Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Importance of Streetcars and Chicago Overview

(There is no satellite link for these notes because streetcars were used all over Chicago.)

There is a Facebook Group for photos of cars with tracked equipment that includes quite a few streetcar views.

Chicago finished converting from cable cars to streetcars in 1906. And in 1914 the companies formed the Chicago Surface Lines (CSL) to coordinate their routes. [1914 via a CSL page]

Before cable cars, Chicago had horse drawn cars since 1856.
Neil Gale posted

The history of the Chicago Horse Railways began in 1856.

The first track was laid from the corner of State and Randolph Streets down State to the southern city limits at Twenty-second Street. I present the stories about horse car companies, their routes, and some cool pictures. Train, public transportation, and early Chicago history lovers will rejoice.
CLICK TO READ ─► in my Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™

Glen Miller posted
Chicago once had one of the world's largest streetcar systems, more than 500 miles of line on nearly 100 routes by 1935. Horsecar service began in 1859, and was supplanted in the 1880s by a large network of cable car lines.
[At Facebook resolution.]
Paul Webb shared
Glenn Selan commented on Glen's post

Both MWRD and the Southeast Chicago Historical Society have been posting an historical photo each day during the pandemic. I've tried to place the street scenes they've posted in chronological order. We can see the evolution of urban transportation from horses & streetcars to autos & streetcars to autos & buses. In particular, it shows how important streetcars were at the beginning of the 20th Century because many scenes had streetcars. In some cases, only streetcars. Keep in mind these photos are not taken by railfans who would wait for a streetcar to appear. They are taken by people documenting something else, and they just happen to catch a streetcar. Think of how often the streetcars had to run back then to be in so many photos. Especially considering the photos have so few horses.
This map dates from 1937, the peak year for track mileage.

Brian Berthold posted
1900s Chicago Street cars map
Sam Blensdorf: Is this why there are so many diagonal streets
Dennis DeBruler: Sam Blensdorf I think indian trails is why there are diagonal streets. I know Ogden Ave was a plank road long before streetcars were invented.

Chicago claimed to have the largest streetcar system in the world with over 3,200 cars and over 1,000 miles of track. But, starting in 1947, it was dismantled by CTA's general manager Walter McCarter in favor of buses because he thought the overhead wires were ugly. "The last Chicago streetcar click-clacked down Vincennes Avenue on June 21, 1958." The dismantling started a year after the 600 PCC (Presidents' Conference Committee) "Green Hornet" cars they ordered had gone into service. [Baer]

Rich Butler posted
Ever get a chance to ride the Green Hornet? I remember the accident at 63rd and State in the early 50’s with a gas truck. It killed many.
[Comments talk about riding Green Hornets on Western Ave to Riverview Park. The comments also explain that many of the passengers in the accident burned to death because they could not get out. There were bars over the windows and the doors opened inward. The Illinois Railway Museum has preserved one.]

I have thought about streetcars in terms of using horses instead of cars. But then I read that only the wealthy in a city could afford horses. So imagine how important it was for the bulk of the urban dwellers to have access to streetcars within walking distance. Also, before cars, a dweller probably considered a mile to be an easy walking distance. This would be one reason you don't see obese people in historical photos. (Another reason was that many jobs back then were hard physical labor. I was going to comment that they did harder work than push a pencil. But then it occurred to me that in the 21st Century, workers don't even push pencils.)

My motivation for studying streetcars is that it gives me a place holder for historic photos of Chicago's street scenes. I started noticing that many streets were practically empty except for a streetcar. Especially up through the 1910s before a car became affordable.

Phil Thompson posted
Thought this community might like this illustrated overview I made of Chicago surface transit. It's not all types (there were too many diesel bus models to include), but it shows some of the major shifts in technology over the years in public transit at the surface level. The present-day electric buses are currently, as I understand it, limited to just a route or two and so probably many haven't yet seen them in person.
Phil Thompson FB compressed the image. You can get a closer look on my site, which lets you zoom in.
[Phil also illustrated the "L" cars.]

