it goes into greater detail than it was possible to do in my book. It will answer just about any questions that anyone might have had about how this all happened, excepting fanatics like me, who are constantly trying to learn more. (In fact, I bring up a few additional related topics later on in this post.)

Now that I have a few volumes under my belt, I tend to pay close attention to editorial decisions that others make, in their own works. This book packs a lot of information into its pages, and it should be no surprise that a few compromises had to be made.  There are only so many pages to fill in any book, something I know from personal experience.

Unfortunately there is no biographical information about the author, and I wish there were. I have known Dave Wilson for a long time, and he has been an avid railfan photographer since his teenage years. He has scanned thousands of his images, and has posted them to Flickr, for all to enjoy. You would do well to check them out.

For a time he worked for the Wisconsin Central railroad, and later, in bus planning for the Chicago Transit Authority.

The maps in this new book are excellent, and were made by Dennis McClendon, who always does fine work. In fact, he also did the book layout, which is attractive and skillfully done.

The photo selection is excellent. While there are a few images that also appear in Building Chicago’s Subways, they are great images in both books.

Another editorial decision was to include some lo-res images in the book. One in particular is rather pixilated, but in general when the image quality suffers, those images are made smaller in turn, so this is less noticeable. I am probably the only person who would notice this, though.  Any author has to collect the best images that are available, and they are not all going to be of the same resolution.

There is yet another book I can recommend, if you are still interested in learning why it was not possible to save the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, despite the best efforts of three powerful Illinois politicians (Mayor Richard J. Daley, Governor William Stratton, and Cook County Board President Dan Ryan): Political Influence by Edward C. Banfield, originally published in 1961 by the Free Press of Glencoe.  I covered that book extensively in a 2015 blog post that you can read here.

In the meantime, I can wholeheartedly recommend David Wilson’s book, which is available anywhere that Shore Line products are sold. They are called Dispatches, even though the North Shore Line used the unusual spelling “despatch” back in the day.

Garfield Park, Where Are You?

A portion of a CTA track map dated October 1955. The tracks curved south west of Lockwood, unlike the way it appears here.

A portion of a CTA track map dated October 1955. The tracks curved south west of Lockwood, unlike the way it appears here.

As you can see here, the Garfield "L" ran straight east and west through Laramie Yard between Laramie (5200 W.) and Lavergne (5000 W.). (From a CTA track map dated October 1955.)

As you can see here, the Garfield “L” ran straight east and west through Laramie Yard between Laramie (5200 W.) and Lavergne (5000 W.). (From a CTA track map dated October 1955.)

For many years, I have been interested in just where the old Garfield Park “L” once ran. By 1960, it was completely replaced by the current Forest Park branch of the Blue Line (formerly the Congress line), most of which runs in the median of I-290.

The Chicago Tribune reported on June 4, 1928 that the Chicago Rapid Transit Company wanted to expand the Garfield Park “L” from two tracks to four between Marshfield and Cicero Avenues. The article states that CRT had already purchased 60% of the necessary land for expansion via private sale.

This expansion never took place (perhaps due to the Great Depression), but naturally the idea behind it may have been a factor in planning for the Congress median line, which has space for four tracks in approximately the same locations as the 1928 CRT plan, in addition to the section east of Marshfield, which leads to four subway portals near Halsted, only two of which have ever been used.

As noted in my book Building Chicago’s Subways (Arcadia Publishing, 2018), when the highway plans were being formulated, the idea was to relocate the Lake Street “L” into the median of the expressway, via a connection either at 4600 West, or near Kedzie (3200 W.).  Lake trains would have then run next to, but separate from, regular Congress rapid transit trains.

At the subway portal, Lake trains would have continued into a new Clinton Street Subway, which would have formed a subway “Loop,” connecting with the sections on Lake, Dearborn, and Congress.  Presumably, Lake trains were intended to circle this subway Loop before heading back out towards the west side.

The City of Chicago’s goal in all this was to tear down the Loop “L”, inspired by New York City’s gradual elimination of all the elevated lines in Manhattan.  This remained the City’s plan until Mayor Jane Byrne decided the Loop “L” was worth saving after all.  Chicago eventually built a new “L” line, the Orange Line, which opened in 1993 and connects to the Loop.

I traced the old right-of-way of the Garfield Park “L” on Google Street View recently, and came to a few interesting conclusions.  Although the “L” ran pretty much in a straight line between Kedzie Avenue (3200 W.) and Lockwood Avenue (5300 W.), heading west, at times, the “L’ is south of the adjacent alleyway, and at other times, it is north of it.

In general, the Garfield line was built mid-block, but at times, the location is about 620 South, and at other times, it is more like 650 South.  Maps seem to show a slight jog just west of Tripp Avenue (4232 W.), but this doesn’t seem like a definitive explanation for the change in alignment relative to the alleys.

The “L” crossed a railroad at around 4600 West, and it’s likely that the areas west of there were not yet developed when the “L” was built.  Early photos seem to show a rather barren area.  Perhaps the alleys preceded the “L” east of here, while they were built after the “L” in the western section.

Interestingly, there weren’t alleys for the entire stretch between Kedzie and Lockwood, because Fifth Avenue, an angle street that was once an important thoroughfare, crossed through near Pulaski Road (4000 W.).  The block narrows near that location, and alleys come to an end.

In general, it seems as though the “L” ran mostly south of the alley east of Cicero Avenue (4800 W.), which was the original end-of-the-line starting in 1895.  It was extended to Laramie (5200 W.) in 1902, and west of Cicero, the “L” seems to run north of the alley.  But of course, there were no alleys in the Laramie Yard area until after the “L” was demolished and the yard removed.  There is an alley where parts of Lockwood Yard once were, but it’s possible there were still tracks in place there for perhaps a year or so after the Congress line opened in June 1958.

Here are some pictures from Google Street View:

649 S. Homan (3400 W.), looking east. Here, the "L" was definitely south of the alley.

649 S. Homan (3400 W.), looking east. Here, the “L” was definitely south of the alley.

649 S. Homan (3400 W.), looking west, showing the area south of the alley, once occupied by the Garfield Park "L".

649 S. Homan (3400 W.), looking west, showing the area south of the alley, once occupied by the Garfield Park “L”.

648 S. St. Louis (3500 W.), looking west. The "L" was south of the alley here.

648 S. St. Louis (3500 W.), looking west. The “L” was south of the alley here.

617 S. Pulaski, looking east. The cross street is Fifth Avenue, which is at an angle running northeast/southwest. The Garfield Park "L" ran east-west here, and crossed Pulaski and Fifth at the same time. The "L" ran right over the area occupied by the building near the mailbox. Not sure if it was the same building then, but parts of it do look similar. There is no alley here, due to the narrowing of this block, as Fifth Avenue approaches from the north.

617 S. Pulaski, looking east. The cross street is Fifth Avenue, which is at an angle running northeast/southwest. The Garfield Park “L” ran east-west here, and crossed Pulaski and Fifth at the same time. The “L” ran right over the area occupied by the building near the mailbox. Not sure if it was the same building then, but parts of it do look similar. There is no alley here, due to the narrowing of this block, as Fifth Avenue approaches from the north.

