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  • Thursday, September 05, 2013 4:31 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    There’s a lot going on at CERA this month, with three fantrips, a banquet/program, plus our regular monthly meeting.

    A K-type controller (the type featured in our logo) in a Japanese tram in July 1969. (Unknown photographer) CERA is moving full speed ahead!

    A K-type controller (the type featured in our logo) in a Japanese tram in July 1969. (Unknown photographer) CERA is moving full speed ahead!


    During May, all CERA 2012 and 2013 Members received a special mailing, with a brochure detailing our 75th Anniversary events this September. The basic cost of attending our Diamond Jubilee banquet and program is $75, which also includes a copy of Trolley Sparks Special #1, a retrospective look at the first 75 years of our group.

    CNS&M 739 in Milwaukee on June 24, 1962. (Photographer unknown)

    CNS&M 739 in Milwaukee on June 24, 1962. (Photographer unknown)

    CNS&M 731 in Milwaukee in August 1961. (Photographer unknown)

    CNS&M 731 in Milwaukee in August 1961. (Photographer unknown)

    January 20, 1963, the last full day of North Shore Line operation. "Waiting for Mundelein-Libertyville train- Solheim's head." (Photo by Charles B. Porter)

    January 20, 1963, the last full day of North Shore Line operation. “Waiting for Mundelein-Libertyville train- Solheim’s head.” (Photo by Charles B. Porter)

    CNS&M Electroliner on January 20, 1963 in Milwaukee, during the last full day of operation. (Photographer unknown)

    CNS&M Electroliner on January 20, 1963 in Milwaukee, during the last full day of operation. (Photographer unknown)

    Longtime CERA Member, Director, and President Walter Keevil will present the program at our 75th Anniversary Banquet this September 21st. Since this is the 50th anniversary of the North Shore Line’s demise, Walter will show rare films of that famous interurban from his extensive collection.

    The hour-long program will include material from 1941 to 1962, with the Shore Line and streetcars included, as well as the mainline, Mundelein branch and scenes on the “L”. Preceding the program, we will have a short presentation of photos from CERA fantrips going back to 1938.

    September 10, 1938 - Indiana Railroad car 435 in Indianapolis. "Last car north (to Kokomo), 3:15 pm Last day." (Photo by George Krambles)

    September 10, 1938 – Indiana Railroad car 435 in Indianapolis. “Last car north (to Kokomo), 3:15 pm Last day.” (Photo by George Krambles)

    Stay on top of things. Attend one of our three upcoming fantrips. (These are CRT/CTA 4000s models made in the early 1970s by Jack Bender- photo by Pete Peters.)

    Stay on top of things. Attend one of our three upcoming fantrips. (These are CRT/CTA 4000s models made in the early 1970s by Jack Bender- photo by Pete Peters.)

    CA&E 20 at the Fox River Trolley Museum in August 1976. (Photographer unknown)

    CA&E 20 at the Fox River Trolley Museum in August 1976. (Photographer unknown)

    In addition to the banquet and program, we have fantrips to the Kenosha streetcars, the Illinois Railway Museum, and Fox River Trolley Museum. Charter bus transportation is available for all three events.

    Tickets for all these events can be purchased NOW online via our web site, or by mail. You can pay online using either PayPal, or a debit/credit card. Mail payments should be by check. Please do not send us credit card information by mail.

    For further information go here. Seating is limited and these events may sell out quickly. Tickets will be mailed to you as soon as we receive your order. Orders for Banquet/Program tickets must be received no later than September 14th to be guaranteed. We will try to accommodate orders received after that date to the greatest extent possible.

    Only those who have purchased a Banquet ticket will be admitted to the program. No exceptions. While we are not requiring a dress code as such, we ask that our members dress appropriately for the occasion. This is your last chance to order tickets for our special 75th Anniversary events.

    Our newest book Trolley Sparks Special #1 has been printed and will distributed starting September 21st. The cost is $29, which includes shipping within the United States. International shipping costs $12. This book is not part of our regular membership entitlement. Illinois residents need to add 9.25% sales tax, which makes the total $31.68. International shipping costs an additional $12.

    This is a limited edition book, likely to sell out quickly.

    Avoid traffic congestion- ride our chartered buses to our three September fantrips.

    Avoid traffic congestion- ride our chartered buses to our three September fantrips.

    For those attending the 75th Anniversary Banquet and Program, there will be free parking at the venue. Just pull into the regular paid lot and we will distribute vouchers at the banquet, which you can use when leaving the lot by midnight Saturday. FYI, there is no free overnight or daytime parking at the hotel.

    If you are attending one of our three fantrips, and plan to take our charter bus, you have the option of parking at the nearby CTA Cumberland parking garage. Our buses will stop there (both ways) five minutes after the scheduled times at the hotel. The rate is $5 for up to 12 hours.

    We will make a special announcement revealing our next book (B-146) at the banquet. This book is the membership entitlement for 2012 members. We are very excited about the new book, and you will be too!

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    All this will be followed by our regular “fourth Friday” program meeting:

    Midwest Traction In Vintage Films From the 1930s and 40s

    Presented by Harvey Laner

    Left coaster and longtime CERA Member Harvey Laner has been collecting vintage traction films for a long time. He’s traveling here to showcase Midwestern properties, and many of these films will be seen in Chicago for the first time.

    Our program includes Cincinnati Streetcars, Cincinnati, Newport and Covington, Cincinnati and Lake Erie, Columbus Delaware and Marion, Lake Shore Electric Ry., Gary Railways, Indiana Railroad, Marion Railways, Indianapolis Railways, Fort Wayne (Indiana), Cedar Rapids & Iowa City, Waterloo Cedar Falls and Northern, Chicago Great Western, Charles City Western, Mason City and Clear Lake, and Iowa Traction.

    Mr. Laner will round out the program with a selection of his own Chicago-area films from 1956-57, featuring streetcars, interurbans, and rapid transit. Come join us for what promises to be a fun evening.

    Friday, September 27, 2013
    1900 hrs / 7:00pm
    University Center
    525 S State St, Chicago, IL

    Admission is free for current CERA Members, and $5 for non-members. Admission will always be free for our members. It is hoped that this will help encourage more people to become current CERA members. You can show your 2013 membership card for admission. Otherwise, we can look up your membership status in our database. Everyone attending the meeting will receive a ticket for pass-in/outs.

    We will also be selling copies of our new book Trolley Sparks Special #1 at the meeting for $32, which includes 9.25% Illinois Sales Tax.

    CRANDIC 116 (ex-C&LE) in Iowa City on October 26, 1952. (Photographer unknown)

    CRANDIC 116 (ex-C&LE) in Iowa City on October 26, 1952. (Photographer unknown)

    CA&E 458 in Elgin on October 8, 1955. (Photographer unknown)

    CA&E 458 in Elgin on October 8, 1955. (Photographer unknown)

    Charles City Western car 50 in Iowa during the 1950s. (Photographer unknown)

    Charles City Western car 50 in Iowa during the 1950s. (Photographer unknown)

    C&LE 112 in Toldeo during the 1930s. (Photographer unknown)

    C&LE 112 in Toldeo during the 1930s. (Photographer unknown)

    -Your CERA Directors


  • Sunday, August 25, 2013 10:23 AM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    CERA’s 75th Anniversary events are fast approaching, and are now less than a month away!

    CERA is pulling out all the stops as we celebrate our 75th Anniversary this Sept. 20, 21, and 22. Tickets are on sale now by mail and through the CERA web site.

    CERA has taken delivery on Trolley Sparks Special #1, and copies will be distributed starting on September 21st.

    CERA has taken delivery on Trolley Sparks Special #1, and copies will be distributed starting on September 21st.


    As detailed in our 75th Anniversary brochure, there are special fantrips to ride the Kenosha streetcars and visit both the Illinois Railway Museum and the Fox River Trolley Museum. You can either drive to these events or take our charter bus.

    CNS&M line car 606 at North Chicago Junction in July 1962. (Photographer unknown) Our 75th Anniversary program will feature rare films of the North Shore Line. According to Don's Rail Photos, "606 was built by Cincinnati in January 1923, #2620. In 1963 it became Chicago Transit Authority S-606 and burned in 1978. The remains were sold to the Indiana Transportation Museum."

    CNS&M line car 606 at North Chicago Junction in July 1962. (Photographer unknown) Our 75th Anniversary program will feature rare films of the North Shore Line. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “606 was built by Cincinnati in January 1923, #2620. In 1963 it became Chicago Transit Authority S-606 and burned in 1978. The remains were sold to the Indiana Transportation Museum.”

    All this will be capped off on Saturday night, Sept. 21st, at our 75th Anniversary Banquet and Program. Longtime CERA Member, Director, and President Walter Keevil will present the program. Since this is the 50th anniversary of the North Shore Line’s demise, Walter will show rare films of that famous interurban from his extensive collection.

    The hour-long program will include material from 1941 to 1962, with the Shore Line and streetcars included, as well as the mainline, Mundelein branch and scenes on the “L”. Preceding the program, we will have a short presentation of photos from CERA fantrips going back to 1938.

    Tickets for the 75th Anniversary Banquet and Program are on sale now online and by mail. You can purchase tickets directly through our web site, using PayPal, credit or debit cards, or print out order forms.

    CERA has negotiated a special $99 promotional rate with the Chicago Marriott O’Hare. You can make your reservations directly with the hotel (by telephone) using the special promotional code “CERA.”

