Giving Thanks

This photo is interesting, as it shows a 6-car train of old wooden "L" cars on the CTA's temporary Garfield Park "L" trackage in Van Buren Street, possibly before service was transferred there in September 1953.

This photo is interesting, as it shows a 6-car train of old wooden “L” cars on the CTA’s temporary Garfield Park “L” trackage in Van Buren Street, possibly before service was transferred there in September 1953.

This year, in this holiday season, we give thanks for many things… among them, our health, our friends, and our family. And on behalf of this blog, I am thankful for you, our readers, for it is due to your generous support that we can continue to share these fine, old photos with you here.

Today, we have a 1959 CTA commemorative booklet, shared by Miles Beitler, plus some interesting recent finds of our own. Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

We were recently asked by WGN radio here in Chicago to discuss our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.

Meet the Author

FYI, I will be at Centuries and Sleuths bookstore in suburban Forest Park, Illinois from 3 to 5 pm on Saturday, November 24th, to discuss and sign copies of my new book Building Chicago’s Subways. We hope to see you there.

Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore
7419 Madison St.
Forest Park, IL 60130
(708)771-7243

1959 CTA Commemorative Brochure

Miles Beitler writes:

In 1959, a commemorative booklet was issued by the CTA as the new Congress line (referred to at the times as the “West Side Subway”) was being completed. I have had the booklet since that time.

The entire booklet is 23 pages (page 2 was omitted as it is blank), and although it features the West-Northwest route, it also covers the other CTA rail lines in operation at that time, along with bus lines, streetcar service which had just ended, Chicago transit history, and future plans for Chicago area transit. There are numerous photos as well.

Thanks!


Recent Finds

CSL 4081 and 7074 are heading northbound on Clark Street near Wacker Drive on June 13, 1947.

CSL 4081 and 7074 are heading northbound on Clark Street near Wacker Drive on June 13, 1947.

CSL 5814 is southbound on Wabash at Roosevelt Road on June 13, 1947. In the background, you can see how Roosevelt Road streetcars crossed over the Illinois Central tracks (and around Central Station) to reach the Field Museum and Soldier Field. This extension was built for the 1933-34 A Century of Progress world's fair.

CSL 5814 is southbound on Wabash at Roosevelt Road on June 13, 1947. In the background, you can see how Roosevelt Road streetcars crossed over the Illinois Central tracks (and around Central Station) to reach the Field Museum and Soldier Field. This extension was built for the 1933-34 A Century of Progress world’s fair.

CSL 5960 is westbound on Grand Avenue at Wabash on August 21, 1947.

CSL 5960 is westbound on Grand Avenue at Wabash on August 21, 1947.

CSL 5395 is westbound on 6rd Street at the Illinois Central underpass, east of Dorchester, on June 13, 1947. The "L" has since been cut back to a point west of here at Cottage Grove. Its eventual destination will be Oak Park Avenue.

CSL 5395 is westbound on 6rd Street at the Illinois Central underpass, east of Dorchester, on June 13, 1947. The “L” has since been cut back to a point west of here at Cottage Grove. Its eventual destination will be Oak Park Avenue.

Philadelphia Transportation Company Birney car #1, signed for a fantrip sponsored by the Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

Philadelphia Transportation Company Birney car #1, signed for a fantrip sponsored by the Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow Lines) "Master Unit" car 83 is at the end of the line in West Chester, PA. Service on this interurban was replaced by bus in 1954, to facilitate the widening of West Chester Pike.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow Lines) “Master Unit” car 83 is at the end of the line in West Chester, PA. Service on this interurban was replaced by bus in 1954, to facilitate the widening of West Chester Pike.

Red Arrow cars 82 and 80 are on the West Chester line, at a passing siding. This interurban was mostly single track, operating alongside West Chester Pike.

Red Arrow cars 82 and 80 are on the West Chester line, at a passing siding. This interurban was mostly single track, operating alongside West Chester Pike.

Red Arrow car 78, built by Brill in 1932, is at Newtown Siding in Newtown Square, PA on May 30, 1949 (on the West Chester route).

Red Arrow car 78, built by Brill in 1932, is at Newtown Siding in Newtown Square, PA on May 30, 1949 (on the West Chester route).

Red Arrow car 22, a double-ended 1949 product of St. Louis Car Company, is presumably at the west end of the Media interurban line. These cars, which closely resemble PCCs, are not classified as such as they used standard interurban undergear.

Red Arrow car 22, a double-ended 1949 product of St. Louis Car Company, is presumably at the west end of the Media interurban line. These cars, which closely resemble PCCs, are not classified as such as they used standard interurban undergear.

CTA gate cars and Met cars are on display at Laramie Yard in this August 1948 view (on the Garfield Park "L").

CTA gate cars and Met cars are on display at Laramie Yard in this August 1948 view (on the Garfield Park “L”).

North Shore Line 715 is on the Mundelein branch in July 1950.

North Shore Line 715 is on the Mundelein branch in July 1950.

On August 17, 1966, Pittsburgh Railways PCC 1542 is on Route 71 - Highland Park. (Richard S. Short Photo)

On August 17, 1966, Pittsburgh Railways PCC 1542 is on Route 71 – Highland Park. (Richard S. Short Photo)

Chicago Rapid Transit Company 2731 is at Laramie Yard (on the Garfield Park "L") in September 1936.

