Here is a second installment in our series on the Chicago Transit Authority’s Lake Street “L” when the outer end of it ran on the ground. (To read the first part, go here.)
In this classic photo by George Krambles, an “L” train led by car 1753 passes surface car 3136 in April 1952.
We take things up in the early 1950s, when the CTA first proposed cutting back the “L” to Laramie, in order to get rid of the 2-mile ground-level portion, with its numerous grade crossings and blind spots. Oak Park did not want this to happen, and within a few short years, the various parties (CTA, C&NW, plus various governmental bodies) worked out the current arrangement, which has been in place now for more than 50 years.
Until 1954, the CTA #16 Lake St. streetcar paralleled the “L” and crossed it at grade. On Central, a trolley bus line also crossed.
What was difficult (and somewhat dangerous) from an operational standpoint was good for the camera, however, with quite a variety of equipment in different settings. Come take a trip with us along the Lake line in those thrilling days of yesteryear, when the “L” wasn’t quite so elevated after all.
Wooden “L” car 3145 at Marion and Lake in August 1951. (Photographer Unknown)
CTA 1751 at Lake and Pine in the early 1950s. (Unknown Photographer)
Wooden “L” cars cross the #16 streetcar line at Pine. (Unknown Photographer)
The #16 Lake St. streetcar crossing at Pine. Buses replaced trolleys on this route as of May 30, 1954. (Unknown Photographer)
Going up the ramp between Central and Laramie. (Photographer Unknown)
Oak Park in the mid-1950s. (Photographer unknown)
Oak Park in the late 1950s. (Photographer Unknown)
CTA Lake St. 4000s (led by 4442) circle the Loop on September 9, 1958. (Unknown Photographer)
CTA Central Avenue trolley bus 9323 crosses the “L” on April 15, 1960. (Photo by Ray DeGroote)
In this July 5, 1960 view, 4000s are switching between third rail and overhead wire. The westbound train at right prepares to descend the ramp to ground-level operation. By the time the new embankment alignment opened in October 1962, CTA had moved the power changeover point west to the Central Avenue station. (Unknown Photographer)
That wall looks pretty close in this July 5, 1960 view from the “railfan seat.” (Photographer Unknown)
“Side of the road” rapid transit operation in January 1961. (Photographer unknown)
CTA 4367-4368 between Marion and Home avenues on August 31, 1961. (Photographer Unknown)
CTA 4388-4387 in Oak Park on September 3, 1961. (Photographer Unknown)
The Marion station on September 4, 1961. (Unknown Photographer)
West of Harlem in Forest Park on September 6, 1961, before the embankment was expanded to create a yard and shops. (Photographer Unknown)
A train of 4000s between Home and Marion in the early 1960s. (Photographer Unknown)
It might surprise you to learn that wooden “L” cars ran on the embankment, but they did- in work service. Here we see CTA 337-333 on May 24, 1963. (Unknown Photographer)
The bi-level is moving towards the camera in this May 1964 scene, since the C&NW runs left-hand. (Unknown Photographer)
CTA 4000s meet C&NW bi-levels on the embankment in May 1964. (Unknown Photographer)
4000s ran on Lake Street until being replaced by the new 2000s in 1964. (Photographer Unknown)
Going around the Loop in May 1964. (Unknown Photographer)
CTA 4452-4451-4270-4269 meet 2140-2141 at State and Lake at 12:35 pm on June 26, 1966. (Unknown Photographer)