All in all, I would have to say this is an amazing photograph. It shows Five Mile Beach Electric Railway car 22 on June 30, 1943, in the middle of World War II, and just two years before streetcars were abandoned in this coastal town (Wildwood) in New Jersey. From what I have read, the war and the resulting nightly blackouts negatively affected tourism and contributed to the demise of the streetcars here. With such an early abandonment, color photos of this operation are very rare, indeed, and the colors on this Red Border Kodachrome have held up quite well. A sign on the car advertises Marty Bohn and His Floor Show at the “Nut Club.” The blackouts were not without reason, as German submarines were just offshore, and sometimes crew members would sneak ashore.
I am both humbled and grateful beyond measure that my late friend Jeffrey Wien made me the beneficiary of his extensive photographic collection (except for his motion picture films, which he donated to the Chicago Film Archives).
Naturally, I would rather that he still be around to enjoy his collection, comment on my posts, and point out where I got something wrong, or help identify some locations. But unfortunately, we don’t get to choose in these matters.
I think the best way I can honor his memory is to keep up the work of historic preservation and education that meant so much to him.
While this post may not have an overall theme, it is full of legends and legacies. It is thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of many people, Jeff included, that anything at all has been saved from the electric railways of the past. Some of the photos here were taken after the North Shore Line quit, and show various railcars sitting around, waiting to be saved or scrapped. There are also pictures of the fledgling and somewhat ramshackle early days of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum, at its original and temporary home in North Chicago.
You if had told one of the founders of what is now IRM back then all the progress that has been made since at Union, they hardly could have believed it possible. Institutions like IRM are saving this history and preserving it for future generations, while also making it possible to have some of the same experiences riding the equipment in the collection, that people enjoyed in the past.
If we can maintain the same spirit, all this important history will be our legacy to those who come after us. I am intent on doing my part.
PS- We thank Jack Bejna, Andre Kristopans, William Shapotkin, and Colin Wisner for contributing to this post.
We also have a Facebook auxiliary for The Trolley Dodger where you can participate further. It is a private group, so unfortunately you won’t be able to see the content unless you join. It is free. As of this writing, we have 183 members.
From Jeff Wien’s Collection
The North Shore Line ticket cabinet from the Dempster Street station in Skokie. It still has the tickets in it.
I will have to straighten this out, as the tickets were jostled when the cabinet was moved. The balls were apparently placed behind the tickets.
This metal route sign hung on the side of a wooden Metropolitan “L” car, and was of a type in use for a half-century prior to the opening of the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway in 1951. Remarkably, it has survived for 70 years since it last could have been used in service. The sign was reversible, and the other side says Humboldt Park.
A fare counter from a Chicago streetcar. There was a Chicago streetcar 3351, a Peter Witt that was scrapped around 1952, but I am not certain that these didn’t have their own numbers.
This metal sign appears to show the original version of the CTA’s “Metropolitan Transit” logo, first introduced in 1958. By then, the agency wanted the public to know that it served more than just Chicago.
The North Shore Line eventually joined the Insull Empire that, by the mid-1920s, included all three major Chicago interurbans and the “L”. So it should not be too much of a surprise that the North Shore had its own rider publication for a few years, with leaflet holders presumably made by the same firm as the “L”s. The North Shore Line version is said to be rare, as many were melted down for scrap during WWII.
Leaflet holders from 4000-series “L” cars. The Elevated News was published by the Chicago Elevated Railways Collateral Trust, formed in 1913 as a voluntary association by the four independent (or at least they started that way) “L” firms. The 4000-series, which eventually ran to 455 cars, was the first designed for use on all the various “L” lines. The title of their rider publication was changed to Rapid Transit News in 1924, coincident with the formation of the Chicago Rapid Transit Company. The Chicago Transit Authority had its own publication, the Rider’s Reader, for a few years starting in 1948.
This leaflet holder is marked as having come from CTA PCC 7213, the last Chicago streetcar that ran on June 21, 1958.
Although Chicago had a total of 600 postwar PCC streetcars, this was too much for a single manufacturer to produce in the immediate postwar era, so the order was divided between Pullman (310) and St. Louis Car Company (290). The “Read As You Ride” leaflet holder at left came from a St. Louis PCC (7213), while the one at right may have come from a Pullman. Their interiors were painted different colors.
Jeff’s collection included a leaflet holder from another city. Several cities had “Public Service” in their streetcar operator’s names, so offhand, I am not sure which city this came from. (Frank J. Flörianz Jr. says it is from New Jersey.)
I found this clipping that Jeff cut out of the Chicago Tribune in 1978 inside the “Read As You Ride” leaflet holder from PCC 7213, the last Chicago streetcar.
There were a few cities besides New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia to have some sort of elevated electric railways, and Kansas City was among them. Here, Kansas City Public Service car 785 is descending from the 8th Street “L” at Baltimore Avenue on September 3, 1952. I was fortunate to win this original Red Border Kodachrome slide, because I had lost an auction for it once before when someone sold it. Kansas City abandoned streetcars in 1957, but has since reopened a modern streetcar line. (Edward S. Miller Photo)
A single CRT wooden “L” car is at the Dempster Street terminal in Skokie, probably in the 1940s. This “L” branch was replaced by buses in 1948, but returned in 1964 in the form of the Skokie Swift (today’s Yellow Line), a year after the North Shore Line (who owned these tracks) ended all service.
