Old and Improved

The view of the Lake Street "L", looking northwest at Paulina on October 20, 1953. The station that is partly visible was called Lake Street Transfer, and had not been used since 1951. Meanwhile, there is new steel added to the "L" structure here to create a new connection with the old Met "L". This was used by Douglas Park trains from 1954-58, and Pink Line trains today. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view of the Lake Street “L”, looking northwest at Paulina on October 20, 1953.
The station that is partly visible was called Lake Street Transfer, and had not been used since 1951. Meanwhile, there is new steel added to the “L” structure here to create a new connection with the old Met “L”.
This was used by Douglas Park trains from 1954-58, and Pink Line trains today. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

Life is full of things that are touted as new and improved, but today we present some things that are both old and improved– images made better through use of today’s improved technology.

Some railfans remain wedded to film technology and are suspicious of digital. Often, they say that a film image is permanent, while a digital image is not– that is represents something intangible, while a 35mm slide is something you can hold in your hand.

While it would be wonderful if film images were permanent, especially color images, after scanning tens of thousands of them, I can assure you that such is not the case. Nearly all vintage color slides show some evidence of fading over time, even Kodachrome slides. In addition, they can be scratched, become dirty, lost, or damaged.

Digital has other important advantages– you can see the picture right away, so there is a much shorter learning curve, and once you have the camera, there is no need to buy film, which can be expensive.

Earlier this year I became the custodian of my late friend Jeff Wien‘s image collection, which included those taken by the late William C. Hoffman. Some of the Hoffman slides have been circulating for many years in the form of duplicates, many of which are now 25 years old themselves.

A digital image will look the same 100 years from now as it does today. It won’t get scratched, fingerprinted, or fade over time. It can be copied numerous times, and each copy will be an exact replica of the original, perfect in every detail. On the other hand, when a slide is copied by conventional means, there is always a loss of quality with each succeeding generation.

When taken by a high quality digital camera, in general your results will also be better than with a film camera today. Chances are it will be sharper and have better color.

It will take a long time to digitize the original Hoffman slides and others now in my collection. But I have worked on some. Each of the original slides I have scanned has improved sharpness over the duplicates, but in one or two instances, I have been unable to improve the color, because the original has continued to fade or color shift in the 25 years or more since the duplicates were made. This was most evident in early Ektachrome slides from the late 1950s to early 60s, which are known for having unstable dyes.

Many of these have color shifted to red. What actually has happened is the dyes that are not red have faded badly.

This was a problem that Kodak worked quickly to solve more than 55 years ago, and should not make you concerned about the color films available today.

One of my goals is to share definitive versions of the Hoffman slides, that I hope will stand the test of time, preserving their important historical information for future generations to come.

We also have many other recent photo finds to share today, and others from the collections of William Shapotkin.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

The Chicago Surface Lines put the first of 83 prewar PCCs into service in November 1936, and all ended service in June 1956 on Route 49 - Western. This picture, showing 4004 loaded onto a flat car, with the trucks and pole removed, was probably taken in either late 1956 or early 1957, when the car was taken from South Shops to a local scrapyard.

The Chicago Surface Lines put the first of 83 prewar PCCs into service in November 1936, and all ended service in June 1956 on Route 49 – Western. This picture, showing 4004 loaded onto a flat car, with the trucks and pole removed, was probably taken in either late 1956 or early 1957, when the car was taken from South Shops to a local scrapyard.

We received no information with this medium format negative, but it shows Washington, D.C. streetcar 1557 and one other near the Capitol Building in the early 1950s. The last DC streetcar (of its original era) ran in 1962, but a new line has since started.

We received no information with this medium format negative, but it shows Washington, D.C. streetcar 1557 and one other near the Capitol Building in the early 1950s. The last DC streetcar (of its original era) ran in 1962, but a new line has since started.

A close-up of 1557, showing it was signed for the Cabin John line.

A close-up of 1557, showing it was signed for the Cabin John line.

One of the two North Shore Line Electroliners on its February 8, 1941 inaugural trip. This image is taken from the original negative. The location is Harmswoods.

One of the two North Shore Line Electroliners on its February 8, 1941 inaugural trip. This image is taken from the original negative. The location is Harmswoods.

NSL freight loco 459 at work.

NSL freight loco 459 at work.

An Electroliner at the Milwaukee Terminal, possibly circa 1942-46.

An Electroliner at the Milwaukee Terminal, possibly circa 1942-46.

