CSL 5249 appears to be heading southbound on Larrabee, just north of Chicago Avenue. To the left, you see the Montgomery Ward complex, which has since been turned into residential. 5249 is signed to go to Vincennes and 88th, which probably makes this a Halsted car. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) M. E. writes: “The barn at 88th and Vincennes was originally the barn for the Kanakakee cars that ran from the Englewood L station at 63rd Place and Halsted, south on Halsted, southwest on Summit (a short street connecting Halsted with Vincennes), and Vincennes. When that service folded, the Chicago Surface Lines took over the barn. That barn closed early in my lifetime.”
Today’s post features many “old school” railfan photos, all from the collections of William Shapotkin. In the 1930s and 40s, photographers such as Joe L. Diaz and Edward Frank, Jr. wandered all over Chicagoland, taking black and white photos of streetcars, “L” cars, and interurbans, which they printed up and sold at railfan meetings.
They were still selling these photos into the 1980s and 90s. Years ago, I met both of these gentlemen, who are sadly no longer with us. Perhaps the late Malcolm D. McCarter was the last of this breed. He started selling photos around 1942, and continued to do so for the next 75 years or so. He was also the last living original member of the Illinois Railway Museum.
Unfortunately, these photos often did not come with any documentation as to when, or where, these pictures were taken. We have written captions that include whatever we could determine. But I know that our highly informed, eagle-eyed readers will help us fill in some of the missing details.
When referring to individual photos, please use the file name (i.e. shapotkin262), which you can get by hovering your mouse over the image, instead of saying “the sixth photo down” or some such. We thank you in advance for helping us with these, and let’s thank Bill Shapotkin again for graciously sharing them with us.
You also might want to consider a trip to Indianapolis to attend this year’s Hoosier Traction Meet, which Mr. Shapotkin runs. You can view a flyer (in PDF form) with all the relevant information here.
PS- At the end of this post, you will also find a blurb for our upcoming book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, to be released on July 12 from Arcadia Publishing. So far, we have received orders for more than 70 copies, for which we are very grateful.
FYI, we also have a Facebook auxiliary for the Trolley Dodger, which currently has 368 members.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin
CSL Pullman 172. Daniel Joseph has identified this as the intersection of Ogden, Cermak, and Springfield.
CSL 5638, signed for Navy Pier, may be running on the Stony Island route. M. E. writes, “The caption is undoubtedly correct that these are Stony Island cars that had the north destination Navy Pier. I’d like to add that I see so many trolley poles on the cars, going in both directions, that I think this place was the south terminal which was just north of 93rd St. South of 93rd St., the tracks were used for only a short distance by 93rd/95th St. cars.”
CSL 2803 is southbound on Ashland. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
This picture, taken on April 12, 1915, shows some window damage to CSL car 6063.
CSL 6101, signed for 35th Street. Chris Cole says this “appears to be taken at the Cottage Grove car barn at 38th Street. The Ida B Welles public housing project 2 story buildings are in the background. The Wells Homes ran from Cottage Grove to King Drive and 35th to Pershing Rd (39th). I also note that there are a number of overhead lines that would be present on the driveway to the barn. I believe that the 35th streetcar used the Cottage Grove barn from 1946 to 1951.”
CSL 2601 on the 111th Street line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1455. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2745. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans says this is “looking W down Wrightwood from Lincoln on Lincoln Carhouse leads – car is pulling out to do a Riverview-Larrabee run.” Daniel Joseph adds, “Possibly at Wrightwood, Lincoln & Sheffield at car barn.”
CSL 2599 on the Brandon-Brainard line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 419 at the east end of the Chicago Avenue line on December 27, 1946.
CSL 5653, signed for Ashland. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2730 and 2728. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans: “Open yard on west side of Lincoln carhouse looking south.”
CSL 2731 and 1346. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans: “Open yard on west side of Lincoln carhouse looking south.”
CSL 3315 on the 67-69-71 route.
CSL 5702, signed for 93rd and Stony Island. Our resident south side expert M. E. writes: “I’m going to hazard a guess as to where this picture was taken. But first, I present my case. The destination sign on the first car says “Stony Island-93rd”; the sign on the second car says (I think) “Stony Island-Downtown” — yet both cars are on the same track, heading in the same direction. Why would that happen? It might happen if these were special fan trips, one car following the other, oblivious to their destination signs. Or it might simply be two Stony Island cars heading to 93rd St., but the sign on the second car is wrong. Another factor to consider is that the tracks on Stony Island ran in the street south to 69th St., but south of 69th, they had their own right-of-way between the north- and south-bound auto traffic lanes. In this picture, I believe I see a separation between the tracks and the car lane. Therefore this picture was taken south of 69th St. But the best clue, by far, is the round sign in the distance: “Ruby OK used cars.” The dealership was Ruby Chevrolet. I went to Google and looked up “ruby chevrolet used car location south side chicago”. Up came a link to a Tribune obituary about Richard Ruby, car dealer and attorney, dated 8 December 2014. In that obituary, it says Ruby’s lot was at 72nd and Stony Island. Next, consider the railroad crossing sign. It is a dinky sign with no flashing lights. That would indicate a crossing that was lightly used by trains. I submit that this is the trackage used by the Baltimore and Ohio railroad that started at about 71st and Dorchester (as an offshoot from the Illinois Central main line), then ran southeast, along the ground, through South Shore and to the South Chicago neighborhood. In Google maps, if you enter “73rd and Stony Island Chicago”, you will see the path used by that trackage. It crossed Stony Island just south of 73rd. (This railroad trackage lasted a long time, because the B&O did not want to give it up. So, every day at 3 p.m., they ran a diesel engine and caboose — maybe a few freight cars too — down that track. Motorists mostly ignored the rail crossing signs, so the train had to proceed very slowly and blow its horn constantly.) So, I think this photo’s location is the southeast corner of 73rd and Stony Island, looking north. North of 73rd, Stony Island tracks also carried South Deering cars, which ran from the Jackson Park L at 63rd and Dorchester, south to 64th, east to Stony Island, south to 73rd, then east on 73rd. In the photo, South Deering cars made the turn to the right, whereas Stony Island cars continued straight ahead. Gee, that was much fun to deduce!” Andre Kristopans concurs: “Looking north on Stony at 73rd. RR crossing just out of picture to left was the old B&O Brookdale line, once the main line into Chicago.” Mitch Markovitz adds: “That’s my old neighborhood. Both cars southbound at 73rd and Stony with the tracks for South Deering branching off. It doesn’t really matter what the destination sign reads on the second car. Changing the sign won’t make the car stray off to distant lines. Either a pull out, a pull in, or someone futzing and changing the sign.”
