The conductor on this gate car, on a westbound Douglas Park train at Western Avenue, is waiting to receive the bell signal from the next car, so he can pass it along. Before “L” trains had door control wired up between cars, this is how the system worked. There were many more conductors– a three car train of wooden “L” cars had two conductors, plus the motorman. The date was February 9, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Andre Kristopans: “One detail – each train had one motorman and one conductor. Conductor worked between first two cars (or in only car if there was only one). The rest of the men were classified as “guards” and had a slightly lower pay rate. Motorman and conductor stayed together all day, guards worked dependent on train length that trip. They were apparently mostly part timers that only worked the longer rush trains, though for instance on North-South where trains were four cars midday at least one guard worked all day.”
Spring is finally here, and the temps are gradually getting warmer. But here at the Trolley Dodger, we feel we’re getting warmer in other ways as well– in the sense that we’re on to something.
After more than six years, we’re getting closer to what I hoped this site could be when it started. Maybe we’re finally realizing some of our true potential, I don’t know. I will leave such determinations to our readers.
But when I started my first transit blog (this is actually the second), someone opined it was long on potential, and short on execution. And I had to agree that this was so. Hey, nobody knows everything about a subject, and we learn as we go along.
And in six plus years, I feel we have improved both the content of this site (our image library) and the information that we provide. And it does seem to fill a need that was out there. I base that on how often our own articles and pictures come up when I do Internet searches on subjects, and the number of times we see our own pictures re-shared on Facebook.
When folks do share our images on Facebook, though, there are a few things that I would ask. First, do not crop out the watermark on our images that identifies them as having come from here. Second, please provide the correct caption information. Too many times, I have seen either partial, or sometimes even incorrect captions placed on our photos when shared.
Finally, please credit the original photographer, when the name of that person is known.
Today, we have a large number of outstanding classic photos for your consideration. Even better, all of them are from our own collections. Some we purchased, and others are scans of original 35mm slides taken by the late William C. Hoffman.
We recently received the Hoffman collection as part of an overall gift of photographs collected and shot by the late Jeffrey L. Wein, a friend for over 40 years. We thank him for his generosity.
You may have seen duplicate slides over the years from some of these Hoffman shots. Bill Hoffman was an avid photographer, and while not always the best from a technical standpoint, he got many shots that are unique and were either missed, or overlooked, by others.
Bill Hoffman’s strong suit was in documenting things that were fast disappearing, those scenes of everyday life that others took for granted. While many of his pictures are not tack-sharp, at least here, we are working with the “best evidence,” the original slides themselves, and not duplicates.
I don’t know what kind of camera equipment he used back in the day, but after he passed away in the late 1980s, a friend gave me Bill Hoffman’s last camera, which was a screw-mount Leica IIIg, a model from 1957.
Meanwhile, after taking a pause due to the pandemic, work will soon resume on our next book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, scheduled to appear on July 12. It has now reached the proofing stage, and there are still a few changes that need to be made.
Arcadia Publishing has priced this at $23.99, and we are doing our best to make sure that you, the reader, will get an excellent value for your money. We will begin our pre-sale at the beginning of June, and each copy purchased from our Online Store will also include a bonus item, as well as being autographed.
PS- If you want to see even more transit-related content than we can share here, check out our Trolley Dodger Facebook group, which currently has 242 members.
CTA 3156, seen here on the Stock Yards branch in the early 1950s, was built by Brill in 1909 for the Lake Street “L”. After it was no longer needed there, it was used on this shuttle operation in the early-to-mid 1950s, still sporting at least one trolley pole. I am not sure of the exact location here, but it is nearby Agar’s Meats and on a section of “L” that was double-tracked. The men in the foreground were either on the roof of a nearby building, or perhaps on the Chicago Junction Railway embankment, if that was close by. (Wendell E. Grove Photo)
On June 6, 1954, the National Railway Historical Society held a fantrip to say goodbye to trolley service on the Red Arrow interurban to West Chester, PA. Cars 14, 20, and 68 were used, and after 20 broke down, it was towed by 68. This was a photo stop, and the slide identifies the location as either “Milltown” or “Mill farm,” the handwriting is hard to make out.
We actually ran another picture from the same photo stop in a previous post:
Cars 14, 20 and 68 at a photo stop along the West Chester line on the June 6, 1954 NRHS fantrip.
Red Arrow Brill-built “Master Unit” 77, signed for the Sharon Hill line, in the early 1950s. This car, built in 1932, has been preserved, but the last report I have is that it is stored inoperable by the Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad.
Ardmore junction was a favorite spot for photographers on the Red Arrow Lines, as the Norristown High-Speed Line crossed over the trolley line to Ardmore. Many photos such as this were posed on fantrips, up until the end of 1966, when buses replaced rail on the Ardmore branch. The date and circumstances of this photo are not known, other than that it was taken in 1961. Car 66 was built by Brill in 1927, and has been preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum since 1970.
Over the years, Boston has phased out nearly all the street running on its Green Line trolley system, except for a bit of the E line, which now terminates at Heath. Here, on October 30, 1982, Clark Frazier captured this view of MBTA “picture window” PCC 3314, built by Pullman-Standard in 1951, on Huntington Avenue, going by Mission Park on its way to Arborway as part of a two-car train. Although service on the E line was truncated to Heath, trolleys still run at this location today.
Here is a view of the Lake Street “L” looking north from Garfield Park in September 1963. This was a time between the elevation of the west portion of the line in 1962, and the arrival of the new 2000-series “L” cars in 1964. The line was operated using 4000s, which by then had their trolley poles removed, as Lake was now operated with third rail only. These cars are in mid-day storage on a third track. The following year, a new yard opened in Forest Park, making this kind of storage unnecessary.
Johnstown, PA was the smallest city to operate PCC cars, and was a favorite of photographers, but I don’t recall seeing a lot of winter pictures. Here, Johnstown Traction 412, with its distinctive Pepsi bottlecap advertising on the front, is at the Roxbury Loop on March 14, 1959. Streetcar service ended the following year. (Bill Volkmer Photo)
Officials from Skokie and the CTA cut the ribbon at Dempster Street on April 20, 1964, inaugurating Skokie Swift service on file miles of trackage formerly owned by the North Shore Line interurban, which had quit service just over a year before. This is today’s Yellow Line and is now operated using third rail power rather than overhead wire.
We ran a different picture from this event in a previous post:
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. (Richard Hofer Photo, David Stanley Collection)
A two-car South Shore Line train, made up of cars 103 and 24, has made it to downtown Chicago during a blizzard in January 1979.
This is the back end of a westbound two-car train of 2000s on the Douglas Park “L” in July 1966, approaching the Laramie Avenue station in Cicero. Laramie was closed in 1992, but was reopened in 2002-2003, while the nearby 54th Avenue station was being redone. The station house at Laramie has been declared historic and is the last remaining one of its type, and has been preserved, although no longer used.
A close-up of the previous picture, giving a better view of the Laramie Avenue station, with 54th Avenue off in the distance.
A remnant of the Laramie station, as it looks today.
Pittsburgh PCC 1646 on Arlington Avenue in Pittsburgh on April 25, 1974. This trackage serves as a bypass route for a nearby transit tunnel, and I actually have rode on it twice– the first time was in 1985, when for a short time, it became an actual route, and then again in 2014, on a fantrip. (Joseph Saitta Photo)
North Shore Line combine car 255 on June 1, 1962. Note the variations in paint color on this car, ranging from a dark green to a bluish green. That should be enough to drive would-be modelers crazy in their quest for authenticity. Don’s Rail Photos: “255 was built by Jewett in 1917. It had all of the seats removed in the 1920s to provide a full length baggage car which ran in passenger trains. It was used for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to move equipment to Ravinia. On July 2, 1942, the 40 seats were replaced. Then on December 1, 1946, the seats were again removed. In addition to the Symphony, the car was used for sailors’ baggage from Great Lakes.”
A train of CTA 2000s on the then-new Dan Ryan line in November 1969 at 79th Street. (Rick Burn Photo)
A South Shore Line train at 130th and the under construction Calumet Superhighway in April 1952. (James P. Shuman Photo)
Since this shows a Logan Square “L” train on the Met main line, just west of the Loop, it must have been taken between August 1950 (when the 6000s were introduced) and February 1951 (when the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway opened).
This June 1975 photo of a pair of derelict CTA 4000s was, and remains, somewhat of a mystery. The location is marked as “Forest Glen Yard,” which is actually the name of a bus yard on Chicago’s northwest side. I posted this to our Facebook group, in hopes someone might help identify the location. Three possibilities were suggested: CTA Skokie Shops, Michigan City on the South Shore Line, and Joliet. The nearby freight yard and the orange caboose are clues. According to Andre Kristopans, that’s Chuck Tauscher at right. In his prime, he was an excellent photographer. (S. Downey Photo)
A close-up of the late Charles Tauscher, from the previous photo.
I really have no information about this photo, other than that it might be Mexico City. If I had to guess a date, I would say the early 1960s. What attracted me to it is that you don’t see a lot of photos showing a streetcar and a trolley bus together.
In a previous post, we ran a photo of the Logan Square interlocking tower, taken by the late Roger Puta on April 9, 1966, shortly before this tower was replaced by a new one that continued in use until the line was extended in 1970. Another, similar photo turned up recently, and I bought it. Imagine my surprise when it turns out to have been taken mere minutes after the first one! Although I cannot say for certain, this one may also have been taken by Roger Puta. I believe the man at left is his friend Rick Burn, whose name is written on the back of the slide. However, if that is him, he could hardly have taken the picture, and due to the great similarity with the other shot, it’s entirely possible that Roger Puta took this one as well.
Here is the other photo by Roger Puta:
CTA interlocking tower at Logan Square Terminal, Chicago, IL on April 9, 1966 Roger Puta photograph Roger wrote, “The last mechanical interlocking on the CTA and will be replaced with a new tower.”
