The date of this picture is not known, but it must have been in the early 1950s. We see a Chicago & North Western commuter train (aka a “Scoot”) at left on an embankment, while an eastbound CTA train is on the ground level portion of the Lake Street “L”. Perhaps a more exact location can be determined by the signal tower shown in the photo. I think the woods were off of Lake by the end of 1954, and steam only lasted a couple more years on the C&NW. Now both Metra commuter trains and CTA’s Green Line trains share this embankment. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Variety, they say, is the spice of life, and we certainly have a spicy batch of photos for you today. Most are from the collections of William Shapotkin, whose interests range far afield. Looking through all these photos was, for me at least, like Christmas in July.
We hope that you will enjoy them as much as we do. We thank Mr. Shapotkin for generously sharing these images with our readers.
We will be appearing at City Lit Books (2523 N. Kedzie Avenue in Chicago) at 1:00 pm this Saturday, July 24, to discuss our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s.
Our program will start with a 20 minute audiovisual presentation, followed by questions and answers from the audience, and a book signing. We hope to see you there.
Interestingly, City Lit Books occupies the same building that once housed the Logan Square “L” Terminal, although you would hardly know it by looking at the exterior. Our presentation will give an overview of the book, and then delve further into the historic “L”s of the northwest side (Logan Square, Humboldt Park, and Ravenswood), with plenty of pictures of the Logan Square Terminal.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
On July 16th, I was invited to appear on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
CA&E 318 is on a mid-1950s fantrip sponsored by the Illini Railroad Club. The car is out on the Mount Carmel branch. You can see Maury Klebolt (1930-1988), the trip organizer, in the window. Mike Franklin: “This photo is looking west on the north side of Roosevelt Rd in Hillside taken from Oak Ridge Ave. That is not a cemetery on the right but rather the outdoor show room for Peter Troost Monument Co, same as today. Queen of Heaven Mausoleum at Wolf & Roosevelt can be seen in the distant left.”
The same location today.
We are looking east along Lake Street, just west of Laramie, in the early 1950s. The Lake Street “L” descended to ground level here, running parallel to the CTA Route 16 streetcar for a few blocks. Streetcar service was replaced by buses on May 30, 1954.
The CTA State and Lake station on April 21, 1980, looking north. This is why I am not sorry to see the old station replaced by a new one– the old one was messed with a lot over the years. It was also damaged by fire, with the result that very little that is original remains. (Clark Frazier Photo)
On February 19, 2017, thanks to a substantial donation from the late Jeffrey L. Wien, the Central Electric Railfans’ Association held a fantrip on the CTA using a four-car train wrapped to celebrate the Chicago Cubs’ World Series victory the previous fall. The lead car was 5695. (Bruce C. Nelson Photo)
On June 1, 1950 CTA PCC 7217 was used as part of an inquest into the fatal collision between car 7078 and a gasoline truck that killed 33 people (and injured many others) on May 25th of that year. The location is 6242 S. State Street. The resulting fire destroyed several nearby buildings. This accident is the subject of a book (The Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster).
Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 205 heads up a westbound four-car train at Cicero Avenue on the Garfield Park “L”.
The beginnings of demolition of the Stohr Arcade building at Broadway and Wilson in December 1922. This Frank Lloyd Wright-designed triangular structure, partially hidden underneath the Northwestern “L”. barely lasted a decade and was replaced by Arthur U. Gerber’s Uptown Union Station the following year. (Chicago Daily News Collection, DN-0075219, Chicago History Museum)
There was once a veritable railfan comic strip that appeared in hundreds of daily newspapers– Fontaine Fox‘s Toonerville Trolley. Here are eight daily panels from December 1939. You will note that most do not feature the trolley or its Skipper.
December 2, 1939.
December 4, 1939. The reference to Holland relates to the “phony war” period of World War II. War had broken out in Europe, but Germany did not invade Holland until the Spring of 1940.
December 6, 1939.
December 7, 1939.
December 9, 1939.
December 11, 1939.
December 13, 1939.
December 14, 1939.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin:
Bill had three different duplicate slides, all of this same image. I tried to stitch them all together to see if the result would be sharper than the three rather fuzzy slides. It didn’t seem to help much. All I know about this North Shore Line scene is that it was taken in 1957. One of the dupes was from Ashland Car Works.
CTA 6238 at 71st and Western on February 3, 1953.
February 22, 1956 at the Chicago & North Western’s Lake Bluff station. At right, an eastbound passenger train arrives, while a westbound freight (coming off the “New Line”) passes. The view looks north.
CTA single-car unit 41 in July 1992. This car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. During the 1980s it was usually paired with car 28, which unfortunately was not saved.
North Shore Line 758 heads up a four-car train, while a nearby Milwaukee Electric interurban is visiting on a 1949 fantrip.
CTA 6151, a Stony Island car, at Navy Pier on July 4, 1951.
CA&E bus 101.