    Trolley Sparks Special #1

    Everyone who attends the banquet and program on September 21st will receive a copy of Trolley Sparks Special #1, a limited-edition commemorative 80-page full color book celebrating CERA’s first 75 years. If you cannot make the banquet, you can still pre-order a copy here. Demand for this book is high, so reserve your copy now for this collector’s item, which is sure to sell out quickly. The books have been printed and will be distributed starting September 21st.

    The $29 pre-order price includes domestic shipping only. Outside the US, shipping is via USPS First Class International for an additional $12 USD. Illinois residents should include 9.25% sales tax, making the total $31.68.

    Myles Jarrow To Receive CERA Founder’s Award

    The CERA Board of Directors has invited longtime member Myles Jarrow (#23) to be an honored guest at our 75th Anniversary Banquet and Program, where he will receive the prestigious Founder’s Award for his service and commitment to the organization. Myles is 91 years old and is the last living person who attended the earliest CERA meetings. We hope that you will join us in honoring Mr. Jarrow at the event for a lifetime of dedication.

    We look forward to seeing you at this once-in-a-lifetime celebration!

    Notes on the back of this photograph say this is Indiana (Railroad) 458 and 320 on a CERA/Indianapolis RR Club Special at Jeffersonville, Indiana on August 12, 1938. This event is not listed as a numbered CERA fantrip, but that could simply be because of the involvement of another group. (Photographer unknown)

    Notes on the back of this photograph say this is Indiana (Railroad) 458 and 320 on a CERA/Indianapolis RR Club Special at Jeffersonville, Indiana on August 12, 1938. This event is not listed as a numbered CERA fantrip, but that could simply be because of the involvement of another group. (Photographer unknown)

    This photo was likely taken on August 20, 1938, during a CERA fantrip that used Indiana Railroad car 58. (Photographer unknown)

    This photo was likely taken on August 20, 1938, during a CERA fantrip that used Indiana Railroad car 58. (Photographer unknown)

    This picture is from one of three fantrips CERA held on the Milwaukee Electric during 1939-40. (Photographer unknown)

    This picture is from one of three fantrips CERA held on the Milwaukee Electric during 1939-40. (Photographer unknown)


  • Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:27 AM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    (Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of posts about the transition from the old Garfield Park “L” to the Congress expressway median line in the 1950s.)

    FYI we have updated a couple of older posts, Garfield/Congress/CA&E Mystery Photos Contest Answers and Somewhere West of Laramie.

    This construction project has always been one of my favorites, and I’m old enough to remember some of it too. I’ve been collecting images of it for the last 30 years, and recently found my notes, which give the exact dates for most of the photos in those two posts, and the names of the photographers. Most of those pictures were taken by Ray DeGroote.

    The third previous post (Mystery Filmstrip Contest) will probably remain just that, a mystery. The name of the photographer is not known; this was simply a roll of developed film purchased on eBay. Yet another post (The Great Subway Flood of 1957) touches on this construction period, although that’s not the main focus.

    We also recently devoted an article (Scenes Along the Garfield Park “L”) to the old Metropolitan “L” prior to expressway construction. Now, we return with more construction photos, from the days when service on Chicago’s west side combined elements of the new and old. We hope that you will enjoy them.

    -David Sadowski

    A CTA test train on Van Buren passes by CTA PCC 4385 on Western avenue in 1953. (Photo by William C. Janssen, Krambles-Peterson Archive)

    A CTA test train on Van Buren passes by CTA PCC 4385 on Western avenue in 1953. (Photo by William C. Janssen, Krambles-Peterson Archive)


    1949: "Chicago officials discuss Congress Highway plans." (Photographer unknown)

    1949: “Chicago officials discuss Congress Highway plans.” (Photographer unknown)

    October 25, 1950: "The Congress st. superhighway is the remaining link in Chicago's superhighway system. Here are the concrete piers for the Peoria st. bridge. The expressway will run under Halsted and Peoria sts." (Photographer unknown)

    October 25, 1950: “The Congress st. superhighway is the remaining link in Chicago’s superhighway system. Here are the concrete piers for the Peoria st. bridge. The expressway will run under Halsted and Peoria sts.” (Photographer unknown)

    Some of the earliest work on the expressway involved digging out and building overpasses. That way, roads could be diverted around the affected area. (Photographer unknown)

    Some of the earliest work on the expressway involved digging out and building overpasses. That way, roads could be diverted around the affected area. (Photographer unknown)

    May 8, 1952: A three-car CA&E train, heading eastbound, is closely following a CTA Garfield Park "L" train. According to Graham Garfield's excellent www.chicago-l.org web site, CA&E trains "began stopping at Ogden station eastbound during the CTA® era, rather than at Marshfield, at the request of the Authority to clear up delays at Marshfield Junction. This lasted until the CA&E suspended service east of Desplaines on September 20, 1953." The Ogden station closed one week later, as CTA trains were rerouted to Van Buren street at first only in one direction. (Photo by Joe Kordick)

    May 8, 1952: A three-car CA&E train, heading eastbound, is closely following a CTA Garfield Park “L” train. According to Graham Garfield’s excellent http://www.chicago-l.org web site, CA&E trains “began stopping at Ogden station eastbound during the CTA® era, rather than at Marshfield, at the request of the Authority to clear up delays at Marshfield Junction. This lasted until the CA&E suspended service east of Desplaines on September 20, 1953.” The Ogden station closed one week later, as CTA trains were rerouted to Van Buren street at first only in one direction. (Photo by Joe Kordick)

    A close-up of the same May 8, 1952 scene. (Photo by Joe Kordick)

    A close-up of the same May 8, 1952 scene. (Photo by Joe Kordick)

    In this circa 1952 aerial photo, we are looking east near Marshfield Junction, where the three Met "L" branches split off from each other. By this time, the Dearborn subway had opened, leaving the branch at left only for shop moves. Two CA&E trains pass each other, while two CTA trains are in the station. The building in the foreground will need to be torn down soon to make way for the expressway. (Photographer unknown)

    In this circa 1952 aerial photo, we are looking east near Marshfield Junction, where the three Met “L” branches split off from each other. By this time, the Dearborn subway had opened, leaving the branch at left only for shop moves. Two CA&E trains pass each other, while two CTA trains are in the station. The building in the foreground will need to be torn down soon to make way for the expressway. (Photographer unknown)

    A close-up of the same scene. (Photographer unknown)

    A close-up of the same scene. (Photographer unknown)

    Expressway demolition in Chicago. (Photographer unknown)

    Expressway demolition in Chicago. (Photographer unknown)

    February 4, 1953: "Looking west from Canal street along the concrete structures already in place for the super highway." (Photo by Joe Kordick)

    February 4, 1953: “Looking west from Canal street along the concrete structures already in place for the super highway.” (Photo by Joe Kordick)

    August 11, 1953: "The Congress St. Super Highway. Looking West from above the Post Office." The Garfield Park "L" snakes around at right. As you can see, a space has been cleared for the highway in the middle of the old Main Post Office, but the bridge over the Chicago River has not yet been built. (Photo by Bob Kotalik)

    August 11, 1953: “The Congress St. Super Highway. Looking West from above the Post Office.” The Garfield Park “L” snakes around at right. As you can see, a space has been cleared for the highway in the middle of the old Main Post Office, but the bridge over the Chicago River has not yet been built. (Photo by Bob Kotalik)

    Looking northeast at Ogden and the Congress highway circa 1953-54. By now, the old "L" has been torn down in this area, and the temporary Van Buren street right-of-way is just barely visible on the left side of the picture. (Photographer unknown)

    Looking northeast at Ogden and the Congress highway circa 1953-54. By now, the old “L” has been torn down in this area, and the temporary Van Buren street right-of-way is just barely visible on the left side of the picture. (Photographer unknown)

    A two-car train of CTA 4000s along the temporary Van Buren trackage circa 1954-55. (Photographer unknown)

    A two-car train of CTA 4000s along the temporary Van Buren trackage circa 1954-55. (Photographer unknown)

    May 18, 1954: "Looking east at the super highway, from the Halsted Street bridge." (Photo by Bob Kotalik)

    May 18, 1954: “Looking east at the super highway, from the Halsted Street bridge.” (Photo by Bob Kotalik)

    May 21, 1954: "Here's a picture of a neighborhood 'on the move.' This two-flat is one of seven similar buildings in the 4900 block on Lexington moved from north to south side of street to make room for Congress st. expressway. Building was turned in middle of the street to slide it on new foundations at 4927 Lexington. Structures are moved on rubber-tired dollies lashed to the underside of steel and timber supports." (Photo by Frank Las)

    May 21, 1954: “Here’s a picture of a neighborhood ‘on the move.’ This two-flat is one of seven similar buildings in the 4900 block on Lexington moved from north to south side of street to make room for Congress st. expressway. Building was turned in middle of the street to slide it on new foundations at 4927 Lexington. Structures are moved on rubber-tired dollies lashed to the underside of steel and timber supports.” (Photo by Frank Las)

    Congress St. and Pulaski, July 28, 1955: "General view of the ceremonies of the driving of the golden spike by Mayor Daley." (Photo by Arvidson)

    Congress St. and Pulaski, July 28, 1955: “General view of the ceremonies of the driving of the golden spike by Mayor Daley.” (Photo by Arvidson)

    Congress St. and Pulaski Rd., July 28, 1955: "Mayor Daley drives the golden spike in the Congress Street strip to lay the first rail in the Congress St. Superhighway." (Photo by Arvidson)

    Congress St. and Pulaski Rd., July 28, 1955: “Mayor Daley drives the golden spike in the Congress Street strip to lay the first rail in the Congress St. Superhighway.” (Photo by Arvidson)

