Now here is a very unusual view, taken on April 14, 1957 from the wooden trestle used by Garfield Park “L” trains to loop around at Forest Park circa 1953-59. This arrangement was necessary due to the separation of CTA and CA&E tracks, when the latter cut back service due to the Congress Expressway construction project in the city. Interurban trains turned on a loop between the CTA tracks on the east side of the terminal, while CTA trains went up and over the CA&E on the west end. To get this picture, the photographer either had to be inside a train, or on the walkway. This is only the second such picture I have seen, and the view looks to the north. In the background, you can see the Chicago Great Western freight tracks, abandoned in the early 1970s. The terminal area has been redone twice since then, and the buildings at right in the background are where a parking lot is now. The Altenheim retirement home (at left), built in 1886, is still there today at 7824 W. Madison Street. A two-car train of CTA “Baldy” 4000s negotiates the loop.
Here are more “loose ends” for your enjoyment. Most of today’s pictures were scanned a year ago as part of a much larger batch, and are from the collections of William Shapotkin, for which we are most grateful. Most of these are classic black-and-white pictures of Chicago Surface Lines streetcars.
If you have questions, comments, or additional information about any of the locations in these pictures, we would love to hear from you. As always, please refer to each image by its file name, which you can find by hovering your computer mouse over it. (For example, the image at the top of this post is rbk501.) As of July 22nd, thanks to our readers, we have updated the captions on 20 of these photos.
What is known today as the East Troy Electric Railroad survived to the present day due to its continued use as an electric freight line, as this scene from April 16, 1965 shows. Once part of the TMER&L interurban network, there was passenger service between East Troy and Milwaukee from 1907 to 1939. The railroad continued to operated freight for another ten years after that, and starting in 1950, the interchange line was owned and operated by East Troy. Museum operations began to be phased in as early as 1967. Here, we see line car M-15 at Mukwonago. This car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum.
CSL PCC 4062, on its way toward delivery from the Pullman plant in Massachusetts to Chicago in 1946, as the city’s first postwar streetcar.
Through a process of elimination, it can be determined that this is a rare photo of the interior of experimental CSL pre-PCC car 7001, built by Brill in 1934. The Cottage Grove destination sign means we are in Chicago, and the seat configuration is different than the 1936 PCCs. The flat back window means this is not the 4001, so this is the 7001 for sure. Interestingly, the seats looks nearly identical to those found in Washington DC pre-PCC 1053 (see the following picture). The Washington cars were built in 1935 and while the order was split between Brill and St. Louis Car Company, the seats were most likely sourced from a third vendor and were the same in all those cars (and unfortunately, none exist today).
Here are some pictures we previously posted of 7001 and 1053:
The experimental Brill-built pre-PCC 7001 as it appeared at 77th and Vincennes on September 10, 1959, shortly before it was scrapped. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit pre-PCC streamlined streetcar at the National Capital Trolley Museum in 1993. Part of a 20-car order in 1935, split between Brill and St Louis Car Company. This is a St. Louis Car Company product. Sadly this car was lost to a carbarn fire at the museum in 2003. (John Smatlak Photo)
1053 interior. (John Smatlak Photo)
1053 interior. (John Smatlak Photo)
From the Collections of William Shapotkin:
CSL 6226 at Damen and 63rd in 1944.
CSL 6073 at Roosevelt and Wabash.
CSL prewar PCC 4002 at Kedzie Station, pulling in after operating on the Madison-Fifth line.
CSL 1812, signed for Adams-Downtown.
CSL 1859 is near a construction site. But the extreme contrast of this picture offers no clue to the location. Andre Kristopans: “1859 at construction site WB on Adams at Clinton.” Marty Robinson adds, “This improved view clearly show Adams on the street sign, and the sign on the building to the left says Franklin Bowling.”
CSL 3123 at Cermak and Prairie, east end of the Cermak route.
CSL 6235 on the South Chicago-Ewing route. Mike adds, “6235 is heading south on Ewing just past 94th. The bar in the background still exists.”
CSL 392 is heading to 74th and Ashland.
CSL 6243 on the Pershing Road line.
CSL 6248 is on the South Chicago-Ewing route. Mike adds, “6248 is heading north on Ewing across the 92nd St. Bridge. The tower in the background is visible in the photo of 6235, too. The blast furnaces of Youngstown Sheet & Tube are visible at left.”
CSL 793, signed to go to Damen and Blue Island, is near Diamond Lil’s Tavern. Mike adds, “793 is at the corner of 18th & Damen – the Diamond Lil’s building is still standing.”
CSL 3120 on a 1940s charter. Mike adds, “3120 is at the corner of 79th & Vincennes. The building in the background recently burned down and was demolished.”
51st and South Park, circa 1929. The Willard Theater was located at 340 E. 51st Street. It closed in the 1950s, and the building is now used as a church and community center.
South Chicago and 93rd.
CSL 3266, running on the 59th-61st Street route. Mike adds, “3266 is heading south on Blackstone from 60th. The street has been vacated and none of the buildings remain.”
