CSL 5249 appears to be heading southbound on Larrabee, just north of Chicago Avenue. To the left, you see the Montgomery Ward complex, which has since been turned into residential. 5249 is signed to go to Vincennes and 88th, which probably makes this a Halsted car. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) M. E. writes: “The barn at 88th and Vincennes was originally the barn for the Kanakakee cars that ran from the Englewood L station at 63rd Place and Halsted, south on Halsted, southwest on Summit (a short street connecting Halsted with Vincennes), and Vincennes. When that service folded, the Chicago Surface Lines took over the barn. That barn closed early in my lifetime.”
Today’s post features many “old school” railfan photos, all from the collections of William Shapotkin. In the 1930s and 40s, photographers such as Joe L. Diaz and Edward Frank, Jr. wandered all over Chicagoland, taking black and white photos of streetcars, “L” cars, and interurbans, which they printed up and sold at railfan meetings.
They were still selling these photos into the 1980s and 90s. Years ago, I met both of these gentlemen, who are sadly no longer with us. Perhaps the late Malcolm D. McCarter was the last of this breed. He started selling photos around 1942, and continued to do so for the next 75 years or so. He was also the last living original member of the Illinois Railway Museum.
Unfortunately, these photos often did not come with any documentation as to when, or where, these pictures were taken. We have written captions that include whatever we could determine. But I know that our highly informed, eagle-eyed readers will help us fill in some of the missing details.
When referring to individual photos, please use the file name (i.e. shapotkin262), which you can get by hovering your mouse over the image, instead of saying “the sixth photo down” or some such. We thank you in advance for helping us with these, and let’s thank Bill Shapotkin again for graciously sharing them with us.
You also might want to consider a trip to Indianapolis to attend this year’s Hoosier Traction Meet, which Mr. Shapotkin runs. You can view a flyer (in PDF form) with all the relevant information here.
PS- At the end of this post, you will also find a blurb for our upcoming book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, to be released on July 12 from Arcadia Publishing. So far, we have received orders for more than 70 copies, for which we are very grateful.
FYI, we also have a Facebook auxiliary for the Trolley Dodger, which currently has 368 members.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin
CSL Pullman 172. Daniel Joseph has identified this as the intersection of Ogden, Cermak, and Springfield.
CSL 5638, signed for Navy Pier, may be running on the Stony Island route. M. E. writes, “The caption is undoubtedly correct that these are Stony Island cars that had the north destination Navy Pier. I’d like to add that I see so many trolley poles on the cars, going in both directions, that I think this place was the south terminal which was just north of 93rd St. South of 93rd St., the tracks were used for only a short distance by 93rd/95th St. cars.”
CSL 2803 is southbound on Ashland. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
This picture, taken on April 12, 1915, shows some window damage to CSL car 6063.
CSL 6101, signed for 35th Street. Chris Cole says this “appears to be taken at the Cottage Grove car barn at 38th Street. The Ida B Welles public housing project 2 story buildings are in the background. The Wells Homes ran from Cottage Grove to King Drive and 35th to Pershing Rd (39th). I also note that there are a number of overhead lines that would be present on the driveway to the barn. I believe that the 35th streetcar used the Cottage Grove barn from 1946 to 1951.”
CSL 2601 on the 111th Street line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1455. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2745. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans says this is “looking W down Wrightwood from Lincoln on Lincoln Carhouse leads – car is pulling out to do a Riverview-Larrabee run.” Daniel Joseph adds, “Possibly at Wrightwood, Lincoln & Sheffield at car barn.”
CSL 2599 on the Brandon-Brainard line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 419 at the east end of the Chicago Avenue line on December 27, 1946.
CSL 5653, signed for Ashland. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2730 and 2728. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans: “Open yard on west side of Lincoln carhouse looking south.”
CSL 2731 and 1346. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans: “Open yard on west side of Lincoln carhouse looking south.”
CSL 3315 on the 67-69-71 route.