South Shore Line trains at the Randolph Street Terminal in August 1965. This terminal has since been completely redone and is now underground, beneath Millennium Park.
On May 25, 1958 there was a fantrip on Chicago’s last remaining streetcar line (Wentworth), less than a month before the final run. This included a tour of South Shops at 77th and Vincennes, and the CTA Historical Collection was trotted out one last time for photos, of which there are many circulating. This batch was taken by J. W. Vigrass. The collection was eventually moved to the Lawndale car barn, where it languished until the 1980s, when it was parsed out to various museums.
CTA PCC 7207 is on Ravenswood near Devon Station (car barn) in the 1950s.
This is the third “L” photo I have, taken at this location, which at first was a mystery, but eventually turned out to be an annex (since demolished) just north of the Merchandise Mart. All three photos may have been taken at the same time, and by the same photographer, in the 1930s. This one shows North Shore Line cars 768 and 769.
This is a Brooklyn PCC car, one of a hundred in use from 1936 to 1956. It is signed for Route 68 and could be heading to the Brooklyn Bridge. Other than that, I have no information.
Stereo images were popular around 1900, and when placed in the proper viewer (sometimes called a “stereopticon”) provided a 3-D effect. This is the left picture from a stereo pair, showing cable cars on Madison Street in downtown Chicago. Some say that the Loop got its name from the paths taken by downtown cable cars, but research has shown the term came into popular use because of the “L’ and the Union Loop, completed in 1897. There are no overhead wires in view here, and none were permitted downtown until 1906. The tracks at left may have been used by horse car lines, since there is no trough for a cable.
The right image of the stereo pair.
This picture shows a Chicago PCC at the Pullman plant in Massachusetts. Chances are excellent that this is car 4062, the first of 310 that Pullman would build for Chicago, starting in 1946.
This is a rare agent’s stub for what is known as an “Interline ticket,” used for one trip involving two different railroads. In this case, it seems the trip involved the Monon Railroad and the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee, aka the North Shore Line. The passenger may have been a new recruit during World War II, as this ticket was apparently requested by the US government.
CRT 4096 is part of a Normal Park Express. This picture may have been taken on the south side. This car was part of the original order of 4000s, which came with a center door that was never actually used in service. It was closed off to provide more seating. These cars were known as “Baldies,” as opposed to the second 4000s order, the “Plushies.” Our resident south side expert M.E. writes: “This picture must have been taken underneath the pedestrian bridge at the Indiana Ave. station when the shoppers’ specials were running express from 43rd St. into the Loop. The shoppers’ specials ran only northbound. Returning southbound, they were local trains using the local southbound track, which is the track next to the platform at Indiana Ave.. This is the only circumstance I can think of in which a sign would say “Express Normal Pk”. Notice that the Normal Park car is the last car in the train. West of the Harvard station on the Englewood line, Normal Park cars were always attached as the last car of northbound mainline Englewood trains and detached from being the last car on southbound mainline Englewood trains. That arrangement lasted until 1949.”
CRT wood car 1136 is part of a Howard Street Express. The location might be the same as the previous picture.
CRT 4415, a “Plushie,” is part of a Howard Street Express. The nickname came from the plush seats used on these cars. “L” cars wore flags on certain holidays such as the 4th of July.
North Shore Line Electroliner set 801-802 is heading northbound at Loyola on Chicago’s north side “L”. If the train had been southbound, there would be overhead wire, then in use by freight locomotives. This Electroliner set is currently undergoing restoration at the Illinois Railway Museum.
North Shore Line 743 in a pocket track at Edison Court.
Photos showing North Shore Line trains being scrapped after the 1963 abandonment are rare– and this is not one of them. This is car 416, built in 1916 by Cincinnati Car Company, and rebuilt in 1942. It was scrapped shortly after this picture was taken at North Chicago on January 21, 1956, after the car had been damaged in a fire.
Atlantic City once had an interurban known as the Shore Fast Line. Interestingly, it inspired one of the four railroad names in the game Monopoly, the “Short Line.” In the early 1930s, Charles Todd, an early Monopoly player, got tired of trying to fit Shore Fast Line on his handmade Monopoly board, and “shortened” it as a joke. Charles Darrow copied it verbatim, and began to market this version of Atlantic City Monopoly commercially, and the rest is history.
South Shore Line car 100 wore patriotic colors during World War II, and helped promote the sale of War Bonds. A different picture of this car appeared in my 2017 book Chicago Trolleys.
CRT Shopper’s Specials Timetables, 1923-24
Chicago’s “L” system started out as four separate companies, that gradually came together as a single system. This evolution reached its fruition in 1924, when all four entities were combined into the Chicago Rapid Transit Company as part of the Samuel Insull empire.
From about 1913 on, the “L” had been operated more or less as a single unit, but the four underlying companies were still there. As part of this unification process, new all-steel state of the art rapid transit cars were ordered, the 4000-series, in two distinct batches. These were the first “L” cars intended for use on all lines– previously, all cars had been at least partially made from wood, and were ordered for use on one of the four independent “L” lines.
The first 4000s were built circa 1913-15, and the second group from 1923-24. When the later 4000s were put into service, the Insull interests instituted a mid-day “Shopper’s Special” express service on five lines in time for the 1923 Christmas season.
We were fortunate recently to be able to purchase three rare 1923-24 timetables for this service. This type of service was most successful on the Evanston line over the years. The Chicago Transit Authority re-introduced a “Shopper’s Special” as a mid-day Evanston Express in the late 1950s, and this lasted into the early 1990s.
Photos by William C. Hoffman
Bill Hoffman used a Leica iiig camera similar to this for many years.
On October 22, 1953, work was far along on dismantling the former CTA Garfield Park “L” station at Western and Congress. Remarkably, trains ran on this line less than a month before this picture was taken. The tracks at ground level were a bypass route for Western Avenue streetcars, to facilitate construction of a new bridge over the eventual Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway. The view looks to the north. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An interior view of CTA wood car 1813, built by ACF in 1907. This picture was taken on a May 1, 1955 fantrip, while the train was on the Van Buren Street temporary ground level trackage, where the Garfield Park “L” ran from 1953 to 1958 during construction of the nearby Congress rapid transit line. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
In a previous post, we ran a picture of car 1813 (not by Bill Hoffman), probably taken on the same May 1, 1955 fantrip:
CRT 1813 is part of a two-car train at Sedgwick. The flags may indicate this was a fantrip. (George Trapp Collection)
Bill Hoffman took this picture on July 8, 1954, to compare “old” (left) and “new” types of third rail collection shoes on CTA 6000-series “L” cars. This photo was taken at 43rd Street.
Steel wheels, trolley poles, and coupling detail of CTA high performance cars 6129-6130 at Sedgwick on December 11, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On July 21, 1950, a CTA Grafield Park “L” train approaches Marshfield from the west, while a westbound Chicago Aurora & Elgin train is at the station. The tracks curving off to the left are for the Douglas Park branch (today’s Pink Line), (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Chicago Rapid Transit 3023 is southbound at Chicago Avenue on April 6, 1946. Note the tower behind the train, which controlled switching. North of here there were four tracks instead of two. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On December 2, 1946, Chicago Rapid Transit car 3024 heads up a southbound two-car train at Chicago Avenue. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This is the view looking east at the CTA 40th and Indiana Avenue station on November 10, 1957. There is a single car Kenwood shuttle train in the pocket track, and Kenwood had less than three weeks to go before abandonment. The sign shows the routing of lines at this station, and there is a sticker over where the Stock Yards line had been, as that branch had already been abandoned not long before (October 6, 1957). (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A close-up of the sign, and an early example of “cancel culture.” The replacement bus was a new #43 Stock Yards Limited, which continued in service until March 26, 1962. Both “L” and bus did not last due to the Stock Yards being in an irreversible decline, and this Chicago landmark closed for good in 1971. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This is the view looking west along the Congress expressway construction site on December 30, 1954, showing an eastbound four-car Garfield Park “L” train on temporary trackage in Van Buren Street. The highway opened in this area the following year. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A southbound 6-car train of CTA woods is at 18th Street on the Douglas Park “L” on March 7, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The Chicago Transit Authority logo on a new substation under the Harvard “L” station on April 23, 1962. This Englewood branch station closed in 1992, and was demolished during the 1994-96 Green Line reconstruction. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On August 15, 1954, a four-car CTA train of 6000s heads northbound into the State Street Subway at the south portal at 13th and State. The section of “L” to the left was then not being used by CTA trains on a regular basis. Now the situation is reversed– the “L” is used by regular trains, but the subway portal is not, since Howard trains are connected to the Dan Ryan line via a different tunnel. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A two car CTA train of 6000s descends into the south portal of the State Street Subway on April 1, 1956. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Here. we see the tail end of a northbound four-car train of CTA 6000s on the Douglas Park “L” at 18th Street. The date was March 7, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On September 15, 1957, a southbound CTA train on the north-south “L” passes by a North Shore Line train (lead car 420) on a fantrip. The lower level tracks were an interchange connection between the “L” and the Milwaukee Road, and were used for freight until 1973. They had once been part of a commuter rail line that the “L” took over north of Wilson Avenue that originally ran at ground level to Evanston. The lower level area is now occupied by Challenger Park. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
When the Lake Street “L” ran at ground level west of Laramie, it ran parallel with the Lake Street streetcar line for a few blocks, before the latter crossed over to the north side of the railroad embankment at Pine Avenue. On May 8, 1954, about three weeks before buses replaced streetcars on CTA Route 16, westbound car 3163 passes an eastbound “L” train made up of 4000s. Note the trolley wires for both used a common support. The “L” was relocated onto the embankment on October 28, 1962. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An eastbound CTA three-car train of woods passes a westbound CA&E train near Western Avenue on August 9, 1950. This is approximately the same view as a different photo in this post, taken on October 19, 1953, by which time the “L” structure here was being demolished to make way for the Congress expressway. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On October 19, 1953, we are looking west along the old Garfield Park “L” at Western Avenue, as it was being demolished as part of the Congress expressway construction project. Behind the photographer, the Western Avenue “L” station was already being dismantled, which you can see in a different photo in this post. Remarkably, trains ran on these tracks as late as September 27 in one direction, only about three weeks before this picture was taken by William C. Hoffman. Soon, the Western Avenue streetcar tracks were re-routed in this area, so it could be excavated and the bridge that now goes over the expressway could be built.
