Reader Showcase

On this Thanksgiving Day weekend, we here at the Trolley Dodger have many things to be thankful for… chiefly among them, our readers. This seems like a good time to feature recent correspondence with our very knowledgeable and astute readers.  We thank all our contributors.

I wish you the best in this upcoming holiday season.

-David Sadowski

Kim Bolan writes:

Just came across The Trolley Dodger and what a great and detailed work. It reminds me of my youth in Milwaukee riding No. 10 Line in Tosa (Wauwautosa) and also Speedrail. I have a question regarding #978. I lived in San Francisco but never saw this car in operation. Is it part of Muni’s heritage collection?

Just received this 35mm transparency (Kodak film and processing) from an unknown photographer taken September 1984 of car 978 at San Francisco, CA (see above).

Car 978 was loaned to San Francisco in the mid-1980s, intended for use in the SF Trolley Festival, but my understanding is it was damaged somehow and never operated there. As far as I know, the car is now at the East Troy Electric Railroad in Wisconsin, where it is stored inoperable.

There is a picture of it in SF in this post.

Here is the full story on what happened to 978, thanks to Larry Sakar:

Regarding the question about TM streetcar 978 in San Francisco, I know all about it. MUNI and TWERHS* worked out a deal whereby 978 was to be sent to San Francisco to participate in the very first Historic Streetcar Festival in 1983. It was not in the best of condition to begin with. En route, one of the truck bolsters (the 900’s were notorious for having bad bolsters) gave way and came through the floor (it was being trucked out there.) It was unloaded and brought to Geneva upper yard where it was parked in among some Boeing LRV’s. It made its way back to East Troy probably at the end of the festival in September and was never a part of the historic fleet. Now, here’s some additional info about it.

The 978 was saved by Mr. Al Buetschle, then of Milwaukee but since 1960 or 61 a resident of Oakley, CA. Oakley is in Contra Costa County about 60 miles NE of San Francisco. Oakley is a little “one-horse town” in what is known as the Tri-Delta region.

The streetcar was initially saved on behalf of the Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club who gave Al the money to buy it. It would take pages for me to provide all of the details of the day he bought it. Frederick J. Johnson head of M&STC personally handled the sale. Al had told them he wanted a 900 and one from that group of 10 because they were the only ones with that metal sun shade over the center window.

When he got to Col Spring shops sure enough they had an 800 waiting. He refused to accept it. The car he really wanted was the 975 but it was too far back in the scrap line in lower Cold Spring yard. To get the 978 meant moving 3 cars ahead of it. Johnson was plenty mad about having to do that. So they get on the first car to be moved. Johnson puts a fuse in the fuse box. But then he stupidly cranks up the controller and blows the fuse.

This happens a second time so Al says, “Here, I’ll show you what to do!” Johnson immediately wants to know, “How do you know how to operate a streetcar?” Al tells him he was friendly with a motorman who taught him to run a car on the Rt. 10 West Allis branch between Calvary Cemetery cut and 67th St. Murray, the motorman would then take it from there since it involved descending from the former Rapid Transit line and making a safety stop before crossing 68th St.

Well, Dave, Johnson has an absolute fit!! *&%%^( (expletives deleted) I want his name.” Al says, “No. He has retired now that streetcars are gone so it doesn’t matter “In the end he got the 978 and Johnson even gave him his money back admiring him for his tenacity. Al had a friend who had access to a flatbed truck. Johnson let him drive 978 up from lower Cold Spring. The car was loaded onto the flatbed truck and taken to a piece of track adjacent to the C&NW and a lumber company at North 91st Street and West Flag Avenue on Milwaukee’s northwest side.

By this time the Kiwanis Club decided they didn’t want it so Al now owned it. He took out all the seats and repainted the interior before putting them back. He would work on 978 as his time permitted. The Kiwanis Club had the “brainy” idea of displaying the car in Hart Park in Wauwatosa. Hart Park is just down the private right-of-way (now a driveway) parallel to West State Street, east of the Harwood Avenue streetcar terminal at Harwood and State Streets (long gone).

In 1961, Al got a job as a controller for a company and moved to the Bay Area. No, he didn’t take 978 with him. It then ended up at the Mid-Continent Railway museum in North Freedom. In the mid to late ’60’s the group that is now TWERHS was formed and the car went with them to their first home in North Lake, WI. In 1972 they opened the East Troy Trolley Museum which is now under a different organization.

None of us are really sure where 978 is. It is in need of major restoration. At one time the rumor was that it was going to be sent to Brookville Equipment out east. They’re the company that does all the refurbishing of MUNI’s historic PCC fleet.

Did Al see it when it was in San Francisco? Yes he did. He has a fantastic picture he took with 978 and his red sports car (convertible). He is putting the trolley pole on the wire. I f I recall correctly his red car was a T-Bird. It was totaled about 10 years ago when he was hit by a group of teenagers out joy riding and who as you can probably guess were not insured.

I snapped a picture of it sitting in among the Boeing cars in 1983. I had to climb up on a narrow cement ledge and shot thru the openings in a cyclone fence. I’ll have to see if I still have it and if I do I will scan it and send it.

By the way, as a little boy of maybe 9 or 10 my grandparents came over one day. They said they were taking me to see something but wouldn’t tell me what. It was a surprise. Yes, it was the 978 at the lumber company. The Milwaukee Journal had run a small story about it with a picture. It had to be when Al was doing the repainting because I remember looking thru the glass in the door (I came up about as far as the bottom of the glass in the door. All of the seats were piled at that end of the car and I thought they were going to junk it.

My grandmother who had taken me on my streetcar rides on RT. 10 between about 1955 and 3-1-58 said she didn’t know. Who could ever have imagined that 30 years later I would meet the person who saved 978. One other coincidence, David. From 1978 to 1997 I worked for Security Savings & Loan Association on 2nd and Wisconsin downtown. The Corporate Secretary was a man named Walter Bruno. As it happens he was Al’s Godfather!

Thanks, Larry, for sharing the complete story.  There is a database of saved North American electric railcars, last updated in 2014, and that is my source for saying that, as far as I know, the 978 is at East Troy.

*The Wisconsin Electric Railway Historical Society

Here’s more from Larry Sakar:

Here is the photo of 978 I took in September, 1983. The picture that follows was the Geneva car house which suffered severe damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. I think I took this in 1987 because that is a train with MUNI’s then new BREDA cars. Now they have new ones which I’ve only seen in pictures in Trains and Railfan & Railroad. The Market Street subway for MUNI was closed when I was there in 2017 because they were testing the new cars. If you look at the right hand side of the picture there’s that concrete wall I mentioned having to climb on top of and the fence I had to shoot thru.

The most popular cars during the Trolley Festival and in the event they hold for one day in September of every year (forgot its name) are the two Blackpool, England boat trams #’s 228 and 232. Here are some shots I took while riding it in 1983. Last, here is an Al Buetschle shot. It was taken at the site of the Speedrail 9-2-50 accident post Speedrail abandonment. Those are remnants from duplex 39-40 that was demolished by 1192-93.

The Milwaukee Electric Rapid Transit Freight Terminal

Larry Sakar writes:

It stood for 76 years, had four different owners and was razed in 2006 as part of the Marquette Interchange reconstruction project. I am talking about the Rapid Transit freight terminal building constructed by TM and opened in 1930 at 940 W. St. Paul Avenue.

TM fully expected that freight would play an important role in operations over the Milwaukee Rapid Transit Line. Unfortunately, like the Rapid Transit Line itself which opened on Sept. 22, 1930 the timing couldn’t have been worse! As part of its planned freight operations TM acquired Motor Transport Company in 1930 from Yellow Trucking.

A decade later, TMER&T turned its back on all rail operations. Motor Transport Company was sold back to Yellow Trucking. Its trucks had a Transport Company orange cab and a silver trailer with the Transport Company diamond logo. But instead of saying The Transport Company, as the logo on busses and streetcars did, it said Motor Transport Company. I vividly recall seeing those trucks around Milwaukee. I always wondered how they could get away with using The Transport Company’s logo not knowing until years later that it had once been a part of the company.

TMER&T occupied offices on two floors of the eight-story terminal. Its successor, The Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. which succeeded it in late 1952 continued to have its corporate offices there until 1962 when they moved to 4212 W. Highland Blvd. The former Cold Spring shops buildings still stand, and have been sold for adaptive reuse. MCTS corporate offices are on North 17th St. & West Fond du Lac Avenue.

I took the “Now” photos in 2003. In 1940, in addition to selling off Motor Transport Co. TMER&T sold the Rapid Transit freight terminal building to GE Holdings. Sometime after `1938, the electric sign on the roof was changed to read “The Transport Company”. GE owned the building until 1971 when they sold it to Aldrich Chemical. The electric sign was removed altogether after M&STC moved out in 1962. When GE took over in 1940, “General Electric Building” was painted on just below the roof. Looking at my 2003 photos it would appear that they sand blasted that off when Aldrich Chemical took over in 1971.

I bought this photo from Don Ross a few years back. It is from the collection of Tom Manz. I don’t know if he is the person who took the picture but I kind of doubt it. I’ve no idea who did or why. It could be that they were plotting out the area so they could determine where they wanted the ramps to and from the soon to be built “High Rise Bridge” over the Menomonee River Valley would be constructed.

These are the ramps that take you from eastbound I-94 either north on I-43 or south on I-94. I-94 turns south to cross the valley so from this point east the road becomes I-794 which takes you east and then south over the Hoan Bridge. The High Rise bridge was built over a three-year period beginning in the summer of 1966. I know because my brother got a job working on its construction during summer break from college (Michigan State U. in East Lansing). I vividly remember my mother having an absolute fit about him working up there.

The view is looking south and slightly east. The former freight terminal is on the right hand side of the picture about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of the picture. Just put a finger on the right hand corner of the picture at the bottom and move it up and a bit left. That first visible street is North 10th Street. The Rapid Transit freight terminal is right at that corner. The factory directly across the street with the connecting pedestrian overpass is the Cutler-Hammer Company, still there today. The railroad tracks belong to the Milwaukee Road.

OK. Follow the street in front of the terminal to the left (east). Right where it dog-legs there is an open space. That is where Motor Transport Company was located. The intersection above and to the left is North 8th & W. St. Paul. Move your finger down slightly and that’s where the so called “temporary ramp” over the portal of the never completed subway had been. I’m not certain if any of that dark space beneath the 8th Street bridge could have been part of the unfinished subway. The street in the foreground with all of the traffic is Clybourn Street, which has been converted to the on and on ramp to I-94 which didn’t begin until 13th Street.

I have printed a copy of the first scan and with a ruler and magic marker put in the approximate route of the Rapid Transit from the turn off of Clybourn Street to the crossing of North 10th Street. The Hibernia Street one-block L began on the west side of North 10th Street. -Larry

More from Larry:

While browsing around on the “Net” recently I ran across this great picture credited to your Trolley Dodger website. I was wondering when it ran on your site as I don’t recall having seen it. Do you know where this is? I can tell you if you don’t. This is a northbound Port Washington train at the intersection of North 3rd and West Wells Streets. This is former dining car duplex 1196-97, which unlike its mate 1198-99 was never repainted in the yellow with green stripes paint scheme. The two trains were hated by both motormen and conductors alike, because their single door made them slow to load and unload passengers. Both became mainstays on the Port Washington line until it was abandoned in the KMCL ownership era on 3-28-48. The Port Washington destination sign dates the picture to sometime between 1940 and 1948. I do not recall the exact date but in 1940 service north of Port Washington was abandoned and a new loop installed in Port Washington west of the downtown area. Typical of TM’s notorious frugality, the bridge over Pike Creek just outside the new Port Washington Loop was the one that had once crossed the White River in Burlington.

I took these pictures in 1989 showing the ex TM Port Washington Station sitting on what little was left of the former loop. A Wisconsin Telephone Company building had been built over most of the loop. I’m not sure if it’s still there but the last picture I saw of it the building had undergone a complete remodeling and bore no resemblance to its original appearance.

Thanks for sharing the pictures and information. I am sure our readers will appreciate it.

The picture in question appeared here.

Don's Rail Photos says, "1196-1197 was built at Cold Spring in 1929. The second car was equipped with small dining facilities but it was shortly rebuilt with a baggage compartment at the rear end. It was stored at West Allis Station after a few years. In 1942 it was rebuilt with all coach and scrapped in 1952." This car is shown in downtown Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.

Don’s Rail Photos says, “1196-1197 was built at Cold Spring in 1929. The second car was equipped with small dining facilities but it was shortly rebuilt with a baggage compartment at the rear end. It was stored at West Allis Station after a few years. In 1942 it was rebuilt with all coach and scrapped in 1952.” This car is shown in downtown Milwaukee, signed for the Port Washington interurban line.

Steven G. writes:

Can anyone at Trolley Dodger help me out? I want to find photos of all FOUR sides of any of the Insull inspired Spanish stations. Don’t laugh… but I am actually going to have a 26′ x 70′ station built. I have a good photo of the Briergate station… but the other 3 sides: no present photos to look at.
THANKS!!!

I will look into this and see what I can do, thanks.

Dave…. Luck has it and I’m pretty happy with what I have for photos now. From the GEM (Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical publication)… I have a photo now of the back side of the Deeprpath station. Wasn’t sure what the “cube” on the back side was. Turns out – the Beverly Shores (Indiana) South Shore station has a sketch in it’s National Historic designation paperwork that shows the “cube” is the enclosure linking the back of the station with a basement under the station. (For some reason, none of the Insull Station’s had indoor stairs to their basements).

