Ross Harano and the Kenwood “L”

Ross Harano as a toddler in 1945, with his uncle Susumu Okamoto, in front of the Kenwood "L" terminal at 42nd Place. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

Ross Harano as a toddler in 1945, with his uncle Susumu Okamoto, in front of the Kenwood “L” terminal at 42nd Place. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

I first became interested in Ross Harano and his family’s story when I came across the picture shown above in the article What happened to Chicago’s Japanese neighborhood? by Katherine Nagasawa from WBEZ radio. I wanted to learn more, and found that Mr. Harano is, as they used to say, “in the book.” I wrote him a letter, and we began a correspondence that led to the interview that follows.

Ross Harano writes:

I was born in the Fresno Assembly Center which was at the Fresno County Fair Grounds on September 17,1942. When I was one month old, my family was shipped to the Jerome, Arkansas, internment camp. We were later allowed to relocate to Chicago.

My uncle’s name was Susumu Okamoto (1919-2005) who was married to my mother’s sister. When we settled on Oakenwald from the camp in Arkansas, my parents and my mother’s 3 sisters and their husbands along with my grandparents all lived there.

It was a full house.

During the war, my uncle Susumu served with US Military Intelligence in the Pacific along with two of my mother’s brothers. Another brother served in Europe with the Japanese American 442nd Combat Infantry Battalion. He was seriously wounded in Italy and also lived with us on Oakenwald after he recovered from his wounds.

This is a uniquely American story, and also one that is uniquely Chicago, a slice of history that deserves to be remembered.

-David Sadowski

From 1949 to 1957, the CTA operated the Kenowwd branch of the "L" as a shuttle operation, and here we see three such cars at the Indiana Avenue station. By the mid-1950s, the older gate cars had been replaced by ones formerly used on the Met "L", as those lines were equipped with more modern steel cars. Not sure why there are three cars here-- Kenwood usually used one or two car trains in these days.

From 1949 to 1957, the CTA operated the Kenowwd branch of the “L” as a shuttle operation, and here we see three such cars at the Indiana Avenue station. By the mid-1950s, the older gate cars had been replaced by ones formerly used on the Met “L”, as those lines were equipped with more modern steel cars. Not sure why there are three cars here– Kenwood usually used one or two car trains in these days.

Interview with Ross Harano, July 2, 2020:

Q: Maybe we could start by going back to the beginning of your family’s history, and when they  came to this country, and we can just take it from there?

A: Well, I’m third generation Japanese-American. Both of my grandfathers came to America in 1898. They landed in Hawaii first as laborers in the sugar cane fields and later on the mainland as laborers on the Union Pacific railroad. Prior to the Japanese immigration, the Chinese came to this country as Forty Niners to search for gold and later to build the first transcontinental railroad. As the Chinese began to settle on the west coast, strong anti-Chinese sentiments resulted in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Japan was the next place where the railroads looked for workers and both my grandfathers worked on the railroads and eventually settled in California where my parents were born. My father was born in Berkeley, and my mother was born in Hanford which is just outside of Fresno.

After Pearl Harbor was attacked, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 which authorized the interment of the Japanese community into 10 concentration camps away from the west coast. We evacuated out with my mother’s family because she was pregnant with me and she had three sisters who were not married at the time to care for her. We went from Hanford to the Fresno Assembly Center which was built on the Fresno County Fairgrounds. I was born in September of ’42, and in October we were shipped to Jerome, Arkansas. There were two camps in Arkansas, one at Rohwer and one at Jerome. They were about 25 miles apart and each held 8,500 Japanese internees.

Even though my family was interned behind barbed wire, seven of my uncles volunteered to serve in the US Military. Four of them served in Europe with the Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team – one was wounded in Italy and one was killed in France. Three uncles served in the Pacific in the US military intelligence. This was kept a military secret until the late ‘50s. Japanese Americans were there on the front lines intercepting Japanese messages because the Japanese didn’t know that we had translators so they didn’t speak in code on the battlefield. The Japanese Americans were on the front lines in most of the campaigns in the Pacific including Merrill’s Marauders in Burma.

The house at 4201 S. Oakenwald. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

The house at 4201 S. Oakenwald. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

Ross and his maternal grandfather Rihaci Mayewaki (1886-1969) in front of the Kenwood "L" terminal at 42nd Place. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

Ross and his maternal grandfather Rihaci Mayewaki (1886-1969) in front of the Kenwood “L” terminal at 42nd Place. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

Ross Harano and a cousin, in front of the Kenwood "L" terminal at 42nd Place. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

Ross Harano and a cousin, in front of the Kenwood “L” terminal at 42nd Place. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

Ross and his sled. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

Ross and his sled. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

Transfers from the Kenwood "L" and 43rd Street streetcar line. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

Transfers from the Kenwood “L” and 43rd Street streetcar line. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

This notice is from before October 1947, when the Chicago Transit Authority took over the "L" system. Fares were, if anything, being held artificially low for many years, while the system gradually deteriorated and the equipment aged. Once the CTA was in charge, they had more legal leeway to raise fares, in order to cover expenses, in the days before government subsidies. As a result, there were several fare increases in the 1950s. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

This notice is from before October 1947, when the Chicago Transit Authority took over the “L” system. Fares were, if anything, being held artificially low for many years, while the system gradually deteriorated and the equipment aged. Once the CTA was in charge, they had more legal leeway to raise fares, in order to cover expenses, in the days before government subsidies. As a result, there were several fare increases in the 1950s. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

In 1944 we were able to leave the camp and we eventually settled on the south side of Chicago on Oakenwald. At some point we had my mother’s three sisters and their husbands, two new baby cousins, my grandparents and my mother’s three brothers.

Q: How many people would you say were living in the same house?

A: About 14 (laughs).

Q: Things must have been kinda tight, but I suppose, you probably didn’t think about it too much, because that’s just the way things were.

A: Well it was a relatively large brick building. It was like a rowhouse where the buildings were all built next to each other with brick common walls. The upstairs had four bedrooms and one bathroom. Each bedroom had a family. When my uncle who was a carpenter returned from the Army, he built another bedroom in the basement, so we had five bedrooms. He also built another bathroom down there too, so we had two bathrooms. So, we had quite a few people in the building which was tremendous for me. I was the only child until I was four years old, so I had all my aunties and uncles to take good care of me.

CTA 6180 is at 43rd and Oakenwald on August 8, 1953, the last day of streetcar service on the 43rd-Root Street line. Note the Illinois Central station at rear. (C. Edward Hedstrom Photo)

CTA 6180 is at 43rd and Oakenwald on August 8, 1953, the last day of streetcar service on the 43rd-Root Street line. Note the Illinois Central station at rear. (C. Edward Hedstrom Photo)

And at that time, everybody was working. My mother was working at Hart, Schaffner and Marx, which was on west Van Buren near the Chicago river. And so, she would take the “L” to work every day which was very convenient since we lived across the street from the Kenwood “L” end of the line terminal. There was a 43rd Street Illinois Central stop next to us, and plus, we had the 43rd streetcar. It was a very convenient place to live in terms of getting to work and shopping, and plus, it was an interesting neighborhood.

In those days, Chicago was very segregated and African Americans were not allowed to live east of Cottage Grove. And so, the neighborhood, when we first moved in was all white. Many of our neighbors on Oakenwald were of third or fourth generation German ancestry. When the first African Americans began to move east of Cottage Grove, my neighborhood changed from white to black over the summer – like in two months. Most of my friends ended up moving to Oak Lawn which was basically farmland in those days. Oak Lawn was being developed and a lot of my friends built or bought homes in that area.

Q: What year was this, then, when the segregation ended?

A: Oh, probably about 1953, let’s see, I was in fifth grade. If you look at my grammar school pictures, you can see the change. When I graduated, my class was all black. I still keep in touch with some of my classmates from grammar school.

Q: Are they on Facebook?

A: No, I don’t do Facebook. I do emails. I have a flip phone, I don’t have one of those fancy phones.

The corner of Oakenwald and 42nd Place today.

The corner of Oakenwald and 42nd Place today.

Q: Is the house still there, that you guys lived in?

A: No, what happened is that in 1961, the City of Chicago tore down the whole neighborhood to build projects between Lake Park on the west and the Illinois Central tracks on the east and from 43rd Street north to 40th Street. Unfortunately, the projects were never successful because evidently there were two gangs that got involved and I heard that they were shooting at each other between these two buildings. And sometime in the 90s, those two projects were torn down. Actually, they were blown up and it was a big media event. Now, that whole area has been rebuilt. Oakenwald grammar school was torn down and now there are all new townhouses. So, the whole neighborhood has really changed. All the vacant lots on Oakenwald are now new townhouses.

Q: Wow. What was the address of the house you were living in?

A: 4201 S. Oakenwald. It was on the southeast corner of 42nd and Oakenwald directly across the street from the Kenwood “L” end-of-the-line station there.

Q: Had that been a wealthy neighborhood at one point in the past?