Chicago Rapid Transit Company 2731 is at Laramie Yard (on the Garfield Park “L”) in September 1936.

CRT 2881 is at Gunderson Avenue (in suburban Oak Park), one of the ground-level stations on the Garfield Park "L", on September 19, 1934. This location is now the site of I-290, the Eisenhower Expressway.

CRT 2881 is at Gunderson Avenue (in suburban Oak Park), one of the ground-level stations on the Garfield Park “L”, on September 19, 1934. This location is now the site of I-290, the Eisenhower Expressway.

CTA 3164 is at the Hamlin station on the Lake Street "L" in August 1948.

CTA 3164 is at the Hamlin station on the Lake Street “L” in August 1948.

CA&E 421 is at Wheaton Yard in September 1936.

CA&E 421 is at Wheaton Yard in September 1936.

Don's Rail Photos says CA&E express motor 5 "was built by Cincinnati Car in 1921 to replace 1st 5 which was built by American Car in 1909 and wrecked in 1920. It was retired in 1953." Here, we see it in Wheaton in August 1948.

Don’s Rail Photos says CA&E express motor 5 “was built by Cincinnati Car in 1921 to replace 1st 5 which was built by American Car in 1909 and wrecked in 1920. It was retired in 1953.” Here, we see it in Wheaton in August 1948.

CTA PCC 4390 is presumably northbound at 95th Street, heading towards Broadway and Devon on Route 36 in August 1955. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA PCC 4390 is presumably northbound at 95th Street, heading towards Broadway and Devon on Route 36 in August 1955. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

Building Chicago's Subways is dedicated to the late Charlie Petzold. His widow Beverly sent us this newspaper clipping, showing him with various family members in 1984, when the "L" was extended to O'Hare airport.

Building Chicago’s Subways is dedicated to the late Charlie Petzold. His widow Beverly sent us this newspaper clipping, showing him with various family members in 1984, when the “L” was extended to O’Hare airport.

An early 1900s view of Chicago's Union Stock Yards. The Stock Yards "L" branch can be seen at left. It closed in 1957.

An early 1900s view of Chicago’s Union Stock Yards. The Stock Yards “L” branch can be seen at left. It closed in 1957.

CTA 6565 is eastbound on the Congress rapid transit line at Morgan on July 16, 1971.

CTA 6565 is eastbound on the Congress rapid transit line at Morgan on July 16, 1971.

A train of CTA 6000s waits for the signal to leave the terminal at Lawrence and Kimball on April 21, 1965. The Ravenswood "L" is now the Brown Line.

A train of CTA 6000s waits for the signal to leave the terminal at Lawrence and Kimball on April 21, 1965. The Ravenswood “L” is now the Brown Line.

CTA prewar PCC 4023 is northbound on Route 4 - Cottage Grove circa 1952-55, having just crossed under the Illinois Central tracks.

CTA prewar PCC 4023 is northbound on Route 4 – Cottage Grove circa 1952-55, having just crossed under the Illinois Central tracks.

CTA 4054 is on private right-of-way on the south end of the Cottage Grove line, running parallel to the Illinois Central Electric suburban service.

CTA 4054 is on private right-of-way on the south end of the Cottage Grove line, running parallel to the Illinois Central Electric suburban service.

The date on this slide mount is March 1964. If so, this two-car train on the CTA Skokie Swift must be a test train, prior to the beginning of regular service in April.

The date on this slide mount is March 1964. If so, this two-car train on the CTA Skokie Swift must be a test train, prior to the beginning of regular service in April.

CTA "Peter Witt" car 6287 is on the Cottage Grove private right-of-way on June 10, 1951.

CTA “Peter Witt” car 6287 is on the Cottage Grove private right-of-way on June 10, 1951.

North Shore Line freight motor 456 is running on battery power on a siding, as there are no overhead wires present.

North Shore Line freight motor 456 is running on battery power on a siding, as there are no overhead wires present.

On June 27, 1964, a two-car train of CTA 4000s is inbound running local service at Isabella. This station closed in the early 1970s and was quickly removed.

On June 27, 1964, a two-car train of CTA 4000s is inbound running local service at Isabella. This station closed in the early 1970s and was quickly removed.

CTA red Pullman 238 is on Kedzie Avenue on a snowy January 17, 1951.

CTA red Pullman 238 is on Kedzie Avenue on a snowy January 17, 1951.

CTA PCC 4405 is southbound on Western Avenue on August 5, 1949.

CTA PCC 4405 is southbound on Western Avenue on August 5, 1949.

CTA 6205, a one-man car, is on 87th Street in April 1951.

CTA 6205, a one-man car, is on 87th Street in April 1951.

CTA 6203, another one-man car, is on the 93rd Street line in March 1951.

CTA 6203, another one-man car, is on the 93rd Street line in March 1951.

Since CTA 4406 is on a charter, this is most likely the fantrip that took place on October 21, 1956.

Since CTA 4406 is on a charter, this is most likely the fantrip that took place on October 21, 1956.

MBTA (Boston) double-end PCC 3335 (ex-Dallas) is at Milton on the Ashmont-Mattapan line in the 1960s (Photo by Frederick F. Marder)

MBTA (Boston) double-end PCC 3335 (ex-Dallas) is at Milton on the Ashmont-Mattapan line in the 1960s (Photo by Frederick F. Marder)

This photo is interesting, as it shows a 6-car train of old wooden "L" cars on the CTA's temporary Garfield Park "L" trackage in Van Buren Street, possibly before service was transferred there in September 1953.

