75 Years of Chicago’s Subways

Mayor Kelly celebrates the first ceremonial trips (using one track and only two of the stations) on the State Street Subway in April 1943, just prior to a mayoral election.

Mayor Kelly celebrates the first ceremonial trips (using one track and only two of the stations) on the State Street Subway in April 1943, just prior to a mayoral election.

Chicago’s first subway opened 75 years ago today, on October 17, 1943. To help commemorate this milestone in Chicago history, we wrote the book Building Chicago’s Subways, which is now available from us and wherever Arcadia Publishing books are sold. More information can be found at the end of this post, or via our Online Store.

Today, we are featuring over 100 images that were considered for use in our new book, but for various reasons did not make the cut. We hope you will enjoy them.

The story of Chicago’s subways is a long an convoluted one, beginning 150 years ago with the first transportation tunnels under the Chicago River, and continuing with the extensive system of freight tunnels built in the early 1900s downtown.

Wrangling over what type of subways to build, where to build them, and how to pay for them, continued for 40 years and divided Chicagoans. Then, in 1938, the City of Chicago and the FDR Administration agreed on plans to build the State Street and Dearborn-Milwaukee Subways, which opened in 1943 and 1951.

In turn, this was all part of a larger plan which included Chicago’s first true expressway in Congress Street (now the I-290 Eisenhower). Construction for the highway began in 1949 and ultimately relocated the entire Garfield Park “L” into the Congress rapid transit line, also known as the West Side Subway.

Construction of Chicago’s first subways began in 1938, and the Congress line was not 100% complete until 1960, so this was a huge construction project that lasted for more than 20 years and transformed the city forever.

The story of how this came to be is detailed in my new book.

David Sadowski

PS- I salute those Chicagoans old enough to remember the opening of the Chicago Subway. Those first-day riders included Raymond DeGroote Jr., the dean of Chicago railfans, and my two uncles Robert and Raymond Wakefield, all still going strong at age 88.

A Review of Building Chicago’s Subways by Kenneth Gear

Readers of the Trolley Dodger will certainly enjoy reading David’s new book BUILDING CHICAGO’S SUBWAYS.

I’ve visited Chicago about a dozen times in my railfanning pursuits and my interests were always confined to the yards, mainlines, and junctions of the freight railroads. I was only vaguely aware that Chicago even had a subway system. After reading this book, my next trip to the windy city will definitely include a ride on the subway.

As David has done with his previous book CHICAGO TROLLEYS, he has taken a very complex subject, spanning many decades and personalities, and whittled it down to the essential facts. He then presents these facts in a clear, understandable, and entertaining manner. The photographs are all of excellent quality, properly exposed and in razor sharp focus. David is apparently very particular and extremely selective when it comes to the photos in his books. The photographs don’t only showcase the transit equipment and property, but also include many photos of the people involved with the story of the subways. He has also included scenes of Chicago’s neighborhoods, buildings, and streets that were affected by the subways.

These are historical photos that will be of interest to any Chicagoans who have an eye for the past. The book tells the interesting story of the subway’s part in hastening the demise of the Chicago Aurora, and Elgin and the impact subways had on the famous “L”. Also much insight is given on the building of the Congress Expressway (now Eisenhower Expressway). I was also very interested in the chapter about the freight tunnels under the city. I recently watched the 1950 movie UNION STATION with William Holden and the climax of the film takes place in those tunnels.

The photographic efforts and concise writing go a long way to making David’s Arcadia books among the best the publisher has to offer.

How Chicago Kept its Subway Plan on Track

I wrote to Ron Grossman at the Chicago Tribune several months ago, suggesting they do an article for the 75th anniversary of the Chicago subway. Here is that article.

Cable cars in the LaSalle tunnel.

Cable cars in the LaSalle tunnel.

A river tunnel entrance during cable car days. This is either the Washington or LaSalle tunnel.

A river tunnel entrance during cable car days. This is either the Washington or LaSalle tunnel.

I believe this shows the Van Buren river tunnel during cable car days, prior to its lowering for use by streetcars.

I believe this shows the Van Buren river tunnel during cable car days, prior to its lowering for use by streetcars.

The Van Buren Street river tunnel in streetcar days.

The Van Buren Street river tunnel in streetcar days.

The Washington Street tunnel in 2017. (Roman Vovchak Photo)

The Washington Street tunnel in 2017. (Roman Vovchak Photo)

The Washington Street tunnel in 2017. (Roman Vovchak Photo)

The Washington Street tunnel in 2017. (Roman Vovchak Photo)

The steel tubes used to lower the LaSalle Street streetcar tunnel in 1911-1912. This same method was used in 1939 for the State Street Subway.