CA&E 409 at Trolleyville, USA in Olmstead Falls, OH in July 1966. Since 2009, this car has been at the Illinois Railway Museum.
CTA 2923 at the Addison station on the (now) Red Line in June 1993. It was suggested that this might be Addison on the Ravenswood (today’s Brown Line) because there are only two tracks visible. However, Graham Garfield says, “No no! This is actually a very special photo! This is a temporary platform at Addison Red Line (only recently having become the “Red Line”, née North-South Route) built as part of the staging for reconstructing the station, which was rather involved because the structure had to be widened to change from dual side platforms to a single island platform. I was interested to see this photo, as I have only seen a handful of photos of the staging and temp facilities from this project. To accommodate the island platform, the space between the center tracks had to the widened, so the two northbound tracks (3 & 4) stayed on the original steel structure and the southbound tracks (1 & 2) were placed on a new concrete deck with direct track fixation instead of the standard cut spikes and tie plates on the steel-deck elevated. While this concrete structure was being built, southbound Evanston and Howard trains ran on track 3 until August 19, 1994, when both where shifted onto track 1 on the new decking. On August 21, southbound Howard trains moved onto their permanent home on track 2. The new island platform had opened earlier in the summer. The layout of the switches in Addison Interlocking north of the station were arranged specifically to make that reroute scheme possible. So this view looks north on the temporary SB platform along track 3, with a SB Red Line A train stopping.”
A three-car CA&E train at the Aurora terminal.
A five-car North Shore Line train on July 5, 1957. (Joseph Canfield Photo)
CTA Pullman 550 at Madison and Canal in November 1951, presumably running on Route 56 – Milwaukee Avenue. That’s the Chicago Daily News building at rear.
CTA trolley bus 9761 is running on Route 85 – Central near the end of electric bus service. This slide was processed in April 1973. The Manor Theater was located at 5609 W. North Avenue, and was eventually converted into a banquet hall (Ferrara Manor) after it was purchased by the same family that owned the Ferrara Pan Candy Company. So, the location of this slide is at Central and North Avenues, looking to the southwest as the bus is heading north to Bryn Mawr.
CTA 550 entering the Imlay loop at Milwaukee and Devon in September 1951.
This is a former Toronto PCC streetcar, but I have no other information about the picture.
CSL 6022 at Kedzie and 47th Place in June 1943 (?) Not sure if this date is correct, considering the slab-sided postwar auto on the next block. Dan Cluley writes, “Regarding the date of bills188 the sign on the streetcar advertises “Park and Recreation week – May 21-30” That seems to have been a national promotion in 1948. My guess on the car would be postwar Hudson.” So let’s call it June 1948 then.
CTA Pullman 900 at 93rd and Stony Island on November 16, 1951.
CTA 3191 at Stony Island and 93rd on July 11, 1951.
The Pioneer Limited (live steam) at Kiddieland amusement park in August 1992. After Kiddieland closed, the steam engines were purchased by the Hesston Steam Museum.
The observation car on the Kiddieland Express at Kiddieland amusement park in Melrose Park, IL in August 1992. (William Shapotkin Photo)
Milwaukee Road “bipolar” electric loco E-2 on display at the National Museum of Transportation in Kirkwood, MO on August 2, 1995. (William Shapotkin Photo)
CTA gate car 322 is signed as a Kenwood Local on Chicago’s Loop “L” in July 1`1948. Kenwood became a shuttle, running only as far as the Indiana Avenue station, in August 1949 as part of CTA’s major revision of north-south service.
Chicago, IL. CTA car 5010 leads the inaugural revenue run of 5000-series cars on CTA’s Howard-Dan Ryan Line at Howard terminal. The view looks W-NW on April 19, 2010. (William Shapotkin Photo)
Chicago, IL. Rear-end interior view of CTA “L” car 5010. Photo taken during inaugural revenue run of 5000-series cars on the Howard-Dan Ryan line (April 19, 2010). (William Shapotkin Photo)
CA&E 604 and 427 in Wheaton.
CA&E car 20 at the Fox River Trolley Museum in July 1987, with CTA 5001 and a 4000 in the background.
A CTA freight train is on the north side “L” in this undated photo, looking south. Electric freight service was the “L”s responsibility from 1920 to 1973, a holdover from the days when this was a Milwaukee Road line operating at ground level.
The CA&E Wheaton Yard and Shops.
“In the last days of the last streetcar line in Milwaukee, a Wells Street car trundels through downtown.” This would have to be no later than 1958. A new modern streetcar line began operations in Milwaukee a few years ago. (A. C. Kalmbach Photo)
I did the best I could with this image, which was completely faded to red. It shows Illinois Terminal 451 being used in regular service on the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit line in October 1976, due to a car shortage. (Jim Walker Photo)
Cleveland RTA PCC 75 is at East 83rd Street on the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit line on May 30, 1976.
