This picture of the old Met bridge over the Chicago River is undated, but probably dates to circa 1952-55 based on the type of red border Kodachrome mount it is in. But it is certainly after the the other picture in this post, taken at much the same location, since the building at rear, or part of it, was in the process of being torn down. This was not related to expressway construction, since the “L” at this point was north of there. Once the Congress rapid transit line opened in 1958, this section of “L” was taken out of service and by the early 1960s it had been torn down.
Cooler weather has moved into the Chicago area, and along with it, we have a Fall Harvest of classic rail images for you today, including many by three of the greatest railfan photographers of the 1950s– Clark Frazier, Truman Hefner, and William C. Hoffman.
Enjoy! -David Sadowski
This video features streetcars and elevated trains in Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York City, mostly from the early 1950s– and originally shot on high quality 16mm film:
CSL 4001 at South Shops, with 7001 in front of it, probably during the 1950s, when these two experimental cars were being used for storage.
CTA PCC 4371, built by Pullman, is on State Street heading south from Randolph, with the old State-Lake Theater in the background. The film “Lovely To Look At” was released on July 4, 1952, which is probably around when this picture was taken.
North Shore Line 759 heads up a two-car train heading southbound at Harrison Street, leaving street running in favor of private right-of-way in Milwaukee on June 16, 1962. (Richard H. Young Photo)
A two-car CTA Kenwood shuttle train at Indiana Avenue, probably some time around 1949. I assume there must have been stairs leading up to the tower.
A close-up of the previous image.
CTA 6130-6129 are “at speed” near Jarvis “L” station on the north side, operating under wire on the southbound express track as a mid-day Evanston “Shopper’s Special” on December 11, 1955. The picture is slightly blurred because Kodachrome back then was ASA 10 (until the introduction of Kodachrome II in 1961). The unique signage on the train indicates which stations this express train stopped at.
Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 28 is at the head of a train in this picture I assume was taken in Wheaton, between 1952-55 (based on the slide mount).
Red Arrow Strafford car 164 is on the high-speed line to Norristown in the early 1950s, perhaps near 69th Street Terminal. Kenneth Achtert adds: “Your picture of Strafford car #164, if the early 1950s date is accurate, was most likely not on a Norristown line trip, but is arriving at 69th St. Terminal likely coming from Strafford. Strafford service was not abandoned until 1956 and was what gave the 160-series cars their common name. The bullet cars could have been called Norristown cars, but they already had an even better name.”
Red Arrow double-ended car 20, which looks like a PCC but technically isn’t, is running outbound on the Ardmore branch in the early 1950s. Not sure what all the track work is about, although the West Chester branch itself was abandoned in favor of buses in 1954, so that West Chester Pike could be widened. I assume this is the intersection of West Chester Pike and Darby Road in Havertown, PA. The Ardmore trolley was replaced by buses at the end of 1966. Both trolley lines here are now SEPTA bus routes. Mark A. Jones adds: “Regarding the Red Arrow trackage on West Chester Pike west of the Ardmore turn-off, it continued in use after the West Chester line became a bus as the Llanerch car barn (which housed the Red Arrow trolleys at the time) was located Darby Rd. and West Chester Pike west of the Ardmore cut-off. That’s my memory of that.”
Red Arrow double-ended St. Louis car 15, built circa 1949, is coming off the Ardmore line towards the 69th Street Terminal in the early 1950s. The West Chester branch might still have been in operation then, as there is a car in the distance on West Chester Pike.
Red Arrow Brilliner 9 is signed for the Media route in the early 1950s.
Red Arrow Brilliner 6 is signed for the Media route in the early 1950s.
On August 3, 1950, an eastbound Garfield Park “L” train approaches Western Avenue station. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Deck roofed “L” cars, including 2908, are in Laramie Yard on July 2, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An eastbound train of wooden “L” cars (including 3210), with trolley poles up, heads east on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L” in Oak Park on October 12, 1953. I believe the location is a few blocks east of Marion Street, where the street (South Boulevard) narrows.
