This picture of the old Met bridge over the Chicago River is undated, but probably dates to circa 1952-55 based on the type of red border Kodachrome mount it is in. But it is certainly after the the other picture in this post, taken at much the same location, since the building at rear, or part of it, was in the process of being torn down. This was not related to expressway construction, since the “L” at this point was north of there. Once the Congress rapid transit line opened in 1958, this section of “L” was taken out of service and by the early 1960s it had been torn down.
Cooler weather has moved into the Chicago area, and along with it, we have a Fall Harvest of classic rail images for you today, including many by three of the greatest railfan photographers of the 1950s– Clark Frazier, Truman Hefner, and William C. Hoffman.
Enjoy! -David Sadowski
This video features streetcars and elevated trains in Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York City, mostly from the early 1950s– and originally shot on high quality 16mm film:
CSL 4001 at South Shops, with 7001 in front of it, probably during the 1950s, when these two experimental cars were being used for storage.
CTA PCC 4371, built by Pullman, is on State Street heading south from Randolph, with the old State-Lake Theater in the background. The film “Lovely To Look At” was released on July 4, 1952, which is probably around when this picture was taken.
North Shore Line 759 heads up a two-car train heading southbound at Harrison Street, leaving street running in favor of private right-of-way in Milwaukee on June 16, 1962. (Richard H. Young Photo)
A two-car CTA Kenwood shuttle train at Indiana Avenue, probably some time around 1949. I assume there must have been stairs leading up to the tower.
A close-up of the previous image.
CTA 6130-6129 are “at speed” near Jarvis “L” station on the north side, operating under wire on the southbound express track as a mid-day Evanston “Shopper’s Special” on December 11, 1955. The picture is slightly blurred because Kodachrome back then was ASA 10 (until the introduction of Kodachrome II in 1961). The unique signage on the train indicates which stations this express train stopped at.
Chicago, Aurora & Elgin wood car 28 is at the head of a train in this picture I assume was taken in Wheaton, between 1952-55 (based on the slide mount).
Red Arrow Strafford car 164 is on the high-speed line to Norristown in the early 1950s, perhaps near 69th Street Terminal. Kenneth Achtert adds: “Your picture of Strafford car #164, if the early 1950s date is accurate, was most likely not on a Norristown line trip, but is arriving at 69th St. Terminal likely coming from Strafford. Strafford service was not abandoned until 1956 and was what gave the 160-series cars their common name. The bullet cars could have been called Norristown cars, but they already had an even better name.”
Red Arrow double-ended car 20, which looks like a PCC but technically isn’t, is running outbound on the Ardmore branch in the early 1950s. Not sure what all the track work is about, although the West Chester branch itself was abandoned in favor of buses in 1954, so that West Chester Pike could be widened. I assume this is the intersection of West Chester Pike and Darby Road in Havertown, PA. The Ardmore trolley was replaced by buses at the end of 1966. Both trolley lines here are now SEPTA bus routes. Mark A. Jones adds: “Regarding the Red Arrow trackage on West Chester Pike west of the Ardmore turn-off, it continued in use after the West Chester line became a bus as the Llanerch car barn (which housed the Red Arrow trolleys at the time) was located Darby Rd. and West Chester Pike west of the Ardmore cut-off. That’s my memory of that.”
Red Arrow double-ended St. Louis car 15, built circa 1949, is coming off the Ardmore line towards the 69th Street Terminal in the early 1950s. The West Chester branch might still have been in operation then, as there is a car in the distance on West Chester Pike.
Red Arrow Brilliner 9 is signed for the Media route in the early 1950s.
Red Arrow Brilliner 6 is signed for the Media route in the early 1950s.
On August 3, 1950, an eastbound Garfield Park “L” train approaches Western Avenue station. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Deck roofed “L” cars, including 2908, are in Laramie Yard on July 2, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An eastbound train of wooden “L” cars (including 3210), with trolley poles up, heads east on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L” in Oak Park on October 12, 1953. I believe the location is a few blocks east of Marion Street, where the street (South Boulevard) narrows.
