On October 10, 1952, an eastbound five-car Garfield Park “L” train approaches Western Avenue, where photographer William C. Hoffman was standing. The temporary trackage on Van Buren Street, visible at right, was then under construction.
April showers, as they say, bring May flowers. That kind of fits today’s post, since there is always a lot of preliminary work involved in what we do. In fact, you could say we have been working on this one for a month.
It’s finally taken root, and now you can stop and smell the roses! We have about 100 classic traction photos for you to enjoy. Most are our own, and some are from the collections of our friend William Shapotkin.
We also have two new products available. You can pre-order our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, and also purchase A Tribute to the North Shore Line, a two-hour DVD presentation put together in 2013 by the late Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss.
PS- FYI, we have a Facebook auxiliary for the Trolley Dodger here, which currently has 320 members.
Our Latest Book, Now Available for Pre-Order:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Arcadia Publishing will release our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s on July 12, 2021. Reserve your copy today!
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
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For Shipping Elsewhere:
A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
The LaSalle Street tunnel under the Chicago River, shown prior to when it was rebuilt for use by cable cars in the 1880s. It had opened on July 4, 1871. This is one-half of a stereo photo.
A northbound Jackson Park-Howard “B: train descends into the State Street Subway sometime in the 1970s. A Lake-Dan Ryan train, made up of 2000s and 2200s, is on the nearby “L” structure.
An Englewood-Howard “A” train of 6000s in the State Street Subway in the 1970s.
This photo, showing a South Shore Line train running in the street in East Chicago, Indiana, must have been taken just prior to the relocation of these tracks in 1956. Since then, they have run next to the Indiana Toll Road. The location is on Chicago Street at Magoun Avenue, less than a mile east of the Indiana Toll Road. The train appears to be heading east. That’s a 1955 or ’56 Buick at left across the street.
The same location today.
J. W. Vigrass took this photo along the Red Arrow’s West Chester line on May 29, 1954, just about a week before buses replaced trolleys. This long side-of-the-road interurban fell victim to a project that widened West Chester Pike.
This may not be the sharpest picture, but it is an original Ektachrome slide shot by the late George Krambles. It shows North Shore Line 181 approaching Libertyville along the Mundelein branch on February 11, 1962.
A North Shore Line train in North Chicago, sometime in the 1950s. This was an Ektachrome slide that had shifted to red, and I was fortunate to be able to color correct it in Photoshop. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)
This photo did not come with any information, but it is a fantrip held on the Red Arrow’s West Chester trolley line on June 6, 1954, when the line was replaced by buses. We previously posted a color image taken at this photo stop, where the location was given as either Milltown or Mill Farm, the handwriting was difficult to make out. Apparently one of the three cars shown here broke down and had to be towed by one of the others.
Another photo of the South Shore Line in East Chicago in 1956. My guess is, this is the same location as the other photo, just looking the other way.
We recently posted a color image, similar to this and taken at the same location, shot in 1955 by William C. Hoffman. This is most likely from the same general time period, as prewar PCC 7003 is running on Western Avenue. The prewar cars ran here from 1955-56 after they had been on the Cottage Grove line, converted to one-man operation. The “L” train is running on the Garfield Park temporary trackage in Van Buren Street, which was used from 1953-58.
A view looking west along the Lake Street “L” sometime during the 1950s. The “L” ran in one direction then (counter-clockwise), so both the “L” train and North Shore Line train are heading west, away from the photographer. That’s Tower 18 behind the train of 4000s, before it was replaced in 1969.
Another photo taken at the same location in East Chicago in 1956. Here, we see a westbound train on Chicago Street at Magoun Avenue.
The view looking west along Lake Street from the front window of a North Shore Line train in July 1960. This was during the period when the Loop “L” ran in one direction, so the train we see near Tower 18 was also heading west. Soon, this North Shore Line train would turn north. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)
J. W. Vigrass took this picture looking out the front window of a northbound North Shore Line train approaching Armitage in July 1960, near the north portal to the State Street Subway.
J. W. Vigrass shot this photo of the Red Arrow operating along West Chester Pike on May 29, 1954. Much of the line was single track, and here we are at a passing siding.
On August 4, 1955, a westbound Garfield Park “L” train of 4000s ascends the ramp up to the “L” near Van Buren and Mozart (just west of California Avenue). East of here, the Garfield Park temporary trackage ran in the south half of Van Buren. Here, you can see the streetcar tracks in Van Buren, last used in 1951. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The same location today.
