Archive for the 'CHICAGO’S CHANGING SCENE' Category

Then and Now, Ashland-Roscoe


1929–Ashland Avenue @ Roscoe Street, view north


2018–the same location

In 1929 Ashland Avenue at Roscoe wasn’t particularly wide.  There was no Ashland bridge over the Chicago River’s north branch.  The streetcar line was a little-used shuttle operating the two miles between Fullerton and Irving Park.  Traffic was light, commercial development spotty.  That’s why the ‘L’ station was located a block west, at Lincoln and Paulina.

Shortly after the older photo was taken, work began on widening Ashland.  Here that was accomplished simply by knocking out portions of the buildings on the west side of the street—note that the pillars on the east side of the ‘L’ overpass have remained in place.  And with the opening of the river bridge in 1938, Ashland has become one of the city’s major crosstown thoroughfares.



Then and Now, Madison-Paulina

1929–Madison Street @ Paulina Street, view west

2018–the same location

Before the Milwaukee Avenue subway opened in 1951, ‘L’ trains from Logan Square reached downtown in a circuitous routing.  The older photo shows the Madison Street station on that line.  The Chicago Stadium had just opened a block to the west, greatly increasing patronage.

Today the United Center has replaced the Chicago Stadium.  Most of the surrounding buildings have been leveled for parking lots.  The ‘L’ structure has been completely replaced, and is now used by Pink Line trains on the old Douglas Park route.  There are proposals to open a new station here or nearby.


Then and Now, Archer-Narragansett

1946–Archer Avenue @ Narragansett Avenue, view west

2018–the same location

That’s Archer Avenue coming in on an angle on the right side of the older photo.  Here at Narragansett, Archer swings over from a southwesterly course and heads due west on the line of 55th Street.  In 1946 this neighborhood was mostly undeveloped.  But with the Depression and World War II over, get ready for a boom!

Sure has changed, hasn’t it?  And with the increased traffic, Archer has been widened a bit and the intersection rechanneled.


Then and Now, Elston-Diversey

1916–Elston Avenue @ Diversey Avenue, view southeast

2018–the same location

We are at one of Chicago’s famed triple intersections, where Elston cuts through the junction of Western and Diversey.  Traffic was still light in 1916.  Most people depended on streetcars to get around the city—one of them is visible coming up Elston.  And check out the barber pole on the lower right corner of the photo.

In our time the Kennedy Expressway parallels Elston a few blocks to the west.  With more Chicagoans driving their own cars, this stretch of Elston no longer has public transit, though there is talk of restoring buses on a trial basis.  In any case, there will probably always be a few barber shops in the neighborhood.


Skrudland Photo Service

Before the digital age, cameras used photographic film.  The film provided a limited amount of shots—12 or 20 or 36 or whatever—and once you shot a picture, there was no going back and erasing it for reuse.  When you used up all the shots, then the film had to be developed and printed.  Most people turned those jobs over to a professional.

On the Northwest Side, many of us used Skrudland Photo Service.  My dad remembered that they had started out in a small building at Central and Addison during the 1930s.  By the time I started taking pictures around 1958, Skrudland’s was operating out of an old bungalow at 6440 West Diversey Avenue.

That Skrudland’s was the first place my parents let me go to solo on the bus.  It was a little under three miles from our house at Montrose and Austin.  I was about eleven, and could have ridden my bike.  Too dangerous, Mom said.  Take the bus.

Getting to Skrudland’s involved taking the #91-Austin bus south to Diversey, then transferring to the #76 bus west to the store—or walking that last half-mile if no bus was coming.  So every month or so, when I had saved up enough money, I’d make the journey with a used roll of film from my old 8-shot box camera.  A few days later, I’d go back to pick up the prints.

The prints came in a pink envelope.  Along with them you got a set of negatives.  If you wanted a second copy of a particular photo, the store could make it using the negative.  The envelope also included various coupons and price lists.  Sometimes there’d be a booklet with tracts from the Bible.

Time passed.  Amateur photography was getting more and more popular.  Skrudland’s opened a second store at 7000 West Belmont Avenue.  They tore down the old Diversey bungalow and put up a new building on the site.  Then they opened another branch in Palatine.

I continued going to Skrudland’s even after I moved to Rogers Park and later Oak Park.  They did good work and their prices were fair.  The staff there was friendly, too.  They seemed to enjoy what they were doing.

Eventually digital cameras replaced film cameras.  Skrudland’s closed the two stores in the city.  I’m not sure whether the Palatine store is still in business.

Those pink Skrudland’s envelopes were always a handy place for me to store extra photos.  A few weeks ago I decided to go through one of them.  I discovered that I had inadvertently saved some 1961-vintage Skrudland’s enclosures.  They might not be worthy of sending to the Chicago History Museum or the Smithsonian, so I’ll share them here.


Then and Now, Dearborn-Monroe

1953–Dearborn Street @ Monroe Sreeet, view north

2018–the same location

In 1953 Dearborn Street downtown still handled two-way traffic.  The clock on the left of that older photo was on the old First National Bank of Chicago building.  Up the block and across the street is one of the Loop’s three Harmony Cafeterias.  Meanwhile, two guys are busy fixing the pavement while two other guys stand around admiring themselves—no further comment necessary.

Sixty-five years later, much of Dearborn Street has been rebuilt.  Now the only southbound traffic here is in the bike lanes.


Then and Now, 112th-Avenue H

1937–112th Boulevard @ Avenue H, view west

2018–the same location

In 1937 this was 112th Boulevard, the last link in the chain of Park District boulevards that stretched from Jeffery-93rd via 93rd-Escanaba-100th-Anthony-Avenue L-112th to Eggers Woods at the state line.  Though settlement here was still sparse, there were grand plans for the future.

Today the East Side community is residentially mature.  The streets in the boulevard chain have lost their special designation, including what is now called 112th Street But except for parts of Escanaba, they all remain as wide as any arterial through street.