In 2016, Jeff Wien hired Rick Foss to add realistic color to what had been a black-and-white image, a rare shot of a PCC streetcar passing the entrance of Riverview Amusement Park on Western just north of Belmont in 1956. The results were spectacular. (Wien-Criss Archive)
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A Tribute to Jeffrey L. Wien
Like many, I was recently shocked and saddened to hear that longtime Chicago railfan Jeffrey L. Wien had died at the age of 79. I had known Jeff for more than 40 years. While I mourn his passing, this post celebrates his lifelong interest in electric railways, which was so important to him.
Some time ago, he had asked me to compose his obituary, and this is what I came up with:
Jeffrey Lawrence Wien of Chicago died from a heart attack at Rush University Medical Center on January 6, 2021 at the age of 79. He had been hospitalized for about ten days suffering from pneumonia. Jeff was born in Chicago on April 3, 1941, the son of Jerome Lester Wien and Helen Louise Kraus. He grew up on the south side of Chicago near 47th Street until 1950, when the family moved to Evanston. He was a graduate of Evanston Township High School (class of 1959) and Northwestern University (class of 1963). He served his country as a Lieutenant in Naval Intelligence from 1963 to 1967. By profession, he was an accountant, and worked for Blue Cross-Blue Shield and at Provident Hospital. He was smart, funny (with an acerbic wit), opinionated, and loyal to his friends. Although he was talented in many areas, he was very modest and never boastful. He did not suffer fools gladly, but if you knew him, he was your friend for life. He loved to travel and was an avid and accomplished photographer and filmmaker, whose work appeared in many publications. His interest in historic preservation, architecture, and nostalgia drew him to street railways, interurbans and railroads. He was a passenger on the last Chicago streetcar in 1958 and was one of the last living employees of the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban. He was the author of Chicago Streetcar Memories, a DVD produced by Chicago Transport Memories LLC in 2009. Jeff was a co-author of the very comprehensive book Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, issued as Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association in 2015. Jeff was a voting member of the Illinois Railway Museum and a generous contributor to its activities. He was also a director and officer of Central Electric Railfans’ Association for 37 years. CERA is a not-for-profit technical and educational association founded in 1938. Along with Bradley Criss, he established the Wien-Criss Archive, an important photographic collection and resource that will continue to aid historical research in the future. Jeff will be very much missed and long remembered by everyone who knew him. He believed that life is the single most important thing, so you must protect it. He was predeceased by his spouse Bradley Scott Criss, and is survived by his sister Helen Jo Wien (Lotsoff), a niece and nephew. Interment is at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois. Donations can be made in Jeff’s memory to the Illinois Railway Museum CTA 4391 Restricted Fund.
Jeff became interested in streetcars at an early age. Ray DeGroote recalls answering a letter requesting more information from Jeff in 1955 while volunteering at CERA (Central Electric Railfans’ Association). They became lifelong friends, and brought Jeff in touch with what Ray has called the “intelligence network” of railfans, in those pre-Internet days. Jeff participated in his first fantrip in December 1956, one of several that were held in the declining years of Chicago streetcars, as the last lines were replaced by buses one by one.
His family lived at 48th and Woodlawn on Chicago’s south side until 1950, when they moved to the north end of Evanston. The closest “L” station was Isabella, a lightly patronized ground-level station that closed in 1973. It was made somewhat famous by being featured in the opening credits of the original Bob Newhart Show in the early 1970s.
Jeff’s initial interest was in taking 8mm color motion pictures. One roll would yield about three minutes of silent movie film. He taught himself photography by trial and error. Sometimes, people watching him would ask, incredulously, why he would want to take pictures of a streetcar?
Once Jeff discovered that the Western Avenue line would soon be replaced by buses, he did everything possible to document it, and the other remaining Chicago streetcar lines. Late in life, he could still recall how disappointed he was to discover that Western Avenue streetcars had been replaced by buses in June 1956.
This was followed by the loss of the final two north side lines in 1957 (Broadway and Clark), and finally Wentworth on the south side in 1958. In each case, Jeff rode the last car. By then, he had met other friends his own age who shared the same interest. Together, they decorated the last Chicago streetcar with crepe paper and a sign bidding farewell to Windy City trolleys. (This was no doubt inspired by “last cars” from other cities, some of which commemorated those events by decorating the cars, which the Chicago Transit Authority did not do.)
Until Jeff was 14, interurban trains of the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee (aka the North Shore Line) passed near to his house in Evanston on the Shore Line Route. The North Shore Line became another of Jeff’s great interests, and he rode the last southbound car on a very cold January 21, 1963 along with his sister, although not to the end of the line at Roosevelt Road. (As the hour was so late, Jeff and Helen Jo got off at Howard Street to take the Evanston shuttle back to Isabella.)
During the summer of 1961, Jeff had a summer job as a ticket-taker for the North Shore Line at the Adams and Wabash station downtown, making him one of the interurban’s last living employees. Several years ago, he purchased a rare North Shore Line ticket cabinet from the Dempster Street station on that line. It was one of his prized possessions, and I persuaded him to write an article about it, which you can read here.)
Jeff started shooting color 35mm slides in 1959. His favorite film was Kodachrome, which then had a film speed of 10, meaning it was largely restricted to sunny days. Jeff would say, “I worship the sun,” and his favorite type of photo was the “three quarter” view, taken on a sunny day. He became a master at this type of photo. He favored all-mechanical Pentax cameras, as he did not trust batteries. He learned how to expose film by using the tried and true “Sunny f/16” rule.
Many other “last rides” in different cities followed. From 1963 to 1967, Jeff served in the Navy, and was stationed in Washington, DC. He was in Baltimore when their last streetcars ran in 1963, and Los Angeles when they ended both streetcar and trolley bus service the same year. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were also among Jeff’s favorite cities, as they both had extensive streetcar systems that were gradually reduced in size and scope over the years.
It was, for many years, a hobby with many “lasts,” but after reaching a low point in the mid-1970s, things began to turn around, with the start of the new San Diego Trolley in 1981. Soon this was joined by a host of other new “firsts,” light rail and streetcar lines across the country, and Jeff traveled to many of these places, to ride, photograph, and film them.