The view looking east along the Metropolitan "L" at Marshfield on June 6, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view looking east along the Metropolitan “L” at Marshfield on June 6, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The "L" and bridge on this portion of the Jackson Park branch has since been cut back to Cottage Grove. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

North Shore Line car 251 crosses the CTA bridge over the Illinois Central tracks on May 15, 1960 on a fantrip. North Shore Line cars had traveled here as late as 1938 before they terminated at Roosevelt Road instead.
The old Tower Theater is visible at left.
The “L” and bridge on this portion of the Jackson Park branch has since been cut back to Cottage Grove. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On May 15, 1960, a northbound CTA Jackson Park train is at 61st Street, while North Shore Line car 251, at left, is on a fantrip, running to places where NSL cars had not been since 1938. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On May 15, 1960, a northbound CTA Jackson Park train is at 61st Street, while North Shore Line car 251, at left, is on a fantrip, running to places where NSL cars had not been since 1938. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

Carl Edward Hedstrom Jr. (1918-2009) congratulating Carl Edward Hedstrom Sr. (1889-1978) on his retirement as a South Shore Line engineer in Michigan City, Indiana on October 30, 1960. Senior worked for the railroad from 1921 to 1960, while Junior also worked as a motorman there from 1939 to 1983. (Michigan City News Dispatch Photo)

Carl Edward Hedstrom Jr. (1918-2009) congratulating Carl Edward Hedstrom Sr. (1889-1978) on his retirement as a South Shore Line engineer in Michigan City, Indiana on October 30, 1960. Senior worked for the railroad from 1921 to 1960, while Junior also worked as a motorman there from 1939 to 1983. (Michigan City News Dispatch Photo)

South Shore Line #100 at Van Buren Street, bound for South Bend.

South Shore Line #100 at Van Buren Street, bound for South Bend.

An unidentified South Shore engineer.

An unidentified South Shore engineer.

South Shore Line coach #5 at Randolph Street Station in Chicago, Illinois on April 20, 1949. The motorman is Carl Edward Hedstrom, Sr. (Carl Edward Hedstrom, Jr. Photo)

South Shore Line coach #5 at Randolph Street Station in Chicago, Illinois on April 20, 1949. The motorman is Carl Edward Hedstrom, Sr. (Carl Edward Hedstrom, Jr. Photo)

A South Shore Line float in a Michigan City parade.

A South Shore Line float in a Michigan City parade.

South Shore Line dispatcher Al Kams.

South Shore Line dispatcher Al Kams.

A pair of 4000s are departing from the old Randolph and Wabash "L" station on the Loop. The picture isn't older than 1959, as the Sun-Times/Daily News Building is in the background. It could be dated further, depending on whether those cars still have their trolley poles, which I think they do. Those were only needed until 1962. The 4000s were replaced by 2000s on Lake Street starting in 1964. Until 1969, the Loop was unidirectional, running counterclockwise, so these cars are heading away from us.

A pair of 4000s are departing from the old Randolph and Wabash “L” station on the Loop. The picture isn’t older than 1959, as the Sun-Times/Daily News Building is in the background. It could be dated further, depending on whether those cars still have their trolley poles, which I think they do. Those were only needed until 1962. The 4000s were replaced by 2000s on Lake Street starting in 1964. Until 1969, the Loop was unidirectional, running counterclockwise, so these cars are heading away from us.

CTA red Pullman 144, which is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Not sure whether this photo was taken during a 1950s fantrip, as so many other pictures were. Mike Franklin: "Heading west on Kinzie Street just west of Dearborn. Tribune Building in the distance."

CTA red Pullman 144, which is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Not sure whether this photo was taken during a 1950s fantrip, as so many other pictures were. Mike Franklin: “Heading west on Kinzie Street just west of Dearborn. Tribune Building in the distance.”

CTA 3146 at Marion Street in Oak Park, running on the (then) ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L". Don's Rail Photos: "3146 was built by St. Louis Car in 1901 as LSERR 146. It was renumbered 3146 in 1913 and became CRT 3146 in 1923."

CTA 3146 at Marion Street in Oak Park, running on the (then) ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”. Don’s Rail Photos: “3146 was built by St. Louis Car in 1901 as LSERR 146. It was renumbered 3146 in 1913 and became CRT 3146 in 1923.”

This looks like a Met "L" line, but which one? The sign on the train is too fuzzy to read, but I can make out the word "Park," which narrows it down to Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, or Douglas Park, and excludes Logan Square. Daniel Joseph: "My guess (is) this is at Independence Boulevard with the Garfield Park station in the background."

This looks like a Met “L” line, but which one? The sign on the train is too fuzzy to read, but I can make out the word “Park,” which narrows it down to Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, or Douglas Park, and excludes Logan Square. Daniel Joseph: “My guess (is) this is at Independence Boulevard with the Garfield Park station in the background.”

This is the old Ogden Avenue station on the Garfield Park "L", on August 22, 1953. This station closed on September 27 and the structure here was demolished soon thereafter. Garfield trains were temporarily relocated to run on ground level in Van Buren Street.

This is the old Ogden Avenue station on the Garfield Park “L”, on August 22, 1953. This station closed on September 27 and the structure here was demolished soon thereafter. Garfield trains were temporarily relocated to run on ground level in Van Buren Street.

6000s at Chicago Avenue on the Ravenswood.

6000s at Chicago Avenue on the Ravenswood.

