Friday, October 30, 2009

A Walk Down La Salle Stree Part 3

On Sunday October 18th I did a walking tour with the people from Forgotten Chicago. In this final part we'll explore the residential areas north of Chicago Avenue as well as Sandburg Village.

North of Chicago Avenue we enter the old residential area of the Gold Coast. On the corner of Dearborn and Chicago sits the most expensive YMCA built at the time.

We continued to walk down Dearborn past such late 19th Century gems like these

Not too far north from this location is Chicago's oldest Park : Washington Square. A place where mid-19th century speakers would get up on they're soapbox. Washington Square Park was founded in 1853 and other than an addition of a fountain in it's center looks much like it did then.

We walked west through the park over Clark Street so our guide could show us a residence that still had the old numbering System. Prior to 1909, the street names and the numbers were a mishmash of things. Street names would change and the numbers apparently were still based at Lake Street. Here's a fine example of a residence on Delaware with both systems.

We turned off of Delaware and continued heading north on La Salle. There was a least four churchs we past that our guide didn't mention and I went back the next day to take shots of these buildings. I'm still doing research about the churchs so that will be a seperate post. We did stop by a an apartment building whose side had to be reduced with the widening of La Salle. See below

The 1960's were a time of urban renewal projects across America and Chicago's Near North Side had two major projects. Cabrini Green was the well known urban project to clear the slums of west of Wells street. Somewhat in it's shadow was a project for the middle-class known as Sandburg Village Sandburg Village was built on land cleared between 1400 North and North Avenue and Between LaSalle and Clark. The site contains both highrises and low-rise townhomes. Despite the intended class of homes the two sites contain, both project's are similar in construction. The exteriors of the highrises at Sandburg Village are only slightly nicer and they include balconies. Something Cabrini-Green lacked. Sandburg Village was built as apartments but during the Condo-craze of the late 1980's and early '90's the complex was converted. With most of Cabrini-Green razed, Sanburg Village remains as one of those mid-twentieth Century ideas of urban renewal.

We left the sterile mid-century Sanburg Village and walked across La Salle to look at some renovations that an artist community made during the period of the 1920's to 1940's. Theophil Studio's was renovated in 1940 and has that very Art Deco feel

We headed back north on La Salle Street and then over to Clark where this impressive mid-century bank stands. The building is all glass and steel much like a mid-century skyscraper. It was built at a time when Chase Manhattan Bank built a glass safe to proof what a great institution they were. I won't argue with this being an interesting bank and it's the only mid-century bank building slated to be added to Chicago's Historical buildings.

This concludes this tour. This was the last tour that Forgotten Chicago was hosting this year. I look forward to what they may produce next year.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Walk Down La Salle Street Part 2

On Sunday October 18th I did a walking tour with the people from Forgotten Chicago. In part 2 we explore an old horse drawn trolley car building, a streetcar power station and some motels.

This building was probably most famous as Michael Jordan's restaurant but it was originally built to house horses for Chicago's brief but large trolley car system. The building has housed restaurants since the 1920's and today it is the home to "The Power Company" which is more a bar and nightclub. It is run by the same people who operate English seen as the last photo of part one. We had the oppurtunity to see the third floor where the hay would have been stored, today it has a somewhat small stage for entertainment. The horses were on the second floor and our guides had no clue on how they got up there.

On the backside of the same lot stand a power generation plant for streetcars. It was erected in 1910 and the CTA still owns the property.

Just north of the Power House stands the Chicago's Anti-Cruelty Society. Our guides explain the architecture of the orignal 1936 structure below.

We then headed west to Wells and north past Ohio where we saw the last standing SRO (Single Room Occupency) hotel. At one time the area was filled with these cheap places to stay.

We headed back east onto Ohio and at the corner of Ohio and La Salle stands Ohio House. Built in 1958 just three years after Chicago allowed motels to built within city limits, Ohio House still looks like a bit of a time warp.

We walk a little farther north to Chicago Avenue and there sits the other motel. Built as the LaSalle Motor Lodge, today it's a Howard Johnson's Inn!

This concludes part 2 of the tour. In part 3 we'll explore the residences north of Chicago avenue, take a look at Sanburg Village and stop by a mid-century bank!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Windows 7 - My first Impressions

I recieved my upgrade to Windows 7 yesterday so I wanted to make a few comments on it before part 2 of the La Salle street walk.