Jeff was an avid collector of other people’s photos in addition to his own. Ray DeGroote gave him the William C. Hoffman collection, after the latter’s death in 1988. Hoffman had extensively documented Chicago’s streetcar, interurban, and “L” lines in photographs and in movies during the 1950s, which are now invaluable historical artifacts. These, he freely shared with others.
Jeff was very active in the Central Electric Railfans’ Association, a not-for-profit technical and educational group, and served as a director for 37 years. This culminated in the 2015 publication of CERA Bulletin 146, Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, which I co-authored. For Jeff, this was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, and the book was well received.
In the book, I wrote a tribute to Jeff, since I really thought of it as being his life’s work. I compared him to the late Richard Nickel, one of the pioneers of architectural preservation here in Chicago. Jeff was a pioneer as a transit preservationist. His influence was profound and extensive in his field. It’s fine that people will pay tribute to him now that he is gone, but I felt it was just as important to do this while he was still alive and able to read it himself.
Fantrips were one of Jeff’s major interests, and the last one he was involved with was on February 19, 2017, when CERA sponsored a trip on the CTA “L” system with four cars wrapped temporarily to celebrate the Cubs winning the 2016 World Series. This was made possible in large part by Jeff’s $2000 contribution.
He was also quite active at the Illinois Railway Museum, as one of only 100 voting members, and through his preservation activities. He helped bring Chicago Surface Lines motor coach 3407 to the museum, and in 2019, made a substantial contribution to bring Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 453 to IRM.
Along with his late partner Bradley Criss, Jeff produced two feature-length videos, Chicago Streetcar Memories, and A Tribute to the North Shore Line.
Jeff’s final activities were to add slides and negatives to his collection that either interested him, or filled gaps in his collection. Some of these were pictures that he was unable to take himself, and gave him immense pleasure. This included his purchase of a large portion of the late Bob Selle’s black-and-white negatives in 2018 and numerous rare Kodachrome slides taken by others, including the late Charles L. Tauscher.
Jeff’s was a life well lived, and a blessing to those who knew him. What follows are some highlights from Jeff’s life in our hobby. He will be sorely missed.
Here is Jeff at 15, taking part in a fantrip on a red Chicago streetcar on February 10, 1957.
On February 16, 1957, CTA 7201 was the last streetcar to run on Route 36. Here it is seen at Clark and Devon. (Charles H. Thorpe Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
On February 16, 1957, CTA 7201 was the last streetcar to run on Route 36. Here it is seen at State and Madison. (Charles H. Thorpe Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
CTA PCC 7201 is heading northbound at Clark and Wells on February 16, 1957, in this photo by Charles H. Thorpe, from the Wien-Criss Archive. It was the last streetcar to operate on the State-Broadway portion of Route 36.
I believe this iconic picture of CTA 7213, leaving Clark and Kinzie on the last Chicago streetcar run in the early morning hours of June 21, 1958, is a CTA photo.
Jeff was amazed a few years ago, when he found out that the late Charles Keevil had shot 16mm film of the last Chicago streetcar in 1958. This was transferred to digital and released by the CTA:
Jeff and his young friends decorated car 7213, no doubt inspired by what other cities had previously done for their last runs:
LVT 912, dressed in bunting at Fairview car barn for the last run of an Allentown streetcar, on June 7 1953.
A mother and her two kids have just gotten off a northbound Evanston train of 4000s at Isabella in January 1972. This station closed on July 16, 1973 and within a short period of time, all traces of it were removed, as it was a short distance from the Linden terminal and had low ridership. That same year, the Evanston branch was converted to third rail operation, and overhead wire was removed.
CTA 9361 is westbound on Irving Park Road, passing under the north-south “L”. The tracks it is about to cross belonged to the Milwaukee Road, and were used to interchange freight with the “L” until 1973. (Jeff Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
CTA 9378 is heading south on Broadway, about to turn west on Montrose (Route 78). (Jeff Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
CTA 9375 at the east end of the Montrose trolley bus line, near the Wilson Avenue “L” station… about to turn south on Broadway. (Jeff Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
I believe we may have run a similar picture before. This shows the North Shore Line station adjacent to the CTA “L” station at Adams and Wabash. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Jeff and his sister Helen rode the last southbound North Shore Line train as far as Howard Street. His friend Charles Tauscher continued with it to the end of the line, and snapped this historic picture:
A truly historic photo that probably hasn’t seen the light in 57 years. The late Charles L. Tauscher rode the last North Shore Line train ever, which ended its run at Roosevelt Road in the early morning hours of a very cold January 21, 1963. Motorman Bill Livings has just taken off the headlight and poses for a few pictures. This must be a long exposure (this was Ektachrome, and the film speed was 32) and you can see some motion blur on other parts of the platform. Truly the end of an era. (Wien-Criss Archive)
The North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal on a wintry night in January 1963. This is a remarkable photo for the time, as it surely involved a long exposure time of at least a few seconds, with the camera held perfectly still on a tripod. Film speeds for color slide film were very slow and those films were designed for use in bright sunlight. (Wien-Criss Archive)
A northbound North Shore Line train stops at Dempster in January 1963, the final month. Just over a year later, after the abandonment, the CTA resumed service between here and Howard as the Skokie Swift. Note the sign at left for a yarn store in the terminal building. (Wien-Criss Archive)
This, and the next three images are from “superslides,” meaning film larger than 35mm, but still able to fit in a regular 2×2 slide mount. This was possible with both 127 and 828 film, but it’s the latter here, in this shot by W. H. Higginbotham showing an Electroliner at Grange Avenue in Milwaukee County. (Wien-Criss Archive)
NSL 741 creeps south along the old 6th Street viaduct in Milwaukee, next to a 1958 Chevy. (Wien-Criss Archive)
An Electroliner at 6th and Oklahoma in Milwaukee in 1962. (W. N. Higginbotham Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
An Electroliner at Edison Court in Waukegan on May 26, 1959. (Wien-Criss Archive)
This picture of the CTA Stockyards line was taken in September 1957, shortly before the line was abandoned. There is little in this picture that still exists today, except for the shuttered Stock Yards National Bank Building, at 4146 S. Halsted Street. (Wien-Criss Archive)