CSL 5702, signed for 93rd and Stony Island. Our resident south side expert M. E. writes: “I’m going to hazard a guess as to where this picture was taken. But first, I present my case. The destination sign on the first car says “Stony Island-93rd”; the sign on the second car says (I think) “Stony Island-Downtown” — yet both cars are on the same track, heading in the same direction. Why would that happen? It might happen if these were special fan trips, one car following the other, oblivious to their destination signs. Or it might simply be two Stony Island cars heading to 93rd St., but the sign on the second car is wrong. Another factor to consider is that the tracks on Stony Island ran in the street south to 69th St., but south of 69th, they had their own right-of-way between the north- and south-bound auto traffic lanes. In this picture, I believe I see a separation between the tracks and the car lane. Therefore this picture was taken south of 69th St. But the best clue, by far, is the round sign in the distance: “Ruby OK used cars.” The dealership was Ruby Chevrolet. I went to Google and looked up “ruby chevrolet used car location south side chicago”. Up came a link to a Tribune obituary about Richard Ruby, car dealer and attorney, dated 8 December 2014. In that obituary, it says Ruby’s lot was at 72nd and Stony Island. Next, consider the railroad crossing sign. It is a dinky sign with no flashing lights. That would indicate a crossing that was lightly used by trains. I submit that this is the trackage used by the Baltimore and Ohio railroad that started at about 71st and Dorchester (as an offshoot from the Illinois Central main line), then ran southeast, along the ground, through South Shore and to the South Chicago neighborhood. In Google maps, if you enter “73rd and Stony Island Chicago”, you will see the path used by that trackage. It crossed Stony Island just south of 73rd. (This railroad trackage lasted a long time, because the B&O did not want to give it up. So, every day at 3 p.m., they ran a diesel engine and caboose — maybe a few freight cars too — down that track. Motorists mostly ignored the rail crossing signs, so the train had to proceed very slowly and blow its horn constantly.) So, I think this photo’s location is the southeast corner of 73rd and Stony Island, looking north. North of 73rd, Stony Island tracks also carried South Deering cars, which ran from the Jackson Park L at 63rd and Dorchester, south to 64th, east to Stony Island, south to 73rd, then east on 73rd. In the photo, South Deering cars made the turn to the right, whereas Stony Island cars continued straight ahead. Gee, that was much fun to deduce!” Andre Kristopans concurs: “Looking north on Stony at 73rd. RR crossing just out of picture to left was the old B&O Brookdale line, once the main line into Chicago.” Mitch Markovitz adds: “That’s my old neighborhood. Both cars southbound at 73rd and Stony with the tracks for South Deering branching off. It doesn’t really matter what the destination sign reads on the second car. Changing the sign won’t make the car stray off to distant lines. Either a pull out, a pull in, or someone futzing and changing the sign.”
CSL 5909 on Route 47.
CSL 1868. I can’t make out the destination sign. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Michael Franklin: “This is the 5200 block of Harrison St, Chicago. Buildings are still there.”
CSL 419, at the east end of the Chicago Avenue line on December 27, 1946.
CSL snow sweeper E1. Don’s Rail Photos: “E1, sweeper, was built by Lewis and Fowler in 1895 as Chicago Rys 2. It was renumbered E1 in 1913 and became CSL E1 in 1914. It was retired on November 24, 1950.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Not sure which CTA snow plow this is. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Bill Wasik says this “shows an eastbound snowplow on 92nd St. as it approaches Baltimore Avenue. Can’t identify the plow, but two buildings of note in this photo are still standing. These include the glass-bricked neo-Romanesque banquet hall at the far right. This is an 1891 corner block at the northwest corner of Baltimore Ave. Also visible one block to the west is a bank building that once was the headquarters of the Steel City National Bank, a facility mired in scandal during the early 1970s.”
CSL/CTA salt car AA10. Don’s Rail Photos: “AA10, salt car, was built by CUT in 1899 as CUT 4492. It was rebuilt as 1445 in 1911 and became CSL 1445 in 1914. It was rebuilt as (a) salt car in 1930 and renumbered AA10 on October 1, 1941. It was retired on February 18, 1955.”
CSL 3307 is westbound on Montrose, about to cross under the Chicago & North Western railroad at about 1800 West.
The Chicago Surface Lines tracks were extended to the site of A Century of Progress in 1933. This could be from that year, as a shelter is under construction. We are looking south.
CSL 840 under the “L”. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 5621, signed to go to Belmont and Clybourn. This picture seems to date to the mid-1930s.
CSL 204. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
A Chicago Surface Lines trolley bus on Route 86 – Narragansett. This route used trolley buses from 1930 to 1953.
Chicago Motor Coach Company double-decker bus 500, built in 1923.
Andre Kritsopans: “Looking west towards east end of “east house” at 77th, basically where Wentworth south of 77th would be. 77th until 1970s had two separate buildings, with an open area between them, until the open area was roofed over. The pile of junk in front is 77th scrap pile, looks like mostly boilers and other building parts.”
CSL 3286. Might this be Kedzie Station (car house)? (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
On April 16, 1946, Mrs. Edith Sands and her family were living in the body of former CSL streetcar 1384. There was a housing shortage once WWII ended. There is a different picture of the interior of this makeshift home in our book Chicago Trolleys.
CSL 3296 is on Montrose. Could this be westbound at Welles Park? Note the Packard at left.
CSL 1415 is on Racine at Belden on July 9, 1946.
While researching the above photo, I ran across another one, taken at the same location but from the opposite direction:
CSL 1415, built originally in 1906, is at work on Racine at Belden on the WEBSTER RACINE route. The photographer is unknown. An original Kodachrome from February 1942. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 5241 is southbound on Through Route 8, Halsted. Bill Shapotkin adds, “The car (signed for destination of 111/Sacramento and probably a school tripper for Morgan Park High School) is standing W/B in 111th St JUST EAST of Vincennes Ave. That house with the distinctive roof (left) still-stands today. View looks east.”
CSL 5436 is westbound on 79th Street at Ashland on June 11, 1948.
CSL 5635 at Navy Pier.
I assume that CTA PCC 4300 is turning from Archer onto Clark, running a northbound trip on Route 42 – Halsted-Downtown, and that we are looking to the southwest. Note the Rock Island train in the background. Metra Rock Island District trains still use these tracks.
The same location today.
Postwar PCC 4233 being delivered from Pullman.
