For fans of the North Shore Line interurban, January 21, 1963 will always be a day that will “live in infamy,” to borrow a phrase from Franklin D. Roosevelt, as that was the date of abandonment.
But January 21 is also the day we started this blog, four years ago. We can’t do anything to bring back the NSL, but we can honor its memory going forward, and a lot of other memories besides, in this space.
As far as we are concerned, every day is a day to celebrate the North Shore Line. But today, as we begin our fifth year, we are fortunate to have much NSL material to share. First, courtesy of Jim Huffman, we have nearly 60 images of North Shore Line posters. To these, we have added some additional classic photos from the collections of William Shapotkin.
To round things out, we have some recent photo finds of our own, plus some interesting correspondence from Jeff Marinoff.
Throughout its existence, the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee prided itself on SERVICE. In our own small way, we try to do the same for you and the railfan community.
Thanks to the generosity of our readers, we have already exceeded our goal of raising $436 by the end of this month. To date, we have received $725. We have tried to personally thank everyone who contributed. Unfortunately, a couple of e-mail addresses we were given, along with these donations, appear to be out of date, as our thank you messages were returned by the mail server. So, if you did not receive a thank you note from us, that is probably why, but we are still thankful nonetheless.
It is a fact of life that this blog has run at a deficit since it began. Our goal is to get it to a point where it can be self-sufficient. We lost at least $10k in each of our first two years, and $6k in our third year.
While we have not yet determined the amount of loss for last year, it is expected to have been less than $6k.
It costs real money to bring you many of these classic images. We have already paid our fees for the coming year, and additional donations in excess of that goal will be used to pay for more images that will show up in future posts.
On average, it probably costs about $10 for each image we purchase for this blog. So if you have 50 images in a post, that represents a $500 expenditure, and $1000 for 100 images. Now you can see the challenge, and how beneficial it is when individuals share their material with us.
We also hope to work on another book project this year. The costs of doing the necessary research on our first two volumes are far in excess of the revenue received. But it is possible these books will continue to sell over time, and in the long run, may also eventually reach a break-even point.
So, while we have now met our immediate goal, the need is ongoing throughout the year. Your generous contributions are always appreciated, in whatever amount you choose to give.
You will find links for donations at the end of this post.
North Shore Line Posters
Again, we thank Jim Huffman for sharing these with our readers. There are color variations for a few of the posters. Presumably, these went through more than one printing.
As you can see, many of these iconic posters have little, if anything, to do with actually riding on the North Shore Line. But they were tremendously successful in promoting the North Shore itself, its beauty, charm, and history, along with the idea of easy and convenient travel, resulting in a greater sense of freedom and ultimate satisfaction in life. Now, they are an important part of our history.
North Shore Line Photos
These are from the collections of William Shapotkin:
CNS&M 756 is at the rear of the 10:55 am train to Milwaukee, leaving Roosevelt Road station on November 7, 1962. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CNS&M Electroliner 802-801 at Roosevelt Road in Chicago on November 11, 1962. (William Shapotkin Collection)
The Roosevelt Road/Holden Court station on the South Side “L”. The view looks north. (William Shapotkin Collection)
North Shore Line cars are stored on the center track at the CTA’s Roosevelt Road station on November 7, 1962. The view looks south. CNS&M had exclusive use of the station from 1949 to 1963, as rapid transit cars on North-South were routed through the State Street subway. The station was eventually removed, but since put back. (William Shapotkin Collection)
North Shore Line Electroliner 801-802 at Roosevelt Road in Chicago, 1962. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 6186 heads east over the Illinois Central right-of-way in the early 1950s, heading towards the Field Museum and Soldier Field. This extension of the Roosevelt Road streetcar line was built for A Century of Progress, the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair.
CTA 3173, at right, is a one-man car running on Route 38, as is the red car it is passing. At left is a Route 4 – Cottage Grove prewar PCC. We are looking south on Wabash Avenue, just north of the Chicago River, in the early 1950s.
CTA 4180 heads southbound at State and 86th Streets in May 1952. (John D. Koschwanez Photo)
CTA 4164, a Pullman PCC, heads north on Clark Street circa 1948, ready to cross LaSalle Drive, which runs at an angle at this point. In the background, you can see the Chicago Historical Society (now Chicago History Museum) building. The Standard gas station at right is now a BP.
CTA 4111 heads south on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth in this undated view. This image was restored from a badly faded Kodacolor print.
Chicago Surface Lines 7008, in “tiger stripes,” is in the Madison-Austin loop, circa 1945-46. (Robert J. Mahar Photo)
Four generations of Chicago rapid transit cars, as they were posed in Forest Park on January 9, 1994– cars 6102, 1992 (formerly 2008), 1, and 4271. After this, their fates diverged; car 1 is now at the Chicago History Museum, 1992 eventually went to the Illinois Railway Museum for parts scrapping, 4271 is still part of the CTA’s Heritage Fleet, and 6102 was stored at the Fox River Trolley Museum for several years, before returning to CTA in 2017, where it will hopefully one day run again. (Bruce C. Nelson Photo)
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow Lines) car #17 is near West Chester on May 1, 1954. Much of this line was single track, running along the side of West Chester Pike.
Jeff Marinoff writes:
Among the several post cards that I’ve added to my collection lately are two awesome Chicago Union Traction Company cards from 1906. Note that car # 4911 is pulling an open trailer. Also, if you zoom in on the rear of car # 4911, you’ll see on the opposite track in the distant background is another car pulling an open trailer car in the other direction.
Also of interest is the wooden roof sign on car # 4911. It reads N. CLARK STREET. The side roll sign on # 4911 reads CLARK – DEVON. The front roll sign reads CLARK ST . Possibly helping to identify the location is the address painted on the window of the building behind car # 4911 which looks like it says 4362. I wonder if this was 4362 North Clark Street. I’m being told that the scene showing # 4911 is in the area of the Devon Station car barn and near the intersection of Clark and Devon. In September 1909, the City of Chicago changed its street numbering system. In the c1906 post card photo, you see the street number 4362. That number was changed in 1909 to 6333 N. Clark, which is about a block south of Devon Avenue, which is 6400 North.
On the card that shows the Chicago Union Traction Company crews in 1906, note that one of the conductors has hung the round metal run number sign on his uniform jacket. A novel place to carry it to his assignment. This post card scene is said to be outside of the Devon Station car barn.
As usual, I am indebted to Walter Keevil for technical info on Chicago Union Traction Company car # 4911.
Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos, plus your research. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago last November, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
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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