This is one of the experimental “Bluebird” articulated compartment car trains (probably the prototype) being tested on the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system circa 1939. BMT ordered 50 of these units from the Clark Equipment Company, intended to be “fast locals” to mix with slower express trains on El lines. But when the City of New York purchased BMT in 1940, they cancelled the order, except for five units that had already been built. They lived out the rest of their days as oddball equipment before being scrapped in 1956. But the Bluebirds were the first rapid transit cars to use PCC technology, and were a major influence on the four articulated 5000s that CRT ordered at the end of World War II.
The former Chicago Aurora & Elgin station in Villa Park still exists and is a local landmark. But here we see it under construction in 1929. The Ovaltine plant at left has since been converted to residential.
I spent some time cleaning up this image, which was part of a stereo pair meant to be viewed in 3-D using a handheld device called a “stereopticon.” It shows Chicago’s Loop “L” circa 1905, and this is the original left-hand running, bi-directional configuration, before it was changed in 1913. So the train at right is moving towards us, while the train at left is moving away from us. The view looks west along Van Buren Street, and that is the old Tower 12 at left. A Metropolitan “L” train is on the inner Loop, while a Lake Street train trails a Northwestern “L” train on the outer Loop. At this stage, only the Lake trains would have needed trolley poles. The station at Van Buren and State is visible in the distance.
A Stereopticon viewer.
Chicago Surface Lines car 2802 is on a charter trip on June 12, 1940. This was apparently a fan favorite, as we have previously published a photo of the same car on a 1941 fantrip.
North Shore Line car 709 at the Branford Trolley Museum in Connecticut in October 30, 1966, just three and a half years after the interurban quit. The location given is Farm River Road. Don’s Rail Photos: “709 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1924, #2725. It was sold to Branford Trolley Museum in 1963.”
This is another remarkable photograph, showing Monongahela West Penn car 320 at night in June 1946. Such night shots were very difficult to achieve back then, due to the slow film speed of the time (this is Kodachrome 10, as in ASA/ISO 10). About the only way to take such a picture would have been with a very long exposure, with the camera resting on a tripod. (Dr. H. Blackbunn Photo)
South Shore Line cars 105 and 1 in April 1963.
Another great night shot, this time it’s Illinois Terminal 473 on the line that ran from St. Louis to Granite City in the 1950s. This was IT’s final passenger line and was abandoned in June 1958, on the same weekend that the last Chicago streetcar ran.
CTA PCC 4406, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, at Clark and Archer in April 1954. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This is DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park, the end of the CTA Congress rapid transit line. The license plates would indicate a date of 1961, perhaps in the Fall since that is a 1962 Chevy in the parking lot. The various signs on the Leyden Motor Coach bus might confuse you, but on the side, it is marked “OSA” meaning this is a fantrip. (William Shapotkin Collection) Bill Shapotkin writes: “Unable to read the bus number, bus OSA operated trips on 06/17/61 (trip #2) using Leyden bus #95 and on 03/18/62 (trip #10) using Leyden buses #90, 157 and 164. If you can identify the fleet number, that would cement down the details.” This is bus #90, so that makes the date March 18, 1962.
CTA 6053 is at the rear of a northbound Ravenswood All-Stop train approaching Armitage in August 1986. The two center tracks lead down to the State Street Subway. (William Shapotkin Collection)
A southbound CTA Englewood train (lead car: 2033) has met a northbound Howard train at Armitage station in April 1985, and is descending into the State Street Subway. (William Shapotkin Collection)
North Shore Line former merchandise dispatch car 215 at the Harrison Shops in Milwaukee on July 7, 1953. Don’s Rail Photos: “215 was built by Cincinnati Car in October 1922, #2605. The loading doors (were moved) from the ends to the center. It was demotorized and used as a tool car.”
On May 22, 1944, Illinois Governor Dwight H. Green (1897-1958) poses with officials from the Illinois State Militia, next to a 1700-series Chicago Surface Lines car promoting that branch of the military during World War II. Green served two terms as governor from 1941-49 before his defeat by Democrat Adlai Stevenson.
While I don’t have the negative that goes with this Chicago Sun photo file slip, it does at least identify some of the notables in the negative I do have. The Chicago Sun was a morning newspaper, started in 1941 by the Field family. It bought the Chicago Times in 1948 and the paper has been the Chicago Sun-Times ever since (although no longer owned by Field Enterprises).
North Shore Line cars 192 and 187 at Highwood in September 1963, looking much worse the wear, nine months after abandonment. But in actuality, these cars had been retired some years earlier. Don’s Rail Photos: “187 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1920, (order) #2450. It was retired on December 31, 1955. It was scrapped at Rondout on January 29, 1964. 192 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1920, #2450. It was retired on December 31, 1955. It was scrapped at Rondout on January 29, 1964.” Apparently these cars were considered surplus after the abandonment of the Shore Line Route in 1955.
This photo is a bit of a mystery. It is dated September 1963, which means these are probably North Shore Line cars in dead storage at Highwood, awaiting disposition. However, that doesn’t explain the Shore Line Route sign, as that portion of the Interurban had been abandoned in 1955. And after the 1963 abandonment, a lot of these signs were scarfed up by fans and were missing from the trains that were scrapped. Don’s Rail Photos: “(Combine) 256 was built by Jewett in 1917. It seems to be the only one which retained its original configuration.” It did not survive. The fate of the Silverliner at right is not known.
