Monday, May 05, 2008

The Chicago city skyline as seen from the eastbound I-55 Stevenson Expressway. Chicago Illinois USA. April 2007.

I took this photo one bright and sunny morning in April of 2007. I was heading to northbound Lakeshore Drive, and unfortunately got stuck in heavy slow moving traffic on the eastbound side of the I -55 Stevenson Expressway that morning.
So what!? I did what any native Chicagoan with a camera would do in a situation like this...Make the best of it!

I took this unique vista of the Chicago city skyline around South Halsted Street in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood on the southside. The old black drawbridge over "Bubbly Creek" is still standing, although it is grafitti tagged and the operators control tower on the top was scrapped a few years ago after some fires were set there.

The CTA Orange line rapid transit station can be seen in the photo as well, wich runs adjacent to the Canadian National's former Illinois Central Railroad mainline, and the BNSF Railway ex Atchinson, Topeka & Santa Fe mainline. The I-55 Stevenson Expressway construction began in the mid 1950's and was completed in the year of 1962. The Stevenson Expressway was laid out on the right of way of the Illinois and Michigan Canal through Chicago's southside, and also replaced Illinois U.S Route # 66 west of Countryside Ilinois. Parts of old U.S Route # 66 survive today in Illinois as Frontage Roads or segments of main streets like Ogden Avenue in Berwyn Illinois, and Joliet Road in Hodgkins and Countryside Illinois.


Anthony C said...


Regarding your reference to the operator's tower atop the bridge over Bubbly Creek, no doubt you remember that for many years before its abandonment, someone in that small facility would string Christmas lights in one of the windows during that time of year. It was easy to see while racing past on I-55. Such a curious and intriguing sign of life in an ancient, black, dirty and out-of-the way place.

I'm sure that tower lasted into the 1990s. What an incredible urban relic of railroading. Have you ever been on the Orange Line and noticed when it makes its stop at this station the long series of steps and ladders those operators had to take to reach the tower? Amazing.

I think that location used to be known as Bridgeport Junction. I know it was manned by IC personnel. Alas, like the switchtender's shanty at Brighton Crossing, it's just a memory now.

Eddie said...

Hi Anthony!
I recall that the steel bridge operators little shanty lasted untill approximately late 2001. I recall that sometime around November of that year, there was obvious fire damage, proboubly caused by local vandals or even homeless people. I remeber seeing a crew up there with cutting torches destroying the now charred bridge shanty on My way to work one morning in December of 2001.

It has proboubly been since at least the early 1950's when this was last raised and lowered as a railroad drawbridge.

Thank You.
Eddie K.

Dennis (tuninjun65) said...

As soon as I saw that old bridge I immediately thought of that little shanty. On trips to my Grandparents house I remember this old bridge, just after the Holsum sign, and before the piggyback yard (Or at least I think it was...I seem to remember a bunch of IC Piggyback trailers...which exit, not sure...we never took that one). And I also remember at the exit on 55th Street there must have been some sort of cement company, because I remember the yellow and red cement trucks.

Good Stuff Eddie...good stuff!!!!


Dennis (tininjun65) said...

I think I mentioned 55th Street in my previous comment...and since I already sent it, I can't check it or change it...I was meaning to say at the Kedzie exit there was some sort of cement company with the red and yellow cement trucks. And that there was a few more things I looked forward to seeing on the way to 55th Street...such as the GT roundhouse and the old Crane factory, then when it became part of Santa Fe's Corwth Yard aka "Checkpoint Chico" intermodal facility. That and other neat stuff I remember going by these places as a kid.

Dennis (tininjun65)

Eddie said...

Hi Dennis!
How are You doing today buddy?
Those red cement trucks were from a company called Material Service Company. Their facility was located on South California Avenue along the northside of the Stevenson Expressway. Today, it is Prarie Materials operating their cement plant at this location.

Thank You.
Eddie K.