Anyway… with some Google earth street shots, I have the side of the station I was missing. Sooo… yes, I now have a view “all the way around” and can see what all four corners of the station looked like. Sadly, in comparing the Beverly Shores station with Briergate: the chimney at Briergate is gone and I suspect where that ugly red garage was placed took out the passenger side of the station. I can also see where Briergate no longer has the arched front door. The door frame has been altered for a rectangular storm door.

As I live about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Beverly Shores, I am going to drive my car from north of Detroit to Michigan City, hop on the South Shore, hop off at Beverly Shores with my camera, measuring tape, pencil and paper & I will then get ‘hands’ on measurements of windows, doors, etc. By the time I finish – I can hop on the train back to Michigan City. This will take less then half a day to do all this. But… I can put some serious numbers into these ‘station sketches’, & push onto actually putting together a construction blueprint!!!

You may already know this: photo set 1 is Deerpath (frt) Deerpath (bk) & below is the parking lot side of Beverly Shores sta. Photo set 2 is Beverly Shores (top) and Briergate (below).

This is great, thank you! I am sure others will enjoy seeing these pictures.

Steve G. replies:

Here’s the floor plan at all the Insull stations had… and a better photo of the station front door. Not sure WHY the residents installed a neon light sign over the passenger station… but it is still there and it’s lit each night at dusk (smiles)

Mitch Markovitz adds:

The neon sign at Beverly Shores Depot was not installed by the residents. It came with the depot when it was new in 1929. Touting the new development by Bartlett who had the railroad and Post Construction build the building. The Venango (River) guys had the neon sign repaired by Jeff Jolley back in ’85. It then had to be re-done again.

Recent Finds

Here are some of our own recent photo finds. These include some unrealized plans, dated December 9, 1970, showing how the City of Chicago intended to replace the Loop “L” with subways in stages. This was eventually abandoned as being too expensive, and the “L” looks to be here to stay as an iconic part of Chicago.

-David Sadowski

Wacker Drive construction at Madison Street on September 19, 1951. The view is looking north. An eastbound CTA PCC is on shoo-fly trackage. Note how dirty the Civic Opera House building is at left, most likely due to the widespread use of coal for heating in this era.

Wacker Drive construction at Madison Street on September 19, 1951. The view is looking north. An eastbound CTA PCC is on shoo-fly trackage. Note how dirty the Civic Opera House building is at left, most likely due to the widespread use of coal for heating in this era.

A close-up of the previous picture, showing the construction of Lower Wacker Drive.

A close-up of the previous picture, showing the construction of Lower Wacker Drive.

A City of Chicago rendering of the Wells Street Plaza, just east of the old Main Post Office, dated January 25, 1956.

A City of Chicago rendering of the Wells Street Plaza, just east of the old Main Post Office, dated January 25, 1956.

A photo of this "street car waiting room," located at 38th and Western, appeared in Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans' Association. Here is another view by Bob Selle, taken on January 30, 1954. This amenity was provided by a local merchant and, due to a fire, did not last long after the end of streetcar service in 1956.

A photo of this “street car waiting room,” located at 38th and Western, appeared in Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association. Here is another view by Bob Selle, taken on January 30, 1954. This amenity was provided by a local merchant and, due to a fire, did not last long after the end of streetcar service in 1956.

CTA 6165 is at 51st and Indiana Avenue on August 18, 1952, in this photo by Bob Selle.

CTA 6165 is at 51st and Indiana Avenue on August 18, 1952, in this photo by Bob Selle.

A Blast From the Past

Sean Hunnicutt writes:

I thought this might be a nice thing to revisit in Trolley Dodger or Chicago L Facebook page. Well done!

This was my attempt, long ago, in a galaxy far far away, to get Chicago to have a “circulator” streetcar of the type that several other cities have since built. From the Chicago Tribune, August 1, 1982.

Mystery Photo

A picture appeared in Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association (page 301), credited to Charles Thorpe, from the Wien-Criss Archive, showing a Chicago PCC streetcar at Clark and Wells. Someone posted this image to Facebook, and in response, another writer questioned the accuracy of the location, since Wells does not run into Clark today. This prompted some correspondence between me and Andre Kristopans.

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.

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.

The same location today.

The same location today.

Me:

When did the CTA put a bus turnaround where Lincoln, Clark, and Wells meet? When was it removed? (I assume, when Route 11 ended?)

Wells dead ends now, and doesn’t actually meet Clark. But did they meet at one time, and was Wells truncated?

Andre:

Close but no banana. Until the 1960s, Wells continued straight north until it merged into Clark. There was double track on Wells that joined tracks on Clark. Lincoln dead ended into Clark pretty much as it does today. The only part of Lincoln that had track in this area was a single track coming off the southbound Clark track that joined the northbound Wells track, roughly 50 feet long. This was erroneously referred to by CTA as “Menominee” in Armitage route descriptions. Menominee is actually a half block south and never had tracks. The hundred odd feet of Wells between Clark and Lincoln is the only thing missing.

Now the CTA built a terminal at Clark and Wisconsin, a block north, in the 70s. There was continuous and vehement opposition from the owner of the adjacent house from day one, and as a result in the 90s CTA gave up and closed it down. Armitage, Ogden, and some Lincoln buses used it. Look at the Armitage route history on the Irm-cta website for exact dates.

Thanks for the information… and we thank all our readers! Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.

-David Sadowski

Recent Correspondence

Don Ross writes:

I thought your readers might enjoy seeing this photo from my collection. It shows a westbound 800 on the private right-of-way heading for the Harwood Avenue terminal. (The way to tell an 800 from a 900 is by the front center window. 800s had a much narrower center window than the 900s.) It’s hard to make out but State Street is to the left of the poles in this picture (where you see the jumble of white colored buildings. The RR tracks to the right of it belonged to the Milwaukee Road back then. This stretch of private right-of-way was a favorite for photographers.

Just east of this point the streetcars made an “S” turn to the right (south, cut across a roughly 3/4 block patch of r.o.w. and then emerged on a street called Motor Avenue where they ran east for a little over a block to North 68th Street. At 68th they turned right, crossed the Menomonee River for the second time, and climbed the hill to West Wells Street. Here they turned left to head east on Wells all the way to downtown Milwaukee. Before getting there, the cars would cross the Menomonee River a third time on the famous Wells Street streetcar trestle.

Never has a bridge terrified so many people! My first streetcar rides in Milwaukee occurred when I was about 5 and ended on the last day 3-1-58. My grandmother and I got off the car on each end of the trestle and rode across several times so, as she said, “You’ll always remember it” and I do. She would always prep me as the car was about to cross, “Now, don’t be afraid.” Are you kidding? I loved every minute of it and yes, I never forgot the experience. Actually, Dave, I think she was the one who was afraid. It was remarkable to watch how people either stared straight ahead or kept their eyes on the magazine or newspaper they were reading.

After streetcars quit on 3-1-58 the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corp. donated the trestle to the city of Milwaukee. The city debated for two years as to what to do with it but in the end it was dismantled in 1960. In all the years that trestle served the streetcars, and in the earliest days interurban trains, there was never an accident or derailment of any kind. However, the bridge was notorious for drivers who had imbibed a bit too much of the product “that made Milwaukee famous,” some of which was brewed by Miller Brewing at the east end of the trestle, tried driving across. If bouncing along the ties and rails didn’t sober them up the damage to their tires and front end suspension sure did along with the traffic citation, and a bill from the Transport Co. for removal of their car and any damage done to the trestle.

The late Lew Martin, a member of the Railroad Historical Foundation also known as the “607 gang” for Milwaukee streetcar 607 which they purchased in March of 1949 and were in the process of restoring a Hibernia St. yards just east of the Rapid Transit freight terminal at 940 W. St. Paul Ave. told me that he and a group of his friends would wait at the end of the Wells Street trestle usually the west end. That was a stop. They would climb onto the back end while holding on to the trolley rope and ride across. Lew commented, “Boy, if my mother had ever found out what I’d been doing I’d have been in a lot of trouble!”

Another former Milwaukeean, Mr. “Pete” Rogers who by the 1980’s when I got to know him was living in Bullhead City, AZ told the story of a school trip on the streetcar from his high school, Juneau High, which was a few blocks north of the Rapid Transit line when the line was there to the Milwaukee Public Museum downtown on 8th and Wisconsin. The Central Library and Public Museum used to occupy the same building. Today, the museum has its own building on 8th and Wells. Anyway, boys will be boys. Streetcars had bars across the lower part of the windows to prevent kids from sticking their hands out. One of his buddies discovered that a set of the bars below the window at which they were seated were loose. They managed to work an entire panel of bars loose and thinking it would be great fun, lifted it up and sent it sailing over the railing of the viaduct where it came crashing down in the parking lot of the Hilty-Forster Lumber Company 80 feet below. They thought it was a great prank until the next day. The class was called to the school auditorium. Up on stage stood the principal and a Transport Company supervisor. Oh, Oh! No one would admit who did it so the whole class got punished and had to pay for repairs to the streetcar and damages to the parking lot. What seemed like a great prank could have had serious consequences if that set of bars had hit someone.

My father told me that as kids they used to put these big firecrackers he called “Salutes” on the streetcar tracks and watch as the trucks went over them causing them to lift off the rails.

In the days prior to 1937, Rt 10 cars continued past the Harwood terminal and climbed the hill on the way out to the Muirdale Sanitorium. Streetcars carried a destination sign that read Rt 10 WAUCOBLDG. That was TM shorthand for Wauwatosa County Buildings.

TM 905, looking west at the Harwood Avenue terminal.

TM 905, looking west at the Harwood Avenue terminal.

Same location ca. 1990's. Larry Sakar photo

Same location ca. 1990’s. Larry Sakar photo

Looking east on Motor Avenue in Wauwautosa. Note evidence of tracks in the pavement.

Looking east on Motor Avenue in Wauwautosa. Note evidence of tracks in the pavement.

A 900-series car (953?), eastbound entering Motor Avenue on Route 10. (Don Ross Photo)

A 900-series car (953?), eastbound entering Motor Avenue on Route 10. (Don Ross Photo)

An 800-series car near 71st and State, heading westbound on route 10.

An 800-series car near 71st and State, heading westbound on route 10.

Now Available On Compact Disc
CDLayout33p85
RRCNSLR
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99

Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14
[/caption]


Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 3Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 2Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 1Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 2Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 1Tape 2 Mundeline pic 3Tape 2 Mundeline pic 2Tape 2 Mundeline pic 1Tape 1 ElectrolinerTape 1 Electroliner pic 3Tape 1 Electroliner pic 2Notes from tape 4Note from tape 2

RRC-OMTT
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Price: $24.99


Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes

Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include:

Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern
$5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere.
Disc One
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick):
01. 3:45 Box motor #5
02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953
03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954
04. 4:13 Loco #12
Capital Transit:
05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953
06. 1:43
Altoona & Logan Valley:
07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit:
08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953
09. 4:04
10. 1:39
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s:
11. 4:35 August 27, 1954
12. 4:51
Illinois Terminal:
13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955
14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955
Baltimore Transit:
15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954
16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto:
17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954
18. 5:20 #80, October 1954
Total time: 79:30
Disc Two
St. Louis Public Service:
01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953
Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City):
02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954
03. 5:17
Third Avenue El (New York City):
04. 5:07 December 31. 1954
05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954
Southern Iowa Railway:
06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955
07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9
IND Subway (New York City):
08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954
Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick:
09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr.
Total time: 61:31
Disc Three
Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction:
01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953)
Cincinnati Street Railway:
02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951)
Toledo & Eastern:
03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958)
Capital Transit:
04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s)
Total time: 74:02
Total time (3 discs) – 215:03



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. 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!

Bibliographic information:
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
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.
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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) 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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Chicago in the 1950s

You would be forgiven for not recognizing this location, but that's the Western Avenue station on the Humboldt Park "L", just north of North Avenue. The station was closed in 1952, probably just a few months before this picture was taken. If the station was open, there would be a sign advertising this, similar to ones seen in some of the other pictures in this post. You can also see trolley bus wires, used on North Avenue. PCC 7151 is a two-man car, and passengers are boarding at the rear. This portion of the old Humboldt Park line was not demolished for another decade, and the story goes that it would have been used by Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban trains as a midday storage area, if service on that line could have continued after 1957. A cropped version of this photo ran in one of our earlier posts, but this was scanned from the original negative. (Wien-Criss Archive)

You would be forgiven for not recognizing this location, but that’s the Western Avenue station on the Humboldt Park “L”, just north of North Avenue. The station was closed in 1952, probably just a few months before this picture was taken. If the station was open, there would be a sign advertising this, similar to ones seen in some of the other pictures in this post. You can also see trolley bus wires, used on North Avenue. PCC 7151 is a two-man car, and passengers are boarding at the rear. This portion of the old Humboldt Park line was not demolished for another decade, and the story goes that it would have been used by Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban trains as a midday storage area, if service on that line could have continued after 1957. A cropped version of this photo ran in one of our earlier posts, but this was scanned from the original negative. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Today’s photos have two things in common. First, they were all taken in Chicago during the 1950s. Second, they were all shared with our readers by Jeffrey L. Wien of the Wien-Criss Archive.  We thank him for his generosity.

The color pictures were taken by the late Bill Hoffman. The photographer who took the black-and-whites is not known, but it seems possible it was someone who did not live in this area, but came to visit. They were not all taken at the same time, however. All those seem to date between 1952 and 1954.

