A northbound midday express train passes the 18th Street “L” station, just prior to the October 1943 opening the State Street Subway. The new signals that controlled access to the subway are already in place. A wooden Pullman-built trailer, built around the turn of the century, is being pushed by two early 1920s 4000-series cars. Once the subway opened, all 455 steel-bodied cars were needed there, and mixed consists such as these became a thing of the past. When the Chicago Transit Authority made a major revision of north-south service in 1949, the third track here was taken out of service, and was eventually removed. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)
We are pleased to report that our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s is now 100% finished, and will be released by Arcadia Publishing on July 12, 2021. The final proofing process took several days, as there were a number of changes I wanted to make.
We have already received pre-orders for more than 60 copies, better than either of our two previous books. You will find ordering information at the end of this post, and also on our Online Store.
How does a book like this get made? I am sure the process varies for every author, but for me, it starts out with an idea. I wanted to do a book about the “L”, but I also wanted it to be different than any of the others that are out there.
Once I had settled on my theme, and had determined the chapter titles, I started looking at images, lots of them. I have a collection of perhaps 30,000 digitized images, and I went through all of them– three times. I put the 500 or so images that I considered “possibles” into a folder, and from this, I continued the winnowing down process, until I had a more reasonable number (there are usually around 230 images or so in this type of book).
But this was just the start of the work. I had to put the images into an order that made sense, and then try to write captions for them.
In the process of doing this, it became clear to me that each and every image in the book had to have a clear purpose for being there, and couldn’t just be a place holder. If I couldn’t come up with an interesting and informative caption, there was really no point in including that particular photo.
That’s when the narrative of the book starts to become clear, and you eventually figure out what the story is you are trying to tell. You see what’s missing, and have to seek out the missing images that will help you fill the holes in your narrative. Often, these have to be purchased outright, and many of the images in the book are taken from original negatives and slides in our own collections, all made possible by your purchases and donations.
Over the course of many months, nearly half the images in my lineup got replaced by others. It’s always the oldest pictures that are the hardest to find. This process took longer for Chicago’s Lost “L”s because of the delays caused by the pandemic.
A book such as this is a partnership between the author and the publisher. They have requirements and standards of their own, and once a book is written and submitted, things go back and forth between author and editor several times, until everyone is happy with the results.
Every effort has been made to make this the best and most comprehensive book on this subject, and we sincerely hope you will enjoy reading it!
In today’s post, (part one of two) we feature some of the images that ultimately were not selected for the book. But they are still interesting in their own right, and we hope they will whet your appetite for Chicago’s Lost “L”s. We’ll see you nexdt time with another batch of outtakes.
PS- FYI, we have a Facebook auxiliary for the Trolley Dodger, which currently has 354 members.
This is how the end of the Jackson Park “L” looked for many years at 63rd Street and Stony Island Avenue. The “L” had gone about a block further east during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to connect to the experimental Columbian Intramural Railway. In this early 1950s view, a CTA 63rd Street bus has turned the corner onto Stoney Island, as this was the end of the line. Behind the “L” station, we can see a sign advertising the Tower Theater, open from 1926 to 1956, built by the Lubliner and Trinz chain. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)
Inventor Frank Julian Sprague was hired by the South Side “L” to equip their cars with electricity (powered by third rail) and multiple unit operation, his latest invention. Here, “L” car 139 is being tested on Harrison Curve on April 16, 1898. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)
Service on the South Side “L” began under steam power, as seen here in this 1893 view of a train on 63rd Street just west of Cottage Grove. Locomotive #41 was built by Baldwin. Steam was replaced by electricity in the late 1890s. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)
The Normal Park “L” was the shortest branch on the rapid transit system. Here we see the end of the line at 69th Street, looking east in 1949. The terminal here was designed for extension, but this did not come to pass. This branch closed in 1954. The sign on the train indicates it is a Ravenswood Express. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)
Shortly before the Stock Yards branch was discontinued in 1957, a single-car wooden train heads west towards the Exchange station. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)
In this view at Adams and Wabash station circa 1939, we see the rears of two “L” cars that are both heading away from us, as both Loop tracks then ran in a counter-clockwise direction. The train at left is a Lake Street “L”, while the one at right may have been working in north-south service. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)
This circa 1910 view of Indiana Junction on the South Side “L” looks to the southwest. Once branch lines were opened here, going to Kenwood and the Stock Yards, this became a busy transfer point. The “L” tracks here ran parallel to 40th Street and were adjacent to the Chicago Junction Railway’s freight line, seen at right. A southbound Jackson Park Express train runs on the middle track, turning south, with its next stop at 43rd Street. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)
The South Side “L” was Chicago’s first, and was also known as the Alley “L”. On September 5, 1890, a connecting span is raised at what became the 35th Street station. Service began in 1892. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)
Frank Lloyd Wright designed the triangular Stohr Arcade Building at Wilson Avenue and Broadway in 1909, part of which was underneath the Northwestern “L” structure. Within a decade of its construction, “L” service led to rapid development of the Uptown neighborhood, and the Stohr Arcade was replaced by Arthur U. Gerber’s Uptown Union Station in 1923. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)
The view looking north from the Wilson Avenue Lower Terminal between 1909 and 1922, showing the Stohr Arcade Building at the intersection of Wilson and Broadway. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)
We are looking east from Exchange on the Stock Yards branch. The time is circa 1949.