SEPTA 6139-6140 (ex-CTA) at the Norristown terminal on March 10, 1987. Until 1951, there was a ramp continuing north from here, leading to street trackage used by the Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell interurban, which continued to Allentown. This terminal has since been replaced.
This is one of the North Shore Line stations designed by Arthur U. Gerber. But which one? My guess is Kenosha. The original slide, from November 1987, was so underexposed that it almost looked opaque, but I did what I could with it.
This picture shows the Lake Street “L” at Laramie Avenue (5200 W.) in a state of transition on October 22, 1962– just six days before service west of here was moved to the nearby Chicago & North Western embankment. This two-car train of 4000s (4383-4384) is descending the ramp to ground level, but as you can see, the connection to the embankment is already in place to the left (north). It appears that a section of the ramp was modified when the new track connection was made, as you can see the tracks leading down to ground level bump out a bit to the south. Once the new arrangement was placed in service, the ramp leading to ground level was removed, and the trolley poles were taken off the 4000s used on Lake. They were replaced by new 2000-series cars in 1964.
CSL trolley bus 87 is on Central Avenue near Lake Street on June 7, 1930. These are probably CSL officials, since trolley bus service on Route 85 – Central began the next day, replacing a Chicago Motor Coach route. CSL had begun trolley bus service on Diversey Avenue on April 17, 1930, which explains why this chartered bus was signed for Route 76. Diversey lost its trolley buses in 1955. CSL chose trolley buses for some northwest side routes as they were in competition with the Chicago Motor Coach company to extend service there. It was quicker (and cheaper) for CSL to institute service with electric buses, with the intention (never realized) to convert them to streetcar lines once ridership justified it. This was part of what CSL called “balanced” transit.
Milwaukee streetcar 998 in the 1950s.
CTA buses 5076 and 5300 at the Imlay loop, at Milwaukee and Devon.
CTA buses 5253 and 5218 at the Imlay loop.
CTA buses 5143 and 5300 at the Imlay loop, which is still in use today.
CA&E cars 600 and 702.
We are looking to the west/northwest along the Kennedy expressway at Canfield. An inbound CTA Blue Line train approaches the Harlem Avenue station (located behind the photographer). This picture was taken around October 2019.
CTA trolley bus 9657 on Route 53 – Pulaski. Daniel Joseph: “Location is Pulaski/Peterson Terminal.”
Illinois Terminal sleeping car 504, the “Peoria,” at the Illinois Railway Museum in May 1977. It was built by American Car and Foundry in 1910.
CA&E car 303.
I am not sure just which CA&E wood car this is, at the Wheaton yards. I stitched together two versions of this slide, both badly faded to red, and attempted to restore the colors.
CA&E 406 at Elgin.
CTA 3163 on the ground level portion of the Lake Street “L” in Oak Park on April 27, 1952.
CA&E 424 and train at the Elgin terminal in August 1953.
CA&E 428 at the terminal in Elgin on August 10, 1956.
CTA 5436 at 79th and Perry in March 1950.
CTA 3232 on Route 67. M.E. adds, “This photo was likely taken at 69th and Western. This is an eastbound car making the turn from going north on Western to going east on 69th. After the 69th St. line was converted to buses, the CTA kept the tracks in operation so that PCC cars running along Western could access the barn at Vincennes and 77th.”
CTA 3254 at 71st and California on February 3, 1953.
CTA 3318 at 71st and California on May 28, 1950.
CTA 422 on Kedzie at 47th on May 13, 1954. It would appear this one of one a few locations where there was wire shared by streetcars and trolley buses. M.E. adds, “There was no trolley bus service along Kedzie, so the only explanation for the trolley bus here is that it was going either to or from the trolley bus barn. I don’t know precisely where that barn was, but judging by the picture, it had to be somewhere along Kedzie between 47th and 51st Sts., which had the only two trolley bus lines on the south side.” John V.: “CTA 422 on Kedzie: Trolley buses for routes 47 & 51 utilized Archer Car Station for storage, accessed via Kedzie north of 47th Street. Kedzie itself changed over to trolley buses in 1955.”
CTA trolley bus 9289 at the turnaround loop at Belmont and Cumberland.
The same location today.
CTA trolley bus 9504 on Route 53 – Pulaski in 1970. Mike Charnota Photo)
We are looking east along Randolph Street on October 16, 1958. We see the old Trailways bus depot, and what was then the newly remodeled CTA “L” station, which was replaced a few years ago by a new station a block south and Washington and Wabash. I am not sure whether the giant CTA logo was saved off the old station.
This is an Ashland Car Works duplicate slide, sold by the late Jack Bailey. This is a North Shore Line train in one of the northern suburbs, running on the Shore Line Route, parallel to the Chicago & North Western (which would be just to the right of the frame). Which means we are looking to the south. KV writes that this “appears to be St. Johns Avenue in Highland Park.”
Blue Island, IL on September 6, 2001. This two-car section of the Blue Island (Vermont Street) Metra (IC) Electric station platform is all that’s left of the original 1926 station. The head house and remainder of the platform have been demolished and a new facility is under construction. The view looks N-NE across the west pocket track.