A gate car (345) and a Met car are in the process of being scrapped at Skokie Shops in September 1957. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Riverview Park at Western and Roscoe on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)
PCC meets PCC in this famous Bill Hoffman photo, showing CTA PCC streetcar 4373 on Western Avenue, while a Garfield Park “L” train crosses on Van Buren temporary trackage. The date is June 16, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)
The “Streetcar Waiting Room” at Archer and Western on November 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)
CTA 153 is northbound at Halsted and Congress on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)
CTA 4227 is on the turnback loop at Clark and Howard, the north end of Route 22. This is now the outdoor seating area for a restaurant. Buses terminate at the nearby Howard “L” station. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Bill Hoffman and his sister Dorothy at their home at 6622 S. Maplewood Avenue in Chicago on December 26, 1981. Two nicer people, you will never meet. Both are sadly long gone. (Wien-Criss Archive)
On May 24, 1958 the Central Electric Railfans’ Association operated a fantrip on the South Shore Line, using Illinois Central equipment. Normally, South Shore cars ran on the IC, but not the other way around. Here, they are having a photo stop at the “new” East Chicago station, parallel to the Indiana Toll Road, which opened in 1956. It replaced street running in East Chicago. The view looks east. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
On November 9, 1952, a two-car CTA “L” train, headed by car 1019, is on the trestle at Central on the Evanston branch. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
Chicago & North Western steam loco 555, a 4-6-2, heads up a northwest line commuter train at Kinzie and 400 West on August 20, 1953. (Robert Selle Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
This and the following picture show DC Transit pre-PCC 1053 in June 1961. n This historic car survived for many years before being destroyed in a museum fire. (Charles L. Tauscher Photo)
On June 26, 1960 a pair of CTA single-car units went out on a portion of the Lake Street “L”, but apparently did not go on the ground-level portion of the route. Here, we see the train heading westbound at Clinton and Lake. (Charles L. Tauscher Photo)
This photo of CTA 4391 in Chinatown appears on CERA’s 2014 membership card. The only surviving Chicago postwar PCC car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Photo by Charles L. Tauscher, Wien-Criss Archive)
Jeff purchased this slide in 2018. It was processed in September 1965, and shows Pittsburgh streetcars near the Edgar Thomson Steel Works in Braddock, east of Pittsburgh, along the Monongahela River. The location was a mystery until it was identified by some of our readers.
Jeff bought his first Pentax MX camera at Helix in 1979, and continued using this model for the rest of his career.
Bradley Criss on March 3, 2012 at the end of the St. Charles Car Line at Carrollton and Claiborne Avenues in New Orleans. (Jeff Wien Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
Jeff Wien was, in large part, responsible for a fantrip on February 19, 2017, where four CTA rapid transit cars were posed at various places on the system for photo stops, wrapped to celebrate the first Cubs World Series championship since 1908. I purchased this original slide on the very day he died, with the intention of giving it to him on his upcoming 80th birthday. It is also an excellent example of the type of shot he excelled at himself– a 3/4 view in sunlight. (Bruce C. Nelson Photo)
On September 5, 2020, Jeff made his last trip to the Illinois Railway Museum to participate in their annual meeting. Here he is with his beloved CTA 4391, the only surviving postwar Chicago streetcar. (Jose Martinez Photo)
Here are some of our own recent photo finds:
We are looking west along South Boulevard in Oak park on June 8, 1962, just west of Ridgeland Avenue. The CTA Lake Street “L” ran at ground level here, using overhead wire, until October of that year, when it was relocated to the nearby Chicago & North Western embankment. I assume the commuter station you see here closed in 1958 along with several other close-in stations, in part to make way for this relocation project.
The same location today.
I thought this was interesting as it is an unusual view, one that you could only get by taking a picture on a moving train. This is near the Cermak station on the CTA Dan Ryan Line on May 14, 1979. A northbound train of 2000s approaches, and old Comiskey Park is visible to the south.
Mitch Markovitz: “Westbound (South Shore Line) train at Hammond. Has to be about 1949 as 108 has only been lengthened but not streamlined and air conditioned, and the gates are white and black but not yellow and black. The car behind it has been lengthened and streamlined.”
CA&E 2001 and 2002 at Wayne on June 29, 1957.
CA&E 2001 and 2002 in Lombard in October 1955.
CA&E freight locos 2001 and 2002 in Glen Ellyn in March 1959.
A CA&E freight train in Maywood. If that is correct, I would guess this is westbound crossing First Avenue, where the Illinois Prairie Path starts today. The tracks at left belong to the Chicago Great Western. The date is April 8, 1951.
CA&E freight locos 2001 and 2002 at an unknown location in the summer of 1957.
CA&E freight locos 2001, 2002, and a caboose in Elgin on March 30, 1957. A passenger car is also visible.
CA&E freight in Oak Park on November 18, 1951, with locos 2001 and 2002. In the background, you can see apartment buildings at around 600 Harrison Street. The Eisenhower Expressway runs here now, but the buildings seen still remain.
The same buildings today.
CA&E freight in Lombard on November 23, 1957. John Nicholson points out that with a passenger train in the distance, most likely the date is wrong. Perhaps it was really 1956.
CA&E freight in Maywood, with locos 2001 and 2002, on November 18, 1951.
The back end of the same train.
A CTA train from the 5001-5004 series (not to be confused with the current 5000s) heads southbound approaching Central Street in Evanston on January 7, 1951, having just crossed the North Shore Channel, not far from where the Wien family was living.
I recently purchased this original medium format negative of the Travel and Transport Building, one of the most distinctive structures at A Century of Progress, the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair.
This brochure was issued by the Chicago Surface Lines a short time before the October 1, 1947 Takeover by the Chicago Transit Authority, and spells out the locations where “walking transfers” were available between various CSL routes that were not directly adjacent to each other, and included some Chicago Rapid Transit Company stations on the “L”/Subway. But notice they did not include any such transfers to the Chicago Motor Coach lines, which continued to be privately owned for another five years after this.
The former Asbury station on the Niles Center “L” branch (unused by transit since 1948), as it looked in July 1970. The picture was taken along the right of way of the CTA Skokie Swift (today’s Yellow Line). The building has long since been demolished. A train in the 5001-5004 series is visible in the distance.
This picture was taken around the time the CTA Dearborn-Milwaukee-Congress Subway opened in 1951, and shows where trains crossed over and turned back near LaSalle Street, which was the end of the line until 1958, when the Congress median line opened.