As always, if you have any information to share about these pictures, or simply have a question or comment, do not hesitate to let us know. We look forward to hearing from you.

-David Sadowski

Black-and-White:

CTA PCC 4144 is southbound on Halsted. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4144 is southbound on Halsted. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4208 is southbound on State Street at 64th, just a few blocks south of where car 7078 was involved in a horrific crash with a truck on May 25, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4208 is southbound on State Street at 64th, just a few blocks south of where car 7078 was involved in a horrific crash with a truck on May 25, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA 4096 is westbound on Madison, crossing over the Chicago River. The Civic Opera House is to the left. The sign indicates that this bridge is going to be converted to "one man operation," meaning that it will be operated from only one tower instead of two. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4096 is westbound on Madison, crossing over the Chicago River. The Civic Opera House is to the left. The sign indicates that this bridge is going to be converted to “one man operation,” meaning that it will be operated from only one tower instead of two. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA 4238 is southbound on Wabash, crossing the Chicago River. But this must be a reroute, since it is definitely after 1949 (the car has advertising on the side) and it's running Route 36 - Broadway-State. Perhaps there was a parade on State Street that day (between 1939 and 1949 there was no State Street bridge, and this would have been the regular route for 36 then). (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4238 is southbound on Wabash, crossing the Chicago River. But this must be a reroute, since it is definitely after 1949 (the car has advertising on the side) and it’s running Route 36 – Broadway-State. Perhaps there was a parade on State Street that day (between 1939 and 1949 there was no State Street bridge, and this would have been the regular route for 36 then). (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)

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)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA PCC 7057, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is at Waveland and Halsted, the north end of Route 8. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 7057, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is at Waveland and Halsted, the north end of Route 8. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4008 is at Cottage Grove and 115th, south end of Route 4. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4008 is at Cottage Grove and 115th, south end of Route 4. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA 4060 is southbound at Wabash and Wacker, running on Route 4 - Cottage Grove. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4060 is southbound at Wabash and Wacker, running on Route 4 – Cottage Grove. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA 4102, a Pullman PCC, is heading west at about 500 W. Madison, operating on the Madison-Fifth branch of Route 20. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4102, a Pullman PCC, is heading west at about 500 W. Madison, operating on the Madison-Fifth branch of Route 20. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4389 is southbound on Western near Leland Avenue, having just passed under the Ravenswood "L" (today's Brown Line), where a train of wooden cars are in the station. Note the dark areas where some touch-up painting has been done on the PCC. The light green paint originally used on these cars faded badly and was hard to match. This is one reason why the CTA began repainting these cars with a darker green around 1951-52. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4389 is southbound on Western near Leland Avenue, having just passed under the Ravenswood “L” (today’s Brown Line), where a train of wooden cars are in the station. Note the dark areas where some touch-up painting has been done on the PCC. The light green paint originally used on these cars faded badly and was hard to match. This is one reason why the CTA began repainting these cars with a darker green around 1951-52. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4108 is northbound at Kinzie Street. This was later the end of the line for the Wentworth half of the line, between 1957 and 1958, when buses replaced streetcars north of here. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4108 is northbound at Kinzie Street. This was later the end of the line for the Wentworth half of the line, between 1957 and 1958, when buses replaced streetcars north of here. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The date at which this photo of CTA PCC 4421 could have been taken, southbound on Clark at Van Buren, is a bit of a mystery. It appears that the street has already been made a one-way, which did not happen until November 16, 1953. But by then, the Pullman PCCs were systematically being retired and shipped to St. Louis, where they were scrapped and parts were reused in rapid transit cars. In my book Chicago Trolleys (page 107) there is a picture of track work being done at this location on July 17, 1954. So, my best guess is this picture was taken during the summer of 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The date at which this photo of CTA PCC 4421 could have been taken, southbound on Clark at Van Buren, is a bit of a mystery. It appears that the street has already been made a one-way, which did not happen until November 16, 1953. But by then, the Pullman PCCs were systematically being retired and shipped to St. Louis, where they were scrapped and parts were reused in rapid transit cars. In my book Chicago Trolleys (page 107) there is a picture of track work being done at this location on July 17, 1954. So, my best guess is this picture was taken during the summer of 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA PCCs 4103 and 4076 pass each other while crossing the Chicago River on Madison Street. Note the difference in fonts used for the numbers. Nowadays, transit agencies have style manuals, used to maintain consistency, but such was not the case in the early 1950s. Note the circa 1953 Cadillac at left. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCCs 4103 and 4076 pass each other while crossing the Chicago River on Madison Street. Note the difference in fonts used for the numbers. Nowadays, transit agencies have style manuals, used to maintain consistency, but such was not the case in the early 1950s. Note the circa 1953 Cadillac at left. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4008 is southbound on Wabash at about 900 South. The YMCA Hotel, seen in the background, opened in 1916 and closed in 1979. It was converted to apartments in 1985. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4008 is southbound on Wabash at about 900 South. The YMCA Hotel, seen in the background, opened in 1916 and closed in 1979. It was converted to apartments in 1985. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4201, operating on Route 36 - Broadway-State, has apparently been diverted from State Street, possibly due to a parade, and is northbound on Dearborn at Lake Street. The car at right has a 1953 Illinois license plate, but when this picture was taken, Dearborn was still a two-way street, meaning it is prior to November 16. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4201, operating on Route 36 – Broadway-State, has apparently been diverted from State Street, possibly due to a parade, and is northbound on Dearborn at Lake Street. The car at right has a 1953 Illinois license plate, but when this picture was taken, Dearborn was still a two-way street, meaning it is prior to November 16. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4108 is westbound on Madison at the Chicago River, running on the Madison-Fifth branch of Route 20. The cars have 1953 license plates. PCCs were taken off Madison on December 13, 1953. For a few months, Madison-Fifth continued as a shuttle operation between Madison and Pulaski, using older red streetcars. The rest of Madison was bussed. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4108 is westbound on Madison at the Chicago River, running on the Madison-Fifth branch of Route 20. The cars have 1953 license plates. PCCs were taken off Madison on December 13, 1953. For a few months, Madison-Fifth continued as a shuttle operation between Madison and Pulaski, using older red streetcars. The rest of Madison was bussed. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4101 is westbound on Madison, but where did it cross the Chicago & North Western? Andre Kristopans says it is "Crossing under CNW and PRR at Rockwell. The big building on other side is the old Madison carbarn. Burned in 1980's and in what was a real mindblower, the reporter on scene actually called it an "old CTA facility". Not quite - CSL sold it in 1920s, but amazingly close!" Rockwell is 2600 West. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4101 is westbound on Madison, but where did it cross the Chicago & North Western? Andre Kristopans says it is “Crossing under CNW and PRR at Rockwell. The big building on other side is the old Madison carbarn. Burned in 1980’s and in what was a real mindblower, the reporter on scene actually called it an “old CTA facility”. Not quite – CSL sold it in 1920s, but amazingly close!” Rockwell is 2600 West. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4262 is on 77th, by the car barn at 77th and Vincennes. The PCC is going to go northbound on Route 22 - Clark-Wentworth. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4262 is on 77th, by the car barn at 77th and Vincennes. The PCC is going to go northbound on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4039 is at Cottage Grove and 115th, south end of Route 4. To the left, is an embankment where Illinois Central commuter trains (now Metra Electric) ran. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4039 is at Cottage Grove and 115th, south end of Route 4. To the left, is an embankment where Illinois Central commuter trains (now Metra Electric) ran. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 7271 is northbound on Clark at Roosevelt. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 7271 is northbound on Clark at Roosevelt. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Here, a CTA Pullman PCC is northbound on Clark at Roosevelt Road. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Here, a CTA Pullman PCC is northbound on Clark at Roosevelt Road. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4154 is at Waveland and Halsted, the north end of Route 8. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4154 is at Waveland and Halsted, the north end of Route 8. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Color:

CTA 601 at Halsted, Grand, and Milwaukee on May 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 601 at Halsted, Grand, and Milwaukee on May 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 5248 at Vincennes and 105th on November 27, 1949. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 5248 at Vincennes and 105th on November 27, 1949. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6154 is southbound at Halsted and Congress on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6154 is southbound at Halsted and Congress on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 153 is northbound at Halsted and Congress on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 153 is northbound at Halsted and Congress on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6142 at Clark and Archer on November 9, 1953, running Route 42 - Halsted Downtown. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6142 at Clark and Archer on November 9, 1953, running Route 42 – Halsted Downtown. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 453 and 190 are on Halsted at 63rd Place on May 21, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 453 and 190 are on Halsted at 63rd Place on May 21, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

An unidentified CTA red car is on Halsted at 63rd Street on September 16, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

An unidentified CTA red car is on Halsted at 63rd Street on September 16, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 640 is running under the "L" on Halsted at 63rd Place on May 25, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 640 is running under the “L” on Halsted at 63rd Place on May 25, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 687 is at Division and Larrabee on May 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 687 is at Division and Larrabee on May 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 248 is at Crosby and Larrabee on May 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 248 is at Crosby and Larrabee on May 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

A CTA prewar PCC is on Western at Congress on June 11, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

A CTA prewar PCC is on Western at Congress on June 11, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7044 is on Western at Leland on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7044 is on Western at Leland on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7253 is on Western at Leland (by the Ravenswood "L", now the Brown Line) on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7253 is on Western at Leland (by the Ravenswood “L”, now the Brown Line) on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7243 is on Western at the Chicago River on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7243 is on Western at the Chicago River on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7037 is on Western at the Chicago River on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7037 is on Western at the Chicago River on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4060 is southbound on Western at 66th on October 9, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4060 is southbound on Western at 66th on October 9, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7118 is southbound on Western at Van Buren on November 3, 1954, with a train of wooden "L" cars about to cross Western on the temporary right of way for the Garfield Park "L" during expressway construction. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7118 is southbound on Western at Van Buren on November 3, 1954, with a train of wooden “L” cars about to cross Western on the temporary right of way for the Garfield Park “L” during expressway construction. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The Western and Berwyn loop on June 10, 1956. Those canopies were short-lived after the end of streetcar service, as buses eventually ran into them. Streetcars were on rails, so they could maintain such clearances. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The Western and Berwyn loop on June 10, 1956. Those canopies were short-lived after the end of streetcar service, as buses eventually ran into them. Streetcars were on rails, so they could maintain such clearances. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4053 at Western and Leland on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4053 at Western and Leland on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4060 is on Western at the Logan Square "L" on June 8, 1956. In the background, you can see the viaduct which is now part of the 606 Trail. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4060 is on Western at the Logan Square “L” on June 8, 1956. In the background, you can see the viaduct which is now part of the 606 Trail. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4027 (at left) passes a postwar car on Western at 24th on June 7, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4027 (at left) passes a postwar car on Western at 24th on June 7, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4004 is on Western at 26th on June 7, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4004 is on Western at 26th on June 7, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7160, viewed from the Douglas Park "L" (today's Pink Line), is operating on Western at 21st on June 15, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7160, viewed from the Douglas Park “L” (today’s Pink Line), is operating on Western at 21st on June 15, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7284 is on Western at the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on October 8, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7284 is on Western at the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on October 8, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7156, sporting unusual yellow numbers, is on Western at Van Buren on August 13, 1954. A wooden Garfield Park "L" train is nearby, on temporary trackage. At this stage, it appears the Western Avenue bridge over the Congress Expressway was not yet finished, as the streetcar (and auto traffic) are using a shoo-fly. (Wein-Criss Archive)

CTA 7156, sporting unusual yellow numbers, is on Western at Van Buren on August 13, 1954. A wooden Garfield Park “L” train is nearby, on temporary trackage. At this stage, it appears the Western Avenue bridge over the Congress Expressway was not yet finished, as the streetcar (and auto traffic) are using a shoo-fly. (Wein-Criss Archive)

