Now here’s something you don’t see every day… the 69th Street station on the Normal Park “L”, in color. This short branch closed in 1954.
For most Chicago-area railfans, January 21, 1963 is a day, to paraphrase Franklin D. Roosevelt, that will “live in infamy,” for that is when the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee, the North Shore Line, breathed its last.
But January 21 is also the date when we started this blog in 2015. This is our seventh anniversary, and I think we have had seven full years of good luck.
In that time, our posts have received 841,000 page views, and over time we have become more and more of a resource for those who are interested in the history of electric traction.
As this is our anniversary post, we pulled out all the stops, and have lots of classic images for you to enjoy. As the 21st is also the 59th anniversary of the North Shore Line abandonment, we have plenty of pictures that pay tribute to that lost interurban.
As we have shared our images with you, you in turn have shared many things with us. We have learned a lot by working together. It has been a great ride here so far, and we can only hope that the next seven years will turn out as well.
Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.
Our Next Book
FYI, I recently made a new book proposal to my publisher and it has been accepted. I signed the agreement on the 18th, and with any luck, it will come out later this year.
There is still a lot of hard work to be done, but I will do my best to produce something that is new and different than that which is already out there, and makes a real contribution to our understanding of the past.
One thing working in my favor is there are plenty of great pictures to choose from, and the subject is already legendary.
Here is a summary:
The North Shore Line
As late as 1963, you could take a high-speed streamlined train from Chicago’s Loop elevated, 90 miles north to Milwaukee. This was the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee, commonly known as the North Shore Line.
From humble beginnings in the 1890s, as a streetcar line in Waukegan, Illinois, the North Shore Line grew to become, in the words of historian William D. Middleton, a “super interurban.” It reached its peak in the 1920s, under Samuel Insull, when the railroad won the prestigious Charles A. Coffin medal no less than three times.
Besides connecting Milwaukee and Chicago, the North Shore Line served Racine, Kenosha, Waukegan, Lake Bluff, Winnetka, Wilmette, and Evanston. A new Skokie Valley Route, built by Insull, opened in 1926 and helped establish Skokie, Glenview, Northfield, and Northbrook.
The railroad had a branch line serving Libertyville and Mundelein, city streetcars in Waukegan and Milwaukee, and was a pioneer in offering “piggyback” freight service.
Hobbled by the Depression and forced into bankruptcy, the North Shore Line rebounded during the war years with two fast new trains called “Electroliners.” It was finally done in by the automobile, highways, and a lack of government subsidies—but it left a remarkable legacy.
Our Annual Fundraiser
Since we started this blog in 2015, we have posted over 13,500 images. This is our 284th post.
Each year, around this time, we must renew our WordPress subscription, our domain registration, and pay other bills associated with maintaining this site, so it is time for our Annual Fundraiser.
The Trolley Dodger blog can only be kept going with the help of our devoted readers. Perhaps you count yourself among them.
If you have already contributed in the past, we thank you very much for your help. Meanwhile, our goal for this fundraiser is just $700, which is only a fraction of what it costs us each year. The rest is made up from either the profits from the items we sell, which are not large, or out of our own pocket, which is not very large either.
There are links at the top and bottom of this page, where you can click and make a donation that will help us meet our goal again for this coming year, so we can continue to offer you more classic images in the future, and keep this good thing we have going.
We thank you in advance for your time and consideration. To date, we have raised $350, which is halfway to our goal. We will also have considerable expenses coming up relating to research for our next book.
On May 11, 1958, William C. Hoffman took this picture looking north along Halsted at the (then) Congress Expressway. Service on the Garfield Park “L” would continue until June 22nd, when it was replaced by the new Congress rapid transit line at left. A passerby admires the new, as-yet unopened station entrance. The Met “L” here had been four tracks, but two were removed by the time this picture was taken, as they were in the highway footprint. The expressway opened in late 1955 in this area.
The old and the new are on display in this 1958 view of the Halsted station on the CTA’s Congress median line. In the background, the old Met “L” is still standing, but would soon be demolished.
North Shore Line 458 heads up a southbound freight train, probably in the early-to-mid 1950s. At first, I thought this location was in Skokie, from the sign on the building. But further research shows this picture was taken in Waukegan, between Washington and Cornelia Streets. The building at right was a former North Shore Line merchandise dispatch (they spelled it “despatch”) station, by this time being rented out to a produce dealer. Don’s Rail Photos: “458 was built by the Spokane Portland & Seattle in January 1941 as Oregon Electric Ry. 50. It was purchased by the North Shore in December 1947 and was completed as 458 on January 27, 1948.”