This started out as an Anscocolor slide, but there was so little color left in it that I had no choice but to convert it to black-and-white. This is the view looking west from the Racine “L” station, on the Met main line, on February 26, 1954, showing a three-point switch leading to the Throop Street Shops, which would be demolished within a few months. While Garfield Park trains no longer took this path, Douglas Park trains still did, until April 1954, when that line was re-routed downtown via the Lake Street “L”. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
William C. Hoffman took this photo of what was then a new illuminated sign in the State Street Subway on March 6, 1955.
This Clark Frazier photo of San Francisco Muni “Iron Monster” 207 was processed in March 1958, which is about when Kodak started date-stamping slide mounts. This is surely among the last photos of this car in service. 207 has just changed ends in a then-new wye at the end of the M line.
A two-car CTA Garfield Park “L” train stops at Tripp Avenue on March 11, 1956. This was one of the stations that was not in the way of expressway construction, and continued in service until June 21, 1958, when the new Congress rapid transit line opened. These cars were part of the first group of 4000s built by the Cincinnati Car Company circa 1915. The center doors were never used in service and were blocked off. The head car is 4238. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A Chicago Surface Lines bus stop sign in Chicago’s Loop on July 18, 1951. Interestingly, the late Jeff Wien had just such a sign in his collection. Not sure if it is an original or a copy, though.
I assume this is Altoona & Logan Valley car 62 in the early 1950s. Not sure what the two former railroad coaches are at left, repurposed after their retirement.
Again, I assume this is Altoona & Logan Valley. Cars 70 and 72 meet, and both are Osgood Bradley “Electromobiles” from 1930. Hardly any of these types of cars have survived.
Altoona & Logan Valley 72 at an unknown location.
Here, CTA 4000s are heading west on Van Buren Street temporary trackage on April 14, 1957. We are looking to the northwest, and the photographer was riding in a Douglas Park “L” train along Paulina. Douglas trains ran here from 1954-58, and do so now, as part of the rechristened CTA Pink Line.
While not the sharpest picture, this does show one of the two Liberty Liners (former North Shore Line Electroliners) on the Norristown line on January 26, 1964, their debut just one year after the demise of the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee. The bridge crosses the Schuylkill River.
Another Red Arrow photo along West Chester Pike, taken on May 29, 1954 by J. W. Vigrass.
A southbound Bullet car at Bryn Mawr station in August 1961, on the Norristown line. (G. H. Landau Photo)
The entrance to the high point of the Angel’s Flight Railway, a funicular on the side of a hill in Los Angeles, prior to when this operation was closed in 1969, dismantled, and put into storage for many years. It has since been relocated and reopened. This hill was a victim of a redevelopment project.
This undated photo of North Shore Line train 172 in Waukegan must have been taken prior to this line’s abandonment in July 1955.
The view looking west from the Western Avenue “L” station on the Garfield Park “L” on August 19, 1953. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On August 19, 1953, an eastbound five-car Garfield Park “L” train approaches the Western Avenue station, just out of view to the right. The area had been cleared for construction of the Congress Expressway. The excavated area has filled up with rain. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On July 2, 1950, a westbound single-car Garfield Park “L” train is near California Avenue. Soon this entire area would be cleared out to make way for the Congress Expressway. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
It’s October 20, 1953, and we are looking west from the Marshfield station on the Metropolitan main line. The Garfield Park “L” tracks west of here are out of service and the tracks have already been removed. The platform at right had been used by the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, and the sign advertising that has been covered up. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On November 10, 1953, this is the view looking west from Marshfield. The Garfield Park “L” structure has already been removed to some extent west of here, due to construction of the Congress Expressway. The Douglas Park “L” was still using the old structure east of here, and would continue to do so until April 1954, when a new connection to the Lake Street “L” was finished. The Douglas Park “L” tracks here go off to the left. The new connection, going north-south, spans the width of the highway and connects to the “L” structure that had been used by Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains until 1951. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking west from the former Western Avenue station on the Garfield Park “L” on October 16, 1953. The “L” tracks have already been removed and demolition of the station would follow shortly. The last train ran on this structure (in one direction) on September 27. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A North Shore Line fantrip train on February 19, 1961. Not sure of the location, or who the conductor is at left.
This undated photo by the late Mel Bernero was taken at the old CTA Logan Square terminal, looking east.
This shows the Garfield Park “L” station at Oak Park Avenue, before the construction of the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway. The view looks to the northeast. The buildings just to the north are still there.
