Over the years, I have seen many poor quality duplicate slides with this view, looking to the northwest, with a Garfield Park “L” train crossing the Met bridge over the Chicago River, with Union Station in the background. However, this was scanned from an original red border Kodachrome slide, circa 1955-58. The name of the photographer is not known. This must be a Garfield train, and the results are stunning. Douglas cars were re-routed over the Lake Street “L” in 1954. Logan Square trains began running via the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway in 1951.
Here we have another bevy of classic traction photos for your enjoyment. All are from our collections, and nearly all were scanned from the original slides and negatives. Then, they were painstakingly worked over in Photoshop to make them look their best.
These views shine a light on the past, but also help illuminate our present and our future. We chose these images because we think they are important. They show some things that still exist, and other things that don’t.
By studying the past, we can learn from it, and the lessons we learn will help us make the decisions that will determine what gets preserved and improved in the future– and what goes by the wayside, into the dustbin of history.
When faced with the darkness of the present times, we could all use more light.
We have an exciting new Compact Disc available now, with audio recorded on the last Chicago Streetcar in 1958. There is additional information about this towards the end of this post, and also in our Online Store.
Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.
Work on our North Shore Line book is ongoing. Donations are needed in order to bring this to a successful conclusion. You will find donation links at the top and bottom of each post. We thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
A North Shore Line Electroliner stops on a curve during the early 1950s, while a woman wearing a long skirt and heels departs. This looks like North Chicago Junction.
Don’s Rail Photos: (Caboose) “1003 was built by American Car & Foundry Co in 1926. It was rebuilt without a cupola but restored when it was acquired IRM.” Here is how part of it looked in the early 1950s.
One of the two ex-North Shore Line Electroliners is shown in Philadelphia in December 1963, prior to being repainted as a Red Arrow Liberty Liner.
Although this was scanned from a duplicate slide, this is an excellent and well known shot, showing the last day fantrip on the North Shore Line’s Shore Line Route in July 1955. The location is Kenilworth, and we are looking mainly to the south, and a bit towards the west. The town’s famous fountain, paid for by the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric, the NSL’s predecessor, is at left. It was designed by noted architect George W. Maher (1864-1926), who lived in the area. The Chicago and North Western’s tracks are at right (now Union Pacific).
A northbound Electroliner, just outside of Milwaukee in July 1962. (Jim Martin Photo)
Car 170 is an NSL Lake Bluff local at the east end of the line on December 23, 1962. The tracks going off to the right connected to what was left of the old Shore Line Route. After the 1955 abandonment, a single track was retained for freight and for access to the Highwood Shops. (Jim Martin Photo)
Once the NSL abandonment was formally approved, in May 1962, there was a flurry of fantrip activity soon after. In June 1962, this trip was popular enough that two trains were used. Here they are on the Mundelein branch, posed side by side. One of the Liners made a rare appearance here. (Jim Martin Photo)
An Electroliner has gone past the east end of the Mundelein branch on a June 1962 fantrip, and is now on the single remaining track of the old Shore Line Route, which continued to Highwood (and ended in Highland Park). (Jim Martin Photo)
A three-car North Shore Line train in Lake Bluff on a snowy day on December 23, 1962. (Jim Martin Photo)
North Shore Line car 714, freshly painted, is at the Milwaukee Terminal on June 16, 1962. (Richard H. Young Photo)
The North Shore Line’s Mundelein Terminal on September 7, 1959.
David A. Myers recently sent me this picture, which shows him making an audio recording during the last run of the North Shore Line, in the early morning hours of January 21, 1963. He still has the tape and I hope someday he will have it digitized.
No information came with this black and white negative, but the location is Highwood. Diners 415 and 419 are present. 419 was out of service by 1949, and 415 was converted to a Silverliner the following year, so that helps date the picture. Car 150, built in 1915, is at the right, along with a Merchandise Despatch car. This picture could be from 1947 or even earlier.
Jim Martin caught this meet between both Electroliners at North Chicago Junction in May 1962.
An Electroliner in Lake Bluff in January 1963. This and the following image were consecutive shots taken by the same (unknown) photographer.
The photographer (possibly Emery Gulash) had but one chance to press the shutter button at precisely the right moment, and he nailed it with this classic view of westbound Electroliner train 803 at Lake Bluff in January 1963. This is what noted photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson had in mind when he wrote about the “decisive moment.” Douglas Noble: “Northbound crossing Rockland Road / IL 176 in Lake Bluff.”
