Chicago Railways Pullman 513. This picture dates to between 1909 and 1920. I was fortunate to purchase this photo postcard recently, and cleaned up many of the imperfections in Photoshop. The caption on back reads, “Uncle Herbert Phipps, Chicago. This was taken during the summer. Your humble is stood with his hand(s) crossed. I look older in the picture than what I do in person. This picture reminds me of my grandfather. He looked a good deal like I do here.” This may be the same person: “Born in New Whittington, Derbyshire, England on 7 May 1876 to George Phipps. Herbert Phipps married Frances Jane Fox and had 5 children. He passed away on 18 Oct 1928 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA.” See the Recent Correspondence section for more discussion about this picture.
October is often full of surprises, especially during an election year. Here are some surprisingly good traction photos for your enjoyment. Some, we were fortunate enough to purchase. We missed out on others, but they are still worth including. We also have some excellent Chicago streetcar pictures from the collections of William Shapotkin, plus some interesting correspondence from our readers. We thank all our contributors.
As always, if you have questions or comments about anything you see here, we are glad to hear from you. It helps to refer to individual photos by their file name, which you can find by hovering your mouse over the image.
PS- We have received more than 100,000 page views this year. This is the sixth straight year we have done this. We are very grateful for our readers. Thank you for stopping by.
Facebook Auxiliary Group
It seems we always have things left over after each new post. So, we thought it would be a good idea to create a Facebook auxiliary group for The Trolley Dodger. You can find it here. People can post pictures, links, have discussions, etc. etc., thanks.
The Merchandise Mart station, looking south, on September 26, 1944. Those tracks at left went to the old North Water Terminal. This version of the image is a composite made up by combining the scans from two different prints, and shows slightly more of the overall scene than either would individually.
Chicago Aurora & Elgin 317 at Wheaton Yards on June 28, 1957. Passenger service ended on July 3rd. (Paul Stringham Photo)
CA&E 430 and 315 at Wheaton Yards on August 7, 1954.
North Shore Line four-truck loco 459 at Pettibone Yards in North Chicago, IL on October 23, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo) Sderailway notes, “North Shore Line freight motor 459, one of two large four truck motors purchased from Oregon Electric, 459 was built in 1941 and sold to the North Shore Line in 1946. The large motors supplemented NSL’s smaller, slower, lower horse powered fleet of steeple cabs. With 459 being only 5 years old when purchased from OE it seems with only 17 years more years in NSL service, it still had a lot of “life” left in it.”
CTA subway wash car S-108 is in front of trailer 1199 at the “L” supply yards at 63rd and South Park on January 9, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)
Robert Selle captured this picture of Milwaukee Road steam locomotive 163 (4-6-2) pulling a commuter train just north of Lake Street in downtown Chicago on August 18, 1953. My family moved to the Mont Clare neighborhood in 1954, and we lived a block from the Milwaukee Road. My mother would hang her wash out to dry behind where we lived, and she told me her clothes were dirtied by the smoke from the steam engines (which were fast disappearing from the scene).
Erie Lackawanna 3357 on the Gladstone branch in New Jersey on October 4, 1970. These cars somewhat resembled the Illinois Central Electric commuter trains built in 1936. The 3357 was built by Pullman in 1920 as a trailer and was retired in 1984. The inly information I could find is that it may be stored inoperable at Steamtown in Scranton, PA. The Gladstone Branch, currently operated by NJ Transit, had many of the attributes of an old-fashioned interurban, and our good friend Kenneth Gear has written about it on this site. (James C. Herold Photo)
The North Shore Line interurban operated city streetcars in Milwaukee and Waukegan. Here’s what Don’s Rail Photos tells us about this car: “313 and 315 were built by St. Louis Car in 1915 as 313 and 315 of the Empire State Ry for service in Oswego, NY. After only two years, they were sold to the North Shore in June 1918. 313 was rebuilt to one man service on March 12, 1919, and retired in 1941. 315 was rebuilt on February 24, 1919, and retired in 1940. Both were scrapped in 1945.” Don Ross adds, “North Shore 313 was taken at Waukegan. I don’t think it never ran in Milwaukee. We had the 2 door Birneys and 2 350s in Milwaukee until Waukegan quit. We got the 250s and the Birneys were dumped. The 500s were for Milwaukee but switched to Waukegan when the Birneys came.”
Chicago Rapid Transit 3048 at Marion Street in Oak Park, part of a Lake Street “L” train in the 1940s. Don’s Rail Photos: “3001 thru 3100 were built by Gilbert in 1893 as Lake Street Elevated RR 1 thru 100. In 1913 they were renumbered 3001 thru 3100 and became Chicago Rapid Transit 3001 thru 3100 in 1923.”
Brill built experimental pre-PCC 7001 in 1934, signed for Broadway-State. The picture can be dated because it ran direct service to A Century of Progress during the second season of this Chicago World’s Fair.
Likewise, this picture of CSL 7001 can be dated to 1936, since it is signed as part of the opening ceremonies for the new Ashland Avenue bridge, which connected both parts of the Ashland car line. As the new PCCs weren’t delivered until later in the year, 7001 was CSL’s newest car and thus was featured along with a parade of historical equipment. As we have shown in other posts, the interior was similar to the pre-PCC cars built in 1935 for Washington, DC. It was retired in 1944 and unfortunately, scrapped in 1959.
More That Got Away
The Trolley Dodger competes with many other people to buy images for this site. Here are some that we noticed recently that slipped through our fingers. As they say, you can’t win ’em all.
North Shore Line observation parlor car 420.
The CRT Laramie Shops, adjacent to the ground-level “L” station. We are looking east.
CRT 4322, signed for Garfield Park and Maywood, is at Mannheim and 22nd Street in Westchester, according to the eagle-eyed Mitch Markovitz.