CSL 5909 on Route 47.
CSL 1868. I can’t make out the destination sign. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Michael Franklin: “This is the 5200 block of Harrison St, Chicago. Buildings are still there.”
CSL 419, at the east end of the Chicago Avenue line on December 27, 1946.
CSL snow sweeper E1. Don’s Rail Photos: “E1, sweeper, was built by Lewis and Fowler in 1895 as Chicago Rys 2. It was renumbered E1 in 1913 and became CSL E1 in 1914. It was retired on November 24, 1950.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Not sure which CTA snow plow this is. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Bill Wasik says this “shows an eastbound snowplow on 92nd St. as it approaches Baltimore Avenue. Can’t identify the plow, but two buildings of note in this photo are still standing. These include the glass-bricked neo-Romanesque banquet hall at the far right. This is an 1891 corner block at the northwest corner of Baltimore Ave. Also visible one block to the west is a bank building that once was the headquarters of the Steel City National Bank, a facility mired in scandal during the early 1970s.”
CSL/CTA salt car AA10. Don’s Rail Photos: “AA10, salt car, was built by CUT in 1899 as CUT 4492. It was rebuilt as 1445 in 1911 and became CSL 1445 in 1914. It was rebuilt as (a) salt car in 1930 and renumbered AA10 on October 1, 1941. It was retired on February 18, 1955.”
CSL 3307 is westbound on Montrose, about to cross under the Chicago & North Western railroad at about 1800 West.
The Chicago Surface Lines tracks were extended to the site of A Century of Progress in 1933. This could be from that year, as a shelter is under construction. We are looking south.
CSL 840 under the “L”. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 5621, signed to go to Belmont and Clybourn. This picture seems to date to the mid-1930s.
CSL 204. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
A Chicago Surface Lines trolley bus on Route 86 – Narragansett. This route used trolley buses from 1930 to 1953.
Chicago Motor Coach Company double-decker bus 500, built in 1923.
Andre Kritsopans: “Looking west towards east end of “east house” at 77th, basically where Wentworth south of 77th would be. 77th until 1970s had two separate buildings, with an open area between them, until the open area was roofed over. The pile of junk in front is 77th scrap pile, looks like mostly boilers and other building parts.”
CSL 3286. Might this be Kedzie Station (car house)? (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
On April 16, 1946, Mrs. Edith Sands and her family were living in the body of former CSL streetcar 1384. There was a housing shortage once WWII ended. There is a different picture of the interior of this makeshift home in our book Chicago Trolleys.
CSL 3296 is on Montrose. Could this be westbound at Welles Park? Note the Packard at left.
CSL 1415 is on Racine at Belden on July 9, 1946.
While researching the above photo, I ran across another one, taken at the same location but from the opposite direction:
CSL 1415, built originally in 1906, is at work on Racine at Belden on the WEBSTER RACINE route. The photographer is unknown. An original Kodachrome from February 1942. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 5241 is southbound on Through Route 8, Halsted. Bill Shapotkin adds, “The car (signed for destination of 111/Sacramento and probably a school tripper for Morgan Park High School) is standing W/B in 111th St JUST EAST of Vincennes Ave. That house with the distinctive roof (left) still-stands today. View looks east.”
CSL 5436 is westbound on 79th Street at Ashland on June 11, 1948.
CSL 5635 at Navy Pier.
I assume that CTA PCC 4300 is turning from Archer onto Clark, running a northbound trip on Route 42 – Halsted-Downtown, and that we are looking to the southwest. Note the Rock Island train in the background. Metra Rock Island District trains still use these tracks.
The same location today.
Postwar PCC 4233 being delivered from Pullman.
This one is too fuzzy to see much, except that it is the east end of an east-west streetcar line on the north side, since the tracks end abruptly. I assume that’s Broadway crossing on an angle. Miles Beitler, on the other hand, writes: “I searched the listings for the auto service garage on the right side of the photo. I found a listing for “Ragalie Bros. Auto Service” with a location of 3939 West 5th Avenue, a diagonal street. 3939 is at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Harrison Street. When I checked the 1932 telephone book I found (a) listing for Micheli Restaurant. That location — 3953 West Harrison — is also near the intersection of Harrison and 5th Avenue and it does seem to fit the photo. Moreover, I believe there was a streetcar line on 5th Avenue which ended at Harrison. Of course, the expressway was not there in 1932. Also note the horse drawn Bowman Dairy wagon on the right. I believe that Bowman Dairy used horse drawn delivery wagons well into the 1920s.”