We ran a lo-fi version of this picture in a previous post. The location at first was a real mystery, but turned out to be 42nd Place, the terminal of the CTA Kenwood branch, looking west. The next photo was taken further down the platform. (We ran originally ran this with other pictures that we saw on eBay, but hadn't been able to purchase. It was relisted and we decided to buy it after all.) Ross Harano adds, "The view is looking north rather than west. The building with the chimney is Oakenwald Grammar School at 4071 S. Lake Park that I attended. The tower on the right is the "Kiosk Sphinx" that was on an estate just north of the grammar school. Geoffrey Baer had a segment on his WTTW's "Ask Geoffrey" about the wealthy family that built a Mediterranean style home with a pool and "Eiffel" tower. The property to the west of the station was owned by Nelson Coal. You can see the coal moving equipment in the photo. Nelson Coal stored mountains of coal east of the terminal tracks next to the Illinois Central Tracks. We used to play soldiers on the coal until we would be chased away by Nelson Coal workers."

We ran a lo-fi version of this picture in a previous post. The location at first was a real mystery, but turned out to be 42nd Place, the terminal of the CTA Kenwood branch, looking west. The next photo was taken further down the platform. (We ran originally ran this with other pictures that we saw on eBay, but hadn’t been able to purchase. It was relisted and we decided to buy it after all.) Ross Harano adds, “The view is looking north rather than west. The building with the chimney is Oakenwald Grammar School at 4071 S. Lake Park that I attended. The tower on the right is the “Kiosk Sphinx” that was on an estate just north of the grammar school. Geoffrey Baer had a segment on his WTTW’s “Ask Geoffrey” about the wealthy family that built a Mediterranean style home with a pool and “Eiffel” tower. The property to the west of the station was owned by Nelson Coal. You can see the coal moving equipment in the photo. Nelson Coal stored mountains of coal east of the terminal tracks next to the Illinois Central Tracks. We used to play soldiers on the coal until we would be chased away by Nelson Coal workers.”

A: No, it was sort of middle class, I suspect. The wealthy area was north of us. If you looked at Lake Park, around Oakwood Boulevard there were a lot of mansions there—big, big mansions. I remember as a kid in grammar school they were vacant, and we used to play in them before they were torn down. There was one mansion which was a Mediterranean style with a swimming pool and a replica of the Eiffel Tower which could be seen in one of the CTA pictures that you had.

Q: What happened to this Eiffel Tower replica? Is that still there, or is it gone?

A: There’s a whole long story on Ask Geoffrey (WTTW – Chicago Tonight) about it. (See link at the end of this article.)  The family made a lot of money. They built the home next to some other big mansions. Eventually, it was the last one left standing. The son had it and there was some dispute in the family so that it was eventually torn down to build an annex classroom building for the Oakenwald grammar school in 1955.

Q: Did you say that the grammar school’s not there anymore?

A: That was all torn down.

Q: Until 1949, the Kenwood “L” ran downtown, and wasn’t it such that they had these things called Kenwood-Wilson Expresses, or something like that?

A: Yes, what it was, was that there were three tracks, and so the Kenwood “L” ran as a local, so it would go to Indiana Avenue, then it would stop at I think like maybe 35th, maybe at Cermak, maybe at Roosevelt, it was a local that went around the Loop and came back. I remember riding it with my mother. She would shop at Marshall Field’s and there was an entrance to Marshall Field’s from the “L” platform. She would shop, and I would hang onto her as she walked around Marshall Field’s. And then when it became a local (shuttle) and ended at Indiana, the platform was extended to cover up the track.

Q: Right. And then from that point forward, I think they only used two tracks heading north. They weren’t using the express track anymore.

A: Correct.

Q: Do you know which trains would have used the third track, in the middle, the express track?

A: The Jackson Park and Englewood lines were using it.

Q: And then the Kenwood was the local, it went around the Loop and came back, but I saw some pictures of trains that said Kenwood-Wilson.

A: There might’ve been a Kenwood Express that ran downtown via the subway to Wilson. Maybe during Rush Hour, they ran express, I don’t know.

Q: And then the Stock Yards “L” was always a shuttle?

A: Yeah, it started at Indiana Avenue, went around a circle in the Stock Yards and came back to Indiana.

This postcard, circa 1910, shows one of the single track "L" stations that were a unique feature of the old Stockyards branch.

This postcard, circa 1910, shows one of the single track “L” stations that were a unique feature of the old Stockyards branch.

Gate car #204 at Halsted on the Stock Yards branch.

Gate car #204 at Halsted on the Stock Yards branch.

Q: Did you ever ride the Stock Yards “L”?

A: Once as a kid. I rode every train when I was a kid.

Q: Just to have the experience, you rode every line?

A: What happened was that if you were under 10 or something like that, you rode free with an adult. So, my friends and I would we would follow some adults through the ticket line. We would hop on the trains and ride ‘em. I remember we rode the Ravenswood line when it was one of the first to have the metal cars. So, we took the train up to Belmont and caught the Ravenswood line. We went all the way to the end and came back. I remember that we sat in the front. There was one seat at the front window that sat sideways and was across from the driver’s compartment. There were three of us. I remember that we all sat there making a lot of noise. It’s a wonder we didn’t get kicked off the train.

Q: It must have been quite a thrill to go down into the subway for the first time.

A: Yeah, we would ride the trains all the time just to ride the trains. We got on for nothing and we were never disorderly. During the Christmas season, we’d go downtown to Marshall Field’s and play in the toy department until a salesperson would ask us where our parents were at and we would leave. We would then work our way down to The Fair (department store), Carson Pirie Scott until we got kicked out. We would then get on the train and come home. That was our entertainment during the Christmas season—we’d play in the toy departments (laughs), there was only two or three of us at a time.

Q: You had mentioned that you got to know the people who drove the trains, the Kenwood line, especially, I would imagine, when it was a shuttle operation.

A: There were only one or two drivers at that point. There was a grocery store right next to the terminal. We just called it Fred’s. The owner’s name was Fred Mamet and I worked there from sixth grade as a stock boy, delivery boy and eventually as a butcher. And I made sandwiches for the “L” drivers and conductors so I got to know them, one of them would let me drive the train for just a very short distance.

Q: Do you remember their names?

A: I was trying to remember. This one fellow was named Dillard which was his last name. And then there was our neighbor and I don’t remember his name at all. He lived on Oakenwald. He was a driver and he’s the one who let me drive.

Q: Tell me about the Kenwood line. They had a terminal there, but I suppose there were times when they really didn’t park hardly any trains there, I think they stored them elsewhere for a while, after it became a shuttle.

A: When the trains were running downtown, the whole thing was filled. There had to be maybe ten tracks for storing and repairing the cars. I don’t remember the exact number, but there were always cars up there. But when it became a shuttle, those other tracks were always empty.

Q: And then they just used a couple of trains, going back and forth?

A: One or two at the most. At night, they just had one train running.

Q: They used both tracks, they didn’t just use one of the two tracks?

A: They used both tracks.

Q: And when they got to the ends, they would go down to a single track, just use one of the two tracks?

A: Before it was a shuttle, the tracks on both sides of the terminal platform were used. When it became a shuttle, they would switch into one track on one side of the platform.

Q: That makes sense. The stations themselves were on an embankment and were sort of different than usual “L” stations, because they had been built by some other company. I think that line opened in 1907, and it pretty much stayed the same until 1957, when they got rid of it, and they had some the oldest cars, those wooden cars. That and the Stock Yards were the last two lines to use wooden cars on the whole system.

A: I remember the ones with a platform on each side, with a gate there (laughs).

Chicago "L" car 24 (aka 1024) at the Illinois Railway Museum in 2019.

Chicago “L” car 24 (aka 1024) at the Illinois Railway Museum in 2019.

Q: Those gate cars, there is only one of those that was saved. It’s at the Illinois Railway Museum. It was originally called car 24, later they changed it to 1024, and within the last few years, they have restored that car back to its original appearance and changed it back to being car 24. That one’s out there, whenever the museum is going to open again. You can ride on that one when they have it out. It’s apparently been brought back to the way it was when it was new.

A: They had like straw seats, laminated with some sort of, it wasn’t plastic, looked like straw.

Q: I think it was cane.

A: Cane, it would be, yes. The train would pull in the station, the conductor’s first job was to reverse the seats.

Q: Are you talking about, on the gate cars?

A: Yeah.

Q: What about the other cars? The other cars they had, later, were from the Metropolitan “L”, where they weren’t needed anymore, those ones that had different roofs. Did those have reversible seats too, or not?

A: Gee, I don’t remember. I just remember, it struck me that the conductor would have to change the seats. That was the first thing they did when the train pulled into the station. And the later ones, they may not have had the reversable seats. I don’t remember.

Q: And the gate cars, did they usually use a two-car train?

A: Yeah, two cars at the most.

Q: And then, the conductor, to open and close the doors, had to stand between the two cars?

A: Correct.

Q: You can imagine what that would have been like in the wintertime. Did the conductors ride outside like that, between the two cars? Or did they go between the two cars when it went into the station?

A: They would ride in the car and when they would come to a station, they would go outside and open the gates. There would be a driver and a conductor.

Q: They continued that practice, even on the steel cars that they had from the 1920s, and it wasn’t until the early 1950s that they changed that, and tried to change it around, so the conductor didn’t have to go between the two cars like that.

A: I remember the subway. Every two cars had a conductor that opened and closed the doors. The Kenwood “L” was something when it was running downtown. There would be a lot of people getting off at Oakenwald. In fact, I remember when I was a kid, I used to have a lemonade stand in front of my house and sell lemonade to everybody when they were getting off the train.

Q: At that time, it was a very popular line?

A: The whole neighborhood, whoever worked downtown, there would be a lotta people riding it, as a kid I remember that.

Q: But later, by the time it quit, by 1957, how was the ridership then?