Neil Gale commented on Phil's post
The first illustration in Phil Thompson's picture is Chicago's first one-horse drawn streetcar. It ran along State Street from Randolph Street to 12th Street in 1859. The car was called a "Bobtail," having no rear platform.

Street cars were so important in the 1870s that they got them going even before all of the debris was cleared.
Jamal Craft posted
Corner of State and Madison after great fire in 1871. Imagine being there 147 years ago, when you at this corner today [2018].
Paul Jevert Obviously the "World's Busiest Corner" !
Kathy Rick-Altschuler my great great grandmother carried her new sewing machine in to the chicago river.
Jeanine Handley Still are ashes in the sub basement of St. Michaels in Old Town. I lived in a house on Cleveland Ave for many years (1995-2016). It was built as “temporary” housing after the fire. Over 100 year old. Still there.

Paul Jevert shared
149 years ago October 8-10, 1871
Approximately 300 casualties
3.3 square miles destroyed
100,000 residents left homeless
$222 Million loss, $4.593 Billion in today's dollars !
Chicago came Back !
The "I Will" Spirit !


Rod Sellers posted
Original post card describes location as 92nd St. east of Ill. Cent. RR North Side of Street, So. Chicago. Behnke and Son ad (above) shows address as 3128 E. 92nd but awning shows address as 189. This was before street and address changes were made in 1909. 189 E 92nd became 3128 E 92nd. So this scene is from the early 1900s. View is to the east and the intersection in view is Brandon Avenue. Building on the NW corner of the intersection would later become Bardelli's Confectionery
John Kurczewski Rod Sellers
[There is a streetcar in the background going around the curve onto Harbor Avenue.]
Andrew Urbanski commented on Rod's post, cropped
[This 95th Street Bridge was built in 1902.]

THIS PHOTO IS STAGED for a postcard. Note the important role that streetcars contributed to this drama.
Paul Jevert shared
[Dearborn and Randolph Streets in 1909 looking South down Dearborn. This is what was torn down for Block 37. [ConnectingTheWindyCity and post comments]]
Ian Hickey Many of these photos were staged in order to attract people to the city. The streets did not look like this day in and day out.
Paul Dailing The Encyclopedia of Chicago has a high-resolution version you can play with. You can zoom to pretty remarkable detail.

MWRD posted
A view of Irving Park Road in Chicago on April 8, 1903, looking east towards the bridge over the North Branch of the Chicago River.
Rod Sellers posted
Photo of Commercial Avenue, 93rd Street looking north, c. 1905.
[A rare 1900s urban photo with no streetcars. The colorized photo below must have been taken significantly before the 1907 postmark. In fact, it must have been taken before this 1905 photo because there are far fewer telephone and electric lines.]

Rod Sellers posted
9200 block of Commercial Avenue, view north toward intersection of 92nd and Commercial. Postmarked 1907, sent from Valparaiso, IN.
[Note that many of the buildings have Italianate architecture. At first I didn't see any streetcars. But I think there is one in the far background.]
This 1922 photo is out of chronological order so that it is easy to compare to the above <1907 view. Note only is the transformation from horse to cars complete, some of the buildings have already had some remodeling and the phone company has invented multiple twisted-pair cables to replace the multi-armed poles carrying many wires. Today's view
Rod Sellers commented on his post

Historic Chicago posted
Chicago - Franklin Street & Madison Street (1906)
Renee Brown shared
Paul Webb shared a Alex Bean post
Cable Cars at LaSalle/Randolph in 1906 (looking north) from the CTA's Flickr. (
Hard as it is to imagine, this is the site of the Thompson Center today.
[So we must be looking Northeast.]