The stations on the Stock Yards loop had but one side platform, as there was only a single track. This is the Armour station,
A two-car train of wooden “L” cars on the single-track Stock Yards branch in 1946. This photo has been attributed to Charles Keevil.
CTA 1780 heads up an “A” train at Marion Street in Oak Park. The ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L” was relocated onto the nearby C&NW embankment in 1962. This picture was probably taken between 1948 and 1955.
Service to Wilson Avenue via the “L” commenced in 1900, but the lower-level station did not open until March 5, 1907, with this modest station house designed by Arthur U. Gerber. In the book, I chose to use a different image, taken on opening day, that shows the other side of this building and the lower level tracks.
A 1908 view of the Argyle station on the Northwestern “L”, shortly after service was extended between Uptown and Evanston at ground level. The “L” took over tracks belonging to the Milwaukee Road via a lease arrangement. By 1915, the “L’ was gradually being elevated here onto a new embankment, which is now itself in the process of being rebuilt after a century of use. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)
This circa 1952 shot of CTA 6097-6098 was taken from the LaSalle and Van Buren platform, looking west towards the junction at Wells and Van Buren. In the distance, you can see the Franklin Street station, used by Metropolitan “L” trains. It was not on the Loop itself. (George Trapp Collection)
The façade of Wells Street Terminal, after it was renovated in the late 1920s, with the addition of two levels. It was designed by Chicago Rapid Transit Company staff architect Arthur U. Gerber. (Jack Bejna Collection)
We are looking west along Harrison at Wabash on November 12, 1928. In 2003, the Chicago Transit Authority straightened out this jog with a section of new “L” structure, occupying the area where the building at left once was.
The old Cermak Road station on the south Side “L”. Note there are three tracks here. This station was closed in 1977 and removed. A new station replaced it in 2015.
A train of 4000s, signed for Jackson Park via the Subway, in 1947. If I am reading the sign correctly, this is 31st Street, a station the CTA closed in 1949. There was also apparently a Chicago White Sox home game when this picture was taken. M. E. writes: “pict673.jpg features a Jackson Park train at 31st St. Notice three tracks. The middle track was used, although I am unsure under what circumstances. One possibility that comes to mind is that the Kenwood line (until it became a shuttle out of Indiana Ave.) ran on this trackage into the Loop and up to Wilson. The Kenwood was a local. The Englewood and Jackson Park trains sometimes bypassed the Kenwood locals using the middle track. There were switches up and down the line to enable moving to and from the middle track.
Another possibility is that at one point the North Shore ran trains south as far as 63rd and Dorchester (1400 East) on the Jackson Park line. Perhaps some CNS&M trains used the middle track.
One impossibility is that the Englewood and Jackson Park trains used the middle track the whole way from south of Indiana Ave. to the Loop. I say this was not possible because all the stations on this line were on the outer sides of the outside tracks. I don’t recall any Englewood or Jackson Park trains running express on the middle track along this stretch.
By the way, prior to the 1949 changes, only the Jackson Park line ran north to Howard. The Englewood ran to Ravenswood (to Lawrence and Kimball).”
61st Street on the South Side “L”, looking north on November 13, 1944.
This old photo shows South Side Rapid Transit car 131 at 63rd Street in 1899. Note the wires on the tops of the cars, which were used for current collection via overhead wire in yard areas that did not yet have third rail installed. (George Trapp Collection)
A track map of the Kenwood branch, which ran between Indiana Avenue and 42nd Place. It branched off the South Side “L”.
A track map showing the Stock Yard branch, which operated as a shuttle starting at Indiana Avenue on the South Side “L”. It didn’t really have an end of the line, since part of the line ran in a single-track loop.
CTA 2067-2068 head up a westbound Lake Street train in June 1965.
