Sunday, March 20, 2016

RTA's Blue Line replaced the Garfield Park Branch of the Metropolitan "L"

The Garfield Park Branch was the route of the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad that west straight West. It was the L that was used by the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin to access the loop. As with many of the L routes, it was built down an alley because they were owned by the city.
David Harrison commented on his post

But the block in which the L ran in was chosen by the city to be torn down to build the I-290/Eisenhower/Congress Expressway. The plan was to include L rails in the median of the new expressway. But how do you provide L service to the people along this route during the several years it took to build the expressway? The answer was to add rails to the adjacent roads and run the L trains like streetcars in the streets. It must have been rather exciting to have third-rail power in the city streets.
Kevin Heinlein posted
Bob Zwolinski: Looks like a woody on the temporary Van Buren street-running at Western after the MET L was demolished during the Congress Expy construction.
Andre Kristopans: All new tracks were laid,but the new WB track.was laid on top of the existing EB streetcar track, and new EB track was basically over the pld south sidewalk.

David Harrison posted
PCC 6000s The Next Chapter; "Green Hornet “L” car meets Green Hornet streetcar. The earliest of the rapid transit 6000s with flat doors and double headlights is seen eastbound on Van Buren Street at Western Avenue as Garfield Park. Postwar St. Louis PCC 4273 is northbound on the Western Avenue shoofly, constructed while the bridge over Congress is built. The “normal” streetcar tracks are seen in the foreground. This would be 1955 or 1956, after 6000s came to Garfield and before Western was bussed, June 1956. Answer: CTA 6000s and 4393 at Western/Van Buren on June 16, 1954. (Photo by Bill Hoffman) Source CERA.
A few notes....surface operation. Some discussion was about street crossings. Van Buren was limited to half a street, one way westbound. A picture of S. Ashland during this period shows standard highway RR crossing in place. The city and CTA agreed that normal railroad equipment like gates and flashers would not be used. Each crossing/intersection would be controlled by standard traffic signals..."green, yellow, red." Train passage would NOT control the signals. 'L' trains would stop, just like autos, trucks, and pedestrians, and wait for a green signal. In the normal cycle, did west-east traffic get a "green" so that an oncoming 'L' train did not have stop??? I don't know. Did all 'L' train have to stop at every crossing? Is that a "STOP" sign on the signal? Surface operation began 09/20/53 and ended 06/22/58.
[The motorman had to be careful crossing the wider intersections such as Ogden and Western Avenues to make sure they did not get stuck in the intersection where there was no third rail.]

David Church posted
Rare street running along Van Buren. What’s rare is how clean and shiny the freshly painted Met car is. En route to meet CA&E at Des Plaines Ave. See the traffic light by second car. Always red when train reached crossing. Had to wait for complete cycle. That’s why this 2 something mile diversion took forever.
Steve Brown Abandoned streetcar tracks to the left?
David Church Steve Brown Yup.
Arnold Berk There are elevated tracks behind and to the right side of this picture.
Scott Greig That's the Douglas Park branch, now connected to Lake Street. The big red brick building on the right is the former Alden's catalog warehouse.
Kelly Phillips And no stops between Halsted and Kedzie. Not even temporary stations were built nor were there shuttle buses back then to make stops that were of course served by Garfield’s elevated structure.
Daniel Adams To this day, I question why they closed down Sacramento Street Station. That wasn't in the way of the Congress expressway construction.
David Sadowski Some stations were closed to speed up running time, which had been slowed down by the temporary routing. By 1958, running times were back to what they had been in 1953.
Nickolas Lewis Daniel Adams with Kedzie-Homan and the California stops each being 2 blocks away, there was no need for the Sacramento stop.
Scott Greig I think Sacramento burned around 1949-50.

Edward Kwiatkowski shared
Eric Risse Was this third rail powered? I don’t see wires
Alan Follett Yes, it was third rail, though that's not visible in the photo. Note also the absence of trolley poles.
Eric Risse I don’t think they could get away with 3rd rail at street level today... even with that fence.
Bruce Moffat CTA has four lines with third rail on surface level trackage. Most recent was when the wire was taken down on the Yellow Line. What is likely to happen is adding grade crossings.
Jason Moors A remnant of the Douglas Park CTA line is visible on the extreme right--this street running I believe is why the CA&E refused to continue to Wells St,choosing to end their runs at DesPlaines Ave.