From the Collections of William Shapotkin

On March 25, 1962, NSL cars 771, 415, 753, and 251 are on a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip at the Isabella station in Evanston, where no North Shore cars had been since the Shore Line Route was abandoned in 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On March 25, 1962, NSL cars 771, 415, 753, and 251 are on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip at the Isabella station in Evanston, where no North Shore cars had been since the Shore Line Route was abandoned in 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 1266, when it was being used as a salt car.(William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 1266, when it was being used as a salt car.(William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 205 is on Route 6, and is apparently westbound, heading to Van Buren and Kedzie. Streetcars were replaced by buses on this route in 1951, and from 1953-58, Garfield Park "L" trains ran on Van Buren, between Sacramento Boulevard and Aberdeen (William Shapotkin Collection) Daniel Joseph adds: "My uneducated guess this may be at Kedzie and Douglas with a #12-Roosevelt heading to the car barn. Note the divided boulevard with a parkway and West Side Park District street lamps. But I do not see a traffic signal for the part of the boulevard traveling to the left. If that street is not part of the boulevard, this could be Van Buren and Sacramento." Since the car is signed for Route 6 - Van Buren, I am going to go with Van Buren and Sacramento.

CSL 205 is on Route 6, and is apparently westbound, heading to Van Buren and Kedzie. Streetcars were replaced by buses on this route in 1951, and from 1953-58, Garfield Park “L” trains ran on Van Buren, between Sacramento Boulevard and Aberdeen (William Shapotkin Collection) Daniel Joseph adds: “My uneducated guess this may be at Kedzie and Douglas with a #12-Roosevelt heading to the car barn. Note the divided boulevard with a parkway and West Side Park District street lamps. But I do not see a traffic signal for the part of the boulevard traveling to the left. If that street is not part of the boulevard, this could be Van Buren and Sacramento.” Since the car is signed for Route 6 – Van Buren, I am going to go with Van Buren and Sacramento.

CTA red Pullman 249 on the Kedzie route. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA red Pullman 249 on the Kedzie route.
(William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 3245 is signed for Pershing Road (39th Street). (William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 3245 is signed for Pershing Road (39th Street). (William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 1682 is at Lake and Austin, west end of Route 16, with a West Towns streetcar across the border in suburban Oak Park. The Park Theater, at right, closed around 1952. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 1682 is at Lake and Austin, west end of Route 16, with a West Towns streetcar across the border in suburban Oak Park. The Park Theater, at right, closed around 1952. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 2821, signed to go to 115th and Halsted. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 2821, signed to go to 115th and Halsted.
(William Shapotkin Collection)

The Route 22 streetcar means this is Clark Street, and I believe that's the old Astor Theater at right, so this is Clark and Madison looking south. The film Murder in the Fleet was released in 1935, but from the looks of the autos, this is a few years later, so most likely about 1938. (William Shapotkin Collection)

