Archive for the 'THIS DATE IN CHICAGO HISTORY' Category

The Last Day of the Western Streetcar (6-17-1956)

Yesterday I posted some old Chicago photos I recently found.  I had taken them during the rebuilding of Central Avenue in the 1970s.  Today’s photos mark an anniversary—exactly 64 years ago, streetcar service ended on Western Avenue.

Western Avenue @ Grace Street

I have no idea who took these pictures.  I bought them in a stack from a  long-gone used book store on Milwaukee Avenue, near the Portage Theatre.  The photos had no credits and no locations, only the 6-17-1956 date.

Western Avenue @ Cornelia Avenue—and Riverview!

I was eventually able to figure out the locations of all but one of the photos.  I knew the mystery location was somewhere between 33rd Street and Garfield Boulevard, because you could see Western Boulevard paralleling Western Avenue.  My thanks to Joe Urbanski for identifying the site.

Short-run wye on Roscoe Street

Streetcars first ran on Western Avenue in the early 1900s.  By 1931 the line stretched from Howard Street to 111th Street.  At the time it was advertised as the longest city streetcar line running on a single street.

Western Avenue @ Montana Street

In August 1948 CTA cut back and rerouted the line.  Now the cars operated from Clark-Devon via Devon and Western to a terminal at 79th Street.  A few months later, the north terminal was changed to an off-street loop at Berwyn Avenue.

Western Avenue @ Pershing Road—where the Orange Line ‘L’ crosses today

I remember riding the Western Avenue streetcar with my grandfather to Sox games.  The year must have been 1955.  Although there were quicker ways to get to the game from the Northwest Side, Grandpa knew I liked riding the streetcar.

Western Avenue @ 49th Street—where the Orange Line ‘L’ again crosses today

When the Western line was given over to buses, that left only two Chicago streetcar lines—Broadway-State and Clark-Wentworth.  Though the Wentworth cars went right past Comiskey, Grandpa continue to use the Western bus for our trips there.  I guess he didn’t like riding through the Loop.  Chicago’s last streetcars ran on Wentworth Avenue on June 21, 1958.

Western Avenue @ 79th Street terminal

I have never seen these photos published anywhere.  If someone can identify the photographer, please let me know.