It’s July 1969, and the original Tower 18 at Lake and Wells is being demolished to permit a new track connection to be put in on the Loop “L”. This was necessary so the CTA Lake Street “L” could be through-routed with the new Dan Ryan line that opened on September 28 of that year. The new tower is at left and has itself since been replaced. Prior to this, trains ran counter-clockwise in the same direction on both sets of Loop tracks. Henceforth, they became bi-directional. This is a Richard Hofer photo, from the David Stanley collection. The view looks north, and that is a southbound Ravenswood (today’s Brown Line) train at left.
I recently traveled to Milwaukee and visited David Stanley, and while I was there, he generously allowed me to scan some of his extensive collection of traction slides. Today we are featuring a small part of that collection, some classic photos of the Chicago “L” system, taken by the late Richard R. Hofer (1941-2010). Many of you may recall him from railfan meetings in years past. These pictures show he was an excellent photographer.
You can read Mr. Hofer’s obituary here, and you will note he was a proud Navy veteran. There are also some pictures of him on his Find-A-Grave page.
Scanning a photo, negative, or slide is just the starting point in obtaining the best possible version of that image. Each of these images represents my interpretation of the original source material, which often exhibits a lot of fading or color shift. For many of these images, we are also posting the uncorrected versions, just to show the substantial amount of work that goes into “making things look right.”
In addition, we have some recent photo finds of our own, as well as picture from our Milwaukee sojourn. As always, of you can provide any additional information on what you see in these pictures, do not hesitate to drop us a line.
We also have a new CD collection of rare traction audio from a variety of cities. These were recently digitized from original master tapes from the collections of William A. Steventon, of the Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. You will find more information about that towards the end of our post.
Richard R. Hofer Photos From the David Stanley Collection:
On April 20, 1964, CTA and local officials cut the ribbon at Dempster, commencing service on the new five-mile-long Skokie Swift line. This represented but a small portion of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee interurban that abandoned service on January 21, 1963. The Chicago Transit Authority had to purchase about half of the Swift route anyway, as their connection to Skokie Shops went over NSL tracks. The CTA decided to offer an express service between Dempster and Howard stations, and put in a large parking lot. Service was put into place using existing equipment at the lowest possible cost. The late George Krambles was put in charge of this project, which received some federal funding as a “demonstration” service, at a time when that was still somewhat unusual. But CTA officials at the time indicated that they would still have started the Swift, even without federal funds. I was nine years old at the time, and rode these trains on the very first day. I can assure you they went 65 miles per hour, as I was watching the speedometer. Needless to say, the experiment was quite successful, and service continues on what is now the Yellow Line today, with the addition of one more stop at Oakton.
The Skokie Swift on April 20, 1964.
The Skokie Swift on April 20, 1964. Note the old tower at right near Dempster, which had been used when “L” service ran on the Niles Center branch here from 1925-48. This tower remained standing for many years.
The Swift on opening day, April 20, 1964.
The Swift strikes a dramatic post on May 10, 1965. The slide identifies this as Main Street.
This car sports an experimental pantograph in October 1966.
A 5000-series articulated train, renumbered into the 51-54 series, at Dempster in October 1966.
In October 1966, we see one of the four articulated 5000s (this was the original 5000-series, circa 1947-48) at Dempster, after having been retrofitted for Swift service, where they continued to run for another 20 years or so.
The Skokie Swift in September 1964.
From 1925 until 1948, the Niles Center line provided local “L” service between Howard and Dempster on tracks owned by the North Shore Line. There were several stations along the way, and here we see one of them, as it appeared in September 1964 before it was removed to improve visibility at this grade crossing. I would have to check to see just which station this was, and whether the third track at left was simply a siding, or went to Skokie Shops. Miles Beitler says this is the “Kostner station looking east. The third track on the left was simply a siding, a remnant of North Shore Line freight service.”
Here is a nice view of the relatively spartan facilities at Dempster terminal on the Skokie Swift in September 1964. Service had been running for five months. This has since been improved and upgraded.