Northbound CTA PCC 7206 is on Western Avenue, passing a two-car train of PCC rapid transit cars on the Garfield Park temporary trackage in Van Buren Street. The date is June 16, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Northbound CTA PCC 7206 is on Western Avenue, passing a two-car train of PCC rapid transit cars on the Garfield Park temporary trackage in Van Buren Street. The date is June 16, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7240 is at 69th and Morgan on October 25, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7240 is at 69th and Morgan on October 25, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7039 is at Western and 71st on August 12, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7039 is at Western and 71st on August 12, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4037 is on Western at the Chicago River on June 10, 1956-- just one week before the end of streetcar service on Route 49. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4037 is on Western at the Chicago River on June 10, 1956– just one week before the end of streetcar service on Route 49. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4375 is at 69th and Hamilton on November 5, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4375 is at 69th and Hamilton on November 5, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7236 is at Archer and Western on November 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7236 is at Archer and Western on November 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The "Streetcar Waiting Room" at Archer and Western on November 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The “Streetcar Waiting Room” at Archer and Western on November 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7157 is northbound on Western at 67th on June 15, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7157 is northbound on Western at 67th on June 15, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7208 is on Western near 34th on September 3, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7208 is on Western near 34th on September 3, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4393 is on Western at 21st on July 6, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4393 is on Western at 21st on July 6, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7213, the last streetcar to operate in Chicago, is on Western at 21st on July 16, 1951. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7213, the last streetcar to operate in Chicago, is on Western at 21st on July 16, 1951. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7123 on Western at 66th on July 9, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7123 on Western at 66th on July 9, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7123 at Western and 69th on January 28, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7123 at Western and 69th on January 28, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4408 on Western at 66th on July 16, 1951. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4408 on Western at 66th on July 16, 1951. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4373 and others at the Western and 79th loop on November 23, 1952. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4373 and others at the Western and 79th loop on November 23, 1952. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Passengers are getting off northbound CTA 7192 at Western and Van Buren on October 10, 1952. At this time, the temporary Van Buren trackage was still under construction, and this picture was taken from the Garfield Park "L" station, then still in use. There is no shoo-fly yet, meaning construction had not yet started on the Western Avenue bridge that would eventually go over the Congress Expressway. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Passengers are getting off northbound CTA 7192 at Western and Van Buren on October 10, 1952. At this time, the temporary Van Buren trackage was still under construction, and this picture was taken from the Garfield Park “L” station, then still in use. There is no shoo-fly yet, meaning construction had not yet started on the Western Avenue bridge that would eventually go over the Congress Expressway. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7193 has three followers at Western and 69th on October 13, 1953. You can compare the different CTA paint schemes on the first two cars. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7193 has three followers at Western and 69th on October 13, 1953. You can compare the different CTA paint schemes on the first two cars. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7113 is in an area where tracks are being worked on, and is crossing over from one track to another using a temporary switch. The date is June 17, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7113 is in an area where tracks are being worked on, and is crossing over from one track to another using a temporary switch. The date is June 17, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7042, in the distance, is about to clear a temporary switch so that the car on the right can cross over to that side during track work. This picture was taken on June 17, 1955 at Western and 71st. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7042, in the distance, is about to clear a temporary switch so that the car on the right can cross over to that side during track work. This picture was taken on June 17, 1955 at Western and 71st. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The conductor of CTA 7156 is throwing a track switch at Western and Archer on November 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The conductor of CTA 7156 is throwing a track switch at Western and Archer on November 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7189 is passing through an area where tracks are being worked on at Western and Cermak on October 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7189 is passing through an area where tracks are being worked on at Western and Cermak on October 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7227 is on Western at Bross on October 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7227 is on Western at Bross on October 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7238 is southbound on Western at the Douglas Park "L" on April 22, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7238 is southbound on Western at the Douglas Park “L” on April 22, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4028 is on Western at 27th on November 20, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4028 is on Western at 27th on November 20, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4059 on Western at 28th on November 20, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4059 on Western at 28th on November 20, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4008 is on Western at 65th on October 2, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4008 is on Western at 65th on October 2, 1955. (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)

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)

CTA 4373 is on Western near the Douglas Park "L" on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4373 is on Western near the Douglas Park “L” on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4020 on Western at 73rd during track work on June 26, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4020 on Western at 73rd during track work on June 26, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4044 is on Western at the Douglas Park "L" on June 22, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4044 is on Western at the Douglas Park “L” on June 22, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Riverview Park at Western and Roscoe on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Riverview Park at Western and Roscoe on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7012 at Western and Congress, crossing over the new expressway, on June 11, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7012 at Western and Congress, crossing over the new expressway, on June 11, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7038 is on Western at Van Buren on June 11, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7038 is on Western at Van Buren on June 11, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7239 is on Western at the Douglas Park "L" on November 11, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7239 is on Western at the Douglas Park “L” on November 11, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4050 is southbound on Western at the Douglas Park "L" on November 11, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4050 is southbound on Western at the Douglas Park “L” on November 11, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The Western-Berwyn loop on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The Western-Berwyn loop on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4402 on Western at 21st on June 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4402 on Western at 21st on June 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4053 on Western and 66th on July 31, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4053 on Western and 66th on July 31, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Recent Correspondence

Our resident South side history expert M. E. writes:

I have a lot of comments about your latest post #241. Where to begin?

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic512.jpg
Your caption says this streetcar is on 77th St. No, it is on Vincennes Ave., in front of the 77th St. barn, heading north.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic530.jpg
First, a nit: I think this picture is at 107th rather than 105th. The streetcar is running on the Halsted/Vincennes/111th St. line, heading northeast on Vincennes. What makes this picture so interesting is the road sign, “Keep left of tracks.” That’s because, precisely at this spot, the streetcar tracks moved off the street and onto private right-of-way between Vincennes Ave. and the main line of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad. This pattern ran from 107th St. north to the Rock Island suburban line viaduct at 89th St., at which point the streetcar tracks rejoined Vincennes Ave. to go under the viaduct.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic534.jpg
This picture was taken from the eastbound platform of the Englewood L station spanning Halsted St. At that time, Halsted was still a very busy business district; in fact, I read somewhere that Englewood was the busiest business district outside the Loop. Notice the Yellow cabs waiting for L passengers.
Beneath this L platform, along 63rd Place, were streetcar tracks for Halsted cars that ended at 63rd St., as well as curb space for the two suburban bus companies, South Suburban Safeway Lines and Suburban Transit System.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic535.jpg
This picture is the reverse direction, looking north from the westbound platform of the Englewood L at Halsted. The cross street is 63rd St. The stores from left to right are: S S Kresge, on the southwest corner; The Ace department store on the northwest corner; and Sears Roebuck, the huge building on the northeast corner (with a Hillman’s grocery in the basement). The southeast corner building was nondescript, although at one point it was a Stineway drug store. Notice
the streetcar tracks turning between Halsted and 63rd. Some southbound
Halsted cars ended their runs at 63rd. They turned east on 63rd to Union Ave. (700 W.), then south to 63rd Place, then west to alongside (south of) the Halsted L station, then back north on Halsted.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic544.jpg
Two things in this picture:
(1) The red-and-white bus in the background belonged to the South Suburban Safeway Lines. In those days, the fastest way from the south side to the Loop was the Englewood L, which ended at 63rd Place and Loomis (1400 W.) And of course the Englewood business district was very prosperous. So the suburban bus line went as far as 63rd Place and Halsted (next to the L station). The suburban bus company had two routes into Englewood — one north along Western, then east on 63rd (this was the Harvey bus), the other north along Halsted St. from the south (this was the Chicago Heights bus). The other bus company running from the south suburbs into Englewood was the Suburban Transit System, which ran primarily east and west along 95th St. out to Oak Lawn and beyond. To reach Englewood, this bus line ran east on 95th to Vincennes, north to 87th, west to Morgan, north to 63rd, then east to the Englewood L.
(2) As can be seen from each side of the street in this photo, Western Ave. was auto dealer row for a mile or so to either side of 63rd St.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic555.jpg
and
https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic558.jpg
The streetcars shown here were Western Ave. cars, running east on 69th St. to get to the Vincennes / 77th St. barn. Western Ave. cars had used the carbarn at 69th and Ashland until it closed. After that, the streetcars had to use the 77th and Vincennes barn. The only way to get there (still with usable tracks and live trolley wires) was along 69th St. to Wentworth (200 W.), south to 73rd St. at Vincennes, then southwest on Vincennes to the barn at 77th.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic556.jpg
This view is looking south along Western at 71st St. The tracks going to the right were for the 67th/69th/71st line, which used Western to travel between 69th and 71st.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic566.jpg
And this photo is at 69th and Western, showing a northbound Western car turning east on 69th to head to the 77th St. barn. I see no turning track from southbound Western to eastbound 69th. The lack of such a track indicates that any Western car ending its run and heading to the 77th and Vincennes barn had to start at the 79th and Western terminal, go north on Western, then turn east on 69th.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic568.jpg
Two CTA bus routes served the 79th and Western station: West 79th (to almost Cicero Ave.) and South Western (to 119th St.) The buses shown were manufactured by ACF Brill, probably in the 1940s, because they had stick shifts. (Really!)

M. E.

Now Available On Compact Disc
CDLayout33p85
RRCNSLR
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99

Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14
[/caption]


Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 3Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 2Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 1Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 2Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 1Tape 2 Mundeline pic 3Tape 2 Mundeline pic 2Tape 2 Mundeline pic 1Tape 1 ElectrolinerTape 1 Electroliner pic 3Tape 1 Electroliner pic 2Notes from tape 4Note from tape 2

RRC-OMTT
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Price: $24.99


Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes

Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include:

Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern
$5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere.
Disc One
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick):
01. 3:45 Box motor #5
02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953
03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954
04. 4:13 Loco #12
Capital Transit:
05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953
06. 1:43
Altoona & Logan Valley:
07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit:
08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953
09. 4:04
10. 1:39
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s:
11. 4:35 August 27, 1954
12. 4:51
Illinois Terminal:
13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955
14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955
Baltimore Transit:
15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954
16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto:
17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954
18. 5:20 #80, October 1954
Total time: 79:30
Disc Two
St. Louis Public Service:
01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953
Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City):
02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954
03. 5:17
Third Avenue El (New York City):
04. 5:07 December 31. 1954
05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954
Southern Iowa Railway:
06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955
07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9
IND Subway (New York City):
08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954
Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick:
09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr.
Total time: 61:31
Disc Three
Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction:
01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953)
Cincinnati Street Railway:
02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951)
Toledo & Eastern:
03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958)
Capital Transit:
04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s)
Total time: 74:02
Total time (3 discs) – 215:03



The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago last November, 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. 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!

Bibliographic information:
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
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) 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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CTA’s 6000s Run Again

The historic train approaches Adams and Wabash.

The historic train approaches Adams and Wabash.

October 1st was the 72nd anniversary of when the Chicago Transit Authority took over operating the elevated and most of the surface transit lines. To celebrate this milestone, the CTA held a Customer Appreciation Day event in the Loop, using newly repatriated historic “L” cars 6711 and 6712. Built in 1959, this pair had been at the National Museum of Transportation in St. Louis since the 1990s.

This type of “L” car was once synonymous with the CTA, as these are part of a series of all-new rapid transit cars introduced in the 1950s. There were a total of 770 such cars built in various configurations and delivered between 1950 and 1959. They replaced wooden “L” cars, many of which were half a century old upon retirement.

Being metal-bodied, the 6000-series cars were designed to operate in Chicago’s new subways as well as its famous elevated lines. The first batch of such cars finally made it possible to open the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway in 1951. The State Street Subway had opened in 1943, prior to the creation of the Chicago Transit Authority, using existing steel cars built in the early 1920s.

While October 1, 1947 is the date when the CTA finally took charge of local transit, its origins naturally go back further than that. The City of Chicago was always intimately involved in local transit matters, even in the era of private ownership which came crashing down into bankruptcy during the Great Depression.

Then-Mayor Edward J. Kelly spearheaded efforts to build Chicago’s first subways, and his “go-to guy” in this regard was Philip Harrington (1886-1949). In the late 1930s, he became head of the City’s Department of Subways and Superhighways, and was also the principal author of a comprehensive transportation plan known locally as the “Green Book”. (One thing that is not certain, is whether there is any connection between the green binding of this book, and the later adoption of green as the more-or-less official CTA color in early days.)

When the Chicago Transit Authority officially came into being on June 28, 1945, Harrington was unanimously chosen as its first Chairman. What followed was a two-year transition period, where the CTA became a functioning entity and prepared for the official takeover which eventually came, after, under the management of the courts, the existing private owners of the Chicago Rapid Transit and Chicago Surface Lines companies were bought out.  (CTA purchased the assets of the Chicago Motor Coach Company five years later, completing the process of transit unification.)

During this time, while CRT and CSL were still in charge, the CTA, operating in an unofficial capacity, was really calling the shots, deciding what new equipment would be ordered, and where it would run once delivered.

Given that Philip Harrington died 70 years ago, it is remarkable that his son Michael is still with us (I believe he is about 84 years old), and took part in the first trip on these historic cars. I spoke briefly with him, and promised to send him copies of my two Arcadia books, which deal with the turbulent times when his father played such an important role. As a child, Michael Harrington was a witness to events such as the opening of Chicago’s first subway in 1943.

You can read an appreciation of Philip Harrington here.

WBEZ, Chicago’s public radio station, was on the scene talking to people who came out to ride this special train. I was interviewed by a reporter for a few minutes and answered various questions.

I was asked what was so special about the 6000-series cars. They were state of the art when new, and had advanced technology for their time, including improved acceleration and braking, and were quieter than what they replaced, even though the old stuff made “all the right noises.”  (The older 4000-series cars have a very distinctive sound, which many people find pleasant and comes from the gearing.)

They had comfortable seats, especially compared to some of today’s equipment, but one thing they did not have was air conditioning. You had to open the windows, and if the weather was right, a nice refreshing breeze wafted through. A trip through the subway, however, was very LOUD with the windows open, an experience that thankfully modern riders don’t get to have.

As light-weight cars, though, the 6000s did “shake, rattle, and roll” and their riding qualities led some fans to dub them “Spam Cans.” But for various reasons, the final cars in this series, of which 6711-6712 are examples, were a bit heavier than the first ones, and hence rode better also.

Andy Warhol famously said that “In the future, everybody will be famous for 15 minutes.” But while I did end up on the radio yesterday, I’m not even sure I got 15 seconds out of the segment on these rides, which totaled less than a minute. You can hear it here.

I applaud the CTA for expanding their collection of historic railcars by bringing some of them back from museums. New York City has several entire trains of older cars it can run, and events such as these are very popular and create tremendous goodwill.  It’s important that organizations have a sense of the history that has made them great.

The 6000s were always my favorite “L” cars, and riding them once again brought back many memories. Some people were probably riding them for the first time, based on the looks of various people on our train. I hope you will enjoy our short photo essay, followed by a few of our recent photo finds.

-David Sadowski

PS- We regret to report the recent passing of Father Philip F. Cioffi at age 63. Father Phil, as we all knew him, was widely known as one of the “nice guys” in the railfan field, and had served on the boards of various organizations over the years. He will be missed. You can read his obituary here.