BDBRCPC posted
Dearborn Street, Chicago (c. 1907)
Dearborn St. and Jackson Blvd. looking North, you can see the Monadnock Buliding on the left.
[Monadnock is the curved columns on the far left. "Built in 1893, this notable site was at the time the largest office building in the world." [Google Map]]

Raymond Kunst shared
Irvin Galloway I can also see, what I call, the old Post Office, on the left.
I include these two building photos because they also catch the early street scene in the loop.
Raymond Kunst commented on his post
Monadnock looks like.

Martin Tangora commented on Raymond's post
The Monadnock is at 53 W Jackson. It is seen at the extreme left of the originally posted photo.
The building with all the round bay windows, which really does not look at all like the Monadnock (either part of it), is one of the big hotels designed by Burnham & Root in the 1880s. I think the Great Northern.
[edited p.s.] Yes, but 1891, so not Root, just Burnham & Co. Here is a photo, from Chicagology, which is often correct:

Rod Sellers commented on his post of the 1948 photo further below
Dennis DeBruler With all of those telephone wires, horses and yet to be remodeled Italianate architecture, I'm guessing 3 or 4 decades earlier.
Rod Sellers Dennis DeBruler Original post was 1948. Attached photo is turn of century.


Historic Chicago posted
State and Lake (1910)
[According to the comments, this is looking north along State Street from south of the Lake "L". The Chicago Theater has yet to be built. Another theory was looking East along State Street at an old Wabash Station.]

safe_image for This is what Toronto looked like in the 1910s
The track between the viewer and the left hand trolley is temporary surface track.

Rod Sellers posted
Where am I?
[At first I was confused because I didn't see any streetcar tracks. Then I realized the tracks were covered with snow. I'm guessing at the date since there are no wagons or cars on the street, just the streetcar. But that many lines on the telephone poles does place it early in the 20th Century.]

Suzi Klucker commented on Rod's post
You are here.
This is one instance that I can understand them changing the street name, since there is another Erie Street downtown.
Rod commented on his post
Answer: Erie Avenue (now Baltimore Avenue) view south toward the intersection of 133rd and Baltimore. Hegewisch Opera House on left. Attached photo is closer look at same location.

Rod Sellers posted
Commercial Avenue view north from 92nd Street c1910. Attached photo is same view 1904.
[I can see a streetcar curved left in the distance.]

A block north of the above photo, but facing south. And even more empty street. It looks like it was paved with brick, but there is a lot of dirt on the bricks.
Rod Sellers posted
91st and Commercial Avenue view south. Building on the left is the Lincoln building. Building on the right is the Lederer Department Store, later the site of Goldblatts. Postcard dated February 24, 1912.
Rod Sellers posted
Street view of East 92nd Street from Commercial Avenue, 1912.

Rod Sellers posted
9900 block of Ewing Avenue view north from railroad tracks. Probably early 1900s before viaduct was constructed. The many phone wires down the east side also indicate early 1900s.
Tommy Lee Fitzwater posted
Circa 1910  Berry St.   Ft. Wayne, Ind.
[Another example of Fort Wayne having more cars on a street than Chicago does.]

Rod Sellers commented on his post
Swing bridge over the Calumet River at 106th Street shortly before it was replaced in 1930. Attached photo is same bridge in 1912 with Keystone Grain Elevator in view at right. Also in view is trolley crossing the bridge.
[It is coming off the bridge on the right.]

I'm trying to figure out if the downtown streets in Fort Wayne were still not paved in c1910.
Greta Tarr posted

It is interesting that one photo has two streetcars but another doesn't have any. The following clearly shows that cars were still rare in c1910.
Greta Tarr posted
Hayward MCkee posted
This looks like the biggest original: 6052x 4893 px, 1.9 Mb.
It's a bit muddy... but generally I love these large format images because of the detail they capture and the insights you can draw.