Near the Armitage CTA “L” station in April 1968.
A Chicago Great Western “piggyback” freight train on Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal tracks on September 13, 1965. The CGW was abandoned in the 1970s. We are looking west from Harlem Avenue in Forest Park, IL, with the CTA Congress rapid transit station at right (part of today’s Blue Line). Note how the fiberglass panels on the ramp are arranged in a colorful pattern. Some years later, many of these were removed after some riders were robbed in these secluded walkways. (Dick Talbott Photo)
South Shore Line car 16 in July 1977.
A southbound North Shore Line Electroliner at Lake Bluff. (A. C. Kalmbach Photo)
This was taken on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip on the Metra Electric around May 1990. The South Shore Line also runs on these tracks somewhere on Chicago’s south side.
South Shore Line 10 in December 1983. (Gregory Markey Photo)
CA&E 309 at the Wheaton Shops.
CTA PCC 7171 heads south on State Street at Wacker Drive, most likely on Route 36. The CTA “L” station at State and Lake Streets is a block away, with Fritzel’s restaurant and the Chicago Theater visible. This picture dates to the mid-1950s.
A train of Met cars on the Garfield Park “L”. (John J. Kelly, Jr. Photo)
CTA 4053-4336 on the Lake Street “L” in Oak Park on October 19, 1952.
CSL 5222 on Halsted at 79th Street, apparently in the late 1920s. The Capitol Theater was located at 7941 S. Halsted and opened in 1925. The view looks south. M.E. notes: “In this photo you see tracks switching between Halsted and 79th St. These switches took Halsted cars east on 79th St. to Vincennes, then north to 77th St. to the big CSL barn. Those tracks could also have led to Emerald Ave. (a half block east of Halsted), where the Halsted cars turned south, then west into the terminal at roughly 79th Place between Emerald and Halsted. From the picture, I can’t determine whether that terminal existed in the 1920s. Halsted cars could have also used the barn farther south at 88th and Vincennes, which had been the barn for the interurban line that ran from Kankakee to the L at 63rd Place and Halsted.” “I don’t know when the barn at 103rd and Vincennes (also on the Halsted route) opened, but even had it existed in the 1920s, there would not have been a track connection between the Halsted cars running on a private right-of-way east of Vincennes, and the barn on the southwest corner of 103rd and Vincennes. I say this with certainty because, at the intersection of 103rd St., Vincennes Ave. and Beverly Blvd. (which came in from the northwest), there was also the freight line of the Pennsylvania Railroad that ran alongside Beverly Blvd. and crossed both the CSL Vincennes line and the Rock Island main line. So there would not have been any room to run streetcar trackage to the barn! Plus, I believe the 103rd St. barn was strictly a bus barn. But the junction of 103rd and Vincennes, the center of the neighborhood called Washington Heights, would have been a great railfanning location, with Rock Island mainline and commuter trains, CSL Vincennes streetcars, and the Pennsy freights.”
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
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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North Shore Line car 413 heads up a southbound train under wire at the Loyola curve in June 1961, from a Kodachrome II slide. Kodachrome was first introduced in 1935, and it was reformulated in 1961 although still a very slow film at ISO 25. Prior to this it was ISO 10. Don’s Rail Photos: “413 was built as a trailer observation car by Cincinnati Car in June 1924, #2765. It was out of service in 1932. 413 was rebuilt on May 28, 1943.” (J. William Vigrass Photo)
The Trolley Dodger blog started on January 21, 2015, making this our sixth anniversary. We chose the date deliberately, as it was also the day when the fabled North Shore Line interurban ran its last. We wanted there to be beginnings, as well as endings, associated with that date.
In our six years, we have had 262 posts. Here is a breakdown of page views by year:
Add to that the 297,195 page views from my previous blog, and we are now over a million page views. We thank you for your support.
We have lots for you this go-round… plenty of new images, including many in color, a rare article about the Metropolitan West Side Elevated, some submissions from our readers, and more photos from the William Shapotkin collection, and even a product review. We also have some North Shore Line content.
We thank our readers for making 2020 our most successful yet, with 133,246 page views, surpassing our previous record of 2016, and a 30% increase over the previous year. Each January, we ask our readers to help defray the expenses involved with file storage, web hosting, domain registration and other overhead, the “nuts and bolts” things that make this blog possible. Fortunately, thanks to all of you, we have have received $565 to date, meeting our original goal. Additional donations are always welcome, and will be used to purchase more classic images for this site. If you enjoy what you see here, and would like it to continue, please consider making a donation by clicking on this link, or the one at the top or bottom of this post.
We thank you in advance for your time, consideration, and your generous support.
CTA 979 is southbound on State, just south of Lake Street. Romance on the High Seas, playing at the State-Lake theater, was released on June 25, 1948, probably about the time when this picture was taken. The streetcar still has a CSL emblem as this was early in the CTA era.