The Route 22 streetcar means this is Clark Street, and I believe that’s the old Astor Theater at right, so this is Clark and Madison looking south. The film Murder in the Fleet was released in 1935, but from the looks of the autos, this is a few years later, so most likely about 1938. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A nice colorized postcard view of the Met "L" twin bridges over the Chicago River. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A nice colorized postcard view of the Met “L” twin bridges over the Chicago River. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Oddly enough, the Chicago Transit Authority used a CSL bus sign when it extended service to Skokie via Route 97 in 1948. This was CTA's first suburban bus route, and replaced the Niles Center branch of the "L". This picture was taken on June 4, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Oddly enough, the Chicago Transit Authority used a CSL bus sign when it extended service to Skokie via Route 97 in 1948. This was CTA’s first suburban bus route, and replaced the Niles Center branch of the “L”. This picture was taken on June 4, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The view looking north along Michigan Avenue at Madison Street on December 12, 1949, shows no less than four Chicago Motor Coach buses, including a double-decker. The CTA purchased the CMC assets on October 1, 1952. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The view looking north along Michigan Avenue at Madison Street on December 12, 1949, shows no less than four Chicago Motor Coach buses, including a double-decker. The CTA purchased the CMC assets on October 1, 1952. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Washington and Wells, looking east, on June 8, 1950. Milwaukee Avenue buses share the street with a Chicago Motor Coach double-decker. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Washington and Wells, looking east, on June 8, 1950. Milwaukee Avenue buses share the street with a Chicago Motor Coach double-decker. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Washington and Clark on June 8, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Washington and Clark on June 8, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On May 18, 1954, a Route 8 - Halsted streetcar shares wire with a Chicago Avenue trolley bus by the Montgomery Wards complex. We are looking west. The Halsted car is on diversion trackage. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On May 18, 1954, a Route 8 – Halsted streetcar shares wire with a Chicago Avenue trolley bus by the Montgomery Wards complex. We are looking west. The Halsted car is on diversion trackage. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The view looking north along Larrabee Street at Chicago Avenue, by the Montgomery Wards complex. The tower is for switching Milwaukee Road freight trains. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The view looking north along Larrabee Street at Chicago Avenue, by the Montgomery Wards complex. The tower is for switching Milwaukee Road freight trains. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On May 16, 1954, red Pullmans 473 and 479 were used on a fantrip, two weeks before red cars were retired from service and replaced with buses on several routes. Streetcars were able to use trackage here on Irving Park Road in emergencies, since Route 80 had already been converted to use trolley buses.(William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On May 16, 1954, red Pullmans 473 and 479 were used on a fantrip, two weeks before red cars were retired from service and replaced with buses on several routes. Streetcars were able to use trackage here on Irving Park Road in emergencies, since Route 80 had already been converted to use trolley buses.(William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On July 3, 1950, a CTA trolley bus operates on the 51-55 Route on 51st Street near the South Side "L". (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On July 3, 1950, a CTA trolley bus operates on the 51-55 Route on 51st Street near the South Side “L”. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 234 is on Route 51-55 at 51st and Campbell on June 12, 1950, while streetcar tracks here are actually being removed. In most places they were simply paved over. The CTA later renumbered all their trolley buses, with the addition of a "9" before their existing digits. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 234 is on Route 51-55 at 51st and Campbell on June 12, 1950, while streetcar tracks here are actually being removed. In most places they were simply paved over. The CTA later renumbered all their trolley buses, with the addition of a “9” before their existing digits. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The view looking north from the old Loop "L" station at State and Van Buren on July 25, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The view looking north from the old Loop “L” station at State and Van Buren on July 25, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7240 is on State Street at Van Buren, heading south on Route 36. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7240 is on State Street at Van Buren, heading south on Route 36. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7162 turns from south State Street to westbound Polk on April 19, 1956, on the very last piece of new streetcar track built in Chicago. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7162 turns from south State Street to westbound Polk on April 19, 1956, on the very last piece of new streetcar track built in Chicago. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Polk and Dearborn on April 19, 1956. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Polk and Dearborn on April 19, 1956. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Looking north along Dearborn Street on November 26, 1954, after both Clark and Dearborn were converted to one-way streets. The Monadnock Building is at left. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Looking north along Dearborn Street on November 26, 1954, after both Clark and Dearborn were converted to one-way streets. The Monadnock Building is at left. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The off-street loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett on July 1, 1951, used by Route 63 streetcars and the bus that went west of there to Argo-Summit. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The off-street loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett on July 1, 1951, used by Route 63 streetcars and the bus that went west of there to Argo-Summit. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On May 16, 1954, CTA red Pullman 579 is at the Western and 79th turnaround loop on a CERA fantrip. During this period, streetcars were used on Western during weekdays only, so the fantrip cars did not impede regular traffic. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On May 16, 1954, CTA red Pullman 579 is at the Western and 79th turnaround loop on a CERA fantrip. During this period, streetcars were used on Western during weekdays only, so the fantrip cars did not impede regular traffic. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7235 at Western and 41st on August 14, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7235 at Western and 41st on August 14, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Retired CSL bus BW-18 and trolley bus 9186, on the scrap line at South Shops on June 15, 1958. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Retired CSL bus BW-18 and trolley bus 9186, on the scrap line at South Shops on June 15, 1958. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On April 10, 1955, we see various vehicles awaiting scrap at South Shops, including a streetcar trailer in the 8000-series, trolley buses 9114, 9071, and sleet cutter bus BW-108. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On April 10, 1955, we see various vehicles awaiting scrap at South Shops, including a streetcar trailer in the 8000-series, trolley buses 9114, 9071, and sleet cutter bus BW-108. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On October 31, 1954, we see some older trolley buses, including 9114, ready for scrapping at South Shops, along with some red Pullman streetcars. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On October 31, 1954, we see some older trolley buses, including 9114, ready for scrapping at South Shops, along with some red Pullman streetcars. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Kenosha Trip

I recently visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, rode the two-mile trolley there, and sought out the former North Shore Line station. After the interurban was abandoned in 1963, the building became the Spaghetti Station for some years, and is now a school. Additions have been added to the north and west sides. Trains did not run in the side street here, but behind the part of the building that is visible now.

A Sign of the Times

This sign from the Poplar Avenue station in Elmhurst on the Chicago Aurora & Elgin, recently sold on eBay for $1424. Yes, that is a lot of money, but it is also an expression of its historical importance. Note the expert brush work, done by hand. Hopefully the sign will eventually make its way to a museum for the benefit of all.

Did Not Win

Resources are always limited, and for every image we are the successful bidders on, there are others that slip through our fingers. Here are a few that fell into the latter category.

I am not sure just where this picture was taken, showing a westbound four-car train of CA&E woods, headed up by 317. The C&NW is at left. Guesses have so far included Glen Ellyn, Lombard, and Wheaton.

I am not sure just where this picture was taken, showing a westbound four-car train of CA&E woods, headed up by 317. The C&NW is at left. Guesses have so far included Glen Ellyn, Lombard, and Wheaton.

Two Electroliners meet in Waukegan by William D. Volkmer, 1/16/60.

Two Electroliners meet in Waukegan by William D. Volkmer, 1/16/60.