This photo is interesting, as it shows a 6-car train of old wooden “L” cars on the CTA’s temporary Garfield Park “L” trackage in Van Buren Street, possibly before service was transferred there in September 1953.

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)

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 223rd post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 464,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.

DONATIONS

In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.

Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.

More Chicago PCC Photos – Part Seven

Pullman-built CTA PCC 4148 southbound at Clark and Thome on May 13, 1950. That is a safety island at right, to protect passengers from errant vehicles. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

Pullman-built CTA PCC 4148 southbound at Clark and Thome on May 13, 1950. That is a safety island at right, to protect passengers from errant vehicles. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

As a way of saying thank you to our readers, we have decided to pull out all the stops for this, our 125th Trolley Dodger blog post, with a bevy of Chicago PCC photos. We have been saving some up for a while now in anticipation of this milestone, and rather than break this batch into two, we have decided to give them all to you at once. Along with the prewar and postwar Chicago streamliners, we have thrown in a few rare shots of pre-PCCs and even a couple of Sedans as well.

The Sedans are sometimes overlooked, but these 100 cars, built in 1929, were fast and modern, and could have continued to serve alongside the PCCs for some years past their 1952 retirement date. They provided Chicago with a total of 785 modern cars, including the two experimental units.

This is part of a series of Chicago PCC posts, and to see the earlier ones, please use the search window on this page.

I would also like to thank all the photographers (including some of the greats) who took these great photos so that we could enjoy them today. Thanks also to John F. Bromley for sharing some excellent color photos from his vast collection with us.

As we look ahead to what will hopefully be our next 125 posts, keep in mind that “from little trees, do big acorns grow.” Or maybe it was the other way around?

-David Sadowski

PS- These photos are being added to our E-book collection Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available through our Online Store. If you have already purchased a copy, we offer a low-cost updating service. Write us at thetrolleydodger@gmail.com for more details.


Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 125th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 132,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.

You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store. You can make a donation there as well.

As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”

We thank you for your support.


New From Trolley Dodger Press:

P1060517

American Streetcar R.P.O.s: 1893-1929

Mainline Railway Post Offices were in use in the United States from 1862 to 1978 (with the final year being operated by boat instead of on rails), but for a much briefer era, cable cars and streetcars were also used for mail handling in the following 15 cities*:

Baltimore
Boston
Brooklyn
Chicago
Cincinnati
Cleveland
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New York City
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh
Rochester, New York
St. Louis
San Francisco
Seattle
Washington, D.C.


*As noted by some of our readers, this list does not include interurban RPOs.

Our latest E-book American Streetcar R.P.O.s collects 12 books on this subject (over 1000 pages in all) onto a DVD data disc that can be read on any computer using Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is free software. All have been out of print for decades and are hard to find. In addition, there is an introductory essay by David Sadowski.

The rolling stock, routes, operations, and cancellation markings of the various American street railway post office systems are covered in detail. The era of the streetcar R.P.O. was relatively brief, covering 1893 to 1929, but it represented an improvement in mail handling over what came before, and it moved a lot of mail. In many places, it was possible to deposit a letter into a mail slot on a streetcar or cable car and have it delivered across town within a short number of hours.

These operations present a very interesting history, but are not well-known to railfans. We feel they deserve greater scrutiny, and therefore we are donating $1 from each sale of this item to the Mobile Post Office Society, in support of their efforts.

# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.95


CTA 4409 and 4390 at the beautifully landscaped Western-Berwyn loop on May 13, 1950. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 4409 and 4390 at the beautifully landscaped Western-Berwyn loop on May 13, 1950. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

Prewar CTA PCC 7020, now converted to one-man operation, is southbound at Western and Maypole in May 1956, about a month before the end of streetcar service on route 49. The prewar cars were used for 364 days on this line. In the back, that is the Lake Street "L", which, oddly enough, does not have a stop on this busy street. (John F. Bromley Collection)

Prewar CTA PCC 7020, now converted to one-man operation, is southbound at Western and Maypole in May 1956, about a month before the end of streetcar service on route 49. The prewar cars were used for 364 days on this line. In the back, that is the Lake Street “L”, which, oddly enough, does not have a stop on this busy street. (John F. Bromley Collection)

Western and Maypole today. We are looking north.

Western and Maypole today. We are looking north.

CTA Sedan 3377, showing the original door configuration, southbound on Cottage Grove at 95th Street on May 6, 1951. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA Sedan 3377, showing the original door configuration, southbound on Cottage Grove at 95th Street on May 6, 1951. (John D. Koschwanez Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA Sedans (Peter Witts) 3360 and 3347 are shown here at south Shops in 1952, having been converted to one-man with the removal of some center doors. There were 25 cars so modified, but as far as I know, only one ran in service in this setup. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA Sedans (Peter Witts) 3360 and 3347 are shown here at south Shops in 1952, having been converted to one-man with the removal of some center doors. There were 25 cars so modified, but as far as I know, only one ran in service in this setup. (Robert W. Gibson Photo, John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 4317 on Route 36 Broadway-State in March 1952.

CTA 4317 on Route 36 Broadway-State in March 1952.