A northbound Electroliner heading away from the photographer in Waukegan, most likely in the early-to-mid 1950s. In the distance, you can see another North Shore car on a side track.
A close-up of the previous image. Zach E. writes: “Regarding the two photos of 458 and the Electroliner at Washington St. in Waukegan. The cars in the background are standard coaches, not MD cars. There was a storage track there often occupied by cars laying over on the east side of the mainline there between Cornelia and Brookside Ave.”
CTA PCC 4057 is heading northbound on Western Avenue near Roscoe in June 1956, passing by the entrance to Riverview Park, shortly before the end of streetcar service on Route 49. (Robert Selle Photo)
The Chicago and Milwaukee Electric was the predecessor of the North Shore Line. Car 133 is at the Kenosha station in this early 1900s view.
The Chicago Aurora and Elgin began using this off-street terminal in Aurora in 1939. This picture was taken from a nearby bridge in 1951.
Look at what we have here– the Turtle Wax Turtle, a local landmark that stood on top of a building at Madison, Ogden, and Ashland from 1956 to 1963. The slide mount dates it to the late 50s, probably 1956-58. And which “L” is this taken from? Well, since it is daylight and it is 9:13, I would say that is AM, and we are looking south from the Lake Street “L” at Ashland. It would have been visible from the Paulina “L”, which had closed in 1951, and from the Garfield Park “L”, but that structure had already been torn down by 1956. I remember seeing this thing any number of times when I was a kid.
The Turtle Wax Turtle.
One of the two Liberty Liners (ex-Electroliners) on the Norristown High-Speed Line, where they ran from 1964 to 1976.
Britton I. Budd (1871-1965) was a talented and able executive who held many responsible positions in the transit industry, including president of the North Shore Line. When Samuel Insull took over the North Shore Line, he tapped Budd to implement a modernization program. And when the line fell into bankruptcy in 1932, Budd became one of the receivers, a position he held until 1937.
The North Shore logo from a 1942 timetable.
This appeared on the cover of a 1921 issue of the North Shore Bulletin, a small magazine given out to riders.
This is part of a number of photos someone took out of the front window of a CTA “L” train in the 1950s, along the Garfield Park line. We have published some of these in previous posts. Not all of them seem to have been taken at the same time. This one appears to be circa 1957, and the location is along the temporary right-of-way in Van Buren Street.
Here, the “L” train the photographer was riding in was descending a ramp towards the ground-level trackage in Van Buren Street. The cross street in the distance is California Avenue. There is a sign on the front of the oncoming train, which I believe indicates which Chicago Aurora and Elgin connecting train riders could catch in Forest Park.
The Garfield Park “L” on Van Buren Street at California Avenue, but this time, circa 1954. The old “L” has already been removed, except for the bridge over a nearby railroad.
A close-up of the previous image, showing construction on the nearby railroad embankment that crosses the highway at 2600 West. The old Met “L” bridge had not yet been dismantled.
On the Illinois Railway Museum main line, North Shore Line cars can operate in something approximating their former lives in revenue service prior to the 1963 abandonment. We see car 251 in February 1991. (Mike Raia Photo)
Lehigh Valley Transit ran freight as well as passenger service between Allentown, PA and Philadelphia. Even after passenger service was cut back to Norristown in 1949, they continued to operate freight via the Philadelphia and Western. Here we see car C16 in 1950, near the end of its days. Interurban service was abandoned the following year. Don’s Rail Photos: “C16 was built by Jewett Car in 1912 as 800. It was rebuilt as C16 in 1935.”
Lehigh Valley Transit car 1002, circa 1950. Don’s Rail Photos: “1002 was built by Cincinnati Car in June 1930, #3050, as C&LE 126. It was sold to LVT as 1002 in 1938 and scrapped in 1952.”
A pair of Lehigh Valley Transit cars meet a Philadelphia Bullet car at the Norristown terminal, circa 1951. LVT ceased running their Liberty Bell Limited cars there in 1949, for a variety of reasons. It reduced their expenses, but it probably also reduced revenues as their riders now had to change trains at Norristown. But the LVT cars were getting worn out and there were problems with the motors on the lightweight high-speed interurban cars LVT had acquired from the Cleveland and Lake Erie in 1938. Towards the end, LVT had to rely more and more on their older cars, such as the 700-series ones seen here. To the left (north), there was a ramp descending to ground level. This terminal has since been replaced by a newer one nearby.