614 S. Karlov (4100 W.), looking west. The "L" ran south of the alley here.

614 S. Karlov (4100 W.), looking west. The “L” ran south of the alley here.

This is around 650 S. Kilbourn (4500 W.), looking southwest. There was a Garfield Park "L" station at Kilbourn, and it appears to have been south of the alley.

This is around 650 S. Kilbourn (4500 W.), looking southwest. There was a Garfield Park “L” station at Kilbourn, and it appears to have been south of the alley.

At approximately 650 S. Kolmar (4532 W.), the Chicago Transit Authority has a building. Not sure what it is used for, or if the Garfield Park "L" ran over head. It's possible that the "L" ran in the area just north of the alley here. This view looks west.

At approximately 650 S. Kolmar (4532 W.), the Chicago Transit Authority has a building. Not sure what it is used for, or if the Garfield Park “L” ran over head. It’s possible that the “L” ran in the area just north of the alley here. This view looks west.

At around 620 S. Kilpatrick (4700 W.), the Garfield Park "L" ran south of the alley. This view looks east.

At around 620 S. Kilpatrick (4700 W.), the Garfield Park “L” ran south of the alley. This view looks east.

At 650 S. Lavergne (5000 W.), the Garfield Park "L" ran just north of the alley. Laramie Yard was just west of here, and the "L" at this point was descending to ground level from the Cicero Avenue "L" station, two blocks east. This view looks east.

At 650 S. Lavergne (5000 W.), the Garfield Park “L” ran just north of the alley. Laramie Yard was just west of here, and the “L” at this point was descending to ground level from the Cicero Avenue “L” station, two blocks east. This view looks east.

The Garfield Park "L" tracks crossed Lockwood at about 650 South. A short distance west of here, they made a sweeping curve and went a bit to the south, and ran parallel to the B&OCT railroad tracks through Oak Park and Forest Park.

The Garfield Park “L” tracks crossed Lockwood at about 650 South. A short distance west of here, they made a sweeping curve and went a bit to the south, and ran parallel to the B&OCT railroad tracks through Oak Park and Forest Park.

The view looking south at 646 S. Lockwood Avenue (5300 W.), showing the hump where the Garfield Park "L" crossed here. There was no alley to the right until after the "L" was removed, as that was where Lockwood Yard had been.

The view looking south at 646 S. Lockwood Avenue (5300 W.), showing the hump where the Garfield Park “L” crossed here. There was no alley to the right until after the “L” was removed, as that was where Lockwood Yard had been.

And here are some additional clues from the CTA Transit News, reporting on the demolition of the Garfield Park (and Metropolitan main line) “L” after the Congress line opened in June 1958. They show that the “L” ran south of the alley at Kilpatrick Avenue (4700 W.) but at Lavergne Avenue (5000 W.), it was north of the alley.

The Garfield Park "L" crossed over railroad tracks at about 4600 West. Interestingly, note that between the two sides of the railroad embankment, the alley between Harrison and Flournoy is not quite in the same location.

The Garfield Park “L” crossed over railroad tracks at about 4600 West. Interestingly, note that between the two sides of the railroad embankment, the alley between Harrison and Flournoy is not quite in the same location.

Recent Correspondence

We recently wrote to fellow historian Andres Kristopans:

It has been my understanding for many years that the CTA right-of-way between the Lotus Tunnel (5400 W.) and Forest Park was planned for three tracks.

This is a self-evident fact; the tunnel has portals on both sides, there is room for a third track north of the existing two west of there, and the bridge over DesPlaines Avenue was obviously designed for three tracks.

The question of what this third track was intended for recently came up in a discussion on the Facebook Chicago Elevated group. My source on that point, that the third track was intended for use by the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, was my discussions and correspondence with George Krambles some 40 years ago).

But that did get me interested in looking into the matter further.

By 1940, planning for the new Congress expressway envisioned replacing the Garfield Park “L” with a line in the expressway median to Laramie Avenue (5200 W.), at least according to the film Streamlining Chicago.

This raises the question, when was the Lotus Tunnel planned, and why are there three tunnels?

The Congress median right-of-way was, to some extent, based on the existing Garfield setup. Garfield had four tracks as far as Paulina (1700 W.), although there had been plans to add two more tracks west of there in the late 1920s.

The three branches of the Met came together at Marshfield Junction, and this was undoubtedly seen as an undesirable situation, one that should be avoided in the future. By routing abandoning the Humboldt Park branch, and re-routing Logan Square into the new Milwaukee-Dearborn subway, this problem was solved.

But another goal of city planners was the gradual elimination of all the “L”s and their replacement by subways. The Lake Street “L” was targeted for this process, first with a plan to connect it to the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway just west of the Loop, and later by diverting it to the Congress median via a mile-long subway or elevated connection, either at Kedzie (3200 W.) or later, at 4600 W.

The Lake Street tracks were to be kept separate from other Congress line trains, therefore requiring a four-track right-of-way all the way to the subway portals just east of Halsted Street. The two unused portals were intended for a Clinton Street subway, a north-south branch that would have created a downtown subway loop in conjunction with the portions on Lake, Dearborn, and Congress.

Lake Street trains could have circled this loop, since otherwise, there was no obvious way to through-route them with another line at that time. It was thought that this change would have made it possible to tear down half of the Loop “L”, namely the Lake Street and Wabash Avenue legs, the exact opposite of what the City hoped to do in the 1970s.

So, the Congress median line, in the planning stages, had space enough for four tracks from Halsted to wherever the Lake line could have been brought in, which could have been as far as 4600 W.

This still does not explain why planners thought there should be three tracks starting at the Lotus Tunnel (5400 W.) and heading west.

As far back as 1945, it was expected that the CA&E tracks running through Forest Park, and the B&OCT, would run in an open cut in the expressway through suburban Oak Park. There are Cook County plans with such illustrations.

CRT leased CA&E’s tracks west of Laramie, and CA&E leased CRT’s tracks east of there, an arrangement that largely resulted in a wash financially for both companies (and, later, CRT’s successor, the CTA).

In the stretch between Forest Park and Laramie, the CA&E operated what amounted to an express service, and CRT, locals. There was a passing track at Gunderson, where express trains could pass slower locals.

That was the “old” way of operating a railroad, one increasingly at odds with the more modern way of doing things. It was labor-intensive and required a high level of competence; split-second timing, in fact.

IMHO, the solution to this in the new plan was simply to keep the locals and expresses separated. There would be two tracks for the CRT locals and one for the CA&E expresses.

As the highway plans neared fruition, the CA&E reported in 1950 that they lacked the funds to build new tracks in a highway right-of-way west of Austin Boulevard. CA&E owned the current trackage west of Laramie Avenue. The City of Chicago only had responsibility to build the Congress expressway as far as the city limits (Austin, 6000 W.).

The Lotus Tunnel was needed all along, because there needed to be some way to connect the CA&E tracks with CRT’s, and it made sense to have the new track alignment run on the south side of the highway footprint, parallel to the B&OCT. It must have been planned early on, perhaps as far back as 1945.