CTA 7080 at State and 62nd in June 1950, near the site of the tragic collision between car 7078 and a gasoline truck, which took place on May 25.

CTA 7080 at State and 62nd in June 1950, near the site of the tragic collision between car 7078 and a gasoline truck, which took place on May 25.

The same general area today.

The same general area today.

This picture is a bit blurred due to motion, but it does show prewar CTA PCC in July 1948, heading west at Englewood Union Station, at that time an important train hub. M. E. writes: "Actually, the westbound streetcar is in the process of passing the Englewood Union Station, which is the building on the right. Behind the streetcar is the platform for New York Central and Nickel Plate trains. Behind the photographer is the platform for Rock Island trains. To the right of the station is the platform for Pennsylvania Railroad trains."

This picture is a bit blurred due to motion, but it does show prewar CTA PCC in July 1948, heading west at Englewood Union Station, at that time an important train hub. M. E. writes: “Actually, the westbound streetcar is in the process of passing the Englewood Union Station, which is the building on the right. Behind the streetcar is the platform for New York Central and Nickel Plate trains. Behind the photographer is the platform for Rock Island trains. To the right of the station is the platform for Pennsylvania Railroad trains.”

PCC 4393, "Another New CTA Streetcar," at the 79th and Western loop in 1948.

PCC 4393, “Another New CTA Streetcar,” at the 79th and Western loop in 1948.

According to George Trapp, CTA 7113 "appears to be at Devon Station at the southwest end of the south yard."

According to George Trapp, CTA 7113 “appears to be at Devon Station at the southwest end of the south yard.”

CTA 4031 in the wye at 63rd and Central Park, ready to head east.

CTA 4031 in the wye at 63rd and Central Park, ready to head east.

George Trapp: "CTA 7242 is on Schreiber just west of Clark laying over at the north end of Route 36."

George Trapp: “CTA 7242 is on Schreiber just west of Clark laying over at the north end of Route 36.”

This picture, most likely taken from an "L" platform, gives an excellent view contrasting the roof treatments on these two PCCs. 7203 is at right, in regular service, while the other car is being towed.

This picture, most likely taken from an “L” platform, gives an excellent view contrasting the roof treatments on these two PCCs. 7203 is at right, in regular service, while the other car is being towed.

Pullman-built CTA 4132 at the Madison-Austin loop on July 6, 1949.

Pullman-built CTA 4132 at the Madison-Austin loop on July 6, 1949.

CTA 4358 is on route 8 - Halsted at Congress in June 1952, during construction of the bridge that will go over the Congress expressway. The car at rear is on a shoo-fly.

CTA 4358 is on route 8 – Halsted at Congress in June 1952, during construction of the bridge that will go over the Congress expressway. The car at rear is on a shoo-fly.

CTA 7148 is next to sprinkler/plow D3 at Devon Station on May 16, 1954. D3 was scrapped on December 14, 1956.

CTA 7148 is next to sprinkler/plow D3 at Devon Station on May 16, 1954. D3 was scrapped on December 14, 1956.

Here is a rare shot of CSL experimental pre-PCC 7001 at 81st and Halsted, most likely in the 1930s.

Here is a rare shot of CSL experimental pre-PCC 7001 at 81st and Halsted, most likely in the 1930s.

In this November 1945 view at Kedzie Station (car barn), six cars in experimental paint schemes are lined up. From left, we have 4050, 4020, 4022, 4035, 4010, and 4018. To see what the color schemes were, go to page 12 of CERA Bulletin 146. (CSL Photo)

In this November 1945 view at Kedzie Station (car barn), six cars in experimental paint schemes are lined up. From left, we have 4050, 4020, 4022, 4035, 4010, and 4018. To see what the color schemes were, go to page 12 of CERA Bulletin 146. (CSL Photo)

A side view of the six experimental CSL paint schemes in November 1945. (CSL Photo)

A side view of the six experimental CSL paint schemes in November 1945. (CSL Photo)

Again, the six experimental paint schemes at Kedzie and Van Buren in November 1945. The eventual choice for the new postwar PCCs was not exactly like any of these, but fairly close to one. (CSL Photo)

Again, the six experimental paint schemes at Kedzie and Van Buren in November 1945. The eventual choice for the new postwar PCCs was not exactly like any of these, but fairly close to one. (CSL Photo)

CSL 7003 in front of the old Chicago & North Western station on Madison on July 25, 1939. In an earlier post, we have another picture of the same car at nearly the same location, taken around this time, but it has a different run number. (Charles A. Brown Photo)

CSL 7003 in front of the old Chicago & North Western station on Madison on July 25, 1939. In an earlier post, we have another picture of the same car at nearly the same location, taken around this time, but it has a different run number. (Charles A. Brown Photo)

CSL 7001 on route 22 at Clark and Adams. The Banker's Building at rear, now known as the Clark-Adams building, is located at 105 W. Adams. 476 feet tall, it is the tallest building ever built in Chicago to be clad entirely in brick. It was built in 1927 and this photo was probably taken in the 1930s.

CSL 7001 on route 22 at Clark and Adams. The Banker’s Building at rear, now known as the Clark-Adams building, is located at 105 W. Adams. 476 feet tall, it is the tallest building ever built in Chicago to be clad entirely in brick. It was built in 1927 and this photo was probably taken in the 1930s.