The steel tubes used to lower the LaSalle Street streetcar tunnel in 1911-1912. This same method was used in 1939 for the State Street Subway.

Chicago Tunnel Company trains hauling ashes away from the freight tunnels, probably for use as landfill.

Chicago Tunnel Company trains hauling ashes away from the freight tunnels, probably for use as landfill.

The freight tunnels were used to haul merchandise as well as coal and ashes beneath Chicago's downtown.

The freight tunnels were used to haul merchandise as well as coal and ashes beneath Chicago’s downtown.

The freight tunnels used electric locomotives and overhead power.

The freight tunnels used electric locomotives and overhead power.

A freight tunnel intersection.

A freight tunnel intersection.

Chicago's freight tunnels.

Chicago’s freight tunnels.

Chicago badly needed subways to help reduce congestion on the Loop "L", here shown in the early 1900s at Lake and Wells.

Chicago badly needed subways to help reduce congestion on the Loop “L”, here shown in the early 1900s at Lake and Wells.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, shown here in Chicago in 1943, approved federal funding for Chicago's first subways.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, shown here in Chicago in 1943, approved federal funding for Chicago’s first subways.

Indirect lighting was used in the newe Moscow Subway, shown here in 1936, and would also feature in Chicago's tube.

Indirect lighting was used in the newe Moscow Subway, shown here in 1936, and would also feature in Chicago’s tube.

A New York subway passage in 1937, showing the widespread use of subway tile. Chicago's subways were in turn influenced by New York's far more extensive system.

A New York subway passage in 1937, showing the widespread use of subway tile. Chicago’s subways were in turn influenced by New York’s far more extensive system.

The results of a fire that destroyed several wooden el cars on New York's system.. Wooden cars were banned from use in the Chicago subways for safety reasons.

The results of a fire that destroyed several wooden el cars on New York’s system.. Wooden cars were banned from use in the Chicago subways for safety reasons.

Wooden "L" cars were also less safe in crashes.

Wooden “L” cars were also less safe in crashes.

Subway plans from the late 1930s, showing new railcars similar to contemporary ones used in New York.

Subway plans from the late 1930s, showing new railcars similar to contemporary ones used in New York.

The BMT Bluebirds in New York.

The BMT Bluebirds in New York.

The Chicago Rapid Transit Company ordered four sets of articulated rapid transit trainsets, which were delivered in 1947-48 and largely patterned after the Bluebirds used by Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT).

The Chicago Rapid Transit Company ordered four sets of articulated rapid transit trainsets, which were delivered in 1947-48 and largely patterned after the Bluebirds used by Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT).

Chicago's subways were opened using 1920s-era steel rapid transit cars, where the conductors had to stand between cars to open and close the doors.

Chicago’s subways were opened using 1920s-era steel rapid transit cars, where the conductors had to stand between cars to open and close the doors.

The first subway construction site.

The first subway construction site.

The first subway construction site.

The first subway construction site.

An air lock used in subway construction.

An air lock used in subway construction.

Early subway construction.

Early subway construction.

An air lock used in subway construction.

An air lock used in subway construction.

Mining clay in the Chicago subway.

Mining clay in the Chicago subway.

A subway tunnel before the addition of concrete.

A subway tunnel before the addition of concrete.

Mining clay in the subway.

Mining clay in the subway.

Early "cut and cover" construction near a subway station.

Early “cut and cover” construction near a subway station.

The two steel tubes for the State Street Subway's crossing of the Chicago River, before they were sunk into place in 1939.

The two steel tubes for the State Street Subway’s crossing of the Chicago River, before they were sunk into place in 1939.

Subway construction.

Subway construction.

The old Masonic Temple, world's tallest building when it first opened in 1892, efll victim to subway construction in 1939 due to its foundation being in the way of construction. Here it is seen being torn down.

The old Masonic Temple, world’s tallest building when it first opened in 1892, efll victim to subway construction in 1939 due to its foundation being in the way of construction. Here it is seen being torn down.

In the Loop, building the subways involved a mining operation and used similar equipment.

In the Loop, building the subways involved a mining operation and used similar equipment.

Subway construction, circa 1939-40.

Subway construction, circa 1939-40.

Building subway kiosks on State Street in 1942.

Building subway kiosks on State Street in 1942.

A typical mezzanine station entrance in the Loop.

A typical mezzanine station entrance in the Loop.

The new State Street tube prior to opening.

The new State Street tube prior to opening.

An obviously posed photo prior to the opening of the State Street Subway in 1943.