From 11 am to 12:30 pm, tickets were required, along with payment of a regular CTA fare. People were able to register online. We were in group one. From 12:30 until 2, anyone could ride the historic cars.

From 11 am to 12:30 pm, tickets were required, along with payment of a regular CTA fare. People were able to register online. We were in group one. From 12:30 until 2, anyone could ride the historic cars.

The ticketed trips began and ended at Washington and Wabash, CTA's newest Loop station, which replaced two others.

The ticketed trips began and ended at Washington and Wabash, CTA’s newest Loop station, which replaced two others.

There were separate areas for both boarding and leaving the historic train.

There were separate areas for both boarding and leaving the historic train.

Meanwhile, regular service continued on the Loop.

Meanwhile, regular service continued on the Loop.

Michael Harrington, son of the late Philip Harrington (1886-1949), first Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority from 1945-49, talks to a WBEZ reporter.

Michael Harrington, son of the late Philip Harrington (1886-1949), first Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority from 1945-49, talks to a WBEZ reporter.

Cameras are out as our train arrives.

Cameras are out as our train arrives.

The view out the back window.

The view out the back window.

The operator's cab, with the controller, which handles both acceleration and braking.

The operator’s cab, with the controller, which handles both acceleration and braking.

I am not sure what the purpose is of this structure, which the CTA has built on part of the platform of a former station at Randolph and Wells.

I am not sure what the purpose is of this structure, which the CTA has built on part of the platform of a former station at Randolph and Wells.

We are looking west along Lake Street at Wells. The structure at right is called Tower 18, which controls this busy intersection, once the busiest of its type in the world. This is the third such tower building at this location.

We are looking west along Lake Street at Wells. The structure at right is called Tower 18, which controls this busy intersection, once the busiest of its type in the world. This is the third such tower building at this location.

Graham Garfield is CTA's General Manager, RPM (Red and Purple Lines Modernization Project) Operations & Communication Coordination. He also serves as the CTA's historian, and was a conductor on this trip. Nowadays, CTA trains are run by only one person, but this trip was handled the old fashioned way, and Graham was outfitted as usual in a period-correct uniform.

Graham Garfield is CTA’s General Manager, RPM (Red and Purple Lines Modernization Project) Operations & Communication Coordination. He also serves as the CTA’s historian, and was a conductor on this trip. Nowadays, CTA trains are run by only one person, but this trip was handled the old fashioned way, and Graham was outfitted as usual in a period-correct uniform.

Having dropped off the riders from trip one, 6711-6712 head down to the end of the platform at Washington and Wabash to pick people up for the second go-round.

Having dropped off the riders from trip one, 6711-6712 head down to the end of the platform at Washington and Wabash to pick people up for the second go-round.

Adams and Wabash.

Adams and Wabash.

Recent Finds

Here is an example of some early "flat door" 6000s running in the 1950s, on the outer portions of the old Garfield Park "L". I am not sure whether this picture was taken in Forest Park, just east of DesPlaines Avenue (near where the "L" crossed the B&OCT), or along the south edge of Columbus Park a few miles further east.

Here is an example of some early “flat door” 6000s running in the 1950s, on the outer portions of the old Garfield Park “L”. I am not sure whether this picture was taken in Forest Park, just east of DesPlaines Avenue (near where the “L” crossed the B&OCT), or along the south edge of Columbus Park a few miles further east.

This picture, taken on June 16, 1947, shows a Birney car owned by the North Shore Line at the Harrison Street shops in Milwaukee. The tiny streetcar was built by Cincinnati Car Company in 1922, and was used in city streetcar service on the 5th-6th Streets line by the interurban.

This picture, taken on June 16, 1947, shows a Birney car owned by the North Shore Line at the Harrison Street shops in Milwaukee. The tiny streetcar was built by Cincinnati Car Company in 1922, and was used in city streetcar service on the 5th-6th Streets line by the interurban.

Here is Chicago, Aurora & Elgin car 406 on a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip on August 8, 1954. Photographer Bob Selle notes, "View from abandoned power house-- second story. At Glenwood Park station. Photo stop between Batavia and the Junction." (In other words, on the Batavia branch.)

Here is Chicago, Aurora & Elgin car 406 on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip on August 8, 1954. Photographer Bob Selle notes, “View from abandoned power house– second story. At Glenwood Park station. Photo stop between Batavia and the Junction.” (In other words, on the Batavia branch.)

It's August 8, 1954, again on a CERA fantrip, and CA&E car 406 is making a photo stop on the line between Wheaton and Aurora in this Bob Selle view. The way people are walking about along the tracks, with unprotected electric third rail, would never be allowed today for safety and liability reasons.

It’s August 8, 1954, again on a CERA fantrip, and CA&E car 406 is making a photo stop on the line between Wheaton and Aurora in this Bob Selle view. The way people are walking about along the tracks, with unprotected electric third rail, would never be allowed today for safety and liability reasons.

After passenger service on the CA&E ended abruptly on July 3, 1957, there were still a few fantrips held. Here is one such train on October 26, 1958. We see cars 430, 403(?), and 453 east of First Avenue near Maywood. The conductor in this Bob Selle photo is climbing aboard at a switch. Presumably, this is as far east as CA&E trains could go at the time, since what is now I-290 was under construction where the interurban once crossed the DesPlaines River. The CA&E's bridge was dutifully moved to the north a bit, and new tracks leading to the DesPlaines terminal built by 1959, with no trains ever to run on them.

After passenger service on the CA&E ended abruptly on July 3, 1957, there were still a few fantrips held. Here is one such train on October 26, 1958. We see cars 430, 403(?), and 453 east of First Avenue near Maywood. The conductor in this Bob Selle photo is climbing aboard at a switch. Presumably, this is as far east as CA&E trains could go at the time, since what is now I-290 was under construction where the interurban once crossed the DesPlaines River. The CA&E’s bridge was dutifully moved to the north a bit, and new tracks leading to the DesPlaines terminal built by 1959, with no trains ever to run on them.

Lake and Pine

As the years go by, there are fewer and fewer places where you can see Chicago streetcar tracks. One such place is the viaduct at Lake and Pine. This is where Route 16 streetcars of the Chicago Surface Line (and later, Chicago Transit Authority) crossed over from one side of the Chicago & North Western viaduct to the other. There were many pictures taken at this location, where Lake Street “L” trains also ran on the ground. Streetcar service here ended in May 1954, and the “L” was relocated onto the embankment in October 1962.

We have published numerous pictures taken at this location, and a few years ago, we even went back and shot some pictures of rail. You can see those here.

Recently, the tracks were removed from the eastern half of the viaduct. Here’s how things looked as of September 25th.

Now Available On Compact Disc
CDLayout33p85
RRCNSLR
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99

Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14
[/caption]


Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 3Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 2Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 1Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 2Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 1Tape 2 Mundeline pic 3Tape 2 Mundeline pic 2Tape 2 Mundeline pic 1Tape 1 ElectrolinerTape 1 Electroliner pic 3Tape 1 Electroliner pic 2Notes from tape 4Note from tape 2

RRC-OMTT
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Price: $24.99


Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes

Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include:

Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern
$5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere.
Disc One
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick):
01. 3:45 Box motor #5
02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953
03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954
04. 4:13 Loco #12
Capital Transit:
05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953
06. 1:43
Altoona & Logan Valley:
07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit:
08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953
09. 4:04
10. 1:39
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s:
11. 4:35 August 27, 1954
12. 4:51
Illinois Terminal:
13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955
14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955
Baltimore Transit:
15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954
16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto:
17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954
18. 5:20 #80, October 1954
Total time: 79:30
Disc Two
St. Louis Public Service:
01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953
Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City):
02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954
03. 5:17
Third Avenue El (New York City):
04. 5:07 December 31. 1954
05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954
Southern Iowa Railway:
06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955
07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9
IND Subway (New York City):
08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954
Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick:
09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr.
Total time: 61:31
Disc Three
Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction:
01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953)
Cincinnati Street Railway:
02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951)
Toledo & Eastern:
03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958)
Capital Transit:
04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s)
Total time: 74:02
Total time (3 discs) – 215:03



The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago last November, 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. 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!

Bibliographic information:
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
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) 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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This is our 240th 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 553,000 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.

75 Years of Chicago’s Subways

Mayor Kelly celebrates the first ceremonial trips (using one track and only two of the stations) on the State Street Subway in April 1943, just prior to a mayoral election.

Mayor Kelly celebrates the first ceremonial trips (using one track and only two of the stations) on the State Street Subway in April 1943, just prior to a mayoral election.

Chicago’s first subway opened 75 years ago today, on October 17, 1943. To help commemorate this milestone in Chicago history, we wrote the book Building Chicago’s Subways, which is now available from us and wherever Arcadia Publishing books are sold. More information can be found at the end of this post, or via our Online Store.

Today, we are featuring over 100 images that were considered for use in our new book, but for various reasons did not make the cut. We hope you will enjoy them.

The story of Chicago’s subways is a long an convoluted one, beginning 150 years ago with the first transportation tunnels under the Chicago River, and continuing with the extensive system of freight tunnels built in the early 1900s downtown.

Wrangling over what type of subways to build, where to build them, and how to pay for them, continued for 40 years and divided Chicagoans. Then, in 1938, the City of Chicago and the FDR Administration agreed on plans to build the State Street and Dearborn-Milwaukee Subways, which opened in 1943 and 1951.

In turn, this was all part of a larger plan which included Chicago’s first true expressway in Congress Street (now the I-290 Eisenhower). Construction for the highway began in 1949 and ultimately relocated the entire Garfield Park “L” into the Congress rapid transit line, also known as the West Side Subway.

Construction of Chicago’s first subways began in 1938, and the Congress line was not 100% complete until 1960, so this was a huge construction project that lasted for more than 20 years and transformed the city forever.

The story of how this came to be is detailed in my new book.

David Sadowski

PS- I salute those Chicagoans old enough to remember the opening of the Chicago Subway. Those first-day riders included Raymond DeGroote Jr., the dean of Chicago railfans, and my two uncles Robert and Raymond Wakefield, all still going strong at age 88.

A Review of Building Chicago’s Subways by Kenneth Gear

Readers of the Trolley Dodger will certainly enjoy reading David’s new book BUILDING CHICAGO’S SUBWAYS.

I’ve visited Chicago about a dozen times in my railfanning pursuits and my interests were always confined to the yards, mainlines, and junctions of the freight railroads. I was only vaguely aware that Chicago even had a subway system. After reading this book, my next trip to the windy city will definitely include a ride on the subway.

As David has done with his previous book CHICAGO TROLLEYS, he has taken a very complex subject, spanning many decades and personalities, and whittled it down to the essential facts. He then presents these facts in a clear, understandable, and entertaining manner. The photographs are all of excellent quality, properly exposed and in razor sharp focus. David is apparently very particular and extremely selective when it comes to the photos in his books. The photographs don’t only showcase the transit equipment and property, but also include many photos of the people involved with the story of the subways. He has also included scenes of Chicago’s neighborhoods, buildings, and streets that were affected by the subways.

These are historical photos that will be of interest to any Chicagoans who have an eye for the past. The book tells the interesting story of the subway’s part in hastening the demise of the Chicago Aurora, and Elgin and the impact subways had on the famous “L”. Also much insight is given on the building of the Congress Expressway (now Eisenhower Expressway). I was also very interested in the chapter about the freight tunnels under the city. I recently watched the 1950 movie UNION STATION with William Holden and the climax of the film takes place in those tunnels.

The photographic efforts and concise writing go a long way to making David’s Arcadia books among the best the publisher has to offer.

How Chicago Kept its Subway Plan on Track

I wrote to Ron Grossman at the Chicago Tribune several months ago, suggesting they do an article for the 75th anniversary of the Chicago subway. Here is that article.

Cable cars in the LaSalle tunnel.

Cable cars in the LaSalle tunnel.

A river tunnel entrance during cable car days. This is either the Washington or LaSalle tunnel.

A river tunnel entrance during cable car days. This is either the Washington or LaSalle tunnel.

I believe this shows the Van Buren river tunnel during cable car days, prior to its lowering for use by streetcars.

I believe this shows the Van Buren river tunnel during cable car days, prior to its lowering for use by streetcars.

The Van Buren Street river tunnel in streetcar days.

The Van Buren Street river tunnel in streetcar days.

The Washington Street tunnel in 2017. (Roman Vovchak Photo)

The Washington Street tunnel in 2017. (Roman Vovchak Photo)

The Washington Street tunnel in 2017. (Roman Vovchak Photo)

The Washington Street tunnel in 2017. (Roman Vovchak Photo)

The steel tubes used to lower the LaSalle Street streetcar tunnel in 1911-1912. This same method was used in 1939 for the State Street Subway.

The steel tubes used to lower the LaSalle Street streetcar tunnel in 1911-1912. This same method was used in 1939 for the State Street Subway.

Chicago Tunnel Company trains hauling ashes away from the freight tunnels, probably for use as landfill.

Chicago Tunnel Company trains hauling ashes away from the freight tunnels, probably for use as landfill.

The freight tunnels were used to haul merchandise as well as coal and ashes beneath Chicago's downtown.

The freight tunnels were used to haul merchandise as well as coal and ashes beneath Chicago’s downtown.

The freight tunnels used electric locomotives and overhead power.

The freight tunnels used electric locomotives and overhead power.

A freight tunnel intersection.

A freight tunnel intersection.

Chicago's freight tunnels.

Chicago’s freight tunnels.