In October 1966, a southbound Howard train has just left Howard terminal, and a single-car Evanston shuttle train has taken its place. After its riders depart, it will change ends on a siding just south of the station, and then head north after picking up passengers at the opposite platform.
A Skokie Swift single-car unit at Howard in December 1968.
An Evanston train of 4000s at Howard in December 1968.
Two Swift trains at Howard, December 1968.
At left, a northbound Skokie Swift car, and at right, a southbound Howard “A” train at the Howard terminal in October 1966.
Two single car units in October 1966, both equipped for overhead wire, but for different purposes. In the foreground, an Evanston shuttle car has trolley poles, while the Skokie Swift car at rear uses pantographs. Evanston was converted to third rail in 1973, and the Swift about 30 years after that.
Same as the previous picture, this overhead shot from the transfer bridge, taken in October 1966, shows the difference in current collection on two of the CTA’s 50 single car units.
A southbound Evanston shuttle train approaches the Howard terminal. Third rail was banned in Evanston by local ordinance until 1973.
In September 1964, a four-car Evanston Express train approaches (I think) the old station at State and Van Buren. All four cars are single car units equipped with trolley poles, for use in Evanston where local laws did not permit use of third rail for current collection. In the early 1970s, this station was closed and removed, but was eventually put back, to serve the Harold Washington Library. This leg of the Loop “L” had a continuous platform for some time, which is visible here. George Trapp: “The September 1964 photo of four single unit cars 25-28, 39-50 on the Evanston Express are at Madison & Wells not State & Van Buren. Note crossover at Washington where non rush Ravenswood and late AM Evanston Expresses crossed over to the Inner Loop after stopping at Randolph & Wells on the Outer Loop. There was also a long continuous platform from Randolph to Madison.”
In September 1964, at a time when the Loop “L” had uni-directional service (counter-clockwise), a Ravenswood “A” train approaches Clark and Lake. On the other hand, George Trapp says we are “at Madison & Wells, notice the clocktower for Grand Central Station with B&O in distance. At that time many more cars is series 6001-6130 still had their original headlight arrangement.”
Logan Square yard in December 1966.
The tail end of a Congress-Milwaukee “A” train at the Logan Square terminal in September 1964. As you can see, space here was at a premium. George Trapp adds, “Tail end of freshly painted 6592-6591 at Logan Square in Sept. 1964. This set was in builder’s photos by St. Louis Car around June 1957. When new were originally assigned to North-South route as were all high 6000’s until mid 1960, although some 6600’s were on Ravenswood in 1959-60. I always though the old Logan Square terminal was neat, certainly had more character than present one.”
A southbound Howard “A” train is on the center track. and served stations that either had a center platform or (like Wilson) had two sets of platforms. “B” trains (and the Evanston Express) used the outer tracks and served stations with side platforms. This picture was taken in May 1968. Note the southbound outer track has overhead wire in addition to third rail, for use by freight trains that ran at night until 1973. George Trapp: “Southbound Howard to Englewood “A” train has two cars of 6511-6550 series on head end. This series was split between the North-South and West-Northwest in the 1960’s with cars up to 6550 and 6551-6558 from next series being on North-South in winter months. Note that track 4 was being redone at that time and is missing.”
In August 1963, a four-car Douglas-Milwaukee “B” train prepares to leave Logan Square terminal. Until 1970, this was as far into the northwest side of the city that “L” service went. By 1984, the “L” had been extended all the way to O’Hare airport. This train sports a fire extinguisher on its front, a practice that did not last, apparently because some of them were stolen. While this elevated station was replaced by a nearby subway, the building underneath the “L” actually still exists, although it has been so heavily modified that you would never know it is the same structure. The Logan Square terminal was always my favorite “L” station when I was a kid.
Workers are removing the old Tower 18 structure in this July 1969 view. When service on the Loop “L” was made bi-directional, due to the through-routing of the Lake Street “L” and the new Dan Ryan line, the old tower was in the way of new tracks that needed to be installed.
The same basic scene as the last photo, from July 1969. We can tell that this picture was taken prior to the opening of the Dan Ryan line (September 28, 1969) because the train making the turn here is simply signed for Lake. Prior to the through-routing, Lake Street trains went around the Loop, and all traffic went counter-clockwise. The new track connection that allowed bi-directional operation had not yet been installed here.