A note re: the picture above. The addresses of the businesses and locations of buildings would seem to confirm that this is Fifth Avenue, just east of Pulaski Road, with Harrison Street as the cross-street in the background. The tracks that end in the middle of the street were for the Madison-Fifth line. When CSL introduced the new single-ended Peter Witts in 1929, they were used on Madison, and a loop was apparently devised for Madison-Fifth by extending these tracks around the block, via Pulaski and Harrison, to form a triangular-shaped loop. The new northbound track on Pulaski was separate from the existing streetcar tracks, so as not to interfere with Pulaski service. In late 1936, CSL put PCC cars on Madison, and these were also used on Madison-Fifth.
This branch line was discontinued on February 22, 1954, when construction of the nearby Congress Expressway reached this area, just to the north. Fifth Avenue was not a major street and would have required a complicated bridge over the highway, crossing at an angle. So it was decided to truncate Fifth instead.
The Garfield Park “L” ran east and west at this point, just south of the alley mid-block between Harrison and Flournoy Streets. The “L” would have been just out of view to the right of this picture. It intersected with Fifth Avenue at Pulaski Road, just behind the photographer.
In this zoomed-in view of the previous picture, the building in the distance matches the building in the next picture, taken in 1953.
CTA 1725 is operating as a one-man shuttle car on the Madison-Fifth branch line on Route 20 on February 15, 1953. The car is heading southwest on Fifth Avenue approaching Harrison Street and Pulaski Avenue, which was the end of the line near the adjacent Garfield Park “L” station. I thought at first that the date might actually have been 1954, but subsequent research shows the 1953 date to be correct. (Robert Selle Photo)
In addition, this photo, taken from the Pulaski Road station on the Garfield Park “L” station, shows buildings on the north side of Fifth Avenue that match up with those in the shapotkin308 image above. Note it’s the same exact fire escape:
On Sunday, September 13, 1953, CTA one-man shuttle car 3175 is on Fifth Avenue at Pulaski (Crawford), the west end of the Fifth Avenue line. This had been a branch line from route 20 – Madison. From this point, the cars looped via Pulaski and Harrison before going back NE on Fifth. The photographer was on the Garfield Park “L” at Pulaski. The “L” was heading east and west at this point, just south of where the Eisenhower expressway is today. This “L” station remained in use until June 1958. Streetcar service on Fifth Avenue continued into early 1954. The Fifth Avenue line used gauntlet track on Pulaski, so as not to interfere with Pulaski streetcars. This is confirmed by studying the 1948 supervisor’s track map. Danny Joseph adds, “As a child I lived near this triangle when both Pulaski and Fifth still operated street cars and Harrison did not. I was very fascinated by the gauntlet on Pulaski which was the first time I saw such construction.” (Bob Selle Photo)
The gas stations on the triangular-shaped corner of Harrison and Fifth also match, between the late 1920s photo and this one from 1950:
This birds-eye view of CTA 1744 was taken from the Pulaski Road “L” station on the Garfield Park branch in April 1950. However, what we are looking at may actually be a Madison-Fifth car at the west end of its route, ready to loop back via Pulaski and Harrison. Bill Shapotkin adds, “This image is looking E-N/E on Fifth Ave from the Garfield Pk ‘L’…no question about it. The intersection behind the streetcar is Harrison.”
Now that we have determined where shapotkin308 was taken, it’s the presence of a late 1920s Franklin automobile that pins the date down to circa 1926-28. In 1929, the streetcar tracks on Fifth Avenue were extended around the block. Interestingly, the Franklin used an air-cooled engine, and the radiator grill on the car was simply for show. After the Franklin firm failed in 1934, it was succeeded by Aircooled Motors, which was later purchased by Preston Tucker, and provided the engines (water-cooled) for the short-lived 1948 Tucker Torpedo. Aircooled Motors survived Tucker and continued in operation until 1975, providing engines for many small airplanes and helicoptors.
CTA 6002 is southbound on Kedzie on June 22, 1950, having just passed the Garfield Park “L”. Service at this station continued until June, 1958, since it was not in the path of the Congress Expressway.
The same location today.
This could be the west end of the 75th Street route. CSL Pullmans 122, 126, and 392 are visible. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
This photo has a lot of scratches, but it does show CSL 2510 at 75th and the lakefront. Presumably the negative was scratched from being printed many times. (M. D. McCarter Photo)
CSL 5993, on the 31st Street route, is running direct to the World’s Fair (A Century of Progress), so this must be 1933-34. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 6103 is running on Through Route 17 – Kedzie. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo) Daniel Joseph: “Probably Kedzie & 30th St looking north at grade crossing.”
CSL 1942 is signed for Chicago Avenue. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1466. This may be one of the cars that was usually used to train crews in the Van Buren Street tunnel under the Chicago River. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Daniel Joseph says, “I believe this is at 18th St, Canalport & Normal.”