This one is too fuzzy to see much, except that it is the east end of an east-west streetcar line on the north side, since the tracks end abruptly. I assume that’s Broadway crossing on an angle. Miles Beitler, on the other hand, writes: “I searched the listings for the auto service garage on the right side of the photo. I found a listing for “Ragalie Bros. Auto Service” with a location of 3939 West 5th Avenue, a diagonal street. 3939 is at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Harrison Street. When I checked the 1932 telephone book I found (a) listing for Micheli Restaurant. That location — 3953 West Harrison — is also near the intersection of Harrison and 5th Avenue and it does seem to fit the photo. Moreover, I believe there was a streetcar line on 5th Avenue which ended at Harrison. Of course, the expressway was not there in 1932. Also note the horse drawn Bowman Dairy wagon on the right. I believe that Bowman Dairy used horse drawn delivery wagons well into the 1920s.”
A note re: the picture above. The addresses of the businesses and locations of buildings would seem to confirm that this is Fifth Avenue, just east of Pulaski Road, with Harrison Street as the cross-street in the background. The tracks that end in the middle of the street were for the Madison-Fifth line. When CSL introduced the new single-ended Peter Witts in 1929, they were used on Madison, and a loop was apparently devised for Madison-Fifth by extending these tracks around the block, via Pulaski and Harrison, to form a triangular-shaped loop. The new northbound track on Pulaski was separate from the existing streetcar tracks, so as not to interfere with Pulaski service. In late 1936, CSL put PCC cars on Madison, and these were also used on Madison-Fifth.
This branch line was discontinued on February 22, 1954, when construction of the nearby Congress Expressway reached this area, just to the north. Fifth Avenue was not a major street and would have required a complicated bridge over the highway, crossing at an angle. So it was decided to truncate Fifth instead.
The Garfield Park “L” ran east and west at this point, just south of the alley mid-block between Harrison and Flournoy Streets. The “L” would have been just out of view to the right of this picture. It intersected with Fifth Avenue at Pulaski Road, just behind the photographer.
In this zoomed-in view of the previous picture, the building in the distance matches the building in the next picture, taken in 1953.
CTA 1725 is operating as a one-man shuttle car on the Madison-Fifth branch line on Route 20 on February 15, 1953. The car is heading southwest on Fifth Avenue approaching Harrison Street and Pulaski Avenue, which was the end of the line near the adjacent Garfield Park “L” station. I thought at first that the date might actually have been 1954, but subsequent research shows the 1953 date to be correct. (Robert Selle Photo)
In addition, this photo, taken from the Pulaski Road station on the Garfield Park “L” station, shows buildings on the north side of Fifth Avenue that match up with those in the shapotkin308 image above. Note it’s the same exact fire escape:
On Sunday, September 13, 1953, CTA one-man shuttle car 3175 is on Fifth Avenue at Pulaski (Crawford), the west end of the Fifth Avenue line. This had been a branch line from route 20 – Madison. From this point, the cars looped via Pulaski and Harrison before going back NE on Fifth. The photographer was on the Garfield Park “L” at Pulaski. The “L” was heading east and west at this point, just south of where the Eisenhower expressway is today. This “L” station remained in use until June 1958. Streetcar service on Fifth Avenue continued into early 1954. The Fifth Avenue line used gauntlet track on Pulaski, so as not to interfere with Pulaski streetcars. This is confirmed by studying the 1948 supervisor’s track map. Danny Joseph adds, “As a child I lived near this triangle when both Pulaski and Fifth still operated street cars and Harrison did not. I was very fascinated by the gauntlet on Pulaski which was the first time I saw such construction.” (Bob Selle Photo)
The gas stations on the triangular-shaped corner of Harrison and Fifth also match, between the late 1920s photo and this one from 1950:
This birds-eye view of CTA 1744 was taken from the Pulaski Road “L” station on the Garfield Park branch in April 1950. However, what we are looking at may actually be a Madison-Fifth car at the west end of its route, ready to loop back via Pulaski and Harrison. Bill Shapotkin adds, “This image is looking E-N/E on Fifth Ave from the Garfield Pk ‘L’…no question about it. The intersection behind the streetcar is Harrison.”
Now that we have determined where shapotkin308 was taken, it’s the presence of a late 1920s Franklin automobile that pins the date down to circa 1926-28. In 1929, the streetcar tracks on Fifth Avenue were extended around the block. Interestingly, the Franklin used an air-cooled engine, and the radiator grill on the car was simply for show. After the Franklin firm failed in 1934, it was succeeded by Aircooled Motors, which was later purchased by Preston Tucker, and provided the engines (water-cooled) for the short-lived 1948 Tucker Torpedo. Aircooled Motors survived Tucker and continued in operation until 1975, providing engines for many small airplanes and helicoptors.
CTA 6002 is southbound on Kedzie on June 22, 1950, having just passed the Garfield Park “L”. Service at this station continued until June, 1958, since it was not in the path of the Congress Expressway.
The same location today.
This could be the west end of the 75th Street route. CSL Pullmans 122, 126, and 392 are visible. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
This photo has a lot of scratches, but it does show CSL 2510 at 75th and the lakefront. Presumably the negative was scratched from being printed many times. (M. D. McCarter Photo)
CSL 5993, on the 31st Street route, is running direct to the World’s Fair (A Century of Progress), so this must be 1933-34. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 6103 is running on Through Route 17 – Kedzie. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo) Daniel Joseph: “Probably Kedzie & 30th St looking north at grade crossing.”
