Monday, April 17, 2006

Currency exchange at Clark and Lunt

I'm not sure what it is about currency exchanges that seem quintessentially "Chicago" to me. Maybe because I never saw one until I moved here. Every service they offer can be found somewhere else (and more cheaply) but they conveniently bring everything right to the corner for a modest fee.

The first time I renewed my city sticker at a currency exchange I was surprised to have them fill out the forms right in front of me. What luxury! All I had to do was sign.

Of course if you don't have a bank account and depend on the currency exchanges to cash your paycheck and pay your bills its much less of an adventure. Those percentages add up. In my neighborhood a lot of people don't have a choice. It's a very profitable business, without much local regulation.

Friday, April 14, 2006

North Eastlake Terrace entrance detail

There are some great apartment buildings east of Sheridan Road right at the Evanston border. Some of them are perched on Lake Michigan, and need their own breakwaters. Amazingly, there's a tiny beach and park all on this same block.

I imagine the wind off the lake can be pretty bad in the winter, but it would be worth it to watch the sun come up over the water in summer. And best of all, most of these are rentals. Maybe this is one of the last tiny corners on the northside where anyone can have a million dollar view.

This detail is from a project that brought together all sorts of cast stone and terracotta door surrounds. It didn't make the final cut, but I like it enough to inflict it on the world.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The old apartment at 2015 W. Lunt

Ah, the old apartment. I lived there for 3 years, which is longer than any other place since I left for college in 1991. That gives you an idea of how transient I've been.

This was a great apartment. It had a circular plan. If we wanted, we could chase the cat for hours. Then the landlord paved over the tiny backyard along with our miniature garden patch. The building was sold, and the new owner replaced the picket fence with a solid stockade along the alley. I imagine that tiny backyard is a lot like a dark, concrete hole nowadays.

Summer evenings we used to sit back there drinking coffee and feeling very sophisticated.

Friday, April 7, 2006

It's a dolphin. Sort of.

Believe it or not, this weird terracotta ornament is supposed to be a dolphin. Maybe you've see Neptune astride similar critters? I can only guess that people didn't see dolphins too often in classical times, and developed an unpleasant caricature of a dolphin in place of the actual, svelte version. The creepy, scaled version then entered the lexicon of architectural ornament.

This is from an apartment building on west side of Sheridan Road north of Greenleaf.