Posts Tagged 'Northwest Side'

Then and Now, California-Milwaukee

1967–California Avenue @ Milwaukee Avenue, view north

2019–the same location

This is the view north from the California ‘L’ station at Milwaukee Avenue.  In 1967 this was the next-to-last stop before the Logan Square terminal on what was then the  Milwaukee Branch of the West-Northwest service.  Electric trolley buses were in their last days of operation on route #52 Kedzie-California.  The buildings here were small, old, and run-down.

Today the ‘L’ trains on the Blue Line run all the way to O’Hare.  Electric trolley buses are gone from the streets of Chicago.  The neighborhood around the station has lots of renovation and new construction.


Hidden Movie Landmarks on “Extension 720”

Last night Justin Kaufmann had me on his “Extension 720” WGN radio show.  We talked about three of the little-known movie-related sites in my book Hidden Chicago Landmarks.  Here’s the link—

Historian John R. Schmidt explores hidden Chicago landmarks: Hollywood in Chicago

Irving Park Road and O’Hare Airport

In 1961, when I was just finishing grade-school, one of my friends moved out to Bensenville from our Portage Park neighborhood.  My mom was friends with his mom, so one day we drove out to visit them.

Traveling west on Irving Park Road near O’Hare Airport, just before we passed under a railroad viaduct, I spied another, smaller viaduct off to the right.  It was alone and isolated.  I wondered why it was there.

1976—Westbound Irving Park Road through O’Hare

Mom guessed that a plane had crashed into the railroad embankment and rendered it unstable for train traffic.  That meant rerouting the train track over a newer embankment, and a newer viaduct over Irving Park.  Years later, I discovered that the real explanation was much more prosaic.

Irving Park cuts across the southern portion of O’Hare.  In the airport’s early days, this was no problem.  But with more planes needing bigger and better runways in the late ’50s, Irving Park’s straight path through the airport property was diverted.  That old viaduct was a relic of Irving Park’s former routing.  In 1976 I snapped a picture of it.

A closer look at the abandoned viaduct

Today both Irving Park and the railroad line have again been relocated, to the southern-most perimeter of the O’Hare property.  I assume that both viaducts from the 1976 photo have been torn down by now.


Some “Hidden Landmark” Graves on Extension 720

Last night I was on Justin Kaufmann’s “Extension 720” radio program on WGN, talking about some Hidden Chicago Landmarks—specifically, some interesting grave-sites.

Here’s the link—

Historian John R. Schmidt explores spooky hidden Chicago landmarks: Chicago’s smallest cemetery, the Robinson family graves and the Couch Mausoleum in Lincoln Park

Then and Now, Milwaukee-Gresham

1908–Milwaukee Avenue @ Gresham Avenue, view northwest

2019–the same location

In 1908 electric streetcars had recently replaced cable cars on Milwaukee Avenue.  Here on the 2900-north block, a ribbon commercial strip had already developed.  Plans were underway to extend the Metropolitan ‘L’ line from its terminal at Logan Square northwest in the alley behind Milwaukee Avenue.  That promised to bring even more business to the area.

The extension of the ‘L’ northwest from Logan Square took a lot longer than had been envisioned—over 60 years.  When that extension was finally pushed through in 1970, the trains used the Kennedy Expressway median instead of the Milwaukee Avenue alley.  Yet today the commercial strip here still thrives, with some new construction replacing older buildings.


Then and Now, Montrose-Elston

1972–Montrose Avenue @ Elston Avenue, view east

2019–the same location

In the early decades of the 20th century, when most people got around the city on public transit, businesses liked to locate at streetcar transfer points.  In 1972 this intersection still featured buildings from that early era.  The 1910-vintage building on the left has a grocery.  The newer brick building across Montrose houses a first-floor liquor store.

Today part of that 1910 building has been replaced by a modern brick structure—which has a grocery, in the form of a convenience store.  The brick building on the intersection’s southeast corner is still there, though now it has an electronics store.   With CTA service gone from Elston Avenue, this is no longer a transfer point.


Then and Now, Western-Milwaukee

1931–Western Avenue @ Milwaukee Avenue, view north

2019–the same location

The outbound platform of the Western Avenue station on the Logan Square ‘L’ route in 1931.  Nice vista up Chicago’s longest street.  Streetcars running on Western and Milwaukee—and likely on Armitage, a short block north, as well.  A variety of commercial buildings, including the Oak Theatre.

In 2019 the ‘L’ route is called the Blue Line.  The vista up Western is still impressive.  Buses have replaced streetcars.  The Oak Theatre is gone.  But just as in the last “Then and Now” post, there’s a McDonald’s in view.