Dempster Street, Skokie 1/16/60, photographer unknown (probably also taken by William D. Volkmer, it just wasn't marked as such).

Dempster Street, Skokie 1/16/60, photographer unknown (probably also taken by William D. Volkmer, it just wasn’t marked as such).

A three-car train in Lake Bluff by William D. Volkmer, 10/8/60.

A three-car train in Lake Bluff by William D. Volkmer, 10/8/60.

NSL 420 in Mundelein by Robert E. Bruneau, 8/20/61. Don's Rail Photos: "420 was was built by Pullman in 1928 as an observation. It was out of service by 1932. On July 21, 1943, it reentered service as a motorized coach. It was sold to Seashore Trolley Museum in 1963."

NSL 420 in Mundelein by Robert E. Bruneau, 8/20/61. Don’s Rail Photos: “420 was was built by Pullman in 1928 as an observation. It was out of service by 1932. On July 21, 1943, it reentered service as a motorized coach. It was sold to Seashore Trolley Museum in 1963.”

This postcard (with a 1910 postmark) shows that the use of "L" for elevated railway was not confined exclusively to Chicago.

This postcard (with a 1910 postmark) shows that the use of “L” for elevated railway was not confined exclusively to Chicago.

A train of CTA 6000s at the old Stony Island terminal on the Jackson Park branch.

A train of CTA 6000s at the old Stony Island terminal on the Jackson Park branch.

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

I recently appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.

Our Latest Book, Now Available:

Chicago’s Lost “L”s

From the back cover:

Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.

The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages

Chapters:
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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NEW DVD:

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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Richard Hofer’s Chicago “L” Pictures

It’s July 1969, and the original Tower 18 at Lake and Wells is being demolished to permit a new track connection to be put in on the Loop “L”. This was necessary so the CTA Lake Street “L” could be through-routed with the new Dan Ryan line that opened on September 28 of that year. The new tower is at left and has itself since been replaced. Prior to this, trains ran counter-clockwise in the same direction on both sets of Loop tracks. Henceforth, they became bi-directional. This is a Richard Hofer photo, from the David Stanley collection. The view looks north, and that is a southbound Ravenswood (today’s Brown Line) train at left.

I recently traveled to Milwaukee and visited David Stanley, and while I was there, he generously allowed me to scan some of his extensive collection of traction slides. Today we are featuring a small part of that collection, some classic photos of the Chicago “L” system, taken by the late Richard R. Hofer (1941-2010). Many of you may recall him from railfan meetings in years past. These pictures show he was an excellent photographer.

You can read Mr. Hofer’s obituary here, and you will note he was a proud Navy veteran. There are also some pictures of him on his Find-A-Grave page.

Scanning a photo, negative, or slide is just the starting point in obtaining the best possible version of that image. Each of these images represents my interpretation of the original source material, which often exhibits a lot of fading or color shift. For many of these images, we are also posting the uncorrected versions, just to show the substantial amount of work that goes into “making things look right.”

In addition, we have some recent photo finds of our own, as well as picture from our Milwaukee sojourn. As always, of you can provide any additional information on what you see in these pictures, do not hesitate to drop us a line.

We also have a new CD collection of rare traction audio from a variety of cities. These were recently digitized from original master tapes from the collections of William A. Steventon, of the Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. You will find more information about that towards the end of our post.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Richard R. Hofer Photos From the David Stanley Collection:

On April 20, 1964, CTA and local officials cut the ribbon at Dempster, commencing service on the new five-mile-long Skokie Swift line. This represented but a small portion of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee interurban that abandoned service on January 21, 1963. The Chicago Transit Authority had to purchase about half of the Swift route anyway, as their connection to Skokie Shops went over NSL tracks. The CTA decided to offer an express service between Dempster and Howard stations, and put in a large parking lot. Service was put into place using existing equipment at the lowest possible cost. The late George Krambles was put in charge of this project, which received some federal funding as a “demonstration” service, at a time when that was still somewhat unusual. But CTA officials at the time indicated that they would still have started the Swift, even without federal funds. I was nine years old at the time, and rode these trains on the very first day. I can assure you they went 65 miles per hour, as I was watching the speedometer. Needless to say, the experiment was quite successful, and service continues on what is now the Yellow Line today, with the addition of one more stop at Oakton.

The Skokie Swift on April 20, 1964.

The Skokie Swift on April 20, 1964.

The Skokie Swift on April 20, 1964. Note the old tower at right near Dempster, which had been used when “L” service ran on the Niles Center branch here from 1925-48. This tower remained standing for many years.

The Swift on opening day, April 20, 1964.

The Swift on opening day, April 20, 1964.

The Swift strikes a dramatic post on May 10, 1965. The slide identifies this as Main Street.

The Swift strikes a dramatic post on May 10, 1965. The slide identifies this as Main Street.

This car sports an experimental pantograph in October 1966.

This car sports an experimental pantograph in October 1966.

A 5000-series articulated train, renumbered into the 51-54 series, at Dempster in October 1966.