The Chicago and North Western station in Evanston, during steam days in the early 1900s.
We ran another picture of this scene in a previous post, taken from a different view. The occasion was a Chicago streetcar fantrip using car 2802, and the location is at 63rd and Halsted on the Englewood branch of the “L”. There was an off-street area where riders could change for buses to different locations and, in an older era, interurbans as well. I do not know precisely when this picture was taken, but if I had to guess, I would say sometime in the 1940s.
Here is the other picture we previously ran of car 2802:
CSL 2802 on a charter, possibly a July 4, 1949 fantrip held by the Electric Railroaders’ Association on various south side lines. Bill Shapotkin writes: “Believe this pic is in the streetcar terminal next to the 63/Halsted ‘L’ station (where the C&IT cars and later busses of South Suburban Safeway and Suburban transit began their runs). View looks east.” M. E. adds, “Bill Shapotkin is correct. This view faces east along 63rd Place on the south side of the 63rd and Halsted (Englewood) L station, which was east of Halsted. One small nit about Bill’s text: The bus lines were named Suburban Transit System and South Suburban Safeway Lines.” C&IT stands for the Chicago & Interurban Traction Company. Don’s Rail Photos says, “The Chicago & Interurban Traction Company was incorporated in February 1912, taking over all trackage outside Chicago in March 1912 (all trackage in the City of Chicago went to the Chicago City Railway Company). C&IT interurban service continued from the south side Engelwood Elevated Station at 63rd and Halsted (trackage in Chicago was leased along with the shops at 88th and Vincennes) to Kankakee.” Samuel Insull took over the C&IT in 1922 and tried to revive the line, but when the competing Illinois Central elevated much of their line and electrified, the C&IT could not compete and interurban service was abandoned in 1927.
A Wabash Railroad display at the 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair along the lakefront.
The Chicago and Eastern Illinois exhibit at the 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair.
North Shore Line combine 255. Don’s Rail Photos: “255 was built by Jewett in 1917. It had all of the seats removed in the 1920s to provide a full length baggage car which ran in passenger trains. It was used for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to move equipment to Ravinia. On July 2, 1942, the 40 seats were replaced. Then on December 1, 1946, the seats were again removed. In addition to the Symphony, the car was used for sailors’ baggage from Great Lakes.” As there are seats visible, this picture dates to circa 1942-46.
Atlantic City Brilliner 215 at a traffic signal, while on private right-of-way, on October 13, 1955, which must be shortly before streetcar service ended there.
Pittsburgh Railways PCC 1262 is on Wood Street in downtown Pittsburgh on September 19, 1962.
Chicago Transit Authority PCC 4321 is on 77th Street on July 30, 1948.
This is the Ballston Terminal Railroad, which Frank Hicks calls “a fairly unusual little interurban in upstate New York,” in the early 1900s. More info here.
Here, we see Frank Cheney on CA&E car 434 at the Seashore Trolley Museum on October 12, 1963. From their web site: “No. 434 of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin – “The Great Third Rail” – was outshopped by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927 as one of a group of 15 ordered shortly after Insull acquired control of the railway. Of all steel construction, the car is 55 feet long overall, is powered by four 140 horsepower motors, and has a seating capacity of 52, including 10 in a smoking compartment. Interior appointments include rotating bucket seats, toilet facilities and neatly finished paneling. The car is equipped with trolley poles that were primarily for yard service and limited street running on the CA&E, since the line used third rail current collection not only on the elevated, but on its own cross country surface routes as well. Moved on its own wheels coupled in a freight train from the CA&E shops in Wheaton, Illinois, to Kennebunk in the fall of 1962, No. 434 was trucked to the Museum in the spring of 1963 and was quickly readied for operation, given its good condition.”
North Shore Line car 168 is in North Chicago, being stored after abandonment, on October 19, 1963. It was built by Jewett in 1917. It did not survive.
Some of these interurban cars sure got around after they were retired from their original roads. Here we see North Shore Line car 411 on the Long Island Railroad. Don’s Rail Photos: “411 was built as a trailer observation car by Cincinnati Car in June 1923 #2640. It was out of service in 1932. 411 It was rebuilt as a two motor coach by closing in the open platform and changing the seating on February 25, 1943, and sold to Trolley Museum of New York in 1963. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway & Historical Society in 1973 and sold to Escanaba & Lake Superior in 1989.”
An 0-series Shinkansen “Bullet” train in Tokyo, Japan in June 1968. The North Shore Line’s Electroliners influenced the design of these high-speed trains.
