The date of this picture is not known, but it must have been in the early 1950s. We see a Chicago & North Western commuter train (aka a “Scoot”) at left on an embankment, while an eastbound CTA train is on the ground level portion of the Lake Street “L”. Perhaps a more exact location can be determined by the signal tower shown in the photo. I think the woods were off of Lake by the end of 1954, and steam only lasted a couple more years on the C&NW. Now both Metra commuter trains and CTA’s Green Line trains share this embankment. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Variety, they say, is the spice of life, and we certainly have a spicy batch of photos for you today. Most are from the collections of William Shapotkin, whose interests range far afield. Looking through all these photos was, for me at least, like Christmas in July.
We hope that you will enjoy them as much as we do. We thank Mr. Shapotkin for generously sharing these images with our readers.
We will be appearing at City Lit Books (2523 N. Kedzie Avenue in Chicago) at 1:00 pm this Saturday, July 24, to discuss our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s.
Our program will start with a 20 minute audiovisual presentation, followed by questions and answers from the audience, and a book signing. We hope to see you there.
Interestingly, City Lit Books occupies the same building that once housed the Logan Square “L” Terminal, although you would hardly know it by looking at the exterior. Our presentation will give an overview of the book, and then delve further into the historic “L”s of the northwest side (Logan Square, Humboldt Park, and Ravenswood), with plenty of pictures of the Logan Square Terminal.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
On July 16th, I was invited to appear on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
CA&E 318 is on a mid-1950s fantrip sponsored by the Illini Railroad Club. The car is out on the Mount Carmel branch. You can see Maury Klebolt (1930-1988), the trip organizer, in the window. Mike Franklin: “This photo is looking west on the north side of Roosevelt Rd in Hillside taken from Oak Ridge Ave. That is not a cemetery on the right but rather the outdoor show room for Peter Troost Monument Co, same as today. Queen of Heaven Mausoleum at Wolf & Roosevelt can be seen in the distant left.”
The same location today.
We are looking east along Lake Street, just west of Laramie, in the early 1950s. The Lake Street “L” descended to ground level here, running parallel to the CTA Route 16 streetcar for a few blocks. Streetcar service was replaced by buses on May 30, 1954.
The CTA State and Lake station on April 21, 1980, looking north. This is why I am not sorry to see the old station replaced by a new one– the old one was messed with a lot over the years. It was also damaged by fire, with the result that very little that is original remains. (Clark Frazier Photo)
On February 19, 2017, thanks to a substantial donation from the late Jeffrey L. Wien, the Central Electric Railfans’ Association held a fantrip on the CTA using a four-car train wrapped to celebrate the Chicago Cubs’ World Series victory the previous fall. The lead car was 5695. (Bruce C. Nelson Photo)
On June 1, 1950 CTA PCC 7217 was used as part of an inquest into the fatal collision between car 7078 and a gasoline truck that killed 33 people (and injured many others) on May 25th of that year. The location is 6242 S. State Street. The resulting fire destroyed several nearby buildings. This accident is the subject of a book (The Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster).
Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 205 heads up a westbound four-car train at Cicero Avenue on the Garfield Park “L”.
The beginnings of demolition of the Stohr Arcade building at Broadway and Wilson in December 1922. This Frank Lloyd Wright-designed triangular structure, partially hidden underneath the Northwestern “L”. barely lasted a decade and was replaced by Arthur U. Gerber’s Uptown Union Station the following year. (Chicago Daily News Collection, DN-0075219, Chicago History Museum)
There was once a veritable railfan comic strip that appeared in hundreds of daily newspapers– Fontaine Fox‘s Toonerville Trolley. Here are eight daily panels from December 1939. You will note that most do not feature the trolley or its Skipper.
December 2, 1939.
December 4, 1939. The reference to Holland relates to the “phony war” period of World War II. War had broken out in Europe, but Germany did not invade Holland until the Spring of 1940.
December 6, 1939.
December 7, 1939.
December 9, 1939.
December 11, 1939.
December 13, 1939.
December 14, 1939.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin:
Bill had three different duplicate slides, all of this same image. I tried to stitch them all together to see if the result would be sharper than the three rather fuzzy slides. It didn’t seem to help much. All I know about this North Shore Line scene is that it was taken in 1957. One of the dupes was from Ashland Car Works.
