Archive for the 'CHICAGO’S CHANGING SCENE' Category

Then and Now, Baltimore-133rd

1900--Baltimore Avenue @ 133rd Street, view north

1900–Baltimore Avenue @ 133rd Street, view north

2016--the same location

2017–the same location

In 1883 Adolph Hegewisch opened a factory near the rail yards at 135th Street and Brandon Avenue.  Sub-dividers soon followed.  By 1900 the neighborhood had been annexed by Chicago, and Baltimore Avenue had developed a fledgling commercial strip.

In our time Mr. H’s factory is gone, but Chicago’s most remote community proudly bears his name.  Many of the old buildings still stand along Baltimore Avenue.  Trees, vehicular and pedestrian street lights, decorative signs, and repaving are features of a recent spruce-up.

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Then and Now, North-Sedgwick

1972–North Avenue @ Sedgwick Street, view east

2017–the same location

For decades, there were proposals to widen the two-lane portion of North Avenue.  In 1970 the city began expanding the segment between Clark and Larrabee Streets.  Buildings on the north side of North were leveled or truncated.  When I took the 1972 photo the street widening was well along, and new construction already underway.

Expanding North Avenue to four lanes involved restringing the trolley bus wires over the street.  A year after this was done, CTA junked all its electric buses and removed the wires.  It would be an interesting research project to find out who got the contract to restring those wires, and who got the contract to remove them a year later.

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Then and Now, Randolph-Clinton

1954–Randolph Street @ Clinton Street, view west

2017–the same location

In 1954 this area just west of the C&NW railroad terminal was mostly warehouses and factories.  Randolph Street had been converted to one-way traffic recently.  Though streetcars have ceased operating here, the old two-way tracks have not yet been covered over.

The West Loop has been revitalized over the course of six decades.  Many old buildings have been torn down and replaced.  However, this particular block remains intact—for now.

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Then and Now, Wentworth-Root

1950--Wentworth Avenue @ Root Street, view north

1950–Wentworth Avenue @ Root Street, view north

2017--the same location

2017–the same location

In 1950 the Fuller Park community was thickly-settled.  Wentworth Avenue was a major traffic artery, and the #22 streetcar line was one of the city’s most-heavily patronized.  To the north, two viaducts can be seen crossing Wentworth—the taller one carrying the Stock Yards ‘L’ line, and the other a belt railroad line.

Today the Dan Ryan Expressway cuts a wide swath thru Fuller Park, shrinking the community’s population to less than one-fifth of its 1950 peak.  Here Wentworth has been reduced to a mere frontage road.  Most transit customers now ride the Red Line on the expressway median.  The Stock Yards ‘L’ and its viaduct are gone, but that railroad viaduct remains.

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Then and Now, Sheridan-Surf

1936-Sheridan Road @ Surf Street, view north

1936-Sheridan Road @ Surf Street, view north

2017-the same location

2017-the same location

In the 1936 photo, our location just north of Diversey shows the effects of the Great Depression.  Vacant lots along Sheridan Road await multi-story apartment buildings, which haven’t been constructed.  The booming 1920s are definitely over.

Today this stretch of Sheridan is filled with high-rises.   And the double-deck buses of yesterday have been replaced by modern articulated buses—shorter in height, but longer in length.

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Then and Now, Adams-Dearborn

1950–Adams Street @ Dearborn Street, view east

2017–the same location

In 1950 Loop streets still had two-way traffic and still had streetcar tracks.  Henry Ives Cobb’s monumental Federal Building is just visible to the right in the older photo.  Across Dearborn is the Peter Pan Restaurant, part of a city-wide chain of moderately-priced establishments.  The large ad above the restaurant is for Mogen David Wine, “the home-sweet-home wine like Grandma used to make.”  Down the block on Adams is the Berghoff.

In our time the Adams in a one-way street and the streetcar tracks have been covered over.  The old Federal Building has been replaced by the high-rise Kluczynski Federal Building and a single-story post office on an open plaza.  The Dirksen Federal Building occupies the site of the Peter Pan.  But the Berghoff is still in business, and you can still buy Mogen David Wine.

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Then and Now, Prairie-32nd

1959--Prairie Avenue @ 32nd Street, view north

1959–Prairie Avenue @ 32nd Street, view north

2017--the same location

2017–the same location

Starting in the late 1950s, great chunks of the Douglas Community Area were cleared for new housing and institutional use.  A few blocks of 19th Century row houses between 31st and 35th Streets were left untouched, and soon became known as The Gap.

In 2017 the vintage row houses here have been rehabilitated, and new construction fills the vacant lots.  The Gap is now an official Chicago landmark, the Calumet-Giles-Prairie District.

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