    December 15, 1955: Ceremonial ribbon-cutting as the Congress expressway is opened between Ashland and Laramie. Cook county Board President Dan Ryan, Jr., Gov. William G. Stratton, and Mayor Richard J. Daley officiating. (Photographer unknown)

    December 15, 1955: Ceremonial ribbon-cutting as the Congress expressway is opened between Ashland and Laramie. Cook county Board President Dan Ryan, Jr., Gov. William G. Stratton, and Mayor Richard J. Daley officiating. (Photographer unknown)

    December 15, 1955: "Cars enter completed 4 1/2-mile strip of Congress st. expressway at Laramie av. Impatient motorists jumped the gun." One reason that the expressway could not continue west of here was that the CTA rapid transit line crossed the expressway footprint at grade. We are looking west in this view. (Photographer unknown)

    December 15, 1955: “Cars enter completed 4 1/2-mile strip of Congress st. expressway at Laramie av. Impatient motorists jumped the gun.” One reason that the expressway could not continue west of here was that the CTA rapid transit line crossed the expressway footprint at grade. We are looking west in this view. (Photographer unknown)

    August 3, 1956: "Twin-bridge across the Chicago River which will open to traffic Aug. 10, when the Expwy. itself will be open to the public from Ashland Ave. to Michigan Ave. New type of device permits the bridgetenders to see clearly whether the bridge is fully closed or partly open even during the densest fog or on the darkest night." (Photographer unknown)

    August 3, 1956: “Twin-bridge across the Chicago River which will open to traffic Aug. 10, when the Expwy. itself will be open to the public from Ashland Ave. to Michigan Ave. New type of device permits the bridgetenders to see clearly whether the bridge is fully closed or partly open even during the densest fog or on the darkest night.” (Photographer unknown)

    Congress at highway, 1956. (Photographer unknown)

    Congress at highway, 1956. (Photographer unknown)

    August 6, 1956: "Looking east from Clark street showing the wide sweep of Congress street through the Chicago Loop." (Photo by Merrill Palmer)

    August 6, 1956: “Looking east from Clark street showing the wide sweep of Congress street through the Chicago Loop.” (Photo by Merrill Palmer)

    August 10, 1956: Ceremonies marking the opening of the downtown stretch of the Congress expressway. Note the PCC car in the background. (Photographer unknown)

    August 10, 1956: Ceremonies marking the opening of the downtown stretch of the Congress expressway. Note the PCC car in the background. (Photographer unknown)

    This picture was most likely taken late in 1956, soon after this portion of the expressway opened to traffic. We are looking east near Halsted. Tracks have not yet been put in the median. The Garfield "L" curves off at left and would continue to operate here through June 1958. (Photographer unknown)

    This picture was most likely taken late in 1956, soon after this portion of the expressway opened to traffic. We are looking east near Halsted. Tracks have not yet been put in the median. The Garfield “L” curves off at left and would continue to operate here through June 1958. (Photographer unknown)

    The Congress Expressway circa 1956-7. Tracks are in the median, but no third rail or stations yet. Meanwhile, the old Garfield Park alignment was still in place, including the double-island Halsted "L" station. (Photographer unknown)

    The Congress Expressway circa 1956-7. Tracks are in the median, but no third rail or stations yet. Meanwhile, the old Garfield Park alignment was still in place, including the double-island Halsted “L” station. (Photographer unknown)

    An aerial view taken on June 6, 1957. By this time, the expressway was open as far as Laramie. The Garfield Park "L" is at left. (Photographer unknown)

    An aerial view taken on June 6, 1957. By this time, the expressway was open as far as Laramie. The Garfield Park “L” is at left. (Photographer unknown)

    An aerial view of the Congress expressway under construction on July 25, 1957. The view is looking east from about 7000 west. (Photo by Burley)

    An aerial view of the Congress expressway under construction on July 25, 1957. The view is looking east from about 7000 west. (Photo by Burley)

    A close-up view showing the CTA's temporary station at Oak Park avenue on July 25, 1957. The B&O freight tracks are at right. Everything here is still at ground level.The CTA tracks have been moved to the north. Note that the eastbound and westbound platforms are on opposite sides of Oak Park avenue. The highway would not open in this area until more than three years later. (Photo by Burley)

    A close-up view showing the CTA’s temporary station at Oak Park avenue on July 25, 1957. The B&O freight tracks are at right. Everything here is still at ground level.The CTA tracks have been moved to the north. Note that the eastbound and westbound platforms are on opposite sides of Oak Park avenue. The highway would not open in this area until more than three years later. (Photo by Burley)

    Watching expressway construction in Oak Park in 1959. By now, both the B&O freight line and the CTA rapid transit line are still running on the surface, but in a temporary alignment at the north end of the highway footprint. (Photographer unknown)

    Watching expressway construction in Oak Park in 1959. By now, both the B&O freight line and the CTA rapid transit line are still running on the surface, but in a temporary alignment at the north end of the highway footprint. (Photographer unknown)

    Watching expressway construction in Oak Park in 1959. (Photographer unknown)

    Watching expressway construction in Oak Park in 1959. (Photographer unknown)

    This 1959 CTA map shows the temporary stations on the then-new Congress line between Central and DesPlaines. This included a station at Ridgeland, replacing a Garfield Park station at nearby Gunderson, but no permanent station was put there. CTA opted to use secondary entrances instead at both East Avenue and Lombard. The Central stop was not successful and was closed in 1973.

    This 1959 CTA map shows the temporary stations on the then-new Congress line between Central and DesPlaines. This included a station at Ridgeland, replacing a Garfield Park station at nearby Gunderson, but no permanent station was put there. CTA opted to use secondary entrances instead at both East Avenue and Lombard. The Central stop was not successful and was closed in 1973.

    January 7, 1960: Looking south on Central, we see the uncompleted expressway and the temporary CTA platforms. According to www.chicago-l.org, "On October 16, 1959, the permanent eastbound Congress Line track was placed in service between Parkside and Pine avenues thru Lotus Tunnel. A temporary side platform was placed in service. Three days later, on October 19, the permanent westbound track and a temporary westbound side platform was placed in service, closing the previous temporary platform. Meanwhile, between the permanent tracks, the new, permanent island platform was constructed. The new Central station platform (with temporary fare controls) was placed in service on October 10, 1960, with westbound trains first using it, followed by eastbound trains the next day. On October 11, 1960, the third and final temporary Central station was closed." (Photographer unknown)

    January 7, 1960: Looking south on Central, we see the uncompleted expressway and the temporary CTA platforms. According to http://www.chicago-l.org, “On October 16, 1959, the permanent eastbound Congress Line track was placed in service between Parkside and Pine avenues thru Lotus Tunnel. A temporary side platform was placed in service. Three days later, on October 19, the permanent westbound track and a temporary westbound side platform was placed in service, closing the previous temporary platform. Meanwhile, between the permanent tracks, the new, permanent island platform was constructed. The new Central station platform (with temporary fare controls) was placed in service on October 10, 1960, with westbound trains first using it, followed by eastbound trains the next day. On October 11, 1960, the third and final temporary Central station was closed.” (Photographer unknown)

    A close-up of the temporary Central avenue platform as it looked on January 7, 1960. (Photographer unknown)

    A close-up of the temporary Central avenue platform as it looked on January 7, 1960. (Photographer unknown)

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    October 12, 1960: "Crowds line sides of Congress Expressway to see opening of final stretch from Central to 1st Ave." (Photo by B. Kotalik)

    October 12, 1960: “Crowds line sides of Congress Expressway to see opening of final stretch from Central to 1st Ave.” (Photo by B. Kotalik)

    October 12, 1960: "Looking down from overpass at formal opening of Congress Expressway." (Photo by Zack)

    October 12, 1960: “Looking down from overpass at formal opening of Congress Expressway.” (Photo by Zack)

    Opening the last section of the Congress expressway, 1960. Gov. William Stratton cuts the ribbon, while Cook County Board President Dan Ryan, Jr. and Mayor Richard J. Daley look on. (Photographer unknown)

    Opening the last section of the Congress expressway, 1960. Gov. William Stratton cuts the ribbon, while Cook County Board President Dan Ryan, Jr. and Mayor Richard J. Daley look on. (Photographer unknown)

    October 12, 1960: "Solid pack of cars passing thru Congress expressway after formal opening of the last link between Central and 1st Ave." (Photo by B. Kotalik)

    October 12, 1960: “Solid pack of cars passing thru Congress expressway after formal opening of the last link between Central and 1st Ave.” (Photo by B. Kotalik)

    The "temporary" CTA terminal at the end of the Congress line in 1959. The platform at right is where CA&E cars would have transferred passengers to CTA, if the interurban could have resumed service after highway construction. (Photographer unknown)

    The “temporary” CTA terminal at the end of the Congress line in 1959. The platform at right is where CA&E cars would have transferred passengers to CTA, if the interurban could have resumed service after highway construction. (Photographer unknown)


  • Wednesday, August 14, 2013 10:31 AM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    Herein we begin a new regular feature, Transit Trivia. We’ll do our best to answer reader’s questions, and with any luck, we’ll all learn something along the way.

    Doug Auburg (of Battle Ground, Washington) wants to know what colors the two electric locomotives the North Shore Line purchased from Oregon Electric were painted. Don’s Rail Photosgives their ineage ars follows:

    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.

    459 was built by the SP&S in August 1941 as OERy 51. It was purchased by the North Shore in December 1947 and was completed as 459 on November 22, 1948.

    CNS&M freight loco 458 looking pretty good at North Chicago in October, 1961.

    CNS&M freight loco 458 looking pretty good at North Chicago in October, 1961.