We previously ran another version of this same image on a post in 2016, but I thought it was worth getting a second copy. This one has somewhat less contrast, so you get a better view of the platform. The original caption was: The CRT Westchester branch at Roosevelt Road, circa 1929-1930. Service along this line opened in 1926, and when the line was extended, local officials insisted that tracks not cross Roosevelt at grade, thereby necessitating this grade separation project. The platform at left was later moved into the open cut, although the original station house was retained. Service to Mannheim began in 1930. The line was abandoned in 1951. We are looking north.
I find this photo by Edward Frank, Jr. interesting for a number of reasons. It most likely is from before 1943, as a CRT steel car (4312) is coupled to a wood car (2157). This is along the Garfield Park line and the notation “XO” on the side probably means this train is turning back just west of the DesPlaines Avenue station in Forest Park (which would also explain why there is a cemetery visible behind the train). The platform that’s visible may have been only for the use of train crews. The Eisenhower Expressway is located here now. It is unusual that Ed Frank put his name directly on the negative– he generally rubber stamped it on the back. He was taking pictures as early as 1934.
The North Shore Line began running into Chicago via the “L” in 1919, and had phased out use of wood cars by 1936. This shows car 130 at Roosevelt Road in that time frame, signed for the Shore Line Route. During WWII, NSL leased this and some other wood cars to the Chicago Aurora & Elgin. A train of woods ran a fantrip on the North Shore Line in 1946, and then these cars were sold to the CA&E, which continued to operate them until service was cut back to Forest Park in 1954. The glare may indicate this picture was taken looking through the window of another train.
A two-car CA&E train at the Wells Street Terminal. This might be car 412, built in 1923 by Pullman.
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
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City Scene with Nuns (1947) by Robert W. Addison, in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
A long, hot summer is beginning to come to and end here in Chicago, and we have lots of great new images to share with you today. We thank all the original photographers, and our contributors.
We have many recent photo finds of our own, some great new ones thanks to Bill Shapotkin, and another batch that, for one reason or another, we were unable to purchase (but are still worth looking at).
We have been hard at work on our next book, Chicago’s Lost “L”s, and recently turned in all the text and images to our publisher. I am sure there will be additional changes (there always are), but I thought it would be useful to talk a bit about the process of making a book (see below).
We all have our ways of coping with situations. Working on a book has helped me keep focused during this pandemic.
Have a safe Labor Day weekend, everyone.
How a Book is Made
Technology may have changed since the 1950s, but you still have to go through your images one at a time.
My new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s is the third part of a trilogy, along with Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways. I got the idea for all three books some years ago, and have been collecting images with this in mind for nearly six years.
Without an idea, there is no book. While there have been plenty of books about Chicago’s famed “L”, each one is different. The subject is so large, an author has to put their own unique “spin” on it. I decided my brief would be to showcase those aspects of the “L” that don’t exist any longer.
This, I believe, many people are interested in. Whenever the subject of various “L” lines that no longer exist comes up, I get the feeling people want to know more about this. So there is a need.
You make a proposal to your publisher, and if they like what they here, you enter into a contract that has specifics of what they need, and deadlines for when you give it to them. Books to be don’t come with instruction manuals of how to put them together, though.
There, you’re on your own, and I am sure the creative process is different for every author, and for every book.
I realized the project was doable when I had collected most of the images I would need. The first thing I did was to go through my entire image collection and look at everything. I started setting aside any images that I thought could be relevant, using an image editor. I went through 20,000 images, and I did this three times– at the beginning, middle, and near the end of the project. That was necessary, because each time I was looking for something different.
One of the most important things and author needs to determine is, how will things be organized? Chronologically, geographically, or thematically? Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, and the subject usually needs a combination of all these.
Once I decided on what the chapters in the book would be, I started a folder in my image editor for each one. Then, I started sorting the images in each folder in order, shuffling and reshuffling them until I was happy with the results.
Even after I had selected the proper number of images, I eventually ended up replacing about one-third of them. As time went on, my book’s narrative began to develop. As it did, some images fit, and others did not.
After I was satisfied with my image choices, I began writing the captions to go with them. If I couldn’t figure out a good caption for something, it had to go. Everything that stays in the book needs a good reason for being there. Writing means rewriting, over and over, as many times as necessary to say what you want to say in the most economic and efficient way possible.
Along the way, you find that no matter how much research you have done, the book needs more. You figure out what’s missing, and you do everything you can to find those things that can complete the story you are trying to tell. In general, it’s the oldest things that are hardest to find.
As you learn more while putting things together, the book tells you what it needs to be, and this is always going to be somewhat different than what you thought it was at the start. You always need to dig deeper.
The last thing I wrote was the introduction. That’s the opposite of how I approached my previous two books, but this time I wanted to see what would be included in the book first.
I also spent many, many long hours working over images in Photoshop. This includes the various maps I am using. I want everything to look its best when you open up your copy of Chicago’s Lost “L”s and start reading it.
One thing I noticed, when sorting through my images, is how sometimes, when I had duplicates of an image, they weren’t always identical. It occurs to me that when black-and-white prints were made from medium-format negatives, they were probably made in batches, and the same neg could have been printed multiple times over the years. Each time, the neg would be positioned a bit differently.
Now it is possible to combine those images using a program called Microsoft Image Composite Editor. The result is an image that is closer to the full size of the negative. I was able to do this for five or six images in the book.
More information about Chicago’s Lost “L”s will follow, as available. Once a book is published, it belongs to the readers, and you can decide whether or not it is worthwhile, but whatever the result, I have given this project 110%.
When you challenge yourself to reach a goal, it forces you to do better. I learn so much every time I work on a new book– new skills, new methods, more efficiency, more organization, more knowledge. And when someone reads one of my books, and appreciates it (if they do), that’s the icing on the cake.
Howard Terminal looking west in 1959. Ultimately, this picture did not make it into the book.
The same location on June 6, 2020.
I spent a lot of time cleaning up this image, but decided not to use it. The steam engines Chicago used on the “L” were similar to those in New York, but they weren’t identical– they were more robust. They didn’t have the same specs.
I took this picture of the former Linen Avenue station in Wilmette on June 6, 2020, but it didn’t make the cut.
I spent considerable time cleaning up this track map of the Kenwood “L” before I found something else I chose to use.
The same goes for this map of the Stock Yards branch.
In this case, after putting the two versions of this image together, only a small amount was missing at the top, not difficult to replace.
You can see how the same negative was lined up slightly differently both times it was printed. It was not difficult to fill in the missing parts on the two corners and bottom.
El Tracks (1949) by Robert W. Addison. The El looks like New York, but the streetcar seems more like Chicago.
The Chicago Aurora & Elgin owned everything west of Laramie Avenue, and in June 1953, were storing cars mid-day at Lockwood Yard (5300 W.). Wood cars 28 and 207 are seen, among others. (Ray Mueller Photo)
Mark Jesperson, who now lives in France, has written a Wilmette history article and is using one of our images. In turn, he sent us this nice picture, taken in the early 1950s at Linden Avenue, showing a gate car. Evanston became a shuttle to Howard starting in August 1949 (except for the Evanston Express).
An early Loop photo looking north from Tower 12 at Wabash and Van Buren. I think this is pre-1913, meaning it’s the left-hand-running bi-directional Loop. The Met car at left is going away from us on the Inner Loop, while that is probably a South Side car coming towards us, heading south.
Another early view of the Loop, again at Wabash and Van Buren, this time looking west.
When the Indiana Railroad interurban shut down in 1941, Lehigh Valley Transit bought high-speed car 55. Here, it’s on a Pennsylvania Railroad flatcar. LVT turned it into car 1030, showcase of their fleet on the Liberty Bell Route between Allentown and Philadelphia. It is now at the Seashore Trolley Museum. (H. P. Sell Photo)
CTA PCC 7363 at Devon Station (car barn), possibly in 1957. Part of the building here was destroyed by fire years earlier.
LVT high-speed 1022. Except for 1030, all the modern lightweight high-speed cars on the Liberty Bell Limited were ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie.
LVT 1008 in Allentown.
Cook County #1 was used to transport mental health patients between facilities such as Dunning on Chicago’s northwest side. Don’s Rail Photos: “1, hospital car, was built by CSL in 1918. It was retired on September 21, 1939.”
June 21, 1958 was the day before the new Congress-Douglas-Milwaukee line went into regular service. It was also the last day the Douglas Park trains ran downtown over the Lake Street “L” . Photographer Bob Selle was riding a northbound Douglas train when he took this picture, showing the station at Madison and Paulina, which had not been used in over seven years.
CTA wood car 1712 is a Kenwood shuttle train at the Indiana Avenue stub terminal, probably circa 1953. It was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1903 for the Northwestern Elevated Railroad. (Robert Selle Photo)
A night shot of CTA 4219 at Laramie Avenue on the Garfield Park “L” on January 4, 1957. (Robert Selle Photo)
A night shot of CTA 4434 at Laramie Avenue on the Garfield Park “L” on January 4,1957. (Robert Selle Photo)
CTA 2840, a Met car, at Laramie Yard on January 4, 1957. (Robert Selle Photo)
A night shot of CTA 2810 and 2818 in the Laramie Yards on February 1, 1957. By then, the Congress Expressway was open as far as Laramie and was adjacent to the Garfield Park “L”. It was still under construction west of here, and the “L” ran on temporary trackage. (Robert Selle Photo)
CTA 2802 at Laramie Yard (Garfield Park “L”) on February 1, 1957. (Robert Selle Photo)
The CTA temporarily stored many wood cars at Laramie Yard after they were retired and awaiting scrapping. Here, we see 1752, among others, on November 24, 1957. I assume these cars were last used on Evanston and Ravenswood. (Robert Selle Photo)
CTA 1782 and 1785 at Laramie Yard on November 24, 1957. As far as I know, scrapping took place at Skokie Shops. (Robert Selle Photo)
CTA 3119, signed as a Lake Street local, is being stored on the third track at Hamlin in August 1948. By then, A/B “skip stop” service had been in effect for some months. It’s possible this car was no longer being used on the line. Don’s Rail Photos: “3119 was built by St. Louis Car in 1902 as LSERR 119. In 1913 it was renumbered 3119 and became CRT 3119 in 1923.”
CTA Met car 2113 at Laramie Yard in August 1948. Don’s Rail Photos: “2104 thru 2154 were built by Pullman in 1894 as M-WSER 104 thru 154. In 1913 they were renumbered 2104 thru 2154, and in 1923 they became CRT 2104 thru 2154.” This would have been one of the original cars used on the Metropolitan West Side Elevated when it opened in 1895.
Chicago Rapid Transit Company medical car 2756 at Laramie Yards on September 19, 1934. It was built by Barney & Smith in 1895 and had been used as a funeral car. It could carry baggage as well as passengers.
Chicago & West Towns 158 at Brookfield Zoo in the summer of 1939. This is the south entrance. The Zoo opened in 1934 and was just north of the C&WT line to LaGrange, which cut through the Forest Preserves on private right of way.
The back end of the West Towns car barn in Oak Park. The street sign identifies this as North Boulvard and Cuyler. This is undated but could be 1939. The Chicago & North Western embankment is just to the right out of view. After being used for buses into the 1980s, this building was demolished and replaced by a Dominick’s Finer Foods store. After that chain went out of business, that building was remodeled into Pete’s Fresh Market. We are looking to the northeast.
C&WT line car 15, probably at the car barn at Harlem and 22nd Street (Cermak), in North Riverside. On pictures, this was often mistakenly identified as Berwyn, but that’s across Harlem Avenue just to the east.
Chicago Aurora & Elgin 406 makes a photo stop at State Road on the Batavia branch on August 8, 1954. The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. (Robert Selle Photo)
A two-car Garfield Park “L” train, just west of Laramie Avenue in August 1948.
Caption: “Chicago El showing curve at Harrison and Wabash, taken from Congress Street station, April 2, 1939.” This curve has since been straightened out. The view looks south. (Duncan L. Bryant Photo)
A westbound Evanston Express train is on the Lake Street leg of the Loop near Clark. The view looks east. I assume this picture is from the 1940s, as the sign mentions Skokie instead of Niles Center. Miles Beitler: “There appears to be a propane bus in RBK275, visible just below the motorman’s cab on the Evanston Train. If so, it dates the photo to 1950 or later.” If so, why does the sign say Skokie, as the Niles Center route was converted to bus in 1948?