CSL 1942 is signed for Chicago Avenue. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1466. This may be one of the cars that was usually used to train crews in the Van Buren Street tunnel under the Chicago River. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Daniel Joseph says, “I believe this is at 18th St, Canalport & Normal.”
CSL 3216 is signed for 51st and Central Park. M. E. writes: “Given that the destination sign reads “51 – Central Park”, then this picture was taken from the northwest corner of 51st and Cottage Grove Ave., looking south. The 51st St. line’s eastern terminal was actually at 55th St. and the Illinois Central railroad at Lake Park Ave. From there, the route headed west on 55th to Cottage Grove Ave., north to 51st St., and west on 51st St. So the car in this picture is making the turn from northbound Cottage Grove to westbound 51st.” On the other hand, Graham Garfield writes, “Note the sign on the light pole that says “4A”. Illinois route 4A was a state highway from Joliet to downtown Chicago via Archer Ave. until 1967. Based on buildings in the background that are still extant, the angled street here is Archer and the car is deadheading from Archer carbarn (where the #51 was out of) to 51st St to start its run. We are looking northeast at Archer/Kedzie.”
CTA 5444 is one of two cars at Racine and 87th Street. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 3091 is signed for Elston and Lawrence. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 3319, southbound on Damen. (Joe Diaz Photo) Daniel Joseph writes, “Probably Damen & 59th looking north at viaduct on the 5800 block.”
CSL 133 is signed for 75th and Lake Park. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Daniel Joseph adds, “Probably 75th & Constance at the now abandoned B & O crossing.”
CSL 3010 is signed for Elston-Downtown. Bill Wasik adds, “Shapotkin 294 shows the 4700 block of Elston Ave. looking north toward Lawrence Ave. The photo likely was taken in 1946-47. The large three-story commercial building seen in the distance behind the Drewrys billboard was part of the Bankers Life complex. Demolished in the 1990s, it was replaced by an apartment complex for seniors. Most of the other buildings in this scene are still standing.”
CSL 2619 is on the Brandon-Brainard line on the far reaches of Chicago’s south side. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 3303 is eastbound on Montrose, having just crossed under the Chicago & North Western and the Ravenswood “L”.
CSL 498 and 3085. I am unable to see the route signs, but at least we can tell this picture was taken in the 34th Ward. 498 is signed to go to North Western Station, which was a sign used on Milwaukee Avenue cars. Michael Franklin says we are “looking at the NW corner of Armitage & California.”
CSL 5505 is on Through Route 8, (Halsted) signed to run to Vincennes and 88th. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2595 is on the 87th Street route, possibly prior to the extension of this line in 1937, which was the final streetcar extension in Chicago.
CSL 5083 is signed for Pitney and Archer. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 5130, signed for 31st and Lake Park, appears to be eastbound on 31st, having just passed the South Side “L”. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1145. (Robert W. Gibson Photo)
CTA snow plow E-207. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
This is actually a picture of CTA 225 at Dearborn and Kinzie, on a December 18, 1955 fantrip, where it was disguised as 144 with a piece of oilcloth. The story goes that Maury Klebolt, who organized this trip, had advertised that car 144 would be used, and for some reason, it was not available that day. 225 was later sold to the Seashore Trolley Museum, where it remains today, while 144 is at the Illinois Railway Museum.
CTA 225 at Clark and Cermak on a February 16, 1957 Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip.
CTA 144 at 81st and Emerald on the final Chicago streetcar fantrip on June 15, 1958.
Chicago Aurora & Elgin wood car 318. Don’s Rail Photos: “318 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It had steel sheating and was modernized in 1944. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society in 1962. It was wrecked in transit and the parts were sold to IRM to restore 321.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CA&E 10. Don’s Rail Photos: “10 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was rebuilt with a baggage compartment in 1910. It was later removed, but then reinstalled in April 1933 for funeral service. It was wrecked September 10, 1948, and scrapped.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CA&E 455 at the front of a Chicago Limited. Not sure what the workers at left are doing.
CA&E electric loco 2002 is at left. I can’t make out the numbers on the steel cars at left.
CA&E 48 at left, with 315 at right. Can this be Wheaton? Don’s Rail Photos: “315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CA&E 320 at an unknown location. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CA&E 410 heads up a two-car train in Wheaton.
CA&E 409 at the Wheaton Shops.
CA&E 452 leads an Aurora-Batavia Limited.
Not sure where this is. Could it be Wheaton? Dann Chamberlin: “Yes, it is. The Wheaton yard and shops are to the rear of the photographer. The photo looks east towards downtown Wheaton. Note the tower of the DuPage County courthouse in the right-rear of the photo.”
CA&E 458 heads up a Wheaton local. Not sure where this is. Dann Chamberlin: “The train has just left the Main Street Glen Ellyn stop headed west towards Wheaton. The Main Street gate tower can be seen in the left-rear of the photo. To the right of 458 one can make out the tower of today’s Glen Ellyn Civic Center. I attended junior high school in that building!”
CA&E 459 at the front of a two-car train. Could this be Wheaton? Dann Chamberlin: “Again, yes it is. The photo looks like it could have been taken from the dispatcher’s tower. That’s the ever-present DuPage County courthouse tower in the background.”