CSL 4037 is at Madison and Laramie. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 4037 is at Madison and Laramie. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Brand-new PCC 7003 at Kedzie and Van Buren on November 23, 1936. (General Electric Photo)

Brand-new PCC 7003 at Kedzie and Van Buren on November 23, 1936. (General Electric Photo)

CSL 4098 at South Shops on January 8, 1947. (General Electric Photo)

CSL 4098 at South Shops on January 8, 1947. (General Electric Photo)

CSL 7029 at Madison and Austin on July 16, 1938. (M. D. McCarter Collection)

CSL 7029 at Madison and Austin on July 16, 1938. (M. D. McCarter Collection)

CSL 4051 at Kedzie and Van Buren on May 24, 1939. This is part of a series of photos of this car taken by CSL, possibly in preparation for the experimental modification of the doors on this car in 1940-41. This car helped determine the door arrangement used on the postwar PCCs. You will find another picture from this series in one of our earlier posts.

CSL 4051 at Kedzie and Van Buren on May 24, 1939. This is part of a series of photos of this car taken by CSL, possibly in preparation for the experimental modification of the doors on this car in 1940-41. This car helped determine the door arrangement used on the postwar PCCs. You will find another picture from this series in one of our earlier posts.

CSL 4051 is shown at Kedzie and Van Buren with an experimental door arrangement, which was tested on the busy Milwaukee Avenue car line. We ran another version of this same photo in a previous post, but this one has less cropping. (CSL Photo)

CSL 4051 is shown at Kedzie and Van Buren with an experimental door arrangement, which was tested on the busy Milwaukee Avenue car line. We ran another version of this same photo in a previous post, but this one has less cropping. (CSL Photo)

CSL 4051 at Madison and Austin, always a favorite spot for photographers. This photo was probably taken circa 1945-46 and by this time, the car had been returned to its original door arrangement. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 4051 at Madison and Austin, always a favorite spot for photographers. This photo was probably taken circa 1945-46 and by this time, the car had been returned to its original door arrangement. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 4051 at Milwaukee and Central on August 4, 1940, during the door arrangement test. This was the only PCC to run in regular service on route 56 - Milwaukee. (Frank E. Butts Collection)

CSL 4051 at Milwaukee and Central on August 4, 1940, during the door arrangement test. This was the only PCC to run in regular service on route 56 – Milwaukee. (Frank E. Butts Collection)

CTA 4120 eastbound at Madison and Franklin circa 1952-53. The newspaper trucks are advertising Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, then at the height of their popularity on I Love Lucy. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA 4120 eastbound at Madison and Franklin circa 1952-53. The newspaper trucks are advertising Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, then at the height of their popularity on I Love Lucy. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA 4106 at the same location. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA 4106 at the same location. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA 4071 at Madison and Franklin, circa 1952-53. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA 4071 at Madison and Franklin, circa 1952-53. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

Since CTA 4109 is westbound in this Loop photo, it is most likely on either Dearborn, Washington, Franklin, or Monroe. (Eastbound cars used Madison.)

Since CTA 4109 is westbound in this Loop photo, it is most likely on either Dearborn, Washington, Franklin, or Monroe. (Eastbound cars used Madison.)

CTA 4125 is eastbound at Harrison and Fifth Avenue. We posted a different picture taken at this location here. This car was on the Madison-Fifth branch line on route 20. Oddly enough, streetcar service on the branch line lasted longer than the main line. The building behind the streetcar is the Kux Machine Company, located at 3924-44 W. Harrison St. We are facing west, and everything on the right side of the picture was cleared away in the early 1950s to build the Congress (Eisenhower) expressway. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA 4125 is eastbound at Harrison and Fifth Avenue. We posted a different picture taken at this location here. This car was on the Madison-Fifth branch line on route 20. Oddly enough, streetcar service on the branch line lasted longer than the main line. The building behind the streetcar is the Kux Machine Company, located at 3924-44 W. Harrison St. We are facing west, and everything on the right side of the picture was cleared away in the early 1950s to build the Congress (Eisenhower) expressway. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

The same location today. Fifth Avenue is cut off by the expressway, probably because it would have crossed at an angle and wasn't considered that major of a street. It only goes just over a mile west of here anyway. Fifth Avenue has also been truncated at Madison Street, reducing its importance even further.

The same location today. Fifth Avenue is cut off by the expressway, probably because it would have crossed at an angle and wasn’t considered that major of a street. It only goes just over a mile west of here anyway. Fifth Avenue has also been truncated at Madison Street, reducing its importance even further.

This photo was marked as being at Cottage Grove and 103rd, but it is actually at 113th. By blowing up the image, I was able to read the street signs. CTA prewar car 4050 is shown in May 1953, after having been converted to one-man.

This photo was marked as being at Cottage Grove and 103rd, but it is actually at 113th. By blowing up the image, I was able to read the street signs. CTA prewar car 4050 is shown in May 1953, after having been converted to one-man.

Cottage Grove and 113th today.

Cottage Grove and 113th today.

CTA 4101 heads east on Madison after having crossed the Chicago River during construction of Lower Wacker Drive. That's the former Chicago Daily News building at rear. The date is July 4, 1951.

CTA 4101 heads east on Madison after having crossed the Chicago River during construction of Lower Wacker Drive. That’s the former Chicago Daily News building at rear. The date is July 4, 1951.

