Archive for the 'CHICAGO’S CHANGING SCENE' Category

Then and Now, Racine-Belden

1905–Racine Avenue @ Belden Avenue, view north

2018–the same location

In 1905 this part of the Lincoln Park Community Area was a mixture of industry and working-class housing.   Streetcars ran on a single track along Racine Avenue as part of the Larrabee line’s northern terminal.  Just to the east, the new St. Vincent’s College enrolled about 200 students.

A century later little St. Vincent’s College has become De Paul University, with more than 20,000 students. The main Lincoln Park campus now sprawls over a dozen blocks.  Gentrified for many years, today the area is commonly referred to as the De Paul neighborhood.

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Then and Now, Michigan-Superior

1931--Michigan Avenue @ Superior Street, view north

1931–Michigan Avenue @ Superior Street, view north

2017--the same location

2018–the same location

The opening of the Michigan Avenue Bridge in 1921 began the transformation of a nondescript little street into a busy commercial thoroughfare.  Though slated for demolition when the avenue was widened, the Water Tower had survived.  The Palmolive Building dominated the neighborhood.

In our time North Michigan Avenue has been “Manhattanized.”  The Palmolive Building is dwarfed by newer, taller structures.  And anyone who might suggest tearing down the Water Tower would be demonized on social media.

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Then and Now, Yates-91st

1938–Yates Boulevard @ 91st Street, view north

2018–the same location

Eighty years ago, this was going to be Yates Boulevard, part of the system of Chicago Park District parkways.  The Depression had already delayed development of the plan, and World War II would postpone it a few years more.

Today the neighborhood is filled with post-war ranch homes.  The plan to extend the parkway system here was never implemented, and now this is Yates Avenue, and ordinary residential street.

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Then and Now, Blackhawk-Halsted

1976–Blackhawk Street @ Halsted Street, view east

2018–the same location

We are on the Near North Side, a few blocks south of North Avenue.  In 1976 this area had already been going downhill for decades, as evidenced by the dilapidated buildings, vacant lots, and general neglect—why would the city even bother to repair the sidewalks here?  Officials had promised that the nearby Cabrini-Green housing projects would stabilize the neighborhood, but things hadn’t worked out that way.

And the decline continued on for more decades.  After the area reached rock-bottom a few years ago, the city decided to bulldoze everything and start over from scratch.  Today this is one of the trendiest locations in Chicago.

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Then and Now, Madison-Wells

1897–Madison Street @ Fifth Avenue (Wells Street), view east

2018–the same location

In 1897 the Union Loop over four downtown streets was completed.  Now the different elevated lines had a common terminal.  And now photographers had a raised platform to record Chicago scenes.  At that time Wells Street had been renamed Fifth Avenue, to spruce up its image.

Wells Street got its old name back in 1913.  Today trains still run on the Loop tracks.  A photographer can still snap a picture of Madison Street from the station platform.  But just about everything in the view has changed.

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Then and Now, 63rd Place-Oak Park

1946--63rd Place @ Oak Park, view west

1946–63rd Place @ Oak Park Avenue, view west

2016--the same location

2018–the same location

In 1946 streetcars on the 63rd Street line jogged a block south to 63rd Place at Central Avenue, then continued west.  Past Austin Avenue, 63rd Place existed only on paper, and the cars ran through open country to a terminal at Oak Park Avenue.  Here they connected with a single-track shuttle line to Argo.

CTA cut back the 63rd Street line to a terminal at 63rd Place-Narragansett in 1948.  The Argo shuttle car was eliminated at that time.  Seventy years later the neighborhood is fully developed, and buses run on 63rd Street itself.

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Then and Now, Pulaski-Lawrence

1961--Pulaski Road @ Lawrence, view north

1961–Pulaski Road @ Lawrence Avenue, view north

2016--the same location

2018–the same location

Pulaski Road marks a transition in the Albany Park Community Area.  East of here large apartments are common.  To the west, in the section known as Mayfair, there are more bungalows.  The 1961 photo shows part of the ribbon commercial strips that developed along streetcar routes.  By that time the streetcars were gone, with Pulaski and Lawrence both served by electric trolley buses.

Today the trolley buses are also gone.  The old commercial building on the intersection’s northwest corner is gone.  Street lights and traffic signals and cars are more modern.  There are more trees, too.

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