On June 16, 1962, the late Maury Klebolt talks to the North Shore Line train crew during a fantrip at Harrison Street in Milwaukee. This must have been an Illini Railroad Club excursion. There were many such trips during the last year of the interurban’s existence. (Richard H. Young Photo)
A close-up of Maury Klebolt (1930-1988). Not sure who is at left.
CTA Pullman PCC 4077 heads southbound at 2600 N. Clark Street in the early 1950s. It may be running on either Route 22 or 36. The Pullmans had almost entirely disappeared from service by the end of 1954, for the so-called “PCC Conversion Program.”
The same location today.
The Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago in September 1963, shortly before the collection was moved to its permanent location in Union. From left to right, we see Milwaukee streetcar 966, a Milwaukee Electric interurban car (either 1129 or 1135), and Indiana Railroad car 65.
This September 1963 (or at least, that’s when the film was processed) view of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum is not the sharpest, but it does show, from left to right, CTA snow sweeper E223, Illinois Terminal 101, one of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurbans, and a Milwaukee Electric car.
North Shore Line Silverliner 409 at Roosevelt Road on august 4, 1956. Don’s Rail Photos: “409 was built by Cincinnati Car in May 1923, #2465, as a dining car motor. In 1942 it was rebuilt as a coach and rebuilt as a Silverliner on March 30, 1955. Since it had no bulkhead between smoking and non-smoking sections, it was our favorite car to be used for meetings of the Milwaukee Division of the Electric Railroaders Association in Milwaukee. The North Shore was very cooperative in making sure that the car was in the location shown on meeting nights.” The 409 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (C. G. Parsons Photo)
This amazing real photo postcard sold on eBay for $77.89. I unfortunately was not aware of the auction. It shows the Ridgeland “L” station on South Boulevard in Oak Park. The postcard was mailed in 1909 and hence can’t be any later than that. Work is already underway to elevate the Chicago & North Western tracks at left. The Lake Street “L” itself would join it on the embankment in 1962.
NYCTA Brooklyn PCC 1049 is running on the 72 Smith Line to the Brooklyn Bridge in this undated photo, taken between 1946 and 1956. According to the information on the half frame slide mount, this is on 10th Avenue at 17th Street, at the 9th Avenue Depot. Half frame had a brief vogue in the early 1950s, as a way to double the number of pictures on a 35mm roll, while still maintaining some level of quality. But most photographers back then didn’t need twice as many pictures on a roll. In the long run, it Kodak downsized their film over time, from sizes 126 to 110 and Disc, in order to make bigger profits. But sharpness was reduced in turn, and full-frame 25mm is still with us today. These 1950s Brooklyn PCCs appear to have had about as many dents as their Chicago cousins. (R. Fillman Photo)
The Magic of Clark Frazier
Clark Frazier is an excellent photographer who has been active since around 1956. Among the first 35mm slides that I took home from Jeff’s collection were over 100 that he had purchased from Mr. Frazier over the last few years. Even better, Mr. Frazier did a lot of traveling, so his work covers many different cities. In his retired years, Jeff loved purchasing excellent slides that not only reflected his own type of shooting, but filled in gaps in his collection– views that he was unable to capture himself, or places he couldn’t get to before something ceased operating. For example, in this representative sampling, I am not certain that Jeff was able to visit Washington D.C. prior to the abandonment of streetcars there in 1962, and I don’t think he could get to San Francisco in time to ride the “Iron Monsters” before they were all taken out of service around 1957. So here they are.
DC Transit 1572 on Route 70 at Georgia and Alaska on February 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1566 inbound on Route 82 at Riverdale on September 1, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 77 turn back meets 130 on Geary Boulevard in 1956. Hope that dog made it across the street safely. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1322 at the Department of the Interior on Route 82, on September 2, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1567 on Route 82 on Rhode Island Avenue, September 1, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3311 and 3305 are stuck in the snow at Riverside after a “Noreaster” on March 4, 1960. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 139 turns left from Geary onto 33rd Avenue in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
St. Louis Public Service PCC 1628 arrives at South Broadway carhouse on August 23, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1555 from Cabin John in Brookmont on June 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 195 on the C Line at Geary and Van Ness in January 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 205 and 1014 at the end of the N Line in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 176 outbound on the N Line to the beach in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1469 is on Rhode Island Avenue (Route 82) in Maryland, August 11, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 199 at 46th and Vicente on the L line on September 9, 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
El Paso 1500 backs up at the Cotton Street Carbarn on June 12, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1321 at the Soldier’s Home end of Route 74 on February 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 156 is an inbound J Line car at Market and Duboce in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 178 is heading to the beach on Carl Street (N Line) in 1957. Don’s Rail Photos: “178, K Type, was built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Co in 1923.” From wrm.org: “The Bay Area Electric Railway Association purchased the 178 from the Muni in February of 1959, and moved it to Marysville, California, for storage on a Sacramento Northern spur for occasional operation on the electrified trackage in the Marysville-Yuba City area. It was moved to Rio Vista Junction in August, 1964 to join the rest of the BAERA collection. 178 returned to San Francisco in 1982 to be part of the Trolley Festival on Market Street while the City rebuilt it’s cable cars lines. In 1983 the 178 returned to the Western Railway Museum and still operates today.” (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 105 on the B (Geary) Line at Leavenworth Street in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit (ex-Capital Traction) 303 at the Mt. Rainier Loop on September 1, 1958. Don’s Rail Photos: “303 was built by American Car Co in 1898 as Capital Traction Co 303. It is now at the Smithsonian (National Museum of American History).” The 303 was retired from regular service in 1913 but was kept for charter use until the end of DC streetcar service in 1962. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 206 is on the C Line at 2nd Avenue and Cornwall in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 188 is running on the K Line on Market Street between 5th and 6th in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1399 on Route 90, at Pennsylvania Avenue SE, on June 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1288 at Friendship Heights, running on Route 30, on June 7, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Chicago Rapid Transit Route Descriptions
“L” operations were rather complex prior to the October 1, 1947 takeover by the Chicago Transit Authority, so much so that Chicago Rapid Transit Company maps typically made no attempt to explain them. There were pocket guides published over the years by third parties that included explanations, but often these were considerably out of date by the time of publication.