CTA 6238 at 71st and Western on February 3, 1953.
February 22, 1956 at the Chicago & North Western’s Lake Bluff station. At right, an eastbound passenger train arrives, while a westbound freight (coming off the “New Line”) passes. The view looks north.
CTA single-car unit 41 in July 1992. This car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. During the 1980s it was usually paired with car 28, which unfortunately was not saved.
North Shore Line 758 heads up a four-car train, while a nearby Milwaukee Electric interurban is visiting on a 1949 fantrip.
CTA 6151, a Stony Island car, at Navy Pier on July 4, 1951.
CA&E bus 101.
CA&E 409 at Trolleyville, USA in Olmstead Falls, OH in July 1966. Since 2009, this car has been at the Illinois Railway Museum.
CTA 2923 at the Addison station on the (now) Red Line in June 1993. It was suggested that this might be Addison on the Ravenswood (today’s Brown Line) because there are only two tracks visible. However, Graham Garfield says, “No no! This is actually a very special photo! This is a temporary platform at Addison Red Line (only recently having become the “Red Line”, née North-South Route) built as part of the staging for reconstructing the station, which was rather involved because the structure had to be widened to change from dual side platforms to a single island platform. I was interested to see this photo, as I have only seen a handful of photos of the staging and temp facilities from this project. To accommodate the island platform, the space between the center tracks had to the widened, so the two northbound tracks (3 & 4) stayed on the original steel structure and the southbound tracks (1 & 2) were placed on a new concrete deck with direct track fixation instead of the standard cut spikes and tie plates on the steel-deck elevated. While this concrete structure was being built, southbound Evanston and Howard trains ran on track 3 until August 19, 1994, when both where shifted onto track 1 on the new decking. On August 21, southbound Howard trains moved onto their permanent home on track 2. The new island platform had opened earlier in the summer. The layout of the switches in Addison Interlocking north of the station were arranged specifically to make that reroute scheme possible. So this view looks north on the temporary SB platform along track 3, with a SB Red Line A train stopping.”
A three-car CA&E train at the Aurora terminal.
A five-car North Shore Line train on July 5, 1957. (Joseph Canfield Photo)
CTA Pullman 550 at Madison and Canal in November 1951, presumably running on Route 56 – Milwaukee Avenue. That’s the Chicago Daily News building at rear.
CTA trolley bus 9761 is running on Route 85 – Central near the end of electric bus service. This slide was processed in April 1973. The Manor Theater was located at 5609 W. North Avenue, and was eventually converted into a banquet hall (Ferrara Manor) after it was purchased by the same family that owned the Ferrara Pan Candy Company. So, the location of this slide is at Central and North Avenues, looking to the southwest as the bus is heading north to Bryn Mawr.
CTA 550 entering the Imlay loop at Milwaukee and Devon in September 1951.
This is a former Toronto PCC streetcar, but I have no other information about the picture.
CSL 6022 at Kedzie and 47th Place in June 1943 (?) Not sure if this date is correct, considering the slab-sided postwar auto on the next block. Dan Cluley writes, “Regarding the date of bills188 the sign on the streetcar advertises “Park and Recreation week – May 21-30” That seems to have been a national promotion in 1948. My guess on the car would be postwar Hudson.” So let’s call it June 1948 then.
CTA Pullman 900 at 93rd and Stony Island on November 16, 1951.
CTA 3191 at Stony Island and 93rd on July 11, 1951.
The Pioneer Limited (live steam) at Kiddieland amusement park in August 1992. After Kiddieland closed, the steam engines were purchased by the Hesston Steam Museum.
The observation car on the Kiddieland Express at Kiddieland amusement park in Melrose Park, IL in August 1992. (William Shapotkin Photo)
Milwaukee Road “bipolar” electric loco E-2 on display at the National Museum of Transportation in Kirkwood, MO on August 2, 1995. (William Shapotkin Photo)
CTA gate car 322 is signed as a Kenwood Local on Chicago’s Loop “L” in July 1`1948. Kenwood became a shuttle, running only as far as the Indiana Avenue station, in August 1949 as part of CTA’s major revision of north-south service.
