Then and Now, Blue Island-Leavitt

1948--Blue Island Avenue @ Leavitt, view northeast

1948–Blue Island Avenue @ Leavitt Street, view northeast

2015--the same location

2015–the same location

Blue Island Avenue follows part of an old trail from downtown Chicago to the village of Blue Island.  The older photo shows the street paved in red Belgian blocks—which is appropriate, since the village was once considered the brick-making capital of the world.  Bricks were used in paving urban streets because they gave surer footing to horses.

In 2015 many of the buildings here remain in place.  Along with the streetcar tracks, the Belgian blocks have been covered over.  Though some streets now have restored their old brick pavement to provide a “historic” look, that’s unlikely to happen on a major arterial like Blue Island Avenue.


6 Responses to “Then and Now, Blue Island-Leavitt”

  1. 1 benson June 3, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Okay, I’m showing my lack of age (and some ignorance). If the streetcars are in the middle, and there’s a metal street sign or whatever that yellow thing is in the right lane, what did automobile drivers do? Just wait for the streetcar to pass and slide over onto the tracks, and then move back over?

    • 2 J.R. Schmidt June 3, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      On a wide street like Blue Island, autos were supposed to stay off the streetcar tracks. I suspect that this traffic law wasn’t always obeyed.

      • 3 Garry June 5, 2015 at 7:50 pm

        Take another look at that pole in the street. There’s a large concrete bollard in front of it & a sign on the bollard with a double ended arrow, telling drivers to go either way around the bollard & pole.

      • 4 J.R. Schmidt June 5, 2015 at 10:09 pm

        The arrow to the left was for autos making a left turn. Otherwise, they were supposed to stay off the tracks.

  2. 5 kathy mc ginley June 5, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    I see the thing in the street he’s talking about. What’s it for?

    • 6 J.R. Schmidt June 5, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      That’s a safety island. People normally waited for streetcars on the curb, then crossed onto the street to board. A safety island was provided on wide streets, where it might be difficult to get from the curb to the tracks.

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