The interior of CSL 1400.
CSL 1616 heads west on Lake Street in the 1940s, with the Lake Street “L” station at Laramie in the background. The “L” went down an inclined ramp and ran on the surface to Forest Park, and paralleled the streetcar line for a few blocks.
CSL 4035, in an experimental color scheme, at Madison and Austin circa 1945-46. Several different designs were tried out just prior to the arrival of the 600 postwar PCCs, but the design chosen was not exactly like any of these.
State and Randolph, June 18, 1942.
CSL 4018 in an experimental paint scheme circa 1945-46. This is the Madison-Austin loop, west end of Route 20.
CSL 6149 is southbound at Halsted and Chicago.
CSL 6135 at Pershing and Ashland.
CSL 3099. Mike: “3099 is at the corner of Leavitt and Coulter. The corner building still stands.”
CSL 5612. Mike adds, “5612 is heading west on 56th from Stony Island. Bret Harte School is at left and in background are both the older and newer wings of the Windermere Hotel.”
CSL 1841. Not sure where Burny’s Grill, at right, was located.
CSL 1836, signed to go to Van Buren and Dearborn.
The interior of CSL 1218.
Chicago & West Towns 165, signed for Melrose Park. I am wondering if this could be on Lake Street in Maywood.
SF Muni double-end PCC 1008.
Chicago & West Towns 164 is eastbound on Lake Street in Oak Park, near Austin Boulevard.
CSL 3286. Is this the interior of Kedzie Station?
CSL 6221. Andre Kristopans: “6221 nb on S Chicago at 79th/ Stony Island.”
CSL 5746 in July 1946.
CSL 5724 on the South Deering route.
CSL 3174, signed for Through Route 8 (Halsted).
CSL 6143 at Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago, heading north.
CSL 5941. S. Terman adds, “5941 is at North/Cicero carbarn.”
CSL 1602 under the “L” (Lake Street… or 63rd?). M.E.: “I thought I read someplace that streetcars on Lake St. had to be narrower than normal because the tracks were closer together than normal because the L support beams were so close to the tracks. That, in turn, meant the auto lanes were outside the L structure. So I suspect this picture shows 63rd St. under the Jackson Park L.” On the other hand, Mike writes, “1602 is on Lake near Sangamon (the street sign is half visible at far left). That is most likely the Morgan St. station for the Lake Street elevated train in the background.”
5243 at Randolph and State. From the looks of things, this might predate the creation of the Chicago Surface Lines.
CSL 5819 at Cottage Grove and 115th.
CSL 3191 at Clark and LaSalle.
CSL 3041 at Montrose and Milwaukee (west end of the Montrose line). S. Terman adds, “Since 3041 brill is a 2 man car, its looks odd as Montrose is 1 man operation unless its a school trip.” Thanks to Steve D. for correcting this location (we had thought it was Montrose and Broadway, which is how the photo was marked, see his Comment.) The view looks northwest. He speculates that there was a delay on Elston, and a two-man car from that line was diverted onto west Montrose.
The same location today.
CSL 1415 at Laramie and Lake, near the Lake Street “L”.
CRT 4069 is, I believe northbound at Chicago Avenue, running as a Ravenswood Express sometime between 1943 and 1949, a period when the Rave was routed through the new State Street Subway. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo) M.E.: “As your caption says, the Ravenswood ran in the State St. subway til 1949. And then it ran through to Englewood. After 1949, when the CTA implemented A and B skip-stop service, Englewood trains went instead to Howard St., and the Ravenswood got its own service using the original L structure into the Loop. As for the destination sign on the front, this style preceded A and B service. I think it’s possible this picture was taken prior to 1943. Miles Beitler: “Photo img750 puzzles me. If this was in fact a subway train, the destination sign should read “VIA SUBWAY” and the train would serve the Chicago/State subway station rather than the Chicago Avenue elevated station. Since Ravenswood express trains did use the subway until 1949, and this train obviously did not, I wonder if the photo predates the opening of the subway.”
Chicago & West Towns 1151, eastbound on Lake Street in Oak Park, a block away from the end of the line at Austin Boulevard. The building to the north is still standing.
The same location today.
This is a somewhat unusual view, taken along the B&OCT tracks, just west of Central Avenue. At left, you can see the CTA’s Central Avenue stop on the Congress line, now the Blue Line. The station closed in 1973 due to lack of ridership. The Eisenhower expressway would be to the left of the station, which was not served by buses, and was the only walkup (other than the Forest Park terminal) on this line, which is almost all in an open cut. We are looking mainly to the east and a bit to the north.
A two-car train of CRT gate cars at Halsted on the Stock Yards branch of the “L”. This picture can be dated to about March 1946 from the advertising posters. The Olsen and Johnson comedy team, of Hellzapoppin’ fame, were appearing at the Schubert Theater in Laffing Room Only.
