Then and Now, Clark-Thome

1949–Clark Street @ Thome Avenue, view north

2019–the same location

Our location is a few blocks south of Devon Avenue.  Here Clark Street was one of the city’s widest thoroughfares, merged with Ashland Avenue for about a mile.  That meant there would be a pair of passenger safety islands at each stop on the streetcar line.

Seventy years later a landscaped median strip has replaced the streetcar tracks on Clark.  A gas station occupies the property once occupied by billboards.  Since buses can pick up passengers at the outside curb, safety islands are no longer necessary.

—30—

7 Responses to “Then and Now, Clark-Thome”


  1. 1 cpapunk February 24, 2020 at 10:12 am

    Despite a cross walk and lights every few blocks, a number of people still cross Clark mid-block and will essentially use the median strip as a safety island.

  2. 2 Garry February 24, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    I live a couple blocks north of this.
    Almost every building in the 1950 photo still exists, except for the former bank at the SE corner of Clark/Devon, which is now a one story restaurant & the Joyce Bros. warehouse at Schreiber/Clark, which was a Wendy’s & now the hardware store uses it to repair lawnmowers & snowblowers..

  3. 3 Joe Urbanski February 24, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    This post as well as many prior posts show a stark difference in a tree inclusive landscape that is current day vs a concrete, brick and mortar landscape from many years ago. Was this a gradual change or was this something that Richard M Daley specifically implemented to make Chicago a greener city? He had a reputation of being a tree lover to the point that people had trees added to their parkway many times against their wishes.

    In addition, in your opinion are there less billboard signs present day as well? Have many of these billboards from the Foster & Kleiser days been zoned out of existence or does a company like iHeart just want to do electronic signs in eye shot from the edge of an interstate highway?

    If you recall, Ladybird Johnson back in the late 60s tried to outlaw roadside signs as roadside pollution. This resulted in bigger signs located further away from the adjacent roadside / interstate.

    • 4 Garry February 25, 2020 at 1:41 pm

      Clark, from Edgewater Ave. north to Devon was three lanes in each direction.
      The problem was that there wasn’t enough traffic for that wide a street & cars always were speeding. And I don’t mean going 35 MPH, they were going 50+ there.
      By narrowing the street to two lanes in each direction, now the width & traffic match & speeding is way down. That’s the reason for the tree & grassy median.
      However, they screwed up where the bus stop at Devon for the NB Clark bus is, plus the numbskulls at the city’s Traffic Engineering Dept. have the traffic light at Schreiber set wrong, as they consider Ashland to be the more important street, except that Ashland north of Devon is a glorified side street!
      Because of that, all NB traffic gets a green at Devon & then waits at Schreiber/Ashland for maybe six SB Ashland vehicles to go, while 20 or more NB Clark vehicles, especially the CTA buses are delayed for two minutes!
      Just insane!

      • 5 J.R. Schmidt February 26, 2020 at 4:40 pm

        Funny thing about the speeding on Clark—Milwaukee Avenue from 5000-N to 6600-N is still just as wide as Clark once was, and doesn’t have those speeding problems. Maybe being closer to the lake brings out aggressiveness in drivers.
        As for the traffic signals, my main complaint is about the signals at lonely intersections that stay on all night long. When you’re turning left from a local street onto an arterial at 3 a.m., you shouldn’t have to wait a full two minutes through a red light. Make it a flashing red at that time, so you can stop and turn.
        –JRS

    • 6 J.R. Schmidt February 26, 2020 at 4:59 pm

      Though there are obviously many more trees on the “NOW” photos than on the “THEN” photos, I don’t know whether the tree-planting was a gradual evolution or an expedited surge. I expect that some scholar will one day do a study on city tree-planting in Chicago from 1950 thru 2020 (or whatever year). But I do think there were more big billboards in the Chicago of the past. Ribbon commercial strip zoning was still common, which meant more vacant lots, and more places to put those billboards. (BTW, do the Chicago kids still call vacant lots “prairies?”)
      –JRS

      • 7 Garry February 26, 2020 at 9:15 pm

        When I was a kid [I’m 70] all the traffic lights on Clark & on Western & probably street throughout the city, went flashing yellow after midnight, except the ones at major intersections, with the cross streets flashing red all night.
        The other problem in the city is that it won’t ‘fully actuate’ the traffic signals, which means using the loop sensors to allow for left turns, if there are cars in the left turn lanes. The city insists on using timed signals, instead.
        All & I do mean all traffic lights in the suburbs are fully actuated.
        From what I’ve been told, this is yet another problem due to Mike Madigan, as he supposedly controls all hiring in the Bureau of Electricity.
        Plus, every streetlight the city has bought for over 50 years has a built in photocell to turn that light on & off, but the city still insists on using that bulky mechanical time switches to turn them on. The photocells on the street lights adds at least $10 to the cost, but the city insanely won’t switch them on.
        Maybe because there’s a bunch of politically connected hacks that repair & adjust the mechanical timers!


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