It struck me that there are quite a few cars in this photo for the middle of the 1910s. Oviously we have a car in the left forground. But what is parked beyond the streetcar? I zoomed in on the high res photo provided by Paul. I think, from right to left, it is a car, buggy, car, car, buggy. (I can see just the wheels of the second buggy.)
Digitally Zoomed

Rod Sellers posted
Where am I?
Cynthia Costello Too bad theres not a picture of the watchtower. My Grandfather used to lower and raise the gates for the trains.
Rod commented in his post, at Facebook resolution, cropped
86th and Burley. Photo appeared in a Smoke Abatement and Electrification Report for Chicago in 1915. Attached is a map of the area near the photo from the Report.
[More details concerning this area are in EJ&E South Works Yard.]

MWRD posted
Today's photo was taken to document power lines and shows a southeasterly view of Elston Avenue near Western Avenue in Chicago on January 31, 1916.

MWRD posted
A crowd gathers near workers assembling street lighting at the corner of Division and Sedgwick streets on April 18, 1916.

MWRD posted
A view looking south at the intersection of State and Washington Streets in Chicago on July 9, 1916.

MWRD posted
View looking east at the intersection of Cleveland and North Avenues in Chicago on July 15, 1916.

Tommy Lee Fitzwater posted
circa 1916
Main St.
Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Creager Smith It's circa 1916. That date is right for the cars, and 1916 is the only year in the 1910s with dark letters on a lighter background on the Indiana license plates.
[I follow Fort Wayne because it is my hometown. I include this photo because I was surprised how many cars were in it compared to what we have seen in Chicago. You can see a streetcar in the distant background.]

Historic Chicago posted
West Madison Street in Downtown Chicago. (1918)
Dennis DeBruler shared
Streetcars were very important during the horse & buggy era because most workers could not afford to maintain a horse in the city. But back then industry was spread out through out the city so that many workers could walk to work. Of course, "walking distance" was probably a lot further back then.
Dennis DeBruler shared
I don't know if we consider streetcars to be railroading, but this sure is "in the snow."

Rod Sellers posted
Photo of 92nd Street looking west from Burley c 1920's. 
[I wonder if this is the 1910s because of all of the conductors on the telephone poles and the rather privative looking vehicles. Specifically, I think I see some horse legs.]


It looks like horses were pretty much gone by 1920.

MWRD posted
The original Western Avenue bridge over the Cal-Sag Channel on June 20, 1921, viewed looking north towards what is now Old Western Avenue in Blue Island.

Rod Sellers commented on his post
9900 block of Ewing Avenue view north from railroad tracks.
[If you compare to the same view above from the 1910s, not only has the horses become cars, but the telephone wires along the right side have disappeared. And this view is evidently taken from the viaduct.]

Lawrence Shoop posted
Ashland and Milwaukee in the 1920's

MWRD posted
Clark Street in Chicago on November 2, 1922, viewed looking northeast from an area between Adams and Jackson Streets.

Batavia Depot Museum posted
On this day-June 10, 1923
Paving of Batavia avenue.
Archie Bentz This was an unpaved portion of the transcontinental Lincoln Highway. The Garage building was home to at least 13 different businesses before being razed in 1952. Now a part of Abe & Doc's.
Archie Bentz The paving of the Lincoln Highway was financed by local, state, and federal funds. The first such portion of paved highway was in front of Mooseheart.
Archie Bentz That is a curbside gas pump in front of the garage sign.

Matthew Linhart shared
Old A,E,&C electric interurban line in Batavia, Illinois at Batavia Avenue. Today this location is Rt.31 & Wilson street.
[There are comments in the post that indicate the view is north of Main Street. I think they are correct.]
West side of Batavia & the Fox River.
Matthew LinhartAuthor Jayn Edmonds Batavia was founded in 1833 and is the oldest City in Kane County, Illinois. The Lincoln Highway was built right here. In Mooseheart,Illinois just to the South of this location was a seedling 1 mile paved concrete stretch of Road.
John Timm I remember the tracks still in place some time in the 70s to serve the heating plant at the state mental institution.