A: Oh, very few. Very, very few.

Q: Because it was a shuttle, or for other reasons?

A: The neighborhood was changing racially and fewer African Americans worked downtown.

My best friend Eddie Moore’s father worked at the Post Office. Another friend across the street, I think her father was a teacher. It was what I call a middle-class neighborhood in those days.

(This and the next picture) Danny Yoshida, Ross Harano and his sister Cathy In March 1951. Ross writes, "Danny is on the left. He lived on Lake Park and 38th and was a classmate at Oakenwald until he moved to 45th and Lake Park." (Both courtesy of Ross Harano)

(This and the next picture) Danny Yoshida, Ross Harano and his sister Cathy In March 1951. Ross writes, “Danny is on the left. He lived on Lake Park and 38th and was a classmate at Oakenwald until he moved to 45th and Lake Park.” (Both courtesy of Ross Harano)

Q: Right. I worked for LaSalle Photo for many years, are you familiar with that company at all? The Yamamoto family. (1700 W. Diversey)

A: Oh sure, I know LaSalle. A lot of my buddies worked there. My good friend Danny Yoshida married the daughter.

Q: Right. Now, he died?

A: Yeah, he died.

Q: What happened to him?

A: I don’t know. I lost track of him. I was at an event and I was talking to someone who turned out to be his cousin. I learned that both Danny and his younger brother, Kenny, died. I believe the sister Carole is still alive. She married a friend of mine, but I lost touch with them. I have a lot of pictures of Danny and me at Oakenwald.

Q: Was he from the neighborhood?

A: He was at Oakenwald Grammar School. Then they moved to 45th and Lake Park, so he might’ve gone to Shakespeare Grammar School after that.

Q: Small world, yeah. What I recall, of course, Bill Yamamoto, he was very much, I would say, patriotic, in the sense that he could have saved a lot of money by using Fuji chemistry and paper, but he would only use Kodak, because it was American.

A: My uncle, Earl Harano, in North Platte, Nebraska, was also in the same business, so they knew each other. My uncle had a photography studio, in North Platte, Nebraska, and he secured all the school photos in Nebraska and southern South Dakota.

If you needed a job, Bill would hire you. If your son needed a job, Bill had a job for you. I had a lot of friends working there.

Q: When they let you drive a Kenwood “L” train for a little while, that must’ve been quite a thrill.

A: Yeah, it was just a brass handled knob on this thing. There was no speed involved. The train couldn’t go that fast. It had a governor on it, anyway (laughs). I think you turned the knob to a certain point, if you wanted it to go fast, you had to do something to get it to go to the next speed. The train had two speeds—slow, and slower (laughs). By the way, each driver would bring his own brass handled knob.

Q: The brake was separate?

A: I don’t remember the brake at all.

Q: On those cars, I think it was separate—probably air brakes.

A: It might have been. I never had to use the brake because I was going so slow (laughs). I didn’t drive it that far… I just drove it between the next to the last station at Lake Park to the terminal. I didn’t drive the whole route. I just drove it a little bit, so I could tell all my buddies, “Hey! I drove the train!”

Q: You’re probably one of the last few people alive who ever did, on that line.

A: (laughs) I never told anybody except my buddies we did it. I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble.

Q: Did they have basically the same two people working there, right up until the time it quit, or did that change?

A: All I remember is that I started working at the grocery store in sixth grade so that would be about 1954. Around that time, I met the drivers and conductors. I knew the ticket-taker in the station… it was a woman. I would just hang on to an adult and go right through. It wasn’t even a turnstyle.

Q: It’s unfortunate there really aren’t a lot of pictures of the interiors of many of these stations.

A: It was a pretty big station. If you look at pictures of the station, it was a pretty big building.

Q: Did they have a newsstand in there, or not?

A: At one point, there was a newsstand but it closed when the “L” became a shuttle. There was a ticket taker in the building where you paid your fare. When you arrived, there was an outside turnstyle cage to exit. You could also exit through the terminal.

Q: There was a short portion of the Kenwood line that was on a steel structure, and it joined up with this other embankment, and also had freight trains on it, right?

A: Right. It joined up at Lake Park.

Q: How far of a distance would that have been?

A: The tracks from the 42nd Place terminal went north to 40th and curved west to join up with the embankment. So it was about two and a half blocks. Along the north side of the embankment was 40th Street.

Q: That must have been fun, to ride some of these lines that don’t exist anymore. What was it like to ride on the Stockyards line?

A: I didn’t ride it that often. It was an adventure just to see everything. You’d get on at Indiana (Avenue), you’d ride, you’d see the Stockyards. I think I was having too much fun with my friends, to pay much close attention. We didn’t get off, that’s for sure. We just stayed on it for the round trip.

Q: I suppose there was quite an odor to the place in those days, wasn’t there?

A: We lived east of there, so yeah, when the wind was blowing, you could smell it. It wasn’t that bad of a smell. But you’d smell it when you went around (on the “L”).

Q: And that was unique, because they had a single-track loop there. They had some stations where there was only one track.

A: Yep. I don’t remember that. I only remember being on a train. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the tracks or anything, and plus there was two other kids, so we were joking around a lot (laughs).

Q: Tell me then, what happened to your family when you moved away from the neighborhood, to the north side. Was that because they shut down the “L”, or were there other factors involved?

A: What happened was that the “L” was shut down in ’57, and they began to tear it down in ’61. I was at Hyde Park High School. I started there in ’56 so I took the Kenwood “L” and transferred to the Jackson Park “L” and went to the end of the line at 63rd and Stony Island. In ’57, I started taking the 43rd Street bus to Drexel, and then I caught the southbound Drexel bus. It was a #1 or #5 Jeffrey Bus which dropped me off right in front of the school on Stony Island.

Q: Your family moved to the north side?

A: In 1961, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) purchased all the homes in the neighborhood to be torn down to construct the two high rise buildings. The CHA bought our property, which was lucky, otherwise we would’ve had a hard time selling it. We moved to Uptown only two-and-a-half blocks away from the (CTA) Red Line Argyle station. I would take the “L” everywhere. I gave my last car away to my son-in-law in 1990. I was working downtown so I took the subway every day.

Q: They recently completely rebuilt the whole Wilson Avenue station, and all the tracks around it. It was a huge project, and cost about $250m.

A: And now they’re doing a big thing. They’re gonna rebuild all the tracks along the way, get rid of the concrete bridges, and put in a steel structure to eliminate the center thing. They just started on it.

Q: Some of the stations are going to be shut down for a while. But at least they restored the lower portion of that Wilson station, bringing it back to its 1920s appearance. It was nice of them to do that, even though the whole inside is completely brand new.

A: They will have an organic food store there. The Argyle stop, when we first moved up north had two exits, one on the north side and one on the south side of Argyle. And eventually, when they redid the platform, they eliminated the south side exit.

Q: Tell me what happened to you and your family, after you moved north. You moved to Uptown for a few years…

A: We’re still in Uptown. My parents bought a 4 flat building on Argyle and we had our whole family in the building: my parents, my grandparents, my sister, my cousin, and my wife and kids lived there. Then I got wanderlust and I bought a building across the alley on Winnemac. My in-laws lived with us. It felt like a compound, like on The Godfather. We had all of our family around us, all the time, which was tremendous.

Q: What was your career, then?

A: I graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in finance and worked in the actuarial department at CNA Insurance. And then I went out in the field and sold insurance and later ended up being vice president of the Bank of Chicago on Wilson and Broadway. When that bank was sold, I was vice-president of another community bank in Andersonville and later left banking to run an international trading group. Afterwards, I worked in government for the Attorney General of Illinois, Neil Hartigan, and later Roland Burris. Then I became president of the World Trade Center of Chicago which was at the Merchandise Mart. Then I ended up working for the State again as the Director of Trade for the State of Illinois. I retired in 2005.

Q: And what do you do to keep busy now?

A: I am the principal of a consulting group that specializes in assisting companies to export and import products and services. So I do a lot of consulting work for several companies. I’m trying to retire, but I keep getting new projects all the time.

Q: The internment of Japanese-Americans was a dark chapter in American history, one which unfortunately was affirmed by the Supreme Court, in a kind of notorious decision (Korematsu v. United States), which still, I don’t think, has been overturned since.

A: The internment of Japanese Americans in World War II is still constitutional. Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi and Minoru Yasui were the three cases in which the US Supreme Court ruled that the internment was constitutional based upon on the grounds of military necessity.

The Supreme Court decisions have not been overturned. In 1983, however, the US District Court in San Francisco ruled that the US Government had withheld a government report that indicated that there were no cases of espionage or sabotage by the Japanese and that there was no military necessity for the Japanese American interment. The US District Court vacated the three convictions, however, the Supreme Court decisions have not been overturned. (Editor’s note: The Roberts Court essentially disavowed the Korematsu decision in the majority opinion to Trump v. Hawaii (2018), saying it had been wrongly decided.)

Q: Like I say, a dark chapter in American history, and unfortunately, now, our government is not doing good things with immigrants, and separating families, and establishing things that seem almost like concentration camps all over again.

A; Yes, the Japanese-American community has really been actively involved in protesting all of this.

I don’t know if you are aware of it, but in 1950, during the Joe McCarthy period, the Internal Security Act was passed in Congress. Title I of the Internal Security Act set up the Subversive Activity Control Board, which would be like Nazi Germany, they would have somebody on your block to report you, if they thought you were a Commie. Well, the liberals thought that this would pass, so they added Title II, which set up concentration camps in this country to be used in the event of war or insurrection within the US. The liberals thought that would be so revolting that everybody would vote against it.