The subway entrance on State Street between Madison and Monroe, as it looked on December 5, 1954. PCCs were still operating on State at that time. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking south from the 35th Street “L” station on August 23, 1963. A new center island station had opened here in 1961, taking up space formerly occupied by the center express track, which had been unused after 1949. A fire destroyed the new station in October 1962, and temporary facilities were used until the station was rebuilt in 1965. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An 8-car train of CTA 4000s, still in the old tan color, approaches 35th Street on November 6, 1950. In this somewhat underxposed slide, you can still make out the long walkway at right, which connected to a stairway at the former 33rd Street “L” station, only used as an auxiliary entrance and exit for 35th after 1949. This walkway was closed on September 25, 1961 and removed thereafter. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking west from the transfer bridge at the CTA station at 40th and Indiana Avenue on July 7, 1953. A southbound train of 6000s heads into the station. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This slide, taken on Sunday, March 6, 1955, gives a good view of the direction sign on the transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana station. Our resident South Side expert M. E. adds, “Two-car trains were rare on the north/south main line. The destination sign explains why just two cars: It is an “all-stop” sign reading “Howard Street”. Most days of the week, main line service was either “A” or “B”. The only time the CTA ran just two cars on the main line as all-stop trains was on Sunday mornings.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The westbound view from the transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana on July 2, 1963 shows CTA 6047 at the rear of a northbound train, fitted with an experimental ventilation system. This was not shot on Kodachrome, which explains the somewhat funky color shift on this slide. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view west from the overhead transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana on July 7, 1953, looking west. We see a northbound train of 4000s, an approaching southbound train of 6000s, a Stock Yards shuttle train, and some additional Stock Yards cars being stored on the former express track, unused since 1949. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Looking west from the passenger overpass at Indiana Avenue on July 3, 1950, we see an 8-car train of steel cars, and a Stock Yards shuttle train. In the distance, that may be some additional Stock Yards cars being stored on the otherwise unused center track. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Our resident South Side expert M. E. writes: “Your caption needs correction. What you claim to be a Stock Yards shuttle is not on the Stock Yards tracks, which ran directly west from the switch building at the end of the platform. Instead, your “Stock Yards” train is on the main line heading east/south. Apparently the CTA still ran old cars on the main line at that time, although I don’t remember that. Another, more remote, possibility is that this short train is dead-heading east (without passengers) toward the Kenwood line. But in the next photo, you see no track connection from the main line to the Kenwood line. The only way dead-headed cars destined for Kenwood could end up on the Kenwood line would have been to turn south on the main line to 43rd St. and use switches to go from the southbound main line to the northbound main line to the former northbound main line track, which joined the Kenwood shuttle track back at Indiana Ave. — and which (in reverse) provided the only way to move Kenwood cars off the Kenwood tracks.” We were only repeating the information that Mr. Hoffman wrote on the original slide mount, which, of course, could be wrong.
Two “new” and two “old” 6000s enter the CTA station at 40th and Indiana on June 6, 1954. The Kenwood shuttle continued to operate for another three years after this. We are facing east. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
SF Muni 170 on the N Line, entering the Sunset Tunnel in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 130 on Ocean Avenue by Elkton Shops on September 16, 1957. According to the Market Street Railway web site: “Car No. 130 was among the the last ‘Iron Monsters’ to leave passenger service, in 1958. Muni shop foreman Charlie Smallwood saved it from the scrap heap by hiding it in the back of Geneva carhouse while its mates met their fates. He then talked his bosses into making it a ‘wrecker’. Stripped bare and painted yellow, it spent the next 25 years towing its replacements–PCC streetcars–back to the barn when they broke down. It was fully restored by Muni craft workers in 1983 for the Historic Trolley Festival, including original seats, which Charlie had kept all those years in his basement…just in case!” (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System A Train 130 near Yerba Buena Island on the Bay Bridge on April 18, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Pittsburgh 1499 on Route 34/21 on Ladoga Street near Ingram in 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Pittsburgh 1486 and 1485 rest at Ingram carhouse in 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 162 at La Playa (48th), approaching the N Line terminus on December 16, 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
