Posts Tagged 'Belmont Cragin'

Then and Now, Belmont-Parkside

1972–Belmont Avenue @ Parkside Avenue, view west

2017–the same location

It’s 1972 in the heart of the Belmont-Central shopping district.  Electric trolley buses run on Belmont, and the Will Rogers Theater is showing Nicholas and Alexandra.  Across the street from the theater, the Goldblatt’s Department Store has been expanded.  The cars are big, bad, and loaded with chrome.

Forty-five years later, diesel buses have succeeded electric buses.  The Will Rogers has been replaced by a strip mall, and the onetime Goldblatt’s store has been converted into Tony’s Fresh Market.  You make your own call on the cars!

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Chicago’s Ski Resort—Thunder Mountain

Once Chicago had an actual ski resort within the city limits.  Its name was Thunder Mountain.

By the 1960s the Carey Brick Works had been in business for decades at 2600 North Narragansett Avenue.  In the process of digging out clay for bricks, a massive pit had been formed in the ground.  Then, in January 1967, Chicago was hit by a record blizzard.  What could you do in a city that was paralyzed by snow?

Thunder Mountain-view NE, toward Steinmetz High School

Thunder Mountain-view NE, toward Steinmetz High School

The Carey family had done some skiing at their brickyard already.  During the summer of 1967 work began on converting the property into a public ski resort.  Thunder Mountain opened on January 5, 1968.

Because of the man-made hill and the pit at its bottom, Thunder Mountain claimed the highest vertical drop within hundreds of miles–285 feet.  The 55 skiable acres included three runs.  Two certified ski instructors were on the premises.

Thunder Mountain--view toward the summit

Thunder Mountain–view toward the summit

Thunder Mountain’s original operating schedule listed hours from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week.  Lift charges were $3.50 during the week, $4.00 on Saturday and Sunday.  Parking cost $1.00.

There were grand plans for developing a full-scale resort.  A onetime brick kiln was already being renovated into an A-shaped chalet.  Management talked about putting in a toboggan run and a 125-unit motel on Diversey Avenue.  Negotiations were underway to purchase a gondola ride from the recently-closed Riverview amusement park.

Thunder Mountain--view SE, toward downtown

Thunder Mountain–view SE, toward downtown

None of these ambitious projects became reality.  Thunder Mountain ran into a couple of warm winters and public indifference, and closed after two seasons.  A  shopping plaza called The Brickyard was eventually built on the site.

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