CTA 53 (originally 5003), seen here at Skokie Shops in July 1971, was one of four such articulated sets ordered by the Chicago Rapid Transit Company and delivered in 1947-48. They were the first tangible evidence of the postwar modernization yet to come, under the management of the new Chicago Transit Authority. They were important cars, as the bridge between the 4000 and 6000 series, but were not that successful operationally on their own, even though they were the first Chicago “L” cars to utilize PCC technology. As it turned out, articulation was more of a dead end than a new beginning here, but these cars did pave the way for further refinements that were realized in the 6000s. As oddball equipment, they were eventually relegated to the Skokie Swift, where they lived out their lives until their mid-1980s retirement.
CTA trolleybus 9510 heads west on Roosevelt Road at Ogden Avenue at 6:50 pm on June 16, 1966.
CTA trolleybus 9499 is southbound on Kedzie at 59th Street on September 10, 1963.
CTA 3311, a one-man car, is at the east end of one of the south side routes in the early 1950s. Andre Kristopans: “3311 is at 67th and South Shore on 67th/69th route.”
A CTA single car unit heads north at Isabella Avenue in Evanston in September 1965. This station, closed in 1973, was a short distance from the end of the Evanston branch (Linden Avenue, Wilmette).
CTA PCC 7101, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, on September 2, 1955. Not sure of the exact location. Our resident south side expert M.E. adds: “As for where this location is, I can more likely tell you where it isn’t. It isn’t on route 49, Western Ave., which was built up everywhere. It isn’t on route 22, Clark-Wentworth, which was also built up everywhere. I thought it might be on route 4, Cottage Grove, just south of 95th, where the streetcar tracks ran in the street for a few blocks before entering private right-of-way. However, I see no sign of the Illinois Central railroad embankment that ran next to Cottage Grove Ave. So that leaves one possibility: Route 36, Broadway-State. Some of that route ran through sparse areas, particularly along 119th St. between Michigan Ave. and Morgan St. My best guess is that this view is on 119th St., looking east from east of Halsted St. Notice the building shadow at the bottom, which means the sun was behind the building, to the south. Ergo, the streetcar is going east. Another reason I think this is 119th St. is the presence of exactly one motor vehicle. 119th St. was far out in those days; buildings were few in number, not just along 119th St. but also route 8A South Halsted (bus). The only “bustling” area that far out was around 119th and Halsted (and west to Morgan), where there were industries like foundries, mills, etc. In fact, I think the only reasons the streetcar line continued to run that far south were (1) to accommodate the people who worked in those industries, and (2) to service the Roseland business district at 111th and Michigan.”
CTA “L” car #1 is at the west end of the Green Line in Oak Park, probably in the 1990s. This car is now on display at the Chicago History Museum.
CTA PCC 4385 is southbound on Clark Street at North Water Street in May 1958, running on Route 22A – Wentworth. (Jeffrey L. Wien Photo)
A northbound CTA Englewood-Howard “A” train, made up of curved-door 6000-series “L” cars, heads into the State Street Subway at the south portal in August 1982.
A southbound CTA Ravenswood “B” train, made up of wooden “L” cars, approaches the Sedgwick station on April 10, 1957.
A two-car mid-day CTA Evanston Express “L” train, made up of single-car units 39 and 47, heads east on Van Buren between LaSalle and State on August 14, 1964. During this period, Loop trains all ran counter-clockwise and there was a continuous platform running from LaSalle to State. The platform sections between stations were removed in 1968.
A northbound CTA Evanston Express train, made up of 4000s, is north of Lawrence Avenue on July 22, 1968. Miles Beitler: “In photo aad017a, the Evanston Express is northbound on the local track between Rosemont Avenue and Sheridan Road (around 6300-6400 north). Granville tower is visible in the distance. PM northbound Evanston Express trains switched to the local track at Granville in order to serve Loyola and Morse stations. (AM trains did not do this.) I believe that sometime in the 1980s or 1990s, to speed up service, Loyola and Morse were no longer served by Evanston Expresses, and the trains remained on the outside express track all the way to Howard.” Andre Kristopans adds, “For years after AM rush until noon Evanston trains used local tracks all the way as Granville tower only manned AM rush. Also AM rush expresses usually crossed over NB as express track was used to lay up trains midday south of Howard. SB expresses always used local tracks to Granville as SB express track did not have 3rd rail north of Granville until 1970s sometime.” Miles Beitler replies, “That is not correct. Third rail was installed on the southbound express track between Howard and Granville at least by 1964, and even before that the expresses ran on that portion using overhead wire.”