A North Shore Line train at Randolph and Wabash.
The North Shore Line’s headquarters in Highwood, with line car 604 out front. Not sure what caused the lightstruck portion of the neg, but I may try to repair the image in Photoshop at some future date since it is distracting.
A close-up of the previous image. Don’s Rail Photos: “604 was built by the C&ME in 1914. It was acquired by IRM in 1963.”
I was very fortunate to purchase this 1950s negative showing the CTA Stock Yards branch. Daniel Adams: “The view is facing east, at the intersection of Exchange and Packers Avenues. Racine Avenue Station, the first station encountered when a train consist pulls into the famed Stock Yards loop, can be seen in the distance. This train is beginning to make the first curve of the loop, to be heading south and soon pulling into Packers Station, which just a short distance away. Way back in the background, we can see the rather hazy tower of the Stock Yards National Bank, which stood on the west side of South Halsted Street.” Andre Kristopans notes, “A correction re Stock Yards – the first station on the loop was Racine, the second SWIFT, then Packers, then Armour.” So this train is between Racine and Swift.
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) double-ended car 18 at 69th Street Terminal in July 1963. Don’s Rail Photos: “18 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1949, #1755. It became SEPTA 18 in 1970 sold to BERA in 1982.”
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (formerly the Philadelphia & Western, aka Red Arrow) Bullet car 207 in July 1963. 207 was built by Brill in 1931, order #22932, as P&W 207. It became PST 207 in 1948 and SEPTA 207 in 1970. I understand it is now preserved at Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine. This car had extended wheelbase trucks and was tested up to 100 mph.
Chicago Aurora & Elgin wood car 28 in Forest Park in 1952. The front of the car is not in sharp focus because it was moving towards the photographer. Back then, film speeds, and therefore shutter speeds, were quite slow. The fastest film speed in use then was Kodak Super-XX, introduced in 1940, at ISO 200. But this is probably not that film. Panatomic-X, which Kodak began selling in 1933, was ISO 32, and Plus-X, introduced in 1938, was originally ISO 50 (later bumped up to 125). Photographers often dealt with the shutter speed problem by taking their pictures while a train was still at a distance. The tracks curve off to the right in the distance. I am not sure of the exact location, although the Eisenhower expressway is here now.
North Shore Line Silverliner 740 at Howard Street, probably in the late 1950s. This was an Ektachrome slide that was not date stamped, which means it is probably before 1958, but after 1955. It had faded to red, like many other such early Ektachromes that had unstable dyes. It was an attractive alternative to Kodachrome in that era, though, because the film speed was 32 instead of Kodachrome’s 10.
While not the greatest photo, from a technical perspective, this is an original Kodachrome slide taken by George Krambles. This is perhaps only the second such slide I have purchased. It was shot at North Chicago Junction on January 20, 1952. Occasionally, railfan photographers would trade original slides, and this one was owned by J. William Vigrass.
NSL 707 heads up a northbound train crossing Dempster Street in Skokie in September 1958. Just behind the train, you can see a tiny bit of the station, which has been preserved and moved to a slightly different location. The southbound shelter was much more basic, and was approximately where the CTA built a new platform for Skokie Swift trains in 1964. Again, this was an early Ektachrome slide that had shifted to red (actually, it was the other color dyes that badly faded, leaving mostly the red visible) and was restored in Photoshop. (J. William Vigrass Photo)
A northbound North Shore Line train rounds the curve at Lake and Wabash in June 1961. We are looking to the east. This is an early Kodachrome II slide. The film had a faster ISO than the original Kodachrome, and was said to be sharper, with a thinner emulsion. But not all photographers were happy about the change, and it had a bit less contrast, and some missed the “Rembrandt blacks” of the old version. (J. William Vigrass Photo)
A view of the North Shore Line’s massive station at Zion, taken from the front of a train in July 1960 by J. William Vigrass. The city insisted on a large station, as they were confidant that their religious community would quickly grow, which it did not. It was torn down soon after the line quit in 1963. This is from an Ektachrome slide that had not faded, suggesting that Kodak had fixed the dye fading problem by 1960.
Milwaukee and Suburban Transport car 995 is on Route 10, the last Milwaukee streetcar line in the classic era, in august 1957. The 995 was one of the last two cars operated (along with 975) there on March 2, 1958. Streetcar service returned to Milwaukee on November 2, 2018, when a 2.1 mile route, known as “The Hop,” opened.
The North Shore Line’s Harrison Street Shops in July 1960. (J. William Vigrass Photo)
J. William Vigrass took this picture in July 1960 and marked it as “NSL” at Harrison (presumably, by the shops in Milwaukee). Edward Skuchas: “This is a Western 20 yard air dump car. They were used on railroads and trolley lines. Wilkes-Barre Railways had 2 or 3 and they adapted the ends for a radial drawbar. Car Works imported models in O & HO scale brass. They tilt and the sides lift.” David Cole thinks this may be the remains of the NSL weed sprayer shown in CERA B-106.