Paul Jervert shared

Terminal theater was 3315 W. Lawrence Ave. Looking East from the corner of Lawrence and Kimball in Albany Park. In the full photo.

On the far right, you can see the S.W. corner of the intersection and the Ravenwood Elevated "EL" Station.

Circa 1925 - judging from automobile and streetlamp styles?

Ron Kolman The photo is "looking at" S.E. corner. The position of the camera would be the N.W. The camera is looking East down Lawrence Ave.

[Lots of cars and no streetcars. From the satellite map, I see that station was the end of the Brown Line.]

I included this 1925 photo because there are not streetcars visible on what I would think would be a busy street. But then I noticed there are practically no vehicles either. Was this taken just after day break?
MWRD posted
Historical Photo of the Day: One photo in a series documenting street and sidewalk conditions along Elston Avenue, looking north in an area north of the intersection with Fullerton Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, on November 19, 1925.
Today's view:
Street View

MWRD posted
The North Branch of the Chicago River, and some houseboat residents, viewed to the north towards the Irving Park Road Bridge, prior to construction of a section of the north side intercepting sewer on August 21, 1926.
[Not all street scenes had streetcars. I checked the map above to verify that Irving Park Road did have streetcar tracks. The contrast between the horse & wagon and the truck is interesting. 1924 is a rather late date for horse & wagon usage.]

Rod Sellers posted
NW corner of 92nd and Commercial c1920s. Commercial Theater, Red Star Pharmacy, Schulte Cigars, et al in view. Old SC Post Office one block west at Exchange. Washington Hotel is across the street and not in view.
Mario Diaz I remember going to the Commercial Theater on Saturdays cartoon days all long with westerns for a quarter. Buying Green River drinks out of the pop machine.for a dime.
Ron Jaworski 2 features, 1 serial, 15 cartoons- walked to theater with 25 cents- 14 cents to get in- got a holiway bar and box of popcorn- had 3 cents left for streetcar home- what a deal- lol

Paul Webb shared a post by Jamal Craft
State street at corner with Madison Street. Not sure what year, but judging by the cars probably in the 1920's.
[The comments converged on 1927.]

William Shapotkin posted
A pre-elevation view of the Harvey, IL IC psgr station. In Park Ave (to right) is a car of the Chicago & Interurban Traction -- which operated betw Chicago (63rd/Halsted) and Kankakee, IL. View looks S-S/W. (From the facebook page "I grew up in Dolton/Riverdale/South Holland/Harvey Alumni.")

MWRD posted
One of a series of photographs documenting North Shore Channel transmission towers for the Electrical Department of the Sanitary District of Chicago (now MWRD) at the intersection of Montrose Ave. and Kedzie Ave. in Chicago on August 7, 1923. This image shows a view looking west from the south side of Montrose Ave. towards Kedzie Ave. Electricity generated at the MWRD's Lockport Powerhouse was transferred through cables along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to a control station in Pilsen and sold for street lighting. In the 1930s the MWRD began using the electricity to operate wastewater treatment plants and now it is sold back to the “grid.”
[Note that we are now in the 1920s and streetcars are being replaced by autos in a random sampling. But we can see that streetcar lines ran on both roads. But, by today's standard, the streets are still rather empty.]

MWRD posted
Calumet Intercepting Sewer system excavation on 92nd Street near Mackinaw Avenue in Chicago, looking northeast on October 3, 1923.
Scott Greig Wow, I think that's a Chicago & Calumet District Transit car in the background.

Historic Chicago posted
Chicago - Looking west on Washington from State (1925)
[I include a photo without a streetcar to document how rare it was to not have one in a downtown scene. I see rails and the above map indicates that about every east/west street had rails in the loop.]

A northwestern view of the intersection of Oakley, Clybourn and Barry Avenues in Chicago on April 20, 1926, during work on the North Side Sewer.
[There is a streetcar in the distance just to the right of the white rectangle in the middle of the street.]

