Track Work @Clark & Van Buren, 1954


Interesting pictures of Chicago streetcars are still coming out of the woodwork more than 56 years after the last car ran in the early hours of June 21, 1958. Today, we present a sequence of photos showing track work under the Loop “L” at Clark and Van Buren on Saturday, July 17, 1954.

We see postwar Chicago PCC 4089, a Pullman product. Photos of the Pullmans are scarce, since they were the first cars scrapped starting in 1953 (although only being a few years old). Parts from 570 of the 600 postwar cars were used by St. Louis Car Co. in building a like number of the curved-door 6000-series rapid transit cars.

We also see crane car X3. Don’s Rail Photos says, “X3 was built by Chicago Rys in 1909 as CRys 66. It was renumbered W16 in 1913 and became CSL W16 in 1914. It was rebuilt as X3 in 1928.”

For a view of how things looked up on the “L” platform near this location at around this time, you can see a nice photo, complete with another sign from the Victoria Hotel, here on the CERA Members Blog.

According to the Chicago Tribune, July 17 was a very warm summer day, with a high of 88 degrees. You can see this in the summer shirts worn by the workers.

From the looks of PCC car 4089, it would appear that it had been involved in a few fender-benders on Chicago’s long and very busy #22 Clark-Wentworth route.

Less than four years after these pictures were taken, what author James D. Johnson called the “Century of Chicago Streetcars” (to quote the title of his 1964 book) came to an end. But on one warm Saturday in 1954, shown in these pictures, the wire was still up and tracks were being maintained.

-David Sadowski