Then and Now, Vincennes-103rd

1949–Vincennes Avenue @ 103rd Street, view north

2020–the same location

In 1949 a Pennsylvania Railroad freight line ran parallel to Beverly Avenue.  The older photo shows an abbreviated train on that line crossing Vincennes Avenue just south of 103rd Street.  The train will then cross the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific tracks that parallel Vincennes.  Note that on this part of Vincennes, the streetcar tracks were located on the side of the roadway, rather than in the middle.

In 2020 the Pennsylvania freight line is gone, and houses occupy its former right-of-way along Beverly—which is now designated a boulevard.  The streetcar tracks are gone from Vincennes, allowing the roadway to be widened.  The CRI&P line is now part of Metra.

—30—

4 Responses to “Then and Now, Vincennes-103rd”


  1. 1 Garry November 17, 2020 at 8:29 am

    look & you can see that the conductor on the streetcar is about to flag the motorman so the streetcar can safely cross the diamond with the railroad.
    I’m old enough to remember that when the Clark St. car crossed the Milwaukee Road tracks by Wrigley Field that way.

    • 2 J.R. Schmidt November 17, 2020 at 12:17 pm

      Check out “Then-and-Now, 63rd-Knox.” You’ll see a conductor flagging the streetcar across some tracks in the 1952 photo.
      –JRS

  2. 3 Marge, Chicago native, now in Md. November 17, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Wow, what a nice surprise to find the email notification for this posting in my inbox today, though I am still geographically disoriented (despite lengthy looking at the street view of the Google map for the Washington Hts. crossing area). My maternal grandfather (1879-1959) worked at what I think was a combined station (and originally also outbuildings) for both the Pennsy & Rock Island railroads here for most of his long railroading career. I’m not sure what his job was when he first started there—but he ended up as stationmaster before he finally retired when more than 70 years old, I think after passenger service had ended for both. In fact, he probably was at work when your 1949 photo was taken! I think he’d been in charge of freight before that. Early on, there’d likely have been numerous jobs out of that station, for manual switching and signaling, I suppose, as well as freight handling and maybe also re refueling. By the time he retired only he and an assistant worked there.

    I believe he was already working there when my mother was born in 1905, in a nearby rental house or flat a few blocks to the east, from which he could walk (or maybe bike) to work. I vaguely recall accompanying my grandfather to the station (when he was off work but had to attend to something there or check up on his assistant’s work) during the late 1940s (and maybe also early 1950s). I couldn’t locate it there today but think it was between the RI and Penn. tracks a little south of 103rd, i.e. south of the actual crossing. When my mother was between about 8 and 11, her parents and maternal grandparents jointly bought and occupied a very nice, spacious single-family house in West Pullman, at 12014 S. Eggleston (now, alas, in ruinous condition). From there it would have been a quite long way to/from the station. Whether he then walked, biked, or took a streetcar to/from work I don’t know. I believe my grandfather had a car by at least 1920, however.

    I was also interested to see the old streetcar (probably painted mostly red?). That sort, probably dating to the very late 19th or early 20th century, was what I remember running on 119th St. and on Chicago Ave. in the Austin area, where I spent most of my childhood. Unlike on Madison, where the new “Green Hornet” streetcars (as we called them) finally replaced the old ones after WWII, the ancient ones on Chicago, at least, were succeeded by trolley buses and the tracks paved over. (Good riddance to the old cane seats, also hated by bare-legged little kids riding the old (wooden?) El cars on the Lake St. line.)

    • 4 J.R. Schmidt November 17, 2020 at 12:11 pm

      Thanks for reading, and for sharing your memories. I’ve posted about 280 “Then-and-Now” photo pairs over the years—just click on “CHICAGO’S CHANGING SCENE.” You’ll probably find some more locations that speak to you.
      –JRS


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