Reflections in a Golden Wye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did Not Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garfield Park, Where Are You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some pictures from Google Street View:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Correspondence

We recently wrote to fellow historian Andres Kristopans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andre replies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andre:

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

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

The Dean of Chicago Railfans

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is his reply:

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

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

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

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

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

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

He then wrote:

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

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

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

Sincerely, Ray

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

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

Our Latest Book, Now Available for Pre-Order:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

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

From the back cover:

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Shipping to US Addresses:

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For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

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

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

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

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

Total time – 121:22

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

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

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Outtakes From Chicago’s Lost “L”s (Part One)

A northbound midday express train passes the 18th Street "L" station, just prior to the October 1943 opening the State Street Subway. The new signals that controlled access to the subway are already in place. A wooden Pullman-built trailer, built around the turn of the century, is being pushed by two early 1920s 4000-series cars. Once the subway opened, all 455 steel-bodied cars were needed there, and mixed consists such as these became a thing of the past. When the Chicago Transit Authority made a major revision of north-south service in 1949, the third track here was taken out of service, and was eventually removed. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

A northbound midday express train passes the 18th Street “L” station, just prior to the October 1943 opening the State Street Subway. The new signals that controlled access to the subway are already in place. A wooden Pullman-built trailer, built around the turn of the century, is being pushed by two early 1920s 4000-series cars. Once the subway opened, all 455 steel-bodied cars were needed there, and mixed consists such as these became a thing of the past. When the Chicago Transit Authority made a major revision of north-south service in 1949, the third track here was taken out of service, and was eventually removed. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s is now 100% finished, and will be released by Arcadia Publishing on July 12, 2021.  The final proofing process took several days, as there were a number of changes I wanted to make.

We have already received pre-orders for more than 60 copies, better than either of our two previous books.  You will find ordering information at the end of this post, and also on our Online Store.

How does a book like this get made? I am sure the process varies for every author, but for me, it starts out with an idea. I wanted to do a book about the “L”, but I also wanted it to be different than any of the others that are out there.

Once I had settled on my theme, and had determined the chapter titles, I started looking at images, lots of them. I have a collection of perhaps 30,000 digitized images, and I went through all of them– three times. I put the 500 or so images that I considered “possibles” into a folder, and from this, I continued the winnowing down process, until I had a more reasonable number (there are usually around 230 images or so in this type of book).

But this was just the start of the work. I had to put the images into an order that made sense, and then try to write captions for them.

In the process of doing this, it became clear to me that each and every image in the book had to have a clear purpose for being there, and couldn’t just be a place holder. If I couldn’t come up with an interesting and informative caption, there was really no point in including that particular photo.

That’s when the narrative of the book starts to become clear, and you eventually figure out what the story is you are trying to tell. You see what’s missing, and have to seek out the missing images that will help you fill the holes in your narrative.  Often, these have to be purchased outright, and many of the images in the book are taken from original negatives and slides in our own collections, all made possible by your purchases and donations.

Over the course of many months, nearly half the images in my lineup got replaced by others. It’s always the oldest pictures that are the hardest to find. This process took longer for Chicago’s Lost “L”s because of the delays caused by the pandemic.

A book such as this is a partnership between the author and the publisher. They have requirements and standards of their own, and once a book is written and submitted, things go back and forth between author and editor several times, until everyone is happy with the results.

Every effort has been made to make this the best and most comprehensive book on this subject, and we sincerely hope you will enjoy reading it!

In today’s post, (part one of two) we feature some of the images that ultimately were not selected for the book. But they are still interesting in their own right, and we hope they will whet your appetite for Chicago’s Lost “L”s. We’ll see you nexdt time with another batch of outtakes.

-David Sadowski

PS- FYI, we have a Facebook auxiliary for the Trolley Dodger, which currently has 354 members.

This is how the end of the Jackson Park "L" looked for many years at 63rd Street and Stony Island Avenue. The "L" had gone about a block further east during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition to connect to the experimental Columbian Intramural Railway. In this early 1950s view, a CTA 63rd Street bus has turned the corner onto Stoney Island, as this was the end of the line. Behind the "L" station, we can see a sign advertising the Tower Theater, open from 1926 to 1956, built by the Lubliner and Trinz chain. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

This is how the end of the Jackson Park “L” looked for many years at 63rd Street and Stony Island Avenue. The “L” had gone about a block further east during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to connect to the experimental Columbian Intramural Railway. In this early 1950s view, a CTA 63rd Street bus has turned the corner onto Stoney Island, as this was the end of the line. Behind the “L” station, we can see a sign advertising the Tower Theater, open from 1926 to 1956, built by the Lubliner and Trinz chain. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