The CTA proposed taking over the right-of-way to Forest Park in 1952, as a way to solve the problems with CA&E. By then, the interurban had already decided not to run downtown on CTA’s tracks. The CTA had abandoned the Westchester branch in December 1951, as a means of saving money. So, CA&E no longer had income to offset the cost of using CTA’s tracks. Continuing operations into the City would be a drain of CA&E’s coffers, whatever the merits pro and con would have been for running on the Van Buren Street temporary trackage.

The highway planners, in the early 1950s, understood that if CA&E had been unable to connect with the CTA somewhere, this would have immediately put them out of business. Hence the county was very much interested in a solution to this problem. CA&E said they could not afford to build new tracks and facilities in the two miles or so of the relocated right-of-way between Austin Boulevard and DesPlaines Avenue.

All the more reason not to change the plans, likely made circa 1945, for three tracks in the new section. Cook County government did not want to be the cause of CA&E’s demise.

It was fortunate that the CTA stepped in and offered a creative solution to this problem, which also allowed them, as a result, to continue operating service to Forest Park.

So, in 1953 CA&E sold their right-of-way to the county as far west as DesPlaines Avenue (but not the river crossing, not until 1957), and the CTA purchased their fixed assets, the tracks, signals, stations, etc., which would all need to be replaced anyway.

This gave the CTA “skin in the game” to continue operating service to Forest Park. The plan to hand off CA&E riders to the CTA at DesPlaines Avenue did not come about until 1953. This is evidenced both in contemporary newspaper reports, and in how the Forest Park Terminal was hurriedly altered at practically the last minute to adopt the new arrangements.

Until then, it was expected that this handoff would take place at Laramie Avenue, where CA&E’s tracks ended and CTA’s began. There was also an intermediate plan to make Central Avenue the changeover point instead, as the CTA briefly considered building a bus-rail facility there instead of Forest Park. CTA made an artist’s rendering of this, which I have seen.

So, in sum, the plan for three tracks west of Laramie probably dated as far back as 1945, when engineering was being done for the expressway extension into the western suburbs. This plan was not changed when the facilities were built. The Lotus Tunnel has three tunnels, the right-of-way has space for three tracks (north of the existing two), and the steel bridge over the DesPlaines Avenue underpass was designed for three tracks.

By the time the final design work was done for the stations in this section, in the late 1950s, the CA&E was no longer an issue. The CTA had built what they needed built, and did the minimum that was necessary just in case it might have been possible for the CA&E to resume operations downtown.

And this is something that CA&E went back and forth on. Both CTA and CA&E seemed perfectly happy to separate their tracks from each other in 1953. It is my belief that, early on, the CA&E decided on a policy of a gradual or piecemeal abandonment, selling off parts of their line, and distributing the proceeds to their shareholders, instead of using it to buy new equipment.

This is based on the notion that the new highway itself had doomed the interurban, which in an era where there were no government subsidies, was likely the only logical conclusion.

The CTA still had to figure out where their yard would be for the new Congress service. In the late 1950s, they were still considering using Laramie Yard, which would need to be connected to the median line by an elevated connection, estimated to cost $1m.

Building a new yard at DesPlaines Avenue was a cost-saving alternative. But there was still the question of who owned the terminal there, as CA&E hadn’t sold it as part of the 1953 deal. It wasn’t part of the highway project, and in fact, in 1957, CA&E had filed suit to evict the CTA from the Forest Park terminal, as a way of putting pressure on the powers-that-be to get more money for the river crossing (which they did) and get the courts to agree to a “temporary” abandonment of passenger service (which they did).

That those two events happened almost simultaneously makes one wonder if perhaps there was a “quid pro quo” involved, although at this stage, there is probably no way to prove it.

Andre replies:

I will go along with your analysis. The whole problem was a lack of money. CTA in 1945 was set up on the premise of taking over all local transportation in the metro area, but there was a fatal flaw in that CTA had no outside income except by selling bonds. When the suburban bus and rail lines were found to be more highly valued than expected, CTA could not come up with enough money to buy them out. There were ideas to take over CA&E to Wheaton and North Shore to Waukegan, but nothing came of them because the various towns along the lines could not agree on financial assistance. Those directly on line demanded those further, especially along CA&E, kick in as they would also benefit, but places like Addison and Bloomingdale refused, so nothing could be agreed to and the idea died. It took until RTA in 1982 to finally do this, with federal money.

In many ways, CTA was an idea way ahead of its time. Remember CTA was the very first “transit authority”. Before you had municipal operations like Cleveland where city took over failing private operations, but this was the first “independent governmental body” with jurisdiction not based on municipal boundaries. Too bad nobody thought to give it taxing authority at the time, as everyone thought once relieved of regulation and duplication, transit would be profitable again, and in fact the idea was that CTA would only be a “temporary” owner, who after restructuring Chicago area transit into profitability would then sell the system to a private operator and use the proceeds to retire the bonds sold to buy and modernize the system. But because nothing could be done with the suburban operators, CTA became the permanent owner of the city system, for 74 years now.

There was the negative example of municipal ownership in New York City, where building the IND subway practically bankrupted the city. So it is no wonder that Chicago had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into it.

The City of Chicago resisted the idea of public ownership for years, until all the various schemes for unifying CSL and CRT had failed, and there was no other viable option (by 1943). The situation might have festered, but the city had pledged to push through transit unification as a condition of accepting federal funds to pay for 45% of the Initial System of Subways (which ended up being more like 33% by the time the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway opened).

When WWII ended, the City resumed work on the unfinished Dearborn-Milwaukee subway, and soon work began in earnest on building the Congress superhighway. But there was no more federal money in the offing, and it was a struggle just to get the subway open by 1951.

The City had to float a $25m bond issue, which in essence reimbursed the transit improvement fund for monies that were taken from it during the Great Depression.

The scope of projects had to be scaled back. It seems as though the idea of re-routing Lake onto Congress was still alive as of 1948, but got put off into an indefinite future, due to the cost of building a mile long connection between the two lines, plus the Clinton subway.

Once CTA was in charge, they quickly identified the Lake Street “L”s problem area as the grade-level outer end, and not the elevated portion. And service was speeded up by using A/B skip-stop service, which became a model for the rest of the system.

The ultimate solution to Lake’s problems was not realized until 1962, when the line was elevated onto the Chicago & North Western embankment, followed by a proper yard west of Harlem.

The Van Buren temporary trackage gummed things up on Garfield for a few years, but inadvertently helped turn the eventual Congress line into something more like an express service. The CTA responded to the slow running times on Van Buren by closing some of the more minor stations on the line west of there, to the point where Garfield travel times in 1958 were largely the same as they had been prior to the September 1953 change.

This, in turn, influenced the locations of stations on the new Congress line. Whereas at first, plans called for merely replacing the old Garfield stations with new ones on Congress, over time, fewer new stations were planned.

The one glaring exception, of course, was Kostner, which was mandated by the City Council for political reasons, as there were three Aldermen lobbying for it (their wards were nearby). This one example of the “old” way of doing things turned out to be a dismal failure, and the station barely lasted a decade.

Andre:

Actually since 1913 CSL was a strange situation of private ownership but municipal operation. Chicago Surface Lines Joint Board of Management and Operation (the full name) was a city agency that directed day to day operations while CRys, CCRy, C&SCRys, all stock companies, were the actual owners. Probably only such arrangement anywhere. So in fact in 1945 city ceded control to an independent agency, though ownership transfer of assets took two more years to arrange.