    459 in September 1961.

    459 in September 1961.

    The two freight locos as they looked on the Oregon Electric. (From CERA B-77)

    The two freight locos as they looked on the Oregon Electric. (From CERA B-77)

    Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to track down any color photos showing the locos on Oregon Electric. According to the Wikipedia, passenger service ended in May 1933, while electric freight operations continued until July 10, 1945, when the railroad dieselized. This gives a period of only about four years when color photos could have been taken, and this coincided with WWII when color film was scarce indeed.

    My research shows that OE passenger cars were painted either “traction orange” or “Pullman green,” but this service ended several years before the locos were even built. To the best of my knowledge, the locos may simply have been painted black with either yellow or gold lettering. The photos reproduced in CERA B-77 would tend to support the idea they were black, at least.

    Much better color information exists for the locos when they plied the North Shore Line. Here, the colors were the standard dark green with red accents and gold lettering. Unfortunately, both units were scrapped, presumably in 1964, a year after the famous interurban quit. There were no buyers for them.

    Trying to paint a model using color photos as a guide will always be a somewhat haphazard affair. Even in the best of situations, colors (and particular shades of colors) may not photograph accurately.

    You would think that the digital age has solved all these problems, but not quite. For example, Kodachrome slides, when scanned, often exhibit a “bluecast” that affects overall color. It can take both sophisticated scanners and software to eliminate the bluecast.

    The roof of Indiana Railroad car 65, preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum, is supposed to be green, and maybe it is, but in various photos I’ve taken, it appears to be gray. That may just be a “trick of the light.”

    IR #65 in 2012 at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. (Photo by David Sadowski) Green roof or gray? You be the judge.

    IR #65 in 2012 at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. (Photo by David Sadowski) Green roof or gray? You be the judge.

    There have been at times many heated and passionate discussions at railway museums over the “correct” color some piece of equipment ought to be painted. Sometimes, old-timers have been consulted, and asked about the proper color. In one case I heard about, they said they bought whatever the paint store had on sale. So, even in the old days, there were color variations, even on properties that were trying to maintain a particular paint scheme.

    The paints we use today may be different in composition than what was available decades ago. It may not be possible, in all cases, to have an exact match for the original colors. San Francisco has learned this as they try to reproduce the colors of various PCC cars representing various cities.

    Birmingham (AL) Electric PCC 842 circa 1950. This car's attractive color scheme has been reproduced in San Francisco on Muni car 1077. You can see how that car looks here: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:San_Francisco_PCC_streetcar_1077,_Birmingham_livery.jpg

    Birmingham (AL) Electric PCC 842 circa 1950. This car’s attractive color scheme has been reproduced in San Francisco on Muni car 1077. You can see how that car looks here:
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:San_Francisco_PCC_streetcar_1077,_Birmingham_livery.jpg

    There are many things that affect the colors on a railcar, even after the paint drys. After the end of service, the Chicago Aurora and Elgin repainted some of their rolling stock, in hopes that a fresh coat of paint might help sell some equipment. However, they started thinning out the red paint, in order to make it last longer.

    As a result, within a few years, some cars that started out red began to look more pink.

    Sometimes, transit colors have acquired fanciful names. According to Graham Garfield’s excellent Chicago “L” site, CRT’s 4000-series cars were painted “brindle brown.” When was the last time you looked at something and said, “Hey, that’s brindle brown?”

    CA&E 456 and 455 among the weeds at Wheaton Shops in August 1959. Even freight service had ended a few months earlier, but these cars look like they have received a fresh coat of paint, in hopes of being sold to another operator. Although the cars were only about 12 years old at this time, six of the ten postwar units ended up being scrapped a few years later right on this spot. The only cars saved from the 451-460 series went to "Trolleyville USA" in Ohio instead of ending up on the North Shore Line or in Airport service in Cleveland.

    CA&E 456 and 455 among the weeds at Wheaton Shops in August 1959. Even freight service had ended a few months earlier, but these cars look like they have received a fresh coat of paint, in hopes of being sold to another operator. Although the cars were only about 12 years old at this time, six of the ten postwar units ended up being scrapped a few years later right on this spot. The only cars saved from the 451-460 series went to “Trolleyville USA” in Ohio instead of ending up on the North Shore Line or in Airport service in Cleveland.

    The late Gerald E. Brookins was responsible for preserving many historic railcars at his “Trolleyville USA” in northern Ohio. He sometimes took a different approach to paint schemes on his “Columbia Park and Southwestern,” with some equipment painted in an odd and rather unpopular yellow and dark green livery. I’m not sure what historic precedence there was supposed to be for it, but now that the Brookins collection has been dispersed to other museums, some of those same cars have been repainted into more authentic colors.

    A 1984 shot of CA&E 451 (with a rather odd color scheme) in Olmstead Township, Ohio on the Columbia Park and Southwestern aka "Trolleyville USA." This car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    A 1984 shot of CA&E 451 (with a rather odd color scheme) in Olmstead Township, Ohio on the Columbia Park and Southwestern aka “Trolleyville USA.” This car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Lehigh Valley Transit car 1030 as it looked at Fairview car barn on September 9, 1951, a few days after interurban service ended. The original paint chips from 1939 still exist for this color array, and hopefully can be used to provide an exact match the next time this car is repainted at the Seashore Trolley Museum.

    Lehigh Valley Transit car 1030 as it looked at Fairview car barn on September 9, 1951, a few days after interurban service ended. The original paint chips from 1939 still exist for this color array, and hopefully can be used to provide an exact match the next time this car is repainted at the Seashore Trolley Museum.

    Model painters can be a great source of information on authentic railcar colors. After all, they have to deal with this issue head-on in many more situations than railway museums do. There are a lot more models than real trains.

    Another thing to keep in mind: color is density. Changing the exposure of a photograph also changes the color. The light meters in cameras are calibrated towards a medium gray tone, and will tend to render snow as gray instead of white. The same is true of very dark objects. The typical camera will tend to make them look gray as well.

    A camera cannot adjust to light in the same way that your brain does. Your brain acclimates to different colored light, which explains why florescent light looks green in photos, but not to your eye. The same is true of incandescent light, which tends to look very yellow in pictures. The worst situation is when you have mixed lighting from different sources that are not the same color. In that case, adjusting for one throws the rest of the picture off even more.

    There was no Pantone color matching system in 1963, when the North Shore Line gave up the ghost. Pantone equates shades of color with a reference number, and thus provides a way of replicating colors without the guesswork. It’s proven to be such a great system that it has even appeared in lyrics to popular songs, such as this excerpt from Reno Dakota by Stephin Merritt The Magnetic Fields:

    Reno Dakota there’s not an iota of kindness in you
    You know you enthrall me and yet you don’t call me
    It’s making me blue, Pantone 292

    The Pantone system, however, cannot replace the poetry of the past. Pantone color numbers will never sound as or look as romantic as the combination of Mercury Green, Croydon Cream, and Swamp Holly Orange, the original colors of Chicago’s postwar PCC streetcars and “L” cars.

    Why be a number when you can be a Green Hornet?

    -David Sadowski

    CTA 6101-6102 heading up a Ravenswood B train southbound at Belmont in the mid-1980s. These cars are now at the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    CTA 6101-6102 heading up a Ravenswood B train southbound at Belmont in the mid-1980s. These cars are now at the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    Another view of 458 in North Chicago, this time on May 30, 1962.

    Another view of 458 in North Chicago, this time on May 30, 1962.

    Three North Shore "pups" at work in March 1961, with loco 452 at rear. (Photographer unknown)

    Three North Shore “pups” at work in March 1961, with loco 452 at rear. (Photographer unknown)

    A North Shore Line freight train led by loco 456 at Rondout in November 1962. (Photographer unknown)

    A North Shore Line freight train led by loco 456 at Rondout in November 1962. (Photographer unknown)

    North Shore Line loco 456 and caboose in November 1962. (Photographer unknown)

    North Shore Line loco 456 and caboose in November 1962. (Photographer unknown)

    CNS&M caboose 1005 at North Chicago Junction on June 16, 1962. (Photo by W. A. Gibson)

    CNS&M caboose 1005 at North Chicago Junction on June 16, 1962. (Photo by W. A. Gibson)

    458 at North Chicago in July 1959. (Photo by Spitzer)

    458 at North Chicago in July 1959. (Photo by Spitzer)

    Another view of Oregon Electric 50. (Photographer unknown)

    Another view of Oregon Electric 50. (Photographer unknown)

    Another view of Oregon Electric 51. (Photographer unknown)

    Another view of Oregon Electric 51. (Photographer unknown)


  • Friday, August 09, 2013 10:34 AM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    For the last year or more, CTA’s 2200-series rapid transit cars have been going, going… and now they’re gone. Recently, it was reported they had run their last on July 31.

    But wait, there’s more! CTA decided to give them one final sendoff on August 8th, with a special farewell run after 44 years of service. As a regular CTA rider going back even before these “L” cars were new, this was one trip I just couldn’t miss. (You can read the CTA Service Bulletin here.)

    First, there was a short non-stop “media run” between Rosemont and Jefferson Park. Then the extra train went out to the end of the Blue Line at O’Hare Airport, and ran all the way out to Forest Park and back starting at 11:11 am- and making all stops, despite being signed as an “A” train. (The CTA gave up on “skip-stop” service some years back.)

    The "media run" at the Sayre avenue overpass along the Kennedy expressway.

    The “media run” at the Sayre avenue overpass along the Kennedy expressway.