A Douglas Park “B” train heads west at (I think) Halsted on the Met main line, prior to the removal of two tracks for expressway construction.
The two CTA freight locos, S-104 and S-105, at Howard Street.
DesPlaines Avenue Yard in the 1960s, with a 2000, 6000s, and a couple of wood cars. The Met car looks like it has been converted to a snow plow, while the car on the right may have been used as an office or for storage.
Chicago Aurora and Elgin 405, circa 1950, scanned from the original negative. (Railway Negative Exchange) “Railway Negative Exchange (REX), also referred to as RNE was run by Warren Miller who lived in Moraga, CA. Born in Oakland, CA–(1923) Warren was this nation’s foremost authority on Western railroads and devoted virtually his entire life to assembling more than a quarter of a million negatives, most in glass plates, as well as over 200,000 photographs. Upon Warren’s death (1989), his collection was left to his nephew, Bob Hall. Bob has continued his uncle’s devotion to the railroad photographic hobby.” (2008)
CA&E 411 at the Wheaton Shops. (Railway Negative Exchange)
“CA&E Special #310 on the Mt. Carmel line, at the point where it switches off the main line from Chicago to Wheaton, IL (photo stop).” This was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip on August 8, 1954. (Robert Selle Photo)
CTA 398, D5, and 6148 at 70th and Ashland on June 28, 1952. (Robert Selle Photo)
“CTA car 649 on curve leading into south end of Limits barn (Clark and Schubert streets). 6148 at right (October 10, 1953).” (Robert Selle Photo)
CA&E 18 at Wheaton on August 15, 1952. Don’s Rail Photos: “18 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was modernized in March 1941 and retired in 1955.”
“CTA “L” car lineup at DesPlaines Avenue yards, July 6, 1958.” (Robert Selle Photo)
“CTA “L” cars view at DesPlaines Avenue yards, July 6, 1958.” (Robert Selle Photo)
“CTA– one of the entrances to the Racine Avenue station on August 13, 1958.” (Robert Selle Photo)
CTA 4000s at Clark and Lake in January 1970.
Morning commuters on the Evanston Express in April 1970.
Wood cars at Randolph and Wabash in July 1957. At right, the Kodak Store (133 N. Wabash Avenue) and Blackhawk Restaurant (home of the spinning salad bowl) are visible.
Altman Camera, at 129 N. Wabash, was the Noah’s Ark of camera stores from 1964 to 1975. Owner Ralph Altman kept two of everything in stock– one to show, and one to go. This was literally the finest camera store in the United States. This was close to the location of the old Eastman Kodak Store, which I believe had to close in the mid-1950s due to anti-trust concerns. Here is Altman’s in 1967.
CTA 2519, among others, form a three-car train at Van Buren and Ogden. This must be in the early days of the temporary Garfield Park “L” operation, since the old “L” is still standing at left. The portion to Paulina (1700 W.) had to be kept until April 1954, as the Douglas Park “L” was still using it then. We are looking west at about 1800 W. Van Buren, and the “L” west of here was taken down pretty fast to facilitate expressway construction.
The same location today. The Eisenhower Expressway (formerly Congress) is behind those shrubs to the left.
The Congress median right-of-way on November 9, 1959. I believe we are looking east.
An Evanston Express train at Clark and Lake, possibly in the early 1970s.
CTA 1706 is signed for Stock Yards, but is obviously a Kenwood train at Indiana Avenue. Not sure if this is before or after Kenwood became a shuttle in 1949. I assume it simply has the wrong sign on it. It’s been suggested that in latter years, CTA may have through-routed Stock Yards and Kenwood trains. In actual practice, this wouldn’t have been easy, as it would have involved a lot of switching across the main line here.
Miles Beitler writes:
Great photos on your newest post!
Regarding photo RBK 511, on which I left a comment, I have attached information from my 1944 Rand McNally guidebook which describes CRT operations and indicates that, during non-rush periods, Kenwood trains did run from 42nd Place all the way to the Stock Yards. Apparently the CRT had a way to run the trains straight through the Indiana station. (I long ago sent scans of my guidebook to Graham Garfield, who posted them to his website.)
Your “Lost L’s” book sounds interesting and I intend to purchase it when it’s released.
Thanks. This was in the pre-CTA era. Once the Authority took over, there was a real push to reduce the amount of such switching maneuvers, adding and cutting cars in stations, etc. as these things are quite labor intensive.
CRT 2322 on February 12, 1939. It was built for the Met in 1901 by American Car and Foundry. (La Mar M. Kelley Photo)
CSL “Matchbox” 1352 signed for Taylor-Sedgwick-Sheffield. I wonder where this could be? Paul Wallace identifies this as 1044 N. Orleans Street.
The same location today.
CTA 1674 on Division by the north side “L” on June 25, 1950. This station had been closed on August 1, 1949 as part of the CTA’s major revision of north-south service. On the back of the print, it notes that these cars were “replaced by big Pullmans a few weeks later.”
Elevated train tracks on Van Buren Street, looking west from Franklin Street, 1914. That’s the Franklin and Van Buren station, used exclusively by the Metropolitan “L”.
An early track arrangement, showing the four-track Metropolitan main line on the east side of the Chicago River.
Figuring out which Loop tower this is took a bit of doing, but the Sterling Cycle Works was located on Wabash Avenue in 1897, making this Tower 12 at Wabash and Van Buren, looking east.
This circa 1897 ad shows Sterling Cycle Works on Wabash. However, this pre-dates the renumbering of Chicago streets, where the city shifted to a grid system, with numbers starting at State and Madison.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin
CTA 194 at Halsted and 64th in 1952.
The Lake Street “L” in 1962, looking east at Ridgeland. This must be just before the “L” was relocated to the Chicago & North Western embankment. M&C Motors, at right, was located at 315 South Boulevard.
Ridgeland and South Boulevard today.
The Lake Street “L” ramp between Central Avenue and Laramie circa 1961-62. This was after the changeover point between third rail and overhead wire was moved west of here. I think this picture was taken looking north on Latrobe.
The same location today.
CTA 4227 in the shop (Skokie?) in 1956.