When Bill Hoffman tool this picture on August 7, 1954, looking east along Randolph Street at the “L” station on Wabash, it was about to be renovated with, among other things, a large metal CTA logo and a new waiting room. The new station opened in 1957 and included a direct entrance to the second floor of Marshall Field’s. Randolph and Wabash was replaced by a new station at Washington and Wabash (which also replaced Madison) in 2017. This picture is a bit blurry, probably because Hoffman had only a few seconds to take it before getting out of the way from oncoming traffic. I guess you could call it a “grabshot.”
I used a black-and-white version of this image, made from a duplicate slide, in my 2018 book Building Chicago’s Subways. I had tried to borrow the original from Jeff, but he said he had no idea where to find it. So I had to guess at the date, and assumed it was from 1954. But actually, the date was October 19, 1953. Apparently, they were in a rush to get the old Garfield Park “L” structure out of the way here at Western Avenue, so expressway work could proceed. The view looks to the northeast on Western at Congress. Since this was scanned from the original slide, now I can make out that the PCC streetcar at left is 4390, which was still in service in June 1958, when the last Chicago streetcar ran on Wentworth. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Now here is an amazing photograph. To catch both an eastbound CTA Jackson Park “L” train on the bridge, and a southbound Illinois Central Electric commuter train, is nothing short of fortuitous. But that’s exactly what Bill Hoffman did on August 3, 1958. The bridge is now gone, as CTA “L” service has been cut back to Cottage Grove, and the IC is now Metra Electric.
Bill Hoffman’s notes: “October 25, 1954. View northwest – Halsted Street station – Englewood “L” line – (63rd Place). Old Chicago & Interurban Traction terminal in foreground.” Our resident south side expert M.E. adds: “Lots of things to say about this picture. (1) The first car has the old Rapid Transit System paint job. It seems to me that, when the CTA formed married pairs of L cars, they would have repainted the CRT car in current CTA livery. So I think the cars on this train were not married pairs. (2) Notice the eastbound train, which is stopped, extends past the platform. I think the rear of the train also extends past the rear of the platform. Why? Until 1949, Normal park L cars were attached or detached from mainline Englewood trains at Harvard. Therefore, Englewood trains west of Harvard had one less car than trains had east of Harvard. But after 1949, when Normal Park service became a shuttle to and from Harvard, all Englewood trains had the same number of cars both west and east of Harvard. I think the train shown has 7 cars. One reason, of course, is the CRT paint on only one car. A second reason is that, as I recall, platform lengths back then accommodated 6 cars. Therefore the first and seventh cars would extend past the platform. A third factor would be if there were still multiple conductors who stood between cars to open and close entry and exit doors. There would be no conductor at the rear of the train, and no conductor at the front. So the train could extend past the platform at both ends. But if, by then, there were indeed married pairs and only one conductor who controlled all the doors, then why is only the first car still painted in CRT colors? Too bad we can’t count the cars. (3) The bus shown belonged to the South Suburban Safeway Lines, which essentially replaced the Chicago & Interurban Traction Co. and kept the same route along Halsted St. into Chicago, ending on the south side of the 63rd and Halsted L station. But in the meantime, the bus company started a second route north of Harvey that used Dixie Highway, Western Ave., and 63rd St., and ended at the 63rd/Halsted L. So the SSL bus shown could be on either the Halsted line or the Western line. The other bus line that served 63rd/Halsted was the Suburban Transit System, based in Oak Lawn. All this bus service came to Englewood because the shopping district centered around 63rd and Halsted was the largest outside the Loop. (4) Landmark buildings in the picture: (a) The Sears store was on the northeast corner of 63rd and Halsted. (b) The tower at the far left was atop the Wieboldt store on the southwest corner of 63rd and Green (a half-block west of Halsted). (5) West of the interurban building, and just past the tree, is the Rapid Transit station entrance from 63rd Place. There was also an entrance on Halsted St. (6) The red neon sign at the left seems to say “Ambulances”. I don’t know what that was about. (7) This picture was made possible because the buildings on the south side of 63rd Place had been razed, leaving a mound of dirt and rocks.” Andre Kristopans adds: “You are correct the shot at 63/Halsted has odd number of cars, and therefore can’t be consecutive numbers. As I understand, the plushies were paired up starting in 1950s, but baldies never really were. There was an effort made circa 1949, but until the end there were mismates. It was only after the plushies came off Lake and went to Ravenswood 1964 was there really an effort to keep pairs together. Remember there were trailers around until about 1960, so you had to pair a trailer with a motor both on Lake and Evanston. Also, “CTA”ing 4000s was a multi-part process. Install MUDC, convert from line to battery control, add permanent markers, add headlights, repaint. Not all at same time. Have seen photos of cars in brown with marker boxes and headlights and cars in green without. Another item – how were train splits handled? There were at least three locations where in-service trains were split. Harvard on Englewood, Laramie on Garfield, Damen on Logan Square. I assume a fresh crew of two handled the cut section, shuttling Harvard to 69, Laramie to 22/Mannheim (or Roosevelt) and Damen to Lawndale, with one guard going off duty at the cut location and going back on aboard the next inbound train. Also there were cuts and adds at midroute yards, but that was simply the guards on the cut or add ending there. Finally, there were thru Jackson Park trains to Linden rush hours until the reorganization. Probably only part of train went thru, with rest being added to a southbound at Howard? Howard was not a major yard until 1950s apparently, Wilson was.”
From September 20, 1953, until July 3, 1957, Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban train service terminated in Forest Park, and commuters had to change trains to ride the CTA Garfield Park “L” if they wanted to continue downtown. They had to pay a regular CTA fare (packs of tokens were available at a discount) and portions of the ride were slow, at least on the 2.3 miles where Garfield was temporarily running on surface trackage in Van Buren street. The CTA and CA&E did their best to coordinate service, however, as evidenced by these signs lined up at Laramie Avenue on August 7, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
While this is not the greatest picture, from a technical standpoint (it is blurred), it does show CTA streetcar 1749, one of a few that had been painted green, running under the Lake Street “L”. The view looks east at Central Park Boulevard, by Garfield Park. I am not sure why the streetcar is signed for Route 21, which was Cermak Road. The “L” cars up top are midday storage on a third track. The Lake “L” did not have a proper storage yard until 1964, when a new one opened west of Harlem Avenue in Forest Park. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
In the Red
Bill Hoffman didn’t just shoot Kodachrome slide film. Sometimes he used Ektachrome, and occasionally, Agfachrome. Ektachrome had a higher film speed than Kodachrome (32 vs. 10) in the 1950s. Unfortunately, time has proven that the dyes used in early Ektachrome film were unstable and subject to fading.
I scanned some of these faded slides, and took a stab at color correcting them. They appear almost entirely red, due to the extreme fading of the other color layers. Years ago, it was felt there was little that could be done with these images, except convert them to black-and-white.
With computers, it is now possible to do a better job at repairing some of these images.
So, first here are the red versions, and then the versions that are not so red. Unfortunately, only one of them really looks “right.” Sometimes, there is only so much you can do.
The view looking west at 41st Street on the “L” as of June 28, 1962. The freight cars are on Chicago Junction Railway tracks. The old Stock Yards “L” branch would have run to the west just south of the CTA main line. East of here, the former Kenwood branch ran on CJR’s embankment. The “L” turned north here via “Powerhouse Curve.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
CTA riders enter the “L” station at 63rd and Loomis after a snow storm on April 17, 1961. This station was built in 1907, and was the terminal for the Englewood branch until it was extended about two blocks west to Ashland Avenue in 1969. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On September 13, 1959, the Chicago White Sox were in first place in the American League, but had not yet clinched the pennant. That happened on September 22 in Cleveland, after which Fire Commissioner Robert Quinn ordered the air raid sirens to blow here for five minutes. But the CTA was already encouraging baseball fans to take the “L” to Comiskey Park for the upcoming World Series, which the pale hose lost in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is the north face of the CTA “L” station at State and Van Buren, which appears largely unchanged since it was built in 1897. This station closed in 1973 and was removed two years later. It was replaced by a new station serving the Harold Washington Library in 1997. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Our resident south side expert M.E. adds: “My eagle eye says the destination sign on the bus reads “42 Halsted- Downtown”, which ran along State St. north of Archer Ave. Also: The US flag in the picture is a brand-new, 50-state flag that took effect on 20 August 1959 when Hawaii became the 50th state. The tall building at the left would be the Sears store on the southeast corner of State and Van Buren.”
On August 24, 1958, we are looking to the southeast at the State Street Subway’s south portal at 13th and State. A northbound CTA train heads into the tunnel, while North Shore Line cars are sitting up on the nearby “L”. Between 1949 and the 1963 abandonment, NSL trains had exclusive use of the Roosevelt Road “L” station, just north of here, and used the nearby tracks for storage. Now, those tracks are used by the CTA Green Line, while this subway portal only sees use when Red Line trains are diverted to the “L”. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On June 15, 1956, just two days before streetcars were replaced by buses on Western Avenue, two CTA PCCs meet a Garfield Park “L” train running on temporary trackage on Van Buren Street. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On March 25, 1962, a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip used North Shore Line cars 771-415-753-251 on the Evanston branch, where NSL cars had last run in 1955 (when the Shore Line Route was abandoned). Here, the train is at Isabella. This lightly used station closed in 1973 and was removed soon after. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A CTA rapid transit sign at Randolph and Wells on May 12, 1961. This was a difficult one to correct, as I really have no idea what color this sign was. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The late Jeffrey L. Wien would have celebrated his 80th birthday on April 3rd. We were all young once. Somehow I ended up with photos of him as a child. I will try to get them to his sister. Mom wrote: “May 1944. My new outfit– navy overalls and red jacket and beret. Mama likes to dress me in red– the better to keep her eyes on me.”