CSL 3216 is signed for 51st and Central Park. M. E. writes: “Given that the destination sign reads “51 – Central Park”, then this picture was taken from the northwest corner of 51st and Cottage Grove Ave., looking south. The 51st St. line’s eastern terminal was actually at 55th St. and the Illinois Central railroad at Lake Park Ave. From there, the route headed west on 55th to Cottage Grove Ave., north to 51st St., and west on 51st St. So the car in this picture is making the turn from northbound Cottage Grove to westbound 51st.” On the other hand, Graham Garfield writes, “Note the sign on the light pole that says “4A”. Illinois route 4A was a state highway from Joliet to downtown Chicago via Archer Ave. until 1967. Based on buildings in the background that are still extant, the angled street here is Archer and the car is deadheading from Archer carbarn (where the #51 was out of) to 51st St to start its run. We are looking northeast at Archer/Kedzie.”
CTA 5444 is one of two cars at Racine and 87th Street. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 3091 is signed for Elston and Lawrence. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 3319, southbound on Damen. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Daniel Joseph writes, “Probably Damen & 59th looking north at viaduct on the 5800 block.”
CSL 133 is signed for 75th and Lake Park. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Daniel Joseph adds, “Probably 75th & Constance at the now abandoned B & O crossing.”
CSL 3010 is signed for Elston-Downtown. Bill Wasik adds, “Shapotkin 294 shows the 4700 block of Elston Ave. looking north toward Lawrence Ave. The photo likely was taken in 1946-47. The large three-story commercial building seen in the distance behind the Drewrys billboard was part of the Bankers Life complex. Demolished in the 1990s, it was replaced by an apartment complex for seniors. Most of the other buildings in this scene are still standing.”
CSL 2619 is on the Brandon-Brainard line on the far reaches of Chicago’s south side. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 3303 is eastbound on Montrose, having just crossed under the Chicago & North Western and the Ravenswood “L”.
CSL 498 and 3085. I am unable to see the route signs, but at least we can tell this picture was taken in the 34th Ward. 498 is signed to go to North Western Station, which was a sign used on Milwaukee Avenue cars. Michael Franklin says we are “looking at the NW corner of Armitage & California.”
CSL 5505 is on Through Route 8, (Halsted) signed to run to Vincennes and 88th. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Bill Shapotkin adds: “Car #5505, working a S/B trip on Chicago Surface Lines (CSL — a CTA predecessor) Rt #8 — HALSTED is seen turning from E/B Division into S/B Crosby St on Chicago’s North Side in this undated photo. View looks N/W. Normally cars would operate in Halsted all the way from Waveland Ave (3700 North) south to 86th St (as the south end-of-line was until December 4, 1949, 111th/Sacramento). Over the years, the moveable bridge over the North Branch of the Chicago River was out-of-service for repairs. Any time that happened, HALSTED cars (and later buses) detoured around the out-of-service bridge by operating E/B Division-S/B Crosby-Larrabee-W/B Chicago (or the reverse for N/B cars or buses). This car is taking that long-standing detour. The matter of the cantankerous bridge was finally resolved when it was replaced by a fixed (i.e.: non-moveable) bridge — believe in the 1990s. My sincerest thanks to Andre Kristopans, who assisted in identifying the photo location.”
CSL 2595 is on the 87th Street route, possibly prior to the extension of this line in 1937, which was the final streetcar extension in Chicago.
CSL 5083 is signed for Pitney and Archer. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 5130, signed for 31st and Lake Park, appears to be eastbound on 31st, having just passed the South Side “L”. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1145. (Robert W. Gibson Photo)
CTA snow plow E-207. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
This is actually a picture of CTA 225 at Dearborn and Kinzie, on a December 18, 1955 fantrip, where it was disguised as 144 with a piece of oilcloth. The story goes that Maury Klebolt, who organized this trip, had advertised that car 144 would be used, and for some reason, it was not available that day. 225 was later sold to the Seashore Trolley Museum, where it remains today, while 144 is at the Illinois Railway Museum.
CTA 225 at Clark and Cermak on a February 16, 1957 Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip.
CTA 144 at 81st and Emerald on the final Chicago streetcar fantrip on June 15, 1958.
Chicago Aurora & Elgin wood car 318. Don’s Rail Photos: “318 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It had steel sheating and was modernized in 1944. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society in 1962. It was wrecked in transit and the parts were sold to IRM to restore 321.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CA&E 10. Don’s Rail Photos: “10 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was rebuilt with a baggage compartment in 1910. It was later removed, but then reinstalled in April 1933 for funeral service. It was wrecked September 10, 1948, and scrapped.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CA&E 455 at the front of a Chicago Limited. Not sure what the workers at left are doing.
CA&E electric loco 2002 is at left. I can’t make out the numbers on the steel cars at left.
CA&E 48 at left, with 315 at right. Can this be Wheaton? Don’s Rail Photos: “315 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in 1909, #404. It was modernized at an unknown date and sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1962.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CA&E 320 at an unknown location. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CA&E 410 heads up a two-car train in Wheaton.
CA&E 409 at the Wheaton Shops.
CA&E 452 leads an Aurora-Batavia Limited.
Not sure where this is. Could it be Wheaton? Dann Chamberlin: “Yes, it is. The Wheaton yard and shops are to the rear of the photographer. The photo looks east towards downtown Wheaton. Note the tower of the DuPage County courthouse in the right-rear of the photo.”
CA&E 458 heads up a Wheaton local. Not sure where this is. Dann Chamberlin: “The train has just left the Main Street Glen Ellyn stop headed west towards Wheaton. The Main Street gate tower can be seen in the left-rear of the photo. To the right of 458 one can make out the tower of today’s Glen Ellyn Civic Center. I attended junior high school in that building!”