A Lake-Dan Ryan train in October 1969, and what appears to be left-hand running.
It’s October 1969, and this westbound Lake-Dan Ryan train appears to be running on the “wrong” track, perhaps due to weekend track work on the Loop. This train has just left State and Lake and is heading towards Clark and Lake. Through-routing Lake and the new Dan Ryan line, which happened in September 1969, meant the end of unidirectional operations on the Loop.
Track work near Tower 18, July 1969. A work train of 4000-series “L” cars is most likely parked here.
This picture was taken in April 1973 at one of the Howard line stations near the north end of the line. The two outer tracks are used for express trains, and the inner tracks for locals.
The southbound express track on the northern portion of the Howard line had overhead wire equipped, for use by freight trains that the CTA was obliged to operate for customers along this line north of Irving Park Road. This was a holdover of service that originally had been offered by the Milwaukee Road, which leased this line to the Chicago Rapid Transit Company. The Chicago Transit Authority purchased it in the early 1950s, and freight service ended right around the time this picture was taken.
Wilson Avenue, April 1973.
An Englewood-Howard train at Wilson Avenue in April 1973. This station has since been completely redone.
In the late 1950s, a fourth track was added to a small portion of the Howard line that previously only had three tracks. This platform was added at that time, and was used by southbound North Shore Line trains. I was actually on a southbound Howard train one day when it unexpectedly stopped here, so I got off and took a look around, just to see what it was like. This has all been removed now, of course. The overhead wire was used by freight trains that ran at night. This picture was taken in April 1973.
The view looking the other way from the platform at Wilson that opened around 1960 (this picture taken in April 1973).
CTA’s Tower 18 at Lake and Wells in July 1971, looking north.
A work train of 4000s is southbound just north of the Loop in July 1971.
Here, we are looking north from the old Randolph and Wells station in May 1971, looking to the junction of Wells and Lake. This station has since been replaced by Washington and Wells.
In May 1971, we see the rear of a northbound Evanston Express train of 4000s, just leaving the old Randolph and Wells station.
If I had to guess the location of this July 1971 picture, taken on Chicago’s north side, it would be between Wilson and Sheridan.
This Howard “A” train is heading southbound in July 1971, under a section that still had overhead wire for use by freight trains that ran at night. The Howard train, of course, used third rail for current collection exclusively. Perhaps one of our readers can help identify which station this is.
This picture was taken at Granville on the Howard line in May 1971.
Again, Granville on the Howard line in May 1971.
The rest of the work train, in July 1971.
This July 1971 photo shows either the Halsted or Racine station on the Congress line. The train is heading west, away from the photographer. In those days, many stations had these “pay on train” signs, and when illuminated, that meant there was no ticket agent on duty, and the conductor would collect your fare on the train. There are no more conductors now, so this practice ended a long time ago. There were large grassy areas on each side of the tracks along portions of the right-of-way, because plans originally called for four tracks here. There had been four tracks when this was part of the Metrolpolitan “L” main line. In the new arrangement, two tracks would have been used by Lake Street “L” trains, which were at one time intended to be re-routed onto the Congress line.
If this is the same location as the last picture, this is the Racine station, this time looking to the east. Again, this is July 1971. This is a westbound Congress-Milwaukee “A” train.
Finally, here is the uncorrected version of the picture at the top of this post.
Here are some photos I took in Milwaukee on May 3rd. They show the new Milwaukee streetcar circulator line, which began service last November, and memorabilia from the Dave Stanley collection. On the way up, I stopped in Kenosha and snapped a few pictures of the tourist PCC line there.
Two CTA “L” trains pass each other at Wabash and Lake in April 1975. At left, we see a Loop Shuttle made up of 6000s; at right, a Lake-Dan Ryan set of 2000s. The Loop Shuttle was intended to make it easier to get from one downtown station to another, but was not really necessary and was eventually discontinued. It originally came about in the wake of the 1969 changes, whereby the Loop was made bi-directional. At rear we see the old Sun-Times/Daily News building, which stood at 401 N. Wabash from 1958 until 2005. It is now the site of the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Just over two years after this picture was taken, part of an “L” train fell off the structure at this curve.