I found a description of this photo online: “This real photograph postcard was taken on July 4, 1910, near the Methodist Church on Franklin Avenue in Valparaiso, Indiana. This public gathering commemorated the first run of the Valparaiso & Northern Railway interurban on the new line running from Valparaiso northward to Flint Lake. The first interurban left Valparaiso at 9:00 am in charge of Conductor C. C. Metsker. Valparaiso Mayor William F. Spooner, Valparaiso City Clerk Clem Helm, and other local notables were passengers on the inaugural sixteen minute, three mile trip to Flint Lake. An engine operated by Frank Chowdrey, hooked to two flat cars with seats and decked out in flags and bunting, followed the interurban to Flint Lake. A total of 3,500 passengers were transported to Flint Lake that inaugural day for the festivities. Incorporated in August 1908, the Valparaiso & Northern Railway construction was financed by citizens of Valparaiso and outside investors; the railway was to become one of the feeder lines the the Chicago-New York Electric Air Line Railroad. A section between Chesterton and Goodrum, located just north of Woodville, was completed and put into service on February 18, 1911. The section between Flint Lake and Woodville was completed on October 7, 1911; between February and October of 1911, a bus was used to transport passengers between Goodrum and Flint Lake. Complete interurban through service between Chesterton, Valparaiso, and LaPorte was possible after a bridge was constructed over the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on February 17, 1912. Interurban service to Valparaiso ceased on October 23, 1938, largely due to the increasing use of automobiles, an improved highway system, and the financial depression.”
This is a nice picture of the South Shore illustration that became a rallying cry in the mid-to-late 1970s, when the interurban was threatened with extinction.
I think this slide, taken in October 1953, is misidentified. It shows car 2851 at the head of a Garfield Park “L” train, but identifies the location as Laramie. There was no such wooden or steel “L” structure there. What seems more likely is, this is an eastbound train going down the ramp just west of California Avenue, approaching the temporary ground-level trackage that Garfield used from 1953-58. There is no expressway at left because it hadn’t been built yet.
CTA 6574-6573 at the DesPlaines Avenue terminal in Forest Park on August 14, 1964. The tracks are in the same location today, but the terminal was replaced in the 1980s and the area around it was dug out. We are looking to the northwest. Those silos at rear are long gone.
SEPTA car 18, signed for Media, is at the 69th Street Terminal on a snowy night in February 1973.
North Shore Line 712 and train on the Mundelein branch on July 29, 1962, signed for Chicago. That must be 775 behind 712.
This photo came without any identification, but it shows the CTA off-street loop at Halsted near 79th Street, some time after buses replaced streetcars on Route 8 in 1954. Andre Kristopans: “Bus at 79th Halsted terminal is a 42B South Halsted, arriving from 127th Street. The bus facing other direction is an 8 or a 42 northbound.” Route 42 was discontinued in 1993, upon the opening of the new Orange Line rapid transit route.
North Shore Line car 732 is northbound at Dempster Street, Skokie (originally called Niles Center) at an apparently early date, considering how few buildings are present. Don’s Rail Photos: “732 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It was modernized in 1939.”
Toonerville Trolley Celebration in Pelham, NY
There was an actual railfan comic strip in the daily papers during the first half of the 20th Century– Fontaine Fox’s Toonerville Trolley.
It was inspired by an actual trolley in Pelham, NY. Author Blake A. Bell was until recently the Pelham town historian, and has written extensively about the cartoon’s connections to that area in suburban New York City.
The Toonerville Trolley met all the trains, and its inspiration ran to the New Haven Railroad station. It is said that the cartoon “Skipper” was inspired by longtime Pelham trolley operator James Bailey.
On July 31, 1937, Fox staged an event, attended by hundreds of people, to commemorate the end of trolley service in Pelham. The local streetcars did not resemble the cartoon one enough, so a small Birney car was brought over from another property to serve as the “Toonerville Trolley” for this occasion.
We recently acquired several photos from this event. The nattily dressed man in one picture is Fontaine Fox himself.