This is the Downey’s station (West Great Lakes) in October 1961.
I assume this may also be at Downeys, in October 1961.
Sailors and others aboard a North Shore Line train in October 1961.
A builder’s photo of Chicago and Milwaukee Electric (later the North Shore Line) car 305. Don’s Rail Photos: “303 thru 305 were built by American Car in 1910 and were almost identical. In 1939 they became sleet cutters and were retired and scrapped in 1940.”
North Shore Line streetcar 510. Don’s Rail Photos: “510 and 511 were not really city cars, but were purchased for use on the Mundelein line. They were typical Cincinnati Car lightweights built in 1922. After more of the steel interurbans were received in the next few years, they were replaced by the heavy cars which were thru routed to Chicago. The cars were stored until they were scrapped in 1940.”
North Shore Line wood car 301 at the Highwood Shops in the 1930s. Don’s Rail Photos: “300 thru 302 were built by Jewett in 1909 as mainline coaches. As the steel cars arrived, they were downgraded to local and school tripper service. In 1936 they became sleet cutters. 301 and 302 were retired in 1939 and scrapped in 1940.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
North Shore Line Birney car 334 in Milwaukee. Don’s Rail Photos: “334 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in December 1922, #2625. It was retired in 1947 and scrapped in April 1948.” (Donald Ross Photo)
North Shore Line electric loco 458 at the Highwood Shops on September 3, 1963, several months after abandonment. None of the NSL locos were saved, due to the high scrap value they had. (Bill Volkmer Photo)
Chicago Aurora & Elgin wood car 137 at the Wheaton Shops on August 6, 1939, during which time it was leased from the North Shore Line. There were several such cars that were purchased by the CA&E in 1946, making them the last passenger cars acquired by the interurban. It was built by the Jewett Car Company in 1907. (La Mar M. Kelley Photo)
Doug Iverson writes:
David, just heard about your latest adventure into the publishing arena. Hope everything goes well. I would be honored and extremely pleased if you could use this photo of my dad heading to board the North Shore in Racine in the 1940s.
My dad’s name was Nathan Norman Iverson. He was born in Forks, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula and traveled to Racine on the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad better known as The Milwaukee Road. As he did most of his traveling during the depression he “rode the rails” trying to cure his wanderlust. In Racine he met my mother and she calmed his wandering spirit. He loved to travel. He always said “Traveling was always more fun than being there.”
I grew up in Racine with The North Shore flying through town in both directions every hour on the half hour.
Thanks for sharing! A remarkable story.
Marty Robinson writes:
Thanks David for your anniversary post. It elicited several memories for me: riding the North Shore Line from Downey into Chicago numerous times while at Great Lakes in 1950/51 at boot camp and electronics school. And a mention of the Railroad Fair, where I worked as a 16-year-old as a conductor on the Deadwood Central.
Glad you enjoyed it, thanks! Marty is front row, center in this 1948 photo from the Chicago Railroad Fair.
Did Not Win
Resources are limited, and we can’t win all the auctions for interesting pictures. Here are some that are still worth another look:
The interior of a Silverliner in 1963.
This is apparently a Chicago area train, but which one? The type of slide mount would indicate a date in the range 1955-58. But the headline visible, on a copy of the Chicago Daily News, refers to the selection of a site for the University of Illinois campus in Chicago. That determination was not made final until 1961. It’s been suggested that this may be the GM&O, but it could also be a Chicago & North Western train known as The 400, which ran between Chicago and Minneapolis. The 400 got its name because the travel time between cities was about 400 minutes. At any rate, it’s an air conditioned car. Mitch Markovitz: “Regarding the parlor car interior. It’s definitely the interior of GM&O parlor “Bloomington,” and not a C&NW parlor. C&NW parlors had parlor chairs from Coach and Car, and the chairs seen in the photo are those from Heywood-Wakefield, in the “Sleepy Hallow model.””
The original Kedzie Avenue station on the Ravenswood “L” (today’s CTA Brown Line) in the early 1970s, not long before it was damaged by fire. We are looking west.
Trolleys to Milwaukee by John Gruber
A copy of this long out-of-print 32-page book is being offered for sale on eBay for $50. One of the fans on the Facebook North Shore Line group lives in Australia and is interested in this book, but international shipping is expensive. So I offered to scan my copy for their benefit. You might enjoy it too.
John E. Gruber (1936-2018) was a notable and very talented photographer, as evidenced in these very striking pictures.