Chicago, IL. CTA car 5010 leads the inaugural revenue run of 5000-series cars on CTA’s Howard-Dan Ryan Line at Howard terminal. The view looks W-NW on April 19, 2010. (William Shapotkin Photo)
Chicago, IL. Rear-end interior view of CTA “L” car 5010. Photo taken during inaugural revenue run of 5000-series cars on the Howard-Dan Ryan line (April 19, 2010). (William Shapotkin Photo)
CA&E 604 and 427 in Wheaton.
CA&E car 20 at the Fox River Trolley Museum in July 1987, with CTA 5001 and a 4000 in the background.
A CTA freight train is on the north side “L” in this undated photo, looking south. Electric freight service was the “L”s responsibility from 1920 to 1973, a holdover from the days when this was a Milwaukee Road line operating at ground level.
The CA&E Wheaton Yard and Shops.
“In the last days of the last streetcar line in Milwaukee, a Wells Street car trundels through downtown.” This would have to be no later than 1958. A new modern streetcar line began operations in Milwaukee a few years ago. (A. C. Kalmbach Photo)
I did the best I could with this image, which was completely faded to red. It shows Illinois Terminal 451 being used in regular service on the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit line in October 1976, due to a car shortage. (Jim Walker Photo)
Cleveland RTA PCC 75 is at East 83rd Street on the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit line on May 30, 1976.
SEPTA 6139-6140 (ex-CTA) at the Norristown terminal on March 10, 1987. Until 1951, there was a ramp continuing north from here, leading to street trackage used by the Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell interurban, which continued to Allentown. This terminal has since been replaced.
This is one of the North Shore Line stations designed by Arthur U. Gerber. But which one? My guess is Kenosha. The original slide, from November 1987, was so underexposed that it almost looked opaque, but I did what I could with it.
This picture shows the Lake Street “L” at Laramie Avenue (5200 W.) in a state of transition on October 22, 1962– just six days before service west of here was moved to the nearby Chicago & North Western embankment. This two-car train of 4000s (4383-4384) is descending the ramp to ground level, but as you can see, the connection to the embankment is already in place to the left (north). It appears that a section of the ramp was modified when the new track connection was made, as you can see the tracks leading down to ground level bump out a bit to the south. Once the new arrangement was placed in service, the ramp leading to ground level was removed, and the trolley poles were taken off the 4000s used on Lake. They were replaced by new 2000-series cars in 1964.
CSL trolley bus 87 is on Central Avenue near Lake Street on June 7, 1930. These are probably CSL officials, since trolley bus service on Route 85 – Central began the next day, replacing a Chicago Motor Coach route. CSL had begun trolley bus service on Diversey Avenue on April 17, 1930, which explains why this chartered bus was signed for Route 76. Diversey lost its trolley buses in 1955. CSL chose trolley buses for some northwest side routes as they were in competition with the Chicago Motor Coach company to extend service there. It was quicker (and cheaper) for CSL to institute service with electric buses, with the intention (never realized) to convert them to streetcar lines once ridership justified it. This was part of what CSL called “balanced” transit.
Milwaukee streetcar 998 in the 1950s.
CTA buses 5076 and 5300 at the Imlay loop, at Milwaukee and Devon.
CTA buses 5253 and 5218 at the Imlay loop.
CTA buses 5143 and 5300 at the Imlay loop, which is still in use today.
CA&E cars 600 and 702.
We are looking to the west/northwest along the Kennedy expressway at Canfield. An inbound CTA Blue Line train approaches the Harlem Avenue station (located behind the photographer). This picture was taken around October 2019.
CTA trolley bus 9657 on Route 53 – Pulaski. Daniel Joseph: “Location is Pulaski/Peterson Terminal.”
Illinois Terminal sleeping car 504, the “Peoria,” at the Illinois Railway Museum in May 1977. It was built by American Car and Foundry in 1910.
CA&E car 303.
I am not sure just which CA&E wood car this is, at the Wheaton yards. I stitched together two versions of this slide, both badly faded to red, and attempted to restore the colors.
CA&E 406 at Elgin.
CTA 3163 on the ground level portion of the Lake Street “L” in Oak Park on April 27, 1952.
CA&E 424 and train at the Elgin terminal in August 1953.
CA&E 428 at the terminal in Elgin on August 10, 1956.