David Harrison commented on his post
[Obviously, the L was the last thing they tore down. Even so, they had to do street running for five years, 1953-58.]

David Harrison commented on his post
A third photo. This view is seldom seen, a east view. Credit to CERA and this info was given: "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)" Note, the building also needed to be torn down to give space for the present Paulina connector 'L' to be constructed. EDIT: What was this building? Dancehall?
David Sadowski David Harrison I wrote that caption. I think that may have been a YMCA.

Built between 1949 and 1961 at a cost of $183 million, the Eisenhower Expressway displaced an estimated 13,000 people and forced out more than 400 businesses in Chicago alone. (Source: A Comprehensive Superhighway Plan for the City of Chicago, 1939)

Bruce Elliott posted
1952 view looking west from Ogden Avenue of the swath of demolition between Van Buren St and Congress Pkwy in preparation for construction of the Congress Expressway (now the Eisenhower). The elevated Garfield Pk Branch of the Metropolitan L in the 1952 photo ran out to Forest Park and was replaced by grade-level tracks in Van Buren during construction. When the Congress was finished, it was moved to the median strip and is now the CTA Blue Line. Source: CERA Archives
Steve Boerger My brother almost got a summer job moving graves out in Forest Park in the mid 50s for the expressway but he would have had to go into quarantine afterwards and thought better of it.
Bruce Elliott I remember when the Congress was finished between Mannheim and 1st Ave. to go to River Forest we had to exit at 1st because the cemetery was blocking the connection with the Chicago portion of the Congress.

Glen Miller posted
I remember them adding rapid transit to the median of the Dan Ryan. I learned that rapid transit was always in the median of the Eisenhower.

Glen's comment:
In January 1958, the unfinished Congress median line and the Garfield Park "L" which crosses from the north to the south of the expressway at Sacramento presented a challenge to drivers. Motorists had to dodge support columns right in the middle of the highway. Better put that cup of coffee down while you maneuver through here. (Photographer unknown)
One time when I was coming home, I noticed that the RTA has a Holiday Special consist. All four cars were lit up. Traffic was at a standstill, and I was very lucky that the lane to the left of me was open. But there was not enough light for a fast shutter speed so the shot is blurry.

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Glen Miller posted
Glen's comment:
June 10, 1958, Chicago’s new CTA subway which will open June 22. The subway runs under the Congress Expressway from Halsted to link with the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway at Dearborn. The scene here is looking east from Halsted at the start of the subway. A crane hoists a beam into place for auto traffic interchange at this point.” (Photographer unknown)
I knew there was no "L" in the middle when you go under the old post office. But I did not know where it went until I saw this posting. You can see where it goes underground in a satellite image. And you can see the ramps that they are starting to build in the photo. Note that in the 1960s, they did not have telescoping boom cranes. They were all still truss booms, which made them harder to transport to other sites.

David M Laz posted
Mayor Richard J. Daley in 1955 on the then named and unfinished Congress Expressway (now Eisenhower) driving the ceremonial "Golden Spike" into the tie that started construction of the "'L" on the median of the expressway!
Jason Polinski Great pic! Although now the L running down the middle is preventing a much needed widening of the Ike. It should run underground from the loop to Forest Park.

Moving Tracks from Building Cook County Expressways
Moving the Chicago Aurora & Elgin RR bridge for the Congress Expressway in 1958
In this picture the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Interurban Railroad bridge over the Des Plaines River is being moved north in September of 1958.  The move is necessary because the original location was in the path of the Congress Expressway.  Although the original plan was to reconnect the tracks, three months earlier the CA&E had abandon service.  Despite the lack of train service the bridge was moved and not destroyed but alas no passenger ever crossed the river on that bridge.  The cessation of service on June 12, 1958 by the CA&E occurred in the middle of the day leaving hundreds of angry homeward bound commuters stranded at the Forest Park Station of the CTA where the change between the two systems was made.  (Krambles/Peterson archives)

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