A CA&E train of woods, headed up by car 26, at an undetermined location.
A CA&E freight train is on a siding while a regular train passes.
CA&E 460 heads up a two-car train in (I think) Maywood.
CA&E 427 is westbound at ground-level “L” station at Oak Park Avenue. The view looks northeast.
CA&E 452 and 454 at the DesPlaines Avenue terminal in Forest Park, between 1953 and 1957.
CA&E 411 heads up a westbound train on the Garfield Park “L”.
We previously ran a different version of this photo of CA&E 315 in a different post, where it was credited to Joe L. Diaz. The location appears to be somewhere between Western and Paulina on the Garfield Park “L”.
CA&E 317. (Heier Industrial Photo)
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
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages
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.
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A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
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In 2016, Jeff Wien hired Rick Foss to add realistic color to what had been a black-and-white image, a rare shot of a PCC streetcar passing the entrance of Riverview Amusement Park on Western just north of Belmont in 1956. The results were spectacular. (Wien-Criss Archive)
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A Tribute to Jeffrey L. Wien
Like many, I was recently shocked and saddened to hear that longtime Chicago railfan Jeffrey L. Wien had died at the age of 79. I had known Jeff for more than 40 years. While I mourn his passing, this post celebrates his lifelong interest in electric railways, which was so important to him.
Some time ago, he had asked me to compose his obituary, and this is what I came up with:
Jeffrey Lawrence Wien of Chicago died from a heart attack at Rush University Medical Center on January 6, 2021 at the age of 79. He had been hospitalized for about ten days suffering from pneumonia. Jeff was born in Chicago on April 3, 1941, the son of Jerome Lester Wien and Helen Louise Kraus. He grew up on the south side of Chicago near 47th Street until 1950, when the family moved to Evanston. He was a graduate of Evanston Township High School (class of 1959) and Northwestern University (class of 1963). He served his country as a Lieutenant in Naval Intelligence from 1963 to 1967. By profession, he was an accountant, and worked for Blue Cross-Blue Shield and at Provident Hospital. He was smart, funny (with an acerbic wit), opinionated, and loyal to his friends. Although he was talented in many areas, he was very modest and never boastful. He did not suffer fools gladly, but if you knew him, he was your friend for life. He loved to travel and was an avid and accomplished photographer and filmmaker, whose work appeared in many publications. His interest in historic preservation, architecture, and nostalgia drew him to street railways, interurbans and railroads. He was a passenger on the last Chicago streetcar in 1958 and was one of the last living employees of the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban. He was the author of Chicago Streetcar Memories, a DVD produced by Chicago Transport Memories LLC in 2009. Jeff was a co-author of the very comprehensive book Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, issued as Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association in 2015. Jeff was a voting member of the Illinois Railway Museum and a generous contributor to its activities. He was also a director and officer of Central Electric Railfans’ Association for 37 years. CERA is a not-for-profit technical and educational association founded in 1938. Along with Bradley Criss, he established the Wien-Criss Archive, an important photographic collection and resource that will continue to aid historical research in the future. Jeff will be very much missed and long remembered by everyone who knew him. He believed that life is the single most important thing, so you must protect it. He was predeceased by his spouse Bradley Scott Criss, and is survived by his sister Helen Jo Wien (Lotsoff), a niece and nephew. Interment is at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois. Donations can be made in Jeff’s memory to the Illinois Railway Museum CTA 4391 Restricted Fund.
Jeff became interested in streetcars at an early age. Ray DeGroote recalls answering a letter requesting more information from Jeff in 1955 while volunteering at CERA (Central Electric Railfans’ Association). They became lifelong friends, and brought Jeff in touch with what Ray has called the “intelligence network” of railfans, in those pre-Internet days. Jeff participated in his first fantrip in December 1956, one of several that were held in the declining years of Chicago streetcars, as the last lines were replaced by buses one by one.
His family lived at 48th and Woodlawn on Chicago’s south side until 1950, when they moved to the north end of Evanston. The closest “L” station was Isabella, a lightly patronized ground-level station that closed in 1973. It was made somewhat famous by being featured in the opening credits of the original Bob Newhart Show in the early 1970s.
Jeff’s initial interest was in taking 8mm color motion pictures. One roll would yield about three minutes of silent movie film. He taught himself photography by trial and error. Sometimes, people watching him would ask, incredulously, why he would want to take pictures of a streetcar?
Once Jeff discovered that the Western Avenue line would soon be replaced by buses, he did everything possible to document it, and the other remaining Chicago streetcar lines. Late in life, he could still recall how disappointed he was to discover that Western Avenue streetcars had been replaced by buses in June 1956.
This was followed by the loss of the final two north side lines in 1957 (Broadway and Clark), and finally Wentworth on the south side in 1958. In each case, Jeff rode the last car. By then, he had met other friends his own age who shared the same interest. Together, they decorated the last Chicago streetcar with crepe paper and a sign bidding farewell to Windy City trolleys. (This was no doubt inspired by “last cars” from other cities, some of which commemorated those events by decorating the cars, which the Chicago Transit Authority did not do.)