A Chicago Rapid Transit Company one-car train on the Niles Center (Skokie) line.
The north portal of the State Street Subway, probably in the 1940s.
A train of wooden “L” cars rounds the curve at Sedgwick.
An eastbound two-car train of CTA 4000s on the Lake Street “L” in 1964.
Chicago Surface Lines 563 on Madison Street in 1928, in front of the old Northwestern Station.
Old and new control towers at Logan Square in 1966.
The CTA Canal Street station on the Met main line, probably in the early 1950s. “L” cars and CA&E interurbans are present.
A CA&E maintenance of way vehicle at the Wheaton Shops.
MTA 3323 is a double-ended PCC built by Pullman for the Dallas system in 1945. It was sold to Boston in 1959, as more cars were needed once the new Riverside line opened.
Chicago Surface Lines 5377 was built by Brill-Kuhlman in 1907. This photo postcard was purchased by Jeff Marinoff.
Red Arrow car 19 has just departed the end of the line of the Ardmore line on June 11, 1966, about six months before buses replaced rail here.
This is where the trolley line ended in Ardmore. It has been turned into a pocket park and parking lot.
MBTA 3271 running as part of a multiple unit train on Tremont Street in Newton, MA on May 30, 1982. This may be a fantrip, as regular streetcar service on these tracks ended in 1969. Seeing a car signed for Route A – Watertown is quite rare, as the lettered routes were just being introduced around the time Watertown was bussed. The tracks and overhead remained in place for many years, for access to the Watertown car house, but have since been removed. The Watertown line fell victim to a car shortage in the late 1960s. It also had to cross an expressway and run against one-way traffic, another factor.
The same location today.
Red Arrow car 24 is at Darby and Brookline Roads in Havertown, PA on May 29, 1958, on the Ardmore line.
The same location today.
The interior of New Orleans Public Service 924 on April 19, 1958, as photographed by Bob Selle. Note the ugly signs, evidence of the racial segregation of the time.
On July 15, 1955 C&NW 4-6-2 #511 pulls a commuter train in Chicago. Bi-levels were pulled by steam, but here we see steam right next to some bi-levels.
CTA 45 and 46 are part of a work train in Evanston on May 30, 1994.
CTA 22 and 32 are part of a work train in Evanston on May 30, 1994.
CA&E 34 and many others at the Wheaton yard in 1962, after abandonment of the railroad, but before the equipment was disposed of.
Logan Square yard in 1966.
A North Shore Line train stops at Zion, illinois for a photo stop in June 1961. The religious community here made the interurban put in a much larger station than ridership required, because they believed their community would grow rapidly.
Two “L” trains pass at the Merchandise Mart station circa 1955.
Kodak did not stamp the processing date on slides until around 1958, but this appears to be around 1955 from the autos. The Garfield Park “L” crossing over the Chicago River near Union Station. We are looking to the northwest.
Chicago Aurora & Elgin 309 appears to be on a fantrip. Not sure of the location.
Red Arrow car 22 is at Sheldon and Spring Avenue in September 1965 on the Ardmore line. At the end of 1966, it was converted to buses.
The same location today.
A CTA Garfield Park train heads west on Van Buren at Western. Streetcars crossed here until June 1956. Tracks are still evident, but I don’t see any wire, so this could be after that.
Don’s Rail Photos” “S-347 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1922, #2660, as 4323. It was rebuilt on February 26, 1965, as S-347 and sold to Indiana Transportation in June 1979.” Perhaps this picture was taken in Indiana. The museum has since lost this location.
CTA 7180 is about to depart the terminal loop just south of Howard Street on Clark. Where the PCCs are is now a restaurant patio area.
A westbound Garfield Park train at Sacramento. You can see the beginnings of the temporary ramp at this location, which connected to the ground-level right-of-way used in Van Buren Street from 1953 to 1958. That was north of the old right-of-way. Sacramento was one of two points where the old “L” crossed the right-of-way of the Congress Expressway, then under construction.
CTA 7169 is southbound on Route 22 Clark-Wentworth. Perhaps this is somewhere on the south side, as I don’t recall such a hill on the north side. Andre Kristopans: “PCC on hill is a pullout heading east on 69th at Parnell.” On the other hand, our resident south side expert M.E. writes, “No scenes along Wentworth or Vincennes looked like this. So right away I thought this photo had to be along 81st St. Sure enough — read the street sign at the left: 81st and Parnell.” Robert Lalich: “M.E. is correct on the location of CTA 7169. The street sign plainly shows 81st and Parnell. The WB car is about to duck under the C&WI tracks. Two of the three buildings on the left are still there.”
This is the Isabella station on the Evanston branch (today’s CTA Purple Line) in 1970. That’s a two-car train of 4000s. Note the lack of third rail.
Some fans are shooting a South Shore Line freight in Gary, Indiana. The car looks like about a 1936 Lincoln Zephyr.
Don’s Rail Photos: “South Shore Line 1126 was a work motor built by Niles in 1908 as CLS&SB 73. In 1927 it was rebuilt into work motor 1126. In 1941 it was sold and converted to a house. In 1994 it was purchased for restoration from a buyer who had picked it up the month before for back taxes. He really did not want the car, just the land. Bob Harris began restoration in 2005.” The sign says South Bend Limited.
Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern (Iowa) car 82 in 1947. That car at left is probably from the late 1920s, though.
This Kodachrome slide is from 1943 and shows the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway in Wildwood, NJ, which converted to buses the following year. This is a resort town and business was hurt during the war, as there were nighttime blackouts.
North Shore Line 178 at Harrison Street in Milwaukee in 1955. Don’s Rail Photos: “178 was built by Cincinnati Car in September 1920, #2455.”
A Des Moines, Iowa streetcar in the 1940s.