Chicago badly needed subways to help reduce congestion on the Loop "L", here shown in the early 1900s at Lake and Wells.

Chicago badly needed subways to help reduce congestion on the Loop “L”, here shown in the early 1900s at Lake and Wells.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, shown here in Chicago in 1943, approved federal funding for Chicago's first subways.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, shown here in Chicago in 1943, approved federal funding for Chicago’s first subways.

Indirect lighting was used in the newe Moscow Subway, shown here in 1936, and would also feature in Chicago's tube.

Indirect lighting was used in the newe Moscow Subway, shown here in 1936, and would also feature in Chicago’s tube.

A New York subway passage in 1937, showing the widespread use of subway tile. Chicago's subways were in turn influenced by New York's far more extensive system.

A New York subway passage in 1937, showing the widespread use of subway tile. Chicago’s subways were in turn influenced by New York’s far more extensive system.

The results of a fire that destroyed several wooden el cars on New York's system.. Wooden cars were banned from use in the Chicago subways for safety reasons.

The results of a fire that destroyed several wooden el cars on New York’s system.. Wooden cars were banned from use in the Chicago subways for safety reasons.

Wooden "L" cars were also less safe in crashes.

Wooden “L” cars were also less safe in crashes.

Subway plans from the late 1930s, showing new railcars similar to contemporary ones used in New York.

Subway plans from the late 1930s, showing new railcars similar to contemporary ones used in New York.

The BMT Bluebirds in New York.

The BMT Bluebirds in New York.

The Chicago Rapid Transit Company ordered four sets of articulated rapid transit trainsets, which were delivered in 1947-48 and largely patterned after the Bluebirds used by Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT).

The Chicago Rapid Transit Company ordered four sets of articulated rapid transit trainsets, which were delivered in 1947-48 and largely patterned after the Bluebirds used by Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT).

Chicago's subways were opened using 1920s-era steel rapid transit cars, where the conductors had to stand between cars to open and close the doors.

Chicago’s subways were opened using 1920s-era steel rapid transit cars, where the conductors had to stand between cars to open and close the doors.

The first subway construction site.

The first subway construction site.

The first subway construction site.

The first subway construction site.

An air lock used in subway construction.

An air lock used in subway construction.

Early subway construction.

Early subway construction.

An air lock used in subway construction.

An air lock used in subway construction.

Mining clay in the Chicago subway.

Mining clay in the Chicago subway.

A subway tunnel before the addition of concrete.

A subway tunnel before the addition of concrete.

Mining clay in the subway.

Mining clay in the subway.

Early "cut and cover" construction near a subway station.

Early “cut and cover” construction near a subway station.

The two steel tubes for the State Street Subway's crossing of the Chicago River, before they were sunk into place in 1939.

The two steel tubes for the State Street Subway’s crossing of the Chicago River, before they were sunk into place in 1939.

Subway construction.

Subway construction.

The old Masonic Temple, world's tallest building when it first opened in 1892, efll victim to subway construction in 1939 due to its foundation being in the way of construction. Here it is seen being torn down.

The old Masonic Temple, world’s tallest building when it first opened in 1892, efll victim to subway construction in 1939 due to its foundation being in the way of construction. Here it is seen being torn down.

In the Loop, building the subways involved a mining operation and used similar equipment.

In the Loop, building the subways involved a mining operation and used similar equipment.

Subway construction, circa 1939-40.

Subway construction, circa 1939-40.

Building subway kiosks on State Street in 1942.

Building subway kiosks on State Street in 1942.

A typical mezzanine station entrance in the Loop.

A typical mezzanine station entrance in the Loop.

The new State Street tube prior to opening.

The new State Street tube prior to opening.

An obviously posed photo prior to the opening of the State Street Subway in 1943.

An obviously posed photo prior to the opening of the State Street Subway in 1943.

The unfinished subway, circa 1941.

The unfinished subway, circa 1941.

The continuous platform in the State Street Subway, 1943.

The continuous platform in the State Street Subway, 1943.

The new subway featured automatic block signals. If a train went past a red signal, brakes were automatically applied. There were also timed signals on curves. Previously, most of the "L" used "on-sight" operation.

The new subway featured automatic block signals. If a train went past a red signal, brakes were automatically applied. There were also timed signals on curves. Previously, most of the “L” used “on-sight” operation.

CRT motorman Charles R. Blade activates a signal override in the State Street Subway, early in 1943.

CRT motorman Charles R. Blade activates a signal override in the State Street Subway, early in 1943.

The incline leading to the north end of the State Street Subway in early 1943.

The incline leading to the north end of the State Street Subway in early 1943.

A snowy scene at the north portal of the State Street Subway, early 1940s.

A snowy scene at the north portal of the State Street Subway, early 1940s.

A map of the completed State Street Subway in 1944.

A map of the completed State Street Subway in 1944.

The first ceremonial train in the State Street Subway, April 1943.

The first ceremonial train in the State Street Subway, April 1943.

Final touches on the State Street Subway in April 1943.

Final touches on the State Street Subway in April 1943.

An old-time Chicago political boss enters the State Street Subway.

An old-time Chicago political boss enters the State Street Subway.

Mayor Kelly on the ceremonial train, surrounded by reporters.

Mayor Kelly on the ceremonial train, surrounded by reporters.

A ticket taker at the April 1943 event.

A ticket taker at the April 1943 event.

The unfinished Dearborn tube in 1943. Work was halted due to materials shortages during WWII.

The unfinished Dearborn tube in 1943. Work was halted due to materials shortages during WWII.

The north State Street Subway portal in 1943.

The north State Street Subway portal in 1943.

A northbound train enters south portal of the State Street Subway in the 1940s.

A northbound train enters south portal of the State Street Subway in the 1940s.

No tracks here yet.

No tracks here yet.

Subway riders downtown could get a "walking transfer," good for 15 minutes, to change to "L" trains above.

Subway riders downtown could get a “walking transfer,” good for 15 minutes, to change to “L” trains above.

In 1950, the first of the CTA's new 6000-series rapid transit cars, on display in the North Water Street stub-end terminal.

In 1950, the first of the CTA’s new 6000-series rapid transit cars, on display in the North Water Street stub-end terminal.

When the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway opened in 1951, parts of the "L" were closed. Here. we see a Logan Suare-bound train on the Paulina portion of the Metropolitan "L", soon the be closed, probably in 1950.

When the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway opened in 1951, parts of the “L” were closed. Here. we see a Logan Suare-bound train on the Paulina portion of the Metropolitan “L”, soon the be closed, probably in 1950.

The north portal of the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway at Evergreen Street.

The north portal of the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway at Evergreen Street.

Construction of the Van Buren temporary trackage in 1951-52.

Construction of the Van Buren temporary trackage in 1951-52.

From 1951 to 1958, the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway ended at a stub-end terminal at LaSalle and Congress. The station was then called Congress Terminal.

From 1951 to 1958, the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway ended at a stub-end terminal at LaSalle and Congress. The station was then called Congress Terminal.

The Garfiled Park temporary tracks in the south half of Van Buren Street. The old Throop Street shops are at right.

The Garfiled Park temporary tracks in the south half of Van Buren Street. The old Throop Street shops are at right.

At right, the ramp going down from the existing Met main line at right to the an Buren temporary trackage at street level. On the left, the Congress median line looks like it is almost ready to be put into service.

At right, the ramp going down from the existing Met main line at right to the an Buren temporary trackage at street level. On the left, the Congress median line looks like it is almost ready to be put into service.

In 1958, work was being done to connect the Douglas Park "L" with the new Congress line.

In 1958, work was being done to connect the Douglas Park “L” with the new Congress line.

The old Met main line "L" crossed the footprint of the Northwest Expressway, then being built in 1958, and had to be shored up. Once the Congress line opened, this section of "L" was removed. The new highway opened in 1960.

The old Met main line “L” crossed the footprint of the Northwest Expressway, then being built in 1958, and had to be shored up. Once the Congress line opened, this section of “L” was removed. The new highway opened in 1960.

A crossover in the Congress median.

A crossover in the Congress median.

The Congress line opens in June 1958 with three branches (Congress, Douglas, and Milwaukee).

The Congress line opens in June 1958 with three branches (Congress, Douglas, and Milwaukee).

In the late 1950s, the CTA envisioned a sort of "bus rapid transit" line in the median of the planned Southwest (now Stevenson) Expressway. Three buses are coupled together and are running along a guide rail, and presumably would uncouple and go their separate ways at the end of the journey,

In the late 1950s, the CTA envisioned a sort of “bus rapid transit” line in the median of the planned Southwest (now Stevenson) Expressway. Three buses are coupled together and are running along a guide rail, and presumably would uncouple and go their separate ways at the end of the journey,

The DesPlaines Avenue CTA terminal, after its 1959 renovation. You can just barely see where the CA&E tracks were rebuilt at right. Unfortunately, no trains ran on them.

The DesPlaines Avenue CTA terminal, after its 1959 renovation. You can just barely see where the CA&E tracks were rebuilt at right. Unfortunately, no trains ran on them.

The new Congress rapid transit line, aka the "West Side Subway" as it is below grade.

The new Congress rapid transit line, aka the “West Side Subway” as it is below grade.

Garfield Park trains crossing DesPalines Avenue at grade in Forest Park. Tracks in the foreground were once used by West Towns Railways streetcars.

Garfield Park trains crossing DesPalines Avenue at grade in Forest Park. Tracks in the foreground were once used by West Towns Railways streetcars.

The CTA issued these button in 1969-70 when two new expressway median lines were opened. The Kennedy line also included a new one-mile subway along Kimball and Milwaukee.

The CTA issued these button in 1969-70 when two new expressway median lines were opened. The Kennedy line also included a new one-mile subway along Kimball and Milwaukee.

Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There are three subway anniversaries this year 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!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
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)

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

gh1

This is our 222nd 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 452,000 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.

Recent Finds, 10-14-2017

You would be forgiven if you think this is CTA red Pullman 144 heading north on Wentworth Avenue at Cermak Road in Chicago's Chinatown neighborhood. But it is actually car 225 with its number hidden by a piece of red oilcloth. This was a fantrip organized by the late Maury Klebolt in 1955. He had promised the fans that car 144 would be used. Car 225 was built in 1908 and was sold to Seashore Trolley Museum in 1957. I previously wrote a post about this fantrip in 2013.

You would be forgiven if you think this is CTA red Pullman 144 heading north on Wentworth Avenue at Cermak Road in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood. But it is actually car 225 with its number hidden by a piece of red oilcloth. This was a fantrip organized by the late Maury Klebolt in 1955. He had promised the fans that car 144 would be used. Car 225 was built in 1908 and was sold to Seashore Trolley Museum in 1957. I previously wrote a post about this fantrip in 2013.

This close-up of the previous picture shows how the "144" is on an oilcloth patch over the actual number 225.

This close-up of the previous picture shows how the “144” is on an oilcloth patch over the actual number 225.

Today, we are featuring many rare transit photographs that we recently collected. Most are from the Chicagoland area, but some are from Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

What they all have in common is I think they are interesting. I hope that you will agree.

October 17 is the 74th anniversary of the opening of Chicago’s first subway. We have included a few subway pictures to help commemorate that historic event.

-David Sadowski

PS- I will be making a personal appearance at 1:00 pm on Saturday, October 21, 2017 at The Museums at Lisle Station Park in Lisle, IL. This presentation is for my new book Chicago Trolleys, from Arcadia Publishing. You can purchase an autographed copy via our Online Store. We look forward to seeing you there.

Recent Finds

This is a very unusual picture. At first, I thought it might show the ramp at Sacramento on the Garfield Park "L", where the line descended to temporary trackage in Van Buren Street. Then, I noticed that this is single track. This makes it the loop at the west end of the line at DesPlaines Avenue, as it was configured in 1953 to allow the CA&E (not seen here) to pass underneath. There are lots of pictures showing this ramp taken from the ground. But to take this picture, the photographer either had to be in another railcar, or was standing on the walkway. At left, you can see the Altenhiem building, described in the next picture. The DesPlaines Avenue yard was reconfigured again in 1959 and this ramp was eliminated. We previously posted another picture of this crossover here.

This is a very unusual picture. At first, I thought it might show the ramp at Sacramento on the Garfield Park “L”, where the line descended to temporary trackage in Van Buren Street. Then, I noticed that this is single track. This makes it the loop at the west end of the line at DesPlaines Avenue, as it was configured in 1953 to allow the CA&E (not seen here) to pass underneath. There are lots of pictures showing this ramp taken from the ground. But to take this picture, the photographer either had to be in another railcar, or was standing on the walkway. At left, you can see the Altenhiem building, described in the next picture. The DesPlaines Avenue yard was reconfigured again in 1959 and this ramp was eliminated. We previously posted another picture of this crossover here.

Altenhiem, described here as an "old people's home," is still in business today.

Altenhiem, described here as an “old people’s home,” is still in business today.

Once CA&E trains were cut back to Forest Park in September 1953, joint timetables were issued for the benefit of passengers who wanted to continue to the Loop. These schedules were changed several times over the nearly four years before the CA&E abandoned passenger service. This is the 14th, and perhaps last such timetable. Over time, I assume there were fewer CA&E trains as ridership was declining. We previously posted timetable #7 here.

Once CA&E trains were cut back to Forest Park in September 1953, joint timetables were issued for the benefit of passengers who wanted to continue to the Loop. These schedules were changed several times over the nearly four years before the CA&E abandoned passenger service. This is the 14th, and perhaps last such timetable. Over time, I assume there were fewer CA&E trains as ridership was declining. We previously posted timetable #7 here.

