Posts Tagged 'Near South Side'

Then and Now, Jefferson-14th

1937–Jefferson Street @ 14th Street, view north

2017–the same location

In 1937 the neighborhood around Jefferson and 14th Streets was mostly tired commercial buildings.  Here and there, you might spot an ancient frame cottage—though the Great Fire of 1871 started a few blocks to the north, the flames did not touch this area.  Public transit was provided by the 14th-16th streetcar line.

In 2017 every building in the older photo is gone.  So is 14th Street, with the UPS facility sprawling over its onetime site.  And if you’ve compared as many “then and now” photos as I have, you’ll notice that Chicago streets have a lot more trees today than they did years ago.



Haven School

Chicago’s Haven Elementary School was located at 1472 South Wabash Avenue.  I often drove by the school in the early 1970s, when few people lived in the South Loop, and wondered how a neighborhood school could continue operating in that particular neighborhood.  It couldn’t—I took the picture in 1973, and Haven closed in 1974.

Haven School was named for early school board president Luther Haven.  The first school was built on the site in 1862.  Within twenty years it proved to be too small, and was replaced in 1885 by a new Haven, the building in the photo.  Today Coliseum Park occupies the property at the southwest corner of Wabash Avenue and 14th Place.


Chicago Under Destruction, Part Two

I recently ran a few demolition photos from the 1970s.  The response was surprisingly enthusiastic, so I’m posting some more today.

Central Station--1201 S. Michigan Ave.

Central Station—1201 S. Michigan Ave.

The Illinois Central railroad opened this magnificent structure just in time for the 1893 Columbian Exposition.  Most Chicagoans simply called it Twelfth Street Station.  It was torn down in 1974.


Commercial block--northeast corner Lawrence-Central

Commercial block—northeast corner Lawrence-Central

You can still find many of these 1920s commercial blocks around the city.  At this site, a chain pharmacy replaced the independent “mom-and-pop” drug store in 1975.  You may interpret that fact any way you wish.


Commercial block--northeast corner Grand-Rush

Commercial block—northeast corner Grand-Rush

By the time I took this picture in 1975, very little was left of the old building, which fronted on Michigan Avenue and once housed the Midwest offices of Time magazine.  A Marriott hotel occupies the property today.


Then and Now, 26th-Prairie

1948--26th Street @ Prairie, view east

1948–26th Street @ Prairie Avenue, view east

2016--the same location

2016–the same location

In 1948 electric streetcars still ran on 26th Street.  The large building behind the streetcar is part of the Mercy Hospital complex, which had occupied this site since its founding in 1869.

Today a senior residence facility stands on the northeast corner of 26th-Prairie. The current version of Mercy Hospital is two blocks to the west.  For the story of the mid-winter 1968 patient transfer between the  old and new hospitals, see my book On This Day in Chicago History.


Then and Now, 18th-Clark

1948--18th Street @ Clark, view east

1948–18th Street @ Clark Street, view east

2015--the same location

2015–the same location

By the time the older photo was taken in 1948, the once thickly-settled neighborhood around 18th and Clark had evolved from residential to industrial.  Even though most of the local population had left, Old St. John’s Catholic Church still stood proudly on the northeast corner of the intersection, as it had since 1881.

Old St. John’s closed in 1962 and was demolished soon thereafter.  Seven years later, the ‘L’ along 18th Street was built to give trains on the new Dan Ryan route access to the Loop—though now the structure is used mainly for the Orange Line to Midway.  Meanwhile, several commercial and residential developments have brought new life to the area.




Chicago’s Auto Show (3-23-1901)

Today it’s known as the Chicago Auto Show.  In 1901 they called it the National Automobile Exhibit.  This is the day it all began.

The automotive industry was in its infancy then–Henry Ford was still two years away from starting his company–and the field was wide open.  New York had recently staged an “auto convention” to display the latest models.  Now Chicago-based Motor Age magazine was staging its own extravaganza.

The show was held in the city’s largest hall, the Coliseum.  Hours were from 10 a.m. through 10:30 p.m.  And on this first day, about 5,000 people came out to see what was going on.


Cars were expensive in 1901–Henry Ford was still seven years away from introducing his low-priced Model T–so most of the crowd at the Coliseum were wealthy.  The Tribune noted the number of rich people wandering among the autos, and predicted this show would soon “rival the horse show as a society event.”

Sixty-five vehicles were on display.  Circling around the exhibit space was a 20-foot-wide wooden track.  This was used for giving rides to anyone who asked.  The exhibitors were anxious to prove that the horseless carriage was both safe and easy to operate.

Visitors could also see a “motor bicycle” in action.  This was the ancestor of the modern motorcycle, and was a big hit.  One reporter wrote that it “sped around the ring with lightning rapidity, gracefully winding its way around the larger vehicles.”

3-23--auto show01.jpg

Opening Day concluded with a race between two cars.  Since there wasn’t room for a real race, the showdown was staged using a “home trainer.”  Each car was placed on rollers that allowed its wheels to spin freely without the car moving.  Each set of rollers was connected to a dial that showed the speed of the spinning wheels.

All activity in the hall stopped.  Everyone gathered round the two dials.  The drivers cranked their engines, and the race was on.  The spectators cheered as the dials climbed higher and higher.

And then it was over.  Charles Jamieson was the winner of the pseudo-race, covering one mile in 58 seconds flat–an average speed of 62 miles-per-hour.

Chicago’s first auto show closed eight days later.  The promoters pronounced it a success, and said they hoped to make it an annual event.




Then and Now, Cermak-State

1904--22nd Street (Cermak Road) @ State, view east

1904–22nd Street (Cermak Road) @ State  Street, view east

2013--the same location

2013–the same location

The 1904 picture was taken on the eastern edge of the Levee, Chicago’s world-famous red light district. In those days the city’s politicians found it convenient to keep vice segregated and centralized in one place. A person getting off the ‘L’ here could walk a block north to Big Jim Colosimo’s café, or a block west to the posh Everleigh Club brothel. And those were only two of the more famous attractions.

The years passed. The Levee died, 22nd Street was changed to Cermak Road and widened, buildings were torn down, and the ‘L’ station closed. But in our own time developers have rediscovered this area a mere two miles south of the Loop. Real estate prices have soared. Reflecting this trend, CTA recently announced that–after 40 years–Cermak and State would again have an ‘L’ station.