Ken Sanders posted
1929 - Chicago Loop
[This is exceptional. A lot of cars and trucks, but only one streetcar peaking out on the right.]

Don Murphy shared


Jose Ilarraza-Boyed posted
63rd & Halsted - 1935

Rod Sellers posted
92nd and Burley view west. Our donor records state it was taken in the 1920s but the cars seem to indicate a later (1930s?) date. Two clues were the street sign "Burley" and the farthest tall building in the distance at the right. That building (here is a photo) is the Union State Bank at 92nd and Baltimore Avenue.
Joe Sedlak those cars are accurate with the 20s.
Ivan Stern Looks more like Commercial ave ~1935.
William Shapotkin posted, cropped
Before the MIDWAY 'L' -- The Chicago Transit Authority extended rapid transit ('L') service to Midway Airport on October 31, 1993 (on which yours truly rode the inaugural round trip), offering fast frequent rail service betw the Loop and Chicago's Southwest Side. Before that, however, there was streetcar service on Cicero Ave (betw Archer Ave and 63rd St) begun by CTA predecessor Chicago Surface Lines on May 22, 1904 (long before Midway Airport (or its predecessor, Chicago Municipal) was established). Service was converted to bus (today part of CTA Rt #54B -- SOUTH CICERO) on January 6, 1941.
Here we see a photo of CSL car #5177 (I believe at 63rd/Cicero -- the south end-of-line with the view looking N-N/W) on March 1935. Wm Shapotkin Collection.

Paul Webb shared
Stuart B. Slaymaker: James Myers : It is a United Airlines Boeing 247.
Harlan Hannah: Stuart B. Slaymaker United Air Transport the predecessor to United airlines.

Rod Sellers commented on a post
The Union State Bank at 92nd and Baltimore Avenue.
Dennis DeBruler That building is still standing.

By 1930, we are seeing the transition to autos happen. Note the filling station on the corners. (The sign on the left is "SHELL."
MWRD posted
A view to the northeast at the intersection of California and Lawrence Avenues in Chicago taken during surveys for sewer work on June 17, 1930
Thomas E. Zimmerman No stop signs.
No traffic lights.
No traffic!
Rod Sellers posted

Kevin Piper posted
This view is looking northeast at 108th & Torrence in Chicago's South Deering area. That is part of the Wisconsin Steel Works in the background. The undated photo was probably taken in the late 1930's.
Today the mill and trolley cars are long gone, but Torrence still exists.

Seventh Photo in a Media Set by Rod Sellers
Rod Sellers 109th and Torrence, Wisconsin Steel Works in background. View NE
[I don't know the date, so I put it here as part of the Torrence Ave gang of photos.]
Rod Sellers posted
 Torrence Avenue approximately 112th Street view north, 1938. Wisconsin Steel on the right, Acme / Interlake Coke Plant on the left. First building on the left (partial view) was the light oil building. Next building on left is the gatehouse and entrance to the coke plant. Attached photo is gatehouse and entrance to plant a few years after the plant closed.
Kevin Piper posted
Riverdale, Illinois
138th street?
The upper-left corner indicates 137th.
Dennis DeBruler
 well guess I should open my eyes.
Cathy Sturgeon
 Looking at a map, 138th does make more sense. Then I noticed that in the photo there is just one track and that track turns. So I'm guessing the streetcars went westbound on 137th and then south to go eastbound on 138th.
[I'm guessing from the cars that this is 1930s.]
Historic Chicago posted
A streetcar equipped with a snowplow clears a Chicago street (1939)


Chicago History posted
State & Madison, Chicago, Christmas 1941.

Paul Webb shared

Historic Chicago posted
W. Madison Street and N. State Street, Chicago. (1942)
Submitted by @demet_123

Rod Sellers posted
92nd and Baltimore view north. Number 5 Trolley, Pacini's to the right, Daily Calumet to the left down the street.