WORK ON CHICAGO'S SUBWAY STARTED Chicago, Ill.: Above photo shows crowd on North State Street at Chicago Avenue during ceremonies marking the start of work on the new subway, which will run under State Street. Mayor Edward Kelly and Secy. of the Interior Harold Ickes used pneumatic spades to start the project. (Acme Press Photo, December 17, 1938)

WORK ON CHICAGO’S SUBWAY STARTED
Chicago, Ill.: Above photo shows crowd on North State Street at Chicago Avenue during ceremonies marking the start of work on the new subway, which will run under State Street. Mayor Edward Kelly and Secy. of the Interior Harold Ickes used pneumatic spades to start the project. (Acme Press Photo, December 17, 1938)

STREET CARS CRASH IN TUNNEL; 7 INJURED Chicago - Its brakes failing to hold as it attempted up-grade run in Chicago street car tunnel, trolley at left slid backward down incline, crashed into front end of following car. Seven passengers were taken to hospital, 100 others shaken up. (Acme Press Photo, November 6, 1941)

STREET CARS CRASH IN TUNNEL; 7 INJURED
Chicago – Its brakes failing to hold as it attempted up-grade run in Chicago street car tunnel, trolley at left slid backward down incline, crashed into front end of following car. Seven passengers were taken to hospital, 100 others shaken up. (Acme Press Photo, November 6, 1941)

AT LAST -- THE CHICAGO SUBWAY All-steel cars from the elevated lines enter the tubes on the north side near Armitage and Sheffield Avenues, about 2 1/2 miles north of the Loop. Overhead is the existing elevated structure still used by local trains. Hard rubber plates have been placed between the ties and the steel rails to cushion the subway ride. (Acme Press Photo, October 21, 1943)

AT LAST — THE CHICAGO SUBWAY
All-steel cars from the elevated lines enter the tubes on the north side near Armitage and Sheffield Avenues, about 2 1/2 miles north of the Loop. Overhead is the existing elevated structure still used by local trains. Hard rubber plates have been placed between the ties and the steel rails to cushion the subway ride. (Acme Press Photo, October 21, 1943)

NO AN ART GALLERY--BUT PART OF MOSCOW'S SUBWAY LINE Moscow, Russia-- Beautiful inverted bowls throw light to the paneled ceiling of this archway part of the lighting system of the Sokolniki station of Moscow's new subway. Indirect light is used in many parts of the system. The subway, thrown open to the public amidst scenes of great jubilation, is called the "Metro." All Moscow went joy riding on opening day. (Acme Press Photo, May 17, 1935) What interested me about his photo was how the general configuration looks a lot like the Chicago subway, which was built a few years later. Is it possible that the design was influenced by Moscow's?

NO AN ART GALLERY–BUT PART OF MOSCOW’S SUBWAY LINE
Moscow, Russia– Beautiful inverted bowls throw light to the paneled ceiling of this archway part of the lighting system of the Sokolniki station of Moscow’s new subway. Indirect light is used in many parts of the system. The subway, thrown open to the public amidst scenes of great jubilation, is called the “Metro.” All Moscow went joy riding on opening day. (Acme Press Photo, May 17, 1935) What interested me about his photo was how the general configuration looks a lot like the Chicago subway, which was built a few years later. Is it possible that the design was influenced by Moscow’s?

The interior of DC Transit car 766, during an October 8, 1961 fantrip just a few months before Washington's streetcar system was abandoned. This car is now preserved at the National Capital Trolley Museum as Capital Traction Company 27 (its original umber). We have an excellent CD featuring audio recordings of 766 in operation in Washington, DC in our Online Store.

The interior of DC Transit car 766, during an October 8, 1961 fantrip just a few months before Washington’s streetcar system was abandoned. This car is now preserved at the National Capital Trolley Museum as Capital Traction Company 27 (its original umber). We have an excellent CD featuring audio recordings of 766 in operation in Washington, DC in our Online Store.

This picture was taken on the Wells leg of Chicago's Loop on April 16, 1926. If this is Quincy and Wells, the scaffolding at left may be related to work being done on the nearby Wells Street Terminal, which started at this time. The terminal got a new facade and was expanded, reopening on August 27, 1927.

This picture was taken on the Wells leg of Chicago’s Loop on April 16, 1926. If this is Quincy and Wells, the scaffolding at left may be related to work being done on the nearby Wells Street Terminal, which started at this time. The terminal got a new facade and was expanded, reopening on August 27, 1927.

This picture shows the old Wells Street bridge, carrying the "L" across the Chicago River as it heads north-south in the early 1900s.

This picture shows the old Wells Street bridge, carrying the “L” across the Chicago River as it heads north-south in the early 1900s.

This is Racine Avenue on the Metropolitan "L" main line. The autos below the "L" would suggest this picture was taken in the 1940s.

This is Racine Avenue on the Metropolitan “L” main line. The autos below the “L” would suggest this picture was taken in the 1940s.

"L" trains at the north State Street subway portal, probably in the 1940s.

“L” trains at the north State Street subway portal, probably in the 1940s.

The view looking north from the Howard "L" station. We ran a very similar picture to this in a previous post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Eight (November 16, 2016), where George Trapp suggested in was taken in the late 1920s or 1930s. This photo is dated December 17, 1930.

The view looking north from the Howard “L” station. We ran a very similar picture to this in a previous post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Eight (November 16, 2016), where George Trapp suggested in was taken in the late 1920s or 1930s. This photo is dated December 17, 1930.

Michael Franklin has identified this picture as showing the Armour station on the Stock Yards branch. He notes, "(the) clue was a station on one side but not one on the other." See below for another view of the same station.

Michael Franklin has identified this picture as showing the Armour station on the Stock Yards branch. He notes, “(the) clue was a station on one side but not one on the other.” See below for another view of the same station.

The above image is from Graham Garfield’s excellent web site, and looks to the northeast. The original www.chicago-l.org caption reads:

Looking north on September 28, 1957, ex-Metropolitan Elevated car 2906 has left Armour station (seen at right) and it about to rejoin the Stock Yards main line to head east to its terminal at Indiana. The Sock Yards branch is only a week away from abandonment at this time. (Photo from the IRM Collection, courtesy of Peter Vesic)

This picture was taken on the Evanston branch of the "L", and the wooden "L" car is signed "Howard Only," which suggests this was taken during the CTA era. Previously, all Evanston trains continued south into the city. The nearby curve would indicate that this picture was taken just north of Howard, and may show the viaduct where the line crossed Chicago Avenue, which is a continuation of Clark Street.

This picture was taken on the Evanston branch of the “L”, and the wooden “L” car is signed “Howard Only,” which suggests this was taken during the CTA era. Previously, all Evanston trains continued south into the city. The nearby curve would indicate that this picture was taken just north of Howard, and may show the viaduct where the line crossed Chicago Avenue, which is a continuation of Clark Street.

This picture is identified as showing Chicago streetcar conductors and motormen, and probably dates to the early 1900s.

This picture is identified as showing Chicago streetcar conductors and motormen, and probably dates to the early 1900s.

Here, we have a westbound train of wooden Met cars at Laramie on the old Garfield Park line. This was replaced by the Congress line in 1958.

Here, we have a westbound train of wooden Met cars at Laramie on the old Garfield Park line. This was replaced by the Congress line in 1958.

Chicago Surface Lines 2779 at Cicero and Montrose in 1934. This was the north end of the Cicero Avenue line. This car is part of a series known as "Robertson Rebuilds," and was built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1903. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

Chicago Surface Lines 2779 at Cicero and Montrose in 1934. This was the north end of the Cicero Avenue line. This car is part of a series known as “Robertson Rebuilds,” and was built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1903. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 970 on Waveland between Broadway and Halsted in 1936. This was the north end of the Halsted line. 970 was part of a series known as the "little" Pullmans, since they were slightly shorter than cars 101-750. It was built in 1910. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL 970 on Waveland between Broadway and Halsted in 1936. This was the north end of the Halsted line. 970 was part of a series known as the “little” Pullmans, since they were slightly shorter than cars 101-750. It was built in 1910. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL experimental pre-PCC car 7001 is shown heading south on Clark Street at North Avenue, across the street from the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum). This picture was probably taken in the 1930s. 7001 went into service in 1934 and was repainted in 1941 before being retired around 1944. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

CSL experimental pre-PCC car 7001 is shown heading south on Clark Street at North Avenue, across the street from the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum). This picture was probably taken in the 1930s. 7001 went into service in 1934 and was repainted in 1941 before being retired around 1944. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)

The view looking east at Lake Street and Ridgeland, when the Lake Street "L" ran on the ground. Many years ago, the Rapid Transit Company put advertisements on the steps leading into such ground-level stations. The "L" was relocated onto the nearby C&NW embankment in 1962. This picture may be circa 1930.

The view looking east at Lake Street and Ridgeland, when the Lake Street “L” ran on the ground. Many years ago, the Rapid Transit Company put advertisements on the steps leading into such ground-level stations. The “L” was relocated onto the nearby C&NW embankment in 1962. This picture may be circa 1930.

The north end of the Merchandise Mart "L" station. This has since been rebuilt and the curved area of the platform has been eliminated.

The north end of the Merchandise Mart “L” station. This has since been rebuilt and the curved area of the platform has been eliminated.

We are looking west along Harrison at Wabash on November 12, 1928. In 2003, the Chicago Transit Authority straightened out this jog with a section of new "L" structure, occupying the area where the building at left once was.

We are looking west along Harrison at Wabash on November 12, 1928. In 2003, the Chicago Transit Authority straightened out this jog with a section of new “L” structure, occupying the area where the building at left once was.

Oakton Street in Skokie on December 11, 1931. The tracks with overhead wire were used by the North Shore Line and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company's Niles Center branch. Both were running on the NSL's Skokie Valley Route, built in 1925. The other set of tracks belong to the Chicago & North Western and were used for freight.

Oakton Street in Skokie on December 11, 1931. The tracks with overhead wire were used by the North Shore Line and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company’s Niles Center branch. Both were running on the NSL’s Skokie Valley Route, built in 1925. The other set of tracks belong to the Chicago & North Western and were used for freight.

CSL 2601 was a Robertson Rebuild car built in 1901 by St. Louis Car Company. In this wintry scene, it is signed for the 111th Street route, presumably in the 1940s. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 2601 was a Robertson Rebuild car built in 1901 by St. Louis Car Company. In this wintry scene, it is signed for the 111th Street route, presumably in the 1940s. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Here is an unusual view. This shows the ramp taking the Garfield Park "L" down to grade level between Cicero Avenue and Laramie. It must be an early picture, since the area around the "L" seems largely unbuilt. The Laramie Yard would be to the right just out of view. This "L" was torn down shortly after the CTA opened the Congress line in 1958.

Here is an unusual view. This shows the ramp taking the Garfield Park “L” down to grade level between Cicero Avenue and Laramie. It must be an early picture, since the area around the “L” seems largely unbuilt. The Laramie Yard would be to the right just out of view. This “L” was torn down shortly after the CTA opened the Congress line in 1958.

The old Cermak Road station on the south Side "L". Note there are three tracks here. This station was closed in 1977 and removed. A new station replaced it in 2015.

The old Cermak Road station on the south Side “L”. Note there are three tracks here. This station was closed in 1977 and removed. A new station replaced it in 2015.

Here. a wooden "L" car train descends the ramp near Laramie on the Lake Street "L". This must be an early photo, as it looks like Lake Street is unpaved. Streetcar service was extended west to Harlem Avenue here by the Cicero & Proviso in 1891. Chicago Railways took over the city portion in 1910. Service west of Austin Boulevard was provided by the West Towns Railways.

Here. a wooden “L” car train descends the ramp near Laramie on the Lake Street “L”. This must be an early photo, as it looks like Lake Street is unpaved. Streetcar service was extended west to Harlem Avenue here by the Cicero & Proviso in 1891. Chicago Railways took over the city portion in 1910. Service west of Austin Boulevard was provided by the West Towns Railways.

Wooden gate car 3105 and train in the Loop. This was originally built for the Lake Street "L". Don's Rail Photos says, "3103 thru 3118 were built by McGuire-Cummings in 1893 as LSERR 103 thru 118. In 1913 they were renumbered 3103 thru 3118 and became CRT 3103 thru 3118 in 1923."

Wooden gate car 3105 and train in the Loop. This was originally built for the Lake Street “L”. Don’s Rail Photos says, “3103 thru 3118 were built by McGuire-Cummings in 1893 as LSERR 103 thru 118. In 1913 they were renumbered 3103 thru 3118 and became CRT 3103 thru 3118 in 1923.”

The view looking west along the Douglas Park "L" at 49th Avenue in Cicero on February 4, 1944. The station we see in the background is 50th Avenue. After it closed in 1978, this station was moved to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, where it is used to board the museum's fleet of retired "L" cars.

The view looking west along the Douglas Park “L” at 49th Avenue in Cicero on February 4, 1944. The station we see in the background is 50th Avenue. After it closed in 1978, this station was moved to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, where it is used to board the museum’s fleet of retired “L” cars.

Here, we are looking south from Garfield (55th Street) on the South Side "L".

Here, we are looking south from Garfield (55th Street) on the South Side “L”.

61st Street on the South Side "L", looking north on November 13, 1944.

61st Street on the South Side “L”, looking north on November 13, 1944.

Photos of the old Humboldt Park "L" branch are quite rare. This photo looks west from Western Avenue on January 26, 1931. This branch closed in 1952, although portions of the structure remained into the early 1960s.