The subway entrance on State Street between Madison and Monroe, as it looked on December 5, 1954. PCCs were still operating on State at that time. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking south from the 35th Street “L” station on August 23, 1963. A new center island station had opened here in 1961, taking up space formerly occupied by the center express track, which had been unused after 1949. A fire destroyed the new station in October 1962, and temporary facilities were used until the station was rebuilt in 1965. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
An 8-car train of CTA 4000s, still in the old tan color, approaches 35th Street on November 6, 1950. In this somewhat underxposed slide, you can still make out the long walkway at right, which connected to a stairway at the former 33rd Street “L” station, only used as an auxiliary entrance and exit for 35th after 1949. This walkway was closed on September 25, 1961 and removed thereafter. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking west from the transfer bridge at the CTA station at 40th and Indiana Avenue on July 7, 1953. A southbound train of 6000s heads into the station. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
This slide, taken on Sunday, March 6, 1955, gives a good view of the direction sign on the transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana station. Our resident South Side expert M. E. adds, “Two-car trains were rare on the north/south main line. The destination sign explains why just two cars: It is an “all-stop” sign reading “Howard Street”. Most days of the week, main line service was either “A” or “B”. The only time the CTA ran just two cars on the main line as all-stop trains was on Sunday mornings.” (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The westbound view from the transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana on July 2, 1963 shows CTA 6047 at the rear of a northbound train, fitted with an experimental ventilation system. This was not shot on Kodachrome, which explains the somewhat funky color shift on this slide. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view west from the overhead transfer bridge at 40th and Indiana on July 7, 1953, looking west. We see a northbound train of 4000s, an approaching southbound train of 6000s, a Stock Yards shuttle train, and some additional Stock Yards cars being stored on the former express track, unused since 1949. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
Looking west from the passenger overpass at Indiana Avenue on July 3, 1950, we see an 8-car train of steel cars, and a Stock Yards shuttle train. In the distance, that may be some additional Stock Yards cars being stored on the otherwise unused center track. (William C. Hoffman Photo) Our resident South Side expert M. E. writes: “Your caption needs correction. What you claim to be a Stock Yards shuttle is not on the Stock Yards tracks, which ran directly west from the switch building at the end of the platform. Instead, your “Stock Yards” train is on the main line heading east/south. Apparently the CTA still ran old cars on the main line at that time, although I don’t remember that. Another, more remote, possibility is that this short train is dead-heading east (without passengers) toward the Kenwood line. But in the next photo, you see no track connection from the main line to the Kenwood line. The only way dead-headed cars destined for Kenwood could end up on the Kenwood line would have been to turn south on the main line to 43rd St. and use switches to go from the southbound main line to the northbound main line to the former northbound main line track, which joined the Kenwood shuttle track back at Indiana Ave. — and which (in reverse) provided the only way to move Kenwood cars off the Kenwood tracks.” We were only repeating the information that Mr. Hoffman wrote on the original slide mount, which, of course, could be wrong.
