Chicago City Railway

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Chicago City Railway
Dates of operation 1882–1913
Successor Chicago Surface Lines

The Chicago City Railway was a cable car system, designed by William Eppelsheimer and opened in Chicago in 1882.

This system was to become, for a while, the largest and most profitable cable car system in the world. Counter to some people's expectations, the cable cars did not suffer much from the elements, and the harsher Chicago climate was no problem for them. As with most cities using cable cars the problem in flat Chicago was not one of grades, but of pure transportation capacity. This also caused a different approach to the combination of grip car and trailer. Rather than using a grip car and single trailer, as many cities did, or combining the grip and trailer into a single car, like the San Francisco cable car system's California Cars, Chicago used grip cars to pull trains of up to three trailers.

As in other cities the cable cars did not completely replace the horsecars, but they rather created a transportation backbone. In fact, even as the horse lines were being converted to trolleys, the electrical cars had to be pulled by grip cars through the loop area, due to the lack of trolley wires there.

At least one Chicago City Railway station survives at 5529 South Lake Park Avenue in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. The former cable car station and waiting room currently serves as the home of the Hyde Park Historical Society.[1]


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