Monday, May 24, 2010

Flatirons in Rogers Park #1- 7219-7231 N. Rogers

This entry marks a new series on this blog examining flatiron buildings in Rogers Park.  Many people are familiar with Daniel Burnham's 1902 Flatiron Building in New York, which was famously dramatized by Alfred Steiglitz's photo, as well as its use as The Daily Bugle in the recent Spiderman movies.  But most people don't realize that that the flatiron form is relatively common, and there are notable examples throughout Chicago.
7219-7231 N. Rogers
2038-2048 W. Touhy
Built: 1925
Architect: Schaffner (no first name given, but possibly Daniel J. Schaffner)

Generally flatirons occur when two grids are juxtaposed, or an atypical element cuts through a regular grid.  Both systems create pairs of obtuse and acute angled lots.  The acute angles are difficult to utilize with a standard building type.  Enter the flatiron.  Rogers Park has a number of these buildings, some of which respond to the elevated train viaduct and some to Rogers Avenue, which extends through the neighborhood towards the southwest.  Because these buildings are not tall they're easy to overlook.

This flatiron is particularly dramatic because of the large intersection at Touhy, Ridge and Rogers, which allows for a direct view from the west.  It has some restrained classical details, such as arches and geometric cast stone ornaments, as well as a pedimented parapet wall.  It's a huge building, and it's actually easier to appreciate from an aerial perspective.  The view above is from the west looking east.  To prevent dark apartments sun porches were added towards the rear of the building and a complex courtyard funnels light into the interior.  The architect also utilized this space for the heating plant, which is located in the center of the court.  In the aerial above you can see the smokestack sticking up. It's now covered with cell antennas, but I had to leave those out for clarity.

Rogers Avenue helps create two other flatirons further east, both of which will be included here.  Eventually.


  1. No lie, this is a difficult intersection. But I have long thought, even before I moved to Rogers Park, that this building could be a delightful little gem, an anchor at the nether reaches of the city. I thought with the gentrification this building would finally have its chance. It looks like that isn't to be. Still, that stretch of Touhy from Wolcott to Ridge could be a nice local retail area. It looks as if it was, once.

  2. I was surprised when I looked up those blocks on the old Sanborn Maps. This was mainly an auto service district. Not sure how long that lasted, but you can still find some old garages in the vicinity. There used to be two filling stations where that scary-looking convenience store is now located.