CA&E 459 at the front of a two-car train. Could this be Wheaton? Dann Chamberlin: “Again, yes it is. The photo looks like it could have been taken from the dispatcher’s tower. That’s the ever-present DuPage County courthouse tower in the background.”
A CA&E train of woods, headed up by car 26, at an undetermined location.
A CA&E freight train is on a siding while a regular train passes.
CA&E 460 heads up a two-car train in (I think) Maywood.
CA&E 427 is westbound at ground-level “L” station at Oak Park Avenue. The view looks northeast.
CA&E 452 and 454 at the DesPlaines Avenue terminal in Forest Park, between 1953 and 1957.
CA&E 411 heads up a westbound train on the Garfield Park “L”.
We previously ran a different version of this photo of CA&E 315 in a different post, where it was credited to Joe L. Diaz. The location appears to be somewhere between Western and Paulina on the Garfield Park “L”.
CA&E 317. (Heier Industrial Photo)
Our Latest Book, Now Available for Pre-Order:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Arcadia Publishing will release our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s on July 12, 2021. Reserve your copy today!
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
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A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
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As we once again celebrate the holiday season, we all have many reasons to be thankful, including each other. I regret to inform you, if you have not already heard, of the recent passing of noted Canadian railfan historian and photographer John F. Bromley, who died on December 1st after a short illness. I believe he was about 80.
Mr. Bromley was a giant among Canadian railfans, and it is fair to say he was the preeminent historian of Toronto traction, for perhaps the last 50 years.
He authored TTC ’28: The Electric Railway Services of the Toronto Transportation Commission in 1928, published by Upper Canada Railway Society, Toronto (1979), and Fifty Years of Progressive Transit – A History of the Toronto Transit Commission, (with Jack May), published by the Electric Railroaders’ Association (1978). While these are both long out of print, you should have no difficulty in finding them on the used market.
In addition to being a friend of this blog, Mr. Bromley contributed to the various railfan books that I have worked on, including Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-58 (CERA Bulletin 146), Chicago Trolleys, and Building Chicago’s Subways. Besides his own photographs, which are excellent, he had an extensive collection of many others, including some rare original 1942 Kodachrome slides of the Chicago Surface Lines. Those would be, as far as I know, among the very earliest color CSL images of any kind. Unfortunately, the name of the photographer is not known.
John Bromley specialized in night photography, as you will see in the tribute below, created by Bill Volkmer. This was oriiginally made as a PDF slideshow, and if you want, you can still view it that way here, but since not everyone would be able to see it, I have separated it out into images. We thank Mr. Volkmer for making this tribute, and for sharing it with our readers.
We follow after that with a selection of images from the John F. Bromley Collection that have previously appeared here.
We also have additional contributions from noted Milwaukee historian Larry Sakar, William Shapotkin, and a few recent finds of our own. We thank all our contributors.
CSL 4010 and 4035 in experimental paint at the Madison-Austin loop on November 24, 1945. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 7027 is southbound at Dearborn and Monroe, the east end of route 20 Madison, in June 1946. (Ohio Brass Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 4400 southbound on Clark at Arthur, August 15, 1956. (John F. Bromley Photo, M. D. McCarter Collection)
CTA 7208 southbound on Clark at Van Buren, a view from the Loop “L”, on August 15, 1956. (John F. Bromley Photo, M. D. McCarter Collection)
CTA 4218 at State and 95th on April 4, 1948 (route 36 – Broadway-State). (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 4039 at Madison and Austin on June 30, 1946. (Barney Neuburger Collection, Courtesy of John F. Bromley)
CSL 4051 at the Madison and Austin loop on February 22, 1942. This car had previously been modified with an experimental door arrangement later used on the 600 postwar Chicago PCCs. By the time this picture was taken, it had been partially returned to its original configuration. As John Bromley notes, “The car is not yet fully restored after the rear entrance experiment. It’s missing one front door and is thus in a hybrid state.” (James J. Buckley Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
CTA 818 by the Park Theatre at Lake and Austin on August 13, 1948. I don’t believe the movie theatre stayed open much later than this. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT 155 on private right-of-way west of the Brookfield Zoo on April 11, 1948, on the CERA “day after abandonment” fantrip. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT at 52nd and 36th on February 28, 1938. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT 119 on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT 138 at the Brookfield Zoo on July 22, 1938, on the busy LaGrange line. The zoo first opened in 1934. Within a year or two, all West Towns streetcars would be repainted blue. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT 15 on DesPlaines Avenue on April 11, 1948. The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip, held the day after West Towns streetcar service came to an end. Note one of the distinctive C&WT shelters at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection)
C&WT line car 15 at Harlem and Cermak on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 1933 at Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive on May 12, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 6034 is at Kedzie and Bryn Mawr, the north end of route 17, on April 16, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 3217 is on route 73 – Armitage on July 1, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection) Andre Kristopans: “EB passing Mozart Park at Armitage and Avers.”
CSL 3212 heads up the line-up at Archer Station (car house) on October 16, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 2802 is on Anthony Avenue at Commercial Avenue in this July 13, 1941 photo. Note the Pennsylvania Railroad station at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection) Bob Laich: “The building immediately behind CSL 2802 on Anthony Avenue was PRR’s South Chicago freight station, which was built at street level. The platform for the South Chicago passenger station can be seen on the elevation in the right background.” Andre Kristopans adds, “something odd here – note “Special” sign in front window. Appears to be a charter waiting for its party off the PRR.” This must be Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip #35, which used this car on that date.
