North Shore Line car 413 heads up a southbound train under wire at the Loyola curve in June 1961, from a Kodachrome II slide. Kodachrome was first introduced in 1935, and it was reformulated in 1961 although still a very slow film at ISO 25. Prior to this it was ISO 10. Don’s Rail Photos: “413 was built as a trailer observation car by Cincinnati Car in June 1924, #2765. It was out of service in 1932. 413 was rebuilt on May 28, 1943.” (J. William Vigrass Photo)
The Trolley Dodger blog started on January 21, 2015, making this our sixth anniversary. We chose the date deliberately, as it was also the day when the fabled North Shore Line interurban ran its last. We wanted there to be beginnings, as well as endings, associated with that date.
In our six years, we have had 262 posts. Here is a breakdown of page views by year:
Add to that the 297,195 page views from my previous blog, and we are now over a million page views. We thank you for your support.
We have lots for you this go-round… plenty of new images, including many in color, a rare article about the Metropolitan West Side Elevated, some submissions from our readers, and more photos from the William Shapotkin collection, and even a product review. We also have some North Shore Line content.
We thank our readers for making 2020 our most successful yet, with 133,246 page views, surpassing our previous record of 2016, and a 30% increase over the previous year. Each January, we ask our readers to help defray the expenses involved with file storage, web hosting, domain registration and other overhead, the “nuts and bolts” things that make this blog possible. Fortunately, thanks to all of you, we have have received $565 to date, meeting our original goal. Additional donations are always welcome, and will be used to purchase more classic images for this site. If you enjoy what you see here, and would like it to continue, please consider making a donation by clicking on this link, or the one at the top or bottom of this post.
We thank you in advance for your time, consideration, and your generous support.
CTA 979 is southbound on State, just south of Lake Street. Romance on the High Seas, playing at the State-Lake theater, was released on June 25, 1948, probably about the time when this picture was taken. The streetcar still has a CSL emblem as this was early in the CTA era.
A North Shore Line train at Randolph and Wabash.
The North Shore Line’s headquarters in Highwood, with line car 604 out front. Not sure what caused the lightstruck portion of the neg, but I may try to repair the image in Photoshop at some future date since it is distracting.
A close-up of the previous image. Don’s Rail Photos: “604 was built by the C&ME in 1914. It was acquired by IRM in 1963.”
I was very fortunate to purchase this 1950s negative showing the CTA Stock Yards branch. Daniel Adams: “The view is facing east, at the intersection of Exchange and Packers Avenues. Racine Avenue Station, the first station encountered when a train consist pulls into the famed Stock Yards loop, can be seen in the distance. This train is beginning to make the first curve of the loop, to be heading south and soon pulling into Packers Station, which just a short distance away. Way back in the background, we can see the rather hazy tower of the Stock Yards National Bank, which stood on the west side of South Halsted Street.” Andre Kristopans notes, “A correction re Stock Yards – the first station on the loop was Racine, the second SWIFT, then Packers, then Armour.” So this train is between Racine and Swift.
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow) double-ended car 18 at 69th Street Terminal in July 1963. Don’s Rail Photos: “18 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1949, #1755. It became SEPTA 18 in 1970 sold to BERA in 1982.”
Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (formerly the Philadelphia & Western, aka Red Arrow) Bullet car 207 in July 1963. 207 was built by Brill in 1931, order #22932, as P&W 207. It became PST 207 in 1948 and SEPTA 207 in 1970. I understand it is now preserved at Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine. This car had extended wheelbase trucks and was tested up to 100 mph.
Chicago Aurora & Elgin wood car 28 in Forest Park in 1952. The front of the car is not in sharp focus because it was moving towards the photographer. Back then, film speeds, and therefore shutter speeds, were quite slow. The fastest film speed in use then was Kodak Super-XX, introduced in 1940, at ISO 200. But this is probably not that film. Panatomic-X, which Kodak began selling in 1933, was ISO 32, and Plus-X, introduced in 1938, was originally ISO 50 (later bumped up to 125). Photographers often dealt with the shutter speed problem by taking their pictures while a train was still at a distance. The tracks curve off to the right in the distance. I am not sure of the exact location, although the Eisenhower expressway is here now.
North Shore Line Silverliner 740 at Howard Street, probably in the late 1950s. This was an Ektachrome slide that was not date stamped, which means it is probably before 1958, but after 1955. It had faded to red, like many other such early Ektachromes that had unstable dyes. It was an attractive alternative to Kodachrome in that era, though, because the film speed was 32 instead of Kodachrome’s 10.
While not the greatest photo, from a technical perspective, this is an original Kodachrome slide taken by George Krambles. This is perhaps only the second such slide I have purchased. It was shot at North Chicago Junction on January 20, 1952. Occasionally, railfan photographers would trade original slides, and this one was owned by J. William Vigrass.