A northbound Electroliner stops at Adams and Wabash on the Loop “L” in September 1959. While I am sure the sailors are about to board, chances are the woman in the blue dress is too, since she is carrying a small suitcase. (J. William Vigrass Photo)
A closer view of the last image. Carl Fischer Music, at 312 S. Wabash Avenue, was a place where you could buy sheet music for both popular and classical. They still sell online. This location closed on April 16, 1999. The Epicurean Restaurant, at 316 S. Wabash, served Hungarian food and may have closed in the 1970s.
Although photographer J. William Vigrass labelled this September 1960 slide as “NSL,” readers on our TD Facebook group have identified it as the Chicago & North Western’s Racine Depot, which still exists, although no longer used as a train station.
This circa 1955-58 Ektachrome slide, with the color restored, shows an Electroliner on the four-track section of the north side “L”. Not sure of the exact location. (J. William Vigrass Photo) Mike Franklin: “This is looking west from the Sedgwick Station on the North side L. (House to the right is still there at 1542 Hudson Ave.)”
CA&E 410 awaits scrapping at Wheaton on April 23, 1962. It was built by Pullman in 1923. sister car 409 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (K. C. Henkels Photo)
Red Arrow car 83 on the Media line in September 1959. The street sign says School Lane.
Red Arrow car 77, signed for the West Chester line, is at 69th Street Terminal in January 1954.
From the standpoint of classic railfan photography, this is perhaps the best shot in today’s post, and shows Red Arrow car 24 on the Media line in May 1956.
Red Arrow car 13 on the Media line in November 1959.
Red Arrow Brilliner 5 on the Ardmore line in July 1959. This narrow street may be why this line was somewhat rerouted after being converted to bus at the end of 1966.
This map, although not very clear, shows the track arrangement on the Loop “L” as it was in 1906, seven years before it was changed to run counter-clockwise, with all trains going in the same direction. That was done to facilitate through-routing north side and south side trains. North is down on this map. In 1906, the Loop was bi-directional with left-hand running. The Lake Street and Northwestern “L”s also ran left-handed, while the South Side and Met trains ran right-handed. From the October 19, 1906 edition of the Electric Railway Review.
Although this old real photo postcard identifies this as the “N. W. “L”,” this is actually the Met crossing the Chicago River over two side-by-side bridges. According to Daniel Adams, this picture cannot have been taken after mid-1915, as swing bridge shown, on Jackson Boulevard, was replaced then. Once I receive the original of this in the mail, I will post a better version. Thanks to J. J. Sedelmaier for improving this one.
The Metropolitan West Side Elevated – 1895
We recently purchased the June 6, 1895 edition of Leslie’s Weekly, which has an extensive article, including numerous photographs and drawings, of the then-new Metropolitan West Side Elevated in Chicago:
The Normandy Flats was a large apartment building, purchased by the Met and moved to a new location. The 1894 Chicago Blue Book gave the Normandy Flats’ address as 2300-2302 S. Indiana Avenue, presumably where the building was relocated during the construction of the Metropolitan West Side “L”, as it was apparently in the way of something.
The original Franklin Street Terminal was only open from 1895 to 1897, and this is the first time I have seen a description of what it looked like. As far as I am aware, no one has yet found a photo. It closed when the Union Loop opened. At the same time, a new “L” station was opened at Franklin and Van Buren. Another terminal was later built on this site, extending back to Wells Street. It opened in 1904.
Why aren’t there more images of the Franklin Street Terminal? Well, for one thing, it opened late, apparently too late to be photographed for the big publicity push that coincided with the opening of the Met “L”. Hence this illustration. There is a photo showing the other side of the building (or buildings– the accompanying article seems to indicate the terminal went through two buildings). Then, it closed little more than two years later, coinciding with the opening of the Union Loop, and any publicity surely concentrated on that, and not the terminal closing.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin:
A “meet” between a steam train and a Chicago & West Towns Railway streetcar in LaGrange in the late 1940s. You can see evidence of the postwar construction boom in the background. Not sure if this was a fantrip.
This picture has been the subject of some discussion on Facebook. It’s a Pennsylvania Railroad “Doodlebug,” probably after 1948, at Baltimore, MD. It is apparently a Parkton local. John Engleman: “Actually, actually, it’s just sitting in what was called “the sleeper yard” at Pennsylvania Station probably between morning inbound and afternoon outbound trips to Parkton. A and B tracks and the platform that served them can be seen just beyond the Charles Street bridge.”
A Delaware, Lackawanna and Western electric commuter train in New Jersey. This railroad merged with the Erie in 1960 to form the Erie Lackawanna. The commuter service continues under NJ Transit.
Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric diesel switcher #5, which continued freight operations after the remaining remnant of the line was de-electrified. A section of this line is now the trackage of the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin, IL.