CTA 3266 at 71st and California on the 67-69-71 route on May 29, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 6236 at 71st and California on the 67-69-71 route on May 29, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 5508 at 79th and Western on May 29, 1949. That looks like a 1948-50 Packard at left, which some have nicknamed the “pregnant elephant” styling. We can catch a glimpse of the nearby CTA turnback loop for route 49 – Western at right. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL Pullman 677 on the outer end of Milwaukee Avenue on March 4, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection) Andre Kristopans: “677 – Most likely on Milwaukee north of Central where many cars turned back. Originally turnback point was Gale St, right where Jefferson Park terminal now is, but later was moved to Central.”
CSL Pullman 696 at the Museum Loop in Grant Park in April 1940. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL Pullman 431 on Cicero Avenue, February 22, 1940. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA Sedan 3377, showing the original door configuration, southbound on Cottage Grove at 95th Street on May 6, 1951. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA Sedans (Peter Witts) 3360 and 3347 are shown here at south Shops in 1952, having been converted to one-man with the removal of some center doors. There were 25 cars so modified, but as far as I know, only one ran in service in this setup. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
Prewar CTA PCC 7020, now converted to one-man operation, is southbound at Western and Maypole in May 1956, about a month before the end of streetcar service on route 49. The prewar cars were used for 364 days on this line. In the back, that is the Lake Street “L”, which, oddly enough, does not have a stop on this busy street. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 4409 and 4390 at the beautifully landscaped Western-Berwyn loop on May 13, 1950. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
Pullman-built CTA PCC 4148 southbound at Clark and Thome on May 13, 1950. That is a safety island at right, to protect passengers from errant vehicles. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)
Chicago Surface Lines Brill car 6072 at Kedzie Station on January 28, 1942. (John F. Bromley Collection) I believe this car was built in 1914. You can see part of a Sedan in the background. These were used for fill-in service on Madison along with the prewar PCCs.
Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947. The sign on the front of the car indicates this was on through route 8. According to http://www.chicagrailfan.com, “Various Through Route combinations existed throughout the early history of this route. Original Through Route operated between Grace/Halsted and 63rd/Stony Island via Halsted and 63rd St. Beginning in 1912, some Halsted service, mainly route 42 Halsted-Downtown service, began operating south of 79th St. via Vincennes and 111th St. to Sacramento, over what now is the 112 route. While for most of through service continuing north on Halsted, the south terminal remained 79th St. Effective 5/24/31, the through Halsted service generally turned around at 111th/Sacramento, with the downtown service generally turning at 79th St. Through service south of 79th St. discontinued 12/4/49, when segment south of 79th St. was converted to buses.” (John F. Bromley Collection) Our resident South Side expert M. E. adds, “The caption begins: “Chicago Surface Lines 5241 on 111th Street near Vincennes on August 3, 1947.” Not quite. 111th St. approaches Vincennes Ave. only from the east. The car line on 111th St. was not route 8. Instead, route 8 was on Vincennes. Vincennes Ave. continued south of 111th one block to Monterey Ave., whereupon route 8 cars turned right onto Monterey, then about three blocks later, onto 111th St. heading west. (To see all this on a map, use maps.google.com and plug in ‘60643 post office’.) As for the photo, I’d say this car is on Vincennes, heading south, anywhere between 109th and Monterey. I say 109th because route 8 left its private right-of-way (which started at 89th St.) at 107th St. and ran south from 107th on the street.”
The picture above has sparked some controversy over where it was taken. Here is some additional correspondence from John Habermaas:
Merry Christmas… thanks for posting another treasure trove of Surface Lines photos. I am reasonably sure the photo of the Halsted car shown at 111th and Vincennes is on 111th east of Vincennes. Surface Lines parked trippers on 111th to operate to Sacramento to accommodate (the) rush of students from nearby Morgan Park High’s afternoon dismissal. Since the east 111th route was an early abandonment, I suspect the tracks east of that point were no longer used.
Often saw cars parked on this short section laying over until they were needed…often as trippers intended to run westbound to Sacramento. It was a long time ago so I could wrong about this car. The route on 111th between Cottage Grove and Vincennes was discontinued by the Surface Lines in SEP ’45 very likely because much of it was single track and though (it) had light usage, required a two man crew due the many RR grade crossings.
When I was in elementary school I often went to watch the cars climb the 111th street hill. Once in which awhile a HS prankster would reach out the rear window if was opened and pull the trolley rope to de-wire the pole stalling the car on the hill. Most of the Brills apparently could not restart the ascent up the hill, and would have to back down the hill to Longwood Drive for a fresh start, with I suspect the conductor guarding the window.
David took a closer look at picture, this car is definitely parked on the short section of active track between Vincennes and the Rock Island mainline. If you look closely you can see the gates at the crossing for the Rock Island mainline (not to be confused with the Rock Island suburban branch which the route 8 cars cross Hale… looks much different as the line made a jog from Monterey to W 111th).
Most of M. E.’s comments about the Halsted route are correct, except for his guess about the location of the streetcar. It is on 111th Street east of Vincennes. He may not be aware of the Surfaces Line’s practice using portion of the abandoned 111th Street line as layover point. I do remember seeing streetcars positioned there. The line on Vincennes was originally built by the C&IT (Chicago and Interurban Traction) which had (a) carbarn at 88th and Vincennes. That early traction ordinance made them divest their property within the city. The CSL used the 88th street carbarn for dead storage, until streetcar service on Halsted was abandoned south of 79th. The portion of the line west of Vincennes on Monterey and 111th was a branch line built to serve the cemeteries at 111th and Sacranento.