CSL was not in trouble per se. Bankruptcy was more to keep franchise from expiring than any real financial collapse, whereas CRT was basically barely able to make payroll, with nothing left over for maintenance, etc. If CRT could not be foisted off on CSL, it would have been abandoned soon.

The Dean of Chicago Railfans

Raymond DeGroote, Jr. waits for DC Transit pre-PCC streetcar 1053 to descend a viaduct in Washington, DC on October 15, 1961, so he can get his picture. Streetcars in portions of the District of Columbia were forbidden to use overhead wire, and were powered by an underground conduit instead. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

Raymond DeGroote, Jr. waits for DC Transit pre-PCC streetcar 1053 to descend a viaduct in Washington, DC on October 15, 1961, so he can get his picture. Streetcars in portions of the District of Columbia were forbidden to use overhead wire, and were powered by an underground conduit instead. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

My friend Raymond DeGroote, Jr. will turn 91 years old on July 15th. He has been very active in Chicago’s railfan community since the 1940s. He was most likely a first-day rider when Chicago’s first subway opened on October 17, 1943, over 77 years ago.

He has taken thousands of photos over the years, starting in about 1948 with black-and-white, and color slides since 1954. Ray is a world traveler, has written numerous articles, and has given numerous presentations on a wide range of railfan subjects. His work has appeared in many books, and he has been a mentor to me in this field since we first met in the late 1970s.  He has worked tirelessly for many of the leading railfan organizations over the years.

Thanks to Ray, I became part of what he likes to call the “intelligence network” of railfans, in an era before the Internet made it possible to have a world of information at your fingertips.

Therefore, when I started work on my new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, I could not think of anyone more deserving to dedicate the book to than Ray, who I consider the Dean of Chicago railfans. Once I received a small number of “author’s copies,” I sent one to him.

Here is his reply:

Thank you very much for my copy of Chicago’s Lost “L”s. The book is much appreciated and will provide many hours of pleasure reading and looking at the pictures.

I already found several very interesting ones. For example, I had never seen a picture of Willow or Calvary, the latter going even before my time, and the former just as I was becoming interested in the hobby. Also the view of Lower Level Wilson looking southeast (interesting angle) before the structure was above it, and Merchandise Mart under construction. Both must be relatively rare pictures.

On page 17 you had a view of a Robertson streetcar at 63rd. I remember those cars on South Side lines such as Riverdale, but we also had them up north on Riverview-Larrabee– slow cars, but with a commanding presence.

I am glad you included the Lost Interurbans section and also the Lost Terminals section. I vaguely remember Market Street, but know I rode out of Congress Street a few times, and many times out of North Water. That was even used as a display area to introduce and show off the new North Shore Silverliner paint scheme.

This is another good book to your credit. Keep up the good work.

Apparently, he did not initially notice that the book is dedicated to him, so I had to bring that to his attention.

He then wrote:

I am terribly embarrassed that I did not notice my name on the dedication page. I remember looking at the top of the page and seeing the Library of Congress data, and then going right to the Table of Contents. When I saw Northwestern “L” I turned right there to see what pictures you had included.

This is the first time anyone has dedicated a book to me, and I am very surprised and honored. It was totally unexpected. Thank you very much for this recognition, although I do not think I merit the title of “Dean”. “Old Man” might have been more appropriate as there are many others who deserve to be called “Dean.”

So, thank you again for the book dedication. It is a fine book, and I hope it will generate many sales.

Sincerely, Ray

When I can slip a few pictures in there that Ray DeGroote hasn’t seen before, I think I have done pretty well, because Ray has seen just about everything before.  And, he is characteristically modest about his accomplishments.  I can only hope for a small fraction of his wisdom, if I am lucky enough to reach his years.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

Our Latest Book, Now Available for Pre-Order:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

Arcadia Publishing will release our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s on July 12, 2021. Reserve your copy today!

From the back cover:

Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.

The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages

Chapters:
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found

Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.

The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.

Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.

It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time.  The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.

Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.

Total time – 121:22

# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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Loose Ends, Part One

On February 6, 1941, the North Shore Line ran some special trips to introduce its new, streamlined Electroliners. Here we see one of the two sets at the North Water Terminal on Chicago's "L" system.

On February 6, 1941, the North Shore Line ran some special trips to introduce its new, streamlined Electroliners. Here we see one of the two sets at the North Water Terminal on Chicago’s “L” system.

With this, and our next post, we are tying up some loose ends, so to speak. We have collected a great number of images over the last five years, and haven’t always had an opportunity to finish working on them and present them to you here. Just the caption writing alone takes a long time, and there is often research involved.

This is in addition to our usual work in scanning, cropping, straightening, color correction, spot removal, etc., which also takes a considerable effort. There are times when the images pile up, and there are various things that need to be done to them. We recently got around to some of those things.

We hope you enjoy the results, and if you have any questions or comments about these images, be sure to drop us a line. Be sure to refer to each image by its identifying file name. You can generally see what that is by moving your mouse over the image itself.

We also thank our various contributors to today’s post, Jeff Wien of the Wien-Criss Archive, Craig Berndt, and Bill Shapotkin, who have generously shared images from their collections.

I would also be remiss if I failed to note that July 15th was Ray DeGroote’s 90th birthday. Ray is a longtime friend and mentor. He is the dean of Chicago railfans, and has traveled all over, taking unforgettable pictures, sharing his wisdom and experience with others, for a lot longer than most of us have been alive. We wish him all the best.

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

Through an act of serendipity, at almost the same time that we acquired the Electroliner picture above, we also obtained a souvenir ticket from that same event.

Through an act of serendipity, at almost the same time that we acquired the Electroliner picture above, we also obtained a souvenir ticket from that same event.

After the North Shore Line abandonment in 1963, the two Electroliners were purchased by the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow), for use on their 13-mile-long Norristown High Speed Line. Liberty Liner "Valley Forge" at Bryn Mawr in September 1964. (Richard S. Short Photo)

After the North Shore Line abandonment in 1963, the two Electroliners were purchased by the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow), for use on their 13-mile-long Norristown High Speed Line. Liberty Liner “Valley Forge” at Bryn Mawr in September 1964. (Richard S. Short Photo)

Although the Chicago Aurora & Elgin had an admirable safety record, I am sure, sometimes there were accidents. Here, we see cars 400 and 318 have collided. 318 must have been repaired, as it did survive the interurban, at least for a while. Don's Rail Photos notes: "318 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It had steel sheating and was modernized in 1944. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Raiway Historical Society in 1962. It was wrecked in transit and the parts were sold to IRM to restore 321." This picture was taken at Lockwood Yard, just west of Laramie, in June 1945. Not sure if the modernization was actually done prior to the crash, or as a result of it. Dates for these things are sometimes approximate. (Don Mac Bean Photo)

Although the Chicago Aurora & Elgin had an admirable safety record, I am sure, sometimes there were accidents. Here, we see cars 400 and 318 have collided. 318 must have been repaired, as it did survive the interurban, at least for a while. Don’s Rail Photos notes: “318 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It had steel sheating and was modernized in 1944. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Raiway Historical Society in 1962. It was wrecked in transit and the parts were sold to IRM to restore 321.” This picture was taken at Lockwood Yard, just west of Laramie, in June 1945. Not sure if the modernization was actually done prior to the crash, or as a result of it. Dates for these things are sometimes approximate. (Don Mac Bean Photo)

Here, we see the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend interurban (commonly known as the South Shore Line) running down the street in East Chicago, Indiana, in the late 1920s.

