Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The History of the Broadway-State Trolley Line, Chicago-Evanston.

The Chicago Surface Lines Trolley-cars in this 1945 photograph are heading west on Devon Avenue at Kedzie Avenue, the northern terminus of the Broadway-State trolley line. Looking east on Devon.
The Broadway-State line began operation in June of 1893 and initially ran from Graceland (Irving Park Road, today) in Chicago to Calvary in Evanston. By the end of August, cars ran as far north as Emerson in Evanston. The route was along Evanston Avenue (renamed Broadway in 1909) north from Graceland to Devon then west on Devon to Clark, north on Clark to Howard, then north on Chicago Avenue in Evanston to Dempster, west on Dempster to Sherman, then north on Sherman to Emerson. In 1932 the line was extended west on Devon to Kedzie, hence the trolley turn-around on the west side of Kedzie in Tessville (renamed "Lincolnwood” in 1936).

Most older streetcars could be operated from either end of the car.  When a car reached the end of the line, it remained parked in the middle of the street. To change directions, the roof-top electrical poles were switched and the passenger seats flipped. Then the driver—called the motorman—moved his control handle to the opposite end of the car, now the front, and was ready to change tracks and head back in the other direction. Buses replaced this trolley-car line in 1947 when the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) took over. In the decades since the commercially-zoned vacant lots along Devon have all been built upon.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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