CTA 5436 at 79th and Perry in March 1950.
CTA 3232 on Route 67. M.E. adds, “This photo was likely taken at 69th and Western. This is an eastbound car making the turn from going north on Western to going east on 69th. After the 69th St. line was converted to buses, the CTA kept the tracks in operation so that PCC cars running along Western could access the barn at Vincennes and 77th.”
CTA 3254 at 71st and California on February 3, 1953.
CTA 3318 at 71st and California on May 28, 1950.
CTA 422 on Kedzie at 47th on May 13, 1954. It would appear this one of one a few locations where there was wire shared by streetcars and trolley buses. M.E. adds, “There was no trolley bus service along Kedzie, so the only explanation for the trolley bus here is that it was going either to or from the trolley bus barn. I don’t know precisely where that barn was, but judging by the picture, it had to be somewhere along Kedzie between 47th and 51st Sts., which had the only two trolley bus lines on the south side.” John V.: “CTA 422 on Kedzie: Trolley buses for routes 47 & 51 utilized Archer Car Station for storage, accessed via Kedzie north of 47th Street. Kedzie itself changed over to trolley buses in 1955.”
CTA trolley bus 9289 at the turnaround loop at Belmont and Cumberland.
The same location today.
CTA trolley bus 9504 on Route 53 – Pulaski in 1970. Mike Charnota Photo)
We are looking east along Randolph Street on October 16, 1958. We see the old Trailways bus depot, and what was then the newly remodeled CTA “L” station, which was replaced a few years ago by a new station a block south and Washington and Wabash. I am not sure whether the giant CTA logo was saved off the old station.
This is an Ashland Car Works duplicate slide, sold by the late Jack Bailey. This is a North Shore Line train in one of the northern suburbs, running on the Shore Line Route, parallel to the Chicago & North Western (which would be just to the right of the frame). Which means we are looking to the south. KV writes that this “appears to be St. Johns Avenue in Highland Park.”
Blue Island, IL on September 6, 2001. This two-car section of the Blue Island (Vermont Street) Metra (IC) Electric station platform is all that’s left of the original 1926 station. The head house and remainder of the platform have been demolished and a new facility is under construction. The view looks N-NE across the west pocket track.
Near the Armitage CTA “L” station in April 1968.
A Chicago Great Western “piggyback” freight train on Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal tracks on September 13, 1965. The CGW was abandoned in the 1970s. We are looking west from Harlem Avenue in Forest Park, IL, with the CTA Congress rapid transit station at right (part of today’s Blue Line). Note how the fiberglass panels on the ramp are arranged in a colorful pattern. Some years later, many of these were removed after some riders were robbed in these secluded walkways. (Dick Talbott Photo)
South Shore Line car 16 in July 1977.
A southbound North Shore Line Electroliner at Lake Bluff. (A. C. Kalmbach Photo)
This was taken on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip on the Metra Electric around May 1990. The South Shore Line also runs on these tracks somewhere on Chicago’s south side.
South Shore Line 10 in December 1983. (Gregory Markey Photo)
CA&E 309 at the Wheaton Shops.
CTA PCC 7171 heads south on State Street at Wacker Drive, most likely on Route 36. The CTA “L” station at State and Lake Streets is a block away, with Fritzel’s restaurant and the Chicago Theater visible. This picture dates to the mid-1950s.
A train of Met cars on the Garfield Park “L”. (John J. Kelly, Jr. Photo)
CTA 4053-4336 on the Lake Street “L” in Oak Park on October 19, 1952.
