Archive for the 'CHICAGO’S CHANGING SCENE' Category

Then and Now, Ritchie-Goethe

1919--Ritchie Court @ Goethe Street, view north

1919–Ritchie Court @ Goethe Street, view north

2017--the same location

2017–the same location

In 1885 Potter Palmer built a mansion at 1350 North Lake Shore Drive.  Following his lead, most of Chicago’s wealthy elite abandoned Prairie Avenue and settled on the Near North Side, with the area becoming known as the Gold Coast.  A turret from Palmer’s “castle” can been seen in right background of the older photo.

Palmer’s mansion was replaced by a high-rise apartment building in 1950.  Many of the old Gold Coast mansions and townhouses have met a similar fate, though a few still survive here on Ritchie Court.  All these years and all these changes later, Mr. Palmer’s neighborhood remains the city’s toniest.

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Then and Now, Michigan-Ohio

1928--Michigan Avenue @ Ohio Street, view north

1923–Michigan Avenue @ Ohio Street, view north

2017--the same location

2017–the same location

With the opening of the Michigan Avenue Bridge in 1921, the avenue north of the river began to be transformed.  Marshall & Fox’s Lake Shore Trust and Savings Bank, on the northeast corner of Michigan and Ohio, has just been completed in the 1923 picture.  Most of the buildings here are still small, and the Water Tower is clearly visible in the distance.

Today’s Michigan Avenue has become the Magnificent Mile.  Now tall buildings dwarf the Water Tower.  That landmark bank building still stands at Ohio Street, though it has been converted to retail use.

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The Hotel Sherman

The state may soon be putting the Thompson Center up for sale.  It’s an impressive looking building, but it’s supposed to be hell to work in.  The upkeep is expensive, too.  What will happen to this Helmut Jahn masterwork is anyone’s guess.  Maybe someone will repurpose it as a new Hotel Sherman.  That’s what Jahn’s building replaced on the northwest corner of Clark and Randolph Streets.

In 1844 a man named Francis Sherman bought Chicago’s pioneer City Hotel and renamed it the Sherman House.  Over the next decades, the Sherman name was kept alive in a succession of downtown hotels.  The last of them went up in 1911, with 757 rooms.  A 23-story tower was added to this structure in 1925.  Boasting over 1600 rooms, the revamped Hotel Sherman was said to be the largest American hotel outside New York City.

A year after the expansion,  the hotel hosted a peace conference—of Chicago gangsters.  The result was the Hotel Sherman Treaty of October 21, 1926, which established a Madison Street boundary line separating the North Side Moran outfit and the South Side Capone mob, as well as settling other issues of concern.  The peace lasted a little over two months.

Besides catering to gangsters, the Hotel Sherman’s location across from City Hall made it a favorite gathering spot for local politicians.  The College Inn became a well-regarded restaurant.  But eventually, occupancy declined.  The Hotel Sherman closed its doors early in 1973.  The building stood vacant for several years, until it was torn down to make way for that new State of Illinois office center in 1980.

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Then and Now, Indiana-33rd

1912--Indiana Avenue @ 33rd Boulevard, view north

1912–Indiana Avenue @ 33rd Boulevard, view north

2017--the same location

2017–the same location

Located a block apart, Indiana Avenue and Michigan Avenue have long been paired.  Michigan was a Park District boulevard, while Indiana carried commercial traffic, including a streetcar line.  At this location, instead of plain old 33rd Street, we have 33rd Boulevard—a Park District thoroughfare linking Michigan with South Park Way (King Drive).

Today Indiana and Michigan Avenues continued to be paired, as complementary one-way streets.  Meanwhile, most of the buildings in the older photo have been replaced by components of the expanding Illinois Institute of Technology campus.

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Then and Now, Central-Montrose

1975--Central Avenue @ Montrose Avenue, view south

1974–Central Avenue @ Montrose Avenue, view south

2017--the same location

2017–the same location

This was the neighborhood where I grew up.  By 1974 I was married and out of my parents’ home, but the old businesses still remained on this commercial strip.  Moving south from Montrose, we have the drug store, the bakery, Mandis the Chicken King Restaurant, Kars Five-and-Ten Store.  At the far end of the block, just past Kars, the old National Food Store has been converted into an Armanetti’s Liquor Store.

Today most of the residential streets in my old Portage Park neighborhood look the same—bungalows are sturdy.  But all the stores in the 1974 photo are gone, their buildings replaced by a giant Walgreen’s.

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Then and Now, Division-Western

1941--Division Street @ Western Avenue, view west

1941–Division Street @ Western Avenue, view west

2017--the same location

2016–the same location

Division Street: America was Studs Terkel’s first oral history book, published in 1967.  The older photo nicely captures the feel of the book, and the era when the street was the gritty crossroads of the West Side, at once a melting pot and a pressure cooker.

By the 1960s this stretch of Division Street had become the heart of Chicago’s Puerto Rican settlement.  Since 1995 two metal sculptures of Puerto Rican flags have spanned the street.  More recently, gentrification and the dispersion of the local Puerto Rican community have converted the flags into historical artifacts.

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Then and Now, 103rd-Michigan

1940--103rd Street @ Michigan Avenue, view east

1940–103rd Street @ Michigan Avenue, view east

2016--the same location

2016–the same location

In 1848 Dutch farmers established Roseland’s first permanent settlement, along what’s now the Michigan Avenue ridge.  By 1940 much of the area was built up.  However, aside from a few older homes, this particular stretch of 103rd Street remained vacant, zoned for business.  The rise in the street to the ridge is visible in the foreground.

Commercial development finally came to the 103rd Street strip during the 1950s.  Though there are still a few empty lots, at Christmas time the candy canes on the light poles give the street a festive look.

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