On March 2, 1980, photographer Arthur H. Peterson snapped this picture of CTA Historic Cars 4271-4272 at the Dempster terminal in Skokie. The occasion was a fantrip.
In February 1977, a two-car CTA Ravenswood train of “flat door” 6000s is about to stop at the old Clark and Lake station in the Loop, on its way towards Kimball and Lawrence on Chicago’s northwest side. This station has since been replaced by a more modern one, with entrances connected to nearby buildings.
Chicago & North Western steam locomotive 511, a 4-6-2, is northbound at the EJ&E (Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railway) overpass in North Chicago, IL on the afternoon of July 13, 1955. In the foreground, we see the tracks of the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee, the North Shore Line. North Chicago was also the original home of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum, which relocated to Union in the early 1960s. (Robert Selle Photo)
Miles Beitler writes:
This may be of interest to the history buffs — just before the opening day of Skokie Swift revenue service in 1964, the CTA ran free demonstration rides between Dempster and Howard. I was with a group of people on the Chicago Avenue bridge watching the trains coming in and out of Howard. I overheard a conversation among several of them, possibly CTA officials or workers, to the effect that the CRT/North Shore had originally planned for the tracks to run under Chicago Avenue and the C&NW but then to immediately rise and pass through the rest of Evanston on an embankment. However, this would have required the closing of Custer Avenue, which the City of Evanston refused to do. So the open cut was continued past Asbury, and the embankment did not begin until just east of Dodge.
Dave, you know much more about the Lake Street line than I do. How was the transition from 3rd rail to trolley poles done on Lake? Did they raise or lower the poles at Laramie, or was it done on the fly between Laramie and Central?
On Lake, the transition point was originally at Laramie, but some time prior to the 1962 changeover to the embankment, this was moved further west, to a point closer to Central, most likely to facilitate construction. This may have been done in 1961. I believe we have posted pictures in the past showing both changeover points.
Miles Beitler, again (in reference to some of the comments at the end of this post):
I want to clarify an earlier comment regarding when the Evanston Express began using track 1 between Howard and Granville. Andre Kristopans claimed that it wasn’t until the late ’60s, but I’m sure it was before that based on my personal knowledge and information from Graham Garfield. I mentioned that in my earlier comment — see the paragraph below — but let me expand on that.
Graham Garfield states on his website “No gauntlet track was needed for third rail clearance on Track 1 between Howard and Granville because there was no third rail there until November 1964, this section instead being solely powered by overhead wire.” Garfield also states that this is when SB afternoon Evanston Express trains began using track 1 out of Howard, but this may only be an assumption.
Why do I say that this may only be an assumption? Because elsewhere on his website, Garfield says:
“The year 1955 brought a new express service. On November 28th, the Shoppers Special service was reinstated on an experimental basis. The service ran Monday through Friday midday to the Loop using 6000-series cars 6123-6130 (specially equipped with trolley poles) and 5000-series cars 5001-5004. The Shoppers Special made all stops between Linden and South Boulevard, then Fullerton, the Merchandise Mart, and the Loop.”
So according to Garfield, these trains came from Evanston with their poles raised, and they breezed right through Howard without stopping. Were the poles quickly lowered while the train was passing Howard on track 2? It would seem more logical for the train to pass Howard on track 1, keeping its poles raised, and lower the poles at Granville instead. But then Garfield mentions that Howard was added as a stop the following year, and he displays a photo of a Shoppers Special stopped at Howard with its poles down. So I just don’t know which track these trains used, and perhaps Garfield isn’t sure either.
One point I’m absolutely clear on: I vividly recall watching from the Chicago Avenue (Evanston) bridge as North Shore trains approached Howard while the conductors or trainmen stood outside the cars and raised the trolley poles. Andre Kristopans confirmed this as well.
Prewar Chicago PCC 7010 is at the western terminal of Route 63 – 63rd Street, located at 63rd Place and Narragansett Avenue. After streetcars were cut back to this loop in 1948 (double-ended cars had previously gone a half mile west to Oak Park Avenue) this became a transfer point for buses heading west. This bus is heading to Argo, which is not the name of a suburb, but the name of a factory in suburban Summit that produced Argo corn starch. If you could see the front of the PCC, there were “tiger stripes,” intended to make the cars more visible to motorists and pedestrians. PCCs ran on 63rd Street from 1948-52. (William Hoffman Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
I remember using the names interchangeably. There was, and still is, Argo Community High School. But Amtrak and Metra call their station Summit.If you Google “Summit Illinois”, up comes another possibility: Summit-Argo. If you go to http://www.usps.com/zip4 and enter the address 6400 Archer Av, which is where Corn Products (maker of Argo Starch) is located, up comes “6400 S Archer Rd, Summit Argo IL 60501-1935”. Finally, if you google “Corn Products Illinois”, up comes that same street address, but in Bedford Park.
All of which means the area southwest of 63rd and Archer is sort of in no-man’s-land.
OK, here’s a nit comment about the picture itself. The bus headed for Argo may have said Argo rather than Summit because there is no place to turn around at 63rd and Archer. So the bus probably had to turn left onto Archer and proceed to Corn Products’ parking lot in order to turn around.
There is no town called Argo… the entire area is Summit. The Argo name comes from the factory, which has led locals to nickname it “Summit-Argo.” Here is a map, which shows the area in question is Summit, even though there is an Argo High School:
M. E. replies:
If there is no town called Argo, wherefore cometh the name Summit Argo? Why not just Summit?
The only current pure use of the name Argo is for the high school. But why did that name originate? Might the town have been named Argo when the school began?
Here’s something interesting I just discovered at http://www.usps.com/zip4 . There, you can look up a ZIP code and see which cities have that ZIP code. For 60501, I see:
Recommended city name SUMMIT ARGO
Other city names recognized for addresses in this ZIP code ARGO BEDFORD PARK SUMMIT
This tells me some people still use Argo as the town name.
Back to the CTA bus sign 63A ARGO. Why would the CTA do that? They could just as easily have accommodated 63A SUMMIT. I contend they used ARGO because the locals in that area called the town Argo. And I contend the town was called Argo because its largest employer, Corn Products, manufactured Argo Starch.
I have yet another source: A book titled “Train Watcher’s Guide to Chicago”, authored by John Szwajkart, dated 1976. It is accompanied by a map of railroad tracks in the entire Chicago area. The map shows two separate stations: Argo and Summit. The Argo station is south of Summit, around where Corn Products is located.
Finally, I fall back on what I remember calling that area when I was a kid. I called it Argo. Anecdotal, of course.
So it boils down to this: We can agree to disagree.
But isn’t this fun?
The town of Summit was founded in 1890, and the Argo factory was started in 1907 in an unincorporated area to the south of Summit. Summit annexed it in 1911.
The USPS will accept names for areas that are not, strictly speaking, the actual municipal names. I can think of numerous instances of this happening. Sometimes, these are neighborhood nicknames. Such is the case with “Summit Argo.”
Interestingly, there is a film called Argo, which has nothing to do with Summit or Argo in Illinois.
Now Available On Compact Disc
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include:
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern
$5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere.
Disc One Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick): 01. 3:45 Box motor #5 02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953 03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954 04. 4:13 Loco #12 Capital Transit: 05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953 06. 1:43 Altoona & Logan Valley: 07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953 Shaker Heights Rapid Transit: 08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953 09. 4:04 10. 1:39 Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s: 11. 4:35 August 27, 1954 12. 4:51 Illinois Terminal: 13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955 14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955 Baltimore Transit: 15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954 16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954 Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto: 17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954 18. 5:20 #80, October 1954 Total time: 79:30
Disc Two St. Louis Public Service: 01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953 Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City): 02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954 03. 5:17 Third Avenue El (New York City): 04. 5:07 December 31. 1954 05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954 Southern Iowa Railway: 06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955 07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9 IND Subway (New York City): 08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954 Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick: 09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr. Total time: 61:31
Disc Three Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction: 01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953) Cincinnati Street Railway: 02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951) Toledo & Eastern: 03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958) Capital Transit: 04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s) Total time: 74:02
Total time (3 discs) – 215:03
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago last November, 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.
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!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
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
Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
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Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
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CTA 6000s and gate cars in the early 1950s at Lawrence and Kimball, the terminus for Ravenswood trains. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, 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 are featuring the North Side “L”, used by today’s CTA Red, Brown, and Purple 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.
CTA single-car unit car 7 at Lawrence and Kimball. (Terrell Colson Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Using information on the back of the North Side “L” photo, we originally identified the train on the left as North Shore Line. But as Allen Breyer points out, ” I think there may be an error on the caption of the 3rd photo in installment number 7. I think the train on the left is CRT 4000s, not a North Shore train. It would be unusual for a North Shore train to be using one of the inside tracks and there seem to be route sign(s) on the LH side of the front of the car, whereas North Shore steel cars have built-in signs on the right front.” The train at right is a CRT wood car. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
A close-up of the previous picture.
Ex-North Shore Line line car, here renumbered as S-606, on the CTA in early 1966. Don’s Rail Photos: “S-606 was built by Cincinnati in January 1923, #2620, as Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 606. In 1963 it became CTA S-606 and burned in 1978. The remains were sold to the Indiana Transportation Museum.” (George Trapp Photo)
This photo shows the Wilson Avenue yard circa 1900, when it was the original northern terminal for the Northwestern Elevated Railway. Wilson Shops, shown here under construction, opened in 1901 and burned down on October 26, 1996. (George Trapp Collection)
CTA single car unit 4 changing directions near Howard, in Skokie Swift service circa 1964. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA S-354 and other work equipment at Howard in early 1966. It was rebuilt from a 1922-vintage 4000-series “L” car in 1965. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA 6554 at Loyola in its original paint, in December 1962. (George Trapp Photo)
This photo of a CRT train was taken at the Willow station on the north side main line. This small station opened in 1905 and was one of the only stations that CRT ever closed. It was located just south of where the State Street Subway connection to the “L” was built, which necessitated Willow’s closure on May 17, 1942 and subsequent demolition. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
A CTA Evanston Express train, made up from cars in the 25-28/39-50 series, at Loyola in December 1962. That’s the Granada Theatre at rear. (George Trapp Photo)
This photo, taken circa 1942-43, shows the “L” connection to the State Street Subway under construction. (George Trapp Collection)
The subway ramp, just south of Armitage. (George Trapp Collection)
The North Side “L”. Not sure of the exact location. (George Trapp Collection)
Here, we are looking south from Wilson in early days. There is a ramp going down to ground level at right. Those tracks were part of the freight operations that CRT took over from the Milwaukee Road. Fantrip trains sometimes made it down to street level there. (George Trapp Collection)
Crane S-201 at Wilson. (George Trapp Collection)
Wilson Shops, showing the Lower Yard tracks. (George Trapp Collection)
Wilson Avenue looking west from Broadway on January 21, 1929. The track in the background was used for freight. (George Trapp Collection)
The North Side “L”, north of Lawrence Avenue. (George Trapp Collection)
Eight cars of 4000s at Wilson. The head car (4439) is signed as an Evanston Express, but in actual practice, platform length limited those trains to six cars. (Allen T. Zagel Photo)
CTA S-104 and S-105 on the ground level Buena trackage south of Wilson. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Wilson Avenue in early days. We are looking north. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CRT 1149 is in the lead on a Howard-bound train that was also destined for the Niles Center (Skokie) branch. That probably dates this photo to the 1940s, prior to 1948 when the CTA abandoned the Niles Center branch. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CRT 1813 is part of a two-car train at Sedgwick. The flags may indicate this was a fantrip. (George Trapp Collection)
The Merchandise Mart station, looking south, on September 26, 1944. Those tracks at left went to the old North Water Terminal. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
The Merchandise Mart station under construction on October 22, 1930. It opened on December 5th the same year. We are looking north. (George Trapp Collection)
A northbound Ravenswood train comes out of the subway near Armitage in the 1940s. This picture had to have been taken between 1943 and 1949. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
The old “L” station at Larrabee, Ogden and North Avenue, which closed in 1949 as part of the CTA’s revision of North-South service. This was a “local” station, and did not fit in with the changeover to A/B “skip stop” service. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
A three-car “L” train at Sedgwick. (George Trapp Collection)
Here, CRT 1790 is part of a Jackson Park Express at Addison. (George Trapp Collection)
Northwestern elevated Railroad car 755. Don’s Rail Photos: “1755 was built by Jewett Car in 1903 as NWERy 755. It was renumbered 1755 in 1913 and became CRT 1755 in 1923. It was rebuilt as S-330 in June 1956.” (George Trapp Collection)
CRT 4082 was part of the earlier batch of 4000s, built in 1913 by Cincinnati Car Company. They were originally intended to have a center door, but this was apparently considered unnecessary by the time they were put into service. The center doors on these cars were covered up and seating was increased instead. Fans called them the “baldys.” (George Trapp Collection)
CRT 4138 is part of a Ravenswood Local train at Western. (George Trapp Collection)
S-105 in CTA days. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Here, a CRT 4000-series car is being used to haul a flatcar of some sort in work train service on the North Side, probably in the 1940s. (George Trapp Collection)
A close-up of the last picture.
A nice side view of CRT 4406. Most of the signs identify it as a Howard Street Express, although one has it as a 61st Street Local. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
This picture is a bit washed out, but shows a two-car train of CTA “flat door” 6000s in Ravenswood service. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CTA articulated 5004 at Lawrence and Kimball. This predates when the four cars in this series were retrofitted with pan trolleys and assigned to the Skokie Swift. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CTA 5004 being rebuilt at Skokie Shops for Swift service in February 1966. (George Trapp Photo)
Experimental running gear under CTA single car unit 27, shown here at Wilson on March 27, 1961. Some improvements tried out on on some of the 6000s were later used on the 2000-series in 1964. (George Trapp Photo)
By the time this picture was taken (February 1966), the original “baldy” 4000s had been taken out of service and replaced by 2000s. (George Trapp Photo)
Here. we see CTA 5001, renumbered as 51, in Skokie Swift service in 1966. (George Trapp Photo)
The remaining pair of 4000s kept by CTA after the rest were taken out of service in 1973, shown here at Wilson on a fantrip (probably in the late 1970s or early 1980s). We are looking south. (George Trapp Photo)
Another shot from the same trip. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA 6279 and 6280 as delivered. These curved-door 6000s included some parts from scrapped Chicago PCC streetcars. (George Trapp Collection)
Don’s Rail Photos: “S-105 was built by Baldwin-Westinghouse in August 1920, #53556, as NWER S-105. In 1923 it became CRT S-105 and CTA S-105 in 1948. In 1982 it was sold to TECo for parts and was sold to East Troy Electric RR in 1997. It was sold to Illinois Railway Museum in 2007.” It is shown at the Wilson Avenue Yards on the north side. (George Trapp Collection)
S-104 in CTA days. (George Trapp Collection)
Another photo of S-104. (George Trapp Collection)
Don’s Rail Photos says, “S-104 was built by Baldwin-Westinghouse in August 1920, #53555, as Northwestern Elevated RR S-104. In 1923 it became CRT S-104 and CTA S-104 in 1948. In 1978 it was sold to Toledo Edison Co as 4. It was sold to Rail Foundation in 1996.” (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
A CRT station on the North Side. Not sure of the exact location. I’m wondering of it could be Lawrence? (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection) Miles Beitler writes, “this photo does appear to be Lawrence Ave station looking south. The ramp down to Buena yard appears on the far right, as well as the merging of four tracks into two on the approach to Wilson station.”
An enlargement of the previous picture, showing a penny scale similar to one that was at the Laramie station on the Garfield Park “L”.
On May 26, 1963, a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip train makes a photo stop on the CTA team track at South Boulevard in Evanston. This train consisted of 4259-4260 and 4287-4288. By this time, the 4000-series cars, which were originally designed to operate individually as well as in multiple units, were being used as semi-married pairs.
The CA&E station at Spring Road in Elmhurst in the 1950s.
New From Trolley Dodger Press
VIDEOS ON DVD:
The Guy Wicksall Traction Collection (1963-1975)
Our latest release, by special arrangement with Guy Wicksall, features video transfers of rare, high quality 16mm color films of electric railroads taken across the country between 1963 and 1975. These are much better quality than the more typical 8mm films railfans used back then. If you like classic railfan videos, you are sure to enjoy this collection, which features narration by the photographer. Mr. Wicksall receives a royalty on each disc sold.
Disc 1: 38 Chicago and New York Commuter Trains, 1963-1964 (18:24)
Includes Illinois Central Electric, South Shore Line, Chicago Transit Authority “L” trains in the Loop, on Lake Street, Howard, and Evanston lines, Chicago & North Western and Milwaukee Road commuters, Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Central, Long Island Rail Road, New Haven, and New York elevated trains.
Disc 2: 48 Commuter Trains, 1968-1975 (57:22)
Includes San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni)PCCs (some double-ended), trolley buses, and cable cars, Philadelphia Suburban (Red Arrow Lines), including Straffords and Bullets), Penn Central,New Haven, Erie Lackawanna, South Shore Line, Illinois Central Electric, and more.
Total time – 75:46
# of Discs – 2 Price: $24.95
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I ran across an interesting article detailing the plans for building what we know today as the Kennedy and Dan Ryan expressways as they stood in 1946. Construction of the Northwest expressway did not begin until the late 1950s, and the highway opened in 1960. The Dan Ryan followed and opened in 1961-62.
The Tribune article from April 18, 1946 shows that the routes for both expressways were already pretty much determined, with a few exceptions.
The South (Dan Ryan) expressway is shown as being on the east side of the Rock Island railroad tracks until 39th street, and then continues south between Lafayette and State streets to approximately 99th, where it would connect with the Calumet expressway and the “Chicago-Detroit Super-highway.”
As built, the Ryan stays west of the Rock Island and does not run between Lafayette and State until it reaches Marquette (67th) heading south. The article says there will not be an interchange at 63rd because the road would be elevated at that point (it is not). The Chicago Skyway is not mentioned in the article, since it likely was planned later (it opened in 1958).
Virgil Gunlock, as head of the Chicago Department of Subways and Superhighways, had a lot to do with the expressway planning. He later became Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board, which runs the CTA. He died in 1963 at age 57.
The two rapid transit lines that were eventually built in the Dan Ryan and Kennedy expressways (opened in 1969 and 1970) were not part of these plans until about 1955. By that time, construction of the Congress (later Eisenhower) expressway was already well underway, with a rapid transit line in the median.
The Congress expressway is not mentioned in the article since planning for that had pretty much been completed prior to WWII.
Some portions of the expressways that the article says were to be built elevated were actually put into open cuts instead. There is no mention of what we now call “Hubbard’s Cave” in the downtown area, but there is mention of a block-long tunnel between Ashland and Cortland.
The reversible lanes on the Kennedy were apparently something that did not enter into the design process until the 1950s. I recall reading elsewhere that the reversibles ended up being shortened when the planners decided to add a rapid transit line to the highway.
Even in 1946, plans were for the highway to go past what we know today as O’Hare airport. In the article, it is called Douglas Airport. Prior to WWII, plans for the Northwest expressway stopped at the city limits.
The original idea for the Northwest expressway dated back to the 1920s. The original idea was for an elevated highway to run parallel to the Chicago and North Western railroad.
Even before WWII, there were plans for a South expressway that would parallel the Rock Island railroad. It was thought that this sort of alignment would reduce the number of side streets that would have to be truncated because of the expressway. The planners did not want to adversely affect local traffic on side streets.
As you can see, these highway plans were already very far along 9 years before Richard J. Daley became mayor. In fact, they even predate the two terms of his predecessor, Martin Kennelly. At the time this article was written, Edward Kelly was still in office.