A Guide to the Railroad Record Club E-Book
William A. Steventon recording the sounds of the North Shore Line in April 1956. (Kenneth Gear Collection)
Our good friend Ken Gear has been hard at work on collecting all things related to the late William Steventon’s railroad audio recordings and releases. The result is a new book on disc, A Guide To the Railroad Record Club. This was quite a project and labor of love on Ken’s part!
Kenneth Gear has written and compiled a complete history of William Steventon‘s Railroad Record Club, which issued 42 different LPs of steam, electric, and diesel railroad audio, beginning with its origins in 1953.
This “book on disc” format allows us to present not only a detailed history of the club and an updated account of Kenneth Gear’s purchase of the William Steventon estate, but it also includes audio files, photo scans and movie files. Virtually all the Railroad Record Club archive is gathered in one place!
$10 from the sale of each RRC E-Book will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.
Now Available on Compact Disc:
RRC08D Railroad Record Club #08 Deluxe Edition: Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, Recorded by Elwin Purington The Complete Recording From the Original Master Tapes Price: $15.99
Kenneth Gear‘s doggedness and determination resulted in his tracking down and purchasing the surviving RRC master tapes a few years back, and he has been hard at work having them digitized, at considerable personal expense, so that you and many others can enjoy them with today’s technology. We have already released a few RRC Rarities CDs from Ken’s collection.
When Ken heard the digitized version of RRC LP #08, Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, recorded by the late Elwin Purington, he was surprised to find the original tapes were more than twice the length of the 10″ LP. The resulting LP had been considerably edited down to the limited space available, 15 minutes per side.
The scenes were the same, but each was greatly shortened. Now, on compact disc, it is possible to present the full length recordings of this classic LP, which was one of Steventon’s best sellers and an all-around favorite, for the very first time.
Canadian National. Steaming giants pound high iron on mountain trails, rumble over trestles, hit torpedos and whistle for many road crossings. Mountain railroading with heavy power and lingering whistles! Includes locomotives 3566, 4301, 6013, 3560.
Total time – 72:57
$5 from the sale of RRC08D CD will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.
Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation
We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, 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
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
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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)
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
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CSL 5249 appears to be heading southbound on Larrabee, just north of Chicago Avenue. To the left, you see the Montgomery Ward complex, which has since been turned into residential. 5249 is signed to go to Vincennes and 88th, which probably makes this a Halsted car. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) M. E. writes: “The barn at 88th and Vincennes was originally the barn for the Kanakakee cars that ran from the Englewood L station at 63rd Place and Halsted, south on Halsted, southwest on Summit (a short street connecting Halsted with Vincennes), and Vincennes. When that service folded, the Chicago Surface Lines took over the barn. That barn closed early in my lifetime.”
Today’s post features many “old school” railfan photos, all from the collections of William Shapotkin. In the 1930s and 40s, photographers such as Joe L. Diaz and Edward Frank, Jr. wandered all over Chicagoland, taking black and white photos of streetcars, “L” cars, and interurbans, which they printed up and sold at railfan meetings.
They were still selling these photos into the 1980s and 90s. Years ago, I met both of these gentlemen, who are sadly no longer with us. Perhaps the late Malcolm D. McCarter was the last of this breed. He started selling photos around 1942, and continued to do so for the next 75 years or so. He was also the last living original member of the Illinois Railway Museum.
Unfortunately, these photos often did not come with any documentation as to when, or where, these pictures were taken. We have written captions that include whatever we could determine. But I know that our highly informed, eagle-eyed readers will help us fill in some of the missing details.
When referring to individual photos, please use the file name (i.e. shapotkin262), which you can get by hovering your mouse over the image, instead of saying “the sixth photo down” or some such. We thank you in advance for helping us with these, and let’s thank Bill Shapotkin again for graciously sharing them with us.
You also might want to consider a trip to Indianapolis to attend this year’s Hoosier Traction Meet, which Mr. Shapotkin runs. You can view a flyer (in PDF form) with all the relevant information here.
PS- At the end of this post, you will also find a blurb for our upcoming book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, to be released on July 12 from Arcadia Publishing. So far, we have received orders for more than 70 copies, for which we are very grateful.
FYI, we also have a Facebook auxiliary for the Trolley Dodger, which currently has 368 members.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin
CSL Pullman 172. Daniel Joseph has identified this as the intersection of Ogden, Cermak, and Springfield.