A westbound Lake Street “A” train, when the outer portion of that line ran at ground level west of Laramie. This is somewhere in Oak Park, perhaps between Home Avenue and Kenilworth.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin:
All the pictures in this section have been graciously shared by our good friend Bill Shapotkin.
CSL 106 in May 1947.
CTA 123 at Kedzie and Van Buren in December 1948.
CSL 204 in December 1946.
CTA 5512 at 79th and Wentworth in January 1948. Correction- Robert Lalich writes, “Photo rbk612 shows car 5512 crossing the B&O Brookdale Branch at 79th and Oglesby.”
CSL 6013 at Kedzie and Bryn Mawr in 1946.
CSL 5087 at State and 13th in June 1939, during construction of the State Street Subway.
CSL 1994 at Division and Lavergne in May 1943.
CSL 1825 at West Shops.
CSL 1398 at 21st and Marshall Boulevard on July 6, 1946.
CTA 225 on Route 9 – Ashland. This car went to the Seashore Trolley Museum in 1957, where it remains today.
CSL 401 at Cicero and Belden in May 1946.
CTA 117 on North Avenue by the Chicago River in April 1949.
CTA 6209 on Route 93 by the Belt Railway, between Kenwood and Harper on August 13, 1948. M.E. notes, “The destination sign begins with “89 Avenue”, so this car is running east. Lind’s book confirms the eastern terminus was at 89th and Avenue O.”
CTA 6050 on Route 55 just south of Lake Street.
CTA 7217 on Route 36 – Broadway-State. (Robert W. Gibson Photo)
CTA 4401 at Skokie Shops in 1972, after retirement.
CSL 2919 at 26th and Halsted in 1946.
CSL 1423 on 26th Street on September 27, 1946. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo)
CTA 214 on Belmont at Western Avenue, with Riverview amusement park in the background. The tall structure is the parachute jump. I rode that once (the park closed after the 1967 season). This picture was taken on December 31, 1948.
CSL 1007 at Wabash and 8th Street. The 8th Street Theater at right is where the WLS National Barn Dance did their weekly broadcast for several years. (Heier Industrial Photo)
CTA 177 on Halsted on February 22, 1954, running northbound at the intersection of Halsted, Grand, and Milwaukee.
CTA 4405 on Clark Street at Chicago Avenue. Bill Barber writes, “I believe this photo in your Oct 12th email is misdated. The blue station wagon in front of the PCC is a 1956 Plymouth and the yellow and white car immediately behind the PCC is a 1955 Chevy. Considering that new automobile models were introduced, at that time, in September of the year before the actual model year, the earliest that this photo could be is late 1955.”
CTA 1752 at Cottage Grove and Cermak on September 8, 1951.
The South Shore Line in East Chicago, Indiana, when it ran on the street. In 1956, this trackage was relocated to run parallel to the new Indiana Toll Road. Robert Lalich: “Photo 683 was taken at White Oak and Chicago Ave in East Chicago. The train is WB and is about to curve to the north onto private right of way before crossing the B&OCT near Columbia Ave. Notice the unusual placement of flashers on the left to warn westbound motorists.”
Since we posted this picture, two people have identified it as Kedzie and Van Buren.
CTA sprinkler D-203.
CTA Peter Witt 3375 at Wabash and 18th, running on Route 4 in 1948.
The unrestored version of the postcard shown at the top of this post.
This postcard of Pullman streetcar 513 generated some discussion with our friend Jeff Marinoff, and additional comments from some others.
Jeff Marinoff writes:
Here is the info I received from Walter Keevil on Chicago Railway Company car # 513:
It is car 513 at a very early date. The number is readable on the side of the car as well as the front, though the middle digit is washed out on the front. There were three digit car numbers from 101 to 999. 513 was a Large or Old Pullman delivered in 1908-09 to Chicago Railway Co. before CSL took over management. The cars were originally painted a ‘medium’ green with red sash and doors so the photo shows everything black. The numbers were gold which also appears very dark. The well known red and cream didn’t come until 1920. I don’t know when the car numbers on the sides were moved to the center instead of the ends. The car in the photo looks a bit beat up, not the way CSL kept its cars until WW II.
Andre Kristopans adds:
Noticed that too, rather shabby condition. Maybe during WW1? Suppose maintenance went down on account of war and Spanish Flu at the same time.
Sandy Terman adds:
Regarding photo 513. Appears the big Pullmans were manufactured w/o the eight roof ventilators (4 on each side of the top hat) and w/o boarding air doors which were installed on the 500 series in later years. Question is why were the vents not manufactured on the baby Pullmans that were very similar?
We recently received an interesting comment on our previous post The Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster (May 19, 2015). It was directed at Craig Allen Cleve, who authored a book by that title, so we forwarded it to him and he in turn replied.
Bren Sheriff writes:
Mr. Cleve, The NAACP has owned 11 contiguous lots on the east side of State Street between 62nd and 63rd for over 30 years; the lot addresses are 6209-6251 S State. I bet there is a story behind how the donor acquired the lots and why they made the decision to donate them to the NAACP. Unfortunately, no one in the unit knows. In your research did you come across any land ownership info. The public records online only go back to 1988. Perhaps I’ll get down to look at the original entry books.
We are contemplating developing the lots and putting up a memorial plaque. Not that it matters, but how many victims, both the 34 dead and 50 injured, were Black?
I am one of the few folks that I know that can remember this tragic accident. The reason I remember it so well is because my family went through several hours of anguish waiting to hear from my mother; she often rode the State Street Green Hornet home from work.
My mom worked at Spiegel’s on 35th near Morgan, we lived on 69th and Michigan; she often rode home on the State Street line. On the day of the accident she decided to go shopping for a graduation gift for my cousin, she had not told my aunt. When she was not home by 6pm, as usual, it concerned my aunt. However, all of us were put into a panic when the thick dark plumes of smoke rose from the enflamed accident site and filled the sky. One of our neighbors told us that there had been an accident on State between a street car and gasoline truck.