Until Jeff was 14, interurban trains of the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee (aka the North Shore Line) passed near to his house in Evanston on the Shore Line Route. The North Shore Line became another of Jeff’s great interests, and he rode the last southbound car on a very cold January 21, 1963 along with his sister, although not to the end of the line at Roosevelt Road. (As the hour was so late, Jeff and Helen Jo got off at Howard Street to take the Evanston shuttle back to Isabella.)
During the summer of 1961, Jeff had a summer job as a ticket-taker for the North Shore Line at the Adams and Wabash station downtown, making him one of the interurban’s last living employees. Several years ago, he purchased a rare North Shore Line ticket cabinet from the Dempster Street station on that line. It was one of his prized possessions, and I persuaded him to write an article about it, which you can read here.)
Jeff started shooting color 35mm slides in 1959. His favorite film was Kodachrome, which then had a film speed of 10, meaning it was largely restricted to sunny days. Jeff would say, “I worship the sun,” and his favorite type of photo was the “three quarter” view, taken on a sunny day. He became a master at this type of photo. He favored all-mechanical Pentax cameras, as he did not trust batteries. He learned how to expose film by using the tried and true “Sunny f/16” rule.
Many other “last rides” in different cities followed. From 1963 to 1967, Jeff served in the Navy, and was stationed in Washington, DC. He was in Baltimore when their last streetcars ran in 1963, and Los Angeles when they ended both streetcar and trolley bus service the same year. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were also among Jeff’s favorite cities, as they both had extensive streetcar systems that were gradually reduced in size and scope over the years.
It was, for many years, a hobby with many “lasts,” but after reaching a low point in the mid-1970s, things began to turn around, with the start of the new San Diego Trolley in 1981. Soon this was joined by a host of other new “firsts,” light rail and streetcar lines across the country, and Jeff traveled to many of these places, to ride, photograph, and film them.
Jeff was an avid collector of other people’s photos in addition to his own. Ray DeGroote gave him the William C. Hoffman collection, after the latter’s death in 1988. Hoffman had extensively documented Chicago’s streetcar, interurban, and “L” lines in photographs and in movies during the 1950s, which are now invaluable historical artifacts. These, he freely shared with others.
Jeff was very active in the Central Electric Railfans’ Association, a not-for-profit technical and educational group, and served as a director for 37 years. This culminated in the 2015 publication of CERA Bulletin 146, Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, which I co-authored. For Jeff, this was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, and the book was well received.
In the book, I wrote a tribute to Jeff, since I really thought of it as being his life’s work. I compared him to the late Richard Nickel, one of the pioneers of architectural preservation here in Chicago. Jeff was a pioneer as a transit preservationist. His influence was profound and extensive in his field. It’s fine that people will pay tribute to him now that he is gone, but I felt it was just as important to do this while he was still alive and able to read it himself.
Fantrips were one of Jeff’s major interests, and the last one he was involved with was on February 19, 2017, when CERA sponsored a trip on the CTA “L” system with four cars wrapped temporarily to celebrate the Cubs winning the 2016 World Series. This was made possible in large part by Jeff’s $2000 contribution.
He was also quite active at the Illinois Railway Museum, as one of only 100 voting members, and through his preservation activities. He helped bring Chicago Surface Lines motor coach 3407 to the museum, and in 2019, made a substantial contribution to bring Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 453 to IRM.
Along with his late partner Bradley Criss, Jeff produced two feature-length videos, Chicago Streetcar Memories, and A Tribute to the North Shore Line.
Jeff’s final activities were to add slides and negatives to his collection that either interested him, or filled gaps in his collection. Some of these were pictures that he was unable to take himself, and gave him immense pleasure. This included his purchase of a large portion of the late Bob Selle’s black-and-white negatives in 2018 and numerous rare Kodachrome slides taken by others, including the late Charles L. Tauscher.
Jeff’s was a life well lived, and a blessing to those who knew him. What follows are some highlights from Jeff’s life in our hobby. He will be sorely missed.
Here is Jeff at 15, taking part in a fantrip on a red Chicago streetcar on February 10, 1957.
On February 16, 1957, CTA 7201 was the last streetcar to run on Route 36. Here it is seen at Clark and Devon. (Charles H. Thorpe Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
On February 16, 1957, CTA 7201 was the last streetcar to run on Route 36. Here it is seen at State and Madison. (Charles H. Thorpe Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
CTA PCC 7201 is heading northbound at Clark and Wells on February 16, 1957, in this photo by Charles H. Thorpe, from the Wien-Criss Archive. It was the last streetcar to operate on the State-Broadway portion of Route 36.
I believe this iconic picture of CTA 7213, leaving Clark and Kinzie on the last Chicago streetcar run in the early morning hours of June 21, 1958, is a CTA photo.
Jeff was amazed a few years ago, when he found out that the late Charles Keevil had shot 16mm film of the last Chicago streetcar in 1958. This was transferred to digital and released by the CTA:
Jeff and his young friends decorated car 7213, no doubt inspired by what other cities had previously done for their last runs:
LVT 912, dressed in bunting at Fairview car barn for the last run of an Allentown streetcar, on June 7 1953.
A mother and her two kids have just gotten off a northbound Evanston train of 4000s at Isabella in January 1972. This station closed on July 16, 1973 and within a short period of time, all traces of it were removed, as it was a short distance from the Linden terminal and had low ridership. That same year, the Evanston branch was converted to third rail operation, and overhead wire was removed.