    These were the last cars on the CTA system that used “blinker” doors, a unique Chicago feature going back to the original experimental 5000 cars of 1947-48. The November 1950 issue of ERA Headlights explained their use on the first order of 6000s thusly:

    There are four entrance-exit doors in each car– two on each side. Doors are located one-fourth the length of the car from each end. Under this arrangement, passengers will never be more than one-quarter of a car length from a door.

    Each door is a double one– with a clear opening of 24 inches– that will permit passengers to enter and exit simultaneously in two separate lines.

    The location and arrangement of doors will reduce boarding and alighting times, thereby contributing to faster service. The doors are interlocked with the motor controls so that a train cannot be started until all doors are closed. The doors have sensitive rubber edges that cause them to open automatically should they come in contact with an object while closing.

    Final runs can be a somber affair, like a wake. But this one was more like a party. The cars were full of people, mostly fans, but some just regular riders. A train came along and they got on it. This is as it should be. People were laughing and talking, and reminiscing about the old days when the 2200s were the “state of the art.”

    After 44 years, they still ran pretty good, and the body design has a timeless elegance that will never go out of style. They are a remarkable success story, and one that is even more exceptional when you consider how many contemporary railcar orders were flops.

    This is in part due to the evolutionary, as opposed to revolutionary, nature of the 2200s design. They were an improved version, and a more refined one of their predecessors, the 2000s, which had a comparatively shorter life and were not as well liked.

    The high-performance 2000s, only five years older than these cars, were the first series to come with air conditioning as standard equipment. But the compressors were underpowered and could not get the job done. Being mounted on the ceiling, they tended to leak water on anyone sitting in the middle of the car. When the a/c failed on really hot days, or couldn’t keep up, that resulted in some very sweltering conditions in those cars, which did not have windows that could be opened.

    These shortcomings were dealt with in the 2200s. The air conditioning units were moved to below the riders. They were beefed up. The cars were eventually retrofitted with windows that could open if the a/c failed, but I really don’t recall ever seeing them used. Now we take air conditioning for granted on rapid transit cars, but there was a time when some considered it an unnecessary luxury.

    The 2000s and 2200s, in turn, were improved versions of the 6000s, still my favorite. In some ways they will always be the quintessential CTA “L” cars. But these cars could go faster, and had better ride quality. They did not shake, rattle, and roll like the 6000s did as they strained to get up to a top speed of about 52 mph with a good tailwind.

    It wasn’t a wake, it was a celebration. After it was over, the crowd milled about, some wanting to have their pictures taken standing next to the cars that they probably were sad to see depart. As they pulled out of the O’Hare terminal for the last time, they looked like they could go on for another 44 years. Instead, they are going to the scrapper, lock, stock, and blinker doors.

    But a pair of these cars have been saved and are now at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, where we hope they will continue to serve in the future. You might want to consider visiting them sometime, even if they have to be fitted with trolley poles.

    CTA did them up right with period advertising and signage. For this trip, they dispensed with the canned station announcements and did things the old way, with the doors being controlled by a conductor, and spoken announcements. It brought back a lot of memories.

    I guess you had to be there.

    -David Sadowski

    (Note: The author’s own photos were taken on August 8, 2013. Others are credited as appropriate.)

    The final southbound run at Cumberland.

    The final southbound run at Cumberland.

    CTA decorated the train with reproductions of vintage ads.

    CTA decorated the train with reproductions of vintage ads.

    P1010141

    The old route map, circa 1970.

    The old route map, circa 1970.

    Map showing the "old" Congress-Douglas-Milwaukee route, before the O'Hare extension and the Pink Line.

    Map showing the “old” Congress-Douglas-Milwaukee route, before the O’Hare extension and the Pink Line.

    "Blinker" doors.

    “Blinker” doors.

    Graham Garfield in period CTA garb, from before the invention of "casual Friday."

    Graham Garfield in period CTA garb, from before the invention of “casual Friday.”

    Our train has arrived in Forest Park.

    Our train has arrived in Forest Park.

    Everybody wants to get a picture, or get in the way of yours.

    Everybody wants to get a picture, or get in the way of yours.

    The 2200s on the turnaround loop at Forest Park.

    The 2200s on the turnaround loop at Forest Park.

    If CA&E service had resumed in 1959, this is approximately where their trains would have run.

    If CA&E service had resumed in 1959, this is approximately where their trains would have run.

    P1010168

    Ready for the return trip to O'Hare.

    Ready for the return trip to O’Hare.

    P1010183

    An "A" train making all stops.

    An “A” train making all stops.

    All aboard!

    All aboard!

    Author and historian Bruce Moffat.

    Author and historian Bruce Moffat.

    The end of the line, the CTA O'Hare terminal designed by Helmut Jahn.

    The end of the line, the CTA O’Hare terminal designed by Helmut Jahn.

    Fans take a few last-minute pictures. People started posing next to the cars after their final run.

    Fans take a few last-minute pictures. People started posing next to the cars after their final run.

    The 2200s going off to oblivion.

    The 2200s going off to oblivion.

    CTA handout from the trip.

    CTA handout from the trip.

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    2261-62 at Laramie on Douglas Park (today's Pink Line) on July 4, 1971.

    2261-62 at Laramie on Douglas Park (today’s Pink Line) on July 4, 1971.

    A Douglas-Milwaukee "B" train at Jefferson Park (then the end of the line) in September 1972. (Photo by Philip Horn)

    A Douglas-Milwaukee “B” train at Jefferson Park (then the end of the line) in September 1972. (Photo by Philip Horn)

    "Blinker" doors on Chicago "L" cars were influenced by their earlier use on PCC streetcars.

    “Blinker” doors on Chicago “L” cars were influenced by their earlier use on PCC streetcars.

    September 28, 1969 - "New CTA trains, Dan Ryan. One of the new CTA rapid transit trains that went into service today, passing under the 31st street bridge, heading north." (Photo by Pete Peters)

    September 28, 1969 – “New CTA trains, Dan Ryan. One of the new CTA rapid transit trains that went into service today, passing under the 31st street bridge, heading north.” (Photo by Pete Peters)


  • Tuesday, August 06, 2013 1:06 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    We all love a mystery, don’t we? Well, we certainly presented one in our earlier post “Roarin’ Elgin on the North Shore? (March 31). Where was that picture taken along the North Shore Line during a 1946 CERA fantrip? At first, we thought perhaps Greenleaf avenue in Wilmette. Eventually, we settled on 5th in Milwaukee.

    1946 fantrip



    But now a new contender has emerged, thanks to CERA Director John Nicholson, who writes:

    In looking back on the photo of the two ex-CA&E cars on the 1946 fantrip over the North Shore, we were able to refute one reader’s claim that the photo was taken on Greenleaf Ave. in Wilmette; the most obvious strike against that was that the pavement in the photo was concrete while Greenleaf Ave. had brick paving.

    I decided to have another look at the photo and I saw that the track on the right was curving left in the distance to indicate this was a siding. There was nothing like this in Milwaukee which led me to believe that the photo was in Waukegan. After checking the map in B-107, I concluded the only location for this photo was the siding on Franklin St. in Waukegan. This was confirmed by Tom Jervan, a native of Waukegan. He immediately identified North School in the photo and produced his own track map of Waukegan. On it he also placed the names of businesses and buildings from that era. In checking the map, we were able to determine that the two-car train had just turned left off of County St. onto the siding on Franklin St. and was westbound. He also had indicated the location of North School on his map.

    Eureka! We have found it! The evidence seems persuasive. We will have to update that post accordingly, lest we continue to give out incorrect information.

    But that’s OK, because we aren’t just writing about historical subjects in order to be topical. Good taste, they say, is timeless, and we hope that the CERA Members Blog, over time, will become both an archive and a resource that people will continue to read in the future, just as we still read old CERA bulletins.

    But while the only way to correct mistakes in old books is to reprint them, here we have an advantage. We can always go back and update our old posts, once new information or images are available. And so we do- several of our previous posts have already been improved this way, and we will continue to work on them as the situation permits.

    For example, we have added a couple of images to our recent post Scenes Along the Garfield Park “L” (July 31), and if we come across others that seem to fit there, we might do that again.

    Here's an image we recently added to the post.

    Here’s an image we recently added to the post.

    And here's another one. Unless I miss my guess, this is in the general area where the Union Station trainshed was later built... but this is perhaps 20 years before that happened.

    And here’s another one. Unless I miss my guess, this is in the general area where the Union Station trainshed was later built… but this is perhaps 20 years before that happened.

    Likewise, we have added a couple of new images to Chris Buck’s post The Great Subway Flood of 1957 (April 23):

    CTA workers sandbag retaining wall of westbound expressway on west side of Halsted (July 13, 1957).

    CTA workers sandbag retaining wall of westbound expressway on west side of Halsted (July 13, 1957).

    CTA sandbag crew, July 13, 1957. We enjoy having an opportunity to show the real working people of this country, whose contributions are often forgotten or taken for granted.

    CTA sandbag crew, July 13, 1957. We enjoy having an opportunity to show the real working people of this country, whose contributions are often forgotten or taken for granted.

    Over time, a few more images have snuck into other posts, such as Chicago’s Subways and the “Bluebirds”. We may not always draw attention to these changes, but from time to time we do make them, and we hope that you, the reader, will benefit.

    This might all seem a bit like trivia- and it is. We will begin a new feature later this week called “Transit Trivia.” We are not too proud to note that it is inspired by a similar column that “The Professor” (Roy G. Benedict) used to write for First and Fastest magazine. But we are sure there is plenty of trivia to go around for everyone.

    Watch this space!