Cartoonist Fontaine Fox (1884-1964) in 1911.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin
CTA 5532 is southbound on Paulina, running on Route 9 – Ashland. In the background, we see the Marshfield “L” station on the Metropolitan main line. This was where all the Met lines diverged, going to Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, and Douglas Park. There was also a platform for the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, seen at rear. As you can see at right, some clearing has already been done for the Congress Expressway. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA work car W-205 at 77th and Vincennes in January 1951. (William Shapotkin Collection)
While the caption on this photo erroneously says it is Gary, Indiana, it is actually East Chicago instead. The date given is October 1953. The location is much the same as in some of the other South Shore black-and-white photos in this post (Chicago Street near Magoun Avenue). Note the same stores across the street. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA trolley bus 9588 is southbound on Pulaski at Grand Avenue on March 12, 1973, not long before the end of electric bus service. Jimmy’s Red Hots is at left. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Brand new CTA 2414 is at Rockville (MD?) on March 19, 1977. It’s part of the 2400-series, built by Boeing-Vertol. (R. Anastasio Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 6027 is at Kedzie and 33rd in April 1949. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Chicago Surface Lines 2821 and 2818 at 111th and Halsted in 1944. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA one-man streetcar 3220 is at 67th and South Shore Drive in June 1952, running on Route 67. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 3238 at 67th and Lake Shore Drive (also known as South Shore Drive here) in May 1950. Note the same ice cream stand as in shapotkin116. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 6207 is at an unknown location, while a postwar PCC turns in the background. The red car is signed for Route 93. Jon Habermaas says the “location is 95th Street west of State Street showing the west end of the 93/95 route. PCC in background is a Broadway-State car turning north on to State after a short jog on 95th from Michigan Ave route segment from 119th Street.” (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 6182 at Lawrence and Clark in March 1950. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 653, signed to head south on Route 8 – Halsted. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 6031, with no route sign visible. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 551. Michael Franklin writes, “This is looking south on State Street from Roosevelt Road. (The) building with round arches is still standing.” (William Shapotkin Collection)
The info on the slide mount says this is CTA 6153 at 47th and Indiana in June 1949. However, the car is signed for Route 28. Kevin Doerksen says this is “actually 47th and Cottage Grove, NE corner. The old bank building is still there.” (William Shapotkin Collection)
It’s not clear to me just where this picture was taken, but at least I can say that it is Ashland Car Works slide #820. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This is slide #814 from Ashland Car Works, and shows wooden “L” cars running along Van Buren street downtown. The photographer was most likely standing on the platform at Franklin and Van Buren. The view looks east, and that’s Tower 12 at right. The tracks and structure west of Van Buren and Wells were replaced in 1955 by a new connection, running through the former Well Street Terminal, just north of here. The tower, “L” structure, and the Franklin Street station were all removed shortly thereafter. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This is an image we have most likely run before, but it never hurts to see it again. It shows one of the original 5000-series “L” trains, which were numbered 5001-5004, heading west along the Metropolitan main line just west of the Chicago River. The train is passing over the south train platforms at Union Station. This is slide #812 from Ashland Car Works (put out by the late Jack Bailey) if that helps. (William Shapotkin Collection)
1973 Trolley Bus Fantrip
These images, also from Bill Shapotkin‘s collection, are from a CTA trolley bus fantrip at night, that took place on March 31, 1973.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
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
This is our 266th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 763,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.
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The conductor on this gate car, on a westbound Douglas Park train at Western Avenue, is waiting to receive the bell signal from the next car, so he can pass it along. Before “L” trains had door control wired up between cars, this is how the system worked. There were many more conductors– a three car train of wooden “L” cars had two conductors, plus the motorman. The date was February 9, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Andre Kristopans: “One detail – each train had one motorman and one conductor. Conductor worked between first two cars (or in only car if there was only one). The rest of the men were classified as “guards” and had a slightly lower pay rate. Motorman and conductor stayed together all day, guards worked dependent on train length that trip. They were apparently mostly part timers that only worked the longer rush trains, though for instance on North-South where trains were four cars midday at least one guard worked all day.”
Spring is finally here, and the temps are gradually getting warmer. But here at the Trolley Dodger, we feel we’re getting warmer in other ways as well– in the sense that we’re on to something.
After more than six years, we’re getting closer to what I hoped this site could be when it started. Maybe we’re finally realizing some of our true potential, I don’t know. I will leave such determinations to our readers.
But when I started my first transit blog (this is actually the second), someone opined it was long on potential, and short on execution. And I had to agree that this was so. Hey, nobody knows everything about a subject, and we learn as we go along.
And in six plus years, I feel we have improved both the content of this site (our image library) and the information that we provide. And it does seem to fill a need that was out there. I base that on how often our own articles and pictures come up when I do Internet searches on subjects, and the number of times we see our own pictures re-shared on Facebook.