Photos of the old Humboldt Park “L” branch are quite rare. This photo looks west from Western Avenue on January 26, 1931. This branch closed in 1952, although portions of the structure remained into the early 1960s.

This picture looks south from Randolph and Wells on the Loop "L". The date is not known, but the construction of the building at right may provide a clue. Andre Kristopans writes, "The overhead shot on Wells showing platform construction is early 20’s, when platforms were extended to accommodate longer trains. For instance Randolph/Wells and Madison/Wells were once separate platforms, after the early 20’s they were a continuous platform. Also at that time, LaSalle/Van Buren and State/Van Buren were connected and the separate station at Dearborn/Van Buren became an auxiliary entrance to State, until a building next to it blew up in the very early 60’s and destroyed the Outer Loop side."

This picture looks south from Randolph and Wells on the Loop “L”. The date is not known, but the construction of the building at right may provide a clue. Andre Kristopans writes, “The overhead shot on Wells showing platform construction is early 20’s, when platforms were extended to accommodate longer trains. For instance Randolph/Wells and Madison/Wells were once separate platforms, after the early 20’s they were a continuous platform. Also at that time, LaSalle/Van Buren and State/Van Buren were connected and the separate station at Dearborn/Van Buren became an auxiliary entrance to State, until a building next to it blew up in the very early 60’s and destroyed the Outer Loop side.”

North Shore Line 156 and several others at Waukegan in December 1962. Since there are about a dozen cars visible, they are being stored on a siding which you will note is outside the area of the catenary. (George Niles, Jr. Photo)

North Shore Line 156 and several others at Waukegan in December 1962. Since there are about a dozen cars visible, they are being stored on a siding which you will note is outside the area of the catenary. (George Niles, Jr. Photo)

This shows TMER&T 1121 running on a 1949 fantrip on the North Shore Line at the Kenosha station. We ran a similar picture in our previous post Traction in Milwaukee (September 16, 2015).

This shows TMER&T 1121 running on a 1949 fantrip on the North Shore Line at the Kenosha station. We ran a similar picture in our previous post Traction in Milwaukee (September 16, 2015).

Speedrail car 60 at the Waukesha Quarry, date unknown but circa 1949-51.

Speedrail car 60 at the Waukesha Quarry, date unknown but circa 1949-51.


Larry Sakar
writes:

The photo of Speedrail car 60 in your latest postings at the Waukesha Gravel pit was taken on 10-16-49. The occasion was the inaugural fan trip using a 60-series curved side car. It was sponsored by the short lived Milwaukee Division of the Electric Railroaders Association and was run by Milwaukeean James P. Harper who authored CERA Bulletin 97, “The Electric Railways of Wisconsin” published in 1952.

At the start of the private right-of-way at 8th St., the motors on the rear truck began having problems. At Waukesha, the car pulled onto one of the 2 side tracks leading back into the gravel pit. George Krambles accessed the rear trucks via a panel in the floor and disconnected the motor leads to the troublesome rear trucks. From that point forward the car ran on only 2 motors for the remainder of the fan trip. Car 65 had been the car originally intended to do the trip, but it was down with mechanical problems of its own. This caused the trip to be postponed for a week and the substitution of car 60.

When the car pulled into gravel pit siding one of the fans on board remarked, “Wow, look at this. They’ve got it in the scrap line already!”.

In addition to George Krambles, Al Kalmbach was on the trip, as was well-known railfan and photographer Barney Neuberger. He can be seen siting in about the 4th row of the car on the left side wearing a pork pie hat.

I’ve attached a few items related to that fan trip including a photo of Jay Maeder walking alongside car 60. This was taken at the first photo stop which was 44th St. where Milwaukee County Stadium would be built starting a year later. Car 60 was doing a photo run-by by backing down the line. The fans formed a photo line facing the car.

Philadelphia Stories

Philadelphia Peter Witt 8534 in July 1996. Don's Rail Photos: "8534 was built by Brill Car in 1926, #22353." It is part of the Electric City Trolley Museum collection in Scranton, PA. Here, it is shown in Philadelphia, during the time it was leased to SEPTA for trolley tours.

Philadelphia Peter Witt 8534 in July 1996. Don’s Rail Photos: “8534 was built by Brill Car in 1926, #22353.” It is part of the Electric City Trolley Museum collection in Scranton, PA. Here, it is shown in Philadelphia, during the time it was leased to SEPTA for trolley tours.

SEPTA 2750 and 8534 on a fantrip in August 1996. Apparently 8534 has broken down and is being towed.

SEPTA 2750 and 8534 on a fantrip in August 1996. Apparently 8534 has broken down and is being towed.

SEPTA 2785 in November 2002.

SEPTA 2785 in November 2002.

SEPTA 2750 and 8534 in August 1996.

SEPTA 2750 and 8534 in August 1996.

Three generations of Philadelphia streetcars in May 1999.

Three generations of Philadelphia streetcars in May 1999.

2785 in November 2002.

2785 in November 2002.

SEPTA 2785 in November 2002, with a commuter train nearby. Kenneth Achtert writes, "The shot of SEPTA #2785 with the commuter train that you presumed to be in Chestnut Hill is actually approaching 11th and Susquehanna,southbound, a cut-back location for which the car is signed in the picture. The commuter train would be inbound toward Center City."

SEPTA 2785 in November 2002, with a commuter train nearby. Kenneth Achtert writes, “The shot of SEPTA #2785 with the commuter train that you presumed to be in Chestnut Hill is actually approaching 11th and Susquehanna,southbound, a cut-back location for which the car is signed in the picture. The commuter train would be inbound toward Center City.”

SEPTA 2785 in November 2002.

SEPTA 2785 in November 2002.

SEPTA PCC 2785 on the truncated route 23 in November 2002.

SEPTA PCC 2785 on the truncated route 23 in November 2002.

8534 in August 1996. Kenneth Achtert: "The view of #8534 being “manually switched” three photos later shows 8534 being coupled to its leader (2750) after apparently becoming disabled. Several of your other photos show the subsequent towing operation."

8534 in August 1996. Kenneth Achtert: “The view of #8534 being “manually switched” three photos later shows 8534 being coupled to its leader (2750) after apparently becoming disabled. Several of your other photos show the subsequent towing operation.”

The fantrip train is having trouble clearing this auto in August 1996.

The fantrip train is having trouble clearing this auto in August 1996.

Looks like an attempt was made to move the offending car out of the way. August 1996.

Looks like an attempt was made to move the offending car out of the way. August 1996.

Recent Correspondence

Kenneth Gear writes:

Look who is in the new HISTORIC RAIL & ROADS catalog!

Thanks!

In case you missed it, here is Kenneth Gear’s review of the book:

I just finished reading your book and I enjoyed it very much. Good, clear, concise, and informative writing.

I must compliment you on the choice and presentation of the photographs. It is obvious that you spent much time and effort to present these wonderful photos as perfectly restored as possible.

So many times the authors of books that are primarily “picture books” seem to have a complete disregard for the condition of the photos reproduced. I’ve often seen photos that are yellowed with age, water stained, ripped, folded, and scratched. Other times a book might contain photos that are not properly exposed, are crooked, out of focus, or the composition could have been easily corrected with a little cropping.

The photos in your book are absolutely fantastic! They are pristine, sharp, and have absolutely no blemishes at all. You also packed a lot of information into the captions as well. It’s a fine book and you should be proud, as I’m sure you are, to have your name on the cover.

Another reader writes:

Your book arrived and it is JUST AWESOME. I am completely taken by some of the imagery, and of course enjoy the way you seem to simplify historical writing. VERY nice work!! THANK YOU!!!

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The Chicago World’s Fair, by Streetcar

In this Chicago Surface Lines brochure, visitors were encouraged to see Chicago by streetcar, trolley bus, and, apparently, Zeppelin.

In this Chicago Surface Lines brochure, visitors were encouraged to see Chicago by streetcar, trolley bus, and, apparently, Zeppelin.

Chicago’s second World’s Fair took place in 1933 and 1934, and celebrated “A Century of Progress” since the city’s founding. Coming, as it did, in the depths of the Great Depression, this was a bold (and successful) venture, under the able leadership of Lenox Lohr (1891-1968). Chicago’s fair made a profit, while the later 1939-40 New York World’s Fair lost money.

Getting the 48,469,227 fair visitors back and forth to the lakefront site was a tremendous undertaking, and the Chicago Surface Lines played an important role. The fair opened on May 27, 1933, and it quickly became apparent that transportation needed improvement.

Two streetcar line extensions, among the last ones in Chicago, were hurriedly undertaken. The Roosevelt Road extension was the more elaborate of the two, since there were more obstacles in its path, namely the Illinois Central train station and tracks. The IC tracks were below grade, since they were built at the original ground level Downtown, which was raised several feet after the 1871 Chicago Fire.*

Chicago’s new Mayor Edward Joseph Kelly (1876-1950) took the controls of the first streetcar over the viaduct on August 1st, and posed for a good many press photos along the way. The two line extensions, from Roosevelt and Cermak, were retained for about 20 years, and continued to serve the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and Soldier Field. They both had turnaround loops, to permit the use of single-ended as well as double-ended cars.

CSL had two modern experimental streetcars built, and used them to shuttle visitors to and from the fair. Of the two, at least part of car 4001 has survived to this day, while 7001 was perhaps more influential on the eventual design of the highly successful PCC cars, starting in 1936. The general configuration of this single-ended car, and its door arrangement, were followed on Chicago’s 683 PCCs.

Today, we present a Chicago Surface Lines brochure touting their service to the World’s Fair and all parts of Chicago. Along with this, we have some additional photos showing the Roosevelt Road extension. You can find some additional pictures of this operation in later days in one of our earlier posts. There is also a photo showing car 7001 on State Street in 1934, in World’s Fair service.

After the CTA converted the Roosevelt Road streetcar line to bus, the extension to the “Museum Loop” operated as a shuttle between August 12, 1951 to April 12, 1953, when it was abandoned, and eventually demolished. There’s a picture of the route 12A shuttle operation on the CERA Members Blog, here. (The same blog also shows the last known picture of car 7001, shortly before it was scrapped in 1959.)

The last route 21 – Cermak streetcar ran on May 30, 1954.

PCCs occasionally did run to the Museum Loop during special events, for example, on April 26, 1951, when General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) made a personal appearance after his dismissal by President Harry S Truman. You can read more about that historic event here.

Northerly Island, the site of A Century of Progress, was built on landfill. After the fair, it was used as Meigs Field, an airport for small planes, from 1948 to 2003.

Now that planning is underway for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to be built in the “Museum Campus” area, various ideas have been floated for improving transit in this area. These proposals include a streetcar line.

So, when it comes to Chicago’s lakefront, what goes around may yet come around- especially if it’s a streetcar.

-David Sadowski

*This is approximately correct.  It would be difficult to determine what “ground” level truly was when the City was first settled, since Chicago was built on a swamp.  Ground level was raised 10 feet downtown in the 1860s to permit the easy installation of a sewer system, and there have been numerous additions via landfill, especially east of Michigan Avenue, which was originally the shoreline. You would apparently have to go as far south as Jackson Park before the Lake Michigan shoreline is in its pre-development location.

For more information, go here.

1939-40 New York World’s Fair

Capture32

It’s worth mentioning that when New York put on their World’s Fair in 1939-40, they built a rapid transit extension of the IND subway system to reach the south end of the site. This operation was called the World’s Fair Railroad, and required payment of a second 5-cent fare. This branch line was constructed at a cost of $1.2m.

This extension ran partly through Jamaica yard, and went 8,400 feet beyond it, for a total length of just under two miles.

The privately owned BMT and IRT subway/elevated systems shared service on what is now the 7 line, and fairgoers could get there via the Willets Point station, which now serves Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. The regular fare was charged, and these trains reached the north end of the site.

The Long Island Rail Road opened a station along their line adjacent to Willets Point, which remains in use today.

After the fair closed, the World’s Fair Railroad spur was dismantled and removed, the only such IND service to suffer this fate. During the course of the fair, New York City took over operation of both the IRT and BMT, unifying the three subway operations under municipal ownership.

No rapid transit extensions were provided for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, which took place on the same location. However, there was a monorail for moving people around within the fair site itself.

A CSL map showing how the Roosevelt Road and Cermak Road streetcar lines were extended to new loops serving A Century of Progress.

A CSL map showing how the Roosevelt Road and Cermak Road streetcar lines were extended to new loops serving A Century of Progress.

The Roosevelt Road extension to the World's Fair site is under construction in this June 24, 1933 view. The Illinois Central station lies between here and what we now call the "Museum Campus."

The Roosevelt Road extension to the World’s Fair site is under construction in this June 24, 1933 view. The Illinois Central station lies between here and what we now call the “Museum Campus.”

From the looks of things, this picture was also taken on June 24, 1933.

From the looks of things, this picture was also taken on June 24, 1933.

It's August 1, 1933. The World's Fair extension along Roosevelt Road is now completed, and Mayor Edward Kelly (posing for pictures) is at the controls of the first service car. Kelly had succeeded Anton Cermak as mayor earlier that year after the latter was assassinated in Miami.

It’s August 1, 1933. The World’s Fair extension along Roosevelt Road is now completed, and Mayor Edward Kelly (posing for pictures) is at the controls of the first service car. Kelly had succeeded Anton Cermak as mayor earlier that year after the latter was assassinated in Miami.

A close-up of the previous scene.

A close-up of the previous scene.