    -David Sadowski

    A fanciful 1944 view of Chicago's new State Street subway, patterned after a famous 1943 photograph, but showing a BMT-style "Bluebird" in red.

    A fanciful 1944 view of Chicago’s new State Street subway, patterned after a famous 1943 photograph, but showing a BMT-style “Bluebird” in red.


  • Wednesday, July 31, 2013 1:14 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    Few traces remain today of Chicago’s storied Garfield Park “L”, which was obliterated by construction of the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway in the 1950s, events that also hastened the demise of the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin interurban. The transition from Garfield to Congress has long been one of our favorite topics, which we have written about at length.

    It is not apparent from this early postcard, but the Met bridge over the Chicago River had four tracks.

    It is not apparent from this early postcard, but the Met bridge over the Chicago River had four tracks.


    But today, we offer a sampling of views along the old right-of-way, before the inevitable path of progress affected things. Looking at a route map from 1948, and considering how the western suburbs were expected to develop, we can see how the Garfield line (and its CA&E connections) had a tremendous reach and potential, only partly realized by today’s CTA Blue Line branch to Forest Park.

    By the late 1920s, CA&E and CRT, both parts of the far-flung Insull empire, worked together as parts of a harmonious whole. While the Depression put everything under great strain, there were few real changes in services for the next 20 years. But the idea of a rapid transit line in the median of the Congress Parkway Super-Highway took hold by 1939, so change became inevitable.

    The Met “L”s were not built to as high a standard as Chicago’s others, and therefore, sooner or later, the structure would have needed complete replacement anyway, as experienced by the Douglas/Pink Line. But not all of the Garfield Line ran in the footprint of today’s Eisenhower expressway. From Sacramento to a point just west of Laramie- a stretch of about three miles- the line ran outside where the highway is today, and this portion could have been retained. Likewise, the portions east of Halsted also veered off from the highway to connect up with the Loop “L”.

    The highway plans did not always call for replacing the entire Garfield alignment. According to a 1948 CTA map, the plan at that time was to retain the old portion between Sacramento and Laramie:

    On the City of Chicago’s construction program is a West Side Subway as an extension of the Congress Street leg of the Milwaukee-Dearborn-Congress Subway. Crossing under the Chicago river in tubes, it is to emerge near Halsted Street in the strip between the roadways of the Congress Street Superhighway. It is to continue in the median strip of the highway to Kedzie Avenue and then turn north in subway tubes to connect with the Lake Street “L”.

    Included in the plan are the construction of two track connections to the Douglas Park and Garfield Park branches at Marshfield Avenue and Sacramento Boulevard, respectively.

    Planners also hoped to tear down the Loop “L” in stages, and in order to do this, the Lake Street “L” would need to be relocated into a subway. It was thought this could be done by building a new connection between Lake and the planned Congress line, which would then run downtown via the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway. Whereas the old Met “L” arrangement had three branches coming together at one point (Marshfield junction), these early CTA plans called for separating them, with the Lake and Congress lines coming together at a point further west.

    But there were many practical reasons for letting the Lake Street “L” remain, and it and the Loop “L” structure have survived to this day. For one thing, the Lake “L” was built to a higher standard than Garfield or Douglas. Relocating the portion east of Kedzie would do nothing to fix the problems Lake had running at ground level west of Laramie. Routing Lake via Congress would also have slowed down service downtown and back, in the same manner that the Pink Line is slowed down today by being diverted over to Lake.

    CTA planners helped improve operations on the Lake Street “L” in 1949 with the introduction of A-B “skip stop” service, and this seems to have quelled the notion of connecting it to Congress. After all, a Lake-Douglas-Congress route would have been a three-headed monster, and CTA was not going to institute an A-B-C service.

    We can all be glad that service on the west side lines got rationalized in a better manner than some of the early plans. Unfortunately, expressway construction is also widely regarded as having sped the end of the CA&E, which ceased operating passenger service in 1957.

    Opinions are divided on whether CA&E, which was losing money, really wanted to continue at the start of expressway construction. It may be that cutting back service to Forest Park was part of an overall plan for a piecemeal liquidation, in a similar manner to what happened to Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell Limited between 1949 and 1951.

    CRT’s Westchester branch had great potential, but fell victim both to CA&E’s desire to liquidate its assets (it owned the land) and their desire to sever rail connections with the CTA. Continued CTA rail operations west of Forest Park would have meant keeping the track connection which CA&E cut as soon as their last westbound train passed Forest Park in September 1953. But I am sure CTA wishes it had the Westchester branch back today.

    Meanwhile, I hope that you enjoy our Garfield Park “L” photo essay as we turn back the clock to a time before it, and much else of life in the 1950s, was swept away into the dustbin of history.

    -David Sadowski

    scan617

    CTA 2818 leads the way west of the Loop in this June 1952 scene. I believe we are looking east from the end of the Racine station.

    CTA 2818 leads the way west of the Loop in this June 1952 scene. I believe we are looking east from the end of the Racine station.

    The three Metropolitan "L" lines met at Marshfield junction. Garfield Park trains are in the center of this postcard view, with Logan Square/Humboldt Park on left and Douglas Park on the right. This is approximately where the Pink Line crosses the Blue Line today.

    The three Metropolitan “L” lines met at Marshfield junction. Garfield Park trains are in the center of this postcard view, with Logan Square/Humboldt Park on left and Douglas Park on the right. This is approximately where the Pink Line crosses the Blue Line today.

    The Garfield Park's Cicero station, seen here in the early 1950s, was the westernmost one on a steel elevated structure. Service west continued at ground level. This portion of the line was unaffected by expressway construction and continued in service until the Congress line opened in 1958. It was torn down the following year.

    The Garfield Park’s Cicero station, seen here in the early 1950s, was the westernmost one on a steel elevated structure. Service west continued at ground level. This portion of the line was unaffected by expressway construction and continued in service until the Congress line opened in 1958. It was torn down the following year.

    In the early 1950s, a westbound Garfield Park train descends the ramp between the Cicero and Laramie stations.

    In the early 1950s, a westbound Garfield Park train descends the ramp between the Cicero and Laramie stations.

    CA&E steel car 430 at Laramie on July 23, 1933.

    CA&E steel car 430 at Laramie on July 23, 1933.

    According to Don's Rail Photos, "2721 was built by Barney & Smith in 1895 as Metropolitan-West Side Elevated Ry 721. In 1913 it was renumbered 2721. In 1919 it was rebuilt as a merchandise dispatch car to be leased to the North Shore line. After a short time it was replaced by new and similar MD cars built for the North Shore. It was then returned to the CRT and used in work service. It became CRT 2721 in 1923." It is shown here in 1941 painted silver. This car was scrapped in March 1959. (The location is the SE corner of Laramie Yard. You can see the elevated ramping up at the right of the picture.)

    According to Don’s Rail Photos, “2721 was built by Barney & Smith in 1895 as Metropolitan-West Side Elevated Ry 721. In 1913 it was renumbered 2721. In 1919 it was rebuilt as a merchandise dispatch car to be leased to the North Shore line. After a short time it was replaced by new and similar MD cars built for the North Shore. It was then returned to the CRT and used in work service. It became CRT 2721 in 1923.” It is shown here in 1941 painted silver. This car was scrapped in March 1959. (The location is the SE corner of Laramie Yard. You can see the elevated ramping up at the right of the picture.)

    CRT 2322 in a late 1930s photo by early CERA member La Mar M. Kelley.

    CRT 2322 in a late 1930s photo by early CERA member La Mar M. Kelley.

    CRT Metropolitan Division 2877, shown here in a photo by La Mar M. Kelley, was built in 1906. CERA Bulletin 113 describes this order as "the enclosed vestibule type with manually controlled pneumatically-operated sliding doors and with steel and wood underframes and steel-reinforced wooden bodies." Work car 2721 is at the rear.

    CRT Metropolitan Division 2877, shown here in a photo by La Mar M. Kelley, was built in 1906. CERA Bulletin 113 describes this order as “the enclosed vestibule type with manually controlled pneumatically-operated sliding doors and with steel and wood underframes and steel-reinforced wooden bodies.” Work car 2721 is at the rear.

    CRT 1805 sports an American flag in this late 1930s photo by La Mar M. Kelley. This may be out on the Westchester branch (note the sparse development and the single track.)

    CRT 1805 sports an American flag in this late 1930s photo by La Mar M. Kelley. This may be out on the Westchester branch (note the sparse development and the single track.)

    While CRT's own tracks ended at Laramie, "L" service continued further west as far as Bellwood and Westchester over the tracks of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin.

    While CRT’s own tracks ended at Laramie, “L” service continued further west as far as Bellwood and Westchester over the tracks of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin.

    The Garfield Park route circa 1952, once the Westchester branch had been replaced by buses. CTA continued to serve the Bellwood/Westchester area with the #17 bus for the next 60 years. The old "L" had lots of stations closely spaced together, and relied on walk-in traffic from densely populated neighborhoods. The Congress line that replaced it speeded up service, in part, by reducing the number of stations.

    The Garfield Park route circa 1952, once the Westchester branch had been replaced by buses. CTA continued to serve the Bellwood/Westchester area with the #17 bus for the next 60 years. The old “L” had lots of stations closely spaced together, and relied on walk-in traffic from densely populated neighborhoods. The Congress line that replaced it speeded up service, in part, by reducing the number of stations.

    A CTA summary of Garfield Park service as of 1952, after the Westchester branch closed, but before expressway construction forced a portion of the route to be relocated to temporary tracks on Van Buren street in the city.

