Archive for the 'CHICAGO’S CHANGING SCENE' Category

Then and Now, Jefferson-Van Buren

1930–Jefferson Street @ Van Buren Street, view north

2018–the same location

In 1930 this spot on the outskirts of downtown was mostly factories and warehouses.  Crossing Jefferson Street is the mainline of the old Metropolitan ‘L’.   The four-track structure funneled trains into the Loop from the Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, and Douglas Park branches.  The Chicago, Aurora & Elgin interurban railroad also operated over these tracks.

Today the area here has been spiffed up.  The ‘L’ is gone, replaced by the subway under Congress Parkway.  The church on the corner is also gone—at least, I think it was a church.  If anyone can identify it with documentation, please let me know.

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Then and Now, Stony Island-63rd

194-1974-Stony Island @ 63rd

1974–Stony Island Avenue @ 63rd Street, view north

2018–the same location

In 1974 the Jackson Park ‘L’ terminal at 63rd-Stony Island was in its eighty-first year of service.  By that time the neighborhood was in decline, and many of the buildings that had gone up around the terminal had been town down.  Meanwhile, CTA had announced plans to replace the old station with an elaborate park-and-ride facility.

Today the ‘L’ line ends a mile west of here at Cottage Grove.  The South Side YMCA now occupies the site proposed for the park-and-ride garage, and the Obama Presidential Library is the area’s latest redevelopment project.

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Then and Now, Clark-Foster

1958-Clark Street @ Foster Avenue, view south

2018–the same location

The 1958 photo captures Clark Street in a time of physical transition.  The streetcars have stopped running and the overhead wires are gone, though the tracks haven’t yet been covered over.  Along the sidewalk, the old incandescent street lamps are being replaced by the latest in Mercury vapor lights.

Sixty years later the buildings here look much the same, but further south some new structures are visible.  The sidewalks have been cut back and the pavement widened at this intersection, to make way for a left-turn lane.  The Mercury vapor streetlights have themselves been replaced by two different styles of retro light standards.

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Then and Now, Ashland-Jackson

1909–Ashland Boulevard @ Jackson Boulevard, view south

2018–the same location

In 1909 Ashland between Lake Street and 12th Street (Roosevelt Road) was a  Park District street.  That meant the Ashland streetcars jogged a block west and operated on Paulina Street for that one-and-a-half miles, before returning to Ashland.  in the distance in the older photo, the main line of the Metropolitan ‘L’ can be seen crossing over Ashland.

Today this stretch of Ashland has been widened and is now a regular city street, open to trucks and any streetcars which may show up.  The ‘L’ viaduct in the distance of the newer photo is a ramp used for moving non-revenue trains between the Blue Line and the Pink Line.

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Then and Now, Calumet-44th

1912-Calumet Avenue @ 44th Street, view north

2018–the same location

The opening of Chicago’s first ‘L’ line in 1892 sparked a building boom along its South Side corridor.  By 1912 the area around the 43rd Street station was fully developed.  The population was largely German Jewish—including the still-unknown Marx Brothers, who then lived in a Calumet Avenue walkup two blocks south.

During the 1920s the neighborhood here became African American, which it remains today.  Some of the old buildings still stand, though others have been demolished.  Now that a mini-park occupies the northwest corner of Calumet-44th, the ‘L’ station is visible from the intersection.

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Then and Now, Elston-Maplewood

1925–Elston Avenue @ Maplewood Avenue, view northwest

2018–the same location

Elston Avenue famously begins and ends at Milwaukee Avenue.  That’s because Elston was originally a bypass for Milwaukee known as the Lower Road.  The 1925 photo shows Elston just north of Diversey Avenue, when a streetcar line was in place and autos were few.

During the 1930s Elston was widened to the sidewalk line to create four lanes for auto traffic.  Today the street is back down to two auto lanes, with the other two lanes reserved for bicycles.  Though buses eventually replaced the streetcars, in 2018 Elston is without public transit.

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Then and Now, Grand-Rush

1930–Grand Avenue @ Rush Street, view west

2018–the same location

The 1930 photo of Grand Avenue looking toward Rush Street was taken from the still-new Michigan Avenue overpass.  Grand was then lined with nondescript walkups.  Street parking was available—though judging from the picture, it was tough to find a space.

In our time this is a neighborhood of high-rises, with Grand Avenue now limited to one-way traffic.  Street parking has been banned.   The orientation of the newer photo is slightly different because a vertical shopping mall now spans Grand just west of the overpass.

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