NSL 707 heads up a northbound train crossing Dempster Street in Skokie in September 1958. Just behind the train, you can see a tiny bit of the station, which has been preserved and moved to a slightly different location. The southbound shelter was much more basic, and was approximately where the CTA built a new platform for Skokie Swift trains in 1964. Again, this was an early Ektachrome slide that had shifted to red (actually, it was the other color dyes that badly faded, leaving mostly the red visible) and was restored in Photoshop. (J. William Vigrass Photo)
A northbound North Shore Line train rounds the curve at Lake and Wabash in June 1961. We are looking to the east. This is an early Kodachrome II slide. The film had a faster ISO than the original Kodachrome, and was said to be sharper, with a thinner emulsion. But not all photographers were happy about the change, and it had a bit less contrast, and some missed the “Rembrandt blacks” of the old version. (J. William Vigrass Photo)
A view of the North Shore Line’s massive station at Zion, taken from the front of a train in July 1960 by J. William Vigrass. The city insisted on a large station, as they were confidant that their religious community would quickly grow, which it did not. It was torn down soon after the line quit in 1963. This is from an Ektachrome slide that had not faded, suggesting that Kodak had fixed the dye fading problem by 1960.
Milwaukee and Suburban Transport car 995 is on Route 10, the last Milwaukee streetcar line in the classic era, in August 1957. The 995 was one of the last two cars operated (along with 975) there on March 2, 1958. Streetcar service returned to Milwaukee on November 2, 2018, when a 2.1 mile route, known as “The Hop,” opened.
The North Shore Line’s Harrison Street Shops in July 1960. (J. William Vigrass Photo)
J. William Vigrass took this picture in July 1960 and marked it as “NSL” at Harrison (presumably, by the shops in Milwaukee). Edward Skuchas: “This is a Western 20 yard air dump car. They were used on railroads and trolley lines. Wilkes-Barre Railways had 2 or 3 and they adapted the ends for a radial drawbar. Car Works imported models in O & HO scale brass. They tilt and the sides lift.” David Cole thinks this may be the remains of the NSL weed sprayer shown in CERA B-106.
A northbound Electroliner stops at Adams and Wabash on the Loop “L” in September 1959. While I am sure the sailors are about to board, chances are the woman in the blue dress is too, since she is carrying a small suitcase. (J. William Vigrass Photo)
A closer view of the last image. Carl Fischer Music, at 312 S. Wabash Avenue, was a place where you could buy sheet music for both popular and classical. They still sell online. This location closed on April 16, 1999. The Epicurean Restaurant, at 316 S. Wabash, served Hungarian food and may have closed in the 1970s.
Although photographer J. William Vigrass labelled this September 1960 slide as “NSL,” readers on our TD Facebook group have identified it as the Chicago & North Western’s Racine Depot, which still exists, although no longer used as a train station.
This circa 1955-58 Ektachrome slide, with the color restored, shows an Electroliner on the four-track section of the north side “L”. Not sure of the exact location. (J. William Vigrass Photo) Mike Franklin: “This is looking west from the Sedgwick Station on the North side L. (House to the right is still there at 1542 Hudson Ave.)”
CA&E 410 awaits scrapping at Wheaton on April 23, 1962. It was built by Pullman in 1923. sister car 409 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (K. C. Henkels Photo)
Red Arrow car 83 on the Media line in September 1959. The street sign says School Lane.
Red Arrow car 77, signed for the West Chester line, is at 69th Street Terminal in January 1954.
From the standpoint of classic railfan photography, this is perhaps the best shot in today’s post, and shows Red Arrow car 24 on the Media line in May 1956.
Red Arrow car 13 on the Media line in November 1959.
Red Arrow Brilliner 5 on the Ardmore line in July 1959. This narrow street may be why this line was somewhat rerouted after being converted to bus at the end of 1966.
This map, although not very clear, shows the track arrangement on the Loop “L” as it was in 1906, seven years before it was changed to run counter-clockwise, with all trains going in the same direction. That was done to facilitate through-routing north side and south side trains. North is down on this map. In 1906, the Loop was bi-directional with left-hand running. The Lake Street and Northwestern “L”s also ran left-handed, while the South Side and Met trains ran right-handed. From the October 19, 1906 edition of the Electric Railway Review.
Although this old real photo postcard identifies this as the “N. W. “L”,” this is actually the Met crossing the Chicago River over two side-by-side bridges. According to Daniel Adams, this picture cannot have been taken after mid-1915, as swing bridge shown, on Jackson Boulevard, was replaced then. Once I receive the original of this in the mail, I will post a better version. Thanks to J. J. Sedelmaier for improving this one.
The Metropolitan West Side Elevated – 1895
We recently purchased the June 6, 1895 edition of Leslie’s Weekly, which has an extensive article, including numerous photographs and drawings, of the then-new Metropolitan West Side Elevated in Chicago:
The Normandy Flats was a large apartment building, purchased by the Met and moved to a new location. The 1894 Chicago Blue Book gave the Normandy Flats’ address as 2300-2302 S. Indiana Avenue, presumably where the building was relocated during the construction of the Metropolitan West Side “L”, as it was apparently in the way of something.