    A CTA summary of Garfield Park service as of 1952, after the Westchester branch closed, but before expressway construction forced a portion of the route to be relocated to temporary tracks on Van Buren street in the city.

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    If not for expressway construction starting in 1953 (and the resulting Congress median line that opened five years later), CTA might have simply truncated Garfield "L" service at Laramie and used buses west of there. The ground-level route west of there had grade crossings, passing sidings, and even crossed a freight line. No doubt CTA considered this very problematic. Similarly, service on the Douglas Park branch was cut back to 54th avenue in 1952. Proposals to eliminate the ground-level portion of the Lake street "L" around this time eventually led to the outer portion being relocated to the CNW embankment in 1962.

    If not for expressway construction starting in 1953 (and the resulting Congress median line that opened five years later), CTA might have simply truncated Garfield “L” service at Laramie and used buses west of there. The ground-level route west of there had grade crossings, passing sidings, and even crossed a freight line. No doubt CTA considered this very problematic. Similarly, service on the Douglas Park branch was cut back to 54th avenue in 1952. Proposals to eliminate the ground-level portion of the Lake street “L” around this time eventually led to the outer portion being relocated to the CNW embankment in 1962.

    From 1953-57, CA&E service terminated at Forest Park, and passengers desiring to continue further east had to change trains and pay a CTA fare. There were no through tickets.

    From 1953-57, CA&E service terminated at Forest Park, and passengers desiring to continue further east had to change trains and pay a CTA fare. There were no through tickets.

    Joint timetables such as this helped improve the transfer of passengers between CA&E and CTA at Forest Park between 1953-57.

    Joint timetables such as this helped improve the transfer of passengers between CA&E and CTA at Forest Park between 1953-57.

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    CRT 4317 leads the way on a CERA fantrip on the CA&E's Mount Carmel branch on February 12, 1939.

    CRT 4317 leads the way on a CERA fantrip on the CA&E’s Mount Carmel branch on February 12, 1939.

    The AE&C was the predecessor of the CA&E. Some of its original 1902 equipment included wood car 16, shown here, a sister of car 20, preserved in operating condition at the Fox River Trolley Museum.

    The AE&C was the predecessor of the CA&E. Some of its original 1902 equipment included wood car 16, shown here, a sister of car 20, preserved in operating condition at the Fox River Trolley Museum.

    CA&E cars 456 and 457 at Batavia Junction on July 3, 1949.

    CA&E cars 456 and 457 at Batavia Junction on July 3, 1949.

    Now we've come full circle. Here is another view of the bridge shown at the beginning of this post.

    Now we’ve come full circle. Here is another view of the bridge shown at the beginning of this post.


  • Friday, July 26, 2013 1:29 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    We are pleased to announce that longtime CERA Member, Director, and President Walter Keevil will present the program at our 75th Anniversary Banquet this September 21st. Since this is the 50th anniversary of the North Shore Line’s demise, Walter will show rare films of that famous interurban from his extensive collection.

    749 in Milwaukee in late 1962, just a few months before all North Shore Line service was abandoned. IRM acquired this car in 1963.

    749 in Milwaukee in late 1962, just a few months before all North Shore Line service was abandoned. IRM acquired this car in 1963.


    The hour-long program will include material from 1941 to 1962, with the Shore Line and streetcars included, as well as the mainline, Mundelein branch and scenes on the “L”. Preceding the program, we will have a short presentation of photos from CERA fantrips going back to 1938.

    Tickets for the 75th Anniversary Banquet and Program are on sale now online and by mail. You can purchase tickets directly through our web site, using PayPal, credit or debit cards, or print out order forms.

    To give you some of the flavor of Mr. Keevil’s program, we offer you a sampling of North Shore Line photos from the CERA Archives. We hope that you will enjoy them, and we look forward to seeing you at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare in September.

    -David Sadowski

    Electroliner at the North Shore Line's Milwaukee terminal.

    Electroliner at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee terminal.

    This sign, or one just like it, now hangs at the Illinois Railway Museum.

    This sign, or one just like it, now hangs at the Illinois Railway Museum.

    CNS&M 175 at Roosevelt Road in August 1949, during the years when the North Shore practically had this station all to itself.

    CNS&M 175 at Roosevelt Road in August 1949, during the years when the North Shore practically had this station all to itself.

    One of the two Electroliners at Madison and Wabash on Chicago's "L" in the late 1950s.

    One of the two Electroliners at Madison and Wabash on Chicago’s “L” in the late 1950s.

    Car 729 at the gritty Milwaukee terminal.

    Car 729 at the gritty Milwaukee terminal.

    CNS&M 771.

    CNS&M 771.

    North Shore city streetcar 360 in August 1949.

    North Shore city streetcar 360 in August 1949.

    CNS&M 417 in August 1949.

    CNS&M 417 in August 1949.

    North Shore city streetcar 356 in August 1949. Sister car 354 is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.

    North Shore city streetcar 356 in August 1949. Sister car 354 is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.

    North Shore Line merchandise dispatch cars in August 1949.

    North Shore Line merchandise dispatch cars in August 1949.

    CNS&M freight motor 21 at Highwood in August 1939.

    CNS&M freight motor 21 at Highwood in August 1939.

    North Shore car 162 as it looked on November 27, 1941. According to Don's Rail Photos, "It was acquired by American Museum of Electricity in 1963 and resold to Connecticut Trolley Museum."

    North Shore car 162 as it looked on November 27, 1941. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “It was acquired by American Museum of Electricity in 1963 and resold to Connecticut Trolley Museum.”

    The North Shore handled packages as well as passengers.

    The North Shore handled packages as well as passengers.

    The North Shore Line left a legacy that continues to enrich our lives today. Here we see car 160 at the Illinois Railway Museum in the mid-1980s. Emerson Wakefield, the author's uncle, is walking away from the car. (Photo by David Sadowski)

    The North Shore Line left a legacy that continues to enrich our lives today. Here we see car 160 at the Illinois Railway Museum in the mid-1980s. Emerson Wakefield, the author’s uncle, is walking away from the car. (Photo by David Sadowski)


  • Monday, July 22, 2013 1:30 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)

    CERA Celebrates 75 Years

    We are now less than two months away from CERA’s 75th Anniversary events, which include a banquet, program, and three special fantrips. Orders and inquiries are coming in every day. You can get more information, purchase tickets online or print out mail-in order forms here.

    CTA 6181-6182 at Skokie Shops on May 26, 1963, during the CERA 25th Anniversary fantrip.

    CTA 6181-6182 at Skokie Shops on May 26, 1963, during the CERA 25th Anniversary fantrip.

    Trolley Sparks Special #1

    Everyone who attends the banquet and program on September 21st will receive a copy of Trolley Sparks Special #1, a limited-edition commemorative 80-page full color book celebrating CERA’s first 75 years. If you cannot make the banquet, you can still pre-order a copy here. Demand for this book is high, so reserve your copy now for this collector’s item, which is sure to sell out quickly. Work on the book has now been finished, and will go to the printer this week, so that it can be ready in time for our banquet and program.

    We will announce the international shipping cost for the book once we know how much it weighs. The $29 pre-order price includes domestic shipping only.

    CTA 4259-4260 and 4287-4288 on the South Boulevard team track in Evanston, during CERA's 25th Anniversary fantrip on May 26, 1963.

    CTA 4259-4260 and 4287-4288 on the South Boulevard team track in Evanston, during CERA’s 25th Anniversary fantrip on May 26, 1963.

    Myles Jarrow To Receive CERA Founder’s Award

    The CERA Board of Directors has invited longtime member Myles Jarrow (#23) to be an honored guest at our 75th Anniversary Banquet and Program, where he will receive the prestigious Founder’s Award for his service and commitment to the organization. Myles is 91 years old and is the last living person who attended the earliest CERA meetings. We hope that you will join us in honoring Mr. Jarrow at the event for a lifetime of dedication.

    CTA Historical cars 4271-4272 at Sedgwick on May 28, 1978, during a CERA 40th Anniversary fantrip. (Photo by G. E. Lloyd)

    CTA Historical cars 4271-4272 at Sedgwick on May 28, 1978, during a CERA 40th Anniversary fantrip. (Photo by G. E. Lloyd)

    Membership Rates for 2014 Set

    At the July meeting, your CERA Directors set the membership rates for next year. The rates for Active, Contributing, and Sustaining memberships remain unchanged at $45, $90, and $180 respectively. The Associate rate will go up to $42 from $38.

    Due to the increased cost of international postage, the rate for International Associate members will be $72, and $75 for International Actives. The additional $30 USD will go towards covering the cost of mailing the membership book entitlement abroad (which can cost in excess of $30 by itself) plus other informational mailings.

    The Directors hope to merge the Active and Associate membership classes into one group for 2015, but this will require the approval of membership at our next business meeting, which will be in January 2014. Over the last 75 years, the original purpose behind having our membership divided this way has gradually been lost.

    In the beginning, Active members had to pass an oral examination at one of our program meetings, although longtime member Ray DeGroote says this was largely done in jest. CERA’s founding members thought that local members would be more active, while those outside the Chicagoland area would not be interested in our programs.

    However, we now find that we are just as likely to have Active members in other parts of the country as here, while there are also many Associates who are local. One reason for charging the Actives more was to cover the cost of mailing program notices 10 times a year.

    Now we have started adding CERA News to the backs of the meeting notices, in order to keep our members better informed. Yet it does not seem fair that our Associate members should not get the same news.

    What we envision is having one main class of membership, in addition to the Contributing and Sustaining. Perhaps they could just be called Members. We would then give each member the choice of receiving their information via regular mail, or via the Internet.