But the anti-Communist mood was so bad in 1950, that if you didn’t vote for it, you felt like you weren’t coming back to Congress according to Congressman Sid Yates. He was a Northside Chicago Congressman first elected in 1948. So it was passed and vetoed by President Harry Truman. Congress voted to override his veto and ten camps were actually built in the US. Eventually, Title I was ruled unconstitutional and Title II, however, stayed on the books and was never repealed.

The original bill was known as the Nixon-Mundt Bill. We knew that Truman wouldn’t implement it, and the same for both Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. Eventually the ten camps were turned over to the Bureau of Prisons. And then in 1968 with all the rioting and everything else going on, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) said that the Black militants had declared war on the United States and were leading an insurrection and, therefore, the Internal Security Act of 1950 would be used to round them up and herd them into these camps.

So, what happened was, the Japanese American Citizens League led the effort to repeal Title II of the Internal Security Act and in 1973, it was repealed in Congress when there was a big wave of new Democratic Congressmen elected because of President Nixon’s unpopularity just like what took place in 2018. President Nixon signed the repeal legislation in Portland, Oregon, on his way to meet Emperor Hirohito. So the original Nixon-Mundt law’s repeal legislation was signed into law by President Nixon.

Q: That’s one of the ironies of history, I guess.

A: And the true irony is that Allenwood, Pennsylvania, where all of the Watergate conspirators went, was built under the Internal Security Act of 1950.

Q: I remember that when I worked for LaSalle Photo, the government issued some sort of an apology to the people who had been interned and offered them a cash payment.

A: In the mid-1970’s the Japanese American Citizens League began to seek redress and reparations for the Japanese community that were wrongfully interned during World War II. After many years of lobbying with Congressmen and Senators, a Federal Commission was appointed to hold hearings in several cities including Chicago. The Commission reported its findings to Congress and a Redress and Reparations Bill was introduced in both the House and Senate. After several years, it was finally passed in Congress. But it took a while to convince Reagan to sign the repeal legislation in August 1988. The original estimate by the Bank of America that financial losses were $5 billion in 1988 dollars which meant about $40k for every person who was in camp. Well, they didn’t do that. They sent $20k to everyone who was still alive. So, if you were alive in August 1988, you were eligible to get $20k in reparations. Most people felt the apology letter was more important than the money. The checks were finally mailed out when Bush was President. President Bush signed the formal apology letter and there was a check attached to it.

Q: Because you were in the camps, then, you did receive this kind of payment?

A: Oh yeah, I got a check, $20k check. I cashed it. Some folks said they weren’t going to cash it, I said good luck, I cashed mine. I made a copy of it, and I also have the original letter from Bush.

Q: I remember from when I worked at LaSalle Photo, this lady I worked with, said she was going to refuse the payment.

A: Some folks felt that way, I had no problem with that. I think that when the payment was refused, the money was put into a foundation. The foundation funds were spent on educational programs about the camps and the funds were used to take care of the camps. In the camp at Rohwer, Arkansas, there’s a cemetery for the internees who died in the camps that needs to be maintained. And also, the camps are now designated as national monuments.

Q: Well, if we don’t learn from history, we are probably doomed to repeat it.

A: That’s true.

Q: A lesson that unfortunately, many people haven’t learned.

A: Yes, and what is happening today, as you know, and even with this Covid-19 situation, Asians are being picked out. Because it started in China. We’re a visible minority, so in World War II I was a Jap, in the Korean War I was a Chink, in the Vietnam War I was a Gook. People can’t tell us apart, so because of that, and the fact that our existence in the US has never been legitimatized in the history books, we’re always viewed as foreigners. People keep saying to me, “Where did you learn English?”, Hyde Park High School, “Where were you born?”, California, “Where were your parents born?”, California, “Your grandfather?”, Japan, “You’re Japanese.” Now I don’t ask anybody where they’re from. If they’re white, you never ask anybody, are you Lithuanian, Polish, Estonian, or Ukrainian, whatever. We don’t ask that. Although I do ask people, I see your last name, and I say, oh, you have a Polish background, and I’ve been to Poland, and my son-in-law’s Polish. I have a lot of friends who are Lithuanian and Ukrainian. I was very active with the Baltic ethnic groups. We keep in touch with each other.

Q: This book I am working on is going to be called Chicago’s Lost “L”s. The idea is to tell a story through pictures.

A: Frank Kruesi, who was head of the CTA way back, is a hero to me because he eliminated the A/B stops. Argyle was an “A” stop, so if you heard a train coming, you’d run like hell to get up there and sometimes and it turned out to be a “B” train that went right by you. He is a hero to me because if you hear a train coming you know it’s going to stop (laughs).

Q: You know why that came about, because when the CTA, the Rapid Transit and the Surface Lines had been competitors, more or less. The typical thing was that, in some places, they had stations every two blocks on the “L”, and people lived in the neighborhoods and they would walk to the “L”. Things started to change when people got more cars, and the CTA took over, and they were trying to consolidate everything, and develop more of a cooperative system between the buses, streetcars, and the “L”, they closed a lot of stations, to try and speed up the service, because like you say, with those old cars, there were two speeds—slow, and slower. They found that if they speeded things up, they would get more riders. The A/B thing, that started out in Oak Park on the Lake Street “L”, in 1948, and it was credited with saving that line, because otherwise, the service was pretty slow. At first it was a good thing, because there were too many stations, but over the years, they closed so many stations, that by the time they got rid of the A/B thing, it was totally unnecessary. There weren’t that many stations, and now they’ve even put a few of them back. Now maybe in some places, they have too few stations. We’ve gone back to where the trains make all the stops again.

The view from the roof of the house at 4201 S. Oakenwald. In the distance, you can see the 43rd Street station of the Illinois Central Electric commuter trains. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

The view from the roof of the house at 4201 S. Oakenwald. In the distance, you can see the 43rd Street station of the Illinois Central Electric commuter trains. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)

A: I looked at your web site and I noticed your mentioning the South Shore “Orange” trains. They were fast. I had two friends killed by the Illinois Central trains. We used to cross the tracks, you know, to get to the park.

Q: Was that on a lower level than the rest of the neighborhood?

A: The Illinois Central tracks were slightly below level. And so, there was one kid, we used to play ice hockey together was killed by a local while I was in grammar school, so it probably had to be the early ‘50s. The other friend was hit by the South Shore “Orange” train.

Q: It’s been fascinating talking to you. A lot of your family’s history, it’s very important history, for the City of Chicago, because we value diversity here. And it’s history that I think more people ought to know.

A: I agree.

Q: Thanks so much!

Ross Harano in 2012.

Ross Harano in 2012.

Further Information:

Internment of Japanese Americans

Harano and Mayewacki Family World War II Veterans

Japanese-American Service in World War II

Korematsu v. United States

Mitsuye Endo

Jerome War Relocation Center

The McCarran Internal Security Act

WTTW segment from Chicago Tonight about the Kenwood “L”

WTTW segment from Chicago Tonight about the Kiosk Sphinx (Eiffel Tower replica)

Article about the Kiosk Sphinx

1939 Chicago Surface Lines Training Program

In 2016, we were fortunate to acquire a rare 16″ transcription disc, made in 1939 for the Chicago Surface Lines. This included an audio presentation called “Keeping Pace,” about 20 minutes long, that CSL used for employee training.

We were recently able to find someone who could play such a large disc, and now this program has been digitized and can be heard for the first time in more than 80 years. We have added it as a bonus feature to our Red Arrow Lines 1967 CD, available below and through our Online Store.

Screen Shot 03-16-16 at 06.58 PM.PNGScreen Shot 03-17-16 at 12.44 AM.PNG

RAL
Red Arrow Lines 1967: Straffords and Bullets
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.99

This disc features rare, long out-of-print audio recordings of two 1967 round trips on the Philadelphia & Western (aka “Red Arrow Lines”) interurban between Philadelphia and Norristown, the famous third rail High-Speed Line.  One trip is by a Strafford car and the other by one of the beloved streamlined Bullets.  The line, about 13 miles long and still in operation today under SEPTA, bears many similarities to another former interurban line, the Chicago Transit Authority‘s Yellow Line (aka the “Skokie Swift”).  We have included two bonus features, audio of an entire ride along that five mile route, which was once part of the North Shore Line, and a 20-minute 1939 Chicago Surface Lines training program (“Keeping Pace”).  This was digitized from a rare original 16″ transcription disc and now can be heard again for the first time in over 80 years.

Total time – 73:32

The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938-- Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.

While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!

Bibliographic information:
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960
Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
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Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo) Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

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This is our 254th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 649,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

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Recent Finds, 1-12-2018

Lehigh Valley Transit express freight car C7. built by Jewett in 1913, is seen here at the Fairview car barn in the 1940s.

Lehigh Valley Transit express freight car C7. built by Jewett in 1913, is seen here at the Fairview car barn in the 1940s.