When folks do share our images on Facebook, though, there are a few things that I would ask. First, do not crop out the watermark on our images that identifies them as having come from here. Second, please provide the correct caption information. Too many times, I have seen either partial, or sometimes even incorrect captions placed on our photos when shared.
Finally, please credit the original photographer, when the name of that person is known.
Today, we have a large number of outstanding classic photos for your consideration. Even better, all of them are from our own collections. Some we purchased, and others are scans of original 35mm slides taken by the late William C. Hoffman.
We recently received the Hoffman collection as part of an overall gift of photographs collected and shot by the late Jeffrey L. Wein, a friend for over 40 years. We thank him for his generosity.
You may have seen duplicate slides over the years from some of these Hoffman shots. Bill Hoffman was an avid photographer, and while not always the best from a technical standpoint, he got many shots that are unique and were either missed, or overlooked, by others.
Bill Hoffman’s strong suit was in documenting things that were fast disappearing, those scenes of everyday life that others took for granted. While many of his pictures are not tack-sharp, at least here, we are working with the “best evidence,” the original slides themselves, and not duplicates.
I don’t know what kind of camera equipment he used back in the day, but after he passed away in the late 1980s, a friend gave me Bill Hoffman’s last camera, which was a screw-mount Leica IIIg, a model from 1957.
Meanwhile, after taking a pause due to the pandemic, work will soon resume on our next book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, scheduled to appear on July 12. It has now reached the proofing stage, and there are still a few changes that need to be made.
Arcadia Publishing has priced this at $23.99, and we are doing our best to make sure that you, the reader, will get an excellent value for your money. We will begin our pre-sale at the beginning of June, and each copy purchased from our Online Store will also include a bonus item, as well as being autographed.
PS- If you want to see even more transit-related content than we can share here, check out our Trolley Dodger Facebook group, which currently has 242 members.
CTA 3156, seen here on the Stock Yards branch in the early 1950s, was built by Brill in 1909 for the Lake Street “L”. After it was no longer needed there, it was used on this shuttle operation in the early-to-mid 1950s, still sporting at least one trolley pole. I am not sure of the exact location here, but it is nearby Agar’s Meats and on a section of “L” that was double-tracked. The men in the foreground were either on the roof of a nearby building, or perhaps on the Chicago Junction Railway embankment, if that was close by. (Wendell E. Grove Photo)
On June 6, 1954, the National Railway Historical Society held a fantrip to say goodbye to trolley service on the Red Arrow interurban to West Chester, PA. Cars 14, 20, and 68 were used, and after 20 broke down, it was towed by 68. This was a photo stop, and the slide identifies the location as either “Milltown” or “Mill farm,” the handwriting is hard to make out.
We actually ran another picture from the same photo stop in a previous post:
Cars 14, 20 and 68 at a photo stop along the West Chester line on the June 6, 1954 NRHS fantrip.
Red Arrow Brill-built “Master Unit” 77, signed for the Sharon Hill line, in the early 1950s. This car, built in 1932, has been preserved, but the last report I have is that it is stored inoperable by the Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad.
Ardmore junction was a favorite spot for photographers on the Red Arrow Lines, as the Norristown High-Speed Line crossed over the trolley line to Ardmore. Many photos such as this were posed on fantrips, up until the end of 1966, when buses replaced rail on the Ardmore branch. The date and circumstances of this photo are not known, other than that it was taken in 1961. Car 66 was built by Brill in 1927, and has been preserved at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum since 1970.
Over the years, Boston has phased out nearly all the street running on its Green Line trolley system, except for a bit of the E line, which now terminates at Heath. Here, on October 30, 1982, Clark Frazier captured this view of MBTA “picture window” PCC 3314, built by Pullman-Standard in 1951, on Huntington Avenue, going by Mission Park on its way to Arborway as part of a two-car train. Although service on the E line was truncated to Heath, trolleys still run at this location today.
Here is a view of the Lake Street “L” looking north from Garfield Park in September 1963. This was a time between the elevation of the west portion of the line in 1962, and the arrival of the new 2000-series “L” cars in 1964. The line was operated using 4000s, which by then had their trolley poles removed, as Lake was now operated with third rail only. These cars are in mid-day storage on a third track. The following year, a new yard opened in Forest Park, making this kind of storage unnecessary.