My cousin and a friend got on their bikes and rode over to State Street to try to see the site, unsuccessfully – it had been cordoned off. On their way home they saw my mom walking from Wentworth to Michigan on 69th Street. Seeing her enter the back gate was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen, even to this day.
She is now 95 and aphasic. Over the years, we never discussed that day nor the horrific accident.
Craig Allen Cleve replies:
Hello, Ben. Thanks for your question. I’ll do my best to answer your questions.
1. Regarding the properties along the east side of the 6200 block of S. State St., I never looked into records regarding ownership. In hindsight, it might have been worthwhile, considering reports that about 120 people were left homeless after the fire. There were only five structures that were completely destroyed, including the large tenement adjacent to the entrance to the turnaround loop. I’m guessing absentee landlords and severe overcrowding. I never researched ownership of the land post fire;
2. Thirty-three people died in the blaze, although several papers reported thirty-four. This was most likely due to the frightful condition of the bodies, particularly those who died at the rear of the trolley. Subsequent examinations put the number at thirty-three;
3. Of the 33, to my best recollection, the following victims were African-American: Marietta Catlin Minnnie Banks Dade Clara Dobson Bertha Dowdell George Dowdell Alean Fisher Floreine Foster Marie A. Franklin Tishie Mae Johnson Daisy Palmer Luella Phillips Julia Piercefield Annie Richardson Mamie Robinson Rosa Saunders Earl Sue Sharp Ollie Smith Dorothy Townsend Douglas Turner
That’s about 60%. A good portion of those folks were on their way to Princeton Park, located at about 91st. St. and Wentworth Ave. Princeton Park was a housing development which targeted middle-class blacks in its ad campaigns.
4. I happy to hear that if the land is developed, that the idea of a memorial of some kind is at least being considered. Please let me know if I can help in any way. I hope this info was helpful.
Jon Roma writes:
David, in a recent post to The Trolley Dodger (The End of Summer – September 1, 2020), you have two news photographs of a derailment on the Rapid Transit at Wabash and Van Buren in May 1942. Attached is the article and pictures from the Chicago Daily Tribune from the following day’s newspaper (May 14, 1942).
I’m not certain how a fire a block away from Tower 12 caused this derailment, but my educated guess is that the disruption threw the towerman off his game, leading him to inadvertently throw a switch under a train, jackknifing it into the tower. One CRT employee was killed in this.
Thanks for sharing! The caption on one of the two press photos we posted also mentions that some trains were being rerouted because of the fire. That could also have been a factor in the interlocking switches not getting set correctly.
Wally Weart writes:
As I grew up in Chicago post WW II, many of these pictures bring back lots of memories, I grew up on the North Side but had family on the South Side so I was able to see a lot of Chicago streetcars and “L”s. I rode all the interurbans in the Midwest that were still operating. Please keep up your work, I really enjoy it.
We will do our best, thanks. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
RGTS Rio Grande to Silverton: A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading Price: $14.99
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here. 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!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
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. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere: 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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City Scene with Nuns (1947) by Robert W. Addison, in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
A long, hot summer is beginning to come to and end here in Chicago, and we have lots of great new images to share with you today. We thank all the original photographers, and our contributors.
We have many recent photo finds of our own, some great new ones thanks to Bill Shapotkin, and another batch that, for one reason or another, we were unable to purchase (but are still worth looking at).
We have been hard at work on our next book, Chicago’s Lost “L”s, and recently turned in all the text and images to our publisher. I am sure there will be additional changes (there always are), but I thought it would be useful to talk a bit about the process of making a book (see below).
We all have our ways of coping with situations. Working on a book has helped me keep focused during this pandemic.
Have a safe Labor Day weekend, everyone.
How a Book is Made
Technology may have changed since the 1950s, but you still have to go through your images one at a time.
My new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s is the third part of a trilogy, along with Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways. I got the idea for all three books some years ago, and have been collecting images with this in mind for nearly six years.
Without an idea, there is no book. While there have been plenty of books about Chicago’s famed “L”, each one is different. The subject is so large, an author has to put their own unique “spin” on it. I decided my brief would be to showcase those aspects of the “L” that don’t exist any longer.
This, I believe, many people are interested in. Whenever the subject of various “L” lines that no longer exist comes up, I get the feeling people want to know more about this. So there is a need.
You make a proposal to your publisher, and if they like what they here, you enter into a contract that has specifics of what they need, and deadlines for when you give it to them. Books to be don’t come with instruction manuals of how to put them together, though.
There, you’re on your own, and I am sure the creative process is different for every author, and for every book.
I realized the project was doable when I had collected most of the images I would need. The first thing I did was to go through my entire image collection and look at everything. I started setting aside any images that I thought could be relevant, using an image editor. I went through 20,000 images, and I did this three times– at the beginning, middle, and near the end of the project. That was necessary, because each time I was looking for something different.
One of the most important things and author needs to determine is, how will things be organized? Chronologically, geographically, or thematically? Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, and the subject usually needs a combination of all these.
Once I decided on what the chapters in the book would be, I started a folder in my image editor for each one. Then, I started sorting the images in each folder in order, shuffling and reshuffling them until I was happy with the results.
Even after I had selected the proper number of images, I eventually ended up replacing about one-third of them. As time went on, my book’s narrative began to develop. As it did, some images fit, and others did not.
After I was satisfied with my image choices, I began writing the captions to go with them. If I couldn’t figure out a good caption for something, it had to go. Everything that stays in the book needs a good reason for being there. Writing means rewriting, over and over, as many times as necessary to say what you want to say in the most economic and efficient way possible.
