Posts Tagged 'South Side'

Then and Now, Wentworth-Cermak

1959--Wentworth Avenue @ Cermak Road, view south

1959–Wentworth Avenue @ Cermak Road, view south

2017--the same location

2017–the same location

Chicago’s earliest Chinese settlement was on the few blocks of Clark Street just south of Van Buren.  In 1912 escalating rents and ethnic discrimination prompted the beginning of a general exodus to the neighborhood around Wentworth Avenue and 22nd Street (Cermak Road).  By the time the older photo was taken, the Chinese community was already well-established there.

Today most of the buildings in the 1959 photo remain.  The most notable change is the Chinatown Gate.  Sadly, the Dragon Cue pool room—on the north side of Cermak—is long gone.


Then and Now, 115th-Michigan

1895–115th Street @ Michigan Avenue, view east

2017–the same location

In 1880 George Pullman began building railroad sleeper cars in a plant at 111th Street and Cottage Grove  Avenue.  By 1895 an independent settlement had developed to the west, partially populated by Pullman workers who didn’t want to live in the boss’s company town.  Michigan Avenue, running along the top of a glacial ridge, was the main business thoroughfare.

The Pullman company’s car-building business went into a long decline before finally closing during the 1980s.  Meanwhile, the surrounding area went into a similar decline.  Now the designation of the Pullman National Historic Park has brought hope of revitalization.



Then and Now, Indiana-33rd

1912--Indiana Avenue @ 33rd Boulevard, view north

1912–Indiana Avenue @ 33rd Boulevard, view north

2017--the same location

2017–the same location

Located a block apart, Indiana Avenue and Michigan Avenue have long been paired.  Michigan was a Park District boulevard, while Indiana carried commercial traffic, including a streetcar line.  At this location, instead of plain old 33rd Street, we have 33rd Boulevard—a Park District thoroughfare linking Michigan with South Park Way (King Drive).

Today Indiana and Michigan Avenues continued to be paired, as complementary one-way streets.  Meanwhile, most of the buildings in the older photo have been replaced by components of the expanding Illinois Institute of Technology campus.


Then and Now, 103rd-Michigan

1940--103rd Street @ Michigan Avenue, view east

1940–103rd Street @ Michigan Avenue, view east

2016--the same location

2016–the same location

In 1848 Dutch farmers established Roseland’s first permanent settlement, along what’s now the Michigan Avenue ridge.  By 1940 much of the area was built up.  However, aside from a few older homes, this particular stretch of 103rd Street remained vacant, zoned for business.  The rise in the street to the ridge is visible in the foreground.

Commercial development finally came to the 103rd Street strip during the 1950s.  Though there are still a few empty lots, at Christmas time the candy canes on the light poles give the street a festive look.


Prince Henry Visits the Everleigh Club (3-3-1902)

Prince Henry of Prussia, brother of the German emperor, was touring the United States. When the royal visitor arrived in Chicago, the local elites had an elaborate program planned—a parade, various receptions and tours, a concert, and a grand banquet. The events were dutifully noted on the front pages of the city’s newspapers.

Prince Henry

Prince Henry

What wasn’t mentioned was the 39-year-old prince’s one specific request. He wanted to visit the Everleigh Club, the world-famous brothel.

So at the conclusion of the formal banquet, Prince Henry and his party discretely made their way to the twin mansions at 2131-33 South Dearborn Street. The proprietors, sisters Ada and Minna Everleigh, had prepared a special entertainment to welcome their guests. The ladies of the club would perform a celebration of Dionysius, the Roman god of good times.

During the festivities, the house band struck up the “The Blue Danube.” This prompted one of the ladies to climb atop a table and begin dancing. One of her slippers flew off, knocking over a bottle of champagne.

The slipper was filled with bubbly. Seeing this, one of the men picked up the slipper and drank down the champagne. “The darling shouldn’t get her feet wet,” he explained.

The rest of the evening’s activities can best be left to the imagination.

The Everleigh Club

The Everleigh Club

The soaked slipper incident impressed the Everleigh ladies. Since the club offered a special discount to newspaper reporters, a bowdlerized version of the story soon appeared in the popular press. Drinking champagne out of a lady’s slipper became a symbol of decadent sophistication.

Prince Henry’s historic visit to the Everleigh Club did not become general knowledge until many years later. However, Chicago reporters couldn’t resist tweaking him with a double entendre. When the royal libertine finally left for home, the headline in the Tribune read: “Prince Henry Americanized.”


Deep Freeze Woman (2-8-1951)

The temperature in Chicago was —11 in the early morning hours today.  That’s when two policemen found the frozen body in a gangway at 3108 South Vernon Avenue.

The body was that of a young woman.  Later she would be identified as Dorothy Mae Stevens, age 23.  Her skin was cold as metal, her eyeballs like crystal, her jaw and legs stiff.  The two cops bundled her in blankets, and took her to Michael Reese Hospital for a post-mortem.

At the hospital, one of the staff heard a groan.  Stevens was still alive.

Dorothy Stevens

Dorothy Mae Stevens

Her body temperature had dropped to 64 degrees, more than 30 degrees below normal.  She was breathing at about four breaths per minute.  Her blood pressure read zero.

Nobody had ever survived in such condition, so the doctors weren’t sure what to do.  They decided to give Stevens blood plasma and the new wonder drug, cortisone.  Raising the patient’s body temperature too quickly might be dangerous.  So Stevens was put in a refrigerated room and gradually thawed out.

By evening Stevens’s body temperature read 80 degrees.  She was able to tell her story.  After drinking all day, she had passed out.  She had been lying in the gangway about eight hours.  “It was either God that saved me, or I’m the daughter of Dracula,” she said.

Doctors could only speculate why Stevens had not died.  Reporters thought it was all the booze she had drunk—the alcohol acted like anti-freeze in a car’s gas line.  That was too simple an explanation for Dr. Harold Laufman, the physician in charge.

“Alcohol may have dilated various blood vessels, making the chilling process much faster,” Laufman said.  “Fast chilling is known not to be quite so harmful as slow chilling.”  The doctor conceded that the alcohol probably did lessen the pain Stevens felt.

Stevens had a long, difficult recovery.  Complications developed, and both her legs had to be amputated.  She also lost nine of her fingers.  Meanwhile, her remarkable story had become national news.

She finally went home from the hospital in June.  By then Stevens could joke about her ordeal.  “I’ll never be able to eat frozen food again,” she said.

Dorothy Mae Stevens lived another 23 years, dying in 1974.


Then and Now, Ewing-100th

1907--Ewing Avenue @ 100th Street, view north

1907–Ewing Avenue @ 100th Street, view north

2016--the same location

2016–the same location

The first railroad lines from the east reached Chicago during the 1850s.  A station was established at what’s now Ewing Avenue and 100th Street, and settlement grew up around it.  By 1907 the neighborhood was known as East Side.  Part of the grade-level railroad crossing is visible in the lower-left corner of the older photograph.

Today the railroad tracks cross Ewing on a viaduct—which accounts for the dip in the street in the newer photo.  Though commuter trains no longer stop here, businesses still line the street.  For many years wrestling champion (and local man) Edward “Moose” Cholak owned a tavern on this block.