This could be an “as new” photo showing Metropolitan West Side “L” car 876. Don’s Rail Photos: “2873 thru 2887 were built by Pullman in 1906 as M-WSER 873 thru 887. In 1913 they were renumbered 2873 thru 2887 and in 1923 they became CRT 2873 thru 2987.” (George Trapp Collection)
Our latest post features another generous selection of Chicago rapid transit photos from the collections of George Trapp. We thank him again for sharing these with our readers.
There will be additional installments in this series. Today, we go back to the west side for some classic shots of the Lake Street and Metropolitan “L” branches, forerunners of today’s CTA Green, Blue and Pink Lines.
As always, if you have anything interesting to add to the discussion, you can either leave a comment here on this post, or contact us directly at:
PS- To find earlier posts in our series, just type “Chicago rapid transit” in the search window at the top of the page.
The Metropolitan “L”:
This picture was taken at Wells and Van Buren, and shows the old connection between the Met lines and the Loop. The Insurance Exchange building is at right. In 1955, this connection was replaced by one that went right through the old Wells Street Terminal, last used by CA&E trains in 1953 (and CTA in 1951). The terminal can be seen in this picture on the left hand side, where there is a walkway connecting it to the Quincy and Wells station. Once the Congress median line opened in 1958, no such connections were needed, and they were removed by 1964. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
I’ve zoomed in to show the old Wells Street Terminal.
This photo is rather curious, as a blow-up on the section behind CTA 6097-6098 (a Douglas Park train) appears to show tracks leading off to the right. That could possibly be the track connection, used from 1955-58, that ran through the old location of Wells Street Terminal. On the other hand, Myron Moyano says, “the shot was taken from the LaSalle and Van Buren platform, looking west towards the junction at Wells and Van Buren. The platform furthest away after the junction was Franklin Street.” George Trapp adds, “6097-6098, photo is at LaSalle and Van Buren, Insurance Exchange Building is above car 6097 and rear half of 6098. Junction is with Wells Street leg of Loop “L” and station in distance is Franklin and Van Buren used by Met trains.” He guesses the photo dates to about 1952. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
A close-up of the previous picture. Are those tracks leading off to the right? Apparently they are, but just the ones leading to the Wells leg of the “L”. The station further in the distance is part of the Met main line.
CTA 6113-6114, signed for Douglas, on the Loop “L”. If I had to guess, I would say this might be the Van Buren leg, but I’m not 100% sure about that. George Trapp: “6113-6114 at same location and probably same day (as photo with 6097-6098, which is on the Van Buren leg), further east closer to Clark Street. My guess is photo probably dates to 1952.” (George Trapp Collection)
CRT 4102 and its “plus one” are heading west, just after having crossed the Chicago River on the four-track Met main line. They are serving both Logan Square and Humboldt Park, meaning this two-car train will be split at Damen and North. The station is Canal, which also had walkways connecting directly to Union Station. It closed in June 1958 when the Congress median line opened. (George Trapp Collection)
The four-track Met bridge over the Chicago River (actually, two two-track bridges).
This certainly has the appearance of a Met station. Looking at this photo under magnification shows the bridge in the background, and some of the buildings, match up with the old station at Madison and Paulina. The presence of 6000s here would date the picture to late 1950 or early 1951, before the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway went into service. We are looking north. We posted another photo taken towards the north end of this station in our post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Four (September 20, 2016). (George Trapp Collection)
A close-up of the previous picture. Note how there is something covering over the coupler. George Trapp: “6000’s at Madison-Paulina, cars fitted with gloves over couplers like Illinois Terminal’s PCC’s to protect electrical contacts. By the time 6131-6200 series delivered, hinged covers were fitted.”
Don’s Rail Photos: “2756 was built by Barney & Smith in 1895 as M-WSERy 756. In 1913 it was renumbered 756. It became CRT 2756 in 1923. At an unknown date it was rebuilt as a medical car. It was primarily used for physical exams for employees, and occasionally even made it to Milwaukee on the CNS&M.” This picture would seem to show it in funeral car configuration. (George Trapp Collection)
Don’s Rail Photos says, “2281 was built by Pullman in 1900 as M-WSER 281. It was rebuilt in 1912 and in 1913 it was renumbered 2281. It became CRT 2281 in 1923.” The car is signed for 5th Avenue. This was the original name of Wells Street until 1916. So it is that 5th Avenue and not one of the stops used by Westchester Branch trains from 1926 to 1951 on the CA&E main line. Therefore, the picture dates to between 1913 and 1916. (George Trapp Collection)
CRT 2705, signed for Wells Street, so we know the photo is from 1916 or later. This picture was probably taken at Laramie Yard in the 1940s. Don’s Rail Photos: “2701 thru 2756 were built by Barney & Smith in 1895 as M-WSER 701 thru 756. In 1913 they were renumbered 2701 thru 2756 and in 1923 they became CRT 2701 thru 2756.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Met car 2730, again signed for 5th Avenue, which limits this photo to 1916 or earlier. This time we are at the Logan Square yard. (George Trapp Collection)
CRTR 2866, most likely t Laramie Yard in the 1940s. Don’s Rail Photos says, “2859 thru 2871 were built by Pullman in 1906 as M-WSER 859 thru 871. In 1913 they were renumbered 2859 thru 2871 and in 1923 they became CRT 2859 thru 2871.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CRT 2802, signed for 5th Avenue, which would date this picture to no later than 1916. (George Trapp Collection)
Don’s Rail Photos says, “2721 was built by Barney & Smith in 1895 as Metropolitan-West Side Elevated Ry 721. In 1913 it was renumbered 721. In 1919 it was rebuilt as a merchandise dispatch car to be leased to the North Shore line. After a short time it was replaced by new and similar MD cars built for the North Shore. It was then returned to the CRT and used in work service. It became CRT 2721 in 1923.” The location is likely Laramie Yard. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection) We ran a different picture of 2721 in our post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Four (September 20, 2016).