CTA 9361 is westbound on Irving Park Road, passing under the north-south “L”. The tracks it is about to cross belonged to the Milwaukee Road, and were used to interchange freight with the “L” until 1973. (Jeff Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
CTA 9378 is heading south on Broadway, about to turn west on Montrose (Route 78). (Jeff Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
CTA 9375 at the east end of the Montrose trolley bus line, near the Wilson Avenue “L” station… about to turn south on Broadway. (Jeff Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
I believe we may have run a similar picture before. This shows the North Shore Line station adjacent to the CTA “L” station at Adams and Wabash. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Jeff and his sister Helen rode the last southbound North Shore Line train as far as Howard Street. His friend Charles Tauscher continued with it to the end of the line, and snapped this historic picture:
A truly historic photo that probably hasn’t seen the light in 57 years. The late Charles L. Tauscher rode the last North Shore Line train ever, which ended its run at Roosevelt Road in the early morning hours of a very cold January 21, 1963. Motorman Bill Livings has just taken off the headlight and poses for a few pictures. This must be a long exposure (this was Ektachrome, and the film speed was 32) and you can see some motion blur on other parts of the platform. Truly the end of an era. (Wien-Criss Archive)
The North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal on a wintry night in January 1963. This is a remarkable photo for the time, as it surely involved a long exposure time of at least a few seconds, with the camera held perfectly still on a tripod. Film speeds for color slide film were very slow and those films were designed for use in bright sunlight. (Wien-Criss Archive)
A northbound North Shore Line train stops at Dempster in January 1963, the final month. Just over a year later, after the abandonment, the CTA resumed service between here and Howard as the Skokie Swift. Note the sign at left for a yarn store in the terminal building. (Wien-Criss Archive)
This, and the next three images are from “superslides,” meaning film larger than 35mm, but still able to fit in a regular 2×2 slide mount. This was possible with both 127 and 828 film, but it’s the latter here, in this shot by W. H. Higginbotham showing an Electroliner at Grange Avenue in Milwaukee County. (Wien-Criss Archive)
NSL 741 creeps south along the old 6th Street viaduct in Milwaukee, next to a 1958 Chevy. (Wien-Criss Archive)
An Electroliner at 6th and Oklahoma in Milwaukee in 1962. (W. N. Higginbotham Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
An Electroliner at Edison Court in Waukegan on May 26, 1959. (Wien-Criss Archive)
This picture of the CTA Stockyards line was taken in September 1957, shortly before the line was abandoned. There is little in this picture that still exists today, except for the shuttered Stock Yards National Bank Building, at 4146 S. Halsted Street. (Wien-Criss Archive)
A gate car (345) and a Met car are in the process of being scrapped at Skokie Shops in September 1957. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Riverview Park at Western and Roscoe on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)
PCC meets PCC in this famous Bill Hoffman photo, showing CTA PCC streetcar 4373 on Western Avenue, while a Garfield Park “L” train crosses on Van Buren temporary trackage. The date is June 16, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)
The “Streetcar Waiting Room” at Archer and Western on November 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)
CTA 153 is northbound at Halsted and Congress on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)
CTA 4227 is on the turnback loop at Clark and Howard, the north end of Route 22. This is now the outdoor seating area for a restaurant. Buses terminate at the nearby Howard “L” station. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Bill Hoffman and his sister Dorothy at their home at 6622 S. Maplewood Avenue in Chicago on December 26, 1981. Two nicer people, you will never meet. Both are sadly long gone. (Wien-Criss Archive)
On May 24, 1958 the Central Electric Railfans’ Association operated a fantrip on the South Shore Line, using Illinois Central equipment. Normally, South Shore cars ran on the IC, but not the other way around. Here, they are having a photo stop at the “new” East Chicago station, parallel to the Indiana Toll Road, which opened in 1956. It replaced street running in East Chicago. The view looks east. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
On November 9, 1952, a two-car CTA “L” train, headed by car 1019, is on the trestle at Central on the Evanston branch. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
Chicago & North Western steam loco 555, a 4-6-2, heads up a northwest line commuter train at Kinzie and 400 West on August 20, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
This and the following picture show DC Transit pre-PCC 1053 in June 1961. n This historic car survived for many years before being destroyed in a museum fire. (Charles L. Tauscher Photo)
On June 26, 1960 a pair of CTA single-car units went out on a portion of the Lake Street “L”, but apparently did not go on the ground-level portion of the route. Here, we see the train heading westbound at Clinton and Lake. (Charles L. Tauscher Photo)
This photo of CTA 4391 in Chinatown appears on CERA’s 2014 membership card. The only surviving Chicago postwar PCC car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Photo by Charles L. Tauscher, Wien-Criss Archive)
Jeff purchased this slide in 2018. It was processed in September 1965, and shows Pittsburgh streetcars near the Edgar Thomson Steel Works in Braddock, east of Pittsburgh, along the Monongahela River. The location was a mystery until it was identified by some of our readers.
Jeff bought his first Pentax MX camera at Helix in 1979, and continued using this model for the rest of his career.