A close-up of the previous image, showing Granville Tower.
CTA PCC 7160 is northbound on Clark Street, approaching the loop at Howard Street, on July 5, 1957. (Edward S. Miller Photo)
The Washington station in the State Street Subway in Chicago on July 6, 1975.
CTA single-car unit 39 is southbound at Isabella on August 13, 1964, operating on the Evanston Shuttle.
CTA red Pullman 281 is heading westbound into the turnaround loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett in early 1953. Towards the end of streetcar service on Route 63, older red cars replaced PCCs, which were shifted over to run on Cottage Grove. This residential neighborhood, sparsely populated then, is now completely built up.
CTA salt car AA101 at South Shops, circa 1955-57. Don’s Rail Photos: “AA101, salt car, was built by South Chicago City Ry in 1907 as SCCRy 335. It was rebuilt in 1907 and became C&SCRy 834 in 1908. It was renumbered 2849 in 1913 and became CSL 2849 in 1914. It was later converted as a salt car and renumbered AA101 in 1948. It was retired on December 14, 1956.”
The view looking north along Halsted Street at 42nd Street on Chicago’s south side, from a real photo postcard. The message on the back was dated August 24, 1910. Postal postcards were a new thing in the early 1900s and were very popular. Some, like this, were made by contact printing from the original photo negative. The Union Stock Yards were at left, and you can see the Halsted Station on then-new Stock Yards “L” branch (opened in 1908) in the distance. Automobiles were not yet common, and you can spot a man riding a horse to the left of streetcar 5150. This car was built by Brill in 1905, and was modernized in 1908. When this picture was taken, it was operated by the Chicago City Railway, as the Surface Lines did not come into existence until 1914.
A close-up from the previous photo.
This Skokie Swift sign graced the Dempster Street terminal of what is now the CTA Yellow Line for many years. It is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Here is how it looked in September 1985. The original running time was more like 6 1/2 minutes when the line opened in 1964, but things got slowed down a bit in the interests of safety, since there are several grade crossings.
CTA single-car unit #1 at the Skokie Swift terminal at Dempster on June 11, 1965. It was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1960 and had high-speed motors. It was sent to General Electric in 1974 and used to test equipment. Since 2016 it has been at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine, but it would require a lot of work (and parts) to restore.
We are looking east along the Indiana Avenue “L” station around 1955. The wooden “L” car at back is a spare, being stored on what had once been the main line track up until 1949. The Kenwood branch ran east from here until 1957. The Stockyards branch went west from here. (C. Foreman Photo)
We are looking east from the CTA’s Indiana Avenue “L” station on September 2, 1955. A northbound Howard “B” train, made up of new curved-door 6000s, approaches on what had once been the middle express track. This was changed in 1949, when the CTA made a major revamp of north-south service. Numerous little-used stations were closed, and A/B “skip stop” service introduced, in an effort to speed things up. Since the express track was no longer needed, the CTA used part of it here to establish a pocket track for Kenwood branch trains, which became a shuttle operation. Sean Hunnicutt adds, “6405-06 are at the front.” Andre Kristopans adds, “At Indiana the layup track was the old LOCAL track, the middle in use was the express.” Northbound “L” trains switched over to what had been the express track (middle) just south of Indiana Avenue. I should have made that clear in the caption, thanks.
Milwaukee Electric articulated unit 1190 is on Main Street in Waukesha, Wisconsin on June 12, 1949. (William C. Hoffman Photo) One commenter adds, “Both photos taken by William C. Hoffman in Waukesha are actually on W. Broadway, just south of Main St. All buildings are still standing.”
Milwaukee Electric heavyweight car 1119 is on Main Street on June 12, 1949. (William C. Hoffman Photo) One commenter adds, “Both photos taken by William C. Hoffman in Waukesha are actually on W. Broadway, just south of Main St. All buildings are still standing.”
