Then and Now, Madison-Green

1955--Madison Street @ Green, view east

1955–Madison Street @ Green Street, view east

2014--the same location

2014–the same location

In 1955 this stretch of Madison Street near Halsted was Chicago’s largest Skid Row. Though the streetcars had been gone from Madison for over a year, the city had still not bothered to remove the overhead trolley wire. Construction of the Northwest (Kennedy) Expressway just east of Halsted—counted on to revitalized the area—would soon begin.

The expressway was opened in 1960. However, gentrification of the West Loop would take four decades. By 2014 most of  walk-up buildings in the 1955 picture are gone, replaced by taller structures.



2 Responses to “Then and Now, Madison-Green”

  1. 1 sderailway August 5, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    I have seen a picture of Halsted with streetcar tracks gone, but the overhead wires still in place, perhaps they hadn’t yet decided whether or not to use trackless trolleys.

    Another idea was that perhaps the 600 vdc overhead voltage was relied upon by street lights and stop lights for their voltage source and that issue was still pending. I recall some years back that some of Milwaukee’s downtown river drawbridges’ electric motors were powered off of the streetcar and or trackless trolley overhead of the lines crossing the bridges.

    • 2 J.R. Schmidt August 7, 2017 at 7:22 am

      According to a couple of sources, CTA had tentative plans to convert Halsted from streetcars to trolley buses, so the overhead wires on Halsted stayed up for awhile. The Kedzie-California line was given the trolley buses instead. Both the 67th-69th-71st line and the 79th line were also supposed to get trolley buses, but never did. I don’t think there were ever plans to make Madison a trolley bus line—the city wanted to get rid of those overhead wires in the Loop—so I don’t know why they remained up on that street for so long.

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