Along the way, you find that no matter how much research you have done, the book needs more. You figure out what’s missing, and you do everything you can to find those things that can complete the story you are trying to tell. In general, it’s the oldest things that are hardest to find.
As you learn more while putting things together, the book tells you what it needs to be, and this is always going to be somewhat different than what you thought it was at the start. You always need to dig deeper.
The last thing I wrote was the introduction. That’s the opposite of how I approached my previous two books, but this time I wanted to see what would be included in the book first.
I also spent many, many long hours working over images in Photoshop. This includes the various maps I am using. I want everything to look its best when you open up your copy of Chicago’s Lost “L”s and start reading it.
One thing I noticed, when sorting through my images, is how sometimes, when I had duplicates of an image, they weren’t always identical. It occurs to me that when black-and-white prints were made from medium-format negatives, they were probably made in batches, and the same neg could have been printed multiple times over the years. Each time, the neg would be positioned a bit differently.
Now it is possible to combine those images using a program called Microsoft Image Composite Editor. The result is an image that is closer to the full size of the negative. I was able to do this for five or six images in the book.
More information about Chicago’s Lost “L”s will follow, as available. Once a book is published, it belongs to the readers, and you can decide whether or not it is worthwhile, but whatever the result, I have given this project 110%.
When you challenge yourself to reach a goal, it forces you to do better. I learn so much every time I work on a new book– new skills, new methods, more efficiency, more organization, more knowledge. And when someone reads one of my books, and appreciates it (if they do), that’s the icing on the cake.
Howard Terminal looking west in 1959. Ultimately, this picture did not make it into the book.
The same location on June 6, 2020.
I spent a lot of time cleaning up this image, but decided not to use it. The steam engines Chicago used on the “L” were similar to those in New York, but they weren’t identical– they were more robust. They didn’t have the same specs.
I took this picture of the former Linen Avenue station in Wilmette on June 6, 2020, but it didn’t make the cut.
I spent considerable time cleaning up this track map of the Kenwood “L” before I found something else I chose to use.
The same goes for this map of the Stock Yards branch.
In this case, after putting the two versions of this image together, only a small amount was missing at the top, not difficult to replace.
You can see how the same negative was lined up slightly differently both times it was printed. It was not difficult to fill in the missing parts on the two corners and bottom.
El Tracks (1949) by Robert W. Addison. The El looks like New York, but the streetcar seems more like Chicago.
The Chicago Aurora & Elgin owned everything west of Laramie Avenue, and in June 1953, were storing cars mid-day at Lockwood Yard (5300 W.). Wood cars 28 and 207 are seen, among others. (Ray Mueller Photo)
Mark Jesperson, who now lives in France, has written a Wilmette history article and is using one of our images. In turn, he sent us this nice picture, taken in the early 1950s at Linden Avenue, showing a gate car. Evanston became a shuttle to Howard starting in August 1949 (except for the Evanston Express).
An early Loop photo looking north from Tower 12 at Wabash and Van Buren. I think this is pre-1913, meaning it’s the left-hand-running bi-directional Loop. The Met car at left is going away from us on the Inner Loop, while that is probably a South Side car coming towards us, heading south.
Another early view of the Loop, again at Wabash and Van Buren, this time looking west.
When the Indiana Railroad interurban shut down in 1941, Lehigh Valley Transit bought high-speed car 55. Here, it’s on a Pennsylvania Railroad flatcar. LVT turned it into car 1030, showcase of their fleet on the Liberty Bell Route between Allentown and Philadelphia. It is now at the Seashore Trolley Museum. (H. P. Sell Photo)
CTA PCC 7363 at Devon Station (car barn), possibly in 1957. Part of the building here was destroyed by fire years earlier.
LVT high-speed 1022. Except for 1030, all the modern lightweight high-speed cars on the Liberty Bell Limited were ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie.
LVT 1008 in Allentown.
Cook County #1 was used to transport mental health patients between facilities such as Dunning on Chicago’s northwest side. Don’s Rail Photos: “1, hospital car, was built by CSL in 1918. It was retired on September 21, 1939.”
June 21, 1958 was the day before the new Congress-Douglas-Milwaukee line went into regular service. It was also the last day the Douglas Park trains ran downtown over the Lake Street “L” . Photographer Bob Selle was riding a northbound Douglas train when he took this picture, showing the station at Madison and Paulina, which had not been used in over seven years.
CTA wood car 1712 is a Kenwood shuttle train at the Indiana Avenue stub terminal, probably circa 1953. It was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1903 for the Northwestern Elevated Railroad. (Robert Selle Photo)
A night shot of CTA 4219 at Laramie Avenue on the Garfield Park “L” on January 4, 1957. (Robert Selle Photo)
A night shot of CTA 4434 at Laramie Avenue on the Garfield Park “L” on January 4,1957. (Robert Selle Photo)
CTA 2840, a Met car, at Laramie Yard on January 4, 1957. (Robert Selle Photo)
A night shot of CTA 2810 and 2818 in the Laramie Yards on February 1, 1957. By then, the Congress Expressway was open as far as Laramie and was adjacent to the Garfield Park “L”. It was still under construction west of here, and the “L” ran on temporary trackage. (Robert Selle Photo)
CTA 2802 at Laramie Yard (Garfield Park “L”) on February 1, 1957. (Robert Selle Photo)
The CTA temporarily stored many wood cars at Laramie Yard after they were retired and awaiting scrapping. Here, we see 1752, among others, on November 24, 1957. I assume these cars were last used on Evanston and Ravenswood. (Robert Selle Photo)
CTA 1782 and 1785 at Laramie Yard on November 24, 1957. As far as I know, scrapping took place at Skokie Shops. (Robert Selle Photo)
CTA 3119, signed as a Lake Street local, is being stored on the third track at Hamlin in August 1948. By then, A/B “skip stop” service had been in effect for some months. It’s possible this car was no longer being used on the line. Don’s Rail Photos: “3119 was built by St. Louis Car in 1902 as LSERR 119. In 1913 it was renumbered 3119 and became CRT 3119 in 1923.”