A 5000-series articulated train, renumbered into the 51-54 series, at Dempster in October 1966.

In October 1966, we see one of the four articulated 5000s (this was the original 5000-series, circa 1947-48) at Dempster, after having been retrofitted for Swift service, where they continued to run for another 20 years or so.

In October 1966, we see one of the four articulated 5000s (this was the original 5000-series, circa 1947-48) at Dempster, after having been retrofitted for Swift service, where they continued to run for another 20 years or so.

The Skokie Swift in September 1964.

The Skokie Swift in September 1964.

From 1925 until 1948, the Niles Center line provided local "L" service between Howard and Dempster on tracks owned by the North Shore Line. There were several stations along the way, and here we see one of them, as it appeared in September 1964 before it was removed to improve visibility at this grade crossing. I would have to check to see just which station this was, and whether the third track at left was simply a siding, or went to Skokie Shops. Miles Beitler says this is the "Kostner station looking east. The third track on the left was simply a siding, a remnant of North Shore Line freight service."

From 1925 until 1948, the Niles Center line provided local “L” service between Howard and Dempster on tracks owned by the North Shore Line. There were several stations along the way, and here we see one of them, as it appeared in September 1964 before it was removed to improve visibility at this grade crossing. I would have to check to see just which station this was, and whether the third track at left was simply a siding, or went to Skokie Shops. Miles Beitler says this is the “Kostner station looking east. The third track on the left was simply a siding, a remnant of North Shore Line freight service.”

Here is a nice view of the relatively spartan facilities at Dempster terminal on the Skokie Swift in September 1964. Service had been running for five months. This has since been improved and upgraded.

Here is a nice view of the relatively spartan facilities at Dempster terminal on the Skokie Swift in September 1964. Service had been running for five months. This has since been improved and upgraded.

In October 1966, a southbound Howard train has just left Howard terminal, and a single-car Evanston shuttle train has taken its place. After its riders depart, it will change ends on a siding just south of the station, and then head north after picking up passengers at the opposite platform.

In October 1966, a southbound Howard train has just left Howard terminal, and a single-car Evanston shuttle train has taken its place. After its riders depart, it will change ends on a siding just south of the station, and then head north after picking up passengers at the opposite platform.

A Skokie Swift single-car unit at Howard in December 1968.

A Skokie Swift single-car unit at Howard in December 1968.

An Evanston train of 4000s at Howard in December 1968.

An Evanston train of 4000s at Howard in December 1968.

Two Swift trains at Howard, December 1968.

Two Swift trains at Howard, December 1968.

At left, a northbound Skokie Swift car, and at right, a southbound Howard “A” train at the Howard terminal in October 1966.

Two single car units in October 1966, both equipped for overhead wire, but for different purposes. In the foreground, an Evanston shuttle car has trolley poles, while the Skokie Swift car at rear uses pantographs. Evanston was converted to third rail in 1973, and the Swift about 30 years after that.

Two single car units in October 1966, both equipped for overhead wire, but for different purposes. In the foreground, an Evanston shuttle car has trolley poles, while the Skokie Swift car at rear uses pantographs. Evanston was converted to third rail in 1973, and the Swift about 30 years after that.

Same as the previous picture, this overhead shot from the transfer bridge, taken in October 1966, shows the difference in current collection on two of the CTA's 50 single car units.

Same as the previous picture, this overhead shot from the transfer bridge, taken in October 1966, shows the difference in current collection on two of the CTA’s 50 single car units.

A southbound Evanston shuttle train approaches the Howard terminal. Third rail was banned in Evanston by local ordinance until 1973.

A southbound Evanston shuttle train approaches the Howard terminal. Third rail was banned in Evanston by local ordinance until 1973.

In September 1964, a four-car Evanston Express train approaches (I think) the old station at State and Van Buren. All four cars are single car units equipped with trolley poles, for use in Evanston where local laws did not permit use of third rail for current collection. In the early 1970s, this station was closed and removed, but was eventually put back, to serve the Harold Washington Library. This leg of the Loop "L" had a continuous platform for some time, which is visible here. George Trapp: "The September 1964 photo of four single unit cars 25-28, 39-50 on the Evanston Express are at Madison & Wells not State & Van Buren. Note crossover at Washington where non rush Ravenswood and late AM Evanston Expresses crossed over to the Inner Loop after stopping at Randolph & Wells on the Outer Loop. There was also a long continuous platform from Randolph to Madison."

In September 1964, a four-car Evanston Express train approaches (I think) the old station at State and Van Buren. All four cars are single car units equipped with trolley poles, for use in Evanston where local laws did not permit use of third rail for current collection. In the early 1970s, this station was closed and removed, but was eventually put back, to serve the Harold Washington Library. This leg of the Loop “L” had a continuous platform for some time, which is visible here. George Trapp: “The September 1964 photo of four single unit cars 25-28, 39-50 on the Evanston Express are at Madison & Wells not State & Van Buren. Note crossover at Washington where non rush Ravenswood and late AM Evanston Expresses crossed over to the Inner Loop after stopping at Randolph & Wells on the Outer Loop. There was also a long continuous platform from Randolph to Madison.”