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
RGTS Rio Grande to Silverton: A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading Price: $14.99
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago: 60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958) 75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943) 80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938) To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways. While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages Chapter Titles: 01. The River Tunnels 02. The Freight Tunnels 03. Make No Little Plans 04. The State Street Subway 05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway 06. Displaced 07. Death of an Interurban 08. The Last Street Railway 09. Subways and Superhighways 10. Subways Since 1960 Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author. The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere:
Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo) Help Support The Trolley Dodger This is our 265th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 752,000 page views, for which we are very grateful. You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.” We thank you for your support. DONATIONS In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty. Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.
Ross Harano as a toddler in 1945, with his uncle Susumu Okamoto, in front of the Kenwood “L” terminal at 42nd Place. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)
I first became interested in Ross Harano and his family’s story when I came across the picture shown above in the article What happened to Chicago’s Japanese neighborhood? by Katherine Nagasawa from WBEZ radio. I wanted to learn more, and found that Mr. Harano is, as they used to say, “in the book.” I wrote him a letter, and we began a correspondence that led to the interview that follows.
Ross Harano writes:
I was born in the Fresno Assembly Center which was at the Fresno County Fair Grounds on September 17,1942. When I was one month old, my family was shipped to the Jerome, Arkansas, internment camp. We were later allowed to relocate to Chicago.
My uncle’s name was Susumu Okamoto (1919-2005) who was married to my mother’s sister. When we settled on Oakenwald from the camp in Arkansas, my parents and my mother’s 3 sisters and their husbands along with my grandparents all lived there.
It was a full house.
During the war, my uncle Susumu served with US Military Intelligence in the Pacific along with two of my mother’s brothers. Another brother served in Europe with the Japanese American 442nd Combat Infantry Battalion. He was seriously wounded in Italy and also lived with us on Oakenwald after he recovered from his wounds.
This is a uniquely American story, and also one that is uniquely Chicago, a slice of history that deserves to be remembered.
From 1949 to 1957, the CTA operated the Kenowwd branch of the “L” as a shuttle operation, and here we see three such cars at the Indiana Avenue station. By the mid-1950s, the older gate cars had been replaced by ones formerly used on the Met “L”, as those lines were equipped with more modern steel cars. Not sure why there are three cars here– Kenwood usually used one or two car trains in these days.
Interview with Ross Harano, July 2, 2020:
Q: Maybe we could start by going back to the beginning of your family’s history, and when they came to this country, and we can just take it from there?
A: Well, I’m third generation Japanese-American. Both of my grandfathers came to America in 1898. They landed in Hawaii first as laborers in the sugar cane fields and later on the mainland as laborers on the Union Pacific railroad. Prior to the Japanese immigration, the Chinese came to this country as Forty Niners to search for gold and later to build the first transcontinental railroad. As the Chinese began to settle on the west coast, strong anti-Chinese sentiments resulted in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Japan was the next place where the railroads looked for workers and both my grandfathers worked on the railroads and eventually settled in California where my parents were born. My father was born in Berkeley, and my mother was born in Hanford which is just outside of Fresno.
After Pearl Harbor was attacked, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 which authorized the interment of the Japanese community into 10 concentration camps away from the west coast. We evacuated out with my mother’s family because she was pregnant with me and she had three sisters who were not married at the time to care for her. We went from Hanford to the Fresno Assembly Center which was built on the Fresno County Fairgrounds. I was born in September of ’42, and in October we were shipped to Jerome, Arkansas. There were two camps in Arkansas, one at Rohwer and one at Jerome. They were about 25 miles apart and each held 8,500 Japanese internees.
Even though my family was interned behind barbed wire, seven of my uncles volunteered to serve in the US Military. Four of them served in Europe with the Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team – one was wounded in Italy and one was killed in France. Three uncles served in the Pacific in the US military intelligence. This was kept a military secret until the late ‘50s. Japanese Americans were there on the front lines intercepting Japanese messages because the Japanese didn’t know that we had translators so they didn’t speak in code on the battlefield. The Japanese Americans were on the front lines in most of the campaigns in the Pacific including Merrill’s Marauders in Burma.
The house at 4201 S. Oakenwald. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)
Ross and his maternal grandfather Rihaci Mayewaki (1886-1969) in front of the Kenwood “L” terminal at 42nd Place. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)
Ross Harano and a cousin, in front of the Kenwood “L” terminal at 42nd Place. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)
Ross and his sled. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)
Transfers from the Kenwood “L” and 43rd Street streetcar line. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)
This notice is from before October 1947, when the Chicago Transit Authority took over the “L” system. Fares were, if anything, being held artificially low for many years, while the system gradually deteriorated and the equipment aged. Once the CTA was in charge, they had more legal leeway to raise fares, in order to cover expenses, in the days before government subsidies. As a result, there were several fare increases in the 1950s. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)
In 1944 we were able to leave the camp and we eventually settled on the south side of Chicago on Oakenwald. At some point we had my mother’s three sisters and their husbands, two new baby cousins, my grandparents and my mother’s three brothers.
Q: How many people would you say were living in the same house?
A: About 14 (laughs).
Q: Things must have been kinda tight, but I suppose, you probably didn’t think about it too much, because that’s just the way things were.
A: Well it was a relatively large brick building. It was like a rowhouse where the buildings were all built next to each other with brick common walls. The upstairs had four bedrooms and one bathroom. Each bedroom had a family. When my uncle who was a carpenter returned from the Army, he built another bedroom in the basement, so we had five bedrooms. He also built another bathroom down there too, so we had two bathrooms. So, we had quite a few people in the building which was tremendous for me. I was the only child until I was four years old, so I had all my aunties and uncles to take good care of me.
CTA 6180 is at 43rd and Oakenwald on August 8, 1953, the last day of streetcar service on the 43rd-Root Street line. Note the Illinois Central station at rear. (C. Edward Hedstrom Photo)
And at that time, everybody was working. My mother was working at Hart, Schaffner and Marx, which was on west Van Buren near the Chicago river. And so, she would take the “L” to work every day which was very convenient since we lived across the street from the Kenwood “L” end of the line terminal. There was a 43rd Street Illinois Central stop next to us, and plus, we had the 43rd streetcar. It was a very convenient place to live in terms of getting to work and shopping, and plus, it was an interesting neighborhood.
In those days, Chicago was very segregated and African Americans were not allowed to live east of Cottage Grove. And so, the neighborhood, when we first moved in was all white. Many of our neighbors on Oakenwald were of third or fourth generation German ancestry. When the first African Americans began to move east of Cottage Grove, my neighborhood changed from white to black over the summer – like in two months. Most of my friends ended up moving to Oak Lawn which was basically farmland in those days. Oak Lawn was being developed and a lot of my friends built or bought homes in that area.
Q: What year was this, then, when the segregation ended?
A: Oh, probably about 1953, let’s see, I was in fifth grade. If you look at my grammar school pictures, you can see the change. When I graduated, my class was all black. I still keep in touch with some of my classmates from grammar school.
Q: Are they on Facebook?
A: No, I don’t do Facebook. I do emails. I have a flip phone, I don’t have one of those fancy phones.
The corner of Oakenwald and 42nd Place today.
Q: Is the house still there, that you guys lived in?
A: No, what happened is that in 1961, the City of Chicago tore down the whole neighborhood to build projects between Lake Park on the west and the Illinois Central tracks on the east and from 43rd Street north to 40th Street. Unfortunately, the projects were never successful because evidently there were two gangs that got involved and I heard that they were shooting at each other between these two buildings. And sometime in the 90s, those two projects were torn down. Actually, they were blown up and it was a big media event. Now, that whole area has been rebuilt. Oakenwald grammar school was torn down and now there are all new townhouses. So, the whole neighborhood has really changed. All the vacant lots on Oakenwald are now new townhouses.
Q: Wow. What was the address of the house you were living in?
A: 4201 S. Oakenwald. It was on the southeast corner of 42nd and Oakenwald directly across the street from the Kenwood “L” end-of-the-line station there.
4323 South Oakenwald Avenue on March 23, 1949. This house is long gone. (Charles W. Cushman Collection)
Q: Had that been a wealthy neighborhood at one point in the past?
We ran a lo-fi version of this picture in a previous post. The location at first was a real mystery, but turned out to be 42nd Place, the terminal of the CTA Kenwood branch, looking west. The next photo was taken further down the platform. (We ran originally ran this with other pictures that we saw on eBay, but hadn’t been able to purchase. It was relisted and we decided to buy it after all.) Ross Harano adds, “The view is looking north rather than west. The building with the chimney is Oakenwald Grammar School at 4071 S. Lake Park that I attended. The tower on the right is the “Kiosk Sphinx” that was on an estate just north of the grammar school. Geoffrey Baer had a segment on his WTTW’s “Ask Geoffrey” about the wealthy family that built a Mediterranean style home with a pool and “Eiffel” tower. The property to the west of the station was owned by Nelson Coal. You can see the coal moving equipment in the photo. Nelson Coal stored mountains of coal east of the terminal tracks next to the Illinois Central Tracks. We used to play soldiers on the coal until we would be chased away by Nelson Coal workers.”