Johnstown, PA was the smallest city to operate PCC cars, and was a favorite of photographers, but I don’t recall seeing a lot of winter pictures. Here, Johnstown Traction 412, with its distinctive Pepsi bottlecap advertising on the front, is at the Roxbury Loop on March 14, 1959. Streetcar service ended the following year. (Bill Volkmer Photo)
Officials from Skokie and the CTA cut the ribbon at Dempster Street on April 20, 1964, inaugurating Skokie Swift service on file miles of trackage formerly owned by the North Shore Line interurban, which had quit service just over a year before. This is today’s Yellow Line and is now operated using third rail power rather than overhead wire.
We ran a different picture from this event in a previous post:
On April 20, 1964, CTA and local officials cut the ribbon at Dempster, commencing service on the new five-mile-long Skokie Swift line. This represented but a small portion of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee interurban that abandoned service on January 21, 1963. The Chicago Transit Authority had to purchase about half of the Swift route anyway, as their connection to Skokie Shops went over NSL tracks. The CTA decided to offer an express service between Dempster and Howard stations, and put in a large parking lot. Service was put into place using existing equipment at the lowest possible cost. The late George Krambles was put in charge of this project, which received some federal funding as a “demonstration” service, at a time when that was still somewhat unusual. But CTA officials at the time indicated that they would still have started the Swift, even without federal funds. I was nine years old at the time, and rode these trains on the very first day. I can assure you they went 65 miles per hour, as I was watching the speedometer. Needless to say, the experiment was quite successful, and service continues on what is now the Yellow Line today, with the addition of one more stop at Oakton. (Richard Hofer Photo, David Stanley Collection)
A two-car South Shore Line train, made up of cars 103 and 24, has made it to downtown Chicago during a blizzard in January 1979.
This is the back end of a westbound two-car train of 2000s on the Douglas Park “L” in July 1966, approaching the Laramie Avenue station in Cicero. Laramie was closed in 1992, but was reopened in 2002-2003, while the nearby 54th Avenue station was being redone. The station house at Laramie has been declared historic and is the last remaining one of its type, and has been preserved, although no longer used.
A close-up of the previous picture, giving a better view of the Laramie Avenue station, with 54th Avenue off in the distance.
A remnant of the Laramie station, as it looks today.
Pittsburgh PCC 1646 on Arlington Avenue in Pittsburgh on April 25, 1974. This trackage serves as a bypass route for a nearby transit tunnel, and I actually have rode on it twice– the first time was in 1985, when for a short time, it became an actual route, and then again in 2014, on a fantrip. (Joseph Saitta Photo)
North Shore Line combine car 255 on June 1, 1962. Note the variations in paint color on this car, ranging from a dark green to a bluish green. That should be enough to drive would-be modelers crazy in their quest for authenticity. Don’s Rail Photos: “255 was built by Jewett in 1917. It had all of the seats removed in the 1920s to provide a full length baggage car which ran in passenger trains. It was used for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to move equipment to Ravinia. On July 2, 1942, the 40 seats were replaced. Then on December 1, 1946, the seats were again removed. In addition to the Symphony, the car was used for sailors’ baggage from Great Lakes.”
A train of CTA 2000s on the then-new Dan Ryan line in November 1969 at 79th Street. (Rick Burn Photo)
A South Shore Line train at 130th and the under construction Calumet Superhighway in April 1952. (James P. Shuman Photo)
Since this shows a Logan Square “L” train on the Met main line, just west of the Loop, it must have been taken between August 1950 (when the 6000s were introduced) and February 1951 (when the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway opened).
This June 1975 photo of a pair of derelict CTA 4000s was, and remains, somewhat of a mystery. The location is marked as “Forest Glen Yard,” which is actually the name of a bus yard on Chicago’s northwest side. I posted this to our Facebook group, in hopes someone might help identify the location. Three possibilities were suggested: CTA Skokie Shops, Michigan City on the South Shore Line, and Joliet. The nearby freight yard and the orange caboose are clues. According to Andre Kristopans, that’s Chuck Tauscher at right. In his prime, he was an excellent photographer. (S. Downey Photo)
A close-up of the late Charles Tauscher, from the previous photo.
I really have no information about this photo, other than that it might be Mexico City. If I had to guess a date, I would say the early 1960s. What attracted me to it is that you don’t see a lot of photos showing a streetcar and a trolley bus together.