The original Franklin Street Terminal was only open from 1895 to 1897, and this is the first time I have seen a description of what it looked like. As far as I am aware, no one has yet found a photo. It closed when the Union Loop opened. At the same time, a new “L” station was opened at Franklin and Van Buren. Another terminal was later built on this site, extending back to Wells Street. It opened in 1904.
Why aren’t there more images of the Franklin Street Terminal? Well, for one thing, it opened late, apparently too late to be photographed for the big publicity push that coincided with the opening of the Met “L”. Hence this illustration. There is a photo showing the other side of the building (or buildings– the accompanying article seems to indicate the terminal went through two buildings). Then, it closed little more than two years later, coinciding with the opening of the Union Loop, and any publicity surely concentrated on that, and not the terminal closing.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin:
A “meet” between a steam train and a Chicago & West Towns Railway streetcar in LaGrange in the late 1940s. You can see evidence of the postwar construction boom in the background. Not sure if this was a fantrip.
This picture has been the subject of some discussion on Facebook. It’s a Pennsylvania Railroad “Doodlebug,” probably after 1948, at Baltimore, MD. It is apparently a Parkton local. John Engleman: “Actually, actually, it’s just sitting in what was called “the sleeper yard” at Pennsylvania Station probably between morning inbound and afternoon outbound trips to Parkton. A and B tracks and the platform that served them can be seen just beyond the Charles Street bridge.”
A Delaware, Lackawanna and Western electric commuter train in New Jersey. This railroad merged with the Erie in 1960 to form the Erie Lackawanna. The commuter service continues under NJ Transit.
Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric diesel switcher #5, which continued freight operations after the remaining remnant of the line was de-electrified. A section of this line is now the trackage of the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin, IL.
Chicago & Eastern Illinois #4, the “Whippoorwill,” arrives at 63rd Street (Little Englewood Station) in July 1947.
Louisville & Nashville Railroad freight engine #1827 after being overhauled at the South Louisville Shops.
Wabash #21 Blue Bird at 63rd Street (Little Englewood Station) in July 1947.
A Chicago & Interurban Traction Company car. This line operated between 63rd and Halsted and Kankakee, and was abandoned in 1927, due to increased competition from the Illinois Central Electric.
Chicago & Joliet Railway #212. This system ran from Archer and Cicero Avenues in Chicago and connected to the Chicago, Ottawa, & Peoria interurban. It was abandoned in 1933.
Chicago & Joliet Electric car 200. This car, the “Louis Joliet,” was built by C&JE in the 1920s.
Milwaukee Road #E-5.
Long Island Railroad snow plow #193.
Pittsburgh Railways at Resee-Charleroi. The car is signed for Riverview. Larry Lovejoy adds: “The picture of Pittsburgh Railways Company low floor car 3769 is on the Charleroi line northbound at White Barn Siding. The date is 27 July 1952 and the occasion is a fantrip sponsored by the Pittsburgh Electric Railway Club. The line was abandoned ten months later. Today’s Pennsylvania Trolley Museum is the direct descendant of PERC and preserves sister car 3756. While “Riverview” was a turnback point on the Charleroi line, that destination sign is actually inappropriate at this particular location.”
Pittsburgh Railways line car M212 at the Washington Junction Yard. Larry Lovejoy: “The photo of Pittsburgh Railways line car M212 is at Castle Shannon Car House. There was no yard at Washington Junction, which is about a mile south of Castle Shannon.”
Philadelphia & Western Strafford car 161 at Norristown on December 27, 1958. It was built by Brill in 1927 and continued to operate until sometime between 1888 and 1990. It is now owned by the New York Museum of Transportation.
P&W Strafford car 163 on June 24, 1955. After retirement in the 1990s, it was rebuilt into a gas-mechanical car and operated in Mt. Dora, Florida, but it is not certain whether it still exists.
P&W Strafford car 162 on September 28, 1958. Don’s Rail Photos: “62 was built by Brill in June 1927, #22529. It was rebuilt as 162 in 1931 and became PST 162 in 1948. It became SEPTA 162 in 1970. It was sold to Rockhill Trolley Museum in 1991.” Today it is the only survivor of the fleet preserved as a modernized 160 series car.
Don’s Rail Photos: “64 was built by Brill in June 1927, #22529. It was rebuilt as 164 in 1931 and became PST 164 in 1948. It became SEPTA 164 in 1970 and became a de-icing car in 1989. It was sold to Travel Northern Allegheny in 1992 but never used. It was sold to East Troy Electric Ry in 1994 and rebuilt as ETE Ry 64 in 2000. It was sold to Electric City Trolley Museum and will be restored as P&W 164.” Here it is on September 28, 1958.
P&W 165 at 69th Street Yards on November 12, 1958.
Product Test – The Pixl-Latr
The Pixl-Latr is an interesting new product that may be useful to people who have film negatives, but no easy way to scan them. It was developed as a Kickstarter project.
I decided to purchase one, and here are my results.