Overall so far Windows 7 is working. My biggest complaint was how long it took to do the upgrade - around 2 1/2 hours. If I did a clean install it would have been about 20 minutes or so I've been told. I guess the amount of time would be a wash since a clean install would have forced me to reinstall all my applications plus all my documents, photos and music. Windows 7 in all its glory is posted below.

Windows 7 is simliar to Vista but there are changes. The taskbar,which I have at the bottom, can act much like Apple's Dock. You can "pin" applications for quicker opening. Right know I have IE8, iTunes, Windows Live Mail and Excel pinned. For this screen shot I moved a couple of my gadgets to the middle, something new in Window 7. In Vista these gadgets lived in the sidebar which took over the righthand side of the screen. The sidebar is now gone and gadgets are allowed to roam free :)

I have yet to have any problems with my day to day applications. So that's good news. Even IE8 is behaving. On Windows 7 launch day, October 22nd, I had a great surprise in the morning when Microsoft forced IE8 onto me :(, and just like other expriences with it under Vista it consitantly crashed. So far IE8 on Windows 7 hasn't crashed :) I had to install Live Windows Mail before the upgrade because Windows 7 doesn't come with an email program and you will loose your mail in the process.

This morning I moved onto some multimedia stuff in Windows Media Center. Microsoft has added internet TV capability and I can now get the sub-channels with my tuner. See below.

I haven't tried to burn anything yet or play a dvd but I don't forsee any problems. Well that's my quick summary of Windows 7, if anything warrants it, I might blog about it in the future.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Walk Down La Salle Street Part 1

To begin we'll call the walk La Salle street just like Forgotten Chicago advertised it as such. In reality It was The LaSalle-Clark-Dearborn-Wells Walk :D

On Sunday October 18th we meet at the Northeast Corner of Wacker and La Salle. We started our walk at Noon and proceeded to head north over the River past the Reid Murdock Center, Chicago one time traffic court and today the home of the Encylopedia Britannica.

We stopped at Carroll Street which at a lower level. It once ran from the Merchandise Mart to where the IBM building now stands.

We Walked up to Kinzie street and headed east to Clark where the funniest thing on the tour occured. Our guide was beginning to explain that the building below was built for the Thompson Restaurant Chain as a warehouse. He didn't get very far in when a double-decker tour bus passed by and someone from the bus yelled "We're on a bus" I guess he thought that was better than us walking :D We all laughed and the our guide continued onward. Thompson's Restaurant's were a nationwide chain that was based on the cafeteria model. The fast food model was the downfall for these kind of restaurants.

We then headed north on Clark past some doors on the vaulted sidewalk. We learned that some of the first inside bathrooms were under the vaulted sidewalks because the city still had poor water preasure. We headed west on Hubbard to the mosaic below. This mosaic proclaims the Illinois Terrazzo and Tile Company, but like a guides mentioned they couldn't find any info as if they were located at the address where the tiles are laid. What is funny though is 53 west Hubbard is the Home of Hubbard Street Adult book store. While we were looking at the mosaic, someone opened the door to peek out what was happening. I'm sure they've had groups of people protest in front so I guess they seen that we were harmless and went back inside.

We Continued to walk on Hubbard back to La Salle and Continued north on LaSalle to the Art Deco fronted Building below. This building is much older than it's Art Deco front suggests. In 1928 La Salle Street was Widened causing many buildings to cut back their fronts and put new ones one. The colors one this one is amazing!

This concludes part one of this series. In part two we'll head up on LaSalle Street, make a stop at a famous restaurant that used store horses and see some motels!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Into the Night

On Saturday the 10th I got the opportunity to do a night shoot with the Chiflickr meetup group. I left my place around 5:15 and got to the Wrigley Building just about sunset. Took a few pictures and then walked across the street to the appointed meeting area. Even with temps in the upper thirties we had around twenty people show up. I think this may be the largest meetup group I've participated. We waited til 6:35 and then headed south across the Michigan Avenue Bridge and down the stairs to the river level.

We spent about an hour shooting between Michigan and State street bridges and then decided to walk over the the Chicago Theatre Marquee. We took a group picture just south of the marquee with it in the background. We then walked over to wabash to watch L trains pass and take photos of the streaking trains. It was almost 9 by this point and it was obvious that we wouldn't make all the goals of the shoot so we walked back north to Wacker Drive shooting along the way and then over by the Merchandise Mart from there we walked north on Orleans and down the stair to Kinzie, our final location was on the Kinzie street bridge shooting south.