The SF Muni Geary car house in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Dresden 264 007 on Line 4 at Dresdner Schloss on June 3, 1978. At the time, Dresden was located in East Germany. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System 167 is an A Train east of Yerba Buena Island on the Bay Bridge on April 18, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 178 on a fantrip on the J Line by SF Muni “Iron Monster” 178 on a fantrip on the J Line by Dolores Park in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)Park in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 114 stops for passengers on the B Line in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1553 at the Route 20 Plow Pit on February 7, 1959. This was a spot where overhead wire ended (by law) and streetcars changed over to collecting electricity through an underground conduit. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3276 entering Reservoir Yard on June 5, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3216 on Mass Avenue in North Cambridge on August 29, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3337 (ex-Dallas) near the Cedar Grove station on the Ashmont-Mattapan line on May 31, 1961. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1543 on Route 20 in Georgetown on June 7, 1959. The Georgetown Theatre was located at 1351 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC and opened in 1913. It closed in 1986 and was converted to retail. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1159 at the Calvert Bridge on Route 92 on February 6, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 213 on the N Line, west of the Sunset Tunnel, in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System (Oakland) E train 184 to Berkeley leaving 55th Street in 1958. This slide has a processing date of March 1958 stamped on it, one of the earliest I have seen. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 130 on the M Line by Parkmerced on September 16, 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
A Key System E train to San Francisco near Tower 3 in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1136 on Route 54 at the Navy Yard car barn on September 1, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
In May 1952, a CTA train of flat-door 6000s heads down an incline west of Pulaski Road on the Douglas Park “L”. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A train of CTA 6000s on the Metropolitan main line, looking east from Marshfield Avenue. This probably dates to late 1950, since no work has yet been done building the temporary right-of-way in Van Buren Street to the left, later used by Garfield Park trains. The tag on the train indicates whether it stopped at some part-time stations on Douglas. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA two-car train of 6000s, running on the Douglas Park line, heads east onto the Metropolitan main line at Marshfield Junction. Since a train is visible on the Garfield Park portion, the date cannot be later than September 1953, and is likely a couple years before that. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 6056-6057 crossing East Avenue in Berwyn, where a sign indicates that the crossing guard is off duty. This portion of “L” was abandoned in February 1952. (Truman Hefner Photo)
6053-6054 near Oak Park Avenue on the Douglas Park “L”. The date given here (December 1953) must be wrong, as the line had already been cut back to 54th Avenue by then. It may be December 1950, as Douglas was the first line to use the new 6000s. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 2725 at the Oak Park Avenue terminal of the Douglas Park “L” in December 1950. The line was cut back to 54th Avenue, nearly two miles east of here, in 1952. This area is now used as a parking lot in Berwyn, often referred to as the “L” strip. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 6087 and train are running on the ground-level portion of the Douglas Park “L” at Kenton Avenue in May 1952. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA deck-roofed car 2891 is just south of Roosevelt Road on the Westchester “L” in April 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A train of CTA 6000s (probably 6055-6056) crosses Austin Boulevard in Cicero on the Douglas Park “L” in February 1952, shortly before service was abandoned west of 54th Avenue. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA train of 6000s is turning onto the Metropolitan main line from the Douglas Park “L” on April 3, 1954, while a CTA test train (with car 2276) is on the new, as yet unused connecting track between the Douglas “L” and the old Logan Square branch. Once Douglas trains began using this new “L” connection, they began running downtown via the Lake Street “L”, and portions of the old “L” east of here were torn down for expressway construction. By 1958, there was a new ramp in place, approximately in the same place the 6000s are here, leading down to the Congress rapid transit line in the expressway median. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA train of 6000s is turning from the Metropolitan main line onto the Douglas Park “L” on April 3, 1954, while a CTA test train (with car 2276) is on the new, as yet unused connecting track between the Douglas “L” and the old Logan Square branch. Once Douglas trains began using this new “L” connection, they began running downtown via the Lake Street “L”, and portions of the old “L” east of here were torn down for expressway construction. By 1958, there was a new ramp in place, approximately in the same place the 6000s are here, leading down to the Congress rapid transit line in the expressway median. (Truman Hefner Photo)
In December 1950, CTA open platform, railroad-roofed car 2327 is westbound at Austin Boulevard on the Douglas Park “L”. Here, the barrier is down. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA wooden open platform, railroad-roofed car 2330 is northbound on the Northwestern “L” near Berwyn Avenue, running on the Evanston line in July 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 2256 is part of a four-car Met train, turning from Market Street onto the double bridge over the Chicago River in March 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA railroad roofed, open platform car 2707 under the Belt Railway at Kenton Avenue on the Douglas Park “L”. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA arched roof, open-platform car 2281 at 54th Avenue on the Douglas Park “L” in March 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