In a previous post, we ran a photo of the Logan Square interlocking tower, taken by the late Roger Puta on April 9, 1966, shortly before this tower was replaced by a new one that continued in use until the line was extended in 1970. Another, similar photo turned up recently, and I bought it. Imagine my surprise when it turns out to have been taken mere minutes after the first one! Although I cannot say for certain, this one may also have been taken by Roger Puta. I believe the man at left is his friend Rick Burn, whose name is written on the back of the slide. However, if that is him, he could hardly have taken the picture, and due to the great similarity with the other shot, it’s entirely possible that Roger Puta took this one as well.
Here is the other photo by Roger Puta:
CTA interlocking tower at Logan Square Terminal, Chicago, IL on April 9, 1966 Roger Puta photograph Roger wrote, “The last mechanical interlocking on the CTA and will be replaced with a new tower.”
South Shore Line trains at the Randolph Street Terminal in August 1965. This terminal has since been completely redone and is now underground, beneath Millennium Park.
On May 25, 1958 there was a fantrip on Chicago’s last remaining streetcar line (Wentworth), less than a month before the final run. This included a tour of South Shops at 77th and Vincennes, and the CTA Historical Collection was trotted out one last time for photos, of which there are many circulating. This batch was taken by J. W. Vigrass. The collection was eventually moved to the Lawndale car barn, where it languished until the 1980s, when it was parsed out to various museums.
CTA PCC 7207 is on Ravenswood near Devon Station (car barn) in the 1950s.
This is the third “L” photo I have, taken at this location, which at first was a mystery, but eventually turned out to be an annex (since demolished) just north of the Merchandise Mart. All three photos may have been taken at the same time, and by the same photographer, in the 1930s. This one shows North Shore Line cars 768 and 769.
This is a Brooklyn PCC car, one of a hundred in use from 1936 to 1956. It is signed for Route 68 and could be heading to the Brooklyn Bridge. Other than that, I have no information.
Stereo images were popular around 1900, and when placed in the proper viewer (sometimes called a “stereopticon”) provided a 3-D effect. This is the left picture from a stereo pair, showing cable cars on Madison Street in downtown Chicago. Some say that the Loop got its name from the paths taken by downtown cable cars, but research has shown the term came into popular use because of the “L’ and the Union Loop, completed in 1897. There are no overhead wires in view here, and none were permitted downtown until 1906. The tracks at left may have been used by horse car lines, since there is no trough for a cable.
The right image of the stereo pair.
This picture shows a Chicago PCC at the Pullman plant in Massachusetts. Chances are excellent that this is car 4062, the first of 310 that Pullman would build for Chicago, starting in 1946.
This is a rare agent’s stub for what is known as an “Interline ticket,” used for one trip involving two different railroads. In this case, it seems the trip involved the Monon Railroad and the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee, aka the North Shore Line. The passenger may have been a new recruit during World War II, as this ticket was apparently requested by the US government.
CRT 4096 is part of a Normal Park Express. This picture may have been taken on the south side. This car was part of the original order of 4000s, which came with a center door that was never actually used in service. It was closed off to provide more seating. These cars were known as “Baldies,” as opposed to the second 4000s order, the “Plushies.” Our resident south side expert M.E. writes: “This picture must have been taken underneath the pedestrian bridge at the Indiana Ave. station when the shoppers’ specials were running express from 43rd St. into the Loop. The shoppers’ specials ran only northbound. Returning southbound, they were local trains using the local southbound track, which is the track next to the platform at Indiana Ave.. This is the only circumstance I can think of in which a sign would say “Express Normal Pk”. Notice that the Normal Park car is the last car in the train. West of the Harvard station on the Englewood line, Normal Park cars were always attached as the last car of northbound mainline Englewood trains and detached from being the last car on southbound mainline Englewood trains. That arrangement lasted until 1949.”
CRT wood car 1136 is part of a Howard Street Express. The location might be the same as the previous picture.
CRT 4415, a “Plushie,” is part of a Howard Street Express. The nickname came from the plush seats used on these cars. “L” cars wore flags on certain holidays such as the 4th of July.
North Shore Line Electroliner set 801-802 is heading northbound at Loyola on Chicago’s north side “L”. If the train had been southbound, there would be overhead wire, then in use by freight locomotives. This Electroliner set is currently undergoing restoration at the Illinois Railway Museum.
North Shore Line 743 in a pocket track at Edison Court.
Photos showing North Shore Line trains being scrapped after the 1963 abandonment are rare– and this is not one of them. This is car 416, built in 1916 by Cincinnati Car Company, and rebuilt in 1942. It was scrapped shortly after this picture was taken at North Chicago on January 21, 1956, after the car had been damaged in a fire.
