Then and Now, 63rd-Blackstone

1948--63rd Street @ Blackstone, view west

1948–63rd Street @ Blackstone Avenue, view west

2015--the same location

2015–the same location

Our location is just west of Stony Island Avenue.  In 1892 Chicago’s first ‘L’ was built over this stretch of 63rd Street, in anticipation of the next year’s Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park.  The Illinois Central Railroad had a station here, and the new University of Chicago was a few blocks to the north.  A busy commercial district developed along 63rd.

Woodlawn went into decline during the 1950s.  Businesses left, and much of the old housing stock was demolished.  In a controversial 1996 action, CTA cut the ‘L’ line back to a terminal at Cottage Grove.  Today parts of the neighborhood are being redeveloped.


8 Responses to “Then and Now, 63rd-Blackstone”

  1. 1 kathy guzan fietz November 10, 2015 at 12:40 am

    I WOULD LOVE TO SEE A 1940’s photo of west chicago avenue and lawndale avenue where i lived as a toddler then. especially vito’s pizzeria,the alamo theater, the swings and wading pools then at humboldt, garfield and
    columbus parks. thanks

    • 2 J.R. Schmidt November 10, 2015 at 7:07 am

      I turn up old photos all the time, in all sorts of places. Though I don’t have any of the places you mention yet, maybe one day I’ll find some.

      • 3 Richard Taylor June 6, 2016 at 5:47 pm

        Hello Mr. Schmidt,

        Any pictures perhaps of 63rd Street store fronts. I fondly remember: Hann’s Bakery, Wimpys, Rays 5 & 10, Bernie’s Drug Store, and so many others. I was a paper boy at the Dorchester corners and under the IC. Also worked at two different Greek grocery stores, one owned by Frank Bachouras I remember. My best friend/s father owned his own shoe repair shop on 63rd. It is so sad it all had to be torn down!

        Richard Taylor
        Ullin, IL

      • 4 J.R. Schmidt June 7, 2016 at 7:10 am

        I’m sorry, but the only 63rd Street storefront photo I have is from a few blocks to the west, and not very good. Check out this post

  2. 5 Garry November 10, 2015 at 7:43 am

    I believe that the CTA had cut the 63rd St. section back to Woodlawn a few years earlier, when the engineers determined that the Dorchester Bridge over the IC Mainline was too far gone to fix & the ever broke CTA didn’t have the cash to replace it.
    Add to that there was a majority in the area that wanted the L totally gone from the street, so it was a done decision.

    • 6 J.R. Schmidt November 10, 2015 at 8:17 am

      CTA cut back to a University Avenue terminal because of the IC bridge problem in 1982. Over the next decade, several options were discussed. One idea was to rebuild the bridge and keep Jackson Park as the terminal. A cheaper alternative was to simply tear down the bridge and re-open the closed Dorchester station, which was just west of the bridge. The nuclear option was to junk the whole 63rd Street segment and cut the line back to the 61st Street station. The current terminal at Cottage Grove was a touted as a compromise—which, of course, hardly satisfied anyone.

  3. 7 Greg November 10, 2015 at 12:14 pm has some good stories on the end of the Jackson Park Branch. Follow the links at the end of their entry on the Dorchester Station

  4. 8 Richard Taylor September 6, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    The partial Drug Store sign visible in the 63rd and Blackstone photograph was what we called Bernie’s Drug Store. They had a soda fountain where you could sit and enjoy really good cherry cokes. Bernie once removed a cinder under my eyelid by rolling my eyelid up on a toothpick in order to remove the cinder. Of course, no charge at all.

    Some doors down was Babcock Optometry where I had lazy eye treatments over a number of months. It involved my wearing an eye patch, but the treatments were the stereoscopic training by tracing with my lazy eye with a small wooden stick the various objects on the stereoscope’s picture. The optometrist sat with me and guided me each visit/treatment. Again, no charge.

    Close to Babcock’s was a pawn shop’s incredibly fascinating window displays. And on the other side of the Babcock store was Perry’s Grocery operated by a stern Greek immigrant where I worked after school.

    The point I’m hopefully making is the reality of community, of some social goodness which is often overlooked when studying inner-city neighborhoods.

    Thank you, J.R., for the memories!

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