Here, courtesy of Andre Kristopans, are the various CRT route descriptions that describe the service in place at the time when CTA assumed control. The dates vary from 1940 to 1946 because service hadn’t been altered on those lines by October 1, 1947.
“L” service “grew like Topsy” in the early years, as the saying goes, reflecting its origins as four separate companies, operating independently. There were expresses and locals, and by 1913, some trains through-routed from the north and south sides, some trains ending or originating at the four downtown stub-end terminals, and the several branch lines. Trains were split at some locations, with one part going one way, the other part a different way.
Powering the Metropolitan West Side Elevated
We recently acquired the August, 1895 edition of Power magazine, which featured a three-page article describing the then-new Metropolitan West Side Elevated‘s Loomis Street power plant. The Met was the first of Chicago’s four “L”s to operate exclusively with electricity. The South Side and Lake Street “L”s began life with steam locomotives. The Met was greatly influenced by the success of the experimental Columbian Intramural Railway at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.
In 1895, there was no such thing as commercially available electricity on this kind of scale. You had to make your own.
I spent the morning talking to a friend over zoom and doodling this, Indiana Railroad Car 65. I showed the drawing to him and he was kind of impressed.
Thanks! In case you don’t know him, Colin is a very talented young man who enjoys searching the former Chicago, Aurora & Elgin right-of-way in search of artifacts that have until now been overlooked. He has found, among many other things, a small section of third rail.
Jack Bejna writes:
I enjoyed the latest post as I always do. I really like the shot of the Highwood Shops and since I have some time this morning I decided to help out the image by getting rid of the bad portion. Hope you like it!
ps: I never took the time to get over to the shops and get some pictures, so I rely on you for keeping the memories of the North Shore alive! Thanks for your great work.
Thanks! Our regular readers are probably familiar with Jack’s great work, which has graced these pages many times in the past, and will hopefully do so in the future.
From our resident South Side expert M.E.:
First, Happy New Year, a bit late because your last few postings were so heavily weighted toward the north side, I had nothing to comment on. But I have a few things today.
This is the schedule sheet for south side service. At the bottom of the page is “Stock Yard Services”. Notice the heading “Jackson Pk.” and its associated train times. According to the route description, two morning trains ran from Jackson Park to Indiana Av., then onto the Stock Yards tracks. And two evening trains ran from the Stock Yards to Indiana Ave., then to Jackson Park. This is the first time I have heard of any trains doing that.
I had always thought the switches west of Indiana made it difficult to get between the main line and the Stock Yards line. But this schedule sheet piqued my curiosity, so I dug out my CERA Bulletin 115, which has great trackage maps toward the back. Plate 8, Detail 15, page 235, illustrating the trackage at Indiana Ave. in 1914, shows there were usable switches between the Stock Yards and main lines. Those switches could have still existed in April 1946 — the date of this schedule — because Plate 8 also shows the switch arrangement starting in 1949 (the one I remember), which would not have worked well to switch between the two lines.
The date April 1946 is after World War II, so even if this route was put in place during the war, it continued after the war. Interesting.
This sheet verifies that Englewood trains ran to Ravenswood. That is the route I first rode on the Rapid Transit Lines.
For Further Reading
Several issues of The Elevated News and Rapid Transit News from the 1920s can be read here via Google Books. You can even download the entire book.
These publications include important historical information that might not be available otherwise. To cite a couple of examples, here are excerpts from the May 1, 1926 issue of Rapid Transit News.
First, we had a recent discussion here (see Our Sixth Anniversary, January 21, 2021) that mentioned an underground passageway that connected Union Station to the Canal Street “L” station on the Met main line. Well, this is not only mentioned in Rapid Transit News, but there is both a map and a photo. We also learn that it was used by 8,000 people per day.
Second, there is a progress report on the new “L” service to Bellwood and Westchester, then set to open, including a picture of the tower that controlled movements on this branch off the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin main line.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
PS- We have added the two nocturnal shots to our previous post Night Beat (June 21, 2016). If you like this style of photography, you might want to check it out.
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
RGTS Rio Grande to Silverton: A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading Price: $14.99
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago: 60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958) 75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943) 80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938) To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways. While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages Chapter Titles: 01. The River Tunnels 02. The Freight Tunnels 03. Make No Little Plans 04. The State Street Subway 05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway 06. Displaced 07. Death of an Interurban 08. The Last Street Railway 09. Subways and Superhighways 10. Subways Since 1960 Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author. The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere:
Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo) Help Support The Trolley Dodger
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This is the back end of a southbound CTA Jackson Park “B” train at Sheridan Road on July 7, 1966.