The Pixl-Latr is a negative holder that can accommodate 35mm, medium format, and 4″x5″ size films. It has a diffused backing to prevent the formation of Newton Rings on your scans. It pairs well with this LED light box. I practiced using it with a cellphone camera. The Pixl-Latr is not a substitute for a flatbed scanner, but is certainly more portable, and may come in handy in certain situations where a scanner is not available.
My cellphone picture, before working on it with an image editor.
I reversed out the negative into a positive image.
After cropping and adjusting both density and contrast. But the image is still technically a color image, and could be improved further by eliminating those subtle color casts.
The finished product, as a black-and-white image. Not bad! Compare with the scanned image elsewhere in this post.
The only downside of my usual method of scanning negatives is the formation of Newton Rings, caused by the negative coming into direct contact with the bottom glass of the scanner. I do use ANR (anti-Newton Ring) glass on top of the negative, which diffuses the light and prevents their formation. Fortunately, these are only noticeable at high magnification.
You can read more about Newton’s Rings here. They are an interference pattern, caused when one of the two items pressed together acts as a lens.
LeRoy Blommaert writes:
How I met (and rode) the North Shore Line
I remember quite vividly the first time I saw the North Shore Line as well as the first time I rode it. It was the same time.
I was a sophomore in high school and I was on the debate team. We were to participate in a round robin tournament at St Mary’s in Evanston. We were given the address and told to take the L and change at Howard—but nothing beyond that.
While I had taken the L many times from Bryn Mawr to Wilson Ave, and downtown and to my grandmother’s on the west side, it was, with one exception, with my mother. I had never taken the L north. Neither apparently had my three companions.
We get to Howard; we get off; and we wait—but not too long. Soon something pulls in unlike anything I had ever seen before on the L. It was beautiful; it was powerful. I was entranced and I wanted to ride it. And not just sometime in the future. But now! Immediately! And I did. I persuaded my colleagues that this was the train we needed to take. They were somewhat skeptical but in the end they agreed.
I was generally a good boy (a very good boy in fact) who always followed the rules and rarely did anything I thought was wrong. But this time? This time was different! I wasn’t sure that it was not the train to take, but I had doubts that it was the right train. These doubts I dismissed.
We got on. It was one of the older cars. I remember it had a stove inside. I also remember how fast it went once we left the station and entered the cut. The conductor dutifully asked for our tickets. Obviously, we did not have them. I explained where we wanted to go; he said we got the wrong train, and we were left off at the first station—Skokie.
There we waited for the first train south. It was getting dark and no one was around. In those days, unlike today, there was very little around. We waited about an hour. Needless to say, we did not make it to the debate tournament.
The next time I rode the North Shore, the trip was much longer: to Milwaukee and back. It was a fan trip. I believe it was a Klebolt trip. I went with my father. How I found out about it, I don’t remember, as I did not know any railfans then. It was on this trip that I met Roy Benedict. I remember he wore a football helmet, not the kind we know today, but a leather one, the kind they wore in the 1920s. He had made some track maps that he either gave away or sold.
As fate would have it, in my freshman or sophomore year of college, we moved to Skokie—within walking distance of that same station. One summer I got a job in the Loop—in the Insurance Exchange Building. The best part of the job was riding the North Shore each week day. I got off at Quincy and Wells and for the trip back home, I walked to the station at Adams and Wabash. It was there I met Jeff Wien, who was a ticket agent for the summer. From there it was onto CERA meetings, to and from which I was able again to ride my favorite railroad in those early days. It is still my favorite railroad, except that sadly I can no longer ride it, except at the Illinois Railway Museum, but that is not the same. The speed is absent as is the distance and the varying landscapes.
I first became aware of the North Shore from seeing the trains stored on the L south of Roosevelt Rd. Taking the Englewood L into the loop and as our train descended into the subway our tracks were straddled by the tracks holding the stored North Shore cars. My first trip on the North Shore was when I was in HS and needed to cut short my time with family on vacation and return to Chicago. I caught the first southbound train from Racine. I became a regular weekend rider when I was getting technical training as a new swabbie at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Getting off at LaSalle Street Station to catch a Rock Island commuter train I now realized that the large crowd of sailors we had often encountered coming down from the L platform had come from a North Shore train from Great Lakes.
LaSalle Street Station was the only one of the Chicago downtown railroad stations with direct access to the L. As a kid when we were downtown on shopping trips we often took the L to the department stores. Because the L trains were circling the loop in one direction it wasn’t possible to return that way and we would catch the Division/Van Buren streetcar on State for the return to LaSalle Street Station.
This prompted a discussion on the Trolley Dodger Facebook group about two other not-so-direct connections between the “L” and downtown train stations. Between 1970 and 1989, the Northwest Passage connected the C&NW terminal to the Clinton “L” station. It displaced Track 1 during those years.