Inventor Frank Julian Sprague was hired by the South Side "L" to equip their cars with electricity (powered by third rail) and multiple unit operation, his latest invention. Here, "L" car 139 is being tested on Harrison Curve on April 16, 1898. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

Inventor Frank Julian Sprague was hired by the South Side “L” to equip their cars with electricity (powered by third rail) and multiple unit operation, his latest invention. Here, “L” car 139 is being tested on Harrison Curve on April 16, 1898. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

Service on the South Side "L" began under steam power, as seen here in this 1893 view of a train on 63rd Street just west of Cottage Grove. Locomotive #41 was built by Baldwin. Steam was replaced by electricity in the late 1890s. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

Service on the South Side “L” began under steam power, as seen here in this 1893 view of a train on 63rd Street just west of Cottage Grove. Locomotive #41 was built by Baldwin. Steam was replaced by electricity in the late 1890s. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

The Normal Park "L" was the shortest branch on the rapid transit system. Here we see the end of the line at 69th Street, looking east in 1949. The terminal here was designed for extension, but this did not come to pass. This branch closed in 1954. The sign on the train indicates it is a Ravenswood Express. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

The Normal Park “L” was the shortest branch on the rapid transit system. Here we see the end of the line at 69th Street, looking east in 1949. The terminal here was designed for extension, but this did not come to pass. This branch closed in 1954. The sign on the train indicates it is a Ravenswood Express. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

Shortly before the Stock Yards branch was discontinued in 1957, a single-car wooden train heads west towards the Exchange station. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

Shortly before the Stock Yards branch was discontinued in 1957, a single-car wooden train heads west towards the Exchange station. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

In this view at Adams and Wabash station circa 1939, we see the rears of two "L" cars that are both heading away from us, as both Loop tracks then ran in a counter-clockwise direction. The train at left is a Lake Street "L", while the one at right may have been working in north-south service. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

In this view at Adams and Wabash station circa 1939, we see the rears of two “L” cars that are both heading away from us, as both Loop tracks then ran in a counter-clockwise direction. The train at left is a Lake Street “L”, while the one at right may have been working in north-south service. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

This circa 1910 view of Indiana Junction on the South Side "L" looks to the southwest. Once branch lines were opened here, going to Kenwood and the Stock Yards, this became a busy transfer point. The "L" tracks here ran parallel to 40th Street and were adjacent to the Chicago Junction Railway's freight line, seen at right. A southbound Jackson Park Express train runs on the middle track, turning south, with its next stop at 43rd Street. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

This circa 1910 view of Indiana Junction on the South Side “L” looks to the southwest. Once branch lines were opened here, going to Kenwood and the Stock Yards, this became a busy transfer point. The “L” tracks here ran parallel to 40th Street and were adjacent to the Chicago Junction Railway’s freight line, seen at right. A southbound Jackson Park Express train runs on the middle track, turning south, with its next stop at 43rd Street. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

The South Side "L" was Chicago's first, and was also known as the Alley "L". On September 5, 1890, a connecting span is raised at what became the 35th Street station. Service began in 1892. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

The South Side “L” was Chicago’s first, and was also known as the Alley “L”. On September 5, 1890, a connecting span is raised at what became the 35th Street station. Service began in 1892. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the triangular Stohr Arcade Building at Wilson Avenue and Broadway in 1909, part of which was underneath the Northwestern "L" structure. Within a decade of its construction, "L" service led to rapid development of the Uptown neighborhood, and the Stohr Arcade was replaced by Arthur U. Gerber's Uptown Union Station in 1923. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the triangular Stohr Arcade Building at Wilson Avenue and Broadway in 1909, part of which was underneath the Northwestern “L” structure. Within a decade of its construction, “L” service led to rapid development of the Uptown neighborhood, and the Stohr Arcade was replaced by Arthur U. Gerber’s Uptown Union Station in 1923. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

The view looking north from the Wilson Avenue Lower Terminal between 1909 and 1922, showing the Stohr Arcade Building at the intersection of Wilson and Broadway. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

The view looking north from the Wilson Avenue Lower Terminal between 1909 and 1922, showing the Stohr Arcade Building at the intersection of Wilson and Broadway. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)

We are looking east from Exchange on the Stock Yards branch. The time is circa 1949.

