Rare Color Images Show Chicago in the 1940s

These vivid color photos from the Great Depression and World War II capture an era generally seen only in black-and-white. Photographers working for the United States Farm Security Administration (FSA) and later the Office of War Information (OWI) created the images between 1939 and 1944.

22 photos
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Library of Congress
Photographers working for the U.S. government's Farm Security Administration (FSA) and later the Office of War Information (OWI) between 1939 and 1944 made approximately 1,600 color photographs that depict life in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. These pictures from the Library of Congress focus on rural areas and farm labor, as well as aspects of World War II mobilization, including factories, railroads, aviation training, and women working. This photo shows workers at the roundhouse of the C & NW RR Proviso Yard in Chicago, Ill.
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Library of Congress
A welder who works in the round-house at the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad's Proviso yard.
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Library of Congress
Greasing a locomotive at the 40th Street shops of the C & NW RR.
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Library of Congress
Worn tires on locomotive wheels are refaced on this machine in the wheel shop of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.
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Library of Congress
Section of a locomotive frame, which will be welded to replace a broken locomotive frame, Chicago, Ill. Workman is indicating what place must be cut. At the 40th Street shop of C&NWRR.
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Library of Congress
Working on the cab of a locomotive brought in for repair at the C & NW RR 40th Street shops.
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Library of Congress
Working on the cylinder of a locomotive at the C & NW RR 40th Street shops.
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Library of Congress
Apparatus used at the laboratory at the C & NW RR's 40th Street yards for analysing solutions of metals used in locomotives and the railroad plant, in general.
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Library of Congress
Laboratory worker at the research laboratory at the C & NW RR's 40th Street yard, examining paint samples used on freight cars and coaches of the railroad
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Library of Congress
Locomotive lubrication chart in the laboratory of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. The laboratory assistant in foreground is working at a precision balance.
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Library of Congress
One of the yards of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. On the right are three of the west coast.
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Library of Congress
General view of part of the South Water street freight depot of the Illinois Central Railroad, Chicago, Ill. A C and O R.R. caboose. the C and O is one of the railroads that lease terminal facilities from the I.C.R.R.
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Library of Congress
General view of part of the South Water Street freight depot of the Illinois Central Railroad.
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Library of Congress
General view of part of the South Water street Illinois Central Railroad freight terminal.
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Library of Congress
General view of part of the South Water Street freight depot of the Illinois Central Railroad.
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Library of Congress
Illinois Central R.R., freight cars in South Water Street freight terminal.
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Library of Congress
John Kelseh, blacksmith, at his forge in the blacksmith shop at the roundhouse, Rock Island R.R., Blue Island, Ill.
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Library of Congress
A Chicago and Northwestern railroad roundhouse.
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Library of Congress
Hump master in a Chicago and Northwestern railroad yard operating a signal switch system which extends the length of the hump track. He is thus able to control movements of locomotives pushing the train over the hump from his post at the hump office.
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Library of Congress
General view of one of the yards of the Chicago and Northwestern railroad.
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Library of Congress
In the roundhouse at a Chicago and Northwestern Railroad yard.
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Library of Congress
Mike Evans, a welder, at the rip tracks at Proviso yard of the C & NW RR.
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