The Canal Street station on the Met main line had a passageway leading to Union Station until the Garfield Park “L” was replaced by the new Congress median line in 1958. Here is a description from Graham Garfield’s excellent web site:
A new Union Station, serving several main line intercity railroads, was formally opened July 23, 1925, replacing an earlier railroad station on a similar site. The Chicago Daily Tribune on same day contained a paid advertisement stating, “A short enclosed passageway connects the station directly with the Canal Street Station of the Elevated Railroad.” Within the Canal “L” station a stairway went down to Union Station’s underground track level, then a walkway ran for half a block, separated from Union Station’s track area by an iron fence, and finally into the lobby of Union Station. The article “Chicago’s Stations: Gates to Everywhere” from the August 1948 issues of Trains magazine also discussed the “L”-Union Station tunnel:
“It’s kind of tough, also, that we can’t get out on the platform and look at the prow-pointed T1 at the head end of many Pennsy trains. But Union is all business, and frowns at folk who try to sneak by the gatemen ‘just to see the trains.’ Here’s a tip, though: if you go along ‘frustration walk’ — which is the entrance leading from the Canal Street ‘L’ station — you can get a squint of a train or two at the southwestern end of the terminal. Like as not, there will be some Burlington open-platform cars used on suburban runs out Aurora way.
“‘Frustration walk’ is so dubbed because commuters must walk along an iron-railed thoroughfare beside the tracks to enter the terminal. Then to go out to the train they are obliged to hike back from whence the came on the other side of the formidable railing. Short-cutting is verboten at Union. Many a commuter has seen his train pull out as he dashed madly down ‘frustration walk’ in an attempt to catch the train.”
There are some conflicting descriptions of how the tunnel actually connected to the “L” station. According to some accounts, the passage was accessed from within the Canal Street station building, suggesting the connection was to the station house. Others recall that the passage from Union Station deposited them on the Canal station platform, not in the station house, with fare collection in between.2 It is believed that there were, in fact, two access routes between the elevated platforms and the tunnel. Passengers en route from the elevated platform walked through the headhouse of the rapid transit station. While passengers from the tunnel went directly to the platforms after passing through a fare collection point.
Stuart B. Slaymaker adds:
The walkway was along Track 2. This would have been Track Zero. I seem to recall, it dumped you at or near the original outbound cab court. It was still there in 1979, when I worked at Station Services for Amtrak. Dark. Gate was locked with a big switch lock and an iron chain. In the dim light, I could see check-in desks from long-discontinued streamliners, like The Olympian Hiawatha and the Trail Blazer. All stored along the walkway, that formerly went to the Canal Street L Station. It must have been a LONG walk. The signs and ephemera behind the locked gate were covered with inches of black sooty dirt. I left CUS in September of 1979, and never saw this, again. I always wondered if any of the displays ever got saved.
Daniel Joseph found another one– Parnell on the Englewood branch. From www-chicago-l.org:
The Parnell station was adjacent to the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad’s 63rd Street station, sometimes also called the “Little Englewood” station. Although the C&WI’s station fronted onto 63rd Street, there was also an enclosed pedestrian connection from the Parnell “L” station to the steam railroad’s facility.
Mike Jacob writes:
Hello. I came across your website while trying to find information on a print I have. Please see the attached. Have you seen it before or have any idea on the artist? Thank you in advance.
Thanks for writing. I can’t quite make out the signature, although the first name seems to be Jerome.
The artist is not familiar to me, but I would imagine they were copying an old photograph. There were two North Shore Line stations in Wilmette, and it’s not that easy to identify which one this is. This was part of the Shore Line Route, which was abandoned in 1955.
Perhaps our readers might know something more.
John G. Gaul writes:
Dempster Street- January 20, 1963. Nine years old at the time and living in Evanston, my Dad took my brother and I to Dempster St one last time. They’re not very good, but I’m glad I brought my little old box camera with me. It was a very cold day I recall.
Photos by John G. Gaul:
We thank all our contributors. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
RGTS Rio Grande to Silverton: A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading Price: $14.99
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago: 60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958) 75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943) 80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938) To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways. While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages Chapter Titles: 01. The River Tunnels 02. The Freight Tunnels 03. Make No Little Plans 04. The State Street Subway 05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway 06. Displaced 07. Death of an Interurban 08. The Last Street Railway 09. Subways and Superhighways 10. Subways Since 1960 Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author. The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States. For Shipping to US Addresses: For Shipping to Canada: For Shipping Elsewhere:
Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo) Help Support The Trolley Dodger
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CTA pre-war PCCs 4016 and 4050 at Western and 79th, southern terminal of route 49. This picture was taken seconds after a similar one on page 363 of CERA Bulletin 146. That picture is dated May 1956 and is attributed to William C. Janssen.
The CTA terminal at Western and 79th today.
Here are more classic traction photos we recently acquired. While many are from Chicago, our trip this time takes us all around the country, and even across our northern border.
As always, if you have interesting tidbits of information to add, you can either post a Comment here, or drop us a line directly aat:
Don’t forget, if you click on each picture with your mouse, you can bring up a larger version in your browser, and zoom in on that one too for closer inspection.
When I got this slide, it was identified as being a station on the Garfield Park “L”. However, I did some further research, and it is actually the old Austin Boulevard stop on the Douglas Park line. The house and apartment buildings in the background are still there. The Douglas branch was cut back to 54th Avenue in 1952 and the former right-of-way is now used for parking. Locals still call it the “L” Strip.