We are looking east from Exchange on the Stock Yards branch. The time is circa 1949.

The stations on the Stock Yards loop had but one side platform, as there was only a single track. This is the Armour station,

The stations on the Stock Yards loop had but one side platform, as there was only a single track. This is the Armour station,

A two-car train of wooden "L" cars on the single-track Stock Yards branch in 1946. This photo has been attributed to Charles Keevil.

A two-car train of wooden “L” cars on the single-track Stock Yards branch in 1946. This photo has been attributed to Charles Keevil.

CTA 1780 heads up an "A" train at Marion Street in Oak Park. The ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L" was relocated onto the nearby C&NW embankment in 1962. This picture was probably taken between 1948 and 1955.

CTA 1780 heads up an “A” train at Marion Street in Oak Park. The ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L” was relocated onto the nearby C&NW embankment in 1962. This picture was probably taken between 1948 and 1955.

Service to Wilson Avenue via the "L" commenced in 1900, but the lower-level station did not open until March 5, 1907, with this modest station house designed by Arthur U. Gerber. In the book, I chose to use a different image, taken on opening day, that shows the other side of this building and the lower level tracks.

Service to Wilson Avenue via the “L” commenced in 1900, but the lower-level station did not open until March 5, 1907, with this modest station house designed by Arthur U. Gerber. In the book, I chose to use a different image, taken on opening day, that shows the other side of this building and the lower level tracks.

A 1908 view of the Argyle station on the Northwestern "L", shortly after service was extended between Uptown and Evanston at ground level. The "L" took over tracks belonging to the Milwaukee Road via a lease arrangement. By 1915, the "L' was gradually being elevated here onto a new embankment, which is now itself in the process of being rebuilt after a century of use. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

A 1908 view of the Argyle station on the Northwestern “L”, shortly after service was extended between Uptown and Evanston at ground level. The “L” took over tracks belonging to the Milwaukee Road via a lease arrangement. By 1915, the “L’ was gradually being elevated here onto a new embankment, which is now itself in the process of being rebuilt after a century of use. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

This circa 1952 shot of CTA 6097-6098 was taken from the LaSalle and Van Buren platform, looking west towards the junction at Wells and Van Buren. In the distance, you can see the Franklin Street station, used by Metropolitan "L" trains. It was not on the Loop itself. (George Trapp Collection)

This circa 1952 shot of CTA 6097-6098 was taken from the LaSalle and Van Buren platform, looking west towards the junction at Wells and Van Buren. In the distance, you can see the Franklin Street station, used by Metropolitan “L” trains. It was not on the Loop itself. (George Trapp Collection)

The façade of Wells Street Terminal, after it was renovated in the late 1920s, with the addition of two levels. It was designed by Chicago Rapid Transit Company staff architect Arthur U. Gerber. (Jack Bejna Collection)

The façade of Wells Street Terminal, after it was renovated in the late 1920s, with the addition of two levels. It was designed by Chicago Rapid Transit Company staff architect Arthur U. Gerber. (Jack Bejna Collection)

We are looking west along Harrison at Wabash on November 12, 1928. In 2003, the Chicago Transit Authority straightened out this jog with a section of new “L” structure, occupying the area where the building at left once was.

The old Cermak Road station on the south Side "L". Note there are three tracks here. This station was closed in 1977 and removed. A new station replaced it in 2015.

The old Cermak Road station on the south Side “L”. Note there are three tracks here. This station was closed in 1977 and removed. A new station replaced it in 2015.

A train of 4000s, signed for Jackson Park via the Subway, in 1947. If I am reading the sign correctly, this is 31st Street, a station the CTA closed in 1949. There was also apparently a Chicago White Sox home game when this picture was taken. M. E. writes: "pict673.jpg features a Jackson Park train at 31st St. Notice three tracks. The middle track was used, although I am unsure under what circumstances. One possibility that comes to mind is that the Kenwood line (until it became a shuttle out of Indiana Ave.) ran on this trackage into the Loop and up to Wilson. The Kenwood was a local. The Englewood and Jackson Park trains sometimes bypassed the Kenwood locals using the middle track. There were switches up and down the line to enable moving to and from the middle track. Another possibility is that at one point the North Shore ran trains south as far as 63rd and Dorchester (1400 East) on the Jackson Park line. Perhaps some CNS&M trains used the middle track. One impossibility is that the Englewood and Jackson Park trains used the middle track the whole way from south of Indiana Ave. to the Loop. I say this was not possible because all the stations on this line were on the outer sides of the outside tracks. I don't recall any Englewood or Jackson Park trains running express on the middle track along this stretch. By the way, prior to the 1949 changes, only the Jackson Park line ran north to Howard. The Englewood ran to Ravenswood (to Lawrence and Kimball)."