An obviously posed photo prior to the opening of the State Street Subway in 1943.

The unfinished subway, circa 1941.

The unfinished subway, circa 1941.

The continuous platform in the State Street Subway, 1943.

The continuous platform in the State Street Subway, 1943.

The new subway featured automatic block signals. If a train went past a red signal, brakes were automatically applied. There were also timed signals on curves. Previously, most of the "L" used "on-sight" operation.

The new subway featured automatic block signals. If a train went past a red signal, brakes were automatically applied. There were also timed signals on curves. Previously, most of the “L” used “on-sight” operation.

CRT motorman Charles R. Blade activates a signal override in the State Street Subway, early in 1943.

CRT motorman Charles R. Blade activates a signal override in the State Street Subway, early in 1943.

The incline leading to the north end of the State Street Subway in early 1943.

The incline leading to the north end of the State Street Subway in early 1943.

A snowy scene at the north portal of the State Street Subway, early 1940s.

A snowy scene at the north portal of the State Street Subway, early 1940s.

A map of the completed State Street Subway in 1944.

A map of the completed State Street Subway in 1944.

The first ceremonial train in the State Street Subway, April 1943.

The first ceremonial train in the State Street Subway, April 1943.

Final touches on the State Street Subway in April 1943.

Final touches on the State Street Subway in April 1943.

An old-time Chicago political boss enters the State Street Subway.

An old-time Chicago political boss enters the State Street Subway.

Mayor Kelly on the ceremonial train, surrounded by reporters.

Mayor Kelly on the ceremonial train, surrounded by reporters.

A ticket taker at the April 1943 event.

A ticket taker at the April 1943 event.

The unfinished Dearborn tube in 1943. Work was halted due to materials shortages during WWII.

The unfinished Dearborn tube in 1943. Work was halted due to materials shortages during WWII.

The north State Street Subway portal in 1943.

The north State Street Subway portal in 1943.

A northbound train enters south portal of the State Street Subway in the 1940s.

A northbound train enters south portal of the State Street Subway in the 1940s.

No tracks here yet.

No tracks here yet.

Subway riders downtown could get a "walking transfer," good for 15 minutes, to change to "L" trains above.

Subway riders downtown could get a “walking transfer,” good for 15 minutes, to change to “L” trains above.

In 1950, the first of the CTA's new 6000-series rapid transit cars, on display in the North Water Street stub-end terminal.

In 1950, the first of the CTA’s new 6000-series rapid transit cars, on display in the North Water Street stub-end terminal.

When the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway opened in 1951, parts of the "L" were closed. Here. we see a Logan Suare-bound train on the Paulina portion of the Metropolitan "L", soon the be closed, probably in 1950.

When the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway opened in 1951, parts of the “L” were closed. Here. we see a Logan Suare-bound train on the Paulina portion of the Metropolitan “L”, soon the be closed, probably in 1950.

The north portal of the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway at Evergreen Street.

The north portal of the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway at Evergreen Street.

Construction of the Van Buren temporary trackage in 1951-52.

Construction of the Van Buren temporary trackage in 1951-52.

From 1951 to 1958, the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway ended at a stub-end terminal at LaSalle and Congress. The station was then called Congress Terminal.

From 1951 to 1958, the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway ended at a stub-end terminal at LaSalle and Congress. The station was then called Congress Terminal.

The Garfiled Park temporary tracks in the south half of Van Buren Street. The old Throop Street shops are at right.

The Garfiled Park temporary tracks in the south half of Van Buren Street. The old Throop Street shops are at right.

At right, the ramp going down from the existing Met main line at right to the an Buren temporary trackage at street level. On the left, the Congress median line looks like it is almost ready to be put into service.

At right, the ramp going down from the existing Met main line at right to the an Buren temporary trackage at street level. On the left, the Congress median line looks like it is almost ready to be put into service.

In 1958, work was being done to connect the Douglas Park "L" with the new Congress line.

In 1958, work was being done to connect the Douglas Park “L” with the new Congress line.

The old Met main line "L" crossed the footprint of the Northwest Expressway, then being built in 1958, and had to be shored up. Once the Congress line opened, this section of "L" was removed. The new highway opened in 1960.

The old Met main line “L” crossed the footprint of the Northwest Expressway, then being built in 1958, and had to be shored up. Once the Congress line opened, this section of “L” was removed. The new highway opened in 1960.

A crossover in the Congress median.

A crossover in the Congress median.

The Congress line opens in June 1958 with three branches (Congress, Douglas, and Milwaukee).

