CERA puts on regular programs and other, special events from time to time. Programs on aspects of electric railroads of yesterday and today typically occur monthly, with a few exceptions.
This is the Year of the Horse, and for our March program, CERA takes a look back at horsecars, the beginnings of street railways.
Our feature presentation is Harold Lloyd's "Speedy," (1928) a silent comedy about a fictional last horsecar line in New York city. In real life, the last horsecar in New York ran in 1917.
In the film, Harold Lloyd is in love with the daughter of the operator of a horsecar line. Traction magnates need his franchise to achieve transit unification, and want to put him out of business. Despite their sabotage, Harold (aka "Speedy") rises to the occasion, in a frantic attempt to complete the horsecar's required franchise run. Don't be surprised if Harold saves the day and gets the girl in the end.
Babe Ruth makes a cameo appearance, and we also get to watch him hit a home run against the visiting Chicago White Sox.
"Speedy" was filmed on location in NYC in 1927, and besides the horsecars, there are plenty of views of vintage streetscapes, streetcars, elevated trains, Coney Island, and even the late, lamented Penn Station, subject of a recent American Experience documentary.
As added attractions, we will watch two shorts- "The Bellboy," (1918) starring Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Buster Keaton (which also features a horsecar), and we will go back to the beginnings of railroading circa 1830 with "The Iron Mule" (1925) starring Al St. John, with an uncredited appearance by Buster Keaton.Get more details in Calendar.
Admission is free for current CERA members. There will be a $5.00 Admission charge for non-members.
Have a program idea? Have some knowledge and some slides you want to share? Let us know—we’re always looking for new program ideas and presenters! Programs are presented in digital format.
Newscast/Electric Rail Highlights: Sometimes our programs have a special section where member contributions are showcased—it's a bit like a visual "show & tell" for railfans. If you have electric railway images or announcements, we encourage you to contribute!
April 25: Chicago Rapid Transit in the 1950s and 60s by Ken Spengler
May 23: International Program by Ray DeGroote
June 27: Farewell to Chicago's Red Streetcars by Bernard Rossbach
If you have a program idea, let us know—we are always looking for contributors to showcase electric railways both new and old.