A train of 4000s, signed for Jackson Park via the Subway, in 1947. If I am reading the sign correctly, this is 31st Street, a station the CTA closed in 1949. There was also apparently a Chicago White Sox home game when this picture was taken. M. E. writes: “pict673.jpg features a Jackson Park train at 31st St. Notice three tracks. The middle track was used, although I am unsure under what circumstances. One possibility that comes to mind is that the Kenwood line (until it became a shuttle out of Indiana Ave.) ran on this trackage into the Loop and up to Wilson. The Kenwood was a local. The Englewood and Jackson Park trains sometimes bypassed the Kenwood locals using the middle track. There were switches up and down the line to enable moving to and from the middle track.
Another possibility is that at one point the North Shore ran trains south as far as 63rd and Dorchester (1400 East) on the Jackson Park line. Perhaps some CNS&M trains used the middle track.
One impossibility is that the Englewood and Jackson Park trains used the middle track the whole way from south of Indiana Ave. to the Loop. I say this was not possible because all the stations on this line were on the outer sides of the outside tracks. I don’t recall any Englewood or Jackson Park trains running express on the middle track along this stretch.
By the way, prior to the 1949 changes, only the Jackson Park line ran north to Howard. The Englewood ran to Ravenswood (to Lawrence and Kimball).”

61st Street on the South Side "L", looking north on November 13, 1944.

61st Street on the South Side “L”, looking north on November 13, 1944.

This old photo shows South Side Rapid Transit car 131 at 63rd Street in 1899. Note the wires on the tops of the cars, which were used for current collection via overhead wire in yard areas that did not yet have third rail installed. (George Trapp Collection)

This old photo shows South Side Rapid Transit car 131 at 63rd Street in 1899. Note the wires on the tops of the cars, which were used for current collection via overhead wire in yard areas that did not yet have third rail installed. (George Trapp Collection)

A track map of the Kenwood branch, which ran between Indiana Avenue and 42nd Place. It branched off the South Side "L".

A track map of the Kenwood branch, which ran between Indiana Avenue and 42nd Place. It branched off the South Side “L”.

A track map showing the Stock Yard branch, which operated as a shuttle starting at Indiana Avenue on the South Side "L". It didn't really have an end of the line, since part of the line ran in a single-track loop.

A track map showing the Stock Yard branch, which operated as a shuttle starting at Indiana Avenue on the South Side “L”. It didn’t really have an end of the line, since part of the line ran in a single-track loop.

CTA 2067-2068 head up a westbound Lake Street train in June 1965.

CTA 2067-2068 head up a westbound Lake Street train in June 1965.

A two-car train of 4000s is on the Lake Street "L" during construction of the Northwest (now Kennedy) expressway on February 25, 1958. The new highway opened in 1960. Further south, the Garfield Park "L" also crossed the highway footprint and had to be shored up around the same time this photo was taken. But once the new Congress rapid transit line opened on June 22, 1958 the Garfield line was no longer needed and the structure was removed where it crossed the highway, cutting the line off from the rest of the system. The remaining portions of structure west of there were removed in 1959; east of there, parts remained until 1964. The Lake Street "L", on the other hand, rechristened the Green Line, is still here.

A two-car train of 4000s is on the Lake Street “L” during construction of the Northwest (now Kennedy) expressway on February 25, 1958. The new highway opened in 1960. Further south, the Garfield Park “L” also crossed the highway footprint and had to be shored up around the same time this photo was taken. But once the new Congress rapid transit line opened on June 22, 1958 the Garfield line was no longer needed and the structure was removed where it crossed the highway, cutting the line off from the rest of the system. The remaining portions of structure west of there were removed in 1959; east of there, parts remained until 1964. The Lake Street “L”, on the other hand, rechristened the Green Line, is still here.

This is an inspection train at the Lake Street Transfer "L" station, which provided connections between the Lake Street "L", on the lower level, and the Metropolitan above. The higher level station was closed in February 1951, when the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway opened.

This is an inspection train at the Lake Street Transfer “L” station, which provided connections between the Lake Street “L”, on the lower level, and the Metropolitan above. The higher level station was closed in February 1951, when the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway opened.