It’s been more than a month since our last post, but that’s not for lack of effort. We have been hard at work on the images in this post. I have put it many, many hours with these pictures in Photoshop to make them look their best, or least, better than how I found them.
Sometimes, it seems that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. I was up late last night writing more than 50 captions, and somehow they all vanished, and I had to rewrite them. But that’s okay, since the new versions you see here are better.
It’s been our experience that hard work often pays off. You be the judge.
We have also been hard at work on a new book– Chicago’s Lost “L”s, which will focus on those aspects of the system that either no longer exist, or have been completely changed. Work on this book is pretty far along. All the photo selections have been made, and the cover is finished.
We are excited about this new project, and hope you will be too. More information will be forthcoming as things progress.
PS- Our thanks go out to Jeff Wien for sharing some fantastic images from the Wien-Criss Archive.
The North Shore Line’s Milwaukee Terminal on a wintry night in January 1963. This is a remarkable photo for the time, as it surely involved a long exposure time of at least a few seconds, with the camera held perfectly still on a tripod. Film speeds for color slide film were very slow and those films were designed for use in bright sunlight. (Wien-Criss Archive)
A northbound North Shore Line train stops at Dempster in January 1963, the final month. Just over a year later, after the abandonment, the CTA resumed service between here and Howard as the Skokie Swift. Note the sign at left for a yarn store in the terminal building. (Wien-Criss Archive)
This and the following picture: A Kenosha Motor Coach bus is posed next to the former North Shore Line station circa 1967. The building remains, but has been altered over the years for use, first by a restaurant, then as a day care center. (Charles L. Tauscher Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
This, and the next three images are from “superslides,” meaning film larger than 35mm, but still able to fit in a regular 2×2 slide mount. This was possible with both 127 and 828 film, but it’s the latter here, in this shot by W. H. Higginbotham showing an Electroliner at Grange Avenue in Milwaukee County. (Wien-Criss Archive)
NSL 741 creeps south along the old 6th Street viaduct in Milwaukee, next to a 1958 Chevy. (Wien-Criss Archive)
An Electroliner at 6th and Oklahoma in Milwaukee in 1962. (W. H. Higginbotham Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
An Electroliner at Edison Court in Waukegan on May 26, 1959. (Wien-Criss Archive)
A truly historic photo that probably hasn’t seen the light in 57 years. The late Charles L. Tauscher rode the last North Shore Line train ever, which ended its run at Roosevelt Road in the early morning hours of a very cold January 21, 1963. Motorman Bill Livings has just taken off the headlight and poses for a few pictures. This must be a long exposure (this was Ektachrome, and the film speed was 32) and you can see some motion blur on other parts of the platform. Truly the end of an era. (Wien-Criss Archive)
The El Paso trolley, in its original incarnation, was an international affair, with service to Juarez, Mexico. This picture was taken in 1962. (Wien-Criss Archive)
This picture of the CTA Stockyards line was taken in September 1957, shortly before the line was abandoned. There is little in this picture that still exists today, except for the shuttered Stock Yards National Bank Building, at 4146 S. Halsted Street. (Wien-Criss Archive)
A gate car (345) and a Met car are in the process of being scrapped at Skokie Shops in September 1957. (Wien-Criss Archive)
As much as we would like Chicago “L” cars to remain on the structure, there have been a few times when they did not. This April 12, 1974 photo shows one that came pretty close to falling down, but fortunately did not. This looks like downtown, but I am not sure of the exact location. Andre Kristopans adds, “Wreck was at Lake/Wells with 6047-48. Took W to N curve way too fast. This was probably last wreck cleaned up with only Rail derricks, S363 and S367. No rubber tired cranes used.”
We ran a lo-fi version of this picture in a previous post. The location at first was a real mystery, but turned out to be 42nd Place, the terminal of the CTA Kenwood branch, looking west. The next photo was taken further down the platform. (We ran originally ran this with other pictures that we saw on eBay, but hadn’t been able to purchase. It was relisted and we decided to buy it after all.) Ross Harano adds, “The view is looking north rather than west. The building with the chimney is Oakenwald Grammar School at 4071 S. Lake Park that I attended. The tower on the right is the “Kiosk Sphinx” that was on an estate just north of the grammar school. Geoffrey Baer had a segment on his WTTW’s “Ask Geoffrey” about the wealthy family that built a Mediterranean style home with a pool and “Eiffel” tower. The property to the west of the station was owned by Nelson Coal. You can see the coal moving equipment in the photo. Nelson Coal stored mountains of coal east of the terminal tracks next to the Illinois Central Tracks. We used to play soldiers on the coal until we would be chased away by Nelson Coal workers.”
This is the view looking west from the east terminal of the Kenwood branch at 42nd Place. There was a short stretch of steel structure, before the line ran on an embankment owned by the Chicago Junction Railway. Ross Harano: “This view is also looking north. The photo was taken from the north end of the platform next to the control tower building. The tall building in the background is one of the first CHA buildings on the lakefront at Lake Park and Oakwood Boulevard. The railroad tracks that ran with the “L” tracks went east over the Illinois Central tracks and ran south.”
A wooden Chicago “L” car at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, May 1968. The museum had moved here in 1964 from its original location in North Chicago. I believe that is a Milwaukee streetcar at left.