In this July 4, 1951 photo taken on Madison near Wacker, car 4132 is described as having a new paint job, the upper portion of which was different than any other car. There is a color picture of it in one of our previous posts.

In this July 4, 1951 photo taken on Madison near Wacker, car 4132 is described as having a new paint job, the upper portion of which was different than any other car. There is a color picture of it in one of our previous posts.

This picture of 7001 at Clark and Schreiber, with Devon Station at left, was taken just a few seconds after one you will find here. The pre-PCC car is in the same position in both shots but the automobile at left has pulled up in the other photo. That version gives the photo credit to R. J. Anderson, while this one gives the date-- February 29, 1940. The car's colors are listed as their original silver and green.

This picture of 7001 at Clark and Schreiber, with Devon Station at left, was taken just a few seconds after one you will find here. The pre-PCC car is in the same position in both shots but the automobile at left has pulled up in the other photo. That version gives the photo credit to R. J. Anderson, while this one gives the date– February 29, 1940. The car’s colors are listed as their original silver and green.

CSL's other experimental pre-PCC was streamlined car 4001, shown here at South Shops in 1936. Its colors are described as silver and blue. This car's aluminum body shell is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union.

CSL’s other experimental pre-PCC was streamlined car 4001, shown here at South Shops in 1936. Its colors are described as silver and blue. This car’s aluminum body shell is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union.

This picture is a bit blurred due to motion, but it does show prewar CTA PCC in July 1948, heading west after having just passed Englewood Union Station, at that time an important train hub.

This picture is a bit blurred due to motion, but it does show prewar CTA PCC in July 1948, heading west after having just passed Englewood Union Station, at that time an important train hub.

Although CSL prewar car 7008 is signed for Madison-Fifth, this photo appears to show the Madison-Austin loop. PCCs are probably being phased in late 1936 or early 1937, as evidenced by the older cars in the photo. Once the route was equipped with 83 PCCs, they still required a number of the fast 1929 Sedans to fill out the schedules. Those buildings in back are still there today. Maybe it's just a pull-in heading back to Kedzie Station. The car still has some shine on it.

Although CSL prewar car 7008 is signed for Madison-Fifth, this photo appears to show the Madison-Austin loop. PCCs are probably being phased in late 1936 or early 1937, as evidenced by the older cars in the photo. Once the route was equipped with 83 PCCs, they still required a number of the fast 1929 Sedans to fill out the schedules. Those buildings in back are still there today. Maybe it’s just a pull-in heading back to Kedzie Station. The car still has some shine on it.

The houses behind the Madison-Austin loop as they appear today.

The houses behind the Madison-Austin loop as they appear today.

CSL 4044 at Madison and Austin. The picture is dated 1941, but the "tiger stripes" on the car at rear would indicate it may be more like 1945-46.

CSL 4044 at Madison and Austin. The picture is dated 1941, but the “tiger stripes” on the car at rear would indicate it may be more like 1945-46.

CTA 4406, a product of St. Louis Car Company, in charter service on Clark Street north of Cermak Road, October 21, 1956. This may or may not be the same photo we posted here, it's hard to tell. However, this was apparently a photo stop on a fantrip where the PCC followed red Pullman 225, and it's likely there were a bunch of people taking this same photo. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA 4406, a product of St. Louis Car Company, in charter service on Clark Street north of Cermak Road, October 21, 1956. This may or may not be the same photo we posted here, it’s hard to tell. However, this was apparently a photo stop on a fantrip where the PCC followed red Pullman 225, and it’s likely there were a bunch of people taking this same photo. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

In this August 1955 view, CTA 7106 is apparently heading northbound on route 36 - Broadway-State. Andre Kristopans adds, "7106 is NB at State and 91st about to go under C&WI/BRC/RI bridges. Note how street slopes downward. Everything on the right is gone, replaced by Dan Ryan Expressway." (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

In this August 1955 view, CTA 7106 is apparently heading northbound on route 36 – Broadway-State. Andre Kristopans adds, “7106 is NB at State and 91st about to go under C&WI/BRC/RI bridges. Note how street slopes downward. Everything on the right is gone, replaced by Dan Ryan Expressway.” (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

State and 91st today. We are looking south.

State and 91st today. We are looking south.

CTA 4203 at the Vincennes and 80th loop on May 20, 1951.

CTA 4203 at the Vincennes and 80th loop on May 20, 1951.

CTA 4228 at the Vincennes and 80th loop on May 20, 1951.

CTA 4228 at the Vincennes and 80th loop on May 20, 1951.

The location of the 80th and Vincennes loop today.

The location of the 80th and Vincennes loop today.

PS- Here is a short video showing Chicago PCCs in action in 1955-56. While this also purports to show red Pullman #144, it’s actually a fantrip with 225. Since the trip organizers had advertised that 144 would be used, they placed a piece of oilcloth with 144 on it over the car’s actual number. Fortunately, both cars were preserved, 144 at the Illinois Railway Museum and 225 at the Seashore Trolley Museum.

More CSL and C&WT Photos

CTA 6284 at Indiana Avenue and Cermak circa 1951. (Earl Clark Photo)

CTA 6284 at Indiana Avenue and Cermak circa 1951. (Earl Clark Photo)

Today we are featuring classic streetcar photos from the Chicago Surface Lines and Chicago and West Towns Railways. To find more such pictures in our earlier posts, use the search window on this page.

Photos are a wonderful aid to memory. As always, if you can help identify locations, or have interesting facts or reminiscences to add, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. You can leave comments on this post, or write us directly at:

thetrolleydodger@gmail.com

FYI there will be additional Surface Lines photos coming up in the near future, so watch this space.

-David Sadowski


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DVD04FrontDVD04Back

American Streetcar R.P.O.s: 1893-1929

Mainline Railway Post Offices were in use in the United States from 1862 to 1978 (with the final year being operated by boat instead of on rails), but for a much briefer era, cable cars and streetcars were also used for mail handling in the following 15 cities*:

Baltimore
Boston
Brooklyn
Chicago
Cincinnati
Cleveland
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New York City
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh
Rochester, New York
St. Louis
San Francisco
Seattle
Washington, D.C.


*As noted by some of our readers, this list does not include interurban RPOs.

Our latest E-book American Streetcar R.P.O.s collects 12 books on this subject (over 1000 pages in all) onto a DVD data disc that can be read on any computer using Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is free software. All have been out of print for decades and are hard to find. In addition, there is an introductory essay by David Sadowski.

The rolling stock, routes, operations, and cancellation markings of the various American street railway post office systems are covered in detail. The era of the streetcar R.P.O. was relatively brief, covering 1893 to 1929, but it represented an improvement in mail handling over what came before, and it moved a lot of mail. In many places, it was possible to deposit a letter into a mail slot on a streetcar or cable car and have it delivered across town within a short number of hours.

These operations present a very interesting history, but are not well-known to railfans. We feel they deserve greater scrutiny, and therefore we are donating $1 from each sale of this item to the Mobile Post Office Society, in support of their efforts.

# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.95


CTA 3381, now in CTA green, near the south end of route 4 - Cottage Grove, circa 1952. We can tell that this car has been converted to one man because of the sign that says, "Enter at Front." (Earl Clark Photo)

CTA 3381, now in CTA green, near the south end of route 4 – Cottage Grove, circa 1952. We can tell that this car has been converted to one man because of the sign that says, “Enter at Front.” (Earl Clark Photo)

CTA 3182 and 660 at Cottage Grove and 115th circa 1951. (Earl Clark Photo)

CTA 3182 and 660 at Cottage Grove and 115th circa 1951. (Earl Clark Photo)

In this 1945 view, CSL 6191 has just turned from Pine onto Lake, heading east on route 16. Looks like the trolley has come off the wire. (Stephen D, Maguire Photo)

In this 1945 view, CSL 6191 has just turned from Pine onto Lake, heading east on route 16. Looks like the trolley has come off the wire. (Stephen D, Maguire Photo)

Westbound CTA 1758 is turning from Lake onto Pine in this March 1953 view. This is where Lake switched over to the other side of the Chicago & North Western embankment. The streetcar would continue on to Austin Boulevard, the city limits. That looks like a 1952 Kaiser at left.

Westbound CTA 1758 is turning from Lake onto Pine in this March 1953 view. This is where Lake switched over to the other side of the Chicago & North Western embankment. The streetcar would continue on to Austin Boulevard, the city limits. That looks like a 1952 Kaiser at left.

The Pine Avenue viaduct today, looking north.

The Pine Avenue viaduct today, looking north.

The Pine Avenue viaduct looking south. I assume the tracks have not really shifted location, and this is an optical illusion based on the fact that the Google Street View camera was in motion when it took this picture. In other words, it was the camera that shifted its position, not the tracks.

The Pine Avenue viaduct looking south. I assume the tracks have not really shifted location, and this is an optical illusion based on the fact that the Google Street View camera was in motion when it took this picture. In other words, it was the camera that shifted its position, not the tracks.

CTA 3153 and 1772 at Lake and Austin, the west end of route 16, on May 15, 1954, same day as the famous "Farewell to Red Cars" fantrip run by Central Electric Railfans' Association.

CTA 3153 and 1772 at Lake and Austin, the west end of route 16, on May 15, 1954, same day as the famous “Farewell to Red Cars” fantrip run by Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

CTA 818 by the Park Theatre at Lake and Austin on August 13, 1948. I don't believe the movie theatre stayed open much later than this. (John F. Bromley Collection)

CTA 818 by the Park Theatre at Lake and Austin on August 13, 1948. I don’t believe the movie theatre stayed open much later than this. (John F. Bromley Collection)

This old photo was identified as Chicago, but we'd like to know what our readers think.

This old photo was identified as Chicago, but we’d like to know what our readers think.

Chicago Surface Lines work cars P8, P251, P9 and S55 on the scrap line at South Shops, May 12, 1943.

Chicago Surface Lines work cars P8, P251, P9 and S55 on the scrap line at South Shops, May 12, 1943.

CSL supply car S201. (Earl Clark Photo)

CSL supply car S201. (Earl Clark Photo)

CTA 144 at, I believe, the east end of the 63rd Street line on 64th just west of Stony Island. The Charles J. Klees Golf Shop opened in 1910 across the street from the Jackson Park Golf Course and is still in business today at 10436 S. Western Avenue. Car 144 is preserved in operating condition at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA 144 at, I believe, the east end of the 63rd Street line on 64th just west of Stony Island. The Charles J. Klees Golf Shop opened in 1910 across the street from the Jackson Park Golf Course and is still in business today at 10436 S. Western Avenue. Car 144 is preserved in operating condition at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

West Chicago Street Railway sprinklers.

West Chicago Street Railway sprinklers.

CSL 5660 on through route 9 - Ashland in 1941. Paraphrasing Don's Rail Photos, 5660 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in June 1907 (order) #350 for the Chicago & Southern Traction Company. It was purchased and rebuilt as Chicago City Ry 5660 in 1912 and became CSL 5660 in 1914. (Stephen D. Maguire Photo)

CSL 5660 on through route 9 – Ashland in 1941. Paraphrasing Don’s Rail Photos, 5660 was built by Kuhlman Car Co in June 1907 (order) #350 for the Chicago & Southern Traction Company. It was purchased and rebuilt as Chicago City Ry 5660 in 1912 and became CSL 5660 in 1914. (Stephen D. Maguire Photo)

CSL 2753 in 1946. (Stephen D. Maguire Photo)

CSL 2753 in 1946. (Stephen D. Maguire Photo)

CSL 2776 at Wabash and Wacker in the 1940s. (George Snyder Photo)

CSL 2776 at Wabash and Wacker in the 1940s. (George Snyder Photo)

CTA 3333 on route 5 in the summer of 1949. (R. O. Johnstone Photo)

CTA 3333 on route 5 in the summer of 1949. (R. O. Johnstone Photo)

CTA Sedan (aka "Peter Witt") 6310 appears to have been converted to one-man in this view circa 1952 view at South Shops. However, it may not have been used in service this way before being scrapped. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA Sedan (aka “Peter Witt”) 6310 appears to have been converted to one-man in this view circa 1952 view at South Shops. However, it may not have been used in service this way before being scrapped. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA 114 heading east on 63rd street, just about to go under the Jackson Park branch of the "L". M. E. adds, "At the right side of the picture in the foreground are two vertical posts that supported the structure that went south across 63rd St. to the lower 63rd St. yard. Therefore this picture was taken just about underneath that structure." (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA 114 heading east on 63rd street, just about to go under the Jackson Park branch of the “L”. M. E. adds, “At the right side of the picture in the foreground are two vertical posts that supported the structure that went south across 63rd St. to the lower 63rd St. yard. Therefore this picture was taken just about underneath that structure.” (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

314 E. 63rd Street today. In the previous photo, the photographer appears to have been standing under the ramp going down to the CTA's 63rd Street Lower Yard. The ramp has been rebuilt since the earlier picture was taken. The broken lines in the ramp are due to the movement of the camera while this Google Street View picture was being taken.

314 E. 63rd Street today. In the previous photo, the photographer appears to have been standing under the ramp going down to the CTA’s 63rd Street Lower Yard. The ramp has been rebuilt since the earlier picture was taken. The broken lines in the ramp are due to the movement of the camera while this Google Street View picture was being taken.

CSL 2530 in Hegewisch on March 16, 1943. Note the South Shore Line station at rear. (Gordon Lloyd Photo)

CSL 2530 in Hegewisch on March 16, 1943. Note the South Shore Line station at rear. (Gordon Lloyd Photo)

Don's Rail Photos says CSL 2595 was "built by St Louis Car Co in 1901." The 2501-2625 cars are known as Robertson rebuilds. 2595 is shown on the Riverdale line on November 11, 1939.

Don’s Rail Photos says CSL 2595 was “built by St Louis Car Co in 1901.” The 2501-2625 cars are known as Robertson rebuilds. 2595 is shown on the Riverdale line on November 11, 1939.

C&WT 138 at Cermak and Kenton in the 1940s. Here riders could transfer to the Chicago Surface Lines route 21 streetcar at right. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

C&WT 138 at Cermak and Kenton in the 1940s. Here riders could transfer to the Chicago Surface Lines route 21 streetcar at right. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

C&WT 155 on private right-of-way west of the Brookfield Zoo on April 11, 1948, on the CERA "day after abandonment" fantrip. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 155 on private right-of-way west of the Brookfield Zoo on April 11, 1948, on the CERA “day after abandonment” fantrip. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT at 52nd and 36th on February 28, 1938. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT at 52nd and 36th on February 28, 1938. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 119 on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 119 on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 138 at the Brookfield Zoo on July 22, 1938, on the busy LaGrange line. The zoo first opened in 1934. Within a year or two, all West Towns streetcars would be repainted blue. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 138 at the Brookfield Zoo on July 22, 1938, on the busy LaGrange line. The zoo first opened in 1934. Within a year or two, all West Towns streetcars would be repainted blue. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 15 on DesPlaines Avenue on April 11, 1948. The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip, held the day after West Towns streetcar service came to an end. Note one of the distinctive C&WT shelters at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT 15 on DesPlaines Avenue on April 11, 1948. The occasion was a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip, held the day after West Towns streetcar service came to an end. Note one of the distinctive C&WT shelters at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT line car 15 at Harlem and Cermak on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT line car 15 at Harlem and Cermak on August 19, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)

C&WT snow sweeper 9. According to Don's Rail Photos, "9 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1928. It was sold to Sand Springs (Oklahoma) Railway in 1948."

C&WT snow sweeper 9. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “9 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1928. It was sold to Sand Springs (Oklahoma) Railway in 1948.”

C&WT 126, with bus substitution notice, on April 4, 1948. (Photo by Mathews)

C&WT 126, with bus substitution notice, on April 4, 1948. (Photo by Mathews)