Then and Now, Ashland-Belmont

1944--Ashland @ Belmont, view north

1938–Ashland Avenue @ Belmont Avenue, view north

2015--the same location

2015–the same location

The older photo documents a long-forgotten Chicago story.  The large building with the tower, on the left of the picture, was a Wieboldt’s department store.  When Ashland Avenue was being widened in 1929, the east end of the building needed to be lopped off.  The company and the city got into a dispute over the bill for the work.  While the matter moved through the courts, the building remained in place—which meant that one block of Ashland was narrower than the rest.

Shortly after the 1938 photo, the court found in favor of Wieboldt’s, and the city paid for the demo work on the east wing of the store.  The 2015 photo shows how the building has been truncated.





2 Responses to “Then and Now, Ashland-Belmont”

  1. 1 Garry December 2, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    I never knew that the Wieboldt’s Building had a section taken off.
    I’ve always been interested in the houses north of Foster that have had their front stairs altered due to the widening of Ashland.
    If only the city had widened out all of the arterial streets, we would have far less of a traffic mess.

    And a question for you, Mr S: Why wasn’t the boulevard system extended beyond its limited areas of the West, NW & Mid-South Sides? They carry far less traffic than they can & are a wonderful alternative to the mess on the expressways in those areas.

    • 2 J.R. Schmidt December 3, 2015 at 5:37 pm


      One of the last posts I did at WBEZ has an aerial view from 1933 that shows the old Wieboldt’s store jutting out into Ashland. Here’s the link—

      When I ran across the 1938 photo a few months ago, I decided to research the matter further, and found the information about the legal dispute between Wieboldt’s and the city.

      As for your question–I don’t know the answer! I grew up on the far NW side, and always wondered why the boulevard system was never extended to our area. Since the park districts used to be separate government entities, I assume that the City of Chicago simply shut them out from further expansion into other neighborhoods. Somebody has probably done a scholarly paper on this, and I’d love to know the answer, too.


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