Since we were fairly close to Halsted I decided to walk Kinzie to Milwaukee and Milwaukee to Halsted for the #8 bus home. It seems to take forever but I was finally home at 10:30. This was such a great shoot, below is some of my favorites.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Colors

Fall colors are upon us! They seem to be about a week ahead of schedule. The cool temps, I guess! I had thought the dry September would cause the colors to be dulled but rain in late September and early October has taken care of that situation. Below are a few pictures from the neighboorhood. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Pardon my getting behind on these entries, so many projects within a short period of time :D On October 1st I got the chance to visit some lighthouses in Indiana and Michigan courtsey of Tom.

We started the adventure first at Mt Baldy.

What a cool mound of sand that's slowly moving into the parking lot! From Mt Baldy we traveled to Michigan City and walked out onto the pier and the lighthouse.

From Michigan City we stopped for lunch in Michigan and then to South Haven. I really like the red colored lighthouse in this town!

Finally, traveling through the horrible town of Benton Harbor we reached St Joseph. St Joseph's lighthouse complex was suffering some problems related to wind earlier in the week!

I really enjoyed the tour of these lighthouses! Great fun and thanks Tom!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Forgotten Chicago Walking Tour Part 3 - Commercial- Manufacturing Structures

On Sunday September 27 I took a 3 hour walking tour with the people from Forgotten Chicago. In this final part we'll explore the commercial structures that we saw on the tour.

Our tourguide is fascinated by mid-century construction, so the first commercial structures we were shown were these mid-century bank buildings on Cermak.

Prior to this tour I never gave it much thought, but you really don't see any pre- World War II bank buildings being used as banks in Chicago. This excludes buildings on LaSalle street downtown. I wonder why that is. It's like the 1950's come along and all the banks decide they need to update to what we now call mid-century modern.

A large area that we explored west of western was built as a manufacturing area and such gems as these are still standing and being used.

The building above and below were some of the first buildings to use concrete to support the building instead of thick load bearing walls. The building below was built for AT&T to house telphone equipment but today the Cook County Sheriff's department uses it.

The area contained a street car garage at Bell and approx 25th street. This is a really old structure which dates from the 19th century. A somewhat newer structure was built across the street. That structure is now gone and is a parking lot for a school.

Finally we come to the vibrant shopping district around 22nd and California. Here we have a Furniture store and another structure that was a theatre at various times.

I hope you enjoyed this little walking tour as much as I did. I'm planning on going to Forgotten Chicago's final tour of the year, down LaSalle Street on October 18th.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Forgotten Chicago Walking Tour Part 2 - Residential Architecture

On Sunday September 27th I took a walk through Western Pilsen and Eastern Little Village with the people from Forgotten Chicago. It was a great day for a walk. In part 2 I'll show some of the architectural styles that are present in the area. The Pilsen area was mostly built up during the 1870's and 1880's. Little Village was a little later mostly in the 1890's to early 1900's.

With that said the first homes we looked at was actually built in the early 1960's. Just around the corner from the Pink Line stop these homes are just east of Western on 21st Street. No one knows why this strip of land wasn't developed earlier.

We continued to walk eastward our guide pointed out this building with the fake Mansard roof. They would build these structures with the fake tops to make them seem more important.

Here's a typical commercial / residential structure

We looked at some homes built on the back of the lot instead of the front. One reason this was done was so another building could be built on the front part of the lot. Below are two examples of this not being done. The owners of these buildings get to enjoy a very large front yard :)

We continued onward to the area around 24th and Oakley where a small Italian neighboorhood still exists.

Passing west over Western Avenue we enter the Little Village area. The housing on this side is about 10 to 20 years newer than the stock on the otherside. The area is alo built to a lower density. Instead of the occasional cottage and mostly multiple units you have a lot more cottages and the occasional multi-flat dwelling and those multi-unit building usually have a commercial part. Below are some typical cottages as well as a nice block of homes

Finally we have a rather rare site in Chicago rowhomes:

Thank you for looking at Part 2. Part 3 will conclude this series in which we'll explore the commercial and industrial side of a Little Village.