Archive for the 'CHICAGO’S CHANGING SCENE' Category

Then and Now, Cottage Grove-55th

1954–Cottage Grove Avenue @ 55th Street, view north

2019–the same location

We are on the eastern edge of Washington Park.  The buildings in the older photo date from the 1890s and early 1900s, when the University of Chicago was becoming established a few blocks from here.  In 1954 streetcars ran on Cottage Grove Avenue, while electric trolley buses operated on 55th Street.

Before the 1950s were over, the Cottage Grove streetcars and 55th Street trolley buses were replaced by motor buses.  Most of the old buildings fronting those streets were cleared for urban renewal and university expansion.  Today, for better or worse, the landscape here looks almost suburban.

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Then and Now, Rush-Walton

1964–Rush Street @ Walton Street, view northwest

2019–the same location

The 1964 photo brings back some personal memories of Rush Street.  The original Gino’s Pizzeria is there.  So is the Carnegie Theatre, where I saw The Graduate a few years later. Up the street and around the corner is The Golden Eight Ball poolroom.  Back then, I was still too young to patronize some of the other neighborhood businesses.

Today the Ten East Elm apartment building is still visible in the distance.  But in a half-century-plus, most of Rush Street has been transformed.  Where have you gone, Mrs. Robinson?

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Then and Now, Madison-Lockwood

1953–Madison Street @ Lockwood Avenue, view east

2019–the same location

We are just west of Laramie Avenue.  The older photo documents the last days of streetcar service on Madison Street.  In the right foreground is a safety island where people could stand while waiting to board.  The large building past the intersection is the headquarters of Local 1031, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Today the union hall is gone, and IBEW Local 1031’s offices are in Warrenville.  Madison Street has more trees, brighter street lights, smoother pavement, and bike lanes.  But to come full circle, there is a recent proposal to run Light Rail Vehicles on Madison.

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Then and Now, 92nd-Houston

1974–92nd Street @ Houston Avenue, view east

2019–the same location

East 92nd Street was a prosperous commercial strip in 1974.  Nearby U.S. Steel South Works provided jobs for the neighborhood  people, and the people provided patronage for the businesses.  The bank on the corner here was proudly named Steel City National Bank.

South Works closed in 1992.  Today many of the businesses are gone from East 92nd Street, and the bank is part of the MB Financial chain.  Local boosters are confident that ongoing redevelopment of the old South Works property will give the area an economic boost—and maybe then the city will straighten out that bent light pole.

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Then and Now, Western-Milwaukee

1931–Western Avenue @ Milwaukee Avenue, view north

2019–the same location

The outbound platform of the Western Avenue station on the Logan Square ‘L’ route in 1931.  Nice vista up Chicago’s longest street.  Streetcars running on Western and Milwaukee—and likely on Armitage, a short block north, as well.  A variety of commercial buildings, including the Oak Theatre.

In 2019 the ‘L’ route is called the Blue Line.  The vista up Western is still impressive.  Buses have replaced streetcars.  The Oak Theatre is gone.  But just as in the last “Then and Now” post, there’s a McDonald’s in view.

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Then and Now, Clark-Monroe

1952–Clark Street @ Monroe Street, view north

2019–the same location

The heart of the Loop, 1952.  Two-way traffic on Clark Street.  Streetcars.  The old First National Bank of Chicago, with its corner clocks.  In the distance, the Hotel Planters.

In our time.  One-way traffic on Clark Street.  Buses instead of streetcars.  The 1969-vintage  First National Plaza skyscraper, lately known as the Chase Tower.  No more Hotel Planters.  But now we do have McDonald’s.

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Then and Now, 78th-Halsted

1911–78th Street @ Halsted Street, view east

2019–the same location

In 1911 the Auburn Gresham neighborhood was Irish American.  The commercial building on the left side of the photo houses a pharmacy and a tailor.  Across 78th Street another commercial building has a first-floor tavern.  Down the block the tower of the new St. Leo Catholic Church is visible.

In 2019 Auburn Gresham is African American.  The pharmacy and the tailor have been replaced by a barber shop and a restaurant.  The commercial building with the tavern is gone.  So is St. Leo, though its signature tower has been preserved.

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