Here, we see the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend interurban (commonly known as the South Shore Line) running down the street in East Chicago, Indiana, in the late 1920s.

This is a Chicago & West Towns Railway streetcar, signed for the La Grange line, circa 1915.

This is a Chicago & West Towns Railway streetcar, signed for the La Grange line, circa 1915.

The names of the two C&WT employees shown in the previous photograph.

The names of the two C&WT employees shown in the previous photograph.

Here is a mystery photo, It was identified as Chicago "L" workers, but Andre Kristopans doubts that this is actually Chicago. Such vintage pictures usually have the employees wearing darker uniforms than this, and where would there have been such a structure as is shown here?

Here is a mystery photo, It was identified as Chicago “L” workers, but Andre Kristopans doubts that this is actually Chicago. Such vintage pictures usually have the employees wearing darker uniforms than this, and where would there have been such a structure as is shown here?

The lone gate car we see in this picture is identified as work car S-2, and the date is September 9, 1957. Can this be 61st Yard?

The lone gate car we see in this picture is identified as work car S-2, and the date is September 9, 1957. Can this be 61st Yard?

Our resident south side expert M.E. writes:

You might be correct that this is the 61st St. yard on the Jackson Park line. I didn’t ride that line very much, because I lived along the Englewood line, so I can’t be sure. If it is 61st St., the view looks southeast.

In the 61st St. yard, I recall the long diagonal track in your picture. I also remember this track seemed to cleave the yard into two parts, such that the trains stored in the northern part would first have to move to the southern part, then onto the diagonal track to reach the mainline. That was rather clumsy.

I tried to recollect the big building in the background on the right. Or maybe there are more than one building. Either way, I think the building(s) could have been low-income project buildings that showed up on the South Side in the 1950s. The building(s) in this picture would be located south of 63rd and west of South Park Way (now King Drive).

The most convincing reason this might be 61st St. yard is, believe it or not, the way the switch is set in the lower right. That switch is set for mainline operation, in particular the northbound track. With this in mind, everything else in this picture falls into place correctly.

UPDATE: After writing all the above, I consulted my Central Electric Railfans Association (CERA) bulletin 115, dated June 1976, which covers the L system between 1947 and 1976. In the back of that book are numerous trackage layouts, including — yes — the 61st St. yard. And that trackage looks exactly like what is in your picture.

You might wonder where the connection between the southbound mainline track and the yard is. According to CERA 115, it is right where the camera is. It is a switch from southbound to northbound mainline track. In fact, you can see part of that switch precisely where your trolleydodger label (watermark) starts.

Thanks for figuring that out.

From 1949 to 1957, the CTA operated the Kenwood branch of the "L" as a shuttle operation, and here we see three such cars at the Indiana Avenue station. By the mid-1950s, the older gate cars had been replaced by ones formerly used on the Met "L", as those lines were equipped with more modern steel cars. Not sure why there are three cars here-- Kenwood usually used one or two car trains in these days.

From 1949 to 1957, the CTA operated the Kenwood branch of the “L” as a shuttle operation, and here we see three such cars at the Indiana Avenue station. By the mid-1950s, the older gate cars had been replaced by ones formerly used on the Met “L”, as those lines were equipped with more modern steel cars. Not sure why there are three cars here– Kenwood usually used one or two car trains in these days.

M.E. writes:
I learned from this picture that the Kenwood stub at Indiana Ave. had room for three cars. I thought it was just two. I guess I never saw a third (idle) car sitting in that space, because the presence of an idle car meant the passengers had to walk farther to connect between Kenwood and mainline trains. (And if Kenwood passengers wanted to connect to southbound mainline trains, they also had to use the overhead bridge between the two mainline platforms.)

I also learned from CERA 115 that the Stock Yards line did have its own yard, east of the Halsted St. station, but that was way back in 1913. No wonder I never saw it.

There is some speculation that the Stock Yards yard from 1913 was never actually used.

Regarding three cars in the Kenwood stub, it’s possible that a portion of the rear car went past the platform, and they didn’t open the rear door, as was the practice at other stations, where the trains ended up being longer than the platforms. (This could also be done with the front door on the head car in other places, but not here.)

M.E. again:

More about your Kenwood stub picture:

Judging by the space between the two cars at the left, I’d have to say the leftmost car was not connected to the other two, and was in fact sitting idle. And, as you mentioned, perhaps the rightmost car isn’t fully next to the platform.

I’d have to agree with that, for another reason: I don’t know whether old wooden cars were ever upgraded to enable a single conductor (or maybe the motorman) to control all doors. If the old cars were not upgraded, then a three-car Kenwood train would need two conductors. The amount of business the Kenwood shuttle did would never justify two conductors. This fortifies my recollection that the Kenwood shuttle never ran with more than two cars, and ran most of the time with just one car.

This picture was taken from the old Halsted "L" station on the Met main line, which was just north of the Congress Expressway footprint. That station remained open until 1958, when the CTA Congress median line opened. I believe this picture was taken in 1954, but after the end of May, when buses replaced streetcars on Route 8 - Halsted. This section of highway opened in 1955. The two subway portals at right are used by the CTA Blue Line today, but the ones at left were never used. They were intended for use by Lake Street "L" trains, if that line had been re-routed onto the highway, and would have connected to a Clinton Street Subway, forming an underground "loop" along with the Lake, Dearborn, and Congress legs.

This picture was taken from the old Halsted “L” station on the Met main line, which was just north of the Congress Expressway footprint. That station remained open until 1958, when the CTA Congress median line opened. I believe this picture was taken in 1954, but after the end of May, when buses replaced streetcars on Route 8 – Halsted. This section of highway opened in 1955. The two subway portals at right are used by the CTA Blue Line today, but the ones at left were never used. They were intended for use by Lake Street “L” trains, if that line had been re-routed onto the highway, and would have connected to a Clinton Street Subway, forming an underground “loop” along with the Lake, Dearborn, and Congress legs. Steve D. points out that the sign has Richard J. Daley on it as mayor, which means it can’t be prior to April 20, 1955.

The old Cicero Avenue station on the Garfield Park "L" stood at regular height, but to the west, Laramie was at ground level, and to the east, the Kilbourn station was at a higher level, as the "L" crossed other railroads. Here, we are looking east around July 1, 1957. Kilbourn closed in 1953 to help speed up service on the rest of the line, which was slowed down once it started using temporary trackage in Van Buren Street, between Sacramento Avenue and Aberdeen, a distance of about two-and-a-half miles.

The old Cicero Avenue station on the Garfield Park “L” stood at regular height, but to the west, Laramie was at ground level, and to the east, the Kilbourn station was at a higher level, as the “L” crossed other railroads. Here, we are looking east around July 1, 1957. Kilbourn closed in 1953 to help speed up service on the rest of the line, which was slowed down once it started using temporary trackage in Van Buren Street, between Sacramento Avenue and Aberdeen, a distance of about two-and-a-half miles.