A: No, it was sort of middle class, I suspect. The wealthy area was north of us. If you looked at Lake Park, around Oakwood Boulevard there were a lot of mansions there—big, big mansions. I remember as a kid in grammar school they were vacant, and we used to play in them before they were torn down. There was one mansion which was a Mediterranean style with a swimming pool and a replica of the Eiffel Tower which could be seen in one of the CTA pictures that you had.
Q: What happened to this Eiffel Tower replica? Is that still there, or is it gone?
A: There’s a whole long story on Ask Geoffrey (WTTW – Chicago Tonight) about it. (See link at the end of this article.) The family made a lot of money. They built the home next to some other big mansions. Eventually, it was the last one left standing. The son had it and there was some dispute in the family so that it was eventually torn down to build an annex classroom building for the Oakenwald grammar school in 1955.
Q: Did you say that the grammar school’s not there anymore?
A: That was all torn down.
Q: Until 1949, the Kenwood “L” ran downtown, and wasn’t it such that they had these things called Kenwood-Wilson Expresses, or something like that?
A: Yes, what it was, was that there were three tracks, and so the Kenwood “L” ran as a local, so it would go to Indiana Avenue, then it would stop at I think like maybe 35th, maybe at Cermak, maybe at Roosevelt, it was a local that went around the Loop and came back. I remember riding it with my mother. She would shop at Marshall Field’s and there was an entrance to Marshall Field’s from the “L” platform. She would shop, and I would hang onto her as she walked around Marshall Field’s. And then when it became a local (shuttle) and ended at Indiana, the platform was extended to cover up the track.
Q: Right. And then from that point forward, I think they only used two tracks heading north. They weren’t using the express track anymore.
Q: Do you know which trains would have used the third track, in the middle, the express track?
A: The Jackson Park and Englewood lines were using it.
Q: And then the Kenwood was the local, it went around the Loop and came back, but I saw some pictures of trains that said Kenwood-Wilson.
A: There might’ve been a Kenwood Express that ran downtown via the subway to Wilson. Maybe during Rush Hour, they ran express, I don’t know.
Q: And then the Stock Yards “L” was always a shuttle?
A: Yeah, it started at Indiana Avenue, went around a circle in the Stock Yards and came back to Indiana.
This postcard, circa 1910, shows one of the single track “L” stations that were a unique feature of the old Stockyards branch.
Gate car #204 at Halsted on the Stock Yards branch.
Q: Did you ever ride the Stock Yards “L”?
A: Once as a kid. I rode every train when I was a kid.
Q: Just to have the experience, you rode every line?
A: What happened was that if you were under 10 or something like that, you rode free with an adult. So, my friends and I would we would follow some adults through the ticket line. We would hop on the trains and ride ‘em. I remember we rode the Ravenswood line when it was one of the first to have the metal cars. So, we took the train up to Belmont and caught the Ravenswood line. We went all the way to the end and came back. I remember that we sat in the front. There was one seat at the front window that sat sideways and was across from the driver’s compartment. There were three of us. I remember that we all sat there making a lot of noise. It’s a wonder we didn’t get kicked off the train.
Q: It must have been quite a thrill to go down into the subway for the first time.
A: Yeah, we would ride the trains all the time just to ride the trains. We got on for nothing and we were never disorderly. During the Christmas season, we’d go downtown to Marshall Field’s and play in the toy department until a salesperson would ask us where our parents were at and we would leave. We would then work our way down to The Fair (department store), Carson Pirie Scott until we got kicked out. We would then get on the train and come home. That was our entertainment during the Christmas season—we’d play in the toy departments (laughs), there was only two or three of us at a time.
Q: You had mentioned that you got to know the people who drove the trains, the Kenwood line, especially, I would imagine, when it was a shuttle operation.
A: There were only one or two drivers at that point. There was a grocery store right next to the terminal. We just called it Fred’s. The owner’s name was Fred Mamet and I worked there from sixth grade as a stock boy, delivery boy and eventually as a butcher. And I made sandwiches for the “L” drivers and conductors so I got to know them, one of them would let me drive the train for just a very short distance.
Q: Do you remember their names?
A: I was trying to remember. This one fellow was named Dillard which was his last name. And then there was our neighbor and I don’t remember his name at all. He lived on Oakenwald. He was a driver and he’s the one who let me drive.
Q: Tell me about the Kenwood line. They had a terminal there, but I suppose there were times when they really didn’t park hardly any trains there, I think they stored them elsewhere for a while, after it became a shuttle.
A: When the trains were running downtown, the whole thing was filled. There had to be maybe ten tracks for storing and repairing the cars. I don’t remember the exact number, but there were always cars up there. But when it became a shuttle, those other tracks were always empty.
Q: And then they just used a couple of trains, going back and forth?
A: One or two at the most. At night, they just had one train running.
Q: They used both tracks, they didn’t just use one of the two tracks?
A: They used both tracks.
Q: And when they got to the ends, they would go down to a single track, just use one of the two tracks?
A: Before it was a shuttle, the tracks on both sides of the terminal platform were used. When it became a shuttle, they would switch into one track on one side of the platform.
Q: That makes sense. The stations themselves were on an embankment and were sort of different than usual “L” stations, because they had been built by some other company. I think that line opened in 1907, and it pretty much stayed the same until 1957, when they got rid of it, and they had some the oldest cars, those wooden cars. That and the Stock Yards were the last two lines to use wooden cars on the whole system.
A: I remember the ones with a platform on each side, with a gate there (laughs).
Chicago “L” car 24 (aka 1024) at the Illinois Railway Museum in 2019.
Q: Those gate cars, there is only one of those that was saved. It’s at the Illinois Railway Museum. It was originally called car 24, later they changed it to 1024, and within the last few years, they have restored that car back to its original appearance and changed it back to being car 24. That one’s out there, whenever the museum is going to open again. You can ride on that one when they have it out. It’s apparently been brought back to the way it was when it was new.
A: They had like straw seats, laminated with some sort of, it wasn’t plastic, looked like straw.
Q: I think it was cane.
A: Cane, it would be, yes. The train would pull in the station, the conductor’s first job was to reverse the seats.
Q: Are you talking about, on the gate cars?
Q: What about the other cars? The other cars they had, later, were from the Metropolitan “L”, where they weren’t needed anymore, those ones that had different roofs. Did those have reversible seats too, or not?
A: Gee, I don’t remember. I just remember, it struck me that the conductor would have to change the seats. That was the first thing they did when the train pulled into the station. And the later ones, they may not have had the reversable seats. I don’t remember.
Q: And the gate cars, did they usually use a two-car train?
A: Yeah, two cars at the most.
Q: And then, the conductor, to open and close the doors, had to stand between the two cars?
Q: You can imagine what that would have been like in the wintertime. Did the conductors ride outside like that, between the two cars? Or did they go between the two cars when it went into the station?
A: They would ride in the car and when they would come to a station, they would go outside and open the gates. There would be a driver and a conductor.
Q: They continued that practice, even on the steel cars that they had from the 1920s, and it wasn’t until the early 1950s that they changed that, and tried to change it around, so the conductor didn’t have to go between the two cars like that.
A: I remember the subway. Every two cars had a conductor that opened and closed the doors. The Kenwood “L” was something when it was running downtown. There would be a lot of people getting off at Oakenwald. In fact, I remember when I was a kid, I used to have a lemonade stand in front of my house and sell lemonade to everybody when they were getting off the train.
Q: At that time, it was a very popular line?
A: The whole neighborhood, whoever worked downtown, there would be a lotta people riding it, as a kid I remember that.
Q: But later, by the time it quit, by 1957, how was the ridership then?
A: Oh, very few. Very, very few.
Q: Because it was a shuttle, or for other reasons?
A: The neighborhood was changing racially and fewer African Americans worked downtown.
My best friend Eddie Moore’s father worked at the Post Office. Another friend across the street, I think her father was a teacher. It was what I call a middle-class neighborhood in those days.
(This and the next picture) Danny Yoshida, Ross Harano and his sister Cathy In March 1951. Ross writes, “Danny is on the left. He lived on Lake Park and 38th and was a classmate at Oakenwald until he moved to 45th and Lake Park.” (Both courtesy of Ross Harano)
Q: Right. I worked for LaSalle Photo for many years, are you familiar with that company at all? The Yamamoto family. (1700 W. Diversey)
A: Oh sure, I know LaSalle. A lot of my buddies worked there. My good friend Danny Yoshida married the daughter.
Q: Right. Now, he died?
A: Yeah, he died.
Q: What happened to him?
A: I don’t know. I lost track of him. I was at an event and I was talking to someone who turned out to be his cousin. I learned that both Danny and his younger brother, Kenny, died. I believe the sister Carole is still alive. She married a friend of mine, but I lost touch with them. I have a lot of pictures of Danny and me at Oakenwald.
Q: Was he from the neighborhood?
A: He was at Oakenwald Grammar School. Then they moved to 45th and Lake Park, so he might’ve gone to Shakespeare Grammar School after that.
Q: Small world, yeah. What I recall, of course, Bill Yamamoto, he was very much, I would say, patriotic, in the sense that he could have saved a lot of money by using Fuji chemistry and paper, but he would only use Kodak, because it was American.
A: My uncle, Earl Harano, in North Platte, Nebraska, was also in the same business, so they knew each other. My uncle had a photography studio, in North Platte, Nebraska, and he secured all the school photos in Nebraska and southern South Dakota.
If you needed a job, Bill would hire you. If your son needed a job, Bill had a job for you. I had a lot of friends working there.
Q: When they let you drive a Kenwood “L” train for a little while, that must’ve been quite a thrill.
A: Yeah, it was just a brass handled knob on this thing. There was no speed involved. The train couldn’t go that fast. It had a governor on it, anyway (laughs). I think you turned the knob to a certain point, if you wanted it to go fast, you had to do something to get it to go to the next speed. The train had two speeds—slow, and slower (laughs). By the way, each driver would bring his own brass handled knob.