Open platform, railroad roof car 2715 at 54th Avenue in Cicero, on the Douglas Park “L”, in January 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
The CTA ground-level station at Austin Boulevard in Cicero, on the Douglas Park “L” in December 1950. Note the unusual raised barrier at the crossing. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA open-platform, railroad roof car 2338 at Kenton on the Douglas Park line, where there was a connection to the Belt Railway of Chicago, in December 1950. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA open-platform, railroad roof car 2318 at Kenton on the Douglas Park line, where there was a connection to the Belt Railway of Chicago, in December 1950. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA PCC 7215, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is signed to go to 80th and Vincennes, operating on Route 22 – Wentworth in 1958. But was this picture taken at 80th and Vincennes? M. E. writes: “Reason to think this photo was taken at 80th and Vincennes: There was a single loop track at 80th and Vincennes, and the terminal area was on the east side of a miniature “park” situated east of Vincennes between the terminal trackage and Vincennes Ave. proper. Reasons to think this photo was not taken at 80th and Vincennes: (1) The exit trackage in the photo makes no sense if it were indeed 80th and Vincennes. The exit trackage ran straight out of the loop and onto northbound Vincennes trackage. (2) As I recall, 80th and Vincennes was a residential area with no large buildings. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say this photo was taken on the property of the 77th/Vincennes carbarn, and the streetcar in the photo had either just returned from 80th and Vincennes or was headed there. This scenario is also likely because there was never a “terminal” on line 22 at 77th St.; the closest was at 80th St. Consequently, streetcars in service coming from the north had to go to at least 80th St. before heading back to the barn at 77th St.”
The Prince Crossing station on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, as it appeared on June 14, 1960, after abandonment.
Did Not Win
Try as we might, our resources are always limited and there are photos that our beyond our means to afford. Yet many of them are worth another look anyway:
Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad modernized interurban coach 28 and modernized steel interurban combine 107 at the end of the line station shared with Amtrak. The line was cut back from downtown South Bend in 1970. In 1992 the line would be diverted to the South Bend Airport. April 26, 1980, W Washington St & W Meade St, South Bend, Indiana. (Clark Frazier Photo)
This original glass plate negative, showing the last New York City horse car line circa 1907, recently sold on eBay for $539(!). The location is Broadway looking north just past Broome Street. The horse car line was abandoned in 1917, by which time it had few passengers as was a “franchise run.”
Angel’s Flight in its original LA Bunker Hill location, probably circa 1969. The funicular opened in 1901, but was dismantled and put into storage for several years not long after this picture was taken, as the hill it climbed was razed. It has since reopened in a different location.
A Hidden Freight Spur
I was somewhat surprised a few months ago when it appeared some freight car switching was taking place on the Union Pacific West Line (formerly Chicago & North Western) embankment in Forest Park, just east of Lathrop Avenue. The tracks here were raised around 1910 and not far east of here, the embankment is shared with the Chicago Transit Authority’s Green Line (aka the Lake Street “L”).
There isn’t much light industry left near the railroad in Forest Park, but apparently there is still at least one active customer, and behind a row of town houses, there is an active freight spur, with a ramp leading up to the embankment. I found a lone freight car on the spur. Presumably it will be hauled away prior to the next delivery, whenever that might be.
The freight spur is visible on this map. You can also see how the curved streets in this part of Forest Park got their shape. They once formed a “wye” used to turn trains around. Much of the CTA rail yard west of Harlem Avenue was built onto new embankment in the early 1960s.
I drive by this area nearly every day, but all this is so completely hidden from view that I had no idea any of this still existed. It also sheds some light on the changes made to the “L” and the adjacent commuter rail line in the late 1950s.
When the CTA and C&NW were negotiating the relocation of the Lake Street “L” onto the embankment, at first it was thought that the “L” would run as far west as the DesPlaines River in River Forest. In 1958, the C&NW sought permission to close several commuter rail stations, ceding their close-in ridership to the CTA (and at the same time speeding up service to suburbs that were further out).
Originally, the River Forest station was one of the C&NW petitioned the Illinois Commerce Commission to close, but at some point, plans were changed, and the station is still there, serving riders on what is now the Metra Union Pacific West Line.
If the “L” had been extended through this area, it would have made it difficult for the C&NW to continue serving their freight customers in Forest Park with the spur line that is, apparently, still in use.
Looking southeast. Town houses have replaced light industry south of the railroad spur.
Larry Sakar writes:
A three-car train in Lake Bluff by William D. Volkmer, 10/8/60.