CTA Met car 2113 at Laramie Yard in August 1948. Don’s Rail Photos: “2104 thru 2154 were built by Pullman in 1894 as M-WSER 104 thru 154. In 1913 they were renumbered 2104 thru 2154, and in 1923 they became CRT 2104 thru 2154.” This would have been one of the original cars used on the Metropolitan West Side Elevated when it opened in 1895.
Chicago Rapid Transit Company medical car 2756 at Laramie Yards on September 19, 1934. It was built by Barney & Smith in 1895 and had been used as a funeral car. It could carry baggage as well as passengers.
Chicago & West Towns 158 at Brookfield Zoo in the summer of 1939. This is the south entrance. The Zoo opened in 1934 and was just north of the C&WT line to LaGrange, which cut through the Forest Preserves on private right of way.
The back end of the West Towns car barn in Oak Park. The street sign identifies this as North Boulvard and Cuyler. This is undated but could be 1939. The Chicago & North Western embankment is just to the right out of view. After being used for buses into the 1980s, this building was demolished and replaced by a Dominick’s Finer Foods store. After that chain went out of business, that building was remodeled into Pete’s Fresh Market. We are looking to the northeast.
C&WT line car 15, probably at the car barn at Harlem and 22nd Street (Cermak), in North Riverside. On pictures, this was often mistakenly identified as Berwyn, but that’s across Harlem Avenue just to the east.
Chicago Aurora & Elgin 406 makes a photo stop at State Road on the Batavia branch on August 8, 1954. The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. (Robert Selle Photo)
A two-car Garfield Park “L” train, just west of Laramie Avenue in August 1948.
Caption: “Chicago El showing curve at Harrison and Wabash, taken from Congress Street station, April 2, 1939.” This curve has since been straightened out. The view looks south. (Duncan L. Bryant Photo)
A westbound Evanston Express train is on the Lake Street leg of the Loop near Clark. The view looks east. I assume this picture is from the 1940s, as the sign mentions Skokie instead of Niles Center. Miles Beitler: “There appears to be a propane bus in RBK275, visible just below the motorman’s cab on the Evanston Train. If so, it dates the photo to 1950 or later.” If so, why does the sign say Skokie, as the Niles Center route was converted to bus in 1948?
A Douglas Park “B” train heads west at (I think) Halsted on the Met main line, prior to the removal of two tracks for expressway construction.
The two CTA freight locos, S-104 and S-105, at Howard Street.
DesPlaines Avenue Yard in the 1960s, with a 2000, 6000s, and a couple of wood cars. The Met car looks like it has been converted to a snow plow, while the car on the right may have been used as an office or for storage.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin 405, circa 1950, scanned from the original negative. (Railway Negative Exchange) “Railway Negative Exchange (REX), also referred to as RNE was run by Warren Miller who lived in Moraga, CA. Born in Oakland, CA–(1923) Warren was this nation’s foremost authority on Western railroads and devoted virtually his entire life to assembling more than a quarter of a million negatives, most in glass plates, as well as over 200,000 photographs. Upon Warren’s death (1989), his collection was left to his nephew, Bob Hall. Bob has continued his uncle’s devotion to the railroad photographic hobby.” (2008)
CA&E 411 at the Wheaton Shops. (Railway Negative Exchange)
“CA&E Special #310 on the Mt. Carmel line, at the point where it switches off the main line from Chicago to Wheaton, IL (photo stop).” This was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip on August 8, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)
CTA 398, D5, and 6148 at 70th and Ashland on June 28, 1952. (Robert Selle Photo)
“CTA car 649 on curve leading into south end of Limits barn (Clark and Schubert streets). 6148 at right (October 10, 1953).” (Robert Selle Photo)
CA&E 18 at Wheaton on August 15, 1952. Don’s Rail Photos: “18 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was modernized in March 1941 and retired in 1955.”
“CTA “L” car lineup at DesPlaines Avenue yards, July 6, 1958.” (Robert Selle Photo)
“CTA “L” cars view at DesPlaines Avenue yards, July 6, 1958.” (Robert Selle Photo)
“CTA– one of the entrances to the Racine Avenue station on August 13, 1958.” (Robert Selle Photo)
CTA 4000s at Clark and Lake in January 1970.
Morning commuters on the Evanston Express in April 1970.
Wood cars at Randolph and Wabash in July 1957. At right, the Kodak Store (133 N. Wabash Avenue) and Blackhawk Restaurant (home of the spinning salad bowl) are visible.
Altman Camera, at 129 N. Wabash, was the Noah’s Ark of camera stores from 1964 to 1975. Owner Ralph Altman kept two of everything in stock– one to show, and one to go. This was literally the finest camera store in the United States. This was close to the location of the old Eastman Kodak Store, which I believe had to close in the mid-1950s due to anti-trust concerns. Here is Altman’s in 1967.
CTA 2519, among others, form a three-car train at Van Buren and Ogden. This must be in the early days of the temporary Garfield Park “L” operation, since the old “L” is still standing at left. The portion to Paulina (1700 W.) had to be kept until April 1954, as the Douglas Park “L” was still using it then. We are looking west at about 1800 W. Van Buren, and the “L” west of here was taken down pretty fast to facilitate expressway construction.
The same location today. The Eisenhower Expressway (formerly Congress) is behind those shrubs to the left.
The Congress median right-of-way on November 9, 1959. I believe we are looking east.
An Evanston Express train at Clark and Lake, possibly in the early 1970s.