Q: The brake was separate?
A: I don’t remember the brake at all.
Q: On those cars, I think it was separate—probably air brakes.
A: It might have been. I never had to use the brake because I was going so slow (laughs). I didn’t drive it that far… I just drove it between the next to the last station at Lake Park to the terminal. I didn’t drive the whole route. I just drove it a little bit, so I could tell all my buddies, “Hey! I drove the train!”
Q: You’re probably one of the last few people alive who ever did, on that line.
A: (laughs) I never told anybody except my buddies we did it. I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble.
Q: Did they have basically the same two people working there, right up until the time it quit, or did that change?
A: All I remember is that I started working at the grocery store in sixth grade so that would be about 1954. Around that time, I met the drivers and conductors. I knew the ticket-taker in the station… it was a woman. I would just hang on to an adult and go right through. It wasn’t even a turnstyle.
Q: It’s unfortunate there really aren’t a lot of pictures of the interiors of many of these stations.
A: It was a pretty big station. If you look at pictures of the station, it was a pretty big building.
Q: Did they have a newsstand in there, or not?
A: At one point, there was a newsstand but it closed when the “L” became a shuttle. There was a ticket taker in the building where you paid your fare. When you arrived, there was an outside turnstyle cage to exit. You could also exit through the terminal.
Q: There was a short portion of the Kenwood line that was on a steel structure, and it joined up with this other embankment, and also had freight trains on it, right?
A: Right. It joined up at Lake Park.
Q: How far of a distance would that have been?
A: The tracks from the 42nd Place terminal went north to 40th and curved west to join up with the embankment. So it was about two and a half blocks. Along the north side of the embankment was 40th Street.
Q: That must have been fun, to ride some of these lines that don’t exist anymore. What was it like to ride on the Stockyards line?
A: I didn’t ride it that often. It was an adventure just to see everything. You’d get on at Indiana (Avenue), you’d ride, you’d see the Stockyards. I think I was having too much fun with my friends, to pay much close attention. We didn’t get off, that’s for sure. We just stayed on it for the round trip.
Q: I suppose there was quite an odor to the place in those days, wasn’t there?
A: We lived east of there, so yeah, when the wind was blowing, you could smell it. It wasn’t that bad of a smell. But you’d smell it when you went around (on the “L”).
Q: And that was unique, because they had a single-track loop there. They had some stations where there was only one track.
A: Yep. I don’t remember that. I only remember being on a train. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the tracks or anything, and plus there was two other kids, so we were joking around a lot (laughs).
Q: Tell me then, what happened to your family when you moved away from the neighborhood, to the north side. Was that because they shut down the “L”, or were there other factors involved?
A: What happened was that the “L” was shut down in ’57, and they began to tear it down in ’61. I was at Hyde Park High School. I started there in ’56 so I took the Kenwood “L” and transferred to the Jackson Park “L” and went to the end of the line at 63rd and Stony Island. In ’57, I started taking the 43rd Street bus to Drexel, and then I caught the southbound Drexel bus. It was a #1 or #5 Jeffrey Bus which dropped me off right in front of the school on Stony Island.
Q: Your family moved to the north side?
A: In 1961, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) purchased all the homes in the neighborhood to be torn down to construct the two high rise buildings. The CHA bought our property, which was lucky, otherwise we would’ve had a hard time selling it. We moved to Uptown only two-and-a-half blocks away from the (CTA) Red Line Argyle station. I would take the “L” everywhere. I gave my last car away to my son-in-law in 1990. I was working downtown so I took the subway every day.
Q: They recently completely rebuilt the whole Wilson Avenue station, and all the tracks around it. It was a huge project, and cost about $250m.
A: And now they’re doing a big thing. They’re gonna rebuild all the tracks along the way, get rid of the concrete bridges, and put in a steel structure to eliminate the center thing. They just started on it.
Q: Some of the stations are going to be shut down for a while. But at least they restored the lower portion of that Wilson station, bringing it back to its 1920s appearance. It was nice of them to do that, even though the whole inside is completely brand new.
A: They will have an organic food store there. The Argyle stop, when we first moved up north had two exits, one on the north side and one on the south side of Argyle. And eventually, when they redid the platform, they eliminated the south side exit.
Q: Tell me what happened to you and your family, after you moved north. You moved to Uptown for a few years…
A: We’re still in Uptown. My parents bought a 4 flat building on Argyle and we had our whole family in the building: my parents, my grandparents, my sister, my cousin, and my wife and kids lived there. Then I got wanderlust and I bought a building across the alley on Winnemac. My in-laws lived with us. It felt like a compound, like on The Godfather. We had all of our family around us, all the time, which was tremendous.
Q: What was your career, then?
A: I graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in finance and worked in the actuarial department at CNA Insurance. And then I went out in the field and sold insurance and later ended up being vice president of the Bank of Chicago on Wilson and Broadway. When that bank was sold, I was vice-president of another community bank in Andersonville and later left banking to run an international trading group. Afterwards, I worked in government for the Attorney General of Illinois, Neil Hartigan, and later Roland Burris. Then I became president of the World Trade Center of Chicago which was at the Merchandise Mart. Then I ended up working for the State again as the Director of Trade for the State of Illinois. I retired in 2005.
Q: And what do you do to keep busy now?
A: I am the principal of a consulting group that specializes in assisting companies to export and import products and services. So I do a lot of consulting work for several companies. I’m trying to retire, but I keep getting new projects all the time.
Q: The internment of Japanese-Americans was a dark chapter in American history, one which unfortunately was affirmed by the Supreme Court, in a kind of notorious decision (Korematsu v. United States), which still, I don’t think, has been overturned since.
A: The internment of Japanese Americans in World War II is still constitutional. Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi and Minoru Yasui were the three cases in which the US Supreme Court ruled that the internment was constitutional based upon on the grounds of military necessity.
The Supreme Court decisions have not been overturned. In 1983, however, the US District Court in San Francisco ruled that the US Government had withheld a government report that indicated that there were no cases of espionage or sabotage by the Japanese and that there was no military necessity for the Japanese American interment. The US District Court vacated the three convictions, however, the Supreme Court decisions have not been overturned. (Editor’s note: The Roberts Court essentially disavowed the Korematsu decision in the majority opinion to Trump v. Hawaii (2018), saying it had been wrongly decided.)
Q: Like I say, a dark chapter in American history, and unfortunately, now, our government is not doing good things with immigrants, and separating families, and establishing things that seem almost like concentration camps all over again.
A; Yes, the Japanese-American community has really been actively involved in protesting all of this.
I don’t know if you are aware of it, but in 1950, during the Joe McCarthy period, the Internal Security Act was passed in Congress. Title I of the Internal Security Act set up the Subversive Activity Control Board, which would be like Nazi Germany, they would have somebody on your block to report you, if they thought you were a Commie. Well, the liberals thought that this would pass, so they added Title II, which set up concentration camps in this country to be used in the event of war or insurrection within the US. The liberals thought that would be so revolting that everybody would vote against it.
But the anti-Communist mood was so bad in 1950, that if you didn’t vote for it, you felt like you weren’t coming back to Congress according to Congressman Sid Yates. He was a Northside Chicago Congressman first elected in 1948. So it was passed and vetoed by President Harry Truman. Congress voted to override his veto and ten camps were actually built in the US. Eventually, Title I was ruled unconstitutional and Title II, however, stayed on the books and was never repealed.
The original bill was known as the Nixon-Mundt Bill. We knew that Truman wouldn’t implement it, and the same for both Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. Eventually the ten camps were turned over to the Bureau of Prisons. And then in 1968 with all the rioting and everything else going on, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) said that the Black militants had declared war on the United States and were leading an insurrection and, therefore, the Internal Security Act of 1950 would be used to round them up and herd them into these camps.
So, what happened was, the Japanese American Citizens League led the effort to repeal Title II of the Internal Security Act and in 1973, it was repealed in Congress when there was a big wave of new Democratic Congressmen elected because of President Nixon’s unpopularity just like what took place in 2018. President Nixon signed the repeal legislation in Portland, Oregon, on his way to meet Emperor Hirohito. So the original Nixon-Mundt law’s repeal legislation was signed into law by President Nixon.
Q: That’s one of the ironies of history, I guess.
A: And the true irony is that Allenwood, Pennsylvania, where all of the Watergate conspirators went, was built under the Internal Security Act of 1950.
Q: I remember that when I worked for LaSalle Photo, the government issued some sort of an apology to the people who had been interned and offered them a cash payment.
A: In the mid-1970’s the Japanese American Citizens League began to seek redress and reparations for the Japanese community that were wrongfully interned during World War II. After many years of lobbying with Congressmen and Senators, a Federal Commission was appointed to hold hearings in several cities including Chicago. The Commission reported its findings to Congress and a Redress and Reparations Bill was introduced in both the House and Senate. After several years, it was finally passed in Congress. But it took a while to convince Reagan to sign the repeal legislation in August 1988. The original estimate by the Bank of America that financial losses were $5 billion in 1988 dollars which meant about $40k for every person who was in camp. Well, they didn’t do that. They sent $20k to everyone who was still alive. So, if you were alive in August 1988, you were eligible to get $20k in reparations. Most people felt the apology letter was more important than the money. The checks were finally mailed out when Bush was President. President Bush signed the formal apology letter and there was a check attached to it.
Q: Because you were in the camps, then, you did receive this kind of payment?
A: Oh yeah, I got a check, $20k check. I cashed it. Some folks said they weren’t going to cash it, I said good luck, I cashed mine. I made a copy of it, and I also have the original letter from Bush.
Q: I remember from when I worked at LaSalle Photo, this lady I worked with, said she was going to refuse the payment.