Milwaukee streetcar 972 at the Harwood Avenue terminal in Wauwatosa, circa 1955-58. (W. H. Higginbotham Photo)
The Public Service Building in downtown Milwaukee, located at 4th and Michigan, had been the former rapid transit terminal until 1951. Here is how it appeared on August 23, 1964. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Larry Sakar: “this is the southeast corner of the PSB at 3rd (not 4th) and Michigan Sts. You are looking southeast. Greyhound would continue using the PSB until February, 1965 when it moved to its own, brand new terminal on the northeast corner of North 7th & W. Michigan Sts. In addition to the 3 story terminal on the Michigan St side (the station had about a dozen angled spaces that the buses pulled into. Spaces 1 and 2 were used solely by Wisconsin Coach Lines buses to Waukesha, Racine & Kenosha and for a short time Port Washington. Atop the bus terminal was (and still is) a 2 story parking garage. On the Wisconsin Avenue side Greyhound constructed a 20 story office building. In 2006 when the Amtrak station was remodeled and a bus area added to the west of it in what had been a freight yard (became) a new bus station (outdoor platforms only). Today the entire complex is the Milwaukee Intermodal station.”
Milwaukee streetcar 953 is at the west end of the long Wells Street viaduct (at 44th), circa 1955-58. (W. H. Higginbotham Photo)
A Milwaukee Route 10 streetcar is on the Wells Street viaduct on September 5, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A Miller Brewery Company beer wagon at the base of the Wells Street viaduct on September 6, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Route 10 streetcar 953 heads east on Wells Street in Milwaukee, having just passed the Pabst theater, on June 25, 1956. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The same location in 2019.
The caption on this slide says, “M&S body replica at Fond du Lac station, August 4, 1957.”
Two Milwaukee streetcars, including 861, on Howell during a National Railway Historical Society fantrip on September 3, 1955. (Paul Kutta Photo) Larry Sakar: “Photo aad021a is correct. That is Howell Avenue where the streetcar is laying over. More specifically, it is the intersection of South Howell Ave, and East Howard Ave which was the end of the line for Route 11 Vliet-Howell and later just Howell when streetcars came off of Vliet St. For a while in the 40’s streetcars went about a mile farther south on Howell Avenue to the intersection of East Bolivar Ave. Before this became part of the city of Milwaukee this was the Town of Lake. This area was given the name Tippecanoe. If you would turn a bit more east, today on the southeast corner of Howell & Howard there is a branch of the Milwaukee Public Library appropriately called Tippecanoe. Library. MPL calls their branches, “Neighborhood libraries”.”
Milwaukee streetcar 903 is in white and green as the “Stay Alive” car on Route 10 on October 2, 1953. Larry Sakar: “This is car 943 the Milwaukee Safety Commission green and white car. Dave Stanley and some of the other Milwaukee TM fans I know have said that if streetcars had lasted until July of 1975 when the Milwaukee County Transit System took over M&STC this is what they’d have looked like sans the safety message. Here is the great irony involving car 943. It didn’t practice what it preached. It was wrecked in 1955 at 4th & Wells Sts. downtown when it collided with a city of Milwaukee garbage truck. OOPS!”
A Milwaukee Road Hiawatha train in Milwaukee in 1954. Larry Sakar: “aad013a is the original Milwaukee Road station at North 4th & W. Everett Streets. The easternmost part of the trainshed was kiddie-corner from the southwest corner of the Public Service Bldg. but the station building was at 4th St. fAcing the park that is still there.Over the years that park has had lord knows how many different names. Today it is called Zeidler Union Park. However the Zeidler for whom it’s named is not Frank who was Mayor of Milqwaukee from 1948-1960. The park is named for Frank’s older brother, Carl who was Mayor for just two years 1940 to the outbreak of WWII on 12-7-41. He was in the U.S. Naval; Reserve and was called to Active Duty early in 1942. He was killed in action when the ship he was on was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine. in 1943. Carl was a Democrat. Frank was a Socialist. The site of the Everett St. Milwaukee Road station is now I794. That row of smaller buildings to the right of the train belonged to the Railway Express Agency. After he was no longer employed as a towerman, the late Don Ross went to work for REA. Remember, when express died out on passenger trains they became REA Air Express but they didn’t last.”
A Chicago Aurora & Elgin freight train, led by electric locos 4005 and 4006, is at Lakewood on March 17, 1957. (James J. Buckley Photo)
Pacific Electric blimp car 401 is signed for San Pedro. We have no other information on this original red border Kodachrome slide, but PE service to San Pedro was replaced by bus on January 2, 1949.