The same view today.
CTA 2163-2164, then brand new, in the 54th Avenue Yard, west end of the Douglas Park “L” (now the Pink Line) in 1964. The roadway at left is where the line continued before it was cut back in 1952. (Walter Broschart Photo)
CTA 4002 is shown heading north on route 49 – Western on July 14, 1953. The photographer was up on the Logan Square “L” platform. The people at right are waiting for a southbound car at a safety island. In the distance, we see what was then the Bloomingdale freight spur of the Milwaukee Road, but is now part of the 606 Trail. Jim Huffman adds, “Photo #525. “CTA 4002 is shown heading north on route 49 – Western on July 14, 1953”, I feel is incorrect. 1. There is a 1955 Chevrolet on the left, precludes 1953. 2. 1-Man, Pre-War PCC were assigned in June 1955 (as well as 1-Man Post-Wars), prior to that Western used 2-Man Post-War PCCs only. Went Bus in June 1956. 3. People standing on the safety island are waiting at the end for the front door boarding of an 1-man car. Prior to 1-Man cars, they waited at the other end for the rear doors. 4. Although there is no proof, the 55 Chev looks somewhat used, I would say this is a 1956 photo.”
CSL single-truck mail car H2, apparently still operational, is shown years after streetcar RPO (Railway Post Office) service ended in 1915. It was scrapped on October 2, 1942. From the looks of the autos in the background, this picture may date to the 1920s.
CTA red Pullman 225 is shown here on a mid-1950s fantrip at the 77th Street Shops. The big man at front is Maurice Klebolt (1930-1988), who organized many such trips for the Illini Railroad Club. He later moved to San Francisco and helped start the historic trolley festival there. Car 225 is preserved at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine. (Chuck Wlodarczyk Photo)
On this fantrip, Maury is calling the shots. Looks like he’s wearing a tie with various railroad insignias.
Car 225 under makeshift cover at Seashore (Kennebunkport, Maine) in the late 1950s. (Walter Broschart Photo)
CSL 2601 is shown running on the last day of streetcar service on route 111 (111th Street), September 22, 1945. As for the exact location, Andre Kristopans says this is “probably just west of Indiana Av., looks like the school campus in background that is between King and Indiana to this day.”
CSL 4033 passes the Garfield Park field house on Madison in 1938.
CSL Pullman 318 is heading west on Fullerton in the mid-1930s picture. At right, you can just make out the marquee of the old Liberty Theatre, which opened in 1911 and closed in 1951. The building is now a banquet hall. Will Rogers’ name is on the marquee. The photo date is given as September 8, 1937 and I guess that is possible although Rogers died in August 1935.
The same area today.
The former Liberty Theatre at 3705 W. Fullerton.
CSL 7024 is westbound on Madison just west of the Chicago River in this September 8, 1937 view. The photo caption describes this as a “noiseless streetcar,” with magnetic air brakes and rubber cushioned wheels.
The view from 400 W. Madison today. We are looking to the southeast.
CTA 7093 is southbound on State Street near Lake, as a route 36 Broadway-State car. The film Scaramouche, playing at the State-Lake, was released on June 27, 1952, so that is the approximate date of this picture. Note a Chicago Motor Coach Company bus at left. The State-Lake opened in 1919 and closed in 1985. It was taken over by WLS-TV for use as a studio. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)
State and Lake today.
CTA 7051 is northbound at State and Delaware as a route 36 Broadway-State car in the early 1950s. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)
State and Delaware today, looking south.
CTA 1784, on route 16, has just turned from eastbound Lake Street south on Dearborn, and is passing the Selwyn Theater. A poster advertises Joan Bennett and Zachary Scott in the play Bell, Book and Candle. They took over those parts on May 9, 1952, which is the approximate date of this picture. Bell, Book and Candle was later made into a movie in 1958, starring James Stewart and Kim Novak. Michael Todd eventually bought the Harris and Selwyn later in the 1950s and they were converted into movie theaters. The facades of those two buildings have been saved and are now part of the Goodman Theater complex. (Walter Hulsweder Photo)
Dearborn and Lake today.
Joan Bennett and Zachary Scott in the 1952 off-Broadway version of Bell, Book and Candle.
Bell, Book and Candle helped inspire the later TV series Bewitched.
This undated photo shows the station (car house) at Cottage Grove and 38th. It is undated, but the newest car shown here was built in 1912. So a good guess would be sometime between 1912 and the early 1920s, when streetcars were painted red to make them more visible to motorists. Several cars can be identified in this picture. From left to right, I see 5368, 5357, 5364, 5378, 5707, 5802, 5782, 5743, 5759, 5736, 5386, 5706, and 5348. All are either Brill-American-Kuhlman cars, or Nearsides. Streetcars last ran out of Cottage Grove in 1955, after which the building was demolished.
A close-up of four unidentified men in the photo. Presumably, all worked out of the Cottage Grove station.