Chicago & Eastern Illinois #4, the “Whippoorwill,” arrives at 63rd Street (Little Englewood Station) in July 1947.
Louisville & Nashville Railroad freight engine #1827 after being overhauled at the South Louisville Shops.
Wabash #21 Blue Bird at 63rd Street (Little Englewood Station) in July 1947.
A Chicago & Interurban Traction Company car. This line operated between 63rd and Halsted and Kankakee, and was abandoned in 1927, due to increased competition from the Illinois Central Electric.
Chicago & Joliet Railway #212. This system ran from Archer and Cicero Avenues in Chicago and connected to the Chicago, Ottawa, & Peoria interurban. It was abandoned in 1933.
Chicago & Joliet Electric car 200. This car, the “Louis Joliet,” was built by C&JE in the 1920s.
Milwaukee Road #E-5.
Long Island Railroad snow plow #193.
Pittsburgh Railways at Resee-Charleroi. The car is signed for Riverview. Larry Lovejoy adds: “The picture of Pittsburgh Railways Company low floor car 3769 is on the Charleroi line northbound at White Barn Siding. The date is 27 July 1952 and the occasion is a fantrip sponsored by the Pittsburgh Electric Railway Club. The line was abandoned ten months later. Today’s Pennsylvania Trolley Museum is the direct descendant of PERC and preserves sister car 3756. While “Riverview” was a turnback point on the Charleroi line, that destination sign is actually inappropriate at this particular location.”
Pittsburgh Railways line car M212 at the Washington Junction Yard. Larry Lovejoy: “The photo of Pittsburgh Railways line car M212 is at Castle Shannon Car House. There was no yard at Washington Junction, which is about a mile south of Castle Shannon.”
Philadelphia & Western Strafford car 161 at Norristown on December 27, 1958. It was built by Brill in 1927 and continued to operate until sometime between 1888 and 1990. It is now owned by the New York Museum of Transportation.
P&W Strafford car 163 on June 24, 1955. After retirement in the 1990s, it was rebuilt into a gas-mechanical car and operated in Mt. Dora, Florida, but it is not certain whether it still exists.
P&W Strafford car 162 on September 28, 1958. Don’s Rail Photos: “62 was built by Brill in June 1927, #22529. It was rebuilt as 162 in 1931 and became PST 162 in 1948. It became SEPTA 162 in 1970. It was sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1991.” Today it is the only survivor of the fleet preserved as a modernized 160 series car.
Don’s Rail Photos: “64 was built by Brill in June 1927, #22529. It was rebuilt as 164 in 1931 and became PST 164 in 1948. It became SEPTA 164 in 1970 and became a de-icing car in 1989. It was sold to Travel Northern Allegheny in 1992 but never used. It was sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1994 and rebuilt as ETE Ry 64 in 2000. It was sold to Electric City Trolley Museum and will be restored as P&W 164.” Here it is on September 28, 1958.
P&W 165 at 69th Street Yards on November 12, 1958.
Product Test – The Pixl-Latr
The Pixl-Latr is an interesting new product that may be useful to people who have film negatives, but no easy way to scan them. It was developed as a Kickstarter project.
I decided to purchase one, and here are my results.
The Pixl-Latr is a negative holder that can accommodate 35mm, medium format, and 4″x5″ size films. It has a diffused backing to prevent the formation of Newton Rings on your scans. It pairs well with this LED light box. I practiced using it with a cellphone camera. The Pixl-Latr is not a substitute for a flatbed scanner, but is certainly more portable, and may come in handy in certain situations where a scanner is not available.
My cellphone picture, before working on it with an image editor.
I reversed out the negative into a positive image.
After cropping and adjusting both density and contrast. But the image is still technically a color image, and could be improved further by eliminating those subtle color casts.
The finished product, as a black-and-white image. Not bad! Compare with the scanned image elsewhere in this post.
The only downside of my usual method of scanning negatives is the formation of Newton Rings, caused by the negative coming into direct contact with the bottom glass of the scanner. I do use ANR (anti-Newton Ring) glass on top of the negative, which diffuses the light and prevents their formation. Fortunately, these are only noticeable at high magnification.
You can read more about Newton’s Rings here. They are an interference pattern, caused when one of the two items pressed together acts as a lens.
LeRoy Blommaert writes:
How I met (and rode) the North Shore Line
I remember quite vividly the first time I saw the North Shore Line as well as the first time I rode it. It was the same time.
I was a sophomore in high school and I was on the debate team. We were to participate in a round robin tournament at St Mary’s in Evanston. We were given the address and told to take the L and change at Howard—but nothing beyond that.
While I had taken the L many times from Bryn Mawr to Wilson Ave, and downtown and to my grandmother’s on the west side, it was, with one exception, with my mother. I had never taken the L north. Neither apparently had my three companions.