CRT 4383 is signed as going to Maywood and Westchester via the Garfield Park “L”. It is coupled to an older gate car. We are at one of the ground-level stations. (George Trapp Collection)
The Douglas Park Yards at 54th Avenue in the 1950s. (George Trapp Collection)
One of the 5001-5004 “doodlebugs” and a Met car at Logan Square along with a work car. George Trapp: “One of the Pullman built doodlebugs, 5001-5002 at Logan Square appears to be coupled to the Met’s original steel dreadnought #2717. Odd for doodlebug to be at Logan Square at this time, 6000’s in background with cream roofs date photo to 1950-51. Doodlebugs had been assigned to Evanston for over a year by this time.” Coupling modern equipment to 2717, and the timeframe, may provide an answer. Perhaps these cars were being used for testing in the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway, which opened in February 1951. Wood cars were banned from the subway by city ordinance, due to fire safety concerns, but this did not apply to 2717, as it was an early experiment with an all-steel car. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CTA “flat door” cars 6003-6004 at Logan Square in the 1950s. Note the slightly different paint scheme compared to later cars in this series. George Trapp: “6003-6004 at Logan Square, in addition to the different paint scheme from 6005-6130, notice extra metal sheets riveted to large window posts between 1st and 2nd windows from each end. Only 6001-6004 had them.” (George Trapp Collection)
CTA 6007-6008. Note how the ends of these cars were painted differently than 6001-6004. (George Trapp Collection)
We have restored these four badly faded color prints as best we could. This one shows CTA single car unit 41 in 1959, as new, at Logan Square. Note it has not yet been fitted with trolley poles, which this car used when put into service in Evanston in 1961. (Robert Geis Photo, George Trapp Collection)
A lineup of 6000s at Logan Square in 1959. (Robert Geis Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CTA 6151-6152, 17, and 18 at the Logan Square bumper post in 1959. The greenish blob in the lower left corner of the picture is lens flare caused by the sun, essentially internal reflections of the glass elements of the lens that occur when you shoot into the light. (Robert Geis Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Brand new CTA single car unit 18 at Logan Square in 1959. (Robert Geis Photo, George Trapp Collection)
The Lake Street “L”:
CRT 3042 was a Lake Street car. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “3001 thru 3100 were built by Gilbert in 1893 as Lake Street Elevated RR 1 thru 100. In 1913 they were renumbered 3001 thru 3100 and became Chicago Rapid Transit 3001 thru 3100 in 1923.” (George Trapp Collection)
A two-car Lake Street “A” train (one car is numbered 1708) on the Loop “L”. Not sure of the exact location, but as you can see in back, this is an area where there was a continuous platform connection stations. This allowed for more trains to stop at the same time, and was likely the inspiration for the continuous platforms in Chicago’s downtown subways. Myron Moyano adds, “Car 1708 under the Lake Street section is at Madison and Wells.” (George Trapp Collection)
Brand new CTA cars 2003-2004 (paired with 2001-2002) in demonstration service at Randolph and Wabash in 1964. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA 2003-4 and 2001-2 on demonstration runs on the Wabash leg of the Loop “L” in 1964. This was the first series of rapid transit cars to come with air conditioning as standard equipment, something we take for granted today. Unfortunately, the AC was underpowered for the job it had to do, and the ceiling-mounted units tended to drip water on people. (George Trapp Photo)
An ancient view of Lake and Market, showing where the Market Street stub branched off. (George Trapp Collection)
A rare photo of the old Market Street stub terminal, where some Lake Street “L” trains terminated in the days before A/B “skip stop” service. It was torn down in the late 1940s. (George Trapp Collection)
The old Lake Street “L” bridge over the Chicago River. (George Trapp Collection)
A pair of shiny new 5000s (first pair is 5001-5002) on the Lake Street “L” bridge over the Chicago River, circa 1947-48. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Here is the Lake Street view of Lake Transfer, with two woods in the station. Riders could change here for the Met “L” Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains. (George Trapp Collection)
CRT 4338 heads up a Lake Street Local train somewhere on the west side. This photo is probably no later than 1943, since all the 4000s were shifted to the State Street subway then. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CRT S-200 in the Lake and Hamlin yard. Don’s Rail Photos says, “S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1923.” In this photo, it looks like it is being used to string trolley wire. You can see the ramp leading up to the “L” at right. (George Trapp Collection)