It’s April 23, 1939, and Chicago & West Towns cars 140 and 141 are operating on an early Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip. Car 141, the lone survivor of the fleet, is now restored to operable condition at the Illinois Railway Museum.
New Site Additions
FYI, these Birney car pictures have been added to Our 150th Post (August 6, 2016):
Fort Collins Municipal Railway “Birney” car 21, at the intersection of Johnson and Mountain Avenues. (Ward Photo)
Restored FCMR 21 as it appeared on May 14, 1995. (Mark D. Meyer Photo)
FCMR 22 on October 26, 1949. Its paint scheme is described as green, red, and aluminum.
FCMR 25 at the car barn. (Ward Photo)
Many other cities had Birneys, of course. Here, we see Brantford (Ontario) Municipal Railway car 137 on July 1, 1935. This was ex-Lock Haven, Pa. Electric Railway car #2. (George Slyford Photo)
In this mid-1950s view, Village of East Troy Railway freight motor M-15 is shown here in East Troy, Wisconsin, near the power station which now serves as the waiting room for the East Troy Electric Railroad museum operation. It was built by TMER&L in 1920 and is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Walter Broschart Photo)
Montreal Tramways had four of these unique observation cars in their fleet, which were used for sightseeing tours. Here, car #3 is at St. Joseph’s Shrine on August 14, 1948. All four cars have been preserved, and car 3 is now at Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum. A few years ago, I rode the very similar car #2 at the Seashore Trolley Museum.
This picture shows Red Arrow Brilliner 8 and an older car at the end of the Ardmore branch on May 15, 1949. It looks like the older car is in fantrip service, while the Brilliner is the regular service car ahead of it. The Ardmore branch was replaced by buses in 1966.
Here, Red Arrow Brill Master Unit 86 is the regular service car at the end of the line in West Chester, with the older fantrip car behind it. Again, the date is May 15, 1949.
The photo caption reads, “Two car streamline train arriving at Norristown, looking up from R. R. tracks.” The date is May 12, 1935, meaning these “Bullet” cars were just a few years old.
This picture was added to Chicago’s Pre-PCCs (May 5, 2015):
Baltimore Transit Company car 6105, shown here on route 15 – Ostend St., is one of the last modern streetcars built before PCCs took over the market. The sign on front says that September 7 will be the last day for 6 hour local rides. Perhaps that can help date the picture.
The Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley (aka the Laurel Line) was a Scranton-area interurban powered by third rail, much as the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin was. Here, we see coach #37 in Scranton on September 9, 1950. The line quit at the end of 1952. There were no takers for these cars and all were scrapped. It has been suggested that perhaps CA&E might have benefited from buying some of these cars, although it does seem they were too long for tight turns on the Chicago “L”. However, I do not know if this would have prevented them from running on the CA&E after the system was cut back to Forest Park. In any case, CA&E had previously reduced the length of other cars purchased from the Baltimore & Annapolis in 1938. What was missing in 1953, apparently, was a willingness to continue trying to operate.
The Hagerstown & Frederick was a Maryland interurban in sparsely populated rural areas, a veritable real-life “Toonerville Trolley.” Despite having practically no ridership, it subsisted on freight and somehow managed to survive into the mid-1950s. Here, we see freight motor #5 in Frederick, Maryland on April 11, 1954. (Gene Connelly Photo)
In some sense, the Charles City Western in Iowa was comparable to the Hagerstown & Frederick, in that it had sparse ridership, yet managed to survive into the 1950s with freight. Here we see combine 50 in March 1937. Don’s Rail Photos notes, “50 was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1915. It became Iowa Terminal 101 in December 1964. It was sent to Mount Pleasant and restored as CCW 50. It was then sent to Boone & Scenic Valley RR.” Vintage audio of the Charles City Western in operation can be heard on Railroad Record Club disc #28, which is available on compact disc via our Online Store.
The Omaha & Council Bluffs Street Railway operated between Nebraska and Iowa. Here, car 814 is shown in Council Bluffs in September 1936, unloading passengers next to a natty-looking 1935 V8 Ford Sedan Delivery, advertising Old gold cigarettes. I assume this car was built by O&CB in 1908 and was rebuilt in 1932, possibly to convert it to one-man service. If so, riders would board at the rear and pay as they left through the front. Note the “people catcher” device at front.
Virginia Sammis writes:
I wrote you once before, and I was hoping you might be able to help me again. I am still trying to find CSL employee photos. I had a researcher in Chicago spend some hours looking at the CHM archives of the CSL newsletter and she did find Gustav Johnson’s brief obituary in there for 1946. But very few photos. Do you know of any other place I might find photos of employees of CSL?
(She had written some months ago, looking for information on Gustav Johnson, who emigrated to America around 1880, worked for the Chicago Surface Lines, and died in 1946.)
The employee newsletter would have been the best bet. However, I do know a genealogist, and I can ask her to see what she can find out.
In the CTA era, which started in October 1947, the newsletter ran more pictures of retirees, of which there were many. However, we are talking about several thousands of people working there at any one given time, so the odds of finding one person are not good.