I am impressed with John Bromley’s photos. You can see, from these blow ups, the quality of his photos and how detailed it is. The one photo shows that the car is just standing with no motorman at the controls. The second shoes the stretch behind the car and you can clearly make out the Rock Island RR crossing gates. The location is definitely 111th east of Vincennes as John captioned it.
Thank you for sharing your excellent insights.
This picture of CTA one-man car 3236, taken on January 14, 1950 shows it crossing Maplewood Avenue on what is obviously an east-west trolley line. John F. Bromley, who sold me this negative, was unsure of the location. Jeff Wien writes, “I would guess that it is at 71st & Maplewood. Bill Hoffman lived all of his life at 6664 S. Maplewood which was a half mile north. Maplewood is a block or two west of Western. Route 67 covered 67th, 69th and 71st as far west as California (2800). Maplewood is around 2600 West. Check out the streets to see if I am correct. The one man cars were used on route 67.” Looks like Jeff is correct, as further research shows that the house at left is still standing at 7053 S. Maplewood.
John sent me this picture last year, but I didn’t get around to using it until now.
You might be interested in this, pulled off the Internet. Original caption noted this as ”Bronzeville”. CSL April 1941 47th ST looking west.
Here’s a little bit of a mix of things for The Trolley Dodger if you’re interested. First, in keeping with the season here is a picture taken at the corner of N. 4th St. and W. Wisconsin Ave. ca. Xmas 1927. The photographer is facing northeast. The letters “RA” at the bottom of that large sign across the street (NE corner of 4th & Wisconsin) are the last two in the name “Alhambra”. The Alhambra was a movie theater that stood until about 1960 on the northeast corner of 4th & Wisconsin. Directly across the street as you can see was the Boston Store Dept. store. The building is still there but Boston Store went out of business either late last year or earlier this year. For anyone who ever shopped at Carson’s in Chicago, Boston Store was identical. At one time both were owned by P.A. Bergner Co. Note the TM 600 series car westbound on Wisconsin Ave. running on Rt. 12w – 12th St. Brouwer’s next door to the theater was a shoe company one of many shoe stores in downtown like Thom Mc Cann and Packard-Rellin. To the best of my knowledge they, like the movie theaters are now gone.
We know this has to be 1927 or later because of the movie playing at the Alhambra. “Swim Girl Swim” starring Bebe Daniels (1901-1971) was released in 1927. It was a silent movie. Ms.. Daniels was both a star of silent films and talkies. Her biography says she even made a few television appearances. The “Center” destination on the 600 is a bit curious. Rt. 12 streetcars ran all the way to N. Holton & E. Richards Sts. Perhaps it was short turning for some reason. The decorations atop the Boston Store marquee tell us this is Christmas season. Today, the Henry Reuss Federal Plaza occupies the entire north side of Wisconsin Ave. from N. 3rd to N. 4th Sts. Its blue exterior has earned it the nickname “Blue Whale.”
Now for two photographs I call “Foolers.” They’re not where their destination sign says they are. Both of these were real head-scratchers, until I finally determined where they are. The photo of car 651 with TM shorthand of WAU co BLDGS” and a route 10 in the route sign box made me think this was somewhere near the Muirdale Sanitorium (for patients with TB) which was served by Rt. 10 streetcars continuing west from the Harwood Ave. terminal in the heart of the Wauwatosa Village to the Sanitorium in Muirdale. This was out on Watertown Plank Rd. Service west of Harwood Ave. was converted to buses in 1937. WAU CO BLDGS meant Wauwatosa County Buildings. The former Sanitorium still stands today on Research Drive in the Milwaukee County Research Park adjacent to the massive Froedtert Hospital Campus. It is presently used as an office building. Dave Stanley helped me figure out where this really is. The car is laying over at S. 84th & W. Lapham Ave., the west end of RT 19. In all probability the photographer (unknown) talked the motorman into rolling up that sign which hadn’t been used in years. The last 600s ended service in early 1949 except for 607, which was saved by the Railroad Historical Foundation also known as the “607 Gang.” It is often seen in photographs amid the surplus ex TM 1100s stored on the tracks leading into the never completed Rapid Transit subway ca.1949-51 In 1952, The RHF received notice from Hyman-Michaels Scrap Co. that the car had to be removed from the Speedrail property or it would be scrapped. With all of the RHF members save one having been drafted (Korean War) there was nowhere to go with the streetcar, so it was sold to HM for scrap.
When I received the photo of car 943 I couldn’t figure out where the car was on 35th St. Rt 35 was the 35th St route. The 35th St. destination in the sign below the roof route sign made zero sense. If it was a northbound car the destination would say either Burleigh or Fond du lac as the tri-intersection of N. 35th , W. Burleigh St. and W. Fond du lac Ave. was the northern terminus (the west side of Fond du lac car station). If it was southbound the destination would be Mt. Vernon Ave. (the last street before heading across the 35th St. viaduct which streetcars never crossed). Upon closer examination I realized just where this is and what it is. It’s a TM publicity photo. Car 943 is westbound on W. Michigan St. between N. 3rd and N. 4th Sts. The “crowd” waiting to board are TM employees doubtlessly recruited from the Public Service Building out of the picture to the right of 943 . Now take a closer look between the “Front Entrance Safety Car” sign on 943’s right front dash and the “crowd”. This was obviously a time exposure. You see a “ghosted” 1100 series interurban probably headed into the PSB from Sheboygan. or perhaps headed the opposite way. It’s hard to tell.