In this view, taken around July 1, 1957, we see a westbound Garfield Park train at the Kedzie station, which was not in the direct path of the Congress Expressway. The tall smokestack in the distance belonged to the old Garden City Laundry at 3333 W. Harrison. Here, the "L" was south of the expressway, and at other points, it was north of the highway. The station off in the distance is St. Louis (3500 W.). Both stations remained open until 1958.

In this view, taken around July 1, 1957, we see a westbound Garfield Park train at the Kedzie station, which was not in the direct path of the Congress Expressway. The tall smokestack in the distance belonged to the old Garden City Laundry at 3333 W. Harrison. Here, the “L” was south of the expressway, and at other points, it was north of the highway. The station off in the distance is St. Louis (3500 W.). Both stations remained open until 1958.

The former Garden City Laundry building today.

The former Garden City Laundry building today.

This picture, and the next one, were taken around July 1, 1957 from the Kedzie Avenue bridge over the then-Congress Expressway, looking east towards Sacramento Boulvard. Tracks are in place for the Congress median line, and in the distance, we can also see where the Garfield Park "L" crossed the highway. East of Sacramento, there was a ramp, leading down to Van Buren, where there was a temporary right-of-way at ground level. Tracks were in place for the new line at this time, but as you can see, there was no third rail yet. There is still a crossover at this location. Notice that there were support columns for the "L" right in the middle of the highway. It is inconceivable that this would be done today.

This picture, and the next one, were taken around July 1, 1957 from the Kedzie Avenue bridge over the then-Congress Expressway, looking east towards Sacramento Boulvard. Tracks are in place for the Congress median line, and in the distance, we can also see where the Garfield Park “L” crossed the highway. East of Sacramento, there was a ramp, leading down to Van Buren, where there was a temporary right-of-way at ground level. Tracks were in place for the new line at this time, but as you can see, there was no third rail yet. There is still a crossover at this location. Notice that there were support columns for the “L” right in the middle of the highway. It is inconceivable that this would be done today.

Around July 1, 1957, a westbound CTA Garfield Park "L" train is westbound on the Van Buren temporary trackage. I believe the cross street is California Avenue (2800 W.).

Around July 1, 1957, a westbound CTA Garfield Park “L” train is westbound on the Van Buren temporary trackage. I believe the cross street is California Avenue (2800 W.).

This is mid-1950s view of the then-Congress Expressway, looking east from Kedzie. We see the new CTA rapid transit line in the median, then under construction, and the old Garfield Park "L" in the distance. This portion of the highway opened in 1955 as far west as Laramie. I think this picture may have been taken before the other one in this post.

This is mid-1950s view of the then-Congress Expressway, looking east from Kedzie. We see the new CTA rapid transit line in the median, then under construction, and the old Garfield Park “L” in the distance. This portion of the highway opened in 1955 as far west as Laramie. I think this picture may have been taken before the other one in this post.

This view of the Congress Expressway looks east from Central Park (3600 W.) towards Homan (3400 W.). On the right, the smokestack closest to the highway belongs to the Garden City Laundry, which was located at 3333 W. Harrison Street, and is mentioned elsewhere in this post. This may be circa 1956, as the highway is open here, but tracks appear to only recently have been added to the median.

This view of the Congress Expressway looks east from Central Park (3600 W.) towards Homan (3400 W.). On the right, the smokestack closest to the highway belongs to the Garden City Laundry, which was located at 3333 W. Harrison Street, and is mentioned elsewhere in this post. This may be circa 1956, as the highway is open here, but tracks appear to only recently have been added to the median.

Chicago Surface Lines 3294 near the Ravenswood 'L' station at Montrose (today's CTA Brown Line)

Chicago Surface Lines 3294 near the Ravenswood ‘L’ station at Montrose (today’s CTA Brown Line)

From the Collections of Craig Berndt

Craig Berndt shared these really nice images, which he purchased from the estate of the late Ken Luttenbacher, who may be the photographer. All were taken on the north side, and many of these pictures were shot from the front of a train, looking out the window (which was most likely opened, since this was in the days before air conditioned rapid transit cars).

While we don’t see a lot of “L” cars, what we do see are some excellent shots of the rights-of-way on the Howard and Evanston lines (today’s Red and Purple Lines).

He adds:

I wrote a book about the Toledo & Chicago Interurban that operated the Ft. Wayne-Garrett-Kendallville-Waterloo line, part of which operated in freight service until May 1945. I made presentations about it at Hoosier Traction Meet a few years ago.

All the pictures in this section are from the Craig Berndt Collection.

This August 1963 view is just south of Lawrence, looking north. The overhead wire at left was used by CTA electric locomotives, a holdover from the days when the Milwaukee Road had service here, prior to this line being electrified and put up on an embankment. Apparently, North Shore Line trains sometimes used the overhead and switched over to third rail further south.

This August 1963 view is just south of Lawrence, looking north. The overhead wire at left was used by CTA electric locomotives, a holdover from the days when the Milwaukee Road had service here, prior to this line being electrified and put up on an embankment. Apparently, North Shore Line trains sometimes used the overhead and switched over to third rail further south.

Loyola, looking north, in August 1963.

North of Loyola, looking north, August 1963.

North of Loyola, looking north, August 1963.

Linden Terminal, Wilmette, in August 1963.

Linden Terminal, Wilmette, in August 1963.

Here, in August 1963, we are just north of the Berwyn station on the North-South main line. Off to the left, there was Lill Coal and Oil, which used freight service on the 'L' until 1973. In this photo, you can see part of their siding heading off from the freight track, which has overhead wire. Lill was the last freight customer the CTA had. Once they stopped using the service, the CTA was able to eliminate freight. This was a carryover from the days when this portion of the route started out as part of the Milwaukee Road. That railroad interchanged with the rapid transit just north of Irving Park Road. Freight cars were hauled by electric locomotives using overhead wire. There was a ramp up to the 'L' structure near Montrose.

Here, in August 1963, we are just north of the Berwyn station on the North-South main line. Off to the left, there was Lill Coal and Oil, which used freight service on the ‘L’ until 1973. In this photo, you can see part of their siding heading off from the freight track, which has overhead wire. Lill was the last freight customer the CTA had. Once they stopped using the service, the CTA was able to eliminate freight. This was a carryover from the days when this portion of the route started out as part of the Milwaukee Road. That railroad interchanged with the rapid transit just north of Irving Park Road. Freight cars were hauled by electric locomotives using overhead wire. There was a ramp up to the ‘L’ structure near Montrose.

The same location today.

The same location today.

Fullerton, looking north, in August 1963.

Fullerton, looking north, in August 1963.

Just south of Belmont, looking north, in August 1963.

Just south of Belmont, looking north, in August 1963.

Approaching Wilson, looking north . in August 1963. Wilson shops are visible.

Approaching Wilson, looking north . in August 1963. Wilson shops are visible.

Just south of Addison, looking north, in August 1963. You can see the Wrigley Field scoreboard at left.

Just south of Addison, looking north, in August 1963. You can see the Wrigley Field scoreboard at left.

Howard Terminal, August 1963. This station was completely redone in the early 2000s.