This postcard, circa 1910, shows one of the single track “L” stations that were a unique feature of the old Stockyards branch.
On February 24, 1957 we see a Douglas Park “L” train crossing over a Garfield Park one, running on temporary tracks in Van Buren Street, while the Congress median line (foreground) is under construction.
On February 24, 1957 a two-car train of CTA 4000s heads east on Van Buren at Ashland. This was the temporary route for part of the Garfield Park “L” from 1953 to 1958.
This is the view looking south from the Lake Street “L” at Paulina on March 17, 1954. The tracks at right were where the Met “L” went over the Lake line. At left is a new connection, just about to be put into service, that allowed Douglas Park trains to go to the Loop via Lake Street. This connection was used from 1954 to 1958, and is now used again by Pink Line trains (the successor to Douglas).
A two-car Kenwood “L” train, including 2910, is in the stub at Indiana Avenue station on February 25, 1955.
A Garfield Park “L” train of 4000s heads west at Kedzie on November 6, 1955. Unlike some other stations on the line, this one remained in service until 1958 as it was not directly in the expressway footprint. The first car is a “Baldie,” built circa 1915, and the second is a “Plushie,” from around 1924. These were state of the art cars when new, and were in service for nearly 50 years.
Here, a former Lake Street “L” car heads up a Stockyards shuttle train at Indiana Avenue on April 11, 1954.
Car 1715 is a Lake Street Local at Marion Street in Oak Park. In 1948, locals and expresses were replaced by the CTA’s A/B “skip stop” service.
CTA 3147 is at the front of a Lake Street “B” train at Marion. Despite the age of the car at left (circa 1939) this picture cannot have been taken prior to 1948.
CTA 1780 heads up a Lake Street “A” train at Marion Street. This was not quite the end of the line, as there was a station just west of Harlem Avenue in Forest Park. But this station was far more popular and Harlem and Marion serves today as the end of the line, since the Lake Street “L” was relocated to the adjacent North Western embankment in 1962.
This two-car train (including #299) is at Indiana Avenue station. The photo says this is a Kenwood train, but I am wondering if this is Stock Yards instead.
When the CTA realigned the north and south side routes, Kenwood became a shuttle. These wooden gate cars (200-series) are being stored on an otherwise unused track on the South Side main. The Kenwood branch itself is at left.
Riders are coming and going from Kenwood car 273 at Indiana Avenue.
CTA gate car #268 (or at least that is what is written on the picture) at Indiana Avenue, operating as a Kenwood shuttle. By the mid-1950s these cars were replaced by former Met “L” cars as they were taken off other lines.
Gate car #204 at Halsted on the Stock Yards branch.
I find this picture of car 1109 and train interesting for a number of reasons. It took a while to figure out where this is, but I believe it is on the Wabash leg of the Loop “L” heading north at Jackson. This area was, for many years, Chicago’s “music row,” and Kimball Pianos is at right. Since we are south of Adams, the station in the rear is Congress and Wabash, which was closed in 1949 and removed soon after, as Congress was widened for the expressway project. The train is an Evanston Express, going to Wilmette, but also mentions Skokie as a destination. Niles Center changed its name to Skokie in 1941, so this picture dates to the 1940s. Then, as now, it is not advisable to put your head or arms outside the car window.
Car 1048 is in the pocket track at Dempster, end of the line for Niles Center. The CTA replaced this with buses in 1948, but the line was revived as the Skokie Swift in 1964, following the North Shore Line’s abandonment the previous year. The historic station building has since been moved slightly to the north and east to provide a bus lane.
Gate car 2324 at Skokie Shops.
4000s going over the North Shore Channel bridge in Evanston, when it appears to be brand new. Not sure of the date. Miles Beitler adds, “It may have been taken during the elevation of the north end of the Evanston line from University Place to just north of Central Street. That project was completed in 1931. There would have been a bridge over the North Shore Channel long before then, as the channel was completed in 1910 and was crossed by a steam railroad at that point, but perhaps the elevation of the line required replacement or reconstruction of the existing bridge.”
2756 was a Met, car built in 1895, that at some point was converted for use as a medical car, and traveled over the Insull properties whenever it was necessary to give physical exams. Here, we see it on the Cross Street team track in Wheaton. Since the car did not have trolley poles, when it went on the North Shore Line, it had to be towed by something else, like a box motor car.
Pullman PCC 4062 being delivered in 1946. This was the first of 600 new postwar streetcars for Chicago.
The view looking north from Howard Street in 1930. The North Shore Line’s Skokie Valeey Route is at left. Straight ahead leads to Evanston and Wilmette.
In the mid-1950s, some new 6000s are being delivered to 63rd Street Lower Yard.
The Kenwood branch was mainly on an embankment owned by the Chicago Junction Railway.
The Kenwood branch, near the east end of the line. The Nelson Coal Company was located at 1119 East 42nd Street. This must be near the end of service, as that looks like a 1957 Dodge at left.
Met cars passing each other at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park, possibly circa 1952. There is a bus visible, which could be the CTA #17, which replaced the Westchester branch in December 1951. But it looks like this predates the rearrangement of this area which took place in 1953, when the Chicago Aurora and Elgin cut back service to Forest Park.