CSL 5638, signed for Navy Pier, may be running on the Stony Island route. M. E. writes, “The caption is undoubtedly correct that these are Stony Island cars that had the north destination Navy Pier. I’d like to add that I see so many trolley poles on the cars, going in both directions, that I think this place was the south terminal which was just north of 93rd St. South of 93rd St., the tracks were used for only a short distance by 93rd/95th St. cars.”
CSL 2803 is southbound on Ashland. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
This picture, taken on April 12, 1915, shows some window damage to CSL car 6063.
CSL 6101, signed for 35th Street. Chris Cole says this “appears to be taken at the Cottage Grove car barn at 38th Street. The Ida B Welles public housing project 2 story buildings are in the background. The Wells Homes ran from Cottage Grove to King Drive and 35th to Pershing Rd (39th). I also note that there are a number of overhead lines that would be present on the driveway to the barn. I believe that the 35th streetcar used the Cottage Grove barn from 1946 to 1951.”
CSL 2601 on the 111th Street line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1455. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2745. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans says this is “looking W down Wrightwood from Lincoln on Lincoln Carhouse leads – car is pulling out to do a Riverview-Larrabee run.” Daniel Joseph adds, “Possibly at Wrightwood, Lincoln & Sheffield at car barn.”
CSL 2599 on the Brandon-Brainard line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 419 at the east end of the Chicago Avenue line on December 27, 1946.
CSL 5653, signed for Ashland. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2730 and 2728. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans: “Open yard on west side of Lincoln carhouse looking south.”
CSL 2731 and 1346. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Andre Kristopans: “Open yard on west side of Lincoln carhouse looking south.”
CSL 3315 on the 67-69-71 route.
CSL 5702, signed for 93rd and Stony Island. Our resident south side expert M. E. writes: “I’m going to hazard a guess as to where this picture was taken. But first, I present my case. The destination sign on the first car says “Stony Island-93rd”; the sign on the second car says (I think) “Stony Island-Downtown” — yet both cars are on the same track, heading in the same direction. Why would that happen? It might happen if these were special fan trips, one car following the other, oblivious to their destination signs. Or it might simply be two Stony Island cars heading to 93rd St., but the sign on the second car is wrong. Another factor to consider is that the tracks on Stony Island ran in the street south to 69th St., but south of 69th, they had their own right-of-way between the north- and south-bound auto traffic lanes. In this picture, I believe I see a separation between the tracks and the car lane. Therefore this picture was taken south of 69th St. But the best clue, by far, is the round sign in the distance: “Ruby OK used cars.” The dealership was Ruby Chevrolet. I went to Google and looked up “ruby chevrolet used car location south side chicago”. Up came a link to a Tribune obituary about Richard Ruby, car dealer and attorney, dated 8 December 2014. In that obituary, it says Ruby’s lot was at 72nd and Stony Island. Next, consider the railroad crossing sign. It is a dinky sign with no flashing lights. That would indicate a crossing that was lightly used by trains. I submit that this is the trackage used by the Baltimore and Ohio railroad that started at about 71st and Dorchester (as an offshoot from the Illinois Central main line), then ran southeast, along the ground, through South Shore and to the South Chicago neighborhood. In Google maps, if you enter “73rd and Stony Island Chicago”, you will see the path used by that trackage. It crossed Stony Island just south of 73rd. (This railroad trackage lasted a long time, because the B&O did not want to give it up. So, every day at 3 p.m., they ran a diesel engine and caboose — maybe a few freight cars too — down that track. Motorists mostly ignored the rail crossing signs, so the train had to proceed very slowly and blow its horn constantly.) So, I think this photo’s location is the southeast corner of 73rd and Stony Island, looking north. North of 73rd, Stony Island tracks also carried South Deering cars, which ran from the Jackson Park L at 63rd and Dorchester, south to 64th, east to Stony Island, south to 73rd, then east on 73rd. In the photo, South Deering cars made the turn to the right, whereas Stony Island cars continued straight ahead. Gee, that was much fun to deduce!” Andre Kristopans concurs: “Looking north on Stony at 73rd. RR crossing just out of picture to left was the old B&O Brookdale line, once the main line into Chicago.” Mitch Markovitz adds: “That’s my old neighborhood. Both cars southbound at 73rd and Stony with the tracks for South Deering branching off. It doesn’t really matter what the destination sign reads on the second car. Changing the sign won’t make the car stray off to distant lines. Either a pull out, a pull in, or someone futzing and changing the sign.”
CSL 5909 on Route 47.
CSL 1868. I can’t make out the destination sign. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Michael Franklin: “This is the 5200 block of Harrison St, Chicago. Buildings are still there.”