Here are some of our recent photographic finds, which include some very rare scenes. In addition, we have some interesting correspondence, and great Chicago Aurora & Elgin pictures courtesy of Jack Bejna.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

PS- We note with great regret the passing of Al Reinschmidt, who was an occasional poster on the Chicagotransit Yahoo discussion group (as “Buslist”), and also left a few comments on this blog. We learned of his passing from the Illinois Railway Museum Facebook page:

We are saddened to report the passing of one of our regular volunteers, Al Reinschmidt. Al was a civil engineer known as one of the foremost experts on rail design and performance and worked on high speed rail projects around the world. At IRM he volunteered in our restoration shop and as a streetcar motorman but he was probably best known to visitors as one of the regular announcers at our Day Out With Thomas event and as the reader of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” during Happy Holiday Railway. His kindness, geniality and vast store of knowledge will be missed.

Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Annual Fundraiser

In about 20 day’s time, our annual bill to fund this site and its web domain comes due.  That comes to $400, or just over $1 per day for the entire year.  So far, we have collected $60 of the required amount. If you have already contributed, we are particularly grateful.

If you enjoy reading this blog, and want to see it continue, we hope you will consider supporting it via a donation.  You can also purchase items from our Online Store. With your help, we cannot fail.

Recent Finds

Lehigh Valley Transit cars 701 (left) and 812 (right) on a fantrip, some time prior to the 1951 abandonment of interurban service on the Liberty Bell route.

Lehigh Valley Transit cars 701 (left) and 812 (right) on a fantrip, some time prior to the 1951 abandonment of interurban service on the Liberty Bell route.

CSL 6268 is at the east end of the 43rd - Root line (approximately 1146 E. 43rd Street) in the 1940s. In the background, you can see a pedestrian bridge over the nearby Illinois Central Electric tracks. 6268 was known as a Multiple Unit caar. Don's Rail Photos says, "6268 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was rebuilt as one man service in 1932." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 6268 is at the east end of the 43rd – Root line (approximately 1146 E. 43rd Street) in the 1940s. In the background, you can see a pedestrian bridge over the nearby Illinois Central Electric tracks. 6268 was known as a Multiple Unit caar. Don’s Rail Photos says, “6268 was built by Cummings Car Co in 1926. It was rebuilt as one man service in 1932.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

The same location today.

The same location today.

John Smatlak writes:

I really enjoyed seeing that photo of CSL 6268 is at the east end of the 43rd – Root line. This location was of course just a block away from the terminus of the Kenwood branch of the L. Here is a photo your readers may enjoy taken 11-12-28 of the L terminal and the Chicago Junction freight tracks that passed under the L at that location. Thanks!

"Though still carrying a faded passenger car paint scheme, and sporting a South Chicago - Sheffield route sign, CSL #2828 has long since entered work service to pull cars around the shops." Don's Rail Photos: "2828 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in July 1904, #242, as CERy 123. It became C&SC Ry 813 in 1908 and renumbered 2828 in 1913. It became CSL 2828 in 1914 and scrapped in 1946." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

“Though still carrying a faded passenger car paint scheme, and sporting a South Chicago – Sheffield route sign, CSL #2828 has long since entered work service to pull cars around the shops.” Don’s Rail Photos: “2828 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in July 1904, #242, as CERy 123. It became C&SC Ry 813 in 1908 and renumbered 2828 in 1913. It became CSL 2828 in 1914 and scrapped in 1946.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CTA prewar PCC 7033 at 115th and Cottage Grove, the south end of Route 4, circa 1952-55. In the background, you can see the adjacent Illinois Central Electric embankment.

CTA prewar PCC 7033 at 115th and Cottage Grove, the south end of Route 4, circa 1952-55. In the background, you can see the adjacent Illinois Central Electric embankment.

CTA prewar PCC 4034, presumably at 71st and Ashland.

CTA prewar PCC 4034, presumably at 71st and Ashland.

The old Larrabee "L" station at North Avenue. This station was also called Larrabee and Ogden, after Ogden was extended north between 1926 and 1930. It was closed by the CTA in 1949 as part of a service revision.

The old Larrabee “L” station at North Avenue. This station was also called Larrabee and Ogden, after Ogden was extended north between 1926 and 1930. It was closed by the CTA in 1949 as part of a service revision.

These old wooden "L" cars may be in storage at Skokie Shops, before the facilities were expanded.

These old wooden “L” cars may be in storage at Skokie Shops, before the facilities were expanded.

This view looks north towards the Wilson "L" yard and shops. You can see the interlocking tower, and at left, part of the ramp down to Buena Yard, which was used for freight. Dan Cluley writes, "Looking at the Wilson Shops photo, am I correct that those are some of the piggyback flat cars in between the grass and the L structure?" I asked an expert. Here’s what J. J. Sedelmaier says: “It’s absolutely the NSL Ferry-Truck equipment! That’s the old Wilson Shops building in the background and that’s the north end of Montrose Yards and transfer station.” Bill Shapotkin says this is Montrose Tower.

This view looks north towards the Wilson “L” yard and shops. You can see the interlocking tower, and at left, part of the ramp down to Buena Yard, which was used for freight. Dan Cluley writes, “Looking at the Wilson Shops photo, am I correct that those are some of the piggyback flat cars in between the grass and the L structure?” I asked an expert. Here’s what J. J. Sedelmaier says: “It’s absolutely the NSL Ferry-Truck equipment! That’s the old Wilson Shops building in the background and that’s the north end of Montrose Yards and transfer station.” Bill Shapotkin says this is Montrose Tower.

Wilson Yard and Shops. Note the North Shore Line freight station at lower left. (J. J. Sedelmaier Collection)

Wilson Yard and Shops. Note the North Shore Line freight station at lower left. (J. J. Sedelmaier Collection)

Although this is not the sharpest picture, it does show the Austin Boulevard station on the Garfield park "L", probably circa 1954. We are looking east. To the left, you can see the southern edge of Columbus Park. At the far left, temporary tracks are already being built, which the "L" would shift to in this area on August 29, 1954. This is the present site of the Eisenhower Expressway.

Although this is not the sharpest picture, it does show the Austin Boulevard station on the Garfield park “L”, probably circa 1954. We are looking east. To the left, you can see the southern edge of Columbus Park. At the far left, temporary tracks are already being built, which the “L” would shift to in this area on August 29, 1954. This is the present site of the Eisenhower Expressway.

Here, we are looking east along Van Buren, just west of Paulina. The tracks in the foreground are the temporary Garfield Park "L" right of way. The Congress (later Eisenhower) expressway is under construction to the right, with the Douglas Park "L" in the background. This photo was probably taken in early 1954. The Garfield Park "L" west of Paulina has already been demolished, but the Marshfield station still appears intact. This could not be removed until the Douglas line was re-reouted over the Lake Street "L".

Here, we are looking east along Van Buren, just west of Paulina. The tracks in the foreground are the temporary Garfield Park “L” right of way. The Congress (later Eisenhower) expressway is under construction to the right, with the Douglas Park “L” in the background. This photo was probably taken in early 1954. The Garfield Park “L” west of Paulina has already been demolished, but the Marshfield station still appears intact. This could not be removed until the Douglas line was re-reouted over the Lake Street “L”.

CTA 6123-6124 on the outer end of the Douglas Park line, probably in the early 1950s.

CTA 6123-6124 on the outer end of the Douglas Park line, probably in the early 1950s.

This is an unusual picture, as it shows the Calvary "L" station in Evanston, which was a flag stop in both directions. Located opposite the entrance to Calvary cemetery, this station closed in 1931 and was replaced by South Boulevard a few blocks north. This view looks north from the southern edge of the cemetery. As you can see, the platforms appear relatively short. They were removed in the 1930s, but the rest of the station was not demolished until 1995. This photo probably dates to around 1930.

This is an unusual picture, as it shows the Calvary “L” station in Evanston, which was a flag stop in both directions. Located opposite the entrance to Calvary cemetery, this station closed in 1931 and was replaced by South Boulevard a few blocks north. This view looks north from the southern edge of the cemetery. As you can see, the platforms appear relatively short. They were removed in the 1930s, but the rest of the station was not demolished until 1995. This photo probably dates to around 1930.

A close-up of the Calvary station.

A close-up of the Calvary station.

J.J. Sedelmaier writes:

Does ANYone have shots of the Calvary stop on the “L” while still in service, prior to the opening of South Boulevard in 1930?

I think we may have something (see above).

J.J. replies:

YES !! I saw this last week ! So exciting ! The best shot so far, and I’ve been searching for decades !! Thanks for the heads-up David !!

The funny thing is, the photographer, whoever it was, doesn’t seem to have been trying to take a picture of the Calvary station at all. Otherwise, they surely would have moved in a lot closer first. It is a picture of a largely empty street, that just happens to show the station in the distance, which at the time was probably considered fairly unimportant.

J.J. continues:

Here are the shots I have here. I took the 1970’s pics. Bruce Moffat took the 1994 pics. The 1931 shot is a company photo that I got from Malcolm D. MacCarter in the mid-90s.

This January 12, 1931 photo shows the South Boulevard station under construction. It was in a better location from the standpoint of patronage, and replaced the Calvary station a few blocks away (which you can see in the distance). (Chicago Rapid Transit Company Photo)

This January 12, 1931 photo shows the South Boulevard station under construction. It was in a better location from the standpoint of patronage, and replaced the Calvary station a few blocks away (which you can see in the distance). (Chicago Rapid Transit Company Photo)

A close-up of the previous image, showing the Calvary station in the distance.

A close-up of the previous image, showing the Calvary station in the distance.