A: Some folks felt that way, I had no problem with that. I think that when the payment was refused, the money was put into a foundation. The foundation funds were spent on educational programs about the camps and the funds were used to take care of the camps. In the camp at Rohwer, Arkansas, there’s a cemetery for the internees who died in the camps that needs to be maintained. And also, the camps are now designated as national monuments.
Q: Well, if we don’t learn from history, we are probably doomed to repeat it.
A: That’s true.
Q: A lesson that unfortunately, many people haven’t learned.
A: Yes, and what is happening today, as you know, and even with this Covid-19 situation, Asians are being picked out. Because it started in China. We’re a visible minority, so in World War II I was a Jap, in the Korean War I was a Chink, in the Vietnam War I was a Gook. People can’t tell us apart, so because of that, and the fact that our existence in the US has never been legitimatized in the history books, we’re always viewed as foreigners. People keep saying to me, “Where did you learn English?”, Hyde Park High School, “Where were you born?”, California, “Where were your parents born?”, California, “Your grandfather?”, Japan, “You’re Japanese.” Now I don’t ask anybody where they’re from. If they’re white, you never ask anybody, are you Lithuanian, Polish, Estonian, or Ukrainian, whatever. We don’t ask that. Although I do ask people, I see your last name, and I say, oh, you have a Polish background, and I’ve been to Poland, and my son-in-law’s Polish. I have a lot of friends who are Lithuanian and Ukrainian. I was very active with the Baltic ethnic groups. We keep in touch with each other.
Q: This book I am working on is going to be called Chicago’s Lost “L”s. The idea is to tell a story through pictures.
A: Frank Kruesi, who was head of the CTA way back, is a hero to me because he eliminated the A/B stops. Argyle was an “A” stop, so if you heard a train coming, you’d run like hell to get up there and sometimes and it turned out to be a “B” train that went right by you. He is a hero to me because if you hear a train coming you know it’s going to stop (laughs).
Q: You know why that came about, because when the CTA, the Rapid Transit and the Surface Lines had been competitors, more or less. The typical thing was that, in some places, they had stations every two blocks on the “L”, and people lived in the neighborhoods and they would walk to the “L”. Things started to change when people got more cars, and the CTA took over, and they were trying to consolidate everything, and develop more of a cooperative system between the buses, streetcars, and the “L”, they closed a lot of stations, to try and speed up the service, because like you say, with those old cars, there were two speeds—slow, and slower. They found that if they speeded things up, they would get more riders. The A/B thing, that started out in Oak Park on the Lake Street “L”, in 1948, and it was credited with saving that line, because otherwise, the service was pretty slow. At first it was a good thing, because there were too many stations, but over the years, they closed so many stations, that by the time they got rid of the A/B thing, it was totally unnecessary. There weren’t that many stations, and now they’ve even put a few of them back. Now maybe in some places, they have too few stations. We’ve gone back to where the trains make all the stops again.
The view from the roof of the house at 4201 S. Oakenwald. In the distance, you can see the 43rd Street station of the Illinois Central Electric commuter trains. (Courtesy of Ross Harano)
A: I looked at your web site and I noticed your mentioning the South Shore “Orange” trains. They were fast. I had two friends killed by the Illinois Central trains. We used to cross the tracks, you know, to get to the park.
Q: Was that on a lower level than the rest of the neighborhood?
A: The Illinois Central tracks were slightly below level. And so, there was one kid, we used to play ice hockey together was killed by a local while I was in grammar school, so it probably had to be the early ‘50s. The other friend was hit by the South Shore “Orange” train.
Q: It’s been fascinating talking to you. A lot of your family’s history, it’s very important history, for the City of Chicago, because we value diversity here. And it’s history that I think more people ought to know.
In 2016, we were fortunate to acquire a rare 16″ transcription disc, made in 1939 for the Chicago Surface Lines. This included an audio presentation called “Keeping Pace,” about 20 minutes long, that CSL used for employee training.
We were recently able to find someone who could play such a large disc, and now this program has been digitized and can be heard for the first time in more than 80 years. We have added it as a bonus feature to our Red Arrow Lines 1967 CD, available below and through our Online Store.
Red Arrow Lines 1967: Straffords and Bullets
# of Discs – 1
This disc features rare, long out-of-print audio recordings of two 1967 round trips on the Philadelphia & Western (aka “Red Arrow Lines”) interurban between Philadelphia and Norristown, the famous third rail High-Speed Line. One trip is by a Strafford car and the other by one of the beloved streamlined Bullets. The line, about 13 miles long and still in operation today under SEPTA, bears many similarities to another former interurban line, the Chicago Transit Authority‘s Yellow Line (aka the “Skokie Swift”). We have included two bonus features, audio of an entire ride along that five mile route, which was once part of the North Shore Line, and a 20-minute 1939 Chicago Surface Lines training program (“Keeping Pace”). This was digitized from a rare original 16″ transcription disc and now can be heard again for the first time in over 80 years.
Total time – 73:32
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here. Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways
There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago: 60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958) 75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943) 80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.
While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages Chapter Titles: 01. The River Tunnels 02. The Freight Tunnels 03. Make No Little Plans 04. The State Street Subway 05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway 06. Displaced 07. Death of an Interurban 08. The Last Street Railway 09. Subways and Superhighways 10. Subways Since 1960 Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author. The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere: Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
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On February 6, 1941, the North Shore Line ran some special trips to introduce its new, streamlined Electroliners. Here we see one of the two sets at the North Water Terminal on Chicago’s “L” system.
With this, and our next post, we are tying up some loose ends, so to speak. We have collected a great number of images over the last five years, and haven’t always had an opportunity to finish working on them and present them to you here. Just the caption writing alone takes a long time, and there is often research involved.
This is in addition to our usual work in scanning, cropping, straightening, color correction, spot removal, etc., which also takes a considerable effort. There are times when the images pile up, and there are various things that need to be done to them. We recently got around to some of those things.
We hope you enjoy the results, and if you have any questions or comments about these images, be sure to drop us a line. Be sure to refer to each image by its identifying file name. You can generally see what that is by moving your mouse over the image itself.
We also thank our various contributors to today’s post, Jeff Wien of the Wien-Criss Archive, Craig Berndt, and Bill Shapotkin, who have generously shared images from their collections.
I would also be remiss if I failed to note that July 15th was Ray DeGroote’s 90th birthday. Ray is a longtime friend and mentor. He is the dean of Chicago railfans, and has traveled all over, taking unforgettable pictures, sharing his wisdom and experience with others, for a lot longer than most of us have been alive. We wish him all the best.
Through an act of serendipity, at almost the same time that we acquired the Electroliner picture above, we also obtained a souvenir ticket from that same event.
After the North Shore Line abandonment in 1963, the two Electroliners were purchased by the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow), for use on their 13-mile-long Norristown High Speed Line. Liberty Liner “Valley Forge” at Bryn Mawr in September 1964. (Richard S. Short Photo)
Although the Chicago Aurora & Elgin had an admirable safety record, I am sure, sometimes there were accidents. Here, we see cars 400 and 318 have collided. 318 must have been repaired, as it did survive the interurban, at least for a while. Don’s Rail Photos notes: “318 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It had steel sheating and was modernized in 1944. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Raiway Historical Society in 1962. It was wrecked in transit and the parts were sold to IRM to restore 321.” This picture was taken at Lockwood Yard, just west of Laramie, in June 1945. Not sure if the modernization was actually done prior to the crash, or as a result of it. Dates for these things are sometimes approximate. (Don Mac Bean Photo)
Here, we see the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend interurban (commonly known as the South Shore Line) running down the street in East Chicago, Indiana, in the late 1920s.
This is a Chicago & West Towns Railway streetcar, signed for the La Grange line, circa 1915.
The names of the two C&WT employees shown in the previous photograph.
Here is a mystery photo, It was identified as Chicago “L” workers, but Andre Kristopans doubts that this is actually Chicago. Such vintage pictures usually have the employees wearing darker uniforms than this, and where would there have been such a structure as is shown here?
The lone gate car we see in this picture is identified as work car S-2, and the date is September 9, 1957. Can this be 61st Yard?
Our resident south side expert M.E. writes:
You might be correct that this is the 61st St. yard on the Jackson Park line. I didn’t ride that line very much, because I lived along the Englewood line, so I can’t be sure. If it is 61st St., the view looks southeast.
In the 61st St. yard, I recall the long diagonal track in your picture. I also remember this track seemed to cleave the yard into two parts, such that the trains stored in the northern part would first have to move to the southern part, then onto the diagonal track to reach the mainline. That was rather clumsy.
I tried to recollect the big building in the background on the right. Or maybe there are more than one building. Either way, I think the building(s) could have been low-income project buildings that showed up on the South Side in the 1950s. The building(s) in this picture would be located south of 63rd and west of South Park Way (now King Drive).
The most convincing reason this might be 61st St. yard is, believe it or not, the way the switch is set in the lower right. That switch is set for mainline operation, in particular the northbound track. With this in mind, everything else in this picture falls into place correctly.
UPDATE: After writing all the above, I consulted my Central Electric Railfans Association (CERA) bulletin 115, dated June 1976, which covers the L system between 1947 and 1976. In the back of that book are numerous trackage layouts, including — yes — the 61st St. yard. And that trackage looks exactly like what is in your picture.
You might wonder where the connection between the southbound mainline track and the yard is. According to CERA 115, it is right where the camera is. It is a switch from southbound to northbound mainline track. In fact, you can see part of that switch precisely where your trolleydodger label (watermark) starts.
Thanks for figuring that out.
From 1949 to 1957, the CTA operated the Kenwood branch of the “L” as a shuttle operation, and here we see three such cars at the Indiana Avenue station. By the mid-1950s, the older gate cars had been replaced by ones formerly used on the Met “L”, as those lines were equipped with more modern steel cars. Not sure why there are three cars here– Kenwood usually used one or two car trains in these days.