The Congress line opens in June 1958 with three branches (Congress, Douglas, and Milwaukee).

In the late 1950s, the CTA envisioned a sort of "bus rapid transit" line in the median of the planned Southwest (now Stevenson) Expressway. Three buses are coupled together and are running along a guide rail, and presumably would uncouple and go their separate ways at the end of the journey,

In the late 1950s, the CTA envisioned a sort of “bus rapid transit” line in the median of the planned Southwest (now Stevenson) Expressway. Three buses are coupled together and are running along a guide rail, and presumably would uncouple and go their separate ways at the end of the journey,

The DesPlaines Avenue CTA terminal, after its 1959 renovation. You can just barely see where the CA&E tracks were rebuilt at right. Unfortunately, no trains ran on them.

The DesPlaines Avenue CTA terminal, after its 1959 renovation. You can just barely see where the CA&E tracks were rebuilt at right. Unfortunately, no trains ran on them.

The new Congress rapid transit line, aka the "West Side Subway" as it is below grade.

The new Congress rapid transit line, aka the “West Side Subway” as it is below grade.

Garfield Park trains crossing DesPalines Avenue at grade in Forest Park. Tracks in the foreground were once used by West Towns Railways streetcars.

Garfield Park trains crossing DesPalines Avenue at grade in Forest Park. Tracks in the foreground were once used by West Towns Railways streetcars.

The CTA issued these button in 1969-70 when two new expressway median lines were opened. The Kennedy line also included a new one-mile subway along Kimball and Milwaukee.

The CTA issued these button in 1969-70 when two new expressway median lines were opened. The Kennedy line also included a new one-mile subway along Kimball and Milwaukee.

Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There are three subway anniversaries this year 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!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
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)

Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

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Reader Showcase, 9-9-2018

This photo purports to show the actual last run on Milwaukee's ill-fated Speedrail interurban on June 30, 1951. However, according to Larry Sakar, author of Speedrail: Milwaukee's Last Rapid Transit?, "The last run to Waukesha which left Milwaukee at a little after 8:00 pm and returned to Milwaukee at 10:08 pm, 2 minutes ahead of schedule, was handled by duplex 37-38. The final round trip to Hales Corners was handled by curved side car 63, not 66. 66 did run on the last day, but it was by no means the final run." Chances are this photo was at least taken on the last day. The line could not survive the repercussions of a terrible head-on collision in 1950, and Milwaukee area officials wanted to use the interurban's right-of-way, which it did not own, for a new highway. Don's Rail Photos: "66 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 203. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit as 1102. In 1949 it was sold to Speedrail, but was not rehabilitated until March 1951. But it only ran for 3 months before the line was abandoned and then scrapped in 1952." (Photo by George Harris)

This photo purports to show the actual last run on Milwaukee’s ill-fated Speedrail interurban on June 30, 1951. However, according to Larry Sakar, author of Speedrail: Milwaukee’s Last Rapid Transit?, “The last run to Waukesha which left Milwaukee at a little after 8:00 pm and returned to Milwaukee at 10:08 pm, 2 minutes ahead of schedule, was handled by duplex 37-38. The final round trip to Hales Corners was handled by curved side car 63, not 66. 66 did run on the last day, but it was by no means the final run.” Chances are this photo was at least taken on the last day. The line could not survive the repercussions of a terrible head-on collision in 1950, and Milwaukee area officials wanted to use the interurban’s right-of-way, which it did not own, for a new highway. Don’s Rail Photos: “66 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1929, #3025, as Dayton & Troy Ry 203. It was returned to Cincinnati Car in 1932, and in 1938 it was sold to Lehigh Valley Transit as 1102. In 1949 it was sold to Speedrail, but was not rehabilitated until March 1951. But it only ran for 3 months before the line was abandoned and then scrapped in 1952.” (Photo by George Harris)

This post features many great contributions from our readers that we hope you will enjoy. Our sincere thanks go out to Larry Sakar, Miles Beitler, Jack Bejna, Jeffrey Haertlein, Kathryn Boyer, and Mitch Markovitz.

-David Sadowski

PS- Happy 88th birthday to two of my uncles, Raymond and Robert Wakefield, fraternal twins born September 10, 1930. They are my late mother’s younger brothers.

I hope they each have a wonderful day.

According to my mother’s memoirs, they were both first day riders on the new Chicago subway, which opened on October 17, 1943, nearly 75 years ago. My new book Building Chicago’s Subways, which will be released on October 1st, tells the story of how this came to be.

Larry Sakar writes:

Hi Dave,

Recently you asked if car 66 was the used for the last run to Hales Corners and back on MRT’s (Speedrail) last day, 6-30-51. As I said, the 66 did make at least one round trip to Hales Corners that day. The first photo I am attaching shows it westbound at 85th St. The water tower in the background is at N. 84th St. The 84th St. stop on the Rapid Transit Line was adjacent to it. The tower is still there today. No trace of the station or the right of way exists. Car 66 would be adjacent to the present day Honey Creek business park which would be at right.

As I also mentioned car 63 made the last round trip to Hales Corners and back shortly before midnight. Here we see it earlier in the evening of 6-30-51. In the second photo the motorman has just called for orders at the call in booth you see at right It was adjacent to the West Jct. stop just beyond the platform on the single track .

In the last photo car 63 has turned on Hillcrest loop and is laying over before returning to Milwaukee. Note some of photographer Robert Townley’s equipment sitting on the platform. The poor motorman looks rather forlorn. As of tomorrow 7-1-51 he will be unemployed.

The Hales Corners station was located on the southeast corner of Highway 100 (S.108th St.) and W. Janesville Rd. (Hwy. 24). The northbound curb lane of Highway 100 now occupies the former r.o.w. Except for the power lines, no traces of the line can be found today. The Hales Corners loop which was located about a half mile or so southwest of the station is now the site of a Menards store. For anyone unfamiliar with Menards, it’s a home improvement chain like Home Depot.

These photos and others including the last round trip to Waukesha were taken by Robert Townley. His capture of Speedrail’s last day were somewhat of an unplanned event. Remember this was during the height of the Korean War and guys were being drafted or were enlisting. Bob had enlisted in the Navy in order to avoid being drafted into the Army. His enlistment point was somewhere south of Chicago but definitely not Great Lakes Naval Training Station. I have forgotten where he said it was located.

Anyway, Bob was in Council Bluffs, Iowa taking pictures of whatever traction system they had in that city. He happened to overhear a couple of railfans mention that the next day 6-30-51 was Speedrail’s last. He had planned to visit Milwaukee later on, but now that Speedrail was about to shut down it became a priority. The next day he boarded a bus for Peoria, Illinois where he caught the Rock Island’s Peoria Rocket for Chicago. Upon arriving in Chicago in the afternoon he made his way to the Adams & Wabash “L” station where he took the next North Shore train to Milwaukee. He arrived in the late afternoon and headed from the NSL station at 6th & Michigan to the Public Service Building. He rode the trip to Hales Corners you see photographed. I’m sure he took either a Hales Corners local or a West Jct. train and got off at 84th St. which is how he was able to capture car 66 bound for Hales Corners.

One other interesting coincidence. Bob, who is from Columbia, CA. (that’s in Gold Rush country east of Sacramento) met up with another Milwaukee traction fan/photographer – Don Ross! It was while both men were serving in Korea. Small world!

I mentioned the Hales Corners station site at Highway 100 & Janesville Rd. I took the attached photo around 1995 but it really doesn’t look much different today. You are looking north along Highway 100. The curb lane is where the TM r.o.w. would have been.

The station stood right in front of the traffic light you see center right. Janesville Rd. was only a two lane highway in the days of TM and Speedrail. Where you see the car on the right edge of the photo there was only grass. Where you see the two cars across from it was the extent of Janesville Rd. back then. None of the buildings behind those two cars were there then either. The grassy median you see dividing the north and south lanes of Highway 100 was also not there back then. The highway consisted of the lane where you see the dark colored car passing the second light pole on the left, and the lanes on the other side of that median.

Today there is no transit service to this area. At one time MCTS Rt 28-Highway 100 did go all the way to Hales Corners. Subsequent budget cuts saw it cut back to the MCTS Hales Corners Park ‘n’ Ride lot which ironically is not in Hales Corners!

For anyone confused, highway 100 goes by three different names, depending what part of it you’re traveling on. It is S. 108th St. to the point that south streets end and north streets begin. Then, it’s technically N. 108th St. It is Highway 100 from Franklin which is south of Hales Corners to Wauwatosa and Brown Deer. At that point, Highway 100 becomes an east-west and it is also known as Brown Deer Rd. On the far south side, it also turns to running east-west and it is Ryan Rd., the same Ryan Rd. crossed by the North Shore Line (but way, way east in the suburb of Oak Creek). The idea was to make it a sort of belt line highway around Milwaukee. Want more confusion? Through parts of Wauwatosa, it is also known as Lovers Lane Rd.