Although this circa 1905 postcard view is not very clear, this appears to be the Central Avenue station on the ground level portion of the Lake Street “L”, at a time before the nearby Chicago & North Western elevated its tracks onto an embankment. According to Bill Shapotkin, the C&NW called this station either Austin or “Boulevard.” Clarification from Bill: “This image is indeed of the Central St station of the Lake St ‘L’. That said, the C&NW station was known as “Austin,” NOT “Boulevard.” As confusing as it is, The “Austin” C&NW station was at Central Ave and the “Boulevard” station was at Austin Blvd. This threw me for a while as well — and had to have a old-timer explain it to me.”
In March 1958, the Illinois Electric Railway Museum ran a fantrip on parts of the CTA “L” system, using car 1024 and a work car. This was some months after the last wood car was used in regular service. Here, we see train on a siding in Evanston. We previously ran a photo of the same train on the Garfield Park “L” temporary trackage. 1024 went to IERM and has since been restored as car 24.
There was only a short time frame when this picture could have been taken at Halsted and Congress. In the late 1940s, PCCs were used on Halsted, but they were removed starting in 1953, and service ended the following year with older red cars such as this. Under the new bridge, part of the Congress Expressway project, are the subway portals which now serve the rapid transit line that replaced the Garfield Park “L” seen at left.
New 6000s being delivered to Skokie Shops via the North Shore Line. Unfortunately, this picture is too fuzzy to make out the car numbers.
This and the following picture show DC Transit pre-PCC 1053 in June 1961. n This historic car survived for many years before being destroyed in a museum fire. (Charles L. Tauscher Photos)
The Homan station on the Lake Street “L” in August 1965. This station was closed as part of the 1990s semi-rebuild of the lake line, and was then moved a few blocks to become the Garfield Park Conservatory station.
A family portrait by CTA articulated compartment car 51 at Dempster in Skokie in October 1968. This car was originally 5001 as delivered in 1947.
In June 1978, work is already underway on the new Forest Park CTA terminal. This was made much easier after the nearby Chicago Great Western train line was abandoned around 1972. The temporary station here occupies the oldd CGW right-of-way and used their bridge over DesPlaines Avenue. Once teh new station was built, the temporary one was torn down (along with the bridge) and the north side of the station now has pickup/dropoff lanes for buses.
The late Gordon E. Lloyd took this picture at North Chicago Junction on April 23, 1961. Chuck W. notes, “The fan trip train on the left, is coming off the Shore Line Route. The train on the right, is the mainline to Chicago, which will split at Upton Junction, with the main line continuing on the Skokie Valley Route and the other branch heading to Libertyville and Mundelein.”
The CTA station at Linden Avenue in Wilmette in January 1970. The building has been preserved, but is no longer used as the station entrance.
The Chicago Surface Lines kept some historic streetcars for use in parades and special events. Since the experimental pre-PCC 7001 is present here, I would say this picture most likely predates the arrival of PCCs in late 1936. It could be from a couple of events in 1936, when Ashland was extended across a new bridge, or when two segments of 87th Street were joined by a new connection.
This picture was found together with the previous one, and as they are sequentially numbered, it may or may not be from the same event. The occasion is a parade, and here we see an authentic 1859 horse car, probably in 1936. This is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. CSL made some recreations of things in 1934, including a faux cable car, but this is the real thing.
A northbound Ravenswood “A” train at Chicago Avenue in the late 1950s.
There were several Red Arrow cars used in afantrip on the West Chester line in Philadelphia’s suburbs on June 6, 1954, and car 68 appears to be one of them. There was a photo stop here at Patrick Avenue, and the bridge is highway 202. This 19-mile interurban line had good ridership, but fell victim to a project that widened West Chester Pike. It was replaced by buses.
Wooje Song writes:
I’m looking for the copyright holder who took attached photos. Attached are the photos I’m looking for.
I’m working in Chopin Theatre as an intern and my boss wants to use those pictures.
The surrounding streets in the first photo are Division and Milwaukee Avenue. The two cars pictured are No. 3208 and No. 3256.
The second one was taken at Ashland (left-right) and Milwaukee (up-down) at the Polish Triangle.
I googled to find out and finally reached you. I hope you have any ideas about this.
Chances are these pictures, circa 1930, are in the public domain. Back then, you had to individually copyright photos. There wasn’t the sort of automatic protection we have today.
Also, any new claim of copyright would depend, today, on their having been unpublished until now. Obviously, that is not the case. These pictures have likely been circulating for a long time.
They don’t look familiar, but I can also ask my readers if they might know who took these.
Hope this helps.
From Our Resident South Side Expert M.E.:
Let me start off by saying your hard work is much appreciated. The CNS&M pictures in particular are dazzling.
First: Your caption says “The photo says this is a Kenwood train, but I am wondering if this is Stock Yards instead.” The answer is: neither. These cars are just sitting idle in storage. But they are probably assigned to the Stock Yards line.
Second: Judging by the water tower in front of the stored cars, and seeing the barrier along the rear of the platform at the right, I conclude this view looks west. The barrier convinced me there is no Stock Yards stub track on the other side of that platform. Ergo, the Stock Yards stub track is off the left side of the picture. And the Stock Yards train went west from Indiana. So the view is west.
Third: The 4000-series steel train is a through train from the north side to either Englewood or Jackson Park. That train, heading east through the station but on its way south, was on either the Howard-Jackson Park line or the Ravenwood-Englewood line. The corresponding westbound/northbound track used the track farthest from the camera.