CTA 3073 on route 52 (Kedzie).
South Side Rapid Transit car #1 in 1962. It is now at the Chicago History Museum.
CTA 990 at 47th and Lake Park in March 1949. The Kenwood Hotel was located at 47th and Kenwood nearby.
CTA 460 at 77th and Vincennes in March 1956, when it was part of the CTA Historical Collection. Looks like PCC 4021 is behind it. Both cars are now at the Illinois Railway Museum.
CTA 4244 on State Street in 1954.
CTA 129. M.E.: “This scene has to be at the western end of the main 63rd St. line, at Narragansett and 63rd Place. The tight loop shown in the picture was built when one-ended PCC cars started running on 63rd. This picture had to be taken in 1952 or 1953 after the pre-war PCC cars were removed from 63rd and assigned to Cottage Grove. The last cars to run on 63rd were the old red Pullmans like this one.”
A CTA 4000, most likely at a railway museum.
CTA 7213. (Robert W. Gibson Photo) M.E.: “You might add to the caption that this car was the last one to run in Chicago. Refer to all the pictures taken at 81st and Halsted and then on the final trip to the 77th and Vincennes barn in June 1958.”
CTA 7263 at Harrison and State in 1954.
Experimental forced-air ventilation on a CTA 6000. Not sure if you could open the windows on this car or not.
CTA 7023 at Clark and Van Buren on June 6, 1954.
Scrapped streetcars, including work car AA57, at South Shops. Don’s Rail Photos: “AA57, salt car, was built by St Louis Car Co in 1903 as CUTCo 4835. It was renumbered 1306 in 1913 and became CSL 1306 in 1914. It was rebuilt as salt car in January 1934 and renumbered AA57 on April 15, 1948. It was retired on December 14, 1956.”
CTA 6669 with experimental roof-mounted air conditioning, in storage on the middle track at Western Avenue on the Ravenswood. Just about every new feature CTA introduced on the 2000s was first tried out on 6000s.
CTA 6151, 3196, and 554 at 69th and Ashland. M.E.: “Route 45 was the Ashland-Archer-Clark route, similar to route 42, Halsted-Archer-Clark, but different in that route 45 always used old Pullmans whereas (at this time) route 42 used postwar PCCs.”
CTA 3179 at Grand and Navy Pier in March 1950.
CTA 7217 awaiting scrapping on June 30, 1959, at South Shops.
CTA 3231, 369, 988, and AA103 at 69th and Ashland in May 1949. M.E.: “The Green Hornet PCC in this picture would have been assigned to Western Ave. When the 69th/Ashland barn closed, but Western still operated PCC streetcars, those cars were moved to the 77th and Vincennes barn. To get there, they traveled east on 69th St. to Wentworth, south to 73rd, then southwest on Vincennes to 77th St.”
CTA 7113 at State and 62nd Place on November 9, 1955. This was where a PCC derailed and collided with a gasoline truck in 1950, a horrific crash that killed 34 people. M.E. “As I recall, the 1950 accident was not due to derailing, instead due to a misaligned switch on the southbound track which the motorman didn’t see but put his streetcar in the path of the northbound gas truck.” While that was the cause of the accident, since the PCC was going perhaps 35 mph at the time, it must have left the rails during the crash.
CTA 6413 at Skokie Shops on January 26, 1975. (Ronald J. Sullivan Photo)
CSL 5177 at Archer and Cicero in March 1935. M.E.: “The building behind the streetcar has a sign for United Airlines. So this scene is at Midway Airport, most likely north of 62nd St., which is where the Cicero car line ended in front of the original Midway terminal building. The sign on the streetcar reads Archer-Cicero, which was likely its northern destination.”
CSL 5519 at Archer and Rockwell in May 1943.
CSL 5083. M.E.: “The sign on the car appears to read Pitney-Archer. I went to Google maps, entered Pitney St. Chicago, and up came a map showing that Pitney starts at Archer and heads southeast from there. (All of this is about a block east of Ashland.) So maybe there was a carbarn at Pitney and Archer, or a stub on Pitney.”
CTA 914 in March 1950. The location is given as Archer and 38th Place.
CSL 775 at 47th and Indiana in May 1945.
CTA 7218, 4378, and 4399 at South Shops in August 1959, more than a year after the last Chicago streetcar ran.
More Ones That Got Away
Both Jeff Marinoff and I regret not winning this auction, which sold for $131.32. That’s a lot of money, but pictures of the Kinzie Street “L” station are rare indeed, It was located approximately where the Merchandise Mart station is now, and was open from 1900 to 1921, when it was replaced by a new station at Grand Avenue a few blocks north. Behind the “L”. to the left, is the Chicago and North Western station, which closed in 1910, so the view looks west.
Chicago & North Western station in 1881.
This, and the photos that follow, were offered as a batch of 11 original slides. I did bid on this but was not the top bidder, and they sold for about $100. That may seem like a lot, until you work out that it’s only about $9 per slide, and some of these are definitely keepers. All were taken between 1959 and 1963. Here are a pair of 6000s on the Congress line in Oak Park.
The old Lake Street Transfer station, closed since 1951. We are looking west. It was removed in 1964, along with that portion of the Paulina “L” north of here (excepting the bridge). I had originally said this was looking east. Graham Garfield: “We are looking west…” I believe we are actually looking east, from Wood St west of the station. The Met platforms began at Lake Street and projected northward (as seen in the attached Sanborn map), and in the photo they go to the left (which would be north, if we were facing east). Also, the building in the left foreground is still there today, located on the north side of Lake St near Wood St — here is a Google Street View of it from 2009 (I chose an older one because more recently it has been repainted and had its windows changed; you can still tell it’s the same building, but the older view makes it more obvious): https://goo.gl/maps/jb27nadEmRdf7BM16 “
CTA single-car unit 35 at Forest Park.
A two-car train of 4000s heads west on the Lake Street “L” when the outer portion still ran on the ground. I think the top of the building we see above the C&NW embankment is the Austin Town Hall, meaning we are between Laramie and Central circa 1961-62. The newspaper box at left is selling Chicago’s American, an afternoon newspaper. Tracks here may be using third rail as the conversion point to overhead wire was moved to Central Avenue while work was being done to put the line onto the embankment.
a westbound Lake Street “L” train in Oak Park. That stairway may be where one of the other pictures in this series was taken from. I assume this was located at the east end of the C&NW’s Oak Park station.