I was browsing through some of your newest pics on The Trolley Dodger. You have a great picture of a North Shore train NB at Lake Bluff taken by Bill Volkmer on 10/08/60 (5 days after my 10th birthday). They aren’t what I’m concerned with.
In the spring of 1992 I accompanied another NSL fan on a tour of the abandoned NSL from Lake Bluff to Mundelein, probably other spots on the NSL as well but I no longer remember. It may have been this trip, or another time but he was after a whistling post that was still embedded near one of the crossings on the Skokie Valley route. He brought along a sack of tools with which to extricate it. He discovered that it was anchored very deeply by a steel cord of some sort and did not get it.
I took the attached photo at Lake Bluff that day. What I would like to know is where the Lake Bluff station would have been in the 1992 photo and what direction I am facing. As you can obviously tell, it was a damp and foggy day. The second picture was taken at Mundelein. He told me that the NSL station was in the parking lot seen in my photo, which I seem to recall was for an apartment complex.
The individual in the photo was an avid NSL fan, having ridden the last northbound train from Chicago to Racine. He was a high school student at the time. The Racine station agent was a friend of the family. He was in the right place at the right time. The place was the Racine station on the day it was torn down. It was gone by the time he got there but he noticed a pile of items being burned. Among those items was the ticket agent’s rack and rubber stamps which he rescued from the pile.
No rush. I’ve just been wondering. He may have told me that where he was standing was where the trains stopped, but I honestly don’t remember. I ceased all contact with this individual in 2003 when I quit TMER&THS (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transit Historical Society).
The site of the former North Shore Line station in Lake Bluff in 1992.
The site of the former North Shore Line station in Mundelein in 1992.
The site (at right) of the former North Shore Line station in Waukegan in 1992.
Perhaps some of our readers can help Larry figure this out, thanks.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
I recently appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s Images of America Author David Sadowski Edition illustrated Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021 ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007 Length 128 pages
Chapters: 01. The South Side “L” 02. The Lake Street “L” 03. The Metropolitan “L” 04. The Northwestern “L” 05. The Union Loop 06. Lost Equipment 07. Lost Interurbans 08. Lost Terminals 09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
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A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
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The view of the Lake Street “L”, looking northwest at Paulina on October 20, 1953. The station that is partly visible was called Lake Street Transfer, and had not been used since 1951. Meanwhile, there is new steel added to the “L” structure here to create a new connection with the old Met “L”. This was used by Douglas Park trains from 1954-58, and Pink Line trains today. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Life is full of things that are touted as new and improved, but today we present some things that are both old and improved– images made better through use of today’s improved technology.
Some railfans remain wedded to film technology and are suspicious of digital. Often, they say that a film image is permanent, while a digital image is not– that is represents something intangible, while a 35mm slide is something you can hold in your hand.
While it would be wonderful if film images were permanent, especially color images, after scanning tens of thousands of them, I can assure you that such is not the case. Nearly all vintage color slides show some evidence of fading over time, even Kodachrome slides. In addition, they can be scratched, become dirty, lost, or damaged.
Digital has other important advantages– you can see the picture right away, so there is a much shorter learning curve, and once you have the camera, there is no need to buy film, which can be expensive.
Earlier this year I became the custodian of my late friend Jeff Wien‘s image collection, which included those taken by the late William C. Hoffman. Some of the Hoffman slides have been circulating for many years in the form of duplicates, many of which are now 25 years old themselves.
A digital image will look the same 100 years from now as it does today. It won’t get scratched, fingerprinted, or fade over time. It can be copied numerous times, and each copy will be an exact replica of the original, perfect in every detail. On the other hand, when a slide is copied by conventional means, there is always a loss of quality with each succeeding generation.
When taken by a high quality digital camera, in general your results will also be better than with a film camera today. Chances are it will be sharper and have better color.
It will take a long time to digitize the original Hoffman slides and others now in my collection. But I have worked on some. Each of the original slides I have scanned has improved sharpness over the duplicates, but in one or two instances, I have been unable to improve the color, because the original has continued to fade or color shift in the 25 years or more since the duplicates were made. This was most evident in early Ektachrome slides from the late 1950s to early 60s, which are known for having unstable dyes.
Many of these have color shifted to red. What actually has happened is the dyes that are not red have faded badly.
This was a problem that Kodak worked quickly to solve more than 55 years ago, and should not make you concerned about the color films available today.