CSL 419, at the east end of the Chicago Avenue line on December 27, 1946.
CSL snow sweeper E1. Don’s Rail Photos: “E1, sweeper, was built by Lewis and Fowler in 1895 as Chicago Rys 2. It was renumbered E1 in 1913 and became CSL E1 in 1914. It was retired on November 24, 1950.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Not sure which CTA snow plow this is. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Bill Wasik says this “shows an eastbound snowplow on 92nd St. as it approaches Baltimore Avenue. Can’t identify the plow, but two buildings of note in this photo are still standing. These include the glass-bricked neo-Romanesque banquet hall at the far right. This is an 1891 corner block at the northwest corner of Baltimore Ave. Also visible one block to the west is a bank building that once was the headquarters of the Steel City National Bank, a facility mired in scandal during the early 1970s.”
CSL/CTA salt car AA10. Don’s Rail Photos: “AA10, salt car, was built by CUT in 1899 as CUT 4492. It was rebuilt as 1445 in 1911 and became CSL 1445 in 1914. It was rebuilt as (a) salt car in 1930 and renumbered AA10 on October 1, 1941. It was retired on February 18, 1955.”
CSL 3307 is westbound on Montrose, about to cross under the Chicago & North Western railroad at about 1800 West.
The Chicago Surface Lines tracks were extended to the site of A Century of Progress in 1933. This could be from that year, as a shelter is under construction. We are looking south.
CSL 840 under the “L”. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 5621, signed to go to Belmont and Clybourn. This picture seems to date to the mid-1930s.
CSL 204. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
A Chicago Surface Lines trolley bus on Route 86 – Narragansett. This route used trolley buses from 1930 to 1953.
Chicago Motor Coach Company double-decker bus 500, built in 1923.
Andre Kritsopans: “Looking west towards east end of “east house” at 77th, basically where Wentworth south of 77th would be. 77th until 1970s had two separate buildings, with an open area between them, until the open area was roofed over. The pile of junk in front is 77th scrap pile, looks like mostly boilers and other building parts.”
CSL 3286. Might this be Kedzie Station (car house)? (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
On April 16, 1946, Mrs. Edith Sands and her family were living in the body of former CSL streetcar 1384. There was a housing shortage once WWII ended. There is a different picture of the interior of this makeshift home in our book Chicago Trolleys.
CSL 3296 is on Montrose. Could this be westbound at Welles Park? Note the Packard at left.
CSL 1415 is on Racine at Belden on July 9, 1946.
While researching the above photo, I ran across another one, taken at the same location but from the opposite direction:
CSL 1415, built originally in 1906, is at work on Racine at Belden on the WEBSTER RACINE route. The photographer is unknown. An original Kodachrome from February 1942. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 5241 is southbound on Through Route 8, Halsted. Bill Shapotkin adds, “The car (signed for destination of 111/Sacramento and probably a school tripper for Morgan Park High School) is standing W/B in 111th St JUST EAST of Vincennes Ave. That house with the distinctive roof (left) still-stands today. View looks east.”
CSL 5436 is westbound on 79th Street at Ashland on June 11, 1948.
CSL 5635 at Navy Pier.
I assume that CTA PCC 4300 is turning from Archer onto Clark, running a northbound trip on Route 42 – Halsted-Downtown, and that we are looking to the southwest. Note the Rock Island train in the background. Metra Rock Island District trains still use these tracks.
The same location today.
Postwar PCC 4233 being delivered from Pullman.
This one is too fuzzy to see much, except that it is the east end of an east-west streetcar line on the north side, since the tracks end abruptly. I assume that’s Broadway crossing on an angle. Miles Beitler, on the other hand, writes: “I searched the listings for the auto service garage on the right side of the photo. I found a listing for “Ragalie Bros. Auto Service” with a location of 3939 West 5th Avenue, a diagonal street. 3939 is at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Harrison Street. When I checked the 1932 telephone book I found (a) listing for Micheli Restaurant. That location — 3953 West Harrison — is also near the intersection of Harrison and 5th Avenue and it does seem to fit the photo. Moreover, I believe there was a streetcar line on 5th Avenue which ended at Harrison. Of course, the expressway was not there in 1932. Also note the horse drawn Bowman Dairy wagon on the right. I believe that Bowman Dairy used horse drawn delivery wagons well into the 1920s.”
A note re: the picture above. The addresses of the businesses and locations of buildings would seem to confirm that this is Fifth Avenue, just east of Pulaski Road, with Harrison Street as the cross-street in the background. The tracks that end in the middle of the street were for the Madison-Fifth line. When CSL introduced the new single-ended Peter Witts in 1929, they were used on Madison, and a loop was apparently devised for Madison-Fifth by extending these tracks around the block, via Pulaski and Harrison, to form a triangular-shaped loop. The new northbound track on Pulaski was separate from the existing streetcar tracks, so as not to interfere with Pulaski service. In late 1936, CSL put PCC cars on Madison, and these were also used on Madison-Fifth.
This branch line was discontinued on February 22, 1954, when construction of the nearby Congress Expressway reached this area, just to the north. Fifth Avenue was not a major street and would have required a complicated bridge over the highway, crossing at an angle. So it was decided to truncate Fifth instead.
The Garfield Park “L” ran east and west at this point, just south of the alley mid-block between Harrison and Flournoy Streets. The “L” would have been just out of view to the right of this picture. It intersected with Fifth Avenue at Pulaski Road, just behind the photographer.
In this zoomed-in view of the previous picture, the building in the distance matches the building in the next picture, taken in 1953.
CTA 1725 is operating as a one-man shuttle car on the Madison-Fifth branch line on Route 20 on February 15, 1953. The car is heading southwest on Fifth Avenue approaching Harrison Street and Pulaski Avenue, which was the end of the line near the adjacent Garfield Park “L” station. I thought at first that the date might actually have been 1954, but subsequent research shows the 1953 date to be correct. (Robert Selle Photo)
In addition, this photo, taken from the Pulaski Road station on the Garfield Park “L” station, shows buildings on the north side of Fifth Avenue that match up with those in the shapotkin308 image above. Note it’s the same exact fire escape:
On Sunday, September 13, 1953, CTA one-man shuttle car 3175 is on Fifth Avenue at Pulaski (Crawford), the west end of the Fifth Avenue line. This had been a branch line from route 20 – Madison. From this point, the cars looped via Pulaski and Harrison before going back NE on Fifth. The photographer was on the Garfield Park “L” at Pulaski. The “L” was heading east and west at this point, just south of where the Eisenhower expressway is today. This “L” station remained in use until June 1958. Streetcar service on Fifth Avenue continued into early 1954. The Fifth Avenue line used gauntlet track on Pulaski, so as not to interfere with Pulaski streetcars. This is confirmed by studying the 1948 supervisor’s track map. Danny Joseph adds, “As a child I lived near this triangle when both Pulaski and Fifth still operated street cars and Harrison did not. I was very fascinated by the gauntlet on Pulaski which was the first time I saw such construction.” (Bob Selle Photo)
The gas stations on the triangular-shaped corner of Harrison and Fifth also match, between the late 1920s photo and this one from 1950:
This birds-eye view of CTA 1744 was taken from the Pulaski Road “L” station on the Garfield Park branch in April 1950. However, what we are looking at may actually be a Madison-Fifth car at the west end of its route, ready to loop back via Pulaski and Harrison. Bill Shapotkin adds, “This image is looking E-N/E on Fifth Ave from the Garfield Pk ‘L’…no question about it. The intersection behind the streetcar is Harrison.”
Now that we have determined where shapotkin308 was taken, it’s the presence of a late 1920s Franklin automobile that pins the date down to circa 1926-28. In 1929, the streetcar tracks on Fifth Avenue were extended around the block. Interestingly, the Franklin used an air-cooled engine, and the radiator grill on the car was simply for show. After the Franklin firm failed in 1934, it was succeeded by Aircooled Motors, which was later purchased by Preston Tucker, and provided the engines (water-cooled) for the short-lived 1948 Tucker Torpedo. Aircooled Motors survived Tucker and continued in operation until 1975, providing engines for many small airplanes and helicoptors.
CTA 6002 is southbound on Kedzie on June 22, 1950, having just passed the Garfield Park “L”. Service at this station continued until June, 1958, since it was not in the path of the Congress Expressway.
The same location today.
This could be the west end of the 75th Street route. CSL Pullmans 122, 126, and 392 are visible. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
This photo has a lot of scratches, but it does show CSL 2510 at 75th and the lakefront. Presumably the negative was scratched from being printed many times. (M. D. McCarter Photo)
CSL 5993, on the 31st Street route, is running direct to the World’s Fair (A Century of Progress), so this must be 1933-34. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 6103 is running on Through Route 17 – Kedzie. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo) Daniel Joseph: “Probably Kedzie & 30th St looking north at grade crossing.”