The caption on this September 11, 1977 photo in New York City says, “Jamaica Avenue, 160th Street – Last train.” Bill Wasik writes, “Re the 9/11/1977 NYC photo: Exploring New York City a few months after moving there in 1977, I entered an uptown-bound subway train at a station near the New York Stock Exchange, intending to take a short ride north to Midtown Manhattan. Minutes later, I had to change my plans when the train suddenly emerged in sunlight on the Lower East Side and began to cross the Williamsburg Bridge heading east to Brooklyn. With nothing better to do on a nice late summer afternoon, I decided to take this “J” train to the end of the line, which at the time was near where the car shown in this photo is stopped. The setting here was an ancient elevated structure that ran above the Jamaica Avenue shopping district in Queens, apparently on the day Jamaica Line service (once known as the Broadway Elevated) was cut back from 160th Street west to Queens Boulevard. The structure shown here was demolished around 1980, with bus service and the 1988 opening of the Archer Avenue rapid transit lines eventually replacing portions of the old Broadway El west to 121st Street in Queens.”
Vintage District of Columbia streetcar 303 and trailer 1512 are on a May 1959 fantrip. There are no wires here, as underground conduit was used for power in DC. Don’s Rail Photos: “303 was built by American Car Co in 1898 as Capital Traction Co 303. It is now at the Smithsonian.”
Boston MTA PCC 3219 is about to descend into the Tremont subway entrance at Pleasant Street on April 23, 1960. This portal was closed on November 19, 1961 and sealed up. It is presently the location of Elliot Norton Park, although there have been proposals to reuse the portal.
The same location in 2020.
Baltimore Transit PCC 7102 is on route 8 – Irvington on November 2, 1963, in a view taken out of the front window of a PCC going the opposite way. Streetcar service in Baltimore ended the next day, but light rail returned to the city in 1992.
One of the two Liberty Liners (ex-North Shore Line Electroliners) on the Red Arrow’s Norristown High-Speed Line in March 1964. (David H. Cope Photo)
A two-car train of Bullets, near the Philadelphia city limits, in this October 26, 1946 photo by David H. Cope.
A Philadelphia and Western Bullet car is near the Norristown terminal on May 14, 1949.
Open car 20 on the Five Mile Beach Electric Railway in Wildwood, New Jersey on August 26, 1934. This car still exists and is now owned by the Liberty Historic Railway. In 2019 the body of car 20 was sent to Gomaco for restoration, in hopes it can operation once again in the future.
New Compact Disc, Now Available:
The Last Chicago Streetcars 1958
# of Discs – 1
Until now, it seemed as though audio recordings of Chicago streetcars were practically non-existent. For whatever reason, the late William A. Steventon does not appear to have made any for his Railroad Record Club, even though he did make other recordings in the Chicago area in 1956.
Now, audio recordings of the last runs of Chicago streetcars have been found, in the collections of the late Jeffrey L. Wien (who was one of the riders on that last car). We do not know who made these recordings, but this must have been done using a portable reel-to-reel machine.
These important recordings will finally fill a gap in transit history. The last Chicago Transit Authority streetcar finished its run in the early hours of June 21, 1958. Now you can experience these events just as Chicagoans did.
As a bonus, we have included Keeping Pace, a 1939 Chicago Surface Lines employee training program. This was digitally transferred from an original 16” transcription disc. These recordings were unheard for 80 years.
Total time – 74:38
Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation
We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
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 Edition illustrated Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021 ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007 Length 128 pages
Chapters: 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.
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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)
A southbound 6-car train of CTA woods is at 18th Street on the Douglas Park “L” on March 7, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The Chicago Transit Authority logo on a new substation under the Harvard “L” station on April 23, 1962. This Englewood branch station closed in 1992, and was demolished during the 1994-96 Green Line reconstruction. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On August 15, 1954, a four-car CTA train of 6000s heads northbound into the State Street Subway at the south portal at 13th and State. The section of “L” to the left was then not being used by CTA trains on a regular basis. Now the situation is reversed– the “L” is used by regular trains, but the subway portal is not, since Howard trains are connected to the Dan Ryan line via a different tunnel. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A two car CTA train of 6000s descends into the south portal of the State Street Subway on April 1, 1956. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Here. we see the tail end of a northbound four-car train of CTA 6000s on the Douglas Park “L” at 18th Street. The date was March 7, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On September 15, 1957, a southbound CTA train on the north-south “L” passes by a North Shore Line train (lead car 420) on a fantrip. The lower level tracks were an interchange connection between the “L” and the Milwaukee Road, and were used for freight until 1973. They had once been part of a commuter rail line that the “L” took over north of Wilson Avenue that originally ran at ground level to Evanston. The lower level area is now occupied by Challenger Park. (William C. Hoffman Photo)