Two “new” and two “old” 6000s enter the CTA station at 40th and Indiana on June 6, 1954. The Kenwood shuttle continued to operate for another three years after this. We are facing east. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
SF Muni 170 on the N Line, entering the Sunset Tunnel in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni 130 on Ocean Avenue by Elkton Shops on September 16, 1957. According to the Market Street Railway web site: “Car No. 130 was among the the last ‘Iron Monsters’ to leave passenger service, in 1958. Muni shop foreman Charlie Smallwood saved it from the scrap heap by hiding it in the back of Geneva carhouse while its mates met their fates. He then talked his bosses into making it a ‘wrecker’. Stripped bare and painted yellow, it spent the next 25 years towing its replacements–PCC streetcars–back to the barn when they broke down. It was fully restored by Muni craft workers in 1983 for the Historic Trolley Festival, including original seats, which Charlie had kept all those years in his basement…just in case!” (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System A Train 130 near Yerba Buena Island on the Bay Bridge on April 18, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Pittsburgh 1499 on Route 34/21 on Ladoga Street near Ingram in 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Pittsburgh 1486 and 1485 rest at Ingram carhouse in 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 162 at La Playa (48th), approaching the N Line terminus on December 16, 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
The SF Muni Geary car house in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Dresden 264 007 on Line 4 at Dresdner Schloss on June 3, 1978. At the time, Dresden was located in East Germany. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System 167 is an A Train east of Yerba Buena Island on the Bay Bridge on April 18, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 178 on a fantrip on the J Line by SF Muni “Iron Monster” 178 on a fantrip on the J Line by Dolores Park in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)Park in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 114 stops for passengers on the B Line in 1956. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1553 at the Route 20 Plow Pit on February 7, 1959. This was a spot where overhead wire ended (by law) and streetcars changed over to collecting electricity through an underground conduit. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3276 entering Reservoir Yard on June 5, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3216 on Mass Avenue in North Cambridge on August 29, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Boston MTA 3337 (ex-Dallas) near the Cedar Grove station on the Ashmont-Mattapan line on May 31, 1961. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1543 on Route 20 in Georgetown on June 7, 1959. The Georgetown Theatre was located at 1351 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC and opened in 1913. It closed in 1986 and was converted to retail. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1159 at the Calvert Bridge on Route 92 on February 6, 1959. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 213 on the N Line, west of the Sunset Tunnel, in 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
Key System (Oakland) E train 184 to Berkeley leaving 55th Street in 1958. This slide has a processing date of March 1958 stamped on it, one of the earliest I have seen. (Clark Frazier Photo)
SF Muni “Iron Monster” 130 on the M Line by Parkmerced on September 16, 1957. (Clark Frazier Photo)
A Key System E train to San Francisco near Tower 3 in 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
DC Transit 1136 on Route 54 at the Navy Yard car barn on September 1, 1958. (Clark Frazier Photo)
In May 1952, a CTA train of flat-door 6000s heads down an incline west of Pulaski Road on the Douglas Park “L”. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A train of CTA 6000s on the Metropolitan main line, looking east from Marshfield Avenue. This probably dates to late 1950, since no work has yet been done building the temporary right-of-way in Van Buren Street to the left, later used by Garfield Park trains. The tag on the train indicates whether it stopped at some part-time stations on Douglas. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA two-car train of 6000s, running on the Douglas Park line, heads east onto the Metropolitan main line at Marshfield Junction. Since a train is visible on the Garfield Park portion, the date cannot be later than September 1953, and is likely a couple years before that. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 6056-6057 crossing East Avenue in Berwyn, where a sign indicates that the crossing guard is off duty. This portion of “L” was abandoned in February 1952. (Truman Hefner Photo)