CTA 1706 is signed for Stock Yards, but is obviously a Kenwood train at Indiana Avenue. Not sure if this is before or after Kenwood became a shuttle in 1949. I assume it simply has the wrong sign on it. It’s been suggested that in latter years, CTA may have through-routed Stock Yards and Kenwood trains. In actual practice, this wouldn’t have been easy, as it would have involved a lot of switching across the main line here.
Miles Beitler writes:
Great photos on your newest post!
Regarding photo RBK 511, on which I left a comment, I have attached information from my 1944 Rand McNally guidebook which describes CRT operations and indicates that, during non-rush periods, Kenwood trains did run from 42nd Place all the way to the Stock Yards. Apparently the CRT had a way to run the trains straight through the Indiana station. (I long ago sent scans of my guidebook to Graham Garfield, who posted them to his website.)
Your “Lost L’s” book sounds interesting and I intend to purchase it when it’s released.
Thanks. This was in the pre-CTA era. Once the Authority took over, there was a real push to reduce the amount of such switching maneuvers, adding and cutting cars in stations, etc. as these things are quite labor intensive.
CRT 2322 on February 12, 1939. It was built for the Met in 1901 by American Car and Foundry. (La Mar M. Kelley Photo)
CSL “Matchbox” 1352 signed for Taylor-Sedgwick-Sheffield. I wonder where this could be? Paul Wallace identifies this as 1044 N. Orleans Street.
The same location today.
CTA 1674 on Division by the north side “L” on June 25, 1950. This station had been closed on August 1, 1949 as part of the CTA’s major revision of north-south service. On the back of the print, it notes that these cars were “replaced by big Pullmans a few weeks later.”
Elevated train tracks on Van Buren Street, looking west from Franklin Street, 1914. That’s the Franklin and Van Buren station, used exclusively by the Metropolitan “L”.
An early track arrangement, showing the four-track Metropolitan main line on the east side of the Chicago River.
Figuring out which Loop tower this is took a bit of doing, but the Sterling Cycle Works was located on Wabash Avenue in 1897, making this Tower 12 at Wabash and Van Buren, looking east.
This circa 1897 ad shows Sterling Cycle Works on Wabash. However, this pre-dates the renumbering of Chicago streets, where the city shifted to a grid system, with numbers starting at State and Madison.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin
CTA 194 at Halsted and 64th in 1952.
The Lake Street “L” in 1962, looking east at Ridgeland. This must be just before the “L” was relocated to the Chicago & North Western embankment. M&C Motors, at right, was located at 315 South Boulevard.
Ridgeland and South Boulevard today.
The Lake Street “L” ramp between Central Avenue and Laramie circa 1961-62. This was after the changeover point between third rail and overhead wire was moved west of here. I think this picture was taken looking north on Latrobe.
The same location today.
CTA 4227 in the shop (Skokie?) in 1956.
CTA 3073 on route 52 (Kedzie).
South Side Rapid Transit car #1 in 1962. It is now at the Chicago History Museum.
CTA 990 at 47th and Lake Park in March 1949. The Kenwood Hotel was located at 47th and Kenwood nearby.
CTA 460 at 77th and Vincennes in March 1956, when it was part of the CTA Historical Collection. Looks like PCC 4021 is behind it. Both cars are now at the Illinois Railway Museum.
CTA 4244 on State Street in 1954.
CTA 129. M.E.: “This scene has to be at the western end of the main 63rd St. line, at Narragansett and 63rd Place. The tight loop shown in the picture was built when one-ended PCC cars started running on 63rd. This picture had to be taken in 1952 or 1953 after the pre-war PCC cars were removed from 63rd and assigned to Cottage Grove. The last cars to run on 63rd were the old red Pullmans like this one.”
A CTA 4000, most likely at a railway museum.
CTA 7213. (Robert W. Gibson Photo) M.E.: “You might add to the caption that this car was the last one to run in Chicago. Refer to all the pictures taken at 81st and Halsted and then on the final trip to the 77th and Vincennes barn in June 1958.”
CTA 7263 at Harrison and State in 1954.
Experimental forced-air ventilation on a CTA 6000. Not sure if you could open the windows on this car or not.
CTA 7023 at Clark and Van Buren on June 6, 1954.
Scrapped streetcars, including work car AA57, at South Shops. Don’s Rail Photos: “AA57, salt car, was built by St Louis Car Co in 1903 as CUTCo 4835. It was renumbered 1306 in 1913 and became CSL 1306 in 1914. It was rebuilt as salt car in January 1934 and renumbered AA57 on April 15, 1948. It was retired on December 14, 1956.”
CTA 6669 with experimental roof-mounted air conditioning, in storage on the middle track at Western Avenue on the Ravenswood. Just about every new feature CTA introduced on the 2000s was first tried out on 6000s.
CTA 6151, 3196, and 554 at 69th and Ashland. M.E.: “Route 45 was the Ashland-Archer-Clark route, similar to route 42, Halsted-Archer-Clark, but different in that route 45 always used old Pullmans whereas (at this time) route 42 used postwar PCCs.”
CTA 3179 at Grand and Navy Pier in March 1950.
CTA 7217 awaiting scrapping on June 30, 1959, at South Shops.
CTA 3231, 369, 988, and AA103 at 69th and Ashland in May 1949. M.E.: “The Green Hornet PCC in this picture would have been assigned to Western Ave. When the 69th/Ashland barn closed, but Western still operated PCC streetcars, those cars were moved to the 77th and Vincennes barn. To get there, they traveled east on 69th St. to Wentworth, south to 73rd, then southwest on Vincennes to 77th St.”
CTA 7113 at State and 62nd Place on November 9, 1955. This was where a PCC derailed and collided with a gasoline truck in 1950, a horrific crash that killed 34 people. M.E. “As I recall, the 1950 accident was not due to derailing, instead due to a misaligned switch on the southbound track which the motorman didn’t see but put his streetcar in the path of the northbound gas truck.” While that was the cause of the accident, since the PCC was going perhaps 35 mph at the time, it must have left the rails during the crash.