Bradley Criss on March 3, 2012 at the end of the St. Charles Car Line at Carrollton and Claiborne Avenues in New Orleans. (Jeff Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
Jeff Wien was, in large part, responsible for a fantrip on February 19, 2017, where four CTA rapid transit cars were posed at various places on the system for photo stops, wrapped to celebrate the first Cubs World Series championship since 1908. I purchased this original slide on the very day he died, with the intention of giving it to him on his upcoming 80th birthday. It is also an excellent example of the type of shot he excelled at himself– a 3/4 view in sunlight. (Bruce C. Nelson Photo)
On September 5, 2020, Jeff made his last trip to the Illinois Railway Museum to participate in their annual meeting. Here he is with his beloved CTA 4391, the only surviving postwar Chicago streetcar. (Jose Martinez Photo)
Here are some of our own recent photo finds:
We are looking west along South Boulevard in Oak park on June 8, 1962, just west of Ridgeland Avenue. The CTA Lake Street “L” ran at ground level here, using overhead wire, until October of that year, when it was relocated to the nearby Chicago & North Western embankment. I assume the commuter station you see here closed in 1958 along with several other close-in stations, in part to make way for this relocation project.
The same location today.
I thought this was interesting as it is an unusual view, one that you could only get by taking a picture on a moving train. This is near the Cermak station on the CTA Dan Ryan Line on May 14, 1979. A northbound train of 2000s approaches, and old Comiskey Park is visible to the south.
Mitch Markovitz: “Westbound (South Shore Line) train at Hammond. Has to be about 1949 as 108 has only been lengthened but not streamlined and air conditioned, and the gates are white and black but not yellow and black. The car behind it has been lengthened and streamlined.”
CA&E 2001 and 2002 at Wayne on June 29, 1957.
CA&E 2001 and 2002 in Lombard in October 1955.
CA&E freight locos 2001 and 2002 in Glen Ellyn in March 1959.
A CA&E freight train in Maywood. If that is correct, I would guess this is westbound crossing First Avenue, where the Illinois Prairie Path starts today. The tracks at left belong to the Chicago Great Western. The date is April 8, 1951.
CA&E freight locos 2001 and 2002 at an unknown location in the summer of 1957.
CA&E freight locos 2001, 2002, and a caboose in Elgin on March 30, 1957. A passenger car is also visible.
CA&E freight in Oak Park on November 18, 1951, with locos 2001 and 2002. In the background, you can see apartment buildings at around 600 Harrison Street. The Eisenhower Expressway runs here now, but the buildings seen still remain.
The same buildings today.
CA&E freight in Lombard on November 23, 1957. John Nicholson points out that with a passenger train in the distance, most likely the date is wrong. Perhaps it was really 1956.
CA&E freight in Maywood, with locos 2001 and 2002, on November 18, 1951.
The back end of the same train.
A CTA train from the 5001-5004 series (not to be confused with the current 5000s) heads southbound approaching Central Street in Evanston on January 7, 1951, having just crossed the North Shore Channel, not far from where the Wien family was living.
I recently purchased this original medium format negative of the Travel and Transport Building, one of the most distinctive structures at A Century of Progress, the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair.
This brochure was issued by the Chicago Surface Lines a short time before the October 1, 1947 Takeover by the Chicago Transit Authority, and spells out the locations where “walking transfers” were available between various CSL routes that were not directly adjacent to each other, and included some Chicago Rapid Transit Company stations on the “L”/Subway. But notice they did not include any such transfers to the Chicago Motor Coach lines, which continued to be privately owned for another five years after this.
The former Asbury station on the Niles Center “L” branch (unused by transit since 1948), as it looked in July 1970. The picture was taken along the right of way of the CTA Skokie Swift (today’s Yellow Line). The building has long since been demolished. A train in the 5001-5004 series is visible in the distance.
This picture was taken around the time the CTA Dearborn-Milwaukee-Congress Subway opened in 1951, and shows where trains crossed over and turned back near LaSalle Street, which was the end of the line until 1958, when the Congress median line opened.
We previously ran another version of this same image on a post in 2016, but I thought it was worth getting a second copy. This one has somewhat less contrast, so you get a better view of the platform. The original caption was: 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.
I find this photo by Edward Frank, Jr. interesting for a number of reasons. It most likely is from before 1943, as a CRT steel car (4312) is coupled to a wood car (2157). This is along the Garfield Park line and the notation “XO” on the side probably means this train is turning back just west of the DesPlaines Avenue station in Forest Park (which would also explain why there is a cemetery visible behind the train). The platform that’s visible may have been only for the use of train crews. The Eisenhower Expressway is located here now. It is unusual that Ed Frank put his name directly on the negative– he generally rubber stamped it on the back. He was taking pictures as early as 1934.
The North Shore Line began running into Chicago via the “L” in 1919, and had phased out use of wood cars by 1936. This shows car 130 at Roosevelt Road in that time frame, signed for the Shore Line Route. During WWII, NSL leased this and some other wood cars to the Chicago Aurora & Elgin. A train of woods ran a fantrip on the North Shore Line in 1946, and then these cars were sold to the CA&E, which continued to operate them until service was cut back to Forest Park in 1954. The glare may indicate this picture was taken looking through the window of another train.
A two-car CA&E train at the Wells Street Terminal. This might be car 412, built in 1923 by Pullman.
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
RGTS Rio Grande to Silverton: A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading Price: $14.99
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.