Historic Chicago posted
Chicago Streetcar - Clark Street & Halsted Street (1955) [more like the 1940s]
Phil Bracht I would say by the look of the cars this is pre 1955
Dale Brigger Phil Bracht yeah, the cars look to be of 1940’s vintage. The one parked is a 1930’s model, possibly a Model A. I don’t remember any 1930’s cars driving around in the 50’s.
Phillip N Liliane Cohen That car is a PCC.

Jim Arvites posted
View of North Shore Line streetcar #356 at "Merchants Curve" in Waukegan, Illinois circa 1940's. The street intersection is still there but the buildings in the background are long gone.
[Still a lot of parking places available.]

Rod Sellers posted
Where am I?

Rod Sellers commented on his post
Answer: South Chicago Ewing Trolley headed south at 108th and Ewing view NE. Photo c1945 after transfer point to the Hegewisch Trolley was changed from 108th and Ewing to 118th and Burley. Tavern at this location (not visible in photo) was the Transfer Buffet. Prior to this the South Chicago Ewing Trolley went east on 108th Street to Avenue F. Attached photo (from Shore Line Interurban Historical Society) shows trolley at 108th and Avenue F before route change.
Bob Lalich At one time the line on 108th St continued east to Indianapolis Blvd and beyond in conjunction with the Hammond, Whiting & East Chicago Ry.

Rod Sellers posted
Where am I?

Rod Sellers commented on his post
 Brandon and Brainard view north, end of the line for the Hegewisch Trolley 1945. Attached photo shows view looking south toward South Shore Station.

Rod Sellers posted
South Chicago Ewing Trolley passing over railroad tracks at 94th and Ewing Avenue. Visible down the street is a Schlitz Tied-House tavern, the Bamboo Lounge. A Tied House is a bar built by a particular brewer to serve a particular brand of beer. 5 Schlitz Tied taverns are landmarked by the city of Chicago not including the Bamboo Lounge. Attached photo shows the Bamboo Lounge.More information about the Bamboo Lounge here:

Street View

Second Photo in a Media Set by Rod Sellers
Rod Sellers 83rd and Burley view east toward U. S. Steel.
I would guess that this pic is from the mid to late 40s. Trolleys were still in operation and car in front of Gene's are clues.

Fourth Photo in a Media Set by Rod SellersRod Sellers Intersection of 92nd and Commercial view east.
[I'm guessing at the date. I think I see at least four streetcars.]

Rod Sellers posted
104th and Indianapolis Boulevard, trolley headed NW, 1946. Gas station and houses in photo are at present location of Chicago Skyway. Large number of trolley car photos from the late 1940s because they were being replaced by buses. Indianapolis trolleys were replaced May, 1947 and were not replaced.
[Note the 19.9 cent gas.]
Mark Simunic Indianapolis Blvd. "gasoline alley" at about 105th street.

Rod Sellers posted
View NW toward intersection of Ewing Avenue and Indianapolis Blvd 1947. Trolley in foreground is headed toward end of the line at 106th and Indianapolis. Trolley in background is headed south on Ewing Avenue. Top of Host House at Hummel Square is visible in the distance. 

Sixth Photo in a Media Set by Rod SellersRod Sellers Number 5 Street Car (South Chicago / Ewing) on 106th block of Ewing Avenue.
[I don't know the date for this one, so I put it here as part of the Ewing service.]

Ninth Photo in a Media Set by Rod SellersRod Sellers 118th Street east of Burley - 118th Street and Burley was where one transferred to Hegewisch Trolley outside entrance to Republic Steel. In earlier times transfer point was at 108th and Ewing.

Tenth Photo in a Media Set by Rod SellersRod Sellers Brandon Avenue near end of the Hegewisch Trolley Line.
[I can't provide a satellite link because I don't know where the Hegewisch Trolley Line ran.]

Rod Sellers posted
#5 Trolley turning left from Baltimore Avenue onto 93rd Street headed west to South Chicago Avenue and then to downtown Chicago c1947.
[It looks like it is turning right to me.]