Larry

PS- Here are three additional pictures of the TM Watertown line abandoned r.o.w. from the point where street running in Oconomowoc ended and the p.r.o.w. heading for Watertown began. The one looking east to where eastbound trains entered the street on Oconomowoc’s west side was taken to try and match the picture of the same spot on p.261 of the TM book. I took these in the summer of 1976.

Abandoned TM r.o.w. heading toward Watertown from Oconomowoc in 1976.

Abandoned TM r.o.w. heading toward Watertown from Oconomowoc in 1976.

Abandoned TM r.o.w. heading west from end of street running in Oconomowoc in 1976.

Abandoned TM r.o.w. heading west from end of street running in Oconomowoc in 1976.

TM r.o.w. entering street on west side of Oconomoc, looking east in 1976.

TM r.o.w. entering street on west side of Oconomoc, looking east in 1976.

Miles Beitler writes:

Here are a couple of Chicago and North Western photos that I took in the late 1970s or early 1980s at the old Dee Road station in Park Ridge. The old station was torn down and moved one block west some time in the 1990s. (Editor’s note: Bill Wulfert says the new station was dedicated in 2006- see his Comment below.)

I located a few more photos but unfortunately only one has a locomotive in view. The rest only show tracks or stations. I’ll keep looking — maybe I can find more.

The two Metra photos show the Amtrak/Milwaukee District tracks approaching Union Station. The photo of the Lake Street L was taken near Lake and Des Plaines on the near west side. All of these photos were taken circa March 2001.

The shots of the downtown Des Plaines C&NW station are late 1970s (pre-Metra) and although no trains are shown, the photos show the tracks running through the station as well as two buses (one Nortran and the second RTA) across the street. Both bus operators later were merged into the PACE suburban bus system.

Jack Bejna writes:

In my continuing search for CA&E photos and information I came across this interesting item from the John Stephenson Company describing quite a ride with brand new CA&E Car 32.

Here is another batch of Michigan photos. I believe these photos were taken circa 1921 as they were in the notebooks containing DUR photographs used for an audit for an upcoming fare increase request.

These photos don’t include the location where they were taken, and again, since I’m not familiar with Michigan towns and cities, I don’t have any idea where the pictures were taken, with some exceptions. It is interesting that many non-DUR photos were in the notebooks; perhaps the photographer was a railfan!

As far as I know the DUR triple car 5000 was unique, and it was used to accommodate large numbers of Ford employees at shift change.

The Benton Harbor & St Joseph photos are not the best but I’ve included several shots taken in winter. As you can see, the BH&StJ served the Graham & Morton Steamship Lines, but the steamship business was not enough to maintain the line and it quit in the mid-thirties.

I hope that readers of your fine blog may help to identify locations of some of the photographs.

Detroit United Railway

Benton Harbor & St Joseph Railway

Jeffrey Haertlein writes:

The Wisconsin Dells MINIRAMA was an O scale layout in operation as a tourist attraction from 1960 thru 1969. It was a great train layout, one in which I marveled at for decades, even after it closed.

Long story short, after many years I was able to purchase quite a bit of it starting in 2005. It was sold to a guy in Milwaukee (130 mi.), and now a good amount of it is only 15 miles away from where it started.

I’ll attach a few pictures of the attraction. Sure wish I could find more of it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kathryn Boyer writes:

I am an art historian, and I am trying to find someone who knows enough about trains of the 1930s to help with some specific information related to the Edward Hopper painting Compartment C, Car 193, painted in 1938. (See above.)

After looking at some websites and a YouTube clip with John Smatlak, it seems as though the painting rather accurately presents many of the features of a McKeever Pullman Sleeper. The lamp in the corner does not seem to correspond to any of the images I’ve seen, but the other elements are fairly similar.

I was wondering if someone is able to pinpoint more specifically
– the train(s)/cars that this image most closely represents
– when it was first made
– how long it was out in circulation
-and what do you notice in the painting that deviates from actuality?
That is, basic information about the train/car.

But I’m also wondering if you know if there is a place to seek out information about facts such as
– how much would a ticket on this train/in this car cost (including the sleeping berth)?

Also, are you aware of any information put together or research done on the profiles of passengers of this era, for example, the number of men and women and their socio-economic status.

I appreciate any leads or directions as well as photos and documents that you can provide.

I am no expert on Pullman sleepers, but let’s hope some of our readers can help you out, thanks.