CTA 3119, signed as a Lake Street local, is being stored on the third track at Hamlin in August 1948. By then, A/B "skip stop" service had been in effect for some months. It's possible this car was no longer being used on the line. Don's Rail Photos: "3119 was built by St. Louis Car in 1902 as LSERR 119. In 1913 it was renumbered 3119 and became CRT 3119 in 1923."

CTA 3119, signed as a Lake Street local, is being stored on the third track at Hamlin in August 1948. By then, A/B “skip stop” service had been in effect for some months. It’s possible this car was no longer being used on the line. Don’s Rail Photos: “3119 was built by St. Louis Car in 1902 as LSERR 119. In 1913 it was renumbered 3119 and became CRT 3119 in 1923.”

CRT S-200 in the Lake and Hamlin yard. Don's Rail Photos says, "S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1923." In this photo, it looks like it is being used to string trolley wire. You can see the ramp leading up to the "L" at right. (George Trapp Collection)

CRT S-200 in the Lake and Hamlin yard. Don’s Rail Photos says, “S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1923.” In this photo, it looks like it is being used to string trolley wire. You can see the ramp leading up to the “L” at right. (George Trapp Collection)

An eastbound Garfield Park train approaches the Loop in the 1940s, crossing over the Chicago River. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

An eastbound Garfield Park train approaches the Loop in the 1940s, crossing over the Chicago River. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

This may be an "as new" photo showing Metropolitan West Side "L" car 876. Don's Rail Photos: "2873 thru 2887 were built by Pullman in 1906 as M-WSER 873 thru 887. In 1913 they were renumbered 2873 thru 2887 and in 1923 they became CRT 2873 thru 2987." (George Trapp Collection)

This may be an “as new” photo showing Metropolitan West Side “L” car 876. Don’s Rail Photos: “2873 thru 2887 were built by Pullman in 1906 as M-WSER 873 thru 887. In 1913 they were renumbered 2873 thru 2887 and in 1923 they became CRT 2873 thru 2987.” (George Trapp Collection)

A Douglas Park "B" train heads west at Halsted on the Met main line, prior to the removal of two tracks for expressway construction.

A Douglas Park “B” train heads west at Halsted on the Met main line, prior to the removal of two tracks for expressway construction.

A two car CRT "L" train in December 1935, heading west toward the Douglas Pak "L"s end-of-the-line at Oak Park Avenue in Berwyn.

A two car CRT “L” train in December 1935, heading west toward the Douglas Pak “L”s end-of-the-line at Oak Park Avenue in Berwyn.

The Pulaski station on the Douglas Park "L" on May 10, 1958. There was a yard there at the time. This was once the western terminus of Douglas, and the curved track visible here was part of a turning loop. (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)

The Pulaski station on the Douglas Park “L” on May 10, 1958. There was a yard there at the time. This was once the western terminus of Douglas, and the curved track visible here was part of a turning loop. (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)

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

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

A night shot of CTA 2810 and 2818 in the Laramie Yards on February 1, 1957. By then, the Congress Expressway was open as far as Laramie and was adjacent to the Garfield Park "L". It was still under construction west of here, and the "L" ran on temporary trackage. (Robert Selle Photo)

A night shot of CTA 2810 and 2818 in the Laramie Yards on February 1, 1957. By then, the Congress Expressway was open as far as Laramie and was adjacent to the Garfield Park “L”. It was still under construction west of here, and the “L” ran on temporary trackage. (Robert Selle Photo)

The CRT Westchester branch at Roosevelt Road, circa 1929-1930. Service along this line opened in 1926, and when the line was extended, local officials insisted that tracks not cross Roosevelt at grade, thereby necessitating this grade separation project. The platform at left was later moved into the open cut, although the original station house was retained. Service to Mannheim began in 1930. The line was abandoned in 1951. We are looking north. (George Trapp Collection)

The CRT Westchester branch at Roosevelt Road, circa 1929-1930. Service along this line opened in 1926, and when the line was extended, local officials insisted that tracks not cross Roosevelt at grade, thereby necessitating this grade separation project. The platform at left was later moved into the open cut, although the original station house was retained. Service to Mannheim began in 1930. The line was abandoned in 1951. We are looking north. (George Trapp Collection)

A track map showing the Metropolitan "L" branches going to Logan Square and Humboldt Park (Lawndale). All four Met lines came together at Marshfield.

A track map showing the Metropolitan “L” branches going to Logan Square and Humboldt Park (Lawndale). All four Met lines came together at Marshfield.