In September 1964, at a time when the Loop "L" had uni-directional service (counter-clockwise), a Ravenswood "A" train approaches Clark and Lake. On the other hand, George Trapp says we are "at Madison & Wells, notice the clocktower for Grand Central Station with B&O in distance. At that time many more cars is series 6001-6130 still had their original headlight arrangement."

In September 1964, at a time when the Loop “L” had uni-directional service (counter-clockwise), a Ravenswood “A” train approaches Clark and Lake. On the other hand, George Trapp says we are “at Madison & Wells, notice the clocktower for Grand Central Station with B&O in distance. At that time many more cars is series 6001-6130 still had their original headlight arrangement.”

Logan Square yard in December 1966.

Logan Square yard in December 1966.

The tail end of a Congress-Milwaukee "A" train at the Logan Square terminal in September 1964. As you can see, space here was at a premium. George Trapp adds, "Tail end of freshly painted 6592-6591 at Logan Square in Sept. 1964. This set was in builder’s photos by St. Louis Car around June 1957. When new were originally assigned to North-South route as were all high 6000’s until mid 1960, although some 6600’s were on Ravenswood in 1959-60. I always though the old Logan Square terminal was neat, certainly had more character than present one."

The tail end of a Congress-Milwaukee “A” train at the Logan Square terminal in September 1964. As you can see, space here was at a premium. George Trapp adds, “Tail end of freshly painted 6592-6591 at Logan Square in Sept. 1964. This set was in builder’s photos by St. Louis Car around June 1957. When new were originally assigned to North-South route as were all high 6000’s until mid 1960, although some 6600’s were on Ravenswood in 1959-60. I always though the old Logan Square terminal was neat, certainly had more character than present one.”

A southbound Howard "A" train is on the center track. and served stations that either had a center platform or (like Wilson) had two sets of platforms. "B" trains (and the Evanston Express) used the outer tracks and served stations with side platforms. This picture was taken in May 1968. Note the southbound outer track has overhead wire in addition to third rail, for use by freight trains that ran at night until 1973. George Trapp: "Southbound Howard to Englewood “A” train has two cars of 6511-6550 series on head end. This series was split between the North-South and West-Northwest in the 1960’s with cars up to 6550 and 6551-6558 from next series being on North-South in winter months. Note that track 4 was being redone at that time and is missing."

A southbound Howard “A” train is on the center track. and served stations that either had a center platform or (like Wilson) had two sets of platforms. “B” trains (and the Evanston Express) used the outer tracks and served stations with side platforms. This picture was taken in May 1968. Note the southbound outer track has overhead wire in addition to third rail, for use by freight trains that ran at night until 1973. George Trapp: “Southbound Howard to Englewood “A” train has two cars of 6511-6550 series on head end. This series was split between the North-South and West-Northwest in the 1960’s with cars up to 6550 and 6551-6558 from next series being on North-South in winter months. Note that track 4 was being redone at that time and is missing.”

In August 1963, a four-car Douglas-Milwaukee “B” train prepares to leave Logan Square terminal. Until 1970, this was as far into the northwest side of the city that “L” service went. By 1984, the “L” had been extended all the way to O’Hare airport. This train sports a fire extinguisher on its front, a practice that did not last, apparently because some of them were stolen. While this elevated station was replaced by a nearby subway, the building underneath the “L” actually still exists, although it has been so heavily modified that you would never know it is the same structure. The Logan Square terminal was always my favorite “L” station when I was a kid.

Workers are removing the old Tower 18 structure in this July 1969 view. When service on the Loop “L” was made bi-directional, due to the through-routing of the Lake Street “L” and the new Dan Ryan line, the old tower was in the way of new tracks that needed to be installed.

The same basic scene as the last photo, from July 1969. We can tell that this picture was taken prior to the opening of the Dan Ryan line (September 28, 1969) because the train making the turn here is simply signed for Lake. Prior to the through-routing, Lake Street trains went around the Loop, and all traffic went counter-clockwise. The new track connection that allowed bi-directional operation had not yet been installed here.

The same basic scene as the last photo, from July 1969. We can tell that this picture was taken prior to the opening of the Dan Ryan line (September 28, 1969) because the train making the turn here is simply signed for Lake. Prior to the through-routing, Lake Street trains went around the Loop, and all traffic went counter-clockwise. The new track connection that allowed bi-directional operation had not yet been installed here.

A Lake-Dan Ryan train in October 1969, and what appears to be left-hand running.

A Lake-Dan Ryan train in October 1969, and what appears to be left-hand running.

It’s October 1969, and this westbound Lake-Dan Ryan train appears to be running on the “wrong” track, perhaps due to weekend track work on the Loop. This train has just left State and Lake and is heading towards Clark and Lake. Through-routing Lake and the new Dan Ryan line, which happened in September 1969, meant the end of unidirectional operations on the Loop.