I posted this picture to Facebook, and this led to some discussion with Mitch Markovitz. He is an accomplished artist who has been researching both Edward Hopper and the Pullman Company for the last 60 years.  Here is what Mitch has to say:

As a railroad historian, and with Edward Hopper’s work having a great influence on my own i can say this. Hopper would never fly anywhere. His wife, Josephine, complained that on trips he spent much time in railroad yards painting engines. He has several great works that include Pullman equipment including “Pennsylvania Morning.” In most of his works his model was his wife. This is just your standard Pullman section sleeper of the time. Once during one of his only TV interviews he was on a Sunday morning program on Boston Public Television being interviewed by Brian O’Dougherity. Brian asked Hopper, “We noticed you came up to Boston by train today (instead of flying.) Isn’t that a bit old fashioned?” Hopper looked down for a moment, thought, and then replied, “No. It isn’t. I just didn’t feel like dying this morning.”

The art historian wants to know what the factual basis is for the painting, whether the artist made any changes… how much a train ticket would have cost, and the socio-economic status of train travelers in the 1930s.

The factual basis would be one of Hopper’s many trips by rail in a standard sleeping car. This accommodation, the section, was the least expensive one available. Used by people of middle income. This type of car would have had one or two “drawing rooms” at one end. More expensive priced accommodations for people that expected more privacy. A traveler in a section sleeper would have to use a general washroom at each end of the car for both shaving and brushing of teeth in the morning, and for the other prerequisites. Traveling salesmen used sections a lot. A traveler would pay the first class railroad fare, and then the appropriate Pullman accommodation fare in a separate ticket between the two stations. If one were to travel on a premiere train and desired a shower and the services of a barber they were available in the club car, front of the train. Please keep asking questions, I’m happy to answer.

Is this something that the average person could afford back then?

In general yes. But during the depression it would depend on the definition of “average.” In this era we saw the rise of the “All coach train.” The section sleeper was the bottom of services. If one were to travel on say the “Twentieth Century Limited,” with a premium schedule, a premium dining car, and a barber shop with a shower one would pay the rail fare, the Pullman accommodation fare, and then, on top an “extra fare,” which in today’s dollars would be an additional $100 or so. A successful artist who lived in a 4th floor walk-up apartment, and had a small cottage on Martha’s Vineyard could afford this accommodation. (Hopper was cheap by the way.)

“Pennsylvania Hotel,” 20″x30″ Pastel on sand paper, 1989. One of my works that people compare to those of Hopper.

The car depicted would be of heavyweight construction before streamliners. Into the late 1930s all private rooms began to rise in popularity aboard streamlined (modern) trains. Pictured below is a standard Pullman sleeper. There were the Pullman Manufacturing Company, who built many types of railroad cars, and “The PULLMAN Company,” who owned, operated, and maintained sleeping, parlor, lounge, and restaurant cars. Both companies were part of Pullman Inc.

Thanks… did Hopper, in this painting, change anything in the interior of the sleeping car for artistic license?

Everything seen is correct. Including the interior color. The only thing I could mention is the lamp. The shade would have had a golden yellow-orange color to it on a brass or bronze colored fixture.

From www.edwardhopper.net:

Hopper also took an interest in cars and trains. It is a pity he didn’t live long into the jet age, though we sense his shadow in many contemporary works. The artist was drawn to the introspective mood that travelling seems to put us into. He captured the atmosphere in half-empty carriages making their way across a landscape: the silence that reigns inside while the wheels beat in rhythm against the rails outside, the dreaminess fostered by the noise and the view from the windows – a dreaminess in which we seem to stand outside our normal selves and have access to thoughts and memories that may not emerge in more settled circumstances. The woman in Hopper’s Compartment C Car 1938 seems in such a frame of mind, reading her book and shifting her gaze between the carriage and the view.

Hopper’s people give the impression of being people attempting to escape something. They are involved in themselves and cannot seem to get their lives straight. They escape the society of others, and would like to escape themselves. They are not really at home anywhere, neither in a room nor outside, neither at work nor at play, neither alone nor with others. That is why they are on the move. Their home is a train station, a highway restaurant, a gas station, a hotel or motel, a train compartment, a snack bar, a theater foyer, a movie house.

They are going somewhere without being able to arrive. They have personality traits that seem mutually exclusive. They are mobile and restless, yet statically tied to some location from which they will probably never escape.

Our thanks to everyone else who contributed to this post. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski
Recent Finds

Here are a few pictures we have recently acquired.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 419 is eastbound in June 1952, just east of First Avenue in Maywood.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin 419 is eastbound in June 1952, just east of First Avenue in Maywood.

In this original red border Kodachrome slide, we see a two-car train of CTA wooden "L" cars, possibly on a fantrip, on the ground-level section of the Garfield Park "L" (possibly Central or Austin?). The date is April 14, 1957. In the foreground, we see a new temporary track alignment under construction.