I tried reading the destination sign on the 4000-series front car, but it is too faint. As I recall, it would have said either Howard St.- or Ravenswood- Jackson Park Englewood via subway via subway and the signs in the opposite direction would have said either Jackson Park- or Englewood- Howard St. Ravenswood via subway via subway
The three-track setup through the station means the picture was taken before several major system revisions were made on 1 August 1949: — the northern terminus of the Englewood line became Howard St. — Ravenwood got its own separate line into downtown. — Englewood/Howard A and Jackson Park/Howard B skip-stop service started. — the Kenwood-to-Wilson line was cut back to a shuttle from Indiana Ave. to 42nd Place.
At that time, the trackage and platforms at Indiana Ave. also changed: — the track at the right was almost totally covered over by extending the west/northbound platform out over the track. — the remaining (uncovered) portion of that track became the stub terminal for the Kenwood shuttle. — what was the middle track became the west/northbound track.
Third: The three tracks continued in both directions out of the station. From the east end of the station, the north/south service turned south, and all three tracks continued to just north of the 43rd St. station. From the west end of the station, the north/south service turned north, and all three tracks continued all the way past 18th St. to where the subway began.
This meant the middle track was available for car storage, even through the station. And that is what you see in the picture.
Fourth: Were these stored cars used on the Kenwood or Stock Yards line? I’m going with the Stock Yards line, for four reasons: — The Kenwood line, at its eastern end at 42nd Place, had storage tracks. The Stock Yards line never had a place on its own trackage to store cars. — As your photo in https://thetrolleydodger.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/rbk334.jpg illustrates, Kenwood cars could also be stored around the curve east/south of Indiana. — West of the Indiana station, there were five tracks — two for the Stock Yards line and three for the north/south lines. And there were lots and lots of switches between the five tracks. In order to keep the switches clear, Stock Yards cars had to be stored someplace else, such as right there in the station. — I tried reading the sign on the closest stored car (next to the car’s number), and I think the first word says “Stock”.
Several other stations south of downtown were also closed on 1 August 1949: 18th, 26th, 29th, 33rd, and Pershing (leaving Cermak and 35th). Those stations also served the north/south line, but with the new skip/stop service, the stations were closed, and customers had to use surface routes. Here is a list of all closed L stations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_former_Chicago_%22L%22_stations
Thanks very much as always for your insightful comments.
The idea of a Congress Parkway highway goes back to the Burnham Plan at least, but was kicked around locally through the 20s and 30s before being pushed by Harold Ickes, FDR’s Secretary of the Interior, who came from the northern suburbs. This was his favored alternative to the plan Mayor Kelly was pushing, starting in 1937, which would have converted several of the “L” lines into elevated highways. (A plan which, if realized, would have been a disaster IMHO.)
Congress was not a wide street downtown. It had to be widened for the highway project, and from Dearborn to the west, there was also additional subway construction. The first phase of subway work only brought the Dearborn line as far as Congress, where it stopped.
This work was quite complicated near LaSalle Street Station, as the subway was built, and the street widened, at the same time that trains had to be kept running there.
Work on widening Congress as far east as Michigan Avenue was already happening in 1949, and it was around this time that buildings on the north and south sides of Congress were altered, and new sidewalks were carved out of those structures (including the Auditorium Theater building) so the street could be made wider. In other areas further west, some buildings were actually demolished.
Likewise, work on creating the lower level of Wacker Drive, the section running north and south along what had been Market Street, also began in 1949. The old Market Street Stub was in the way and was torn down. Work proceeded at the rate of about one block per year on that major project, which I think had reached Madison Street by about 1953. A bit further south, this also resulted in the old Met “L” connection to the Loop being rerouted through the former Wells Street Terminal. This took place in 1955 and then a section of “L”, including the station at Franklin and Van Buren, was removed.
All this was taking place, even though many parts of the expressway itself did not open until later– 1955, I believe. Once it was decided to build a highway that would end downtown, the question of how traffic would be distributed there was a major concern, and one which had to be addressed fully even before the highway itself was opened.
We recently acquired some documents that have been scanned, and added to our E-Book The “New Look” in Chicago Transit: 1938-1973, available as a DVD data disc in our Online Store. The first is a brochure detailing (as of 1953) the reasons for the creation of the Chicago Transit Authority, and their accomplishments up to that time.
The second is the Report of the Committee on Signals and Interlocking for the Chicago Subway, dated June 1941. This committee was made up of representatives from the Department of Subways and Superhighways (City of Chicago), the Committee on Local Transporation (City of Chicago), the Illinois Commerce Commission, Chicago Surface Lines, and Chicago Rapid Transit Company.
Faced with answering the question of what type of signals and interlocking equipment should be used in the subway, which opened in October 1943, the committee did research and made recommendations, as well as presenting their rationale for their particular choices and the reasoning behind certain policies and practices.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
Now Available On Compact Disc
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]
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
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. Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways
There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago: 60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958) 75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943) 80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.
While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages Chapter Titles: 01. The River Tunnels 02. The Freight Tunnels 03. Make No Little Plans 04. The State Street Subway 05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway 06. Displaced 07. Death of an Interurban 08. The Last Street Railway 09. Subways and Superhighways 10. Subways Since 1960 Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author. The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere: Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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)
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.
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.”
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”.
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.
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)
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.
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 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.