Friday, April 30, 2010

Morton Salt- 1325-1359 N. Elston

You can't miss the Morton Salt factory.  Something about it... Oh right, the 3-story tall letters.  This is one of the landmarks I always look for when I fly into Chicago.

Morton Salt has a long history in Chicago. The company which eventually became Morton Salt began here in 1848.  In 1889 a controlling interest was sold to Joy Morton, who changed the name to Joy Morton and Co.  In 1910 it became the Morton Salt Co.  You might recognize the name Morton from their philanthropic additions to the city.  Notably, the Morton wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Probably the Morton Arboretum too, now that I think about it.

Visit the Morton Salt website and see the different versions of the girl with the umbrella.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chicago Tribune Printing and Distribution Center- 651-735 W. Chicago

This is the Chicago Tribune printing and distribution center near the intersection of Chicago and Halsted.  Enormous only begins to describe it.  I have to admit that I'm fascinated by the strange decorative touches, including the half-round windows intended to suggest an arcade.  And the strange wall above the loading docks which resembles a garage door.  I expect the entire thing to roll up and down, although I'm sure there are offices behind those windows.  Apparently you can take a tour of this place.  I imagine the most exciting time would be really early in the morning, when the presses are in full motion.

I thought it might be interesting to have a bit more context for this sketches.  In the lower left corner you can see my train line.  The tracks to the right are for newspaper distrubution. I think. (Thanks Google Maps)
And this is roughly the same area shown in a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from 1905.  Interesting to see the change in scale, as well as the enormous reduction in train lines.  There was also a north-south street called Putnam (later Union) which was eliminated at some point. Perhaps it was sold to the Tribune.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Golden Nugget Pancake House- 1765 W. Lawrence

There are seven Golden Nuggets in Chicago, and they kind of typify the unreconstructed diner for me.  They're not trendy.  The waitresses don't flirt.  And if you're going to drink coffee for 3 hours you better keep ordering some other stuff. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

1400-1430 N. Elston- A.L.L Masonry Construction

A.L.L. Masonry Construction has been operating in Chicago and surrounding areas for over 50 years.  I was surprised to find more than 150 project photos on their website, including some of the more interesting schools and public buildings that have gone up in the last 15 years.  This includes the new gorilla house at Lincoln Park Zoo, which is pretty sharp.  Their material yard is on the other side of this building. 

This view actually caught my eye because of the trains.  No idea why they're there.  Union Pacific must own this little stretch of track and use it for storage.  Or maybe these are abandoned train cars dropped off in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

1720 N. Elston, Sipi Metals Corporation

Sipi Metals has been in business since 1905, and has facilities all over the country.  They seem to specialize in precious metals reclamation, such as from circuit boards, cell phones and laboratory equipment.  The Sanborn Fire Insurance map of 1914 indicates that this used to be the Johnson and Jennings Foundry, which makes sense.  In 1950 it was the Silverstein and Pinsof Smelting Co.  It has a certain Old Chicago look, although it must be very high-tech on the inside. 

When I first moved to Chicago I started to draw the city because I didn't feel very rooted.  Drawing forced me to slow down and take a closer look at things.  Nice to know this still works, even with my daily commute.

Monday, April 12, 2010

2301 N. Pulaski

The other week I took a different Metra line out to Northbrook for Passover with family.  I could make a hobby of traveling all of the Metra lines and developing odd sketches.  But the problem with traveling an unfamiliar line means that I couldn't exactly remember where the photo was taken.  Thanks to Google Maps I was able to track it down.

This is at the intersection of Pulaski and Belden, which is apparently in Logan Square.  This looks to be apartments above a shuttered commercial space attached to a light industry building. I couldn't find a construction date.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

4011 N. Ravenswood

This is an interesting stretch of Ravenswood.  Many of the industrial buildings have been converted into loft spaces, yoga studios, art centers, etc.  Chicago has lost quite a bit of its industry in this way, at least in the more popular neighborhoods. 

Anyway, I would see this strange quarter round greenhouse-like structure from the train and wonder what the heck it was.  Only recently did I discover that it's now part of the Ravenswood Event Center.  Need a dramatic wedding locale for 200 of your closest friends?  This would be pretty cool.  It also has a narrow outdoor area with a trellis, which extends for a good 30 feet (you can see part of it to the right of the roof).

Originally this building was owned by a printing company, and they used this space to make huge billboards, which were created by painters and artists who needed the 45' high ceiling and natural light.  With the improvement of printing technology it became obsolete.  According to the website all of the window frames are original.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

1228-1230 W. Augusta

This is one of the most interesting areas my train passes.  To the west is the highway, to the north and east there's industry, but this residential pocket seems likely to stay.  Half of the lots are vacant, but the ones that aren't are divided between decaying older housing and new condos.  The house on the left is an 1880s Italianate which lost its decorative cornice and gable window altered.  The one on the right looks like it's been reconstructed.

Personal anecdote: It was my first day working at the new job downtown.  I was headed back to Rogers Park and as we passed the home on the left someone on the second floor mooned the entire train.  They had their behind so far out the window that a slight misstep would have led to a very embarrassing tragedy.

Also, is anything as ugly as the back of one of those massive billboard signs?  But I suppose if you overlook the Metra tracks you can get used to anything.