CSL 5222 on Halsted at 79th Street, apparently in the late 1920s. The Capitol Theater was located at 7941 S. Halsted and opened in 1925. The view looks south. M.E. notes: “In this photo you see tracks switching between Halsted and 79th St. These switches took Halsted cars east on 79th St. to Vincennes, then north to 77th St. to the big CSL barn. Those tracks could also have led to Emerald Ave. (a half block east of Halsted), where the Halsted cars turned south, then west into the terminal at roughly 79th Place between Emerald and Halsted. From the picture, I can’t determine whether that terminal existed in the 1920s. Halsted cars could have also used the barn farther south at 88th and Vincennes, which had been the barn for the interurban line that ran from Kankakee to the L at 63rd Place and Halsted.” “I don’t know when the barn at 103rd and Vincennes (also on the Halsted route) opened, but even had it existed in the 1920s, there would not have been a track connection between the Halsted cars running on a private right-of-way east of Vincennes, and the barn on the southwest corner of 103rd and Vincennes. I say this with certainty because, at the intersection of 103rd St., Vincennes Ave. and Beverly Blvd. (which came in from the northwest), there was also the freight line of the Pennsylvania Railroad that ran alongside Beverly Blvd. and crossed both the CSL Vincennes line and the Rock Island main line. So there would not have been any room to run streetcar trackage to the barn! Plus, I believe the 103rd St. barn was strictly a bus barn. But the junction of 103rd and Vincennes, the center of the neighborhood called Washington Heights, would have been a great railfanning location, with Rock Island mainline and commuter trains, CSL Vincennes streetcars, and the Pennsy freights.”
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
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A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
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Our last post The Kiddielands of Chicago has been very well received, so we thought you might also like these videos we shot on October 3, 2009. These show some of the last rides ever taken at Kiddieland. By this time, the park was already closed to the public, as this was “employee appreciation day,” for the benefit of people who had worked there over the years.
In addition, here are some additional Kiddieland videos.
There was a time when the Chicago area was dotted with several small amusement parks for children, the largest and most fondly remembered being Kiddieland in Melrose Park, at the corner of North and First Avenues. I made my first trip there in 1959 when I was all of four years old.
The miniature train ride, naturally, held out a special fascination, and Kiddieland had a roster of steam and diesel locomotives. Originally, the train went quite a distance around the perimeter of the park, but was unfortunately shortened somewhere along the way as the property got subdivided to create a driving range.
Being a kid in the 1950s and 1960s was a bit simpler than it is today. Kiddileand had a kiddie fire truck, made from a VW pickup, and if your parents arranged for it, it would drive out to your neighborhood to pick up you and your pals and bring you there so you could spend money. There weren’t any seat belts, so presumably if you fell out of the truck along the way to the park, that was your own damn fault and I doubt there was much that anyone would have done about it.
There was a time after World War II when the US had many small amusement parks and outdoor drive-in movie theaters, but they are a vanishing breed. As cities expanded, developers moved in and purchased their land for strip malls, housing developments, and shopping centers.
The king of all local amusement parks had to be Riverview at Western and Belmont, where you could “laugh your troubles away.” I was fortunate also to have visited Riverview several times as a kid, and even rode on the parachute jump once, a scary but thrilling experience if there ever was one. After the park closed in 1967 it quickly passed into myth and legend.
Kiddieland too has passed into local legend, fondly remembered. It had an admirable safety record, but that was not always the case for its competitors, as this Chicago Tribune article about Playland shows.
There were other difficulties. The owners of Kiddieland sued Hollywood Kiddieland, accusing them of copying their name to trade off their good reputation.
Internet searches turned up some vintage home movies of Playland Park and Fairyland:
I also found some great articles about Hollywood Kiddieland and Kiddie Town. These pictures show that some amusement parks were not all sweetness and light, with uncut grass and dirt trails. But, based on how so many people have fond memories of these places, they made an incredible impression on young minds.
After Kiddieland closed on September 27, 2009, they held an “employee appreciation day” on October 3rd, to give anyone who had worked there over the years a chance to experience the park one last time. Since my brother Bill had worked there in 1971-72, we went there together, and I took the various Kiddieland pictures in this post.
I heard they were going to keep the famous sign, but did not discover where it had ended up until recently. I happened by the Melrose Park Public Library on 19th Avenue, just north of Lake Street, and there it was on the side of the building. Or there part of it was, at any rate, since the pole and many of the lights somehow were lost in the transition.
I’m glad that at least this much of Kiddieland was saved, but the overall effect of the sign (which does light up at night) will never be the same as it was when it was complete, and rotating, with an amusement park behind it, and the smell of popcorn and cotton candy.
Other parts of Kiddieland had an even better fate. The Little Dipper roller coaster is now at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, and at least one of the miniature steam engines is at the Hesston Steam Museum in Indiana. I rode it in September 2010. It’s actually quite a nice ride, and much longer than Kiddieland had in the final years. They have a big to-do every Labor Day weekend, and it’s well worth the trip.