Guide to the Chicago Surface Lines Drawings

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0212
Creators:
Chicago City Railway Company.
West Chicago Street Railroad Company.
Transportation, Division of, NMAH, SI.
Pennsylvania & West Virginia Railway.
Chicago Transit Authority.
Chicago Surface Lines.
Dates:
1880-1948
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
4.6 cubic feet
13 oversized folders
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of blueprints, working drawings, line drawings, tracings, and plans of the Chicago Surface Railway system from 1896-1926; 1948. The majority of the drawings are on linen and are 24" x 36" or larger. Some of the drawings are annotated. The drawing number, title of drawing and the date are provided for each sheet.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is divided into seven series:
Series 1: West Chicago Street Railroad Company
Series 2: Chicago Board of Traction Supervising Engineers/Chicago Railway Company
Series 3: Chicago Traction System (Car Drawings)
Series 4: Chicago Cable Blueprints
Series 5: Chicago Union Traction Company
Series 6: Pennsylvania & West Virginia Railway
Series 7: Miscellaneous

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
The first street cars in Chicago were horse cars run by the Chicago City railway Company and the North Chicago City railway Company around 1858-1861. This method, however, was slow and expensive, and the companies began substituting cable cars in the 1880s. Chicago City was the first railway company in 1881, with the addition of the Chicago Passenger Railway in 1883, and the West Chicago Street Railroad Company in 1887. Chicago had the largest cable railway system in the world.
In the 1880s, electric powered trolleys first became practical. The Chicago companies hesitated at first to install these faster and more efficient systems because of their heavy investment in cable cars. Smaller Illinois cities and the Calumet Electric Street Railway of the South Side of the city built successful systems, causing the Chicago companies to feel themselves dropping behind. By the mid 1890s most companies began the conversion to electricity.
The 1890s saw the consolidation of many of the Chicago companies and through this reorganization continued into the next century. In 1905 the city voted that the surface railways should come under municipal ownership but not operation, provided the companies rehabilitate their systems, and give the city the right to buy the property at a fixed value. In addition, new construction was to be approved by a new bureau, the Board of Traction Supervising Engineers.
The continuous reorganization was finally completed by the Unification Ordinance of 1913 which stipulated that all lines would come under the management of a single operating company called the Chicago Surface Lines (CSL). Four companies made up the CSL-the Chicago Railways Company, Chicago City Railway, Calumet and South Chicago Railway, and Southern Street Railway. At this time Chicago had the largest street railway system, the longest one-fare ride, the longest average ride, and the most liberal transfer privileges in the world.
The 1920s saw continued growth despite the increasing competition from the automobile, but the Depression dealt a heavy blow to traffic. By 1948 the Chicago Transit Authority, which took over the Chicago Surface Lines in 1927, had abandoned all but four lines in favor of buses. By 1958 the remaining lines were "bustituted."

Administration
Processing Information
Collection processed by David Stevens and Robert Harding, August 1986
Author
David A. Stevens and Robert S. Harding
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of the Chicago Transit Authority.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Chicago Surface Lines Drawings, 1880-1948, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Related Materials
Materials at Other Organizations
The Chicago Historical Society
Holds approximately 13 cubic feet of materials documenting the Chicago Surface Lines, 1857-1951. The materials include minute books, corporate records, account books, agreements, correspondence, contracts, ordinances, patents, memoranda, stock certificates, bank statements, and blueprints.

Custodial History
Custodial History
Transferred to the Archives Center from the Division of Transportation on July 2, 1996.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Tracings Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Railroads -- Equipment and facilities Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Railroads -- Rolling-stock Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Railroad engineers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Civil engineers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chicago (Ill.) Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Civil engineering Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Railroads Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Railroads -- Buildings and structures Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Engineering and technology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cable railroads Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Blueprints Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chicago Consolidated Traction Company. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chicago Board of Traction Supervising Engineers. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Transportation, Division of, NMAH, SI. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States Construction Company. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
North Chicago Street Railroad Company. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gilbert Car Manufacturing Company. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lake Street Elevated Railroad (Chicago, Ill.). Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
D.T. Steelwork Company. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Garden City Construction Company. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chicago Union Traction Company. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chicago Railways Company. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives