The conductor on this gate car, on a westbound Douglas Park train at Western Avenue, is waiting to receive the bell signal from the next car, so he can pass it along. Before “L” trains had door control wired up between cars, this is how the system worked. There were many more conductors– a three car train of wooden “L” cars had two conductors, plus the motorman. The date was February 9, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Andre Kristopans: “One detail – each train had one motorman and one conductor. Conductor worked between first two cars (or in only car if there was only one). The rest of the men were classified as “guards” and had a slightly lower pay rate. Motorman and conductor stayed together all day, guards worked dependent on train length that trip. They were apparently mostly part timers that only worked the longer rush trains, though for instance on North-South where trains were four cars midday at least one guard worked all day.”
Spring is finally here, and the temps are gradually getting warmer. But here at the Trolley Dodger, we feel we’re getting warmer in other ways as well– in the sense that we’re on to something.
After more than six years, we’re getting closer to what I hoped this site could be when it started. Maybe we’re finally realizing some of our true potential, I don’t know. I will leave such determinations to our readers.
But when I started my first transit blog (this is actually the second), someone opined it was long on potential, and short on execution. And I had to agree that this was so. Hey, nobody knows everything about a subject, and we learn as we go along.
And in six plus years, I feel we have improved both the content of this site (our image library) and the information that we provide. And it does seem to fill a need that was out there. I base that on how often our own articles and pictures come up when I do Internet searches on subjects, and the number of times we see our own pictures re-shared on Facebook.
When folks do share our images on Facebook, though, there are a few things that I would ask. First, do not crop out the watermark on our images that identifies them as having come from here. Second, please provide the correct caption information. Too many times, I have seen either partial, or sometimes even incorrect captions placed on our photos when shared.
Finally, please credit the original photographer, when the name of that person is known.
Today, we have a large number of outstanding classic photos for your consideration. Even better, all of them are from our own collections. Some we purchased, and others are scans of original 35mm slides taken by the late William C. Hoffman.
We recently received the Hoffman collection as part of an overall gift of photographs collected and shot by the late Jeffrey L. Wein, a friend for over 40 years. We thank him for his generosity.
You may have seen duplicate slides over the years from some of these Hoffman shots. Bill Hoffman was an avid photographer, and while not always the best from a technical standpoint, he got many shots that are unique and were either missed, or overlooked, by others.
Bill Hoffman’s strong suit was in documenting things that were fast disappearing, those scenes of everyday life that others took for granted. While many of his pictures are not tack-sharp, at least here, we are working with the “best evidence,” the original slides themselves, and not duplicates.
I don’t know what kind of camera equipment he used back in the day, but after he passed away in the late 1980s, a friend gave me Bill Hoffman’s last camera, which was a screw-mount Leica IIIg, a model from 1957.
Meanwhile, after taking a pause due to the pandemic, work will soon resume on our next book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, scheduled to appear on July 12. It has now reached the proofing stage, and there are still a few changes that need to be made.
Arcadia Publishing has priced this at $23.99, and we are doing our best to make sure that you, the reader, will get an excellent value for your money. We will begin our pre-sale at the beginning of June, and each copy purchased from our Online Store will also include a bonus item, as well as being autographed.
PS- If you want to see even more transit-related content than we can share here, check out our Trolley Dodger Facebook group, which currently has 242 members.
CTA 3156, seen here on the Stock Yards branch in the early 1950s, was built by Brill in 1909 for the Lake Street “L”. After it was no longer needed there, it was used on this shuttle operation in the early-to-mid 1950s, still sporting at least one trolley pole. I am not sure of the exact location here, but it is nearby Agar’s Meats and on a section of “L” that was double-tracked. The men in the foreground were either on the roof of a nearby building, or perhaps on the Chicago Junction Railway embankment, if that was close by. (Wendell E. Grove Photo)
On June 6, 1954, the National Railway Historical Society held a fantrip to say goodbye to trolley service on the Red Arrow interurban to West Chester, PA. Cars 14, 20, and 68 were used, and after 20 broke down, it was towed by 68. This was a photo stop, and the slide identifies the location as either “Milltown” or “Mill farm,” the handwriting is hard to make out.
We actually ran another picture from the same photo stop in a previous post:
Cars 14, 20 and 68 at a photo stop along the West Chester line on the June 6, 1954 NRHS fantrip.
Red Arrow Brill-built “Master Unit” 77, signed for the Sharon Hill line, in the early 1950s. This car, built in 1932, has been preserved, but the last report I have is that it is stored inoperable by the Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad.
Ardmore junction was a favorite spot for photographers on the Red Arrow Lines, as the Norristown High-Speed Line crossed over the trolley line to Ardmore. Many photos such as this were posed on fantrips, up until the end of 1966, when buses replaced rail on the Ardmore branch. The date and circumstances of this photo are not known, other than that it was taken in 1961. Car 66 was built by Brill in 1927, and has been preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum since 1970.
Over the years, Boston has phased out nearly all the street running on its Green Line trolley system, except for a bit of the E line, which now terminates at Heath. Here, on October 30, 1982, Clark Frazier captured this view of MBTA “picture window” PCC 3314, built by Pullman-Standard in 1951, on Huntington Avenue, going by Mission Park on its way to Arborway as part of a two-car train. Although service on the E line was truncated to Heath, trolleys still run at this location today.
Here is a view of the Lake Street “L” looking north from Garfield Park in September 1963. This was a time between the elevation of the west portion of the line in 1962, and the arrival of the new 2000-series “L” cars in 1964. The line was operated using 4000s, which by then had their trolley poles removed, as Lake was now operated with third rail only. These cars are in mid-day storage on a third track. The following year, a new yard opened in Forest Park, making this kind of storage unnecessary.
Johnstown, PA was the smallest city to operate PCC cars, and was a favorite of photographers, but I don’t recall seeing a lot of winter pictures. Here, Johnstown Traction 412, with its distinctive Pepsi bottlecap advertising on the front, is at the Roxbury Loop on March 14, 1959. Streetcar service ended the following year. (Bill Volkmer Photo)
Officials from Skokie and the CTA cut the ribbon at Dempster Street on April 20, 1964, inaugurating Skokie Swift service on file miles of trackage formerly owned by the North Shore Line interurban, which had quit service just over a year before. This is today’s Yellow Line and is now operated using third rail power rather than overhead wire.
We ran a different picture from this event in a previous post:
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. (Richard Hofer Photo, David Stanley Collection)
A two-car South Shore Line train, made up of cars 103 and 24, has made it to downtown Chicago during a blizzard in January 1979.
This is the back end of a westbound two-car train of 2000s on the Douglas Park “L” in July 1966, approaching the Laramie Avenue station in Cicero. Laramie was closed in 1992, but was reopened in 2002-2003, while the nearby 54th Avenue station was being redone. The station house at Laramie has been declared historic and is the last remaining one of its type, and has been preserved, although no longer used.
A close-up of the previous picture, giving a better view of the Laramie Avenue station, with 54th Avenue off in the distance.
A remnant of the Laramie station, as it looks today.
Pittsburgh PCC 1646 on Arlington Avenue in Pittsburgh on April 25, 1974. This trackage serves as a bypass route for a nearby transit tunnel, and I actually have rode on it twice– the first time was in 1985, when for a short time, it became an actual route, and then again in 2014, on a fantrip. (Joseph Saitta Photo)
North Shore Line combine car 255 on June 1, 1962. Note the variations in paint color on this car, ranging from a dark green to a bluish green. That should be enough to drive would-be modelers crazy in their quest for authenticity. Don’s Rail Photos: “255 was built by Jewett in 1917. It had all of the seats removed in the 1920s to provide a full length baggage car which ran in passenger trains. It was used for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to move equipment to Ravinia. On July 2, 1942, the 40 seats were replaced. Then on December 1, 1946, the seats were again removed. In addition to the Symphony, the car was used for sailors’ baggage from Great Lakes.”
A train of CTA 2000s on the then-new Dan Ryan line in November 1969 at 79th Street. (Rick Burn Photo)
A South Shore Line train at 130th and the under construction Calumet Superhighway in April 1952. (James P. Shuman Photo)
Since this shows a Logan Square “L” train on the Met main line, just west of the Loop, it must have been taken between August 1950 (when the 6000s were introduced) and February 1951 (when the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway opened).
This June 1975 photo of a pair of derelict CTA 4000s was, and remains, somewhat of a mystery. The location is marked as “Forest Glen Yard,” which is actually the name of a bus yard on Chicago’s northwest side. I posted this to our Facebook group, in hopes someone might help identify the location. Three possibilities were suggested: CTA Skokie Shops, Michigan City on the South Shore Line, and Joliet. The nearby freight yard and the orange caboose are clues. According to Andre Kristopans, that’s Chuck Tauscher at right. In his prime, he was an excellent photographer. (S. Downey Photo)
A close-up of the late Charles Tauscher, from the previous photo.
I really have no information about this photo, other than that it might be Mexico City. If I had to guess a date, I would say the early 1960s. What attracted me to it is that you don’t see a lot of photos showing a streetcar and a trolley bus together.
In a previous post, we ran a photo of the Logan Square interlocking tower, taken by the late Roger Puta on April 9, 1966, shortly before this tower was replaced by a new one that continued in use until the line was extended in 1970. Another, similar photo turned up recently, and I bought it. Imagine my surprise when it turns out to have been taken mere minutes after the first one! Although I cannot say for certain, this one may also have been taken by Roger Puta. I believe the man at left is his friend Rick Burn, whose name is written on the back of the slide. However, if that is him, he could hardly have taken the picture, and due to the great similarity with the other shot, it’s entirely possible that Roger Puta took this one as well.
Here is the other photo by Roger Puta:
CTA interlocking tower at Logan Square Terminal, Chicago, IL on April 9, 1966 Roger Puta photograph Roger wrote, “The last mechanical interlocking on the CTA and will be replaced with a new tower.”
South Shore Line trains at the Randolph Street Terminal in August 1965. This terminal has since been completely redone and is now underground, beneath Millennium Park.
On May 25, 1958 there was a fantrip on Chicago’s last remaining streetcar line (Wentworth), less than a month before the final run. This included a tour of South Shops at 77th and Vincennes, and the CTA Historical Collection was trotted out one last time for photos, of which there are many circulating. This batch was taken by J. W. Vigrass. The collection was eventually moved to the Lawndale car barn, where it languished until the 1980s, when it was parsed out to various museums.
CTA PCC 7207 is on Ravenswood near Devon Station (car barn) in the 1950s.
This is the third “L” photo I have, taken at this location, which at first was a mystery, but eventually turned out to be an annex (since demolished) just north of the Merchandise Mart. All three photos may have been taken at the same time, and by the same photographer, in the 1930s. This one shows North Shore Line cars 768 and 769.
This is a Brooklyn PCC car, one of a hundred in use from 1936 to 1956. It is signed for Route 68 and could be heading to the Brooklyn Bridge. Other than that, I have no information.
Stereo images were popular around 1900, and when placed in the proper viewer (sometimes called a “stereopticon”) provided a 3-D effect. This is the left picture from a stereo pair, showing cable cars on Madison Street in downtown Chicago. Some say that the Loop got its name from the paths taken by downtown cable cars, but research has shown the term came into popular use because of the “L’ and the Union Loop, completed in 1897. There are no overhead wires in view here, and none were permitted downtown until 1906. The tracks at left may have been used by horse car lines, since there is no trough for a cable.
The right image of the stereo pair.
This picture shows a Chicago PCC at the Pullman plant in Massachusetts. Chances are excellent that this is car 4062, the first of 310 that Pullman would build for Chicago, starting in 1946.
This is a rare agent’s stub for what is known as an “Interline ticket,” used for one trip involving two different railroads. In this case, it seems the trip involved the Monon Railroad and the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee, aka the North Shore Line. The passenger may have been a new recruit during World War II, as this ticket was apparently requested by the US government.
CRT 4096 is part of a Normal Park Express. This picture may have been taken on the south side. This car was part of the original order of 4000s, which came with a center door that was never actually used in service. It was closed off to provide more seating. These cars were known as “Baldies,” as opposed to the second 4000s order, the “Plushies.” Our resident south side expert M.E. writes: “This picture must have been taken underneath the pedestrian bridge at the Indiana Ave. station when the shoppers’ specials were running express from 43rd St. into the Loop. The shoppers’ specials ran only northbound. Returning southbound, they were local trains using the local southbound track, which is the track next to the platform at Indiana Ave.. This is the only circumstance I can think of in which a sign would say “Express Normal Pk”. Notice that the Normal Park car is the last car in the train. West of the Harvard station on the Englewood line, Normal Park cars were always attached as the last car of northbound mainline Englewood trains and detached from being the last car on southbound mainline Englewood trains. That arrangement lasted until 1949.”
CRT wood car 1136 is part of a Howard Street Express. The location might be the same as the previous picture.
CRT 4415, a “Plushie,” is part of a Howard Street Express. The nickname came from the plush seats used on these cars. “L” cars wore flags on certain holidays such as the 4th of July.
North Shore Line Electroliner set 801-802 is heading northbound at Loyola on Chicago’s north side “L”. If the train had been southbound, there would be overhead wire, then in use by freight locomotives. This Electroliner set is currently undergoing restoration at the Illinois Railway Museum.
North Shore Line 743 in a pocket track at Edison Court.
Photos showing North Shore Line trains being scrapped after the 1963 abandonment are rare– and this is not one of them. This is car 416, built in 1916 by Cincinnati Car Company, and rebuilt in 1942. It was scrapped shortly after this picture was taken at North Chicago on January 21, 1956, after the car had been damaged in a fire.
Atlantic City once had an interurban known as the Shore Fast Line. Interestingly, it inspired one of the four railroad names in the game Monopoly, the “Short Line.” In the early 1930s, Charles Todd, an early Monopoly player, got tired of trying to fit Shore Fast Line on his handmade Monopoly board, and “shortened” it as a joke. Charles Darrow copied it verbatim, and began to market this version of Atlantic City Monopoly commercially, and the rest is history.
South Shore Line car 100 wore patriotic colors during World War II, and helped promote the sale of War Bonds. A different picture of this car appeared in my 2017 book Chicago Trolleys.
CRT Shopper’s Specials Timetables, 1923-24
Chicago’s “L” system started out as four separate companies, that gradually came together as a single system. This evolution reached its fruition in 1924, when all four entities were combined into the Chicago Rapid Transit Company as part of the Samuel Insull empire.
From about 1913 on, the “L” had been operated more or less as a single unit, but the four underlying companies were still there. As part of this unification process, new all-steel state of the art rapid transit cars were ordered, the 4000-series, in two distinct batches. These were the first “L” cars intended for use on all lines– previously, all cars had been at least partially made from wood, and were ordered for use on one of the four independent “L” lines.
The first 4000s were built circa 1913-15, and the second group from 1923-24. When the later 4000s were put into service, the Insull interests instituted a mid-day “Shopper’s Special” express service on five lines in time for the 1923 Christmas season.
We were fortunate recently to be able to purchase three rare 1923-24 timetables for this service. This type of service was most successful on the Evanston line over the years. The Chicago Transit Authority re-introduced a “Shopper’s Special” as a mid-day Evanston Express in the late 1950s, and this lasted into the early 1990s.
Photos by William C. Hoffman
Bill Hoffman used a Leica iiig camera similar to this for many years.
On October 22, 1953, work was far along on dismantling the former CTA Garfield Park “L” station at Western and Congress. Remarkably, trains ran on this line less than a month before this picture was taken. The tracks at ground level were a bypass route for Western Avenue streetcars, to facilitate construction of a new bridge over the eventual Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway. The view looks to the north. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An interior view of CTA wood car 1813, built by ACF in 1907. This picture was taken on a May 1, 1955 fantrip, while the train was on the Van Buren Street temporary ground level trackage, where the Garfield Park “L” ran from 1953 to 1958 during construction of the nearby Congress rapid transit line. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
In a previous post, we ran a picture of car 1813 (not by Bill Hoffman), probably taken on the same May 1, 1955 fantrip:
CRT 1813 is part of a two-car train at Sedgwick. The flags may indicate this was a fantrip. (George Trapp Collection)
Bill Hoffman took this picture on July 8, 1954, to compare “old” (left) and “new” types of third rail collection shoes on CTA 6000-series “L” cars. This photo was taken at 43rd Street.
Steel wheels, trolley poles, and coupling detail of CTA high performance cars 6129-6130 at Sedgwick on December 11, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On July 21, 1950, a CTA Grafield Park “L” train approaches Marshfield from the west, while a westbound Chicago Aurora & Elgin train is at the station. The tracks curving off to the left are for the Douglas Park branch (today’s Pink Line), (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Chicago Rapid Transit 3023 is southbound at Chicago Avenue on April 6, 1946. Note the tower behind the train, which controlled switching. North of here there were four tracks instead of two. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On December 2, 1946, Chicago Rapid Transit car 3024 heads up a southbound two-car train at Chicago Avenue. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This is the view looking east at the CTA 40th and Indiana Avenue station on November 10, 1957. There is a single car Kenwood shuttle train in the pocket track, and Kenwood had less than three weeks to go before abandonment. The sign shows the routing of lines at this station, and there is a sticker over where the Stock Yards line had been, as that branch had already been abandoned not long before (October 6, 1957). (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A close-up of the sign, and an early example of “cancel culture.” The replacement bus was a new #43 Stock Yards Limited, which continued in service until March 26, 1962. Both “L” and bus did not last due to the Stock Yards being in an irreversible decline, and this Chicago landmark closed for good in 1971. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This is the view looking west along the Congress expressway construction site on December 30, 1954, showing an eastbound four-car Garfield Park “L” train on temporary trackage in Van Buren Street. The highway opened in this area the following year. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A southbound 6-car train of CTA woods is at 18th Street on the Douglas Park “L” on March 7, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The Chicago Transit Authority logo on a new substation under the Harvard “L” station on April 23, 1962. This Englewood branch station closed in 1992, and was demolished during the 1994-96 Green Line reconstruction. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On August 15, 1954, a four-car CTA train of 6000s heads northbound into the State Street Subway at the south portal at 13th and State. The section of “L” to the left was then not being used by CTA trains on a regular basis. Now the situation is reversed– the “L” is used by regular trains, but the subway portal is not, since Howard trains are connected to the Dan Ryan line via a different tunnel. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A two car CTA train of 6000s descends into the south portal of the State Street Subway on April 1, 1956. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Here. we see the tail end of a northbound four-car train of CTA 6000s on the Douglas Park “L” at 18th Street. The date was March 7, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On September 15, 1957, a southbound CTA train on the north-south “L” passes by a North Shore Line train (lead car 420) on a fantrip. The lower level tracks were an interchange connection between the “L” and the Milwaukee Road, and were used for freight until 1973. They had once been part of a commuter rail line that the “L” took over north of Wilson Avenue that originally ran at ground level to Evanston. The lower level area is now occupied by Challenger Park. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
When the Lake Street “L” ran at ground level west of Laramie, it ran parallel with the Lake Street streetcar line for a few blocks, before the latter crossed over to the north side of the railroad embankment at Pine Avenue. On May 8, 1954, about three weeks before buses replaced streetcars on CTA Route 16, westbound car 3163 passes an eastbound “L” train made up of 4000s. Note the trolley wires for both used a common support. The “L” was relocated onto the embankment on October 28, 1962. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An eastbound CTA three-car train of woods passes a westbound CA&E train near Western Avenue on August 9, 1950. This is approximately the same view as a different photo in this post, taken on October 19, 1953, by which time the “L” structure here was being demolished to make way for the Congress expressway. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On October 19, 1953, we are looking west along the old Garfield Park “L” at Western Avenue, as it was being demolished as part of the Congress expressway construction project. Behind the photographer, the Western Avenue “L” station was already being dismantled, which you can see in a different photo in this post. Remarkably, trains ran on these tracks as late as September 27 in one direction, only about three weeks before this picture was taken by William C. Hoffman. Soon, the Western Avenue streetcar tracks were re-routed in this area, so it could be excavated and the bridge that now goes over the expressway could be built.
When Bill Hoffman tool this picture on August 7, 1954, looking east along Randolph Street at the “L” station on Wabash, it was about to be renovated with, among other things, a large metal CTA logo and a new waiting room. The new station opened in 1957 and included a direct entrance to the second floor of Marshall Field’s. Randolph and Wabash was replaced by a new station at Washington and Wabash (which also replaced Madison) in 2017. This picture is a bit blurry, probably because Hoffman had only a few seconds to take it before getting out of the way from oncoming traffic. I guess you could call it a “grabshot.”
I used a black-and-white version of this image, made from a duplicate slide, in my 2018 book Building Chicago’s Subways. I had tried to borrow the original from Jeff, but he said he had no idea where to find it. So I had to guess at the date, and assumed it was from 1954. But actually, the date was October 19, 1953. Apparently, they were in a rush to get the old Garfield Park “L” structure out of the way here at Western Avenue, so expressway work could proceed. The view looks to the northeast on Western at Congress. Since this was scanned from the original slide, now I can make out that the PCC streetcar at left is 4390, which was still in service in June 1958, when the last Chicago streetcar ran on Wentworth. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Now here is an amazing photograph. To catch both an eastbound CTA Jackson Park “L” train on the bridge, and a southbound Illinois Central Electric commuter train, is nothing short of fortuitous. But that’s exactly what Bill Hoffman did on August 3, 1958. The bridge is now gone, as CTA “L” service has been cut back to Cottage Grove, and the IC is now Metra Electric.
Bill Hoffman’s notes: “October 25, 1954. View northwest – Halsted Street station – Englewood “L” line – (63rd Place). Old Chicago & Interurban Traction terminal in foreground.” Our resident south side expert M.E. adds: “Lots of things to say about this picture. (1) The first car has the old Rapid Transit System paint job. It seems to me that, when the CTA formed married pairs of L cars, they would have repainted the CRT car in current CTA livery. So I think the cars on this train were not married pairs. (2) Notice the eastbound train, which is stopped, extends past the platform. I think the rear of the train also extends past the rear of the platform. Why? Until 1949, Normal park L cars were attached or detached from mainline Englewood trains at Harvard. Therefore, Englewood trains west of Harvard had one less car than trains had east of Harvard. But after 1949, when Normal Park service became a shuttle to and from Harvard, all Englewood trains had the same number of cars both west and east of Harvard. I think the train shown has 7 cars. One reason, of course, is the CRT paint on only one car. A second reason is that, as I recall, platform lengths back then accommodated 6 cars. Therefore the first and seventh cars would extend past the platform. A third factor would be if there were still multiple conductors who stood between cars to open and close entry and exit doors. There would be no conductor at the rear of the train, and no conductor at the front. So the train could extend past the platform at both ends. But if, by then, there were indeed married pairs and only one conductor who controlled all the doors, then why is only the first car still painted in CRT colors? Too bad we can’t count the cars. (3) The bus shown belonged to the South Suburban Safeway Lines, which essentially replaced the Chicago & Interurban Traction Co. and kept the same route along Halsted St. into Chicago, ending on the south side of the 63rd and Halsted L station. But in the meantime, the bus company started a second route north of Harvey that used Dixie Highway, Western Ave., and 63rd St., and ended at the 63rd/Halsted L. So the SSL bus shown could be on either the Halsted line or the Western line. The other bus line that served 63rd/Halsted was the Suburban Transit System, based in Oak Lawn. All this bus service came to Englewood because the shopping district centered around 63rd and Halsted was the largest outside the Loop. (4) Landmark buildings in the picture: (a) The Sears store was on the northeast corner of 63rd and Halsted. (b) The tower at the far left was atop the Wieboldt store on the southwest corner of 63rd and Green (a half-block west of Halsted). (5) West of the interurban building, and just past the tree, is the Rapid Transit station entrance from 63rd Place. There was also an entrance on Halsted St. (6) The red neon sign at the left seems to say “Ambulances”. I don’t know what that was about. (7) This picture was made possible because the buildings on the south side of 63rd Place had been razed, leaving a mound of dirt and rocks.” Andre Kristopans adds: “You are correct the shot at 63/Halsted has odd number of cars, and therefore can’t be consecutive numbers. As I understand, the plushies were paired up starting in 1950s, but baldies never really were. There was an effort made circa 1949, but until the end there were mismates. It was only after the plushies came off Lake and went to Ravenswood 1964 was there really an effort to keep pairs together. Remember there were trailers around until about 1960, so you had to pair a trailer with a motor both on Lake and Evanston. Also, “CTA”ing 4000s was a multi-part process. Install MUDC, convert from line to battery control, add permanent markers, add headlights, repaint. Not all at same time. Have seen photos of cars in brown with marker boxes and headlights and cars in green without. Another item – how were train splits handled? There were at least three locations where in-service trains were split. Harvard on Englewood, Laramie on Garfield, Damen on Logan Square. I assume a fresh crew of two handled the cut section, shuttling Harvard to 69, Laramie to 22/Mannheim (or Roosevelt) and Damen to Lawndale, with one guard going off duty at the cut location and going back on aboard the next inbound train. Also there were cuts and adds at midroute yards, but that was simply the guards on the cut or add ending there. Finally, there were thru Jackson Park trains to Linden rush hours until the reorganization. Probably only part of train went thru, with rest being added to a southbound at Howard? Howard was not a major yard until 1950s apparently, Wilson was.”
From September 20, 1953, until July 3, 1957, Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban train service terminated in Forest Park, and commuters had to change trains to ride the CTA Garfield Park “L” if they wanted to continue downtown. They had to pay a regular CTA fare (packs of tokens were available at a discount) and portions of the ride were slow, at least on the 2.3 miles where Garfield was temporarily running on surface trackage in Van Buren street. The CTA and CA&E did their best to coordinate service, however, as evidenced by these signs lined up at Laramie Avenue on August 7, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
While this is not the greatest picture, from a technical standpoint (it is blurred), it does show CTA streetcar 1749, one of a few that had been painted green, running under the Lake Street “L”. The view looks east at Central Park Boulevard, by Garfield Park. I am not sure why the streetcar is signed for Route 21, which was Cermak Road. The “L” cars up top are midday storage on a third track. The Lake “L” did not have a proper storage yard until 1964, when a new one opened west of Harlem Avenue in Forest Park. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
In the Red
Bill Hoffman didn’t just shoot Kodachrome slide film. Sometimes he used Ektachrome, and occasionally, Agfachrome. Ektachrome had a higher film speed than Kodachrome (32 vs. 10) in the 1950s. Unfortunately, time has proven that the dyes used in early Ektachrome film were unstable and subject to fading.
I scanned some of these faded slides, and took a stab at color correcting them. They appear almost entirely red, due to the extreme fading of the other color layers. Years ago, it was felt there was little that could be done with these images, except convert them to black-and-white.
With computers, it is now possible to do a better job at repairing some of these images.
So, first here are the red versions, and then the versions that are not so red. Unfortunately, only one of them really looks “right.” Sometimes, there is only so much you can do.
The view looking west at 41st Street on the “L” as of June 28, 1962. The freight cars are on Chicago Junction Railway tracks. The old Stock Yards “L” branch would have run to the west just south of the CTA main line. East of here, the former Kenwood branch ran on CJR’s embankment. The “L” turned north here via “Powerhouse Curve.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
CTA riders enter the “L” station at 63rd and Loomis after a snow storm on April 17, 1961. This station was built in 1907, and was the terminal for the Englewood branch until it was extended about two blocks west to Ashland Avenue in 1969. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On September 13, 1959, the Chicago White Sox were in first place in the American League, but had not yet clinched the pennant. That happened on September 22 in Cleveland, after which Fire Commissioner Robert Quinn ordered the air raid sirens to blow here for five minutes. But the CTA was already encouraging baseball fans to take the “L” to Comiskey Park for the upcoming World Series, which the pale hose lost in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is the north face of the CTA “L” station at State and Van Buren, which appears largely unchanged since it was built in 1897. This station closed in 1973 and was removed two years later. It was replaced by a new station serving the Harold Washington Library in 1997. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Our resident south side expert M.E. adds: “My eagle eye says the destination sign on the bus reads “42 Halsted- Downtown”, which ran along State St. north of Archer Ave. Also: The US flag in the picture is a brand-new, 50-state flag that took effect on 20 August 1959 when Hawaii became the 50th state. The tall building at the left would be the Sears store on the southeast corner of State and Van Buren.”
On August 24, 1958, we are looking to the southeast at the State Street Subway’s south portal at 13th and State. A northbound CTA train heads into the tunnel, while North Shore Line cars are sitting up on the nearby “L”. Between 1949 and the 1963 abandonment, NSL trains had exclusive use of the Roosevelt Road “L” station, just north of here, and used the nearby tracks for storage. Now, those tracks are used by the CTA Green Line, while this subway portal only sees use when Red Line trains are diverted to the “L”. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On June 15, 1956, just two days before streetcars were replaced by buses on Western Avenue, two CTA PCCs meet a Garfield Park “L” train running on temporary trackage on Van Buren Street. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On March 25, 1962, a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip used North Shore Line cars 771-415-753-251 on the Evanston branch, where NSL cars had last run in 1955 (when the Shore Line Route was abandoned). Here, the train is at Isabella. This lightly used station closed in 1973 and was removed soon after. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A CTA rapid transit sign at Randolph and Wells on May 12, 1961. This was a difficult one to correct, as I really have no idea what color this sign was. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The late Jeffrey L. Wien would have celebrated his 80th birthday on April 3rd. We were all young once. Somehow I ended up with photos of him as a child. I will try to get them to his sister. Mom wrote: “May 1944. My new outfit– navy overalls and red jacket and beret. Mama likes to dress me in red– the better to keep her eyes on me.”
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
RGTS Rio Grande to Silverton: A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading Price: $14.99
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
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. 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. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere:
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) Help Support The Trolley Dodger This is our 265th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 752,000 page views, for which we are very grateful. You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.” We thank you for your support. DONATIONS In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty. Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.
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).