The Logan Square terminal in 1946. "L" service terminated here from 1895 to 1970, when the CTA extended service to the northwest via a new subway. A portion of this building still exists, although considerably altered. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

The Logan Square terminal in 1946. “L” service terminated here from 1895 to 1970, when the CTA extended service to the northwest via a new subway. A portion of this building still exists, although considerably altered. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)

A Metropolitan "L" motorman in the early 1900s.

A Metropolitan “L” motorman in the early 1900s.

The Humboldt Park "L" station at Lawndale Avenue (3700 W), which was the end of the line. There was just the one platform here. Since the Met hoped to eventually extend the line (which never happened), there was no terminal as such, and trains were stored on the other two tracks when not in use.

The Humboldt Park “L” station at Lawndale Avenue (3700 W), which was the end of the line. There was just the one platform here. Since the Met hoped to eventually extend the line (which never happened), there was no terminal as such, and trains were stored on the other two tracks when not in use.

You would be forgiven for not recognizing this location, but that's the Western Avenue station on the Humboldt Park "L", just north of North Avenue. The station was closed in 1952, probably just a few months before this picture was taken. If the station was open, there would be a sign advertising this, similar to ones seen in some of the other pictures in this post. You can also see trolley bus wires, used on North Avenue. PCC 7151 is a two-man car, and passengers are boarding at the rear. This portion of the old Humboldt Park line was not demolished for another decade, and the story goes that it would have been used by Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban trains as a midday storage area, if service on that line could have continued after 1957.

You would be forgiven for not recognizing this location, but that’s the Western Avenue station on the Humboldt Park “L”, just north of North Avenue. The station was closed in 1952, probably just a few months before this picture was taken. If the station was open, there would be a sign advertising this, similar to ones seen in some of the other pictures in this post. You can also see trolley bus wires, used on North Avenue. PCC 7151 is a two-man car, and passengers are boarding at the rear. This portion of the old Humboldt Park line was not demolished for another decade, and the story goes that it would have been used by Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban trains as a midday storage area, if service on that line could have continued after 1957.

Robert Selle took this photo on June 21, 1958, looking out the front window of a northbound CTA Douglas Park train. We are about to pass the old Met station at Madison Street on the Logan Square-Humboldt Park branch, unused since 1951. From 1954 to 1958, Douglas trains were routed downtown over the Lake Street "L" via a new connection seen off in the distance. This is the current route of the CTA Pink Line, but the day after this picture was taken, Douglas trains began using the Congress-Dearborn-Milwaukee subway instead.

Robert Selle took this photo on June 21, 1958, looking out the front window of a northbound CTA Douglas Park train. We are about to pass the old Met station at Madison Street on the Logan Square-Humboldt Park branch, unused since 1951. From 1954 to 1958, Douglas trains were routed downtown over the Lake Street “L” via a new connection seen off in the distance. This is the current route of the CTA Pink Line, but the day after this picture was taken, Douglas trains began using the Congress-Dearborn-Milwaukee subway instead.

Our Latest Book, Now Available for Pre-Order:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

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

From the back cover:

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

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

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

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

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

Total time – 121:22

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

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

This is our 267th 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 767,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.
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May Showers

On October 10, 1952, an eastbound five-car Garfield Park "L" train approaches Western Avenue, where photographer William C. Hoffman was standing. The temporary trackage on Van Buren Street, visible at right, was then under construction.

On October 10, 1952, an eastbound five-car Garfield Park “L” train approaches Western Avenue, where photographer William C. Hoffman was standing. The temporary trackage on Van Buren Street, visible at right, was then under construction.

April showers, as they say, bring May flowers. That kind of fits today’s post, since there is always a lot of preliminary work involved in what we do. In fact, you could say we have been working on this one for a month.

It’s finally taken root, and now you can stop and smell the roses! We have about 100 classic traction photos for you to enjoy.  Most are our own, and some are from the collections of our friend William Shapotkin.

We also have two new products available. You can pre-order our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, and also purchase A Tribute to the North Shore Line, a two-hour DVD presentation put together in 2013 by the late Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss.

-David Sadowski

PS- FYI, we have a Facebook auxiliary for the Trolley Dodger here, which currently has 320 members.

Our Latest Book, Now Available for Pre-Order:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

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

From the back cover:

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Shipping to US Addresses:

For Shipping to Canada:

For Shipping Elsewhere:

NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

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

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

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

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

Total time – 121:22

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

Recent Finds

The LaSalle Street tunnel under the Chicago River, shown prior to when it was rebuilt for use by cable cars in the 1880s. It had opened on July 4, 1871. This is one-half of a stereo photo.