A two-car train of 4000s is on the Lake Street “L” during construction of the Northwest (now Kennedy) expressway on February 25, 1958. The new highway opened in 1960. Further south, the Garfield Park “L” also crossed the highway footprint and had to be shored up around the same time this photo was taken. But once the new Congress rapid transit line opened on June 22, 1958 the Garfield line was no longer needed and the structure was removed where it crossed the highway, cutting the line off from the rest of the system. The remaining portions of structure west of there were removed in 1959; east of there, parts remained until 1964. The Lake Street “L”, on the other hand, rechristened the Green Line, is still here.
This is an inspection train at the Lake Street Transfer “L” station, which provided connections between the Lake Street “L”, on the lower level, and the Metropolitan above. The higher level station was closed in February 1951, when the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway opened.
CTA 3119, signed as a Lake Street local, is being stored on the third track at Hamlin in August 1948. By then, A/B “skip stop” service had been in effect for some months. It’s possible this car was no longer being used on the line. Don’s Rail Photos: “3119 was built by St. Louis Car in 1902 as LSERR 119. In 1913 it was renumbered 3119 and became CRT 3119 in 1923.”
CRT S-200 in the Lake and Hamlin yard. Don’s Rail Photos says, “S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1923.” In this photo, it looks like it is being used to string trolley wire. You can see the ramp leading up to the “L” at right. (George Trapp Collection)
An eastbound Garfield Park train approaches the Loop in the 1940s, crossing over the Chicago River. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)
This may be an “as new” photo showing Metropolitan West Side “L” car 876. Don’s Rail Photos: “2873 thru 2887 were built by Pullman in 1906 as M-WSER 873 thru 887. In 1913 they were renumbered 2873 thru 2887 and in 1923 they became CRT 2873 thru 2987.” (George Trapp Collection)
A Douglas Park “B” train heads west at Halsted on the Met main line, prior to the removal of two tracks for expressway construction.
A two car CRT “L” train in December 1935, heading west toward the Douglas Pak “L”s end-of-the-line at Oak Park Avenue in Berwyn.
The Pulaski station on the Douglas Park “L” on May 10, 1958. There was a yard there at the time. This was once the western terminus of Douglas, and the curved track visible here was part of a turning loop. (Lawrence H. Boehuring Photo)
Around July 1, 1957, a westbound CTA Garfield Park “L” train is westbound on the Van Buren temporary trackage at California Avenue (2800 W.).
A night shot of CTA 2810 and 2818 in the Laramie Yards on February 1, 1957. By then, the Congress Expressway was open as far as Laramie and was adjacent to the Garfield Park “L”. It was still under construction west of here, and the “L” ran on temporary trackage. (Robert Selle Photo)
The CRT Westchester branch at Roosevelt Road, circa 1929-1930. Service along this line opened in 1926, and when the line was extended, local officials insisted that tracks not cross Roosevelt at grade, thereby necessitating this grade separation project. The platform at left was later moved into the open cut, although the original station house was retained. Service to Mannheim began in 1930. The line was abandoned in 1951. We are looking north. (George Trapp Collection)
A track map showing the Metropolitan “L” branches going to Logan Square and Humboldt Park (Lawndale). All four Met lines came together at Marshfield.
The Logan Square terminal in 1946. “L” service terminated here from 1895 to 1970, when the CTA extended service to the northwest via a new subway. A portion of this building still exists, although considerably altered. (Chicago Transit Authority Historical Collection)
A Metropolitan “L” motorman in the early 1900s.
The Humboldt Park “L” station at Lawndale Avenue (3700 W), which was the end of the line. There was just the one platform here. Since the Met hoped to eventually extend the line (which never happened), there was no terminal as such, and trains were stored on the other two tracks when not in use.
You would be forgiven for not recognizing this location, but that’s the Western Avenue station on the Humboldt Park “L”, just north of North Avenue. The station was closed in 1952, probably just a few months before this picture was taken. If the station was open, there would be a sign advertising this, similar to ones seen in some of the other pictures in this post. You can also see trolley bus wires, used on North Avenue. PCC 7151 is a two-man car, and passengers are boarding at the rear. This portion of the old Humboldt Park line was not demolished for another decade, and the story goes that it would have been used by Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban trains as a midday storage area, if service on that line could have continued after 1957.
Robert Selle took this photo on June 21, 1958, looking out the front window of a northbound CTA Douglas Park train. We are about to pass the old Met station at Madison Street on the Logan Square-Humboldt Park branch, unused since 1951. From 1954 to 1958, Douglas trains were routed downtown over the Lake Street “L” via a new connection seen off in the distance. This is the current route of the CTA Pink Line, but the day after this picture was taken, Douglas trains began using the Congress-Dearborn-Milwaukee subway instead.
Our Latest Book, Now Available for Pre-Order:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Arcadia Publishing will release our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s on July 12, 2021. Reserve your copy today!
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
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages
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.
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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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