Posts Tagged 'North Side'

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  The Mercury vapor streetlights have themselves been replaced by two different styles of retro light standards.



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.


Then and Now, Western-Pratt

181-1967-Western @ Pratt

1967–Western Avenue @ Pratt Boulevard, view north


2018–the same location

Businesses come and go.  On the left side of the 1967 photo, we see Globe Glass and a small bit of Theater Bowl.  Across Western Avenue there is an Enco gas station.

A half-century later, the buildings on the west side of Western Avenue have been torn down to make way for a new Chicago Public Library in a mixed-use facility.  On the other side of the street, the Enco was later replaced by Fluky’s hot dog stand, and is now a mosque.  Today left-turn bays speed traffic through the intersection.


Then and Now, Halsted-Evergreen

1972–Halsted Street @ Evergreen Avenue, view north

2018–the same location

In 1972 this stretch of Halsted Street, between Division and North, was an industrial backwater.  Except for its proximity to downtown, there wasn’t much to recommend it.  Ten years after Sandburg Village opened, speculators were still waiting for development to move west.

Today the neighborhood has gentrified.  Halsted Street even has bike lanes.  Welcome to the 21st Century!


Then and Now, Lincoln-Irving Park

1910–Lincoln Avenue @ Irving Park Boulevard, view northwest

2017–the same location

The triple intersection of Lincoln-Irving Park-Damen was already an important streetcar transfer point in 1910—except that Damen was then known as Robey Street.  Here some of the northbound Lincoln cars branched off onto Robey to serve Rosehill Cemetery.  The Ravenswood ‘L’ (Brown Line) had recently been extended into the North Center community, sparking a building boom.

Today the area around the triple intersection is in the midst of another boom, with renovations and new construction.  The immediate neighborhood now goes by the trendy nickname St. Ben’s, after the Catholic church a few blocks to the west.


Then and Now, Huron-Michigan

1976–Huron Street @ Michigan Avenue, view west


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.


Carl Sandburg in Chicago

Hog Butcher for the World,

Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,

Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;

Stormy, husky, brawling,

City of the Big Shoulders . . .

There was a time when every child in a Chicago school learned those words.  They are the opening lines of Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago.”  This house, at 4646 North Hermitage Avenue,  is where he wrote them.

Sandburg was born in Galesburg in 1878, the son of Swedish immigrants.  As a young man, he drifted through a series of jobs—milkman, bricklayer, fireman, soldier, hobo, political organizer for the Social Democratic Party. Then he got married.

Time for stability.  Sandburg moved to Chicago and became a reporter.  He landed a job with the Daily News.  He’d been writing poetry for years, with little success.  That began to change.

His collection Chicago Poems appeared in 1916.  Another anthology followed, then a series of children’s books.  Sandburg was gaining a reputation.  His publisher suggested he write a Lincoln biography for young people.

Sandburg did the research, and more research.  In 1926 he emerged with Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years.  The children’s book had morphed into an adult book in two volumes.

The Lincoln book was a best-seller and ended Sandburg’s financial worries.  It also made him a literary lion.  For the rest of his long life, he was as famous for being Carl Sandburg as for anything he wrote.

Sandburg-Monroe (1962)

Sandburg with Marilyn Monroe (1962)

He moved to Michigan in 1930, and eventually settled in the hill country of North Carolina.  The Lincoln biography grew to a total of six volumes, with the publication of Abraham Lincoln: The War Years.  He won three Pulitzer prizes, two for poetry and one for the Lincoln books.  In 1959 he even won a Grammy for his narration of Copeland’s “Lincoln Portrait.”
The house on Hermitage was built in 1880 by attorney Samuel B. Gookins.  Sandburg rented the second floor apartment from 1911 through 1914.  He later lived in Maywood and Elmhurst.  The Carl Sandburg Home is an official Chicago Landmark.  It is privately owned.

Though he lived elsewhere after 1930, Sandburg remained one of Chicago’s favorite sons.  In 1960 the city embarked on an urban renewal project in the Clark-Division area.  The idea was to stabilize the west end of the Gold Coast with a series of high-rise apartments.  They called the new buildings Sandburg Village.

Sandburg himself kept Chicago in his heart.  He often returned to the city that made him famous.  He appeared regularly on Irv Kupcinet’s TV round-table.  When Orland Park named a high school in his honor, Sandburg came to the dedication and had a grand time, telling stories and singing ballads.

He had been a workingman.  He always cultivated the image of the people’s poet, with rumpled clothing and unkempt hair.  A few years after the dedication, he decided to revisit “his” high school.  By then a different principal was in charge.  The new man thought Sandburg was a panhandler and threw him out.

Carl Sandburg died in 1967.  Some years earlier he had summed up his philosophy this way: “What I need mainly is three things in life, possibly four—to be out of jail, to eat regular, to get what I write printed, and then a little love at home and a little outside.”