    There are three main ways to receive CERA news and information, including program notices, via the Internet. All are available via our web site. Besides the web site, there is the CERA Members Blog. If you subscribe to the blog (also known as “following” it), you will get all our updates automatically via e-mail. Each person manages their own subscription. You can also “like” CERA on Facebook, which you can do via our home page or through Facebook.

    Membership renewal notices for 2014 will go out around November 1st.

    John Marton Recovering

    Longtime CERA Member and Director John Marton is recovering from surgery and has been hospitalized for the past month. Our thoughts and prayers are with John and his wife Judy. We wish him a speedy recovery, and will look forward to seeing him at our 75th Anniversary Banquet and Program. Ray DeGroote will fill in for John as our master of ceremonies at the event.

    -David Sadowski


  • Monday, July 15, 2013 1:36 PM | Ed Graziano (Administrator)
    October 16, 1943 - Crowd at State and Madison waiting in line to buy a ticket on the opening of Chicago's new subway.

    October 16, 1943 – Crowd at State and Madison waiting in line to buy a ticket on the opening of Chicago’s new subway.

    This is part three in our ongoing series on Chicago’s first subways, the first of which opened 70 years ago this year.

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    January 10, 1939 – CHICAGO, ILL. – Chicago’s dream is fast becoming a reality as workmen continued to drill the preliminary tunnel toward the route of the main subway tube in the middle of State street. With about 250 feet yet to go to that objective, machinery and material are being fed through this preliminary arterial which will provide an outlet for excavated earth. Photo shows a car loaded with clay as it is being pushed along the tracks by workers as progress is being made on Chicago’s new subway.

    May 31, 1939 - "Muckers" push a load of blue clay after stripping it from the walls of Chicago's future subway.

    May 31, 1939 – “Muckers” push a load of blue clay after stripping it from the walls of Chicago’s future subway.

    February 1, 1940 - "Mike Sunta, 4044 Montgomery, subway worker looking at the old tube where the street car cables traveled through." (More likely, these were tubes related to the cable car system that preceded streetcars.)

    February 1, 1940 – “Mike Sunta, 4044 Montgomery, subway worker looking at the old tube where the street car cables traveled through.” (More likely, these were tubes related to the cable car system that preceded streetcars.)

    February 18, 1941 - The State Street Council on inspection tour of the Chicago subway. They are shown in the observation car they rode through the subway in.

    February 18, 1941 – The State Street Council on inspection tour of the Chicago subway. They are shown in the observation car they rode through the subway in.

    Models in furs pose in the uncompleted subway station at Clark and Division on March 18, 1943. Note the bare wires coming out of the ceiling.

    Models in furs pose in the uncompleted subway station at Clark and Division on March 18, 1943. Note the bare wires coming out of the ceiling.

    Valarie Losinicki, 18, 10517 Oglesby and Eva Frendreis, 21, 1936 Wellington are shown coming up the escalator. Two ticket cages and their turnstyles are shown in the background.

    October 12, 1943 - "Power control panel that has complete control over all electric power of the Subway, and small sections of the power can be cut off or the entire section, depending on occasion. This is located on the 12th floor of the Commonwealth building."

    October 12, 1943 – “Power control panel that has complete control over all electric power of the Subway, and small sections of the power can be cut off or the entire section, depending on occasion. This is located on the 12th floor of the Commonwealth building.”

    October 21, 1943 - "The stile at left operates with a dime, while the ticket seller turns the one at the right from her booth for passengers using transfers or those requiring change."

    October 21, 1943 – “The stile at left operates with a dime, while the ticket seller turns the one at the right from her booth for passengers using transfers or those requiring change.”

    AT LAST – THE CHICAGO SUBWAY

    The Chicago Subway is a joke no longer. After wrestling with its traction problem for more than 75 years, the city has finally completed the 4.9 miles of the first section of the underground tube, now serving North and South Side residents. Started on December 20, 1938, the beginning of the system was dedicated on October 16, by Mayor Edward Kelly. So far, the cost is nearly $57,200,00, a figure expected to reach approximately $217,000,000 upon completion of the 18th underground city transit system in the world.

    A Chicago subway scene on December 23, 1943. "Escalator all to himself, post-midnight customer reads while he rides. No din, no shove."

    A Chicago subway scene on December 23, 1943. “Escalator all to himself, post-midnight customer reads while he rides. No din, no shove.”

    In 1938, when the FDR Administration (via Harold Ickes and the PWA) approved plans for Chicago’s “Initial System of Subways,” it seemed baffling to many, that the east-west streetcar subways were nixed, while a subway on Dearborn was approved that appeared to simply end at Congress street and connect to nothing on the south end. However, I have uncovered documentary evidence that this second subway was always intended to connect to a “subway” median line in the Congress Super-Highway, which at that time had not yet been approved. So rather than play up this incongruity, press reports of the day tended to remain silent on the matter.

    However, on page 5 of the November 1938 issue of Surface Service, the CSL’s employee publication, it says:

    Subway Extensions

    The City must on or before July 1, 1939, or such later date as the Administrator may approve, submit a comprehensive plan for extension of the subway system satisfactory to the Administrator and in such detail as he may require, to include provisions for the widening of Congress street from Michigan avenue westward and for the construction of a subway in west Congress street from Dearborn street westward.

    In the event that the State of Illinois makes available for such construction the proceeds of the motor fuel tax or other monies adequate for this purpose, the City must proceed promptly with this construction and carry it on as rapidly as possible according to the approved plan.

    You can read the entire article here.

    This in fact is what did happen. In 1939, the City made public their plans for “phase 2″ of subway extensions, which included connecting up the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway to a relocated Garfield Park line in the median of the Congress Super-Highway. At first, it was not clear whether the entire Garfield “L” would be relocated, or only the portion in the expressway “footprint.” This was the general area between Sacramento and Halsted, where Garfield Park trains (but not the CA&E, who refused to participate) were rerouted via surface trackage on Van Buren street.

    The PWA also insisted that Chicago follow through on unifying the surface and rapid transit systems, then run by CSL and CRT, private companies that were in bankruptcy. This was considered essential to obtaining the new all-steel subway cars that were needed to operate the two subways.

    The government allowed the State Street subway to be completed during the war as a matter of necessity, using the 455 steel cars that the Chicago Rapid Transit company had. But once war broke out and there were delays in merging CSL and CRT into a new private entity (which perhaps would have been called the CTC, or Chicago Transit Company), work on the Dearborn-Milwaukee tube was halted in 1942 “for the duration.” At this point, it was estimated that the second subway was 75-80% completed.

    World War II also halted work on the Congress expressway. Work on both the subway and the superhighway resumed in 1945. Chicago finally achieved transit unification in 1945 with the creation of the Chicago Transit Authority by state statute.

    In 1944, the City had looked into the idea of purchasing 65 articulated rapid transit cars itself (the equivalent of 130 single cars), and would presumably have leased them to CRT for use in the Dearborn subway, if not for the creation of the CTA. As it happened, the fledgling CTA had CRT order four articulated trainsets, which were delivered in 1947-48 and numbered 5001-5004. Presumably, these were all that the broke CRT could afford.

    CTA also stage-managed CSL’s order of 600 postwar PCCs in a similar manner. The Surface Lines had millions of dollars set aside for purchasing new equipment, and was in much better financial shape than CRT, who could barely make operating expenses. Starting in 1939, the City had been publicizing a “wish list” for modernizing the surface and rapid transit systems, and wanted to get a quick start on buying new equipment, even before the CTA took over CSL and CRT in 1947.

    In 1949, CTA ordered 130 6000-series PCC rapid transit cars without articulation. Delivery began in 1950, which permitted the opening of the Dearbon subway in February, 1951. Connecting the Dearborn subway to the Congress median portion did not happen until 1958, and even then, some of the outer stations on the line were not finished until 1961.

    The “phase 2″ subway extension plans came up again in the mid-1950s, when plans started to extend the Logan Square “L” in the median of the Northwest (now Kennedy) expressway. A leading neighborhood activist group preferred that the Milwaukee subway simply be extended to the city limits as a subway, claiming that the City had promised the Federal government in 1939 to do this and thus had a legal obligation.

    They felt that the expressway median was not the best place for a rapid transit line, as it would be too far away from people in the surrounding neighborhoods. In particular, they felt that the area along Kimball needed improved rapid transit service.

    Once Federal money for mass transit became available in the mid-1960s, a compromise was reached with the mile-long Kimball subway. The original connection to the NW median would have been east of there, near California avenue. The City’s 1950s plan called for a ramp to veer off northward from the “L” at this point, going down into an open cut subway, which would have gone into the expressway median. There would have been one new grade crossing required in this plan.

    The new plan, while more expensive, was clearly an improvement, as it allowed for service to continue to Logan Square, which the old plan bypassed. So even the Kimball subway owes its origins in part to Chicago’s 1930s plans for its “Initial System of Subways.”

    -David Sadowski

    The south end of the parking area at Des Plaines in Forest Park on December 10, 1957, about five months after CA&E suspended passenger service. Note the #17 bus, which replaced the Westchester branch of the "L" in 1951.

    The south end of the parking area at Des Plaines in Forest Park on December 10, 1957, about five months after CA&E suspended passenger service. Note the #17 bus, which replaced the Westchester branch of the “L” in 1951.

    A four-car Congress-Milwaukee A train at the Des Plaines station in Forest Park on May 26, 1961. (Photo by Lawrence H. Boehning)

    A four-car Congress-Milwaukee A train at the Des Plaines station in Forest Park on May 26, 1961. (Photo by Lawrence H. Boehning)


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