Howard Terminal, August 1963. This station was completely redone in the early 2000s.

Morse, looking north, in August 1963. The old No Exit Cafe, a Beatnik coffehouse established in 1958, was located not far from here, starting in 1967.

Morse, looking north, in August 1963. The old No Exit Cafe, a Beatnik coffehouse established in 1958, was located not far from here, starting in 1967.

Just north of Sheridan, looking north towards Wilson, in August 1963.

Just north of Sheridan, looking north towards Wilson, in August 1963.

We are looking south off the rear of a northbound Evanston train at Foster Station in August 1963. The station in the distance is Davis Street.

We are looking south off the rear of a northbound Evanston train at Foster Station in August 1963. The station in the distance is Davis Street.

Looking south from the old Isabella station on the Evanston line in August 1963. The bridge in the distance goes over the North Shore Channel.

Looking south from the old Isabella station on the Evanston line in August 1963. The bridge in the distance goes over the North Shore Channel.

The old Wilson Avenue Upper Yard in August 1963. The shops building burned in 1996 and was removed.

The old Wilson Avenue Upper Yard in August 1963. The shops building burned in 1996 and was removed.

This August 1963 shot shows the yard at Linden Avenue in Wilmette, at the north end of the Evanston branch. There are overhead wires at left because this branch did not use third rail until 1973 (although the yard did). The station was behind the photographer, since moved to the left (east), I believe. To the left was also where the North Shore Line continued north on its own tracks for about a block, before heading west on Greenleaf Avenue.

This August 1963 shot shows the yard at Linden Avenue in Wilmette, at the north end of the Evanston branch. There are overhead wires at left because this branch did not use third rail until 1973 (although the yard did). The station was behind the photographer, since moved to the left (east), I believe. To the left was also where the North Shore Line continued north on its own tracks for about a block, before heading west on Greenleaf Avenue.

DePaul University is near Fullerton Avenue on the North-South main line. There were four tracks north of Chicago Avenue on this line, with a few gaps between there and Howard Street, where the Evanston and Skokie branches begin. This August 1963 view, taken from out the window of a northbound train (as are some of the others) looks north to the Fullerton "L" station.

DePaul University is near Fullerton Avenue on the North-South main line. There were four tracks north of Chicago Avenue on this line, with a few gaps between there and Howard Street, where the Evanston and Skokie branches begin. This August 1963 view, taken from out the window of a northbound train (as are some of the others) looks north to the Fullerton “L” station.

The Sheridan Road CTA station in August 1963. It still looks much like this today.

The Sheridan Road CTA station in August 1963. It still looks much like this today.

The Ravenswood (today's Brown Line) terminal at Lawrence and Kimball, looking north, in January 1960.

The Ravenswood (today’s Brown Line) terminal at Lawrence and Kimball, looking north, in January 1960.

All the trains I see here in this July 1964 scene are Douglas Park ones, leading me to think this is the old Pulaski road yard on that line. This route is now called the Pink Line, but that yard has been removed. The configuration of tracks from a map I have looks like it fits what I see in the picture. On the other hand, Steve D. says this is Logan Square, due to the building in the back with a sign for the Hollander Storage & Moving Company, which is still there on Fullerton Avenue.

All the trains I see here in this July 1964 scene are Douglas Park ones, leading me to think this is the old Pulaski road yard on that line. This route is now called the Pink Line, but that yard has been removed. The configuration of tracks from a map I have looks like it fits what I see in the picture. On the other hand, Steve D. says this is Logan Square, due to the building in the back with a sign for the Hollander Storage & Moving Company, which is still there on Fullerton Avenue.

This is the bridge over the North Shore Channel on the Evanston route in August 1963. We are looking south, and the station in the distance is Central Street.

This is the bridge over the North Shore Channel on the Evanston route in August 1963. We are looking south, and the station in the distance is Central Street.

From the Wien-Criss Archive

All the images in this section were taken by the late Charles L. Tauscher, and are shared by Jeff Wien, of the Wien-Criss Archive. These pictures show Kenosha buses, most on a fantrip held by the Omnibus Society of America. Bill Shapotkin notes, “OSA Fantrip 33 operated on July 9, 1967. The carrier was then known as Lake Shore Transit/Kenosha. Two different buses where used during the trip- #705 and 709.”

I recognize the former Kenosha North Shore Line station, four years after abandonment. The building still exists, but has been altered. It served as a restaurant for many years, and is now a day car center.

There are also two pictures taken in Racine, with the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Johnson Wax Building in the background.

The large Pepsi bottlecap ad on the front of one bus reminds me of the streetcars in Johnstown, Pennsylvania that had these too, in pictures taken near the end of service there in 1960.

If anyone can help identify the other locations, that would be greatly appreciated. Again, please refer to each image by file name, thanks.

Bill Shapotkin: "This photo looks east on 6th Street across Park Avenue in Racine, WI. Note that the Greyhound station is located on S/E corner of intersection. Aside from Greyhound, Wisconsin Coach (which operates a suburban bus service between Milwaukee and Kenosha) also served this station."

Bill Shapotkin: “This photo looks east on 6th Street across Park Avenue in Racine, WI. Note that the Greyhound station is located on S/E corner of intersection. Aside from Greyhound, Wisconsin Coach (which operates a suburban bus service between Milwaukee and Kenosha) also served this station.”

How this area looks today.

How this area looks today.

Bill Shapotkin: "This photo was taken in Racine, WI facing N/B on Main JUST NORTH of 5th Street. The view looks east."

Bill Shapotkin: “This photo was taken in Racine, WI facing N/B on Main JUST NORTH of 5th Street. The view looks east.”

Bill Shapotkin: "This photo was taken in ILLINOIS -- on SW corner of State Line (aka Russell) Road and Sheridan Road in Winthrop Harbor. View looks south (that is Sheridan Road at left)."

Bill Shapotkin: “This photo was taken in ILLINOIS — on SW corner of State Line (aka Russell) Road and Sheridan Road in Winthrop Harbor. View looks south (that is Sheridan Road at left).”

Bill Shapotkin: "This photo was taken in Kenosha, WI facing east in 57th Street between 6th and 7th Streets. The building behind the bus is still standing today!" On the other hand, Russ Schultz says this is 56th Street.

Bill Shapotkin: “This photo was taken in Kenosha, WI facing east in 57th Street between 6th and 7th Streets. The building behind the bus is still standing today!” On the other hand, Russ Schultz says this is 56th Street.

A contemporary view.

A contemporary view.

From the Collections of William Shapotkin

We will round out today’s post with four excellent images shared by Bill Shapotkin. More will follow in our next post, Loose Ends, Part Two.

This and the next image: Joseph Canfield took this picture of CTA PCCs at Western and Berwyn, the north end of Route 49, on June 13, 1956, just a few days before buses replaced streetcars on this line.

This and the next image: Joseph Canfield took this picture of CTA PCCs at Western and Berwyn, the north end of Route 49, on June 13, 1956, just a few days before buses replaced streetcars on this line.

CTA trolley bus 9300 at Grand and Nordica (west terminal of Route 65) in July 1969.

CTA trolley bus 9300 at Grand and Nordica (west terminal of Route 65) in July 1969.