Track work near Tower 18, July 1969. A work train of 4000-series “L” cars is most likely parked here.

This picture was taken in April 1973 at one of the Howard line stations near the north end of the line. The two outer tracks are used for express trains, and the inner tracks for locals.

This picture was taken in April 1973 at one of the Howard line stations near the north end of the line. The two outer tracks are used for express trains, and the inner tracks for locals.

The southbound express track on the northern portion of the Howard line had overhead wire equipped, for use by freight trains that the CTA was obliged to operate for customers along this line north of Irving Park Road. This was a holdover of service that originally had been offered by the Milwaukee Road, which leased this line to the Chicago Rapid Transit Company. The Chicago Transit Authority purchased it in the early 1950s, and freight service ended right around the time this picture was taken.

The southbound express track on the northern portion of the Howard line had overhead wire equipped, for use by freight trains that the CTA was obliged to operate for customers along this line north of Irving Park Road. This was a holdover of service that originally had been offered by the Milwaukee Road, which leased this line to the Chicago Rapid Transit Company. The Chicago Transit Authority purchased it in the early 1950s, and freight service ended right around the time this picture was taken.

Wilson Avenue, April 1973.

Wilson Avenue, April 1973.

An Englewood-Howard train at Wilson Avenue in April 1973. This station has since been completely redone.

An Englewood-Howard train at Wilson Avenue in April 1973. This station has since been completely redone.

In the late 1950s, a fourth track was added to a small portion of the Howard line that previously only had three tracks. This platform was added at that time, and was used by southbound North Shore Line trains. I was actually on a southbound Howard train one day when it unexpectedly stopped here, so I got off and took a look around, just to see what it was like. This has all been removed now, of course. The overhead wire was used by freight trains that ran at night. This picture was taken in April 1973.

In the late 1950s, a fourth track was added to a small portion of the Howard line that previously only had three tracks. This platform was added at that time, and was used by southbound North Shore Line trains. I was actually on a southbound Howard train one day when it unexpectedly stopped here, so I got off and took a look around, just to see what it was like. This has all been removed now, of course. The overhead wire was used by freight trains that ran at night. This picture was taken in April 1973.

The view looking the other way from the platform at Wilson that opened around 1960 (this picture taken in April 1973).

The view looking the other way from the platform at Wilson that opened around 1960 (this picture taken in April 1973).

CTA's Tower 18 at Lake and Wells in July 1971, looking north.

CTA’s Tower 18 at Lake and Wells in July 1971, looking north.

A work train of 4000s is southbound just north of the Loop in July 1971.

A work train of 4000s is southbound just north of the Loop in July 1971.

Here, we are looking north from the old Randolph and Wells station in May 1971, looking to the junction of Wells and Lake. This station has since been replaced by Washington and Wells.

Here, we are looking north from the old Randolph and Wells station in May 1971, looking to the junction of Wells and Lake. This station has since been replaced by Washington and Wells.

In May 1971, we see the rear of a northbound Evanston Express train of 4000s, just leaving the old Randolph and Wells station.

In May 1971, we see the rear of a northbound Evanston Express train of 4000s, just leaving the old Randolph and Wells station.

If I had to guess the location of this July 1971 picture, taken on Chicago's north side, it would be between Wilson and Sheridan.

If I had to guess the location of this July 1971 picture, taken on Chicago’s north side, it would be between Wilson and Sheridan.

This Howard “A” train is heading southbound in July 1971, under a section that still had overhead wire for use by freight trains that ran at night. The Howard train, of course, used third rail for current collection exclusively. Perhaps one of our readers can help identify which station this is.

This picture was taken at Granville on the Howard line in May 1971.

This picture was taken at Granville on the Howard line in May 1971.

Again, Granville on the Howard line in May 1971.

Again, Granville on the Howard line in May 1971.

The rest of the work train, in July 1971.

The rest of the work train, in July 1971.

This July 1971 photo shows either the Halsted or Racine station on the Congress line. The train is heading west, away from the photographer. In those days, many stations had these “pay on train” signs, and when illuminated, that meant there was no ticket agent on duty, and the conductor would collect your fare on the train. There are no more conductors now, so this practice ended a long time ago. There were large grassy areas on each side of the tracks along portions of the right-of-way, because plans originally called for four tracks here. There had been four tracks when this was part of the Metrolpolitan “L” main line. In the new arrangement, two tracks would have been used by Lake Street “L” trains, which were at one time intended to be re-routed onto the Congress line.

If this is the same location as the last picture, this is the Racine station, this time looking to the east. Again, this is July 1971. This is a westbound Congress-Milwaukee “A” train.

Finally, here is the uncorrected version of the picture at the top of this post.

Finally, here is the uncorrected version of the picture at the top of this post.

Milwaukee Trip

Here are some photos I took in Milwaukee on May 3rd. They show the new Milwaukee streetcar circulator line, which began service last November, and memorabilia from the Dave Stanley collection. On the way up, I stopped in Kenosha and snapped a few pictures of the tourist PCC line there.