Recently, I sent you a picture of Al Buetschle, who saved TM 978, holding up pieces from the shattered car 39 . This was at the site of the 9-2-50 fatal head-on collision post abandonment. Here are two more photos. In the first one Al holds up a roof ventilator and another piece of the shattered lightweight duplex. Car 1192 (duplex 1192-93) plowed thru 3/4ths of car 39 before stopping. Duplex 39-40 was so badly damaged that both were shoved off the r.o.w. into the drainage ditch along the east side of the r.o.w. The late Lew Martin, a member of the RHF, snapped this photo of people milling around in the wreckage of car 39. This is followed by a shot of duplex 45-46 enroute Hales Corners at the accident site some time later. I believe Lew Martin also took this photo. In addition to Al with the roof ventilator we see his friend Lee Bremer holding up one of the door panels from car 39. Neither of them owned a car in 1952 so taking the door home with them was not an option. It would have been a bit clumsy to haul on a Transport Co. bus!
I also recently sent a photo of the Port Washington station as it looked in service and in 1983. Here is a much better photo showing KMCL D3 (formerly D23) on the loop with the station at the left. The photo is from the Don Ross collection. In 1983 the QWIK Cement Co. and just about everything else that surrounded the loop was gone replaced by a Wisconsin Telephone Co. bldg. The former station did not appear to be in use.
Unfortunately, it appears that Al Buetschle passed away sometime in 2018. He was probably in his mid-80s.
Here are two more photos of the 978. The first one is an Ed Wilson photo. I am guessing this is sometime in the 1940s. The location is East Wisconsin Ave near N. Van Buren St. The building with the tall columns rising above 978 is the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. headquarters. The C&NW lakefront depot would be behind the photographer photo left one block east. Unfortunately, Milwaukee could not see fit to save it, just as they couldn’t with the Milwaukee Road Everett St. station and the North Shore station. I believe it was author Jim Scribbins who said in one of his books, “Milwaukee does not practice urban renewal. In Milwaukee it’s urban removal!”
One thing seen in this photo is rather odd. Rt. 13-Clybourn-Michigan never ran 900 series cars. The ex-Racine city cars renumbered into the 750 series and the 800s were the cars that saw service on Rt. 13. Rt. 13 was an early victim of bustitution as I like to call it being converted to trolley bus on 9-14-41. The route was discontinued by MCTS several years ago due to lack of riders.
The second photo of the 978 was taken by the late Ernie Maragos of Racine, WI in the summer of 1957. Among newsworthy events that year the then Milwaukee Braves won the World Series. It would be the last summer for Milwaukee streetcars. In Ernie’s picture 978 has just crossed the Wells St. bridge over the Milwaukee River, and will soon stop for N. Water St. If Ernie had turned to his right you would be seeing the Oneida St. WEPCO power plant and the west end of the famous Pabst Theatre. Oneida St. was the original name of Wells St. and was named for the Native American tribe that lived in the area before Milwaukee became a city in 1850. The Power Plant was decommissioned some time ago and is now a theatre, like the Pabst next door presenting live stage performances. I believe they call it the “Powerhouse Theatre.”
When it comes to colossal mistakes the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Company (which bought out TMER&T in late 1952) decided to move a group of surplus streetcars to the stadium spur in Calvary Cemetery cut in the winter of 1955-56. The cars were surplus, because by this time only two or three streetcar lines remained. Space needed to be created for new incoming GM Diesel buses. This was not a scrap line. The cars were stored here for lack of someplace better The photo of car 925 taken by TM interurban motorman Ed Wilson shows what happened. Vandals took full advantage. Note the holes in 925’s front window made by rocks probably taken from track ballast on the streetcar tracks. The spur had been laid on the abandoned Rapid Transit Line r.o.w. in 1953.
Al Buetschle, who saved car 978, recalled that one day while riding a RT. 10 Wells-West Allis streetcar through the cut he saw Transport Company employees laying ballast and rails where the Rapid Transit tracks had been just a year earlier. As he tells it, he immediately got off at the Hawley Rd. station (seen in back of the 925) and walked down the r.o.w. to where the construction crew was working. He thought that the Rapid Transit might be coming back but no such luck. The crew informed him that this was to be a new storage track for streetcars serving County Stadium about one-half mile east. When streetcar service ended on March 1, 1958 the spur was no longer needed and the tracks were taken up in May.
One other thing of note in Ed Wilson’s picture. The covered stairs leading up to the Hawley Rd. overpass were unique to this stop. The Calvary Cemetery cut was part of Phase 3 of the city of Milwaukee Rapid Transit project. This phase was known as the Fairview Ave. grade separation project, which removed streetcar and interurbans from street running on Fairview Ave. between 60th and 68th Sts. and placed them on a magnificent 4-track private right-of-way parallel to Fairview Ave. Streetcars stopped at Hawley Rd. 60th St., 62nd St., 65th St. and then descended to street level approaching 68th St. Rapid Transit trains stopped only at 68th St. Streetcars continued across 68th and turned south beneath the 68th St. station overpass, which was actually closer to 69th St. Upon going under the bridge they once again turned west for 1-1/2 blocs to S. 70th St. which they paralleled on a private right-of-way next to S. 70th St. The Wells-West Allis branch terminated at the intersection of S. 70th St. and W. Greenfield Ave. adjacent to the Allis Chalmers Co. Today both the streetcars and the Allis Chalmers Co. plant are gone.