M.E. writes: I learned from this picture that the Kenwood stub at Indiana Ave. had room for three cars. I thought it was just two. I guess I never saw a third (idle) car sitting in that space, because the presence of an idle car meant the passengers had to walk farther to connect between Kenwood and mainline trains. (And if Kenwood passengers wanted to connect to southbound mainline trains, they also had to use the overhead bridge between the two mainline platforms.)
I also learned from CERA 115 that the Stock Yards line did have its own yard, east of the Halsted St. station, but that was way back in 1913. No wonder I never saw it.
There is some speculation that the Stock Yards yard from 1913 was never actually used.
Regarding three cars in the Kenwood stub, it’s possible that a portion of the rear car went past the platform, and they didn’t open the rear door, as was the practice at other stations, where the trains ended up being longer than the platforms. (This could also be done with the front door on the head car in other places, but not here.)
More about your Kenwood stub picture:
Judging by the space between the two cars at the left, I’d have to say the leftmost car was not connected to the other two, and was in fact sitting idle. And, as you mentioned, perhaps the rightmost car isn’t fully next to the platform.
I’d have to agree with that, for another reason: I don’t know whether old wooden cars were ever upgraded to enable a single conductor (or maybe the motorman) to control all doors. If the old cars were not upgraded, then a three-car Kenwood train would need two conductors. The amount of business the Kenwood shuttle did would never justify two conductors. This fortifies my recollection that the Kenwood shuttle never ran with more than two cars, and ran most of the time with just one car.
This picture was taken from the old Halsted “L” station on the Met main line, which was just north of the Congress Expressway footprint. That station remained open until 1958, when the CTA Congress median line opened. I believe this picture was taken in 1954, but after the end of May, when buses replaced streetcars on Route 8 – Halsted. This section of highway opened in 1955. The two subway portals at right are used by the CTA Blue Line today, but the ones at left were never used. They were intended for use by Lake Street “L” trains, if that line had been re-routed onto the highway, and would have connected to a Clinton Street Subway, forming an underground “loop” along with the Lake, Dearborn, and Congress legs. Steve D. points out that the sign has Richard J. Daley on it as mayor, which means it can’t be prior to April 20, 1955.
The old Cicero Avenue station on the Garfield Park “L” stood at regular height, but to the west, Laramie was at ground level, and to the east, the Kilbourn station was at a higher level, as the “L” crossed other railroads. Here, we are looking east around July 1, 1957. Kilbourn closed in 1953 to help speed up service on the rest of the line, which was slowed down once it started using temporary trackage in Van Buren Street, between Sacramento Avenue and Aberdeen, a distance of about two-and-a-half miles.
In this view, taken around July 1, 1957, we see a westbound Garfield Park train at the Kedzie station, which was not in the direct path of the Congress Expressway. The tall smokestack in the distance belonged to the old Garden City Laundry at 3333 W. Harrison. Here, the “L” was south of the expressway, and at other points, it was north of the highway. The station off in the distance is St. Louis (3500 W.). Both stations remained open until 1958.
The former Garden City Laundry building today.
This picture, and the next one, were taken around July 1, 1957 from the Kedzie Avenue bridge over the then-Congress Expressway, looking east towards Sacramento Boulvard. Tracks are in place for the Congress median line, and in the distance, we can also see where the Garfield Park “L” crossed the highway. East of Sacramento, there was a ramp, leading down to Van Buren, where there was a temporary right-of-way at ground level. Tracks were in place for the new line at this time, but as you can see, there was no third rail yet. There is still a crossover at this location. Notice that there were support columns for the “L” right in the middle of the highway. It is inconceivable that this would be done today.
Around July 1, 1957, a westbound CTA Garfield Park “L” train is westbound on the Van Buren temporary trackage. I believe the cross street is California Avenue (2800 W.).
This is mid-1950s view of the then-Congress Expressway, looking east from Kedzie. We see the new CTA rapid transit line in the median, then under construction, and the old Garfield Park “L” in the distance. This portion of the highway opened in 1955 as far west as Laramie. I think this picture may have been taken before the other one in this post.
This view of the Congress Expressway looks east from Central Park (3600 W.) towards Homan (3400 W.). On the right, the smokestack closest to the highway belongs to the Garden City Laundry, which was located at 3333 W. Harrison Street, and is mentioned elsewhere in this post. This may be circa 1956, as the highway is open here, but tracks appear to only recently have been added to the median.
Chicago Surface Lines 3294 near the Ravenswood ‘L’ station at Montrose (today’s CTA Brown Line)
From the Collections of Craig Berndt
Craig Berndt shared these really nice images, which he purchased from the estate of the late Ken Luttenbacher, who may be the photographer. All were taken on the north side, and many of these pictures were shot from the front of a train, looking out the window (which was most likely opened, since this was in the days before air conditioned rapid transit cars).
While we don’t see a lot of “L” cars, what we do see are some excellent shots of the rights-of-way on the Howard and Evanston lines (today’s Red and Purple Lines).
I wrote a book about the Toledo & Chicago Interurban that operated the Ft. Wayne-Garrett-Kendallville-Waterloo line, part of which operated in freight service until May 1945. I made presentations about it at Hoosier Traction Meet a few years ago.
All the pictures in this section are from the Craig Berndt Collection.
This August 1963 view is just south of Lawrence, looking north. The overhead wire at left was used by CTA electric locomotives, a holdover from the days when the Milwaukee Road had service here, prior to this line being electrified and put up on an embankment. Apparently, North Shore Line trains sometimes used the overhead and switched over to third rail further south.
Loyola, looking north, in August 1963.
North of Loyola, looking north, August 1963.
Linden Terminal, Wilmette, in August 1963.
Here, in August 1963, we are just north of the Berwyn station on the North-South main line. Off to the left, there was Lill Coal and Oil, which used freight service on the ‘L’ until 1973. In this photo, you can see part of their siding heading off from the freight track, which has overhead wire. Lill was the last freight customer the CTA had. Once they stopped using the service, the CTA was able to eliminate freight. This was a carryover from the days when this portion of the route started out as part of the Milwaukee Road. That railroad interchanged with the rapid transit just north of Irving Park Road. Freight cars were hauled by electric locomotives using overhead wire. There was a ramp up to the ‘L’ structure near Montrose.
The same location today.
Fullerton, looking north, in August 1963.
Just south of Belmont, looking north, in August 1963.
Approaching Wilson, looking north . in August 1963. Wilson shops are visible.
Just south of Addison, looking north, in August 1963. You can see the Wrigley Field scoreboard at left.
Howard Terminal, August 1963. This station was completely redone in the early 2000s.
Morse, looking north, in August 1963. The old No Exit Cafe, a Beatnik coffehouse established in 1958, was located not far from here, starting in 1967.
Just north of Sheridan, looking north towards Wilson, in August 1963.
We are looking south off the rear of a northbound Evanston train at Foster Station in August 1963. The station in the distance is Davis Street.
Looking south from the old Isabella station on the Evanston line in August 1963. The bridge in the distance goes over the North Shore Channel.
The old Wilson Avenue Upper Yard in August 1963. The shops building burned in 1996 and was removed.
This August 1963 shot shows the yard at Linden Avenue in Wilmette, at the north end of the Evanston branch. There are overhead wires at left because this branch did not use third rail until 1973 (although the yard did). The station was behind the photographer, since moved to the left (east), I believe. To the left was also where the North Shore Line continued north on its own tracks for about a block, before heading west on Greenleaf Avenue.
DePaul University is near Fullerton Avenue on the North-South main line. There were four tracks north of Chicago Avenue on this line, with a few gaps between there and Howard Street, where the Evanston and Skokie branches begin. This August 1963 view, taken from out the window of a northbound train (as are some of the others) looks north to the Fullerton “L” station.
The Sheridan Road CTA station in August 1963. It still looks much like this today.
The Ravenswood (today’s Brown Line) terminal at Lawrence and Kimball, looking north, in January 1960.
All the trains I see here in this July 1964 scene are Douglas Park ones, leading me to think this is the old Pulaski road yard on that line. This route is now called the Pink Line, but that yard has been removed. The configuration of tracks from a map I have looks like it fits what I see in the picture. On the other hand, Steve D. says this is Logan Square, due to the building in the back with a sign for the Hollander Storage & Moving Company, which is still there on Fullerton Avenue.
This is the bridge over the North Shore Channel on the Evanston route in August 1963. We are looking south, and the station in the distance is Central Street.
From the Wien-Criss Archive
All the images in this section were taken by the late Charles L. Tauscher, and are shared by Jeff Wien, of the Wien-Criss Archive. These pictures show Kenosha buses, most on a fantrip held by the Omnibus Society of America. Bill Shapotkin notes, “OSA Fantrip 33 operated on July 9, 1967. The carrier was then known as Lake Shore Transit/Kenosha. Two different buses where used during the trip- #705 and 709.”
I recognize the former Kenosha North Shore Line station, four years after abandonment. The building still exists, but has been altered. It served as a restaurant for many years, and is now a day car center.
There are also two pictures taken in Racine, with the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Johnson Wax Building in the background.
The large Pepsi bottlecap ad on the front of one bus reminds me of the streetcars in Johnstown, Pennsylvania that had these too, in pictures taken near the end of service there in 1960.
If anyone can help identify the other locations, that would be greatly appreciated. Again, please refer to each image by file name, thanks.
Bill Shapotkin: “This photo looks east on 6th Street across Park Avenue in Racine, WI. Note that the Greyhound station is located on S/E corner of intersection. Aside from Greyhound, Wisconsin Coach (which operates a suburban bus service between Milwaukee and Kenosha) also served this station.”
How this area looks today.
Bill Shapotkin: “This photo was taken in Racine, WI facing N/B on Main JUST NORTH of 5th Street. The view looks east.”