Looking east from Harlem Avenue in 1963. The Lake “L” is now on the embankment, but the old tracks and the Marion Street station are still in place. A train of CTA’s high-speed cars is in the station. The fans called them “circus wagons.”
The ground-level Lake Street “L’ in a somewhat underexposed shot. A “B” train heads east from the Marion Street station.
A westbound Lake “A” train at Home Avenue in Oak Park.
Looking north towards the Howard “L” station.
A two-car train of CTA 6000s on the turnaround loop in Forest Park, west end of the Congress-Milwaukee line. That loop-shaped thing on the front of the train was used for route selection, since these trains shared tracks with Douglas-Milwaukee trains further east of here.
An eastbound Lake Street “B” train heads east between Central and Laramie, and is about to head up the ramp to the “L” structure. This is just east of another picture in this series.
This is Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern car 100, shortly before it was destroyed by fire in 1967. I was surprised when this original slide sold for very little. Don’s Rail Photos: “100 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1914. It was built as a second motor to operate behind the 140s as a two car train. The baggage compartment was a kitchen, and the rear end was an open platform observation. The buffet section was replaced with coach seats in 1918. The car was then rebuilt with a control station and baggage compartment in 1928 and the rear platform was enclosed at that time. It was the last interurban left on the WCF&N when it became diesel freight, and it was donated to the Iowa Chapter of the NRHS in 1956. It was moved to Centerville and operated on the Southern Iowa Ry. When the SI cut back its operation and dieselized, the Iowa Chapter transferred the car to the Iowa Terminal RR in 1966. Shortly after it was repainted and put into charter service, it was destroyed in the carbarn fire early November 24, 1967. It had been the only car saved from the WCF&N roundhouse fire on October 31, 1954, when the other two cars of its class burned.”
The Liberty Bell Limited in 1951 at Sellersville.
4000s at Linden Avenue in 1967.
Looks like a photo stop on the Illinois Terminal in 1956. Perhaps the final day for these lines?
2000s on the Lake Street “L” in 1965, looking west-southwest from the Chicago & North Western platform in Oak Park.
6000s cross the Chicago River in 1968. We are looking east.
The New York elevated, probably in the 1890s when steam was in use. Not sure which line this is.
The interior of Lehigh Valley Transit car 704 in 1951, used on the Liberty Bell interurban line in Philadelphia. The motorman would most likely punch a couple things in on that cash register and it would issue a ticket.
Somewhere in Evanston. Graham Garfield: “This is at Madison Street, a block or so south of Main station. Here is a view of the same location today, in a video of the line posted by CTA: https://youtu.be/tag-0WOzn7o?t=6303 (pretty soon after the video starts you’ll need to pause it to study the location) — the building on the right is the back of old Evanston Fire Station #2 (now the Firehouse Grill restaurant), and although the windows have been bricked over, the brickwork along the top of the wall facing the the track and the clay tiled parapet perpendicular to the tracks are identifiable. “
This is the State Street Subway in August 1965. I would have bid on this one if it had been sharper.
The Chicago, Lake Shore and South Bend, predecessor of the South Shore Line, in East Chicago, Indiana prior to 1926.
The Chicago, Lake Shore and South Bend, predecessor of the South Shore Line, in East Chicago, Indiana prior to 1926.
North Shore Line line car 604, photo by Gordon E. Lloyd at Highwood on June 13, 1959. Another original slide.
I couldn’t believe it when I saw that this original North Shore Line slide had sold for only $17.50. I expected it to go for a lot more and hence didn’t bid on it. It was taken by Gordon E. Lloyd on October 17, 1958 at Highwood.
A photo stop on the Hagerstown & Frederick interurban in Maryland.
Bill Shapotkin writes, “Both Andre Kristopans and I believe this is Main St. That said, he believes we are looking north (citing a curve in the distance). I am thinking we are looking south (lights to left are along Chicago Ave).” John McElroy: “I have lived in Evanston 60 years and rode the Evanston line all during this time. I believe the photo in question is taken at Davis Street, looking south, before the newer station was built here. The street visible is Benson Avenue, and the water tower is, I think, on the old building once occupied by Wieboldt’s. As you know, there is a curve south of Davis Street.” Graham Garfield adds, “this isn’t Main looking north, it’s Davis looking south. Both stations have curves to the left right after them in the directions cited, but here are some clues as to why this is Davis: – The wooden “telephone” poles along both sides of the ROW have poles with no crossarms on the left and the ones with crossarms on the right. Photos of this part of the Evanston branch show that the crossarm poles were along the west side of the ROW, and the plain ones were along the east side of the ROW. – The water tank visible in the left background shows up in lots of shots of Davis station looking south. – They say the lights on the left under the platform are Chicago Ave, but if this was Main looking north Chicago Ave would be on the right, not the left. Also, Chicago Ave isn’t that close to the ROW at Main St; it’s about 60 feet from the ROW there. That’s Benson Ave on the left under the platform, which does run right alongside the ROW at Davis station. – In this era, the station name signs varied in length, and were however long (or short) they needed to be to fit the station name on them. There is one visible on the left, right before the canopy, and while it is illegible we can see it is very long. While “Main” and “Davis” are short names, the ones at Main St just said the street name, but the ones at Davis were very long, reading, “Davis St – Downtown Evanston”.”
State and Van Buren in cable car days, between 1897 and 1906.
Congress looking west from Racine in 1967.
I think this one was undated, but I would guess maybe 1967 as 2000s are running on Douglas Park.
Looking south from Wilson Avenue in 1960.
Listed as Howard, this looks like Chinatown on the Dan Ryan line, circa 1970.
Could this be Isabella looking north?
Jeff Marinoff: “It shows car #122 of the Chicago Consolidated Traction Company. The roof destination sign reads Halstead & Irving Park Blvd.” CCT eventually became part of Chicago Railways Company. The photo dates to between 1900 and 1910.
This and the next picture show the aftermath of an “L” derailment at Wabash and Van Buren, which I assume took place on May 12, 1942. That’s Tower 12.
1939 Chicago Surface Lines Training Program
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 1