6053-6054 near Oak Park Avenue on the Douglas Park “L”. The date given here (December 1953) must be wrong, as the line had already been cut back to 54th Avenue by then. It may be December 1950, as Douglas was the first line to use the new 6000s. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 2725 at the Oak Park Avenue terminal of the Douglas Park “L” in December 1950. The line was cut back to 54th Avenue, nearly two miles east of here, in 1952. This area is now used as a parking lot in Berwyn, often referred to as the “L” strip. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 6087 and train are running on the ground-level portion of the Douglas Park “L” at Kenton Avenue in May 1952. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA deck-roofed car 2891 is just south of Roosevelt Road on the Westchester “L” in April 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A train of CTA 6000s (probably 6055-6056) crosses Austin Boulevard in Cicero on the Douglas Park “L” in February 1952, shortly before service was abandoned west of 54th Avenue. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA train of 6000s is turning onto the Metropolitan main line from the Douglas Park “L” on April 3, 1954, while a CTA test train (with car 2276) is on the new, as yet unused connecting track between the Douglas “L” and the old Logan Square branch. Once Douglas trains began using this new “L” connection, they began running downtown via the Lake Street “L”, and portions of the old “L” east of here were torn down for expressway construction. By 1958, there was a new ramp in place, approximately in the same place the 6000s are here, leading down to the Congress rapid transit line in the expressway median. (Truman Hefner Photo)
A CTA train of 6000s is turning from the Metropolitan main line onto the Douglas Park “L” on April 3, 1954, while a CTA test train (with car 2276) is on the new, as yet unused connecting track between the Douglas “L” and the old Logan Square branch. Once Douglas trains began using this new “L” connection, they began running downtown via the Lake Street “L”, and portions of the old “L” east of here were torn down for expressway construction. By 1958, there was a new ramp in place, approximately in the same place the 6000s are here, leading down to the Congress rapid transit line in the expressway median. (Truman Hefner Photo)
In December 1950, CTA open platform, railroad-roofed car 2327 is westbound at Austin Boulevard on the Douglas Park “L”. Here, the barrier is down. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA wooden open platform, railroad-roofed car 2330 is northbound on the Northwestern “L” near Berwyn Avenue, running on the Evanston line in July 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA 2256 is part of a four-car Met train, turning from Market Street onto the double bridge over the Chicago River in March 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA railroad roofed, open platform car 2707 under the Belt Railway at Kenton Avenue on the Douglas Park “L”. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA arched roof, open-platform car 2281 at 54th Avenue on the Douglas Park “L” in March 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
Open platform, railroad roof car 2715 at 54th Avenue in Cicero, on the Douglas Park “L”, in January 1951. (Truman Hefner Photo)
The CTA ground-level station at Austin Boulevard in Cicero, on the Douglas Park “L” in December 1950. Note the unusual raised barrier at the crossing. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA open-platform, railroad roof car 2338 at Kenton on the Douglas Park line, where there was a connection to the Belt Railway of Chicago, in December 1950. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA open-platform, railroad roof car 2318 at Kenton on the Douglas Park line, where there was a connection to the Belt Railway of Chicago, in December 1950. (Truman Hefner Photo)
CTA PCC 7215, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is signed to go to 80th and Vincennes, operating on Route 22 – Wentworth in 1958. But was this picture taken at 80th and Vincennes? M. E. writes: “Reason to think this photo was taken at 80th and Vincennes: There was a single loop track at 80th and Vincennes, and the terminal area was on the east side of a miniature “park” situated east of Vincennes between the terminal trackage and Vincennes Ave. proper. Reasons to think this photo was not taken at 80th and Vincennes: (1) The exit trackage in the photo makes no sense if it were indeed 80th and Vincennes. The exit trackage ran straight out of the loop and onto northbound Vincennes trackage. (2) As I recall, 80th and Vincennes was a residential area with no large buildings. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say this photo was taken on the property of the 77th/Vincennes carbarn, and the streetcar in the photo had either just returned from 80th and Vincennes or was headed there. This scenario is also likely because there was never a “terminal” on line 22 at 77th St.; the closest was at 80th St. Consequently, streetcars in service coming from the north had to go to at least 80th St. before heading back to the barn at 77th St.”
The Prince Crossing station on the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, as it appeared on June 14, 1960, after abandonment.
Did Not Win
Try as we might, our resources are always limited and there are photos that our beyond our means to afford. Yet many of them are worth another look anyway:
Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad modernized interurban coach 28 and modernized steel interurban combine 107 at the end of the line station shared with Amtrak. The line was cut back from downtown South Bend in 1970. In 1992 the line would be diverted to the South Bend Airport. April 26, 1980, W Washington St & W Meade St, South Bend, Indiana. (Clark Frazier Photo)
This original glass plate negative, showing the last New York City horse car line circa 1907, recently sold on eBay for $539(!). The location is Broadway looking north just past Broome Street. The horse car line was abandoned in 1917, by which time it had few passengers as was a “franchise run.”
Angel’s Flight in its original LA Bunker Hill location, probably circa 1969. The funicular opened in 1901, but was dismantled and put into storage for several years not long after this picture was taken, as the hill it climbed was razed. It has since reopened in a different location.
