Chicago Two-Flats

Robin Amer has a fine article on WBEZ’s website about Chicago bungalows. Like many Chicagoans my age, I grew up in a bungalow. We didn’t consider bungalows fashionable in the 1950s. They were simply houses.

Our section of Portage Park was developed during the 1920s. The block on Mason Avenue was nearly all bungalows. We also had a few two-flats near the corner by the Lutheran church.

Two-flat phalanxes near North and Central (1979)

Two-flat phalanxes near North and Central (1979)

Two-flats are nearly as emblematic of Chicago as bungalows. There are thousands of them sprinkled throughout the Bungalow Belt. Yet for some reason, they don’t get the same publicity as bungalows.

I have a theory about this. When you buy a bungalow, you can devote your spare time to personalizing it, almost as a hobby. But when you buy a two-flat, you’re becoming a landlord, and have to get serious. The building isn’t merely a diversion; it’s a business.

Chicagoland also has dwellings that I’m calling one-flats. These buildings look like two-flats that had the second-floor cut off. Most of them are located in Cicero, Berwyn, and on the city’s Southwest Side. I’d love to know why they were built this way.

One-flats in Cicero

One-flats in Cicero

As for myself, I’ve come full circle. My neighbors to the north live in a brick bungalow. My neighbors to the south live in a brick bungalow. And though our own house is frame and dates from 1899, it has a bungalow floor plan.


Here’s the link to Robin Amer’s bungalow article–


1 Response to “Chicago Two-Flats”

  1. 1 James F. O'Neil January 8, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Our two-flat still exists, at 6720 South Marshfield. Connected to another building north of it, it was a beautiful place to grow in, 1949-1955. Then on to the Byrne Building at 55th and Halsted.

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