The entrance to the former Calvary station, as it appeared in 1970 when it was being used by a monument company. (J. J. Sedelmaier Photo)

The entrance to the former Calvary station, as it appeared in 1970 when it was being used by a monument company. (J. J. Sedelmaier Photo)

A side view of the former Calvary station in 1970. The platforms were removed in the 1930s and hardly any photos exist showing them in service. (J. J. Sedelmaier Photo)

A side view of the former Calvary station in 1970. The platforms were removed in the 1930s and hardly any photos exist showing them in service. (J. J. Sedelmaier Photo)

Bruce Moffat took this picture on February 15, 1994 just before the station entrance was demolished.

Bruce Moffat took this picture on February 15, 1994 just before the station entrance was demolished.

The interior of the former Calvary "L" station as it appeared on February 15, 1994. (Bruce Moffat Photo)

The interior of the former Calvary “L” station as it appeared on February 15, 1994. (Bruce Moffat Photo)

In addition, here is a classic shot that Mr. Sedelmaier shared with us:

On July 23, 1955, John D. Emery, then president of the Evanston Historical Society, purchased the last Shore Line ticket sold at the Church Street station from agent George Kennedy. The ticket window was closed the following day (Sunday), and the last Shore Line train ran in the early hours of July 25 (Monday). The ticket remains in the Historical Society collection. Emery was later (1962-1970) the mayor of Evanston, during which time he vetoed an anti-discrimination housing ordinance. (Evanston Photographic Service/J.J. Sedelmaier Collection Photo)

On July 23, 1955, John D. Emery, then president of the Evanston Historical Society, purchased the last Shore Line ticket sold at the Church Street station from agent George Kennedy. The ticket window was closed the following day (Sunday), and the last Shore Line train ran in the early hours of July 25 (Monday). The ticket remains in the Historical Society collection. Emery was later (1962-1970) the mayor of Evanston, during which time he vetoed an anti-discrimination housing ordinance. (Evanston Photographic Service/J.J. Sedelmaier Collection Photo)

(J.J. Sedelmaier Collection)

(J.J. Sedelmaier Collection)

Chicago & Calumet District Transit Company (aka Hammond, Whiting & East chicago) car 70 in Hammond. In our post More Hoosier Traction (September 2, 2015), we ran another photo that appears to have been taken at the same time as this. If so, the date is February 1939. There is some damage to this old print, in the area around car 70's headlight. Trolley service here ended in 1940. (Richard J. Anderson Photo)

Chicago & Calumet District Transit Company (aka Hammond, Whiting & East chicago) car 70 in Hammond. In our post More Hoosier Traction (September 2, 2015), we ran another photo that appears to have been taken at the same time as this. If so, the date is February 1939. There is some damage to this old print, in the area around car 70’s headlight. Trolley service here ended in 1940. (Richard J. Anderson Photo)

Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee wood car 300 on a fantrip on the streets of Waukegan circa 1940. From 1939 until 1942, the North Shore Line allowed Central Electric Railfans' Association to use 300 as their "club car." Here, we see it parked in front of Immaculate Conception school.

Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee wood car 300 on a fantrip on the streets of Waukegan circa 1940. From 1939 until 1942, the North Shore Line allowed Central Electric Railfans’ Association to use 300 as their “club car.” Here, we see it parked in front of Immaculate Conception school.

North Shore Line car 731 (and train) at the Wisconsin State Fair, possibly circa 1930. In order to access the fairgrounds, North Shore Line cars had to get there via the Milwaukee Electric. Incompatibilities between the two interurbans' wheel profiles resulted in wheel damage to the NSL.

North Shore Line car 731 (and train) at the Wisconsin State Fair, possibly circa 1930. In order to access the fairgrounds, North Shore Line cars had to get there via the Milwaukee Electric. Incompatibilities between the two interurbans’ wheel profiles resulted in wheel damage to the NSL.

The North Shore Line in Highland Park, circa 1930. Here, we are looking north along the Shore Line Route, which quit in 1955. NSL tracks ran parallel to the nearby Chicago & North Western commuter line, which would be to the left of this view.

The North Shore Line in Highland Park, circa 1930. Here, we are looking north along the Shore Line Route, which quit in 1955. NSL tracks ran parallel to the nearby Chicago & North Western commuter line, which would be to the left of this view.

The information on the back of this picture says we are looking south from Central Avenue in Highland Park. At right, thiee are North Shore Line tracks on the old Shore Line Route. A small shelter is visible at right. This picture is circa 1930. The area the North Shore Line once occupied is now a parking lot.

The information on the back of this picture says we are looking south from Central Avenue in Highland Park. At right, thiee are North Shore Line tracks on the old Shore Line Route. A small shelter is visible at right. This picture is circa 1930. The area the North Shore Line once occupied is now a parking lot.

The same location today.

The same location today.

These photos have been added to our post The Fairmount Park Trolley (November 7, 2017), which included several other photos of the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway in Wildwood, New Jersey:

Five Mile Beach electric Railway car 27 at Atlantic and Oak Avenues in Wildwood, on the Angelsea-Crest line, June 1945. A bus is also visible. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach electric Railway car 27 at Atlantic and Oak Avenues in Wildwood, on the Angelsea-Crest line, June 1945. A bus is also visible. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach electric Railway cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood carhouse on May 30, 1945, shortly before abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach electric Railway cars 22 and 27 at the Wildwood carhouse on May 30, 1945, shortly before abandonment. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 30 in the car barn, circa the mid-1940s. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 30 in the car barn, circa the mid-1940s. (Walter Broschart Photo)

Recent Correspondence

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)

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)

Miles Beitler writes:

I was doing some online research recently and followed a link to a photo on your blog. The photo was posted under “Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part 6” and included the following in the caption:

“Here’s an interesting streetscape that could not be duplicated today. According to the back of the picture, it shows the view looking east from South Boulevard and Austin, on the eastern edge of Oak Park. The Lake Street “L”, where it ran on the ground, had a very narrow right-of-way that the 6000s, with their bulging sides, could not fit in.”

I have read similar comments posted by others, i.e., that the reason no 6000s were used on the Lake Street “L” is that the cars were too wide. While it’s true that the curved body 6000s were wider than the 4000s and wood cars, the difference was slight — not more than a foot at their widest point. So I don’t think that would explain why they weren’t used. I think a more logical explanation is that the ground level portion of the Lake Street “L” used trolley wire, and none of the original 6000s had trolley poles. (I believe that the only exception was one experimental high performance trainset (6127-6130) that was used in Evanston Express service.) You will note that the original “baldy” 4000s also were not used in Lake Street service for the same reason. The steel roofs of those 4000s made it very difficult to retrofit them with trolley poles.

By the time the western portion of the line was elevated and converted to third rail in 1962, the high performance 2000s were already ordered. So the CTA probably decided to just keep using the older cars until the 2000s arrived. Cars 1-50 did have trolley poles, but those cars were not received until shortly before the elevation of the Lake Street “L” at which time they would not have been needed anyway, so they were used on the Evanston line instead, and later some were used on the Skokie Swift.

Does this make sense, or am I all wet?

Either way, keep up your fantastic blog!

Thanks for writing. You have made an interesting hypothesis, which deserves consideration.

First of all, I have heard enough stories regarding the tight clearances on the ground-level portion of Lake to believe there was some sort of clearance problem that prevented the use of curved-sided rapid transit cars there. The most logical explanation so far is that this involved the gatemen’s shantys.

Having ridden the Lake Street “L” numerous times prior to the October 28, 1962 relocation of the outer portion of the route onto the C&NW embankment, I can assure you that clearances were very tight, as two tracks and platforms were shoehorned into a side street, which continued to have two-way auto traffic.

There was a fantrip on Lake during 1960 using one of the single-car units in the 1-50 series, and while this train did venture down to the lower level of Hamlin Yard, it apparently made no effort to go west of Laramie. You would think they would have done so had this been possible. (See photo above.)

Similar clearance restrictions have existed on other parts of the system. Skokie Swift cars that had pan trolleys fitted were not allowed to go downtown, and cars with poles cannot go into the Kimball subway. (At the moment, this restriction would only apply to 4271-4272.)

That being said, let us take a step back and review how the Lake Street “L” fit in with the strategic thinking of various planners over the decades.

In 1937, the City of Chicago proposed building an aerial highway on the Lake Street “L” structure, and some other “L”s such as Humboldt Park. In theory this would have been something like the West Side Elevated Highway in New York City, which was built between 1929 and 1951 and which partially collapsed in 1973.

Express bus service would have replaced the rapid transit line, as would have a beefed-up Garfield Park “L” in this plan. We can be glad this was not built.

By 1939, this plan was abandoned in favor of the Congress Parkway Expressway that was built starting a decade later, and opened in stages between 1955 and 1960.

The City was proposing various subways all over town, in addition to the State Street and Dearborn-Milwaukee tubes that were built starting in 1938. One goal was to tear down the Loop “L”, starting with the Lake and Wabash legs.

The Lake Street “L” would have been diverted into a subway connection just west of the Loop that of course was never built. Neither was a connection built to divert the Lake “L” into the Congress line via an elevated connection near Kedzie, or Kostner, although the CTA was still intent on doing these things as of 1948.

There is some question whether the entire Lake Street “L” might have been abandoned early in the CTA era, if not for the innovation of A/B “skip stop” service that was begun in 1948. This was so successful that it was gradually used on other parts of the CTA system.

When and how were curved-side “L” cars developed? It seems likely this idea, like many others, came from New York, where some experimental 1930s BMT railcars such as the so-called “Green Hornet” had mildly curved sides.

In Chicago, curved sides appeared on ten interurbans, #451-460 for the Chicago Aurora & Elgin, designed in 1941 but not built by St. Louis Car Company until 1945, as well as the two North Shore Line Electroliners.

These were followed by four experimental sets of articulated rapid transit cars $5001-5004, delivered in 1947-48. Except for the curved sides, largely patterned after the BMT “Bluebirds: from 1939-40.

Chicago’s Initial System of Subways was designed to allow for longer and wider cars, closer to New York standards. The City may have hoped these standards could gradually be applied to the entire system, but it was not to be.

When the Chicago Transit Authority took over from the Chicago Rapid Transit Company in 1947, one primary goal was to purchase enough new steel railcars to allow the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway to open. Another goal was to get rid of the wooden “L” cars, which were getting very old and were not permitted in the subways.

When the first 6000s were delivered starting in 1950, they were first used on Douglas, but that was for test purposes. After another year or two, CTA switched things around, so the new 6000s were used in the State Street subway, and the 4000s on the more lightly used Dearborn-Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, the last wood cars were used on Lake around 1955. The last wooden :”L” cars were used in service in 1957, by which time there were enough new 6000s on hand to permit their retirements.

But else what was happening on Lake during the 1950s? By 1951-5, CTA appears to have figured out that the “problem” portion of Lake was the outer end, not the parts east of Laramie. The first suggestion was to truncate the line to Laramie, but this did not go over well in Oak Park, so the various parties got together, and the embankment plan was the result.

These plans were finalized around 1958. The relocation took place in 1962, at which time the CTA probably hoped to have taken delivery on what became the 2000-series. But there were so many changes and innovations in these cars that delivery did not occur until 1964.

So yes, it does not appear that it was ever a high priority for the CTA to use 6000s on the ground-level portion of Lake. Wood cars were replaced by 4000s around 1955, which was considered a service improvement, and within three years from that, plans were afoot to relocate service anyway.

However, if the CTA had really wanted to run 6000s on Lake, I expect changes could have been made in the locations of whatever obstacles prevented it, and additional cars could have been equipped with trolley poles, as was done for Evanston.

I doubt these would have been single-car units, though, since those were intended for “off peak” one-man operation on Evanston, something which I don’t think would have been suitable on Lake.

As it was, I don’t recall seeing 6000s on Lake much before 1979. In the wake of that year’s blizzard, which shut down the line west of Laramie for a week, so many of the newer cars had burned-out motors that it became necessary to use the older 6000s.

I hope this answers your questions.

-David Sadowski

Miles Beitler again:

Dave, you obviously know FAR more about Chicago transit than I do. You could probably give Graham Garfield some stiff competition.

I believe you recently wrote a book about trolleys. I grew up not far from the terminal of the Clark Street car line at Howard Street and I remember riding the Green Hornets to the local branch of the Chicago public library. I also remember visiting my cousins who lived a block away from the Devon car barn and seeing all of the streetcars stored there. However, I’m more interested in the “L” and interurban history. I spent my childhood watching the North Shore Line trains, and I was fortunate enough to ride an Electroliner to Racine, Wisconsin about a year before the NSL folded.

Have you given or considered giving presentations about Chicago transit at schools, libraries, etc.? WTTW channel 11 might also like to use you as a resource on Chicago transit history or for the production of programs on the subject, similar to the ones produced by Geoffrey Baer over the past 25 years.

There are a number of people, several in fact, who qualify as experts on Chicago transit. We all tend to know each other to some extent, as we’re interested in many of the same things.

I don’t feel like I am competing with any of the other “experts.” We have each found our own niche, and have different contributions to make. In fact, this blog is only successful because it is based on sharing and cooperation.

Actually, I have given a number of presentations to various groups over the years.

WTTW actually did feature the Chicago PCC book I co-authored once on Chicago Tonight. You can read about it in our post A Window to the World of Streetcars (June 2, 2016).

Our pictures do get around. Several photos that I posted to the Internet ended up being featured in an article called Displaced, which tried to determine what happened to the people who were living in the path of the Congress expressway when it was built. (See our post Some Thoughts on Displaced, August 30, 2016.)

Who knows when or where our stuff will show up in the future. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Thanks.

Ron Smolen adds:

In your last post this comment was posted in the sections about 6000s on Lake street:

“You will note that the original “baldy” 4000s also were not used in Lake Street service for the same reason. The steel roofs of those 4000s made it very difficult to retrofit them with trolley poles.”

TRUE… however, near the end of the Baldies operations, I do recall seeing LIVE and in photos
some single baldies that were placed in trains with 4000 pole equipped cars that DID operate in regular service to Harlem under wire.

Ron adds that, according to www.chicago-l.org, “baldy” 4000s ran on Lake from 1959 to 1964, paired with pole-equipped “plushies.”

Jack Bejna writes:

A Tale of Two Pictures

A short time ago there was a question raised by a reader about changing original photographs with Photoshop, thereby eliminating the original intent of the image. As an example of what I do, refer to the first image of CA&E 209. From my experience of working with CA&E images, I believe that the image was captured at the Laramie Freight House area, but of course that is only a guess. My goal is to try to improve the original image and enhance the background while preserving the original intent of the photographer when the image was captured. With this image I decided to place Car 209 in a typical situation, that is, on one of the storage tracks behind the freight house. Further, I like the look of the Niles wood cars so I added the front of sister car 207 to present an unblocked image of Car 209. I spent the rest of my efforts on improving the photograph itself with Photoshop. The final result is pretty much the way I think it looked at the time and represents a cleaner roster shot of a classic Niles interurban.

 

Moving right along with the CA&E roster, here are some images of the work cars and locomotives that kept the railroad running.
-Jack

CA&E Express Cars – Line Cars – Locomotives – Tool Cars

CA&E rostered a variety of Motors to fit the job at hand. First, the Newspaper Special, obviously a motor that probably spent time doing whatever job was needed in addition to delivering newspapers. I’ve never found a number for this car or any record of when or how it was retired.

Next, express cars 9, 11, & 15 illustrate the differences in length, configuration, etc., in the CA&E roster. Line cars 11 and 45 are next. Car 45 was purchased from the Chicago & Interurban Traction when the line quit in 1927. When Car 45 was retired it was replaced by car 11, rebuilt as a line car.

Locomotive 3 was built as a double ended plow and was used as a work motor by removing the plows.

Next up are the CA&E locomotives, including 2001-2002 built by GE in 1920, 3003-3004 built by BLW-WH in 1923-4, and 4005-4006 built by Oklahoma Railway in 1929.

Finally, Tool Cars 7 and B are shown. Tool Car B was rebuilt from a boxcar.

Here are a few more CA&E freight motors. First is an image of 5-15 in a winter scene. Before the railroad purchased 2001-2002 these two cars were commonly used as locomotives on the freight trains. Second is tool car in an unusual paint scheme. I’m glad they didn’t paint all the motors like this! Finally, here is a scene of Line Car 45 in action on a line relocation in Aurora.

Here’s a real gem that I came across searching the Internet. CA&E had a fire in the early days that destroyed many of their records, photographs, etc., so much of the early days is lost forever. Somehow this image survived somewhere, and we are able to see what express car 4 looked like, albeit with a lot of Photoshop help. I have no idea who built it or when, and how long it lasted.

Enjoy!

Jack

As always, we thank Jack for sharing these wonderful photos.

Fernandes writes:

Hello. I’m doing some reading about bus history. In 1921, Fageol launched Safety Coach and then, Model 20 and 40. Then the Twin Coach style.

I found it very interesting that they always adopted a design style similar to trains and not cars.

Well, we are the product of our time. Back in 1920 when the Fageols designed their first bus, what style reference did they have? Trains, of course.

But it’s interesting because their first “bus”, the Safety Coach, had a vehicle body. Not related to train. Some years later, they created the Twin Coach with a train looking style.

Would you provide me some info about bus/train design inspiration?

I forwarded this to Andre Kristopans, who knows much more than I ever could about bus history. Here is his reply:

At least part of the deal was that early intercity coaches often replaced branch line trains or directly competed with them. So, why not make something sort of train-like? As for the 40s, they sort of mimic what a “modern” streetcar looked like in the 1920s. Why not? Imitation can be a big compliment. By the 930s some elements of streetcar design such as rear door in very rear were replaced by designs more practical for a bus like a rear door 3/4 way back. But then new streetcars like PCCs started mimicking buses!

Kenneth Gear writes:

Another Railroad Record Club mystery solved!

Remember a year or so ago we saw RRC records for sale on eBay that were stamped “This is an audition set record and is the property of the Railroad Record Club?” We speculated that Steventon may have sent records to radio stations in an attempt to get them played on air. Well, that was not the case.

Along with the RRC catalog I received with the RRC #10 record I recently purchased was a two page notice of an “audition set program” the club was offering. The notice explains the whole program so I won’t go into detail about it since you can read it right from the notice. Interesting stuff and another RRC question answered!

The catalog was the same one that you posted in the Trolley Dodger.

This audition thing couldn’t have worked out very well. For every new order that it generated, there were likely problems with people not returning the records or paying for them.

I can see how Steventon wanted to bend over backwards to get people to hear these things, but this seems like a lot of extra work, with probably not enough reward.

Thanks very much for your detective work.

