One Street, Five Names

Between 1909 and 1911, Chicago modernized its address numbers, giving us the base-line system we have today.  The city also began eliminating hundreds of street names.  The goal was to consolidate the names of streets that occupied the same latitude or longitude on the grid.

Cass Street became part of Wabash Avenue.  Center Street became part of Armitage Avenue.  Pine Street became part of Michigan Avenue.  And so on.

Consolidation was not always carried out.  The street at 3400 west is called Homan Avenue from the city’s southern border all the way north to North Avenue.  Then it becomes Kimball Avenue.  There are many other instances where a given street still has two or even three different names.

However, the street at 1400 west is the champ.  Depending on where you run into it, that street has five different names.

Loomis Street @ Lake

Loomis Street @ Lake

Loomis Street was named for Horatio Loomis, an early settler.  The street carries the Loomis name for a distance of 15 miles, from the city’s southern border at 123rd Street to a dead end at the Metra tracks at 400 north.  Loomis Street is not continuous, and part of it is called Loomis Boulevard.  There is even a section in Bridgeport where Loomis swings east along a diagonal.

The half-mile north from Madison Street to the railroad was once called Sheldon Street, but was changed to Loomis as part of the consolidation.  It’s when we go north of the Metra tracks that we start getting those other names.

Noble Street @ Chestnut

Noble Street @ Chestnut

Now we are on Noble Street.  The name of the street comes from Mark Noble, another early settler.  Though Noble’s main residence was in the heart of the little town of Chicago, he also built a summer cottage on the northwest prairie in 1833.  The city eventually grew out past the cottage, and it’s now recognized at Chicago’s oldest house.

Noble Street runs for about a mile-and-a-half, up to North Avenue, with a few breaks.  This was once the center of the city’s Polish community.  Look closely, and you’ll note three Catholic churches in the photo.

Southport Avenue @ the Brown Line 'L'

Southport Avenue @ the Brown Line ‘L’

The next street at 1400 west is Southport Avenue.  Southport originally began at Cortland Street, but the city sold off a few blocks to the Finkl Steel Company.  Now the street goes from Clybourn Avenue up to Clark Street and Graceland Cemetery, a bit under three miles.

The #9-Ashland Avenue streetcar line once operated on Southport, and a ribbon commercial strip developed. Today there’s no public transit on Southport, but the street continues to prosper, with both renovation and new construction.

Dover Street @ Sunnyside

Dover Street @ Sunnyside

On the other side of Graceland, we come to Dover Street.  This residential street runs for a half-mile, from Montrose to Lawrence, where it hits another cemetery, St. Boniface.  Dover is one-way southbound, so approach from the north if you’re driving.

Like the other streets stretching between Graceland and St. Boniface, Dover Street is slightly skewed from the north-south grid, and runs parallel to Clark Street.  Still, it’s listed as 1400 west, so it counts as one of the five streets.

Glenwood Avenue @ Lunt

Glenwood Avenue @ Lunt

Finally, we have Glenwood Avenue.  Beginning on the north side of St. Boniface, it goes straight through for nearly three miles, from Ainslie Street to Touhy Avenue.  Most of Glenwood is residential.  For the last half mile, the four-track Red Line ‘L’ runs down the middle of the street on an earth embankment.

Oddly enough, Glenwood was originally called Southport.  Around 1912, when the city was consolidating street names, this stretch of Southport was “un-consolidated.”  Perhaps the locals simply wanted a more genteel name.



3 Responses to “One Street, Five Names”

  1. 1 Carol Anne January 2, 2015 at 6:56 am

    I can see your little silver car on four of these photos, but I don’t see it on Southport.

    • 2 J.R. Schmidt January 2, 2015 at 7:18 am

      I parked on a side street. Since I already had to pay to get on the ‘L’ platform, I didn’t want to feed a parking meter.

  2. 3 James F. O'Neil January 2, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    My paper route for the Herald American was along Loomis Boulevard, 67th to 64th, opposite Ogden Park. Ah, yes: Loomis in my memories. You can read about it in my memoriesofatime stories. And the hot chocolate at 63rd and Loomis.

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