If you know which routes, or which car houses (aka “stations”) he might have worked at, that would help.
I just got a picture (see elsewhere in this post) showing four guys standing outside the car barn at Cottage Grove and 38th, taken in the early 20th century, but have no way of knowing who the people in the picture are.
I will run your request in my blog, and see what other people might suggest.
Ms. Sammis replied:
This is what his obituary said: “Gustave Johnsen, 84, motorman from Devon, died 11-22-46, after along illness. He had been with the company for 35 years.”
It was actually spelled Gustav Johnson. Does that mean that he would have reported to work every day at the Devon Station at 6454 N. Clark St/Devon St.? Also, can you confirm that a “motorman” was the engineer on the trolley and the “conductor” collected the fares?
Thank you for your help David. I am determined to find a photograph of Gustav SOMEWHERE!
Yes, that means he worked out of the Devon station, or car house. And yes, the motorman operated the streetcar, while the conductor collected the fares. We have run lots of pictures in previous posts showing streetcars at or near Devon station. You can find those by typing Devon into the search window at the top of this page.
Our resident South Side expert M. E. writes:
Your latest post, Recent Finds Part 2, includes a photo of the carbarn at 38th and Cottage Grove. This photo obviates my wild guess that perhaps the photo ostensibly of the 69th and Ashland carbarn instead might have been the 38th & Cottage barn. (See our previous post Recent Finds, December 2, 2016.)
This observation, together with the Campbell barn label (Campbell is nowhere near Cottage Grove), cements my opinion that you are correct saying the previous photo is of the 69th and Ashland carbarn.
None of which solves the mysteries of why there are so many 4 Cottage Grove cars at the 69th and Ashland barn, and how they got there from Cottage Grove.
It’s a mystery, alright… hopefully one we will eventually clear up, thanks!
Kenneth Gear writes:
Hi David. I’ve been falling behind on my reading lately and just today read the latest Trolley Dodger “Recent Finds 2”.
I was very interested in the photo of Hagerstown & Frederick Railway freight motor # 5.
Back in 2008 while chasing and photographing the Maryland Midland RR train UBHF from Union Bridge to Highfield, I was surprised to find H&F freight motor #5 displayed at the former site of the H&F Thurmont Station along Main Street.
It was apparently under going restoration at the time. The building in the background is a former H&F electric sub station. I’m not sure how this restoration has progressed in the ensuing years, but here is the photo I took back on March 9, 2008:
Thanks! Good to know this car was saved. Here’s what Don’s Rail Photos says: “5 was built by H&F in 1920. It was retired in 1955 and went to Shade Gap Electric Ry. It then was returned to home by H&F Ry Historical Society.”
About the line in general, Don Ross adds:
“It’s hard to describe the H&F since it seems to be more of a country trolley than an interurban line. Yet they did operate freight service and covered some 76 miles of line in western Maryland. It was the last passenger interurban east of Chicago. The H&F was a consolidation of several lines dating back to 1902. They joined together in 1913. Abandonments began in 1932. In 1938 the main line was cut so that there were two separate sections, one at Hagerstown, and the other at Frederick. The Hagerstown line finally quit in 1947, but the Frederick to Thurmont passenger service lasted until February 20, 1954. Freight service was later dieselized but lasted only until 1958.”
I checked and it looks like the car went from the Rockhill Trolley Museum to Thurmont in 2006. The car is now owned by the City and there are trucks under the body.
As for the Shade Gap name, here is how the Wikipedia explains it:
The museum operates what has been historically referred to as the Shade Gap Electric Railway to demonstrate the operable pieces in its collection. “Shade Gap” refers to the name of a branch of the East Broad Top Railroad, from whom the museum leases it property.
Charles Turek writes:
re: Recent Finds, Part 2 – image dave513.jpg
Having grown up at 27th & Harvey in Berwyn, IL, effective walking distance from Austin/Cermak in the 1950s, I can confirm the station is, indeed, Austin on the Douglas Park line. The distinctive chain gate, which was atypical for the line, was my first clue. I used to find this gate fascinating to watch and enjoyed hearing the pulleys (in the towers on each side of Austin) crank it up and down. This was a very busy area in those days and the chain gate was effective in stopping traffic in both lanes that would otherwise attempt to get past standard gates to make the signals at Cermak Road. Nonetheless, the gateman who holed up in the little house in front of the station was still necessary.
Love your web pages and visit them often.
Stained Glass from New York’s Third Avenue El
FYI, to raise money to help fund the original research we do on this site, we are selling two unique artifacts— decorative stained glass, circa 1878, from stations on the old IRT Third Avenue El in New York, which was torn down in 1955. We purchased these several years ago from a noted New York collector.
You can check out our eBay auction here. This may be your only opportunity to own a true piece of history from that fabled line, which has yet to be replaced more than 60 years after it was abandoned.
New Book Project
We are now working on a new paperback book Chicago Trolleys, that we expect will be published in 2017. Original research does cost money, so please consider making a donation to cover our costs. We will keep you updated as we progress, and thank you in advance for your help.
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