There was a short stretch, less than half a mile actually, where Lake Street trains ran parallel under wire right next to streetcars, as you can see here. The trolley is heading west, while the train of wood cars is going east, and just starting to head up the ramp. Route 16 streetcars crossed the “L” and turned north a block east of Central Avenue. (George Trapp Collection)
Editor’s note: Lake and Pine is perhaps the only place left in Chicago where streetcar tracks are still visible. Here are four pictures that I took there on July 7, 2016. The view is looking south:
Here’s an interesting streetscape that could not be duplicated today. According to the back of the picture, it shows the view looking east from South Boulevard and Austin, on the eastern edge of Oak Park. The Lake Street “L”, where it ran on the ground, had a very narrow right-of-way that the 6000s, with their bulging sides, could not fit in. So, looking for a place to build space for CRT/CTA employee use, there was nowhere to go but up. Not sure which bus routes are there in back, but this was the Chicago side of the street, which would argue against West Towns. It must be Chicago, since Oak Park was “dry” at the time and liquor is being sold. Bill Shapotkin adds: “If this is indeed at Austin (and I believe it is), the street is still called Lake (NOT South Blvd — as I understand that is strictly an Oak Park name). There were de facto two Lake Streets at this point– one north of the C&NW and one south of the C&NW. The name “Corcoran” (again as I understand it) did not come along until possibly the time the ‘L’ was rerouted onto the C&NW embankment). As for the bus — probably a W/B E16 — Lake. The bus looped via W/B Lake-N/B Austin-E/B Lake-S/B Mayfield-E/B Lake. That said, there appears to be a bus heading E/B as well — and that I cannot explain.” George Trapp adds, “Lake Street photo at South Blvd. and Austin, buses are Chicago Motor Coach TD-4502’s at terminal of Route 31 Washington Blvd. Buses are in their original 1940 paint jobs so photo dates to 1940’s.” (George Trapp Collection)
In this current map, it appears that Lake Street crosses over from south of the UP embankment to the north at Pine, where the CSL/CTA route 16 streetcar did. West of Pine, the street on the south side of the embankment is called Corcoran Place. (West of Austin, in suburban Oak Park, this is South Boulevard.) However, there is some question as to when the name was changed to Corcoran Place (see the next map).
In this early 1940s Chicago street map, the street south of the embankment is labelled as Lake all the way to Austin Boulevard, where it apparently crosses over to the north of the embankment in Oak park. There is no sign of any Corcoran Place. The solid line, shown crossing over from north to the south of the tracks at Pine Street, is the route of the route 16 – Lake streetcar. However, the map does not really make it clear whether, technically, the street to the north of the tracks was called Lake in this section, or was a continuation of Kinzie, as it was east of Pine. Were there in fact two Lake Streets in this section? There wouldn’t have been duplicate street numbers, since in this area, each half would’ve only had buildings on one side of the street. Perhaps a map expert can clarify all this.
The same view today.
This is a Lake Street local train, heading west on the ground level section, which was elevated in 1962. Since this photo predates A/B “skip stop” service, it must date to before April 5, 1948. (George Trapp Collection)
A westbound Lake “A” train in 1950s Oak Park. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
An inbound Lake Street Local somewhere in Oak Park prior to the adoption of A/B service in 1948. The outer portion of the line, from about Oak Park Avenue west, did not have fencing. There were numerous manually operated grade crossings along the 2 1/2 miles where trains ran on the ground. (George Trapp Collection)
Here, we see some Met cars in service on the Lake Street “L”. In the days when the outer portion ran on the ground, there was a short stretch just west of Harlem Avenue, which is what we see here. There was actually a station just west of Harlem, which was not used very much, compared to the one at Harlem and Marion. Wood cars last ran on Lake on July 5, 1954. In 1962, the nearby embankment was expanded by CTA to create a new yard. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
This picture is not from George Trapp, but we thought you might find it interesting anyway:
In this 1950s photo, CTA bus 5602 is on route 6. Meanwhile, we see trains of 4000s and 6000s on the “L” at Wabash and Lake. From 1913 to 1969, trains on both tracks ran in a counterclockwise direction. George Trapp: “Bus 5602 is on route 6, Garfield Blvd not Van Buren. The 5500 series propane buses didn’t start to arrive until late 1953. Garfield route was one of the first routes transferred away from a former CMC garage, 52nd to Ashland-69th. Propane 5500’s were a downgrade from CMC Diesels which were faster, easier to see out of and had more comfortable mohair plush seats.”
CRT/CTA 1757, signed as an Evanston local. Don’s Rail Photos: “1756 thru 1768 were built by Jewett Car in 1903 as NWERy 756 thru 768. They were renumbered 1756 thru 1768 in 1913 and became CRT 1756 thru 1768 in 1923.” (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
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