The LaSalle Street tunnel under the Chicago River, shown prior to when it was rebuilt for use by cable cars in the 1880s. It had opened on July 4, 1871. This is one-half of a stereo photo.

A northbound Jackson Park-Howard "B: train descends into the State Street Subway sometime in the 1970s. A Lake-Dan Ryan train, made up of 2000s and 2200s, is on the nearby "L" structure.

A northbound Jackson Park-Howard “B: train descends into the State Street Subway sometime in the 1970s. A Lake-Dan Ryan train, made up of 2000s and 2200s, is on the nearby “L” structure.

An Englewood-Howard "A" train of 6000s in the State Street Subway in the 1970s.

An Englewood-Howard “A” train of 6000s in the State Street Subway in the 1970s.

This photo, showing a South Shore Line train running in the street in East Chicago, Indiana, must have been taken just prior to the relocation of these tracks in 1956. Since then, they have run next to the Indiana Toll Road. The location is on Chicago Street at Magoun Avenue, less than a mile east of the Indiana Toll Road. The train appears to be heading east. That's a 1955 or '56 Buick at left across the street.

This photo, showing a South Shore Line train running in the street in East Chicago, Indiana, must have been taken just prior to the relocation of these tracks in 1956. Since then, they have run next to the Indiana Toll Road. The location is on Chicago Street at Magoun Avenue, less than a mile east of the Indiana Toll Road. The train appears to be heading east. That’s a 1955 or ’56 Buick at left across the street.

The same location today.

The same location today.

J. W. Vigrass took this photo along the Red Arrow's West Chester line on May 29, 1954, just about a week before buses replaced trolleys. This long side-of-the-road interurban fell victim to a project that widened West Chester Pike.

J. W. Vigrass took this photo along the Red Arrow’s West Chester line on May 29, 1954, just about a week before buses replaced trolleys. This long side-of-the-road interurban fell victim to a project that widened West Chester Pike.

This may not be the sharpest picture, but it is an original Ektachrome slide shot by the late George Krambles. It shows North Shore Line 181 approaching Libertyville along the Mundelein branch on February 11, 1962.

This may not be the sharpest picture, but it is an original Ektachrome slide shot by the late George Krambles. It shows North Shore Line 181 approaching Libertyville along the Mundelein branch on February 11, 1962.

A North Shore Line train in North Chicago, sometime in the 1950s. This was an Ektachrome slide that had shifted to red, and I was fortunate to be able to color correct it in Photoshop. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

A North Shore Line train in North Chicago, sometime in the 1950s. This was an Ektachrome slide that had shifted to red, and I was fortunate to be able to color correct it in Photoshop. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

This photo did not come with any information, but it is a fantrip held on the Red Arrow's West Chester trolley line on June 6, 1954, when the line was replaced by buses. We previously posted a color image taken at this photo stop, where the location was given as either Milltown or Mill Farm, the handwriting was difficult to make out. Apparently one of the three cars shown here broke down and had to be towed by one of the others.

This photo did not come with any information, but it is a fantrip held on the Red Arrow’s West Chester trolley line on June 6, 1954, when the line was replaced by buses. We previously posted a color image taken at this photo stop, where the location was given as either Milltown or Mill Farm, the handwriting was difficult to make out. Apparently one of the three cars shown here broke down and had to be towed by one of the others.

Another photo of the South Shore Line in East Chicago in 1956. My guess is, this is the same location as the other photo, just looking the other way.

Another photo of the South Shore Line in East Chicago in 1956. My guess is, this is the same location as the other photo, just looking the other way.

We recently posted a color image, similar to this and taken at the same location, shot in 1955 by William C. Hoffman. This is most likely from the same general time period, as prewar PCC 7003 is running on Western Avenue. The prewar cars ran here from 1955-56 after they had been on the Cottage Grove line, converted to one-man operation. The "L" train is running on the Garfield Park temporary trackage in Van Buren Street, which was used from 1953-58.

We recently posted a color image, similar to this and taken at the same location, shot in 1955 by William C. Hoffman. This is most likely from the same general time period, as prewar PCC 7003 is running on Western Avenue. The prewar cars ran here from 1955-56 after they had been on the Cottage Grove line, converted to one-man operation. The “L” train is running on the Garfield Park temporary trackage in Van Buren Street, which was used from 1953-58.

