Archive for the 'CHICAGO’S CHANGING SCENE' Category

Then and Now, Western-Cullerton

1955–Western Avenue @ Cullerton Street, view north

2017–the same location

Our view is from the ‘L’ platform on the Douglas Park (Pink) line.  In 1920 the city council renamed 20th Street after the recently-deceased alderman “Foxy Ed” Cullerton, founding father of what has become Chicago’s longest-running political dynasty.

Notice that the streetcar tracks in the older photo are off-center.  When Western Avenue was widened to four lanes during the 1920s, in most places the tracks were moved.  Here they remained in their original location, resulting in unbalanced traffic lanes.  Today, no more problem!

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South Side Masonic Temple

“If a single building symbolizes Englewood, that would be the South Side Masonic Temple, at 64th and Green. It has been abandoned for years, and several attempts at adaptive re-use have failed. Its future is uncertain. Yet even with broken windows and falling bricks, the temple is an impressive reminder of past glory. Will it be brought back to life? Will Englewood be brought back to life?”

I wrote those words when I was blogging at WBEZ in 2012.  Last week I happened to be in Englewood and came across this sight—

Built in 1921, the temple was abandoned in the 1980s.  Preservation Chicago had it on the “endangered” list for perhaps a decade.  Now we’ve lost another bit of our history and our culture.

I don’t know what is planned for the southwest corner of 64th and Green Streets.  Here’s hoping it will be something worthwhile.

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Then and Now, 120th-Union

1900–120th Street @ Union Avenue, view east

2017–the same location

As the name suggests, the West Pullman community developed west of railroad-car tycoon George Pullman’s company town.  This particular business district grew because of its proximity to the Illinois Central commuter station at Halsted and 121st Streets.

Though Metra trains still stop at Halsted-121st, the businesses here are long gone, and vacant lots are common.  However, some new residential construction is now in evidence.

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Then and Now, Huron-Michigan

1976–Huron Street @ Michigan Avenue, view west

261-2017

2017–the same location

Four decades ago, the neighborhood just west of the Mag Mile was still mostly low-rise.  The wall along the left side of the older picture belongs to a Woolworth’s five-and-ten store, and across Huron is a city-owned parking garage.  St. James Episcopal Cathedral towers over the scene.

Today St. James looks like a toy among the surrounding skyscrapers.  The Omni Chicago Hotel building has replaced the Woolworth’s.  And with the municipal garage gone, cheap parking is no longer available.

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Then and Now, Washington-Pulaski

1951–Washington Boulevard @ Pulaski Road, view east

2017–the same location

Before the Congress (Eisenhower) Expressway opened, Washington Boulevard was one of the main auto routes into downtown Chicago, carrying the designation “City U.S. 20.”  Traffic was especially heavy here at Pulaski, in the middle of a major shopping area.  On the left side of the older photo is a branch of Robert Hall Clothes.  Just down the street on the right side, you can pick out a sign for a Goldblatt’s parking lot.

Today most of the West Side’s through traffic uses the expressway.  Robert Hall and Goldblatt’s are only memories.  But the Burlington’s Zephyr and Empire Builder trains continue to run, though now part of Amtrak.

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Then and Now, Wentworth-69th

1957–Wentworth Avenue @ 69th Street, view north

2017–the same location

The 1957 photo features Chicago’s last streetcar line, and one of the ribbon commercial strips that developed along those routes.  The streetcars would be gone the next year.  This particular commercial strip would eventually go, too.

In 1972 the new campus of Kennedy-King College opened on this site.  Spanning Wentworth Avenue, the buildings were a classic example of Brutalist Architecture—which you either loved or hated.   The college relocated to 63rd-Halsted in 2007, and the buildings here were bulldozed.

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Then and Now, Clark-Devon

1943--Clark Street @ Devon, view north

1943–Clark Street @ Devon Avenue, view north

157-2017

2017–the same location

In 1943 Clark and Devon had long been a busy crossroads on the city’s far North Side.  Ashland Avenue, visible behind the line of parked cars, also entered the intersection then.  Just north of here, hundreds of streetcars were housed on the grounds of a carbarn on Clark.  World War II was underway, and the special white streetcars was encouraging enlistments in the WACs—Women’s Army Corps.

Clark and Devon remains a busy crossroads in our own time, though Ashland Avenue traffic has been diverted away from the intersection.  The carbarn is gone, replaced by the 24th District Police Station.  And since 1978, with the disbanding of the separate WAC branch, women are fully integrated into the U.S. Army.

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