A Hidden Freight Spur
I was somewhat surprised a few months ago when it appeared some freight car switching was taking place on the Union Pacific West Line (formerly Chicago & North Western) embankment in Forest Park, just east of Lathrop Avenue. The tracks here were raised around 1910 and not far east of here, the embankment is shared with the Chicago Transit Authority’s Green Line (aka the Lake Street “L”).
There isn’t much light industry left near the railroad in Forest Park, but apparently there is still at least one active customer, and behind a row of town houses, there is an active freight spur, with a ramp leading up to the embankment. I found a lone freight car on the spur. Presumably it will be hauled away prior to the next delivery, whenever that might be.
The freight spur is visible on this map. You can also see how the curved streets in this part of Forest Park got their shape. They once formed a “wye” used to turn trains around. Much of the CTA rail yard west of Harlem Avenue was built onto new embankment in the early 1960s.
I drive by this area nearly every day, but all this is so completely hidden from view that I had no idea any of this still existed. It also sheds some light on the changes made to the “L” and the adjacent commuter rail line in the late 1950s.
When the CTA and C&NW were negotiating the relocation of the Lake Street “L” onto the embankment, at first it was thought that the “L” would run as far west as the DesPlaines River in River Forest. In 1958, the C&NW sought permission to close several commuter rail stations, ceding their close-in ridership to the CTA (and at the same time speeding up service to suburbs that were further out).
Originally, the River Forest station was one of the C&NW petitioned the Illinois Commerce Commission to close, but at some point, plans were changed, and the station is still there, serving riders on what is now the Metra Union Pacific West Line.
If the “L” had been extended through this area, it would have made it difficult for the C&NW to continue serving their freight customers in Forest Park with the spur line that is, apparently, still in use.
Looking southeast. Town houses have replaced light industry south of the railroad spur.
Larry Sakar writes:
A three-car train in Lake Bluff by William D. Volkmer, 10/8/60.
I was browsing through some of your newest pics on The Trolley Dodger. You have a great picture of a North Shore train NB at Lake Bluff taken by Bill Volkmer on 10/08/60 (5 days after my 10th birthday). They aren’t what I’m concerned with.
In the spring of 1992 I accompanied another NSL fan on a tour of the abandoned NSL from Lake Bluff to Mundelein, probably other spots on the NSL as well but I no longer remember. It may have been this trip, or another time but he was after a whistling post that was still embedded near one of the crossings on the Skokie Valley route. He brought along a sack of tools with which to extricate it. He discovered that it was anchored very deeply by a steel cord of some sort and did not get it.
I took the attached photo at Lake Bluff that day. What I would like to know is where the Lake Bluff station would have been in the 1992 photo and what direction I am facing. As you can obviously tell, it was a damp and foggy day. The second picture was taken at Mundelein. He told me that the NSL station was in the parking lot seen in my photo, which I seem to recall was for an apartment complex.
The individual in the photo was an avid NSL fan, having ridden the last northbound train from Chicago to Racine. He was a high school student at the time. The Racine station agent was a friend of the family. He was in the right place at the right time. The place was the Racine station on the day it was torn down. It was gone by the time he got there but he noticed a pile of items being burned. Among those items was the ticket agent’s rack and rubber stamps which he rescued from the pile.
No rush. I’ve just been wondering. He may have told me that where he was standing was where the trains stopped, but I honestly don’t remember. I ceased all contact with this individual in 2003 when I quit TMER&THS (The Milwaukee Electric Railway & Transit Historical Society).
The site of the former North Shore Line station in Lake Bluff in 1992.
The site of the former North Shore Line station in Mundelein in 1992.
The site (at right) of the former North Shore Line station in Waukegan in 1992.
Perhaps some of our readers can help Larry figure this out, thanks.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
I recently appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s Images of America Author David Sadowski Edition illustrated Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021 ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007 Length 128 pages
Chapters: 01. The South Side “L” 02. The Lake Street “L” 03. The Metropolitan “L” 04. The Northwestern “L” 05. The Union Loop 06. Lost Equipment 07. Lost Interurbans 08. Lost Terminals 09. Lost… and Found
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A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
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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:
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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.
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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.