In this original red border Kodachrome slide, we see a two-car train of CTA wooden “L” cars, possibly on a fantrip, on the ground-level section of the Garfield Park “L” (possibly Central or Austin?). The date is April 14, 1957. In the foreground, we see a new temporary track alignment under construction.

CTA PCC 4168, a Pullman, heads west on diversion trackage along Chicago Avenue. This is a southbound Halsted car, probably circa 1952. This routing was used when the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River was out of service. The building in the background is the historic Montgomery Wards headquarters, a local landmark, at 618 W. Chicago Avenue.

CTA PCC 4168, a Pullman, heads west on diversion trackage along Chicago Avenue. This is a southbound Halsted car, probably circa 1952. This routing was used when the Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River was out of service. The building in the background is the historic Montgomery Wards headquarters, a local landmark, at 618 W. Chicago Avenue.

On January 1, 1947, Chicago Surface Lines 789 heads south on Damen Avenue at the intersection of Lincoln and Irving Park Road. I lived about a block away from here in the 1980s and this neighborhood is known as North Center.

On January 1, 1947, Chicago Surface Lines 789 heads south on Damen Avenue at the intersection of Lincoln and Irving Park Road. I lived about a block away from here in the 1980s and this neighborhood is known as North Center.

This photo, taken at the CTA's South Shops in the second half of 1956, shows various prewar PCCs (including 4006) that were out of service following the bustitution of Route 49 - Western. Trolley poles have already been removed, and it appears that seat frames are stacked nearby. From an original medium format transparency.

This photo, taken at the CTA’s South Shops in the second half of 1956, shows various prewar PCCs (including 4006) that were out of service following the bustitution of Route 49 – Western. Trolley poles have already been removed, and it appears that seat frames are stacked nearby. From an original medium format transparency.

CTA 6573 is shown in Pekin, Illinois, on its way from the St. Louis Car Company to Chicago in the mid-1950s. Once on CTA property, it will be coupled with 6574 as a permanently married pair.

CTA 6573 is shown in Pekin, Illinois, on its way from the St. Louis Car Company to Chicago in the mid-1950s. Once on CTA property, it will be coupled with 6574 as a permanently married pair.

Queensboro Bridge trolleys 601 and 611 at Queens Plaza on April 19, 1949. This bridge line was abandoned in 1957 and was the last trolley operation in the state of New York. These cars were called "Electromobiles," and were built by Osgood Bradley in the late 1920s.

Queensboro Bridge trolleys 601 and 611 at Queens Plaza on April 19, 1949. This bridge line was abandoned in 1957 and was the last trolley operation in the state of New York. These cars were called “Electromobiles,” and were built by Osgood Bradley in the late 1920s.

CTA PCC 4396, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is southbound on Clark Street, having just crossed the Chicago River, on July 9, 1957. This is from an original 35mm Kodachrome slide, processed by Technicolor.

CTA PCC 4396, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is southbound on Clark Street, having just crossed the Chicago River, on July 9, 1957. This is from an original 35mm Kodachrome slide, processed by Technicolor.

The Chicago Aurora & Elgin's Wheaton Yards on April 13, 1957. From an original red border Kodachrome.

The Chicago Aurora & Elgin’s Wheaton Yards on April 13, 1957. From an original red border Kodachrome.

Various North Shore Line cars are seen in Waukegan in June 1961, including 159. (F. R. Burke Photo)

Various North Shore Line cars are seen in Waukegan in June 1961, including 159. (F. R. Burke Photo)

New Steam Audio CD:

FTS
Farewell To Steam
Mister D’s Machine
# of Discs – 1
Price: $14.99

Farewell To Steam
On February 6, 1955 the Santa Fe Railway ran a railfan train from Los Angeles to Barstow and back for the Railway Club of Southern California. This was Santa Fe’s last run powered by a steam locomotive over this route. The engine was a 4-8-4, #3759. We have used the original, rare 1955 mono version of this recording, and not the later 1958 reissue that had a bunch of echo added to create a fake stereo effect.

Mister D’s Machine
When diesel locomotives replaced steam in the 1950s, they offered a multitude of different sounds. This original 1963 stereo recording showcases the many sounds of diesels on the San Joaquin and Los Angeles Divisions of the Southern Pacific, including the Tahachappi Loop, an engineering feat that made modern railroading famous.

As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.

Total time – 72:56

Pre-Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There are three subway anniversaries this year 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!

Bibliographic information:

Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
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 will be published on October 1, 2018. Order your copy today, and it will be shipped on or about that date. All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.

The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.

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Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

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