One of my goals is to share definitive versions of the Hoffman slides, that I hope will stand the test of time, preserving their important historical information for future generations to come.
We also have many other recent photo finds to share today, and others from the collections of William Shapotkin.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
The Chicago Surface Lines put the first of 83 prewar PCCs into service in November 1936, and all ended service in June 1956 on Route 49 – Western. This picture, showing 4004 loaded onto a flat car, with the trucks and pole removed, was probably taken in either late 1956 or early 1957, when the car was taken from South Shops to a local scrapyard.
We received no information with this medium format negative, but it shows Washington, D.C. streetcar 1557 and one other near the Capitol Building in the early 1950s. The last DC streetcar (of its original era) ran in 1962, but a new line has since started.
A close-up of 1557, showing it was signed for the Cabin John line.
One of the two North Shore Line Electroliners on its February 8, 1941 inaugural trip. This image is taken from the original negative. The location is Harmswoods.
NSL freight loco 459 at work.
An Electroliner at the Milwaukee Terminal, possibly circa 1942-46.
The view looking east along the Metropolitan “L” at Marshfield on June 6, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
North Shore Line car 251 crosses the CTA bridge over the Illinois Central tracks on May 15, 1960 on a fantrip. North Shore Line cars had traveled here as late as 1938 before they terminated at Roosevelt Road instead. The old Tower Theater is visible at left. The “L” and bridge on this portion of the Jackson Park branch has since been cut back to Cottage Grove. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On May 15, 1960, a northbound CTA Jackson Park train is at 61st Street, while North Shore Line car 251, at left, is on a fantrip, running to places where NSL cars had not been since 1938. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Carl Edward Hedstrom Jr. (1918-2009) congratulating Carl Edward Hedstrom Sr. (1889-1978) on his retirement as a South Shore Line engineer in Michigan City, Indiana on October 30, 1960. Senior worked for the railroad from 1921 to 1960, while Junior also worked as a motorman there from 1939 to 1983. (Michigan City News Dispatch Photo)
South Shore Line #100 at Van Buren Street, bound for South Bend.
An unidentified South Shore engineer.
South Shore Line coach #5 at Randolph Street Station in Chicago, Illinois on April 20, 1949. The motorman is Carl Edward Hedstrom, Sr. (Carl Edward Hedstrom, Jr. Photo)
A South Shore Line float in a Michigan City parade.
South Shore Line dispatcher Al Kams.
A pair of 4000s are departing from the old Randolph and Wabash “L” station on the Loop. The picture isn’t older than 1959, as the Sun-Times/Daily News Building is in the background. It could be dated further, depending on whether those cars still have their trolley poles, which I think they do. Those were only needed until 1962. The 4000s were replaced by 2000s on Lake Street starting in 1964. Until 1969, the Loop was unidirectional, running counterclockwise, so these cars are heading away from us.
CTA red Pullman 144, which is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Not sure whether this photo was taken during a 1950s fantrip, as so many other pictures were. Mike Franklin: “Heading west on Kinzie Street just west of Dearborn. Tribune Building in the distance.”
CTA 3146 at Marion Street in Oak Park, running on the (then) ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”. Don’s Rail Photos: “3146 was built by St. Louis Car in 1901 as LSERR 146. It was renumbered 3146 in 1913 and became CRT 3146 in 1923.”
This looks like a Met “L” line, but which one? The sign on the train is too fuzzy to read, but I can make out the word “Park,” which narrows it down to Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, or Douglas Park, and excludes Logan Square. Daniel Joseph: “My guess (is) this is at Independence Boulevard with the Garfield Park station in the background.”
This is the old Ogden Avenue station on the Garfield Park “L”, on August 22, 1953. This station closed on September 27 and the structure here was demolished soon thereafter. Garfield trains were temporarily relocated to run on ground level in Van Buren Street.
6000s at Chicago Avenue on the Ravenswood.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin
On March 25, 1962, NSL cars 771, 415, 753, and 251 are on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip at the Isabella station in Evanston, where no North Shore cars had been since the Shore Line Route was abandoned in 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
CSL 1266, when it was being used as a salt car.(William Shapotkin Collection)
CSL 205 is on Route 6, and is apparently westbound, heading to Van Buren and Kedzie. Streetcars were replaced by buses on this route in 1951, and from 1953-58, Garfield Park “L” trains ran on Van Buren, between Sacramento Boulevard and Aberdeen (William Shapotkin Collection) Daniel Joseph adds: “My uneducated guess this may be at Kedzie and Douglas with a #12-Roosevelt heading to the car barn. Note the divided boulevard with a parkway and West Side Park District street lamps. But I do not see a traffic signal for the part of the boulevard traveling to the left. If that street is not part of the boulevard, this could be Van Buren and Sacramento.” Since the car is signed for Route 6 – Van Buren, I am going to go with Van Buren and Sacramento.
CTA red Pullman 249 on the Kedzie route. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CSL 3245 is signed for Pershing Road (39th Street). (William Shapotkin Collection)
CSL 1682 is at Lake and Austin, west end of Route 16, with a West Towns streetcar across the border in suburban Oak Park. The Park Theater, at right, closed around 1952. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CSL 2821, signed to go to 115th and Halsted. (William Shapotkin Collection)
The Route 22 streetcar means this is Clark Street, and I believe that’s the old Astor Theater at right, so this is Clark and Madison looking south. The film Murder in the Fleet was released in 1935, but from the looks of the autos, this is a few years later, so most likely about 1938. (William Shapotkin Collection)
A nice colorized postcard view of the Met “L” twin bridges over the Chicago River. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Oddly enough, the Chicago Transit Authority used a CSL bus sign when it extended service to Skokie via Route 97 in 1948. This was CTA’s first suburban bus route, and replaced the Niles Center branch of the “L”. This picture was taken on June 4, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
The view looking north along Michigan Avenue at Madison Street on December 12, 1949, shows no less than four Chicago Motor Coach buses, including a double-decker. The CTA purchased the CMC assets on October 1, 1952. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Washington and Wells, looking east, on June 8, 1950. Milwaukee Avenue buses share the street with a Chicago Motor Coach double-decker. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Washington and Clark on June 8, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
On May 18, 1954, a Route 8 – Halsted streetcar shares wire with a Chicago Avenue trolley bus by the Montgomery Wards complex. We are looking west. The Halsted car is on diversion trackage. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
The view looking north along Larrabee Street at Chicago Avenue, by the Montgomery Wards complex. The tower is for switching Milwaukee Road freight trains. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
On May 16, 1954, red Pullmans 473 and 479 were used on a fantrip, two weeks before red cars were retired from service and replaced with buses on several routes. Streetcars were able to use trackage here on Irving Park Road in emergencies, since Route 80 had already been converted to use trolley buses.(William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
On July 3, 1950, a CTA trolley bus operates on the 51-55 Route on 51st Street near the South Side “L”. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA trolley bus 234 is on Route 51-55 at 51st and Campbell on June 12, 1950, while streetcar tracks here are actually being removed. In most places they were simply paved over. The CTA later renumbered all their trolley buses, with the addition of a “9” before their existing digits. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
The view looking north from the old Loop “L” station at State and Van Buren on July 25, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA PCC 7240 is on State Street at Van Buren, heading south on Route 36. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA PCC 7162 turns from south State Street to westbound Polk on April 19, 1956, on the very last piece of new streetcar track built in Chicago. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Polk and Dearborn on April 19, 1956. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Looking north along Dearborn Street on November 26, 1954, after both Clark and Dearborn were converted to one-way streets. The Monadnock Building is at left. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
The off-street loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett on July 1, 1951, used by Route 63 streetcars and the bus that went west of there to Argo-Summit. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
On May 16, 1954, CTA red Pullman 579 is at the Western and 79th turnaround loop on a CERA fantrip. During this period, streetcars were used on Western during weekdays only, so the fantrip cars did not impede regular traffic. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA PCC 7235 at Western and 41st on August 14, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
Retired CSL bus BW-18 and trolley bus 9186, on the scrap line at South Shops on June 15, 1958. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
On April 10, 1955, we see various vehicles awaiting scrap at South Shops, including a streetcar trailer in the 8000-series, trolley buses 9114, 9071, and sleet cutter bus BW-108. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
On October 31, 1954, we see some older trolley buses, including 9114, ready for scrapping at South Shops, along with some red Pullman streetcars. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
I recently visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, rode the two-mile trolley there, and sought out the former North Shore Line station. After the interurban was abandoned in 1963, the building became the Spaghetti Station for some years, and is now a school. Additions have been added to the north and west sides. Trains did not run in the side street here, but behind the part of the building that is visible now.