Rod Sellers posted
95th Street view east from just west of junction with South Chicago Avenue. 95th Street bridge at top center of photo.
Bob Lalich This photo was taken in 1947 by Robert W. Gibson. He is well known for documenting Chicago's streetcars in action.
Dennis DeBruler So this photo is not a fair sampling of the density of streetcars because Robert would wait for one to appear.

Fifth Photo in a Media Set by Rod Sellers
Rod Sellers 95th Street view east from just west of junction with South Chicago Avenue. 95th Street bridge at top center of photo.
Rod Sellers posted
Where am I?

Rod commented on his post
South Chicago Ewing trolley crossing 92nd Street Bridge view east toward the East Side. Youngstown Steel partially visible at left. Attached photo was taken from the other side of the river and shows trolleys waiting for boat to pass.

Rod Sellers posted
South Deering trolley headed north on Commercial Avenue. 1948 photo was taken just south of intersection with South Chicago Avenue. Gayety theater and Washington Hotel barely visible in the distance. Roma's Restaurant hidden by trolley.

Historic Chicago posted
State Street (1943)


Richard Stephen commented on his post
PCC Street Car passing Englewood Union Station (Don Ross photo):

Paul Jevert shared
Paul Jevert ~ Here's a 1951 photograph of a Westbound Route #79 Red Rocket just crossing I.C. Electric's South Chicago Branch at Exchange Avenue. It's going thru the 1500VDC-600VDC "Air gap" ! In the distance an eastbound car is visible. It's heading to 79th Street and the Lake!

Rod Sellers posted
East Side / South Chicago #5 trolley at approximately 116th and Ewing view WNW. Republic Steel blast furnace and coke plant in background.
Harold Hanley During the winter, we played hockey on the frozen ice out there in the swamps. And then walked home. Temperature? The colder, the better.
Chuck Craven And when the weather started to warm up, the ice would melt around the edges but still be a couple of feet thick in the middle. We would put boards down to walk onto the ice, and play hockey until we lost all the pucks, which happened every time.
[I'm guessing this was in the 1950s if people who are living today played hockey on those ponds.]
[The gasometer on the left side of the photo would be for Wisconsin Steel. The "dimmer" one that is left of center would be for Interlake/Acme/By Products Coke Corp.]

Eighth Photo in a Media Set by Rod Sellers

George Schmelzie posted
Don Murphy shared
Clark and Wrightwood, Chicago, 1955.

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 Garfield Park L (today's Blue Line) is street running because I-290/Eisenhower/Congress is being built.]

Paul Webb shared a Mike Tuggle post
Looking south on the intersection of Clark, Broadway and Diversey in December 1956.
A Chicago Surface Lines Old Pullman streetcar is followed by a Green Hornet.
CTA photo
Rex Nelson: Both streetcars are likely fantrip charters, as both Broadway and Clark went to weekend bus service on Sept. 5, 1954.

(I placed the cursor for this photo near the top of the 1950s section. But a Google bug put it at the bottom on these notes. Instead of wasting my time working around a bug that I reported weeks ago, I leave the photo here as a monument to Google's bug.)
Rod Sellers posted
79th Essex
(I placed the cursor for this photo near the bottom of the 1910s section. But a Google bug put it at the bottom on these notes. Instead of wasting my time working around a bug that I reported weeks ago, I leave the photo here as a monument to Google's bug.)
Detroit, 1917.
[Detroit also appears to have more cars on the street than Chicago did.]
Mike Breski shared


  1. Just in case you don't know about this site:

    It's mostly related to Chicago and Milwaukee trolley and interurban history.

  2. An interesting development: Mike Medina and Laura Coffey Medina seek to reopen the Bamboo Lounge as 'the East Side Tap'. It seems they are close to getting the edifice declared a City landmark also. (The Tap has a facebook page.)