CTA trolley buses 9300 and 9588 at Grand and Nordica in July 1969. This was my neighborhood, and I boarded buses here all the time back then. There was a supermarket next door (I think it was a national). In recent years this is now a resale shop.

CTA trolley buses 9300 and 9588 at Grand and Nordica in July 1969. This was my neighborhood, and I boarded buses here all the time back then. There was a supermarket next door (I think it was a national). In recent years this is now a resale shop.

Recent Correspondence

Barry S. writes:

With reference to your material on the launch of the Electroliner, I am passing along this contemporaneous promo /faux ticket. It’s about 30″ high. Due to my inept photo skills, it took three images to capture at least some details. Use and enjoy at your discretion. If any of your readers are interested, the item is for sale. It can be removed from its frame for easier/cheaper shipping.

I will make note of that, and if anyone wants to contact you, I will be sure to forward their info your way, thanks (using my ‘good offices,’ as opposed to my bad ones I guess).

Martin Baumann writes:

I recently discovered your very interesting website. In one post you said you are not sure what happened to Aurora Fox River and Elgin 305.

According to Cleveland’s Transit Vehicles: Equipment and Technology by James A. Toman and Blaine S. Hays it went to Cleveland with the rest of the batch and was retired in 1954 after its motors burned out during a blizzard at Thanksgiving.

That’s good to know, thanks!

Steve De Rose writes:

I am (still) Steve De Rose. If I did not previously mention this, I am also a member of the _American Breweriana Association_, which *just merged* with the East Coast Breweriana Association. Issue 226 of its journal arrived here very recently. John Warnik, of the sub-organization Chicagoland Breweriana Society has a fascinating story about the Yusay Brewery (formerly of 26th St. & Albany Ave). Yusay was one Chicago brewery which did a bunch of ads on transit vehicles. J. Warnik met someone who had seven medium-sized ads and he obtained them. Then came the questions of when these were used and where they appeared?

An ad for Dodge automobiles had Dodge’s 1953 slogan, “You’ve Got To Drive It To Believe It! 1953 Dodge”. This dated the signs to late 1952. He specifically focused on an ad for Yusay which illustrated its character ‘Local Boy’ at a banquet welcoming convention delegates to Chicago. As both the Democratic & Republican 1952 Presidential nomination conventions were held at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, ‘Local Boy’ was seated between an elephant and a donkey on the dais. This more precisely identified the time frame. From your ‘Trolley Dodger’ weblog, he discerned a route 4 Cottage Grove streetcar, converted to one-man service (4056) with this ad in one of the outside slots near the front of the streetcar. He credits it to all three authors of *_Chicago Streetcar Pictorial, the PCC Car Era 1936-1958_*, including you. But the photograph he identifies and reproduces in this journal article is not the one on page 57 in the book. It looks like it is running southbound in downtown on Wabash between Wacker and Lake. (He shrewdly placed the top of the Yusay ad over the lower right corner of the photograph.)

What this informs us of is that 4056, converted to one-man service in May 1952, made many (if not all) of its runs on Cottage Grove. {Did Madison & Madison-Fifth CTA routes use one-man PCC Cars?}

Thanks for writing.

Looks like we have run two pictures of PCC 4056 with this ad, which probably dates both to the summer of 1952.

Madison and Madison-Fifth did not use one-man PCCs (and I do mean that literally, female bus operators weren’t hired until the 1970s). But after buses replaced streetcars on Madison in 1953, the branch on Fifth was operated briefly as a shuttle, using older red cars (1700-series) that were one-man.

Two-man cars, in any event, were required on any streetcar lines that crossed a railroad. The car would stop and the conductor would get out and look both ways before the car crossed the tracks.

CTA wanted to use one-man cars on 63rd Street, but first held two public hearings, and at one of them (the one on the west portion of the line), there was opposition to the plan, so the line was converted to buses instead. The one-man cars were used on Cottage Grove from 1952-55, and after that became a bus route, Western Avenue got them from 1955-56.

Another thing that CTA did was to substitute buses for PCCs on weekends. This had been a recommendation of a 1951 consultant report.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

-David Sadowski

St. Louis-built PCC 4056, signed for route 4 - Cottage Grove, has just crossed the Chicago River. While the iconic Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower are at rear, the Sun-Times building (1958) had not yet been built when this picture was taken. Note a Chicago Motor Coach bus at rear. CTA purchased Motor Coach's assets as of October 1, 1952, probably not too long after this picture was taken. In the 1950s, some Cottage Grove cars (usually signed as Route 38) went north of the river and terminated at Grand and Navy Pier. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

St. Louis-built PCC 4056, signed for route 4 – Cottage Grove, has just crossed the Chicago River. While the iconic Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower are at rear, the Sun-Times building (1958) had not yet been built when this picture was taken. Note a Chicago Motor Coach bus at rear. CTA purchased Motor Coach’s assets as of October 1, 1952, probably not too long after this picture was taken. In the 1950s, some Cottage Grove cars (usually signed as Route 38) went north of the river and terminated at Grand and Navy Pier. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)

CTA 4056 is running on Route 4 - Cottage Grove in 1953. This is one of the postwar PCCs that was converted to one-man operation.

CTA 4056 is running on Route 4 – Cottage Grove in 1953. This is one of the postwar PCCs that was converted to one-man operation.

1939 Chicago Surface Lines Training Program

In 2016, we were fortunate to acquire a rare 16″ transcription disc, made in 1939 for the Chicago Surface Lines. This included an audio presentation called “Keeping Pace,” about 20 minutes long, that CSL used for employee training.

We were recently able to find someone who could play such a large disc, and now this program has been digitized and can be heard for the first time in more than 80 years. We have added it as a bonus feature to our Red Arrow Lines 1967 CD, available below and through our Online Store.

Screen Shot 03-16-16 at 06.58 PM.PNGScreen Shot 03-17-16 at 12.44 AM.PNG

RAL
Red Arrow Lines 1967: Straffords and Bullets
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.99

This disc features rare, long out-of-print audio recordings of two 1967 round trips on the Philadelphia & Western (aka “Red Arrow Lines”) interurban between Philadelphia and Norristown, the famous third rail High-Speed Line.  One trip is by a Strafford car and the other by one of the beloved streamlined Bullets.  The line, about 13 miles long and still in operation today under SEPTA, bears many similarities to another former interurban line, the Chicago Transit Authority‘s Yellow Line (aka the “Skokie Swift”).  We have included two bonus features, audio of an entire ride along that five mile route, which was once part of the North Shore Line, and a 20-minute 1939 Chicago Surface Lines training program (“Keeping Pace”).  This was digitized from a rare original 16″ transcription disc and now can be heard again for the first time in over 80 years.

Total time – 73:32


The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938-- Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 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!

Bibliographic information:
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960
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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) 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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More Buses, Trolleys, and Trains

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.

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.

-David Sadowski

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 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.

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.

CTA buses at the Western and 79th loop.

The old South Shore Line station in Gary, Indiana in July 1984. (Paul Johnsen Photo)

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 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.

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.

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 teh south side "L") toward grade-separated crossing with the St. Charles Air Line from 15th Street in March 2000. (William Shapotkin Photo)

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.

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 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 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)

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.

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.)

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 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).

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 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 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 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 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."

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.

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 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 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.”