When we see pictures of Western Avenue PCC cars, the question is usually, which terminal is this? Berwyn and 79th had very similar turnaround loops, built around the same time (and still used today by buses). Since the buildings at rear do not match those seen at Berwyn, I am going to say this is Western and 79th. M.E.: “This has to be 79th, for two reasons: (1) Photos I have seen of the Berwyn terminal have more vegetation. (2) In the foreground of this picture are bus lanes. I don’t remember any bus service at Berwyn. On the contrary, both the 49A South Western and both lines on 79th St. (route 79 east to the lake, and route 79A west to Cicero) used this terminal.”
North Shore Line streetcar 360 is signed for the Naval Station, which makes this Waukegan. Joe Stupar: “The North Shore Line streetcar 360 looks like it might be at the North end of North Av? The house looks a lot like 416 W Greenwood Av, still there.”
Not sure where this rather blurry picture of a CSL car barn is. Andre Kristopans: “The blurry carbarn shot should be Burnside, looking south on Drexel from 93rd.” M.E.: “I’ll hazard a guess this is the carbarn on 93rd at Drexel (900 east). I say this because I think there are railroad cars in the background. A block or so east of the Drexel barn, the 93rd St. car turned right (on Kenwood, I think) to reach a private right-of-way that crossed the railroad at grade level. Altogether an interesting operation.”
A North Shore Line Electroliner is off in the distance, making a stop at… where? Scott Greig: “The southbound Electroliner with the MD car at far left is looking northeast at Downey’s-Great Lakes. MD cars were commonly used to move sailors’ baggage, even after LCL service ended in 1947.” Joe Stupar: “The Electroliner looks like it’s at Great Lakes? Looks like a coach and an MD car in the pocket there.”
CSL 3258 on the 59th-61st route. Could this be the east end of the line? M.E.: “This is definitely the east end of the 59th/61st line. It is on Blackstone Ave. (1430 E.) looking north toward the Midway Plaisance (which was between 59th St. to the north and 60th St. to the south).. Across the Midway are some buildings from the University of Chicago. Notice that both trolleys are up, and the destination sign says “Central Park”, referring to Central Park Ave. (3600 W.), the line’s western terminus. (As I remember, the eastbound terminal sign read “60th – Blackstone”.) Google maps shows where 61st St. turned left toward where Blackstone would have been. In Google, Blackstone is labelled farther north.”
A North Shore Line train “at speed,” as they used to say. Not sure where this is. Joe Stupar: “The North Shore train at speed looks like it might be at 4 Mile Substation? The building looks similar, and this other photo of the south side shows a similar setup with the high tension wires coming over the building, and a simple tap with no steel structure.”
CSL 3219 is at the east end of the 43rd Street line, adjacent to an Illinois Central electric suburban service station. This was also near the end of the line of the Kenwood branch of the “L”.
A pair of CAT wooden “L” cars, shown here, survived into the mid-1960s, as shown by this view of the yard at Logan Square, where 6000s and 2000s are in evidence. This dates the picture to sometime between 1964 and 1970. Andre Kristopans: “The wood work motors at Logan Square hauled the rail grinder sleds until 1965 or so.” Scott Greig: “Wood “L” cars at Logan…there were several wood cars (particularly the 1809-1815 group) that lasted in work service as late as 1968, maybe even 1970. Given that there’s no crane or flat cars with them, they may be a rail grinder train.”
I believe this is the Chicago & West Towns car barn, which was located in North Riverside. (Many photos list it as “Berwyn,” but it’s across the street from that suburb.) The West Towns had two car barns, the other at Lake and Ridgeland in Oak Park. Although both were in the ‘burbs, the North Riverside one was often referred to as the “suburban” barn. The area around the Oak Park barn was a lot more built up than this.
1939 Chicago Surface Lines Training Program
In 2016, we were fortunate to acquire a rare 16″ transcription disc, made in 1939 for the Chicago Surface Lines. This included an audio presentation called “Keeping Pace,” about 20 minutes long, that CSL used for employee training.
We were recently able to find someone who could play such a large disc, and now this program has been digitized and can be heard for the first time in more than 80 years. We have added it as a bonus feature to our Red Arrow Lines 1967 CD, available below and through our Online Store.
Red Arrow Lines 1967: Straffords and Bullets
# of Discs – 1
This disc features rare, long out-of-print audio recordings of two 1967 round trips on the Philadelphia & Western (aka “Red Arrow Lines”) interurban between Philadelphia and Norristown, the famous third rail High-Speed Line. One trip is by a Strafford car and the other by one of the beloved streamlined Bullets. The line, about 13 miles long and still in operation today under SEPTA, bears many similarities to another former interurban line, the Chicago Transit Authority‘s Yellow Line (aka the “Skokie Swift”). We have included two bonus features, audio of an entire ride along that five mile route, which was once part of the North Shore Line, and a 20-minute 1939 Chicago Surface Lines training program (“Keeping Pace”). This was digitized from a rare original 16″ transcription disc and now can be heard again for the first time in over 80 years.
Total time – 73:32
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways
There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.
While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
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.
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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)
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