We get to Howard; we get off; and we wait—but not too long. Soon something pulls in unlike anything I had ever seen before on the L. It was beautiful; it was powerful. I was entranced and I wanted to ride it. And not just sometime in the future. But now! Immediately! And I did. I persuaded my colleagues that this was the train we needed to take. They were somewhat skeptical but in the end they agreed.
I was generally a good boy (a very good boy in fact) who always followed the rules and rarely did anything I thought was wrong. But this time? This time was different! I wasn’t sure that it was not the train to take, but I had doubts that it was the right train. These doubts I dismissed.
We got on. It was one of the older cars. I remember it had a stove inside. I also remember how fast it went once we left the station and entered the cut. The conductor dutifully asked for our tickets. Obviously, we did not have them. I explained where we wanted to go; he said we got the wrong train, and we were left off at the first station—Skokie.
There we waited for the first train south. It was getting dark and no one was around. In those days, unlike today, there was very little around. We waited about an hour. Needless to say, we did not make it to the debate tournament.
The next time I rode the North Shore, the trip was much longer: to Milwaukee and back. It was a fan trip. I believe it was a Klebolt trip. I went with my father. How I found out about it, I don’t remember, as I did not know any railfans then. It was on this trip that I met Roy Benedict. I remember he wore a football helmet, not the kind we know today, but a leather one, the kind they wore in the 1920s. He had made some track maps that he either gave away or sold.
As fate would have it, in my freshman or sophomore year of college, we moved to Skokie—within walking distance of that same station. One summer I got a job in the Loop—in the Insurance Exchange Building. The best part of the job was riding the North Shore each week day. I got off at Quincy and Wells and for the trip back home, I walked to the station at Adams and Wabash. It was there I met Jeff Wien, who was a ticket agent for the summer. From there it was onto CERA meetings, to and from which I was able again to ride my favorite railroad in those early days. It is still my favorite railroad, except that sadly I can no longer ride it, except at the Illinois Railway Museum, but that is not the same. The speed is absent as is the distance and the varying landscapes.
I first became aware of the North Shore from seeing the trains stored on the L south of Roosevelt Rd. Taking the Englewood L into the loop and as our train descended into the subway our tracks were straddled by the tracks holding the stored North Shore cars. My first trip on the North Shore was when I was in HS and needed to cut short my time with family on vacation and return to Chicago. I caught the first southbound train from Racine. I became a regular weekend rider when I was getting technical training as a new swabbie at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Getting off at LaSalle Street Station to catch a Rock Island commuter train I now realized that the large crowd of sailors we had often encountered coming down from the L platform had come from a North Shore train from Great Lakes.
LaSalle Street Station was the only one of the Chicago downtown railroad stations with direct access to the L. As a kid when we were downtown on shopping trips we often took the L to the department stores. Because the L trains were circling the loop in one direction it wasn’t possible to return that way and we would catch the Division/Van Buren streetcar on State for the return to LaSalle Street Station.
This prompted a discussion on the Trolley Dodger Facebook group about two other not-so-direct connections between the “L” and downtown train stations. Between 1970 and 1989, the Northwest Passage connected the C&NW terminal to the Clinton “L” station. It displaced Track 1 during those years.
The Canal Street station on the Met main line had a passageway leading to Union Station until the Garfield Park “L” was replaced by the new Congress median line in 1958. Here is a description from Graham Garfield’s excellent web site:
A new Union Station, serving several main line intercity railroads, was formally opened July 23, 1925, replacing an earlier railroad station on a similar site. The Chicago Daily Tribune on same day contained a paid advertisement stating, “A short enclosed passageway connects the station directly with the Canal Street Station of the Elevated Railroad.” Within the Canal “L” station a stairway went down to Union Station’s underground track level, then a walkway ran for half a block, separated from Union Station’s track area by an iron fence, and finally into the lobby of Union Station. The article “Chicago’s Stations: Gates to Everywhere” from the August 1948 issues of Trains magazine also discussed the “L”-Union Station tunnel:
“It’s kind of tough, also, that we can’t get out on the platform and look at the prow-pointed T1 at the head end of many Pennsy trains. But Union is all business, and frowns at folk who try to sneak by the gatemen ‘just to see the trains.’ Here’s a tip, though: if you go along ‘frustration walk’ — which is the entrance leading from the Canal Street ‘L’ station — you can get a squint of a train or two at the southwestern end of the terminal. Like as not, there will be some Burlington open-platform cars used on suburban runs out Aurora way.
“‘Frustration walk’ is so dubbed because commuters must walk along an iron-railed thoroughfare beside the tracks to enter the terminal. Then to go out to the train they are obliged to hike back from whence the came on the other side of the formidable railing. Short-cutting is verboten at Union. Many a commuter has seen his train pull out as he dashed madly down ‘frustration walk’ in an attempt to catch the train.”
There are some conflicting descriptions of how the tunnel actually connected to the “L” station. According to some accounts, the passage was accessed from within the Canal Street station building, suggesting the connection was to the station house. Others recall that the passage from Union Station deposited them on the Can