Frank Kennedy writes:

Thank you so much for the trolley book, David. Not only is it a great gift, it is a work of such devotional power. There looks to be years of searching for appropriate photographs in all of this. I really don’t know what to say except thank you for the hours future spent in great reading.

This is probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me. I didn’t respond right away, because it left me speechless.

Work on the book, from the initial proposal to the book being published, was actually less than a year. But if I think about it, I spent much of my life preparing to write such a book.

-David Sadowski

PS- Frank Kennedy is the founder of the Chicagotransit Yahoo discussion group.

Chicago Trolleys

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

On the Cover: Car 1747 was built between 1885 and 1893 by the Chicago City Railway, which operated lines on the South Side starting in April 1859. This is a single-truck (one set of wheels) open electric car; most likely a cable car, retrofitted with a trolley and traction motor. The man at right is conductor William Stevely Atchison (1861-1921), and this image came from his granddaughter. (Courtesy of Debbie Becker.)

Check out our new book Chicago Trolleys. Signed copies are available through our Online Store.

This book makes an excellent gift and costs just $17.99 plus shipping. That’s $4.00 off the list price.

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A Window to the World of Streetcars

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Ask Geoffrey: A Look Back at Chicago’s Streetcar Era

Andy Warhol once said that in the future, everyone will be “famous for 15 minutes.” Last night’s “Ask Geoffery” segment on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight news magazine program only lasted about 8 minutes, but I found it pretty memorable nonetheless.

After all, the segment was entirely devoted to Chicago streetcars, and a book I co-authored (Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, published by Central Electric Railfans’ Association as their 146th Bulletin) was prominently featured. At one point WTTW’s Geoffrey Baer held the book aloft and talked about all the great pictures that are in there, not only of Chicago streetcars, but the places they ran through.

If you want to know what Chicago really looked like back in the 1940s and 1950s, this book is a good place to start.

If you’re reading this message, there’s a chance you already have your copy of B-146. But if not, I think it is an excellent book and urge you to purchase one directly from CERA or their dealers.* Of course, as one of the authors, I am a bit prejudiced.

If that was my only connection to last night’s broadcast, I would be chuffed. However, while I played no part in the creation of this segment, my fingerprints were also there on other parts of it.

Some of the other pictures featured were things I posted to The Trolley Dodger, or to the CERA Members’ Blog. In particular, a few pictures were used from our post West Towns Streetcars in Color (February 10, 2015). Also in the West Towns segment of this piece, were several photos that I took in 2014 at the dedication of C&WT car 141 at the Illinois Railway Museum. These originally appeared in the post IRM Dedicates Chicago & West Towns Car 141 (CERA Members Blog, June 2, 2014). Those weren’t the only such photos that were used.

None of this should be too surprising. Whoever researched this piece likely did some Google searches, and this is what came up. When researching things myself, I frequently find my own posts coming up to the top of Internet searches on a variety of subjects. There were, of course, many other sources that WTTW used, including video of the last Chicago streetcar on June 21, 1958, posted by the Chicago Transit Authority.

My favorite picture from last night, that I was not connected with, is reproduced above. It shows Chicago streetcars and buses at Navy Pier, during the time when it was the temporary home of the University of Illinois.

It has always been my intention for create an accessible archive of information about transit history that people will find useful.  Last month, we had more than 12,000 page views on this blog, even though there were only three new posts.  So, a lot of people are actually looking at the older posts, which is quite gratifying.

As a short history lesson, the Chicago Tonight segment was excellent, but I do have a couple of minor caveats. They mentioned how streetcar ridership declined in the 1920s, leading to the development of the PCC car. However, streetcar ridership in Chicago actually went up in the ’20s, leading to use of trailers.

In this episode, the demise of Chicago streetcars was put on the shoulders of Walter J. McCarter, CTA’s first general manager, and dated to 1947. However, some streetcar lines were bussed before this (some as early as 1941) and the beginnings of their demise can be traced back even further than that.

The Surface Lines introduced several new routes on Chicago’s northwest side in 1930 using trolley buses, and within a short period of a few years, CSL had become a leading exponent of this form of transit. While it was stated at the time that eventually, CSL would convert these lines to streetcar as ridership increased, none were so changed.

In 1937, the City of Chicago produced a so-called “Green Book” plan for comprehensive transit improvements.** According to this plan, the City expected to replace half of Chicago’s streetcars with buses, and possibly all of them if bus technology would prove itself.

The leading author of this plan, Philip Harrington, later became the first chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority, and undoubtedly carried over these views to the CTA. While I am sure that Walter J. McCarter was an ardent foe of streetcars, a 1947 Chicago Tribune article indicated he was hired because of his success in “rubberizing” the Cleveland streetcar system.

Of course, there is no way to get into these sorts of nuances of history in an 8 minute segment.

You can read more about last night’s Ask Geoffrey segment here. You can also watch the video of the 8 minute segment there. The entire hour-long program can also be seen here.

Interestingly, last night they used a photo I took of Frank Sirinek piloting Chicago & West Towns car 141.  CERA B-146 also has a photo of Mr. Sirinek in it that I took, this time a picture from the 1980s showing him at the helm of CTA 4391, the last surviving postwar Chicago streetcar.

-David Sadowski

This photo of streetcars and buses at Navy Pier, which dates to the early CTA era, appeared on Chicago Tonight. It was sourced from the Internet. According to Andre Kristopans, the date this photo could have been taken is either April, May, or June 1951 (see Comments section).

This photo of streetcars and buses at Navy Pier, which dates to the early CTA era, appeared on Chicago Tonight. It was sourced from the Internet. According to Andre Kristopans, the date this photo could have been taken is either April, May, or June 1951 (see Comments section).

A CSL trolley coach, from a 1935 brochure.  This image, originally posted here, appeared in the Chicago Tonight segment.

A CSL trolley coach, from a 1935 brochure. This image, originally posted here, appeared in the Chicago Tonight segment.

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*Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

**The Green Book plan is discussed in detail in my E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available from our Online Store.


Recent Correspondence

mystery2

mystery1

Regarding some “mystery” photographs in recent posts, Chuck Bencik from San Diego, life member of San Diego Electric Railway Association, writes:

These cars are definitely from Lucerne Valley, PA, as the caption below, and extract from material about Nanticoke history seem to prove. Also, as a 23 year resident of Chicago, (1938 to 1961), during which streetcars in Chicago operated, I can assure you that Chicago Surface Lines never had letters for their route designations, like “N”, and the colors of their livery following World War II were not the same as the one photograph which is in color says to me. Also, the 13th and 14th photos from the top are not Chicago Surface Lines streetcars.

These rails of the WB Traction Company survived the war and were in use when the last trolley car rolled into Nanticoke in 1950.” [Source: http://www.nanticokehistoryonline.org/site2/stories/2013/March/WWII.html ]

These rails of the WB Traction Company survived the war and were in use when the last trolley car rolled into Nanticoke in 1950.” [Source: http://www.nanticokehistoryonline.org/site2/stories/2013/March/WWII.html ]

“The Wilkes-Barre & Wyoming Valley Traction Company (W-B&WVT) was more fortunate than most properties. The fact that Luzerne County’s population was widely scattered in mine patches and supporting villages meant that there was a regular source of residential and business traffic along most of its lines. The main amusement park was Sans Souci, roughly midway on the line from Wilkes-Barre to Nanticoke.” [Source: http://harveyslake.org/text/story_lakeline_02.html ]

Following photo is from Dave’s New Rail pix, Wilkes Barre Railway:

image004

csl26

Nope; not Chicago’s. Has no numbers, and the railroad crossing sign uses a font style that was never seen on the grade crossing signs of Chicago, during the streetcar era. Similarly for the photo below. Nice Brill cars; but their livery is a dark color for window frames and doors, and something lighter in color for the large areas of flat sheet metal, like the dashers. The next photo after that, the streetcar crossing a street bascule bridge which seems to be only partly closed/opened? Not a Chicago streetcar photo, either.

csl27

Thanks for writing. There were actually several other people who correctly identified the Wilkes-Barre trolleys in our post Spring Cleaning (May 16, 2016), and you can find their thoughts in the Comments section.

The additional two photos from The “Other” Penn Central (May 29, 2016) have already been identified as the Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago. Although this was an Indiana operation, some of these cars actually did operate into Chicago, offering through service to 63rd and Stony Island in conjunction with the South Chicago City Railway. The HW&EC frequently leased streetcars from Chicago.

I apologize for the lo-res images (we will soon have better versions of these) but the cars actually did have numbers on the front, just not very visible here. Not sure if that is due to these pictures possibly having been taken with Orthochromiatic film, or if there simply wasn’t sufficient contrast in black-and-white to make them out.

Apparently for most of their life these cars were painted green, and in fact locals knew it as the “Green Line,” but from 1932-40, their final years, they were painted yellow as they were operated by the Chicago and Calumet District Transit Company.

That these cars would so closely resemble those of the Chicago Surface Lines should not be a surprise, as this operator was jointly owned at one time by one of the CSL constituent companies and there was some shuffling of equipment.

The story of the Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago Railway was told in Electric Railway Historical Society Bulletin #8 by James J. Buckley, published in 1953. This, and the other 48 ERHS publications, are contained in The Complete ERHS Collection, an E-book I edited for Central Electric Railfans’ Association, available through them and their dealers.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

-David Sadowski


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

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This is our 139th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 165,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

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