Atlantic City once had an interurban known as the Shore Fast Line. Interestingly, it inspired one of the four railroad names in the game Monopoly, the “Short Line.” In the early 1930s, Charles Todd, an early Monopoly player, got tired of trying to fit Shore Fast Line on his handmade Monopoly board, and “shortened” it as a joke. Charles Darrow copied it verbatim, and began to market this version of Atlantic City Monopoly commercially, and the rest is history.
South Shore Line car 100 wore patriotic colors during World War II, and helped promote the sale of War Bonds. A different picture of this car appeared in my 2017 book Chicago Trolleys.
CRT Shopper’s Specials Timetables, 1923-24
Chicago’s “L” system started out as four separate companies, that gradually came together as a single system. This evolution reached its fruition in 1924, when all four entities were combined into the Chicago Rapid Transit Company as part of the Samuel Insull empire.
From about 1913 on, the “L” had been operated more or less as a single unit, but the four underlying companies were still there. As part of this unification process, new all-steel state of the art rapid transit cars were ordered, the 4000-series, in two distinct batches. These were the first “L” cars intended for use on all lines– previously, all cars had been at least partially made from wood, and were ordered for use on one of the four independent “L” lines.
The first 4000s were built circa 1913-15, and the second group from 1923-24. When the later 4000s were put into service, the Insull interests instituted a mid-day “Shopper’s Special” express service on five lines in time for the 1923 Christmas season.
We were fortunate recently to be able to purchase three rare 1923-24 timetables for this service. This type of service was most successful on the Evanston line over the years. The Chicago Transit Authority re-introduced a “Shopper’s Special” as a mid-day Evanston Express in the late 1950s, and this lasted into the early 1990s.
Photos by William C. Hoffman
Bill Hoffman used a Leica iiig camera similar to this for many years.
On October 22, 1953, work was far along on dismantling the former CTA Garfield Park “L” station at Western and Congress. Remarkably, trains ran on this line less than a month before this picture was taken. The tracks at ground level were a bypass route for Western Avenue streetcars, to facilitate construction of a new bridge over the eventual Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway. The view looks to the north. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An interior view of CTA wood car 1813, built by ACF in 1907. This picture was taken on a May 1, 1955 fantrip, while the train was on the Van Buren Street temporary ground level trackage, where the Garfield Park “L” ran from 1953 to 1958 during construction of the nearby Congress rapid transit line. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
In a previous post, we ran a picture of car 1813 (not by Bill Hoffman), probably taken on the same May 1, 1955 fantrip:
CRT 1813 is part of a two-car train at Sedgwick. The flags may indicate this was a fantrip. (George Trapp Collection)
Bill Hoffman took this picture on July 8, 1954, to compare “old” (left) and “new” types of third rail collection shoes on CTA 6000-series “L” cars. This photo was taken at 43rd Street.
Steel wheels, trolley poles, and coupling detail of CTA high performance cars 6129-6130 at Sedgwick on December 11, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On July 21, 1950, a CTA Grafield Park “L” train approaches Marshfield from the west, while a westbound Chicago Aurora & Elgin train is at the station. The tracks curving off to the left are for the Douglas Park branch (today’s Pink Line), (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Chicago Rapid Transit 3023 is southbound at Chicago Avenue on April 6, 1946. Note the tower behind the train, which controlled switching. North of here there were four tracks instead of two. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On December 2, 1946, Chicago Rapid Transit car 3024 heads up a southbound two-car train at Chicago Avenue. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This is the view looking east at the CTA 40th and Indiana Avenue station on November 10, 1957. There is a single car Kenwood shuttle train in the pocket track, and Kenwood had less than three weeks to go before abandonment. The sign shows the routing of lines at this station, and there is a sticker over where the Stock Yards line had been, as that branch had already been abandoned not long before (October 6, 1957). (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A close-up of the sign, and an early example of “cancel culture.” The replacement bus was a new #43 Stock Yards Limited, which continued in service until March 26, 1962. Both “L” and bus did not last due to the Stock Yards being in an irreversible decline, and this Chicago landmark closed for good in 1971. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This is the view looking west along the Congress expressway construction site on December 30, 1954, showing an eastbound four-car Garfield Park “L” train on temporary trackage in Van Buren Street. The highway opened in this area the following year. (William C. Hoffman Photo)