CTA 6413 at Skokie Shops on January 26, 1975. (Ronald J. Sullivan Photo)
CSL 5177 at Archer and Cicero in March 1935. M.E.: “The building behind the streetcar has a sign for United Airlines. So this scene is at Midway Airport, most likely north of 62nd St., which is where the Cicero car line ended in front of the original Midway terminal building. The sign on the streetcar reads Archer-Cicero, which was likely its northern destination.”
CSL 5519 at Archer and Rockwell in May 1943.
CSL 5083. M.E.: “The sign on the car appears to read Pitney-Archer. I went to Google maps, entered Pitney St. Chicago, and up came a map showing that Pitney starts at Archer and heads southeast from there. (All of this is about a block east of Ashland.) So maybe there was a carbarn at Pitney and Archer, or a stub on Pitney.”
CTA 914 in March 1950. The location is given as Archer and 38th Place.
CSL 775 at 47th and Indiana in May 1945.
CTA 7218, 4378, and 4399 at South Shops in August 1959, more than a year after the last Chicago streetcar ran.
More Ones That Got Away
Both Jeff Marinoff and I regret not winning this auction, which sold for $131.32. That’s a lot of money, but pictures of the Kinzie Street “L” station are rare indeed, It was located approximately where the Merchandise Mart station is now, and was open from 1900 to 1921, when it was replaced by a new station at Grand Avenue a few blocks north. Behind the “L”. to the left, is the Chicago and North Western station, which closed in 1910, so the view looks west.
Chicago & North Western station in 1881.
This, and the photos that follow, were offered as a batch of 11 original slides. I did bid on this but was not the top bidder, and they sold for about $100. That may seem like a lot, until you work out that it’s only about $9 per slide, and some of these are definitely keepers. All were taken between 1959 and 1963. Here are a pair of 6000s on the Congress line in Oak Park.
The old Lake Street Transfer station, closed since 1951. We are looking west. It was removed in 1964, along with that portion of the Paulina “L” north of here (excepting the bridge). I had originally said this was looking east. Graham Garfield: “We are looking west…” I believe we are actually looking east, from Wood St west of the station. The Met platforms began at Lake Street and projected northward (as seen in the attached Sanborn map), and in the photo they go to the left (which would be north, if we were facing east). Also, the building in the left foreground is still there today, located on the north side of Lake St near Wood St — here is a Google Street View of it from 2009 (I chose an older one because more recently it has been repainted and had its windows changed; you can still tell it’s the same building, but the older view makes it more obvious): https://goo.gl/maps/jb27nadEmRdf7BM16 “
CTA single-car unit 35 at Forest Park.
A two-car train of 4000s heads west on the Lake Street “L” when the outer portion still ran on the ground. I think the top of the building we see above the C&NW embankment is the Austin Town Hall, meaning we are between Laramie and Central circa 1961-62. The newspaper box at left is selling Chicago’s American, an afternoon newspaper. Tracks here may be using third rail as the conversion point to overhead wire was moved to Central Avenue while work was being done to put the line onto the embankment.
a westbound Lake Street “L” train in Oak Park. That stairway may be where one of the other pictures in this series was taken from. I assume this was located at the east end of the C&NW’s Oak Park station.
Looking east from Harlem Avenue in 1963. The Lake “L” is now on the embankment, but the old tracks and the Marion Street station are still in place. A train of CTA’s high-speed cars is in the station. The fans called them “circus wagons.”
The ground-level Lake Street “L’ in a somewhat underexposed shot. A “B” train heads east from the Marion Street station.
A westbound Lake “A” train at Home Avenue in Oak Park.
Looking north towards the Howard “L” station.
A two-car train of CTA 6000s on the turnaround loop in Forest Park, west end of the Congress-Milwaukee line. That loop-shaped thing on the front of the train was used for route selection, since these trains shared tracks with Douglas-Milwaukee trains further east of here.
An eastbound Lake Street “B” train heads east between Central and Laramie, and is about to head up the ramp to the “L” structure. This is just east of another picture in this series.
This is Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern car 100, shortly before it was destroyed by fire in 1967. I was surprised when this original slide sold for very little. Don’s Rail Photos: “100 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914. It was built as a second motor to operate behind the 140s as a two car train. The baggage compartment was a kitchen, and the rear end was an open platform observation. The buffet section was replaced with coach seats in 1918. The car was then rebuilt with a control station and baggage compartment in 1928 and the rear platform was enclosed at that time. It was the last interurban left on the WCF&N when it became diesel freight, and it was donated to the Iowa Chapter of the NRHS in 1956. It was moved to Centerville and operated on the Southern Iowa Ry. When the SI cut back its operation and dieselized, the Iowa Chapter transferred the car to the Iowa Terminal RR in 1966. Shortly after it was repainted and put into charter service, it was destroyed in the carbarn fire early November 24, 1967. It had been the only car saved from the WCF&N roundhouse fire on October 31, 1954, when the other two cars of its class burned.”
The Liberty Bell Limited in 1951 at Sellersville.
4000s at Linden Avenue in 1967.
Looks like a photo stop on the Illinois Terminal in 1956. Perhaps the final day for these lines?
2000s on the Lake Street “L” in 1965, looking west-southwest from the Chicago & North Western platform in Oak Park.
6000s cross the Chicago River in 1968. We are looking east.
The New York elevated, probably in the 1890s when steam was in use. Not sure which line this is.
The interior of Lehigh Valley Transit car 704 in 1951, used on the Liberty Bell interurban line in Philadelphia. The motorman would most likely punch a couple things in on that cash register and it would issue a ticket.