Archive for the 'CHICAGO’S CHANGING SCENE' Category

“Hidden Chicago Landmarks”

This is not a quiz, so there’s no need to send in any answers.  Rather, this is a selection of photos from my new book Hidden Chicago Landmarks.

These are the places that aren’t on the usual tour.  You might recognize some of them.  Now you can learn the fascinating history behind them.

The book has 60 stories.  Besides 42 current landmarks, there are 10 lost landmarks that are now gone.  The final section visits 8 interesting neighborhoods that most people simply drive by.

Hidden Chicago Landmarks is now available on Amazon.  Buy several and stock up!  Or wait until it comes to your library.  But whatever you do, I hope you have as much fun reading the book as I did writing it.

Here is the Amazon link—



Then and Now, Madison-LaSalle

1918–Madison Street @ LaSalle Street, view east

2019–the same location

Another old photo of downtown Chicago.  Once again, vintage autos, at least one horse-drawn wagon, streetcars, solid-looking commercial buildings.  Prominently displayed, a Coca-Cola advertising sign.

A century later.  Newer cars, no horses, a dedicated travel lane for CTA buses, taller buildings (including the 1953 St. Peter’s Catholic Church).  No Coca-Cola sign, but you can probably find a place that sells it nearby.


Then and Now, Stony Island-88th

1946--Stony Island Avenue @ 88th Street, view north

1946–Stony Island Avenue @ 88th Street, view north

2017--the same location

2019–the same location

South of 69th Street, the most notable feature of Stony Island Avenue is the large median parkway.  The plan was to develop a landscaped boulevard linking Jackson Park with a recreational area around Lake Calumet.  Instead, a streetcar line was installed on the median strip, and Stony Island developed a ribbon commercial strip.  Yet in 1946, most of the frontage near 88th Street was still vacant.

Streetcars last ran on the Stony Island in the early 1950s.  Still, it took the city a few more decades to get around to landscaping the median.  Today the trees there are grown, and buildings line both sides of Stony Island.


Then and Now, Clark-Morse

1957–Clark Street @ Morse Avenue, view north

2019–the same location

“A small commercial district sprang up just east of the train station, at Clark and Lunt.”  That’s a sentence from the Drive-By Neighborhoods section of my new book, Hidden Chicago Landmarks.  Our 1957 photo is from a block south of that intersection.  Most of the buildings date from the early 20th Century.  Though a bus is visible down Clark Street, the streetcar tracks and wires have not yet been removed.

Today the same buildings line the east side of Clark Street.  The most notable change is the renovation of the bank building on the northeast corner of Clark-Morse.  The First Commercial Bank is now part of the Byline Bank group.


Then and Now, 14th-Throop


1952–14th Street @ Throop Street, view west

2019–the same location

A hundred years ago, this neighborhood on the Near West Side was where my German grandfather and Irish grandmother grew up, met, and were married.  By 1952 ethnic succession had transformed the area into part of the city’s Little Italy.  Town homes of the Chicago Housing Authority’s sprawling ABLA projects are visible on the right side of the photo.

In our time gentrification has come to 14th-Throop.  The University Village development has replaced some of the public housing.  On the southwest corner of the intersection, Chicago Tech Academy—a charter school—occupies part of CPS’s onetime Medill School building.  And, of course, today there are lots of trees around.


Then and Now, 31st-Halsted

1948–31st Street @ Halsted Street, view east

2019–the same location

In 1948 CTA’s 31st Street route had already been converted to buses.  Streetcars still had five more years to run on Halsted Street.  I wonder if that lady crossing 31st will make it to the bus before it pulls out?  Is that a Chicago cop directing traffic in the intersection?

Seventy years later, a gas station has replaced a number of commercial buildings on the intersection’s northeast corner.  Trees are visible all down the block.  And after fifteen years without service, CTA buses once again run on 31st Street.


De-Mil Putting Course

The De-Mil Putting Course was located ar 6422 North Milwaukee Avenue, near the intersection of DEvon and MILwaukee Avenues.  When I played there in the early 1960s, a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet was on the corner, and the course wrapped around the back of it.  There’s an apartment building on the site today.

This was a pretty simple layout.  Friends told me that the owner’s teenage son regularly toured the eighteen holes in 30 strokes or less.  That was a great example of Local Knowledge.

The photo dates from 1979.  I had snapped a couple of pictures of the nearby Henry W. Rincker House and had one shot left on the roll of film.  A photo of the Rincker landmark is featured in my next book, so I decided to share this companion photo here.