A view looking west along the Lake Street "L" sometime during the 1950s. The "L" ran in one direction then (counter-clockwise), so both the "L" train and North Shore Line train are heading west, away from the photographer. That's Tower 18 behind the train of 4000s, before it was replaced in 1969.

A view looking west along the Lake Street “L” sometime during the 1950s. The “L” ran in one direction then (counter-clockwise), so both the “L” train and North Shore Line train are heading west, away from the photographer. That’s Tower 18 behind the train of 4000s, before it was replaced in 1969.

Another photo taken at the same location in East Chicago in 1956. Here, we see a westbound train on Chicago Street at Magoun Avenue.

Another photo taken at the same location in East Chicago in 1956. Here, we see a westbound train on Chicago Street at Magoun Avenue.

The view looking west along Lake Street from the front window of a North Shore Line train in July 1960. This was during the period when the Loop "L" ran in one direction, so the train we see near Tower 18 was also heading west. Soon, this North Shore Line train would turn north. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

The view looking west along Lake Street from the front window of a North Shore Line train in July 1960. This was during the period when the Loop “L” ran in one direction, so the train we see near Tower 18 was also heading west. Soon, this North Shore Line train would turn north. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)

J. W. Vigrass took this picture looking out the front window of a northbound North Shore Line train approaching Armitage in July 1960, near the north portal to the State Street Subway.

J. W. Vigrass took this picture looking out the front window of a northbound North Shore Line train approaching Armitage in July 1960, near the north portal to the State Street Subway.

J. W. Vigrass shot this photo of the Red Arrow operating along West Chester Pike on May 29, 1954. Much of the line was single track, and here we are at a passing siding.

J. W. Vigrass shot this photo of the Red Arrow operating along West Chester Pike on May 29, 1954. Much of the line was single track, and here we are at a passing siding.

On August 4, 1955, a westbound Garfield Park "L" train of 4000s ascends the ramp up to the "L" near Van Buren and Mozart (just west of California Avenue). East of here, the Garfield Park temporary trackage ran in the south half of Van Buren. Here, you can see the streetcar tracks in Van Buren, last used in 1951. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On August 4, 1955, a westbound Garfield Park “L” train of 4000s ascends the ramp up to the “L” near Van Buren and Mozart (just west of California Avenue). East of here, the Garfield Park temporary trackage ran in the south half of Van Buren. Here, you can see the streetcar tracks in Van Buren, last used in 1951. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The same location today.

The same location today.

This started out as an Anscocolor slide, but there was so little color left in it that I had no choice but to convert it to black-and-white. This is the view looking west from the Racine "L" station, on the Met main line, on February 26, 1954, showing a three-point switch leading to the Throop Street Shops, which would be demolished within a few months. While Garfield Park trains no longer took this path, Douglas Park trains still did, until April 1954, when that line was re-routed downtown via the Lake Street "L". (William C. Hoffman Photo)

This started out as an Anscocolor slide, but there was so little color left in it that I had no choice but to convert it to black-and-white. This is the view looking west from the Racine “L” station, on the Met main line, on February 26, 1954, showing a three-point switch leading to the Throop Street Shops, which would be demolished within a few months. While Garfield Park trains no longer took this path, Douglas Park trains still did, until April 1954, when that line was re-routed downtown via the Lake Street “L”. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

William C. Hoffman took this photo of what was then a new illuminated sign in the State Street Subway on March 6, 1955.

William C. Hoffman took this photo of what was then a new illuminated sign in the State Street Subway on March 6, 1955.

This Clark Frazier photo of San Francisco Muni "Iron Monster" 207 was processed in March 1958, which is about when Kodak started date-stamping slide mounts. This is surely among the last photos of this car in service. 207 has just changed ends in a then-new wye at the end of the M line.

This Clark Frazier photo of San Francisco Muni “Iron Monster” 207 was processed in March 1958, which is about when Kodak started date-stamping slide mounts. This is surely among the last photos of this car in service. 207 has just changed ends in a then-new wye at the end of the M line.

A two-car CTA Garfield Park "L" train stops at Tripp Avenue on March 11, 1956. This was one of the stations that was not in the way of expressway construction, and continued in service until June 21, 1958, when the new Congress rapid transit line opened. These cars were part of the first group of 4000s built by the Cincinnati Car Company circa 1915. The center doors were never used in service and were blocked off. The head car is 4238. (William C. Hoffman Photo)