Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sheridan and Juneway, 1937

There are many collections on CARLI but it's hard to beat the IDOT Chicago Traffic Photographs, which document hundreds of streets and intersections from the 1920s through the 1950s.  And of course there are a few from Rogers Park.  Well, more than a few.  Because the photos relate to traffic I thought it might be interesting to focus on early auto facilities in the neighborhood and see where that might lead.
N. Sheridan Road and Juneway Terrace, 1937
This sign was amazing.  It looks about 4 stories tall.  At this point Sheridan Road makes a sharp right to skirt between Calvalry Cementary and Lake Michigan, so this sign effectively terminated the view north.  In a city of regular grids it's difficult to find elements like this, which are prominent from a long way off.  Bowman Dairy was huge in Chicago, but I had no idea they had their own radio program.  I couldn't find anything online about it, but I believe the Bowman archives are at the Chicago History Museum.

Adapted from the 1937 Sanborn Map
I'm guessing that the Colonial Revival house on the left was built between 1915 and 1920.  This portion of Juneway Terrace developed with single family homes in the 1920s, while the blocks to the west were dominated by large courtyard buildings.  The owners probably were not  pleased to find themselves next to the Rogers Park auto strip, which was fully developed by the time this image was recorded.  This house was demolished some time between 1962 and 1974 and replaced with a multi-family building.

Building #2 is the primary (or at least the largest) gas station/service station in the strip.  Their gas was supplied by Shell (see the sign?) and the building had interior bays for washing and repairs.  The circles represent underground gas tanks.  The national gas chains had been building stations in a variety of traditional styles since the 1920s. These were intended to standardize the experience of the driver and develop their corporate image in a neighborhood-friendly way.  But this design, with its peculiar Mediterranean charm,  seems to be unique.

 Building #3 was an auto-oriented snack shop for hungry drivers making their way to (or from) the North Shore."Demetre from Wilmette" made me think of Plaza del Lago, the formerly unincorporated portion of the lakefront near Wilmette which became a popular entertainment district and watering hole amidst the dry North Shore.  Sure enough, there was a "Villa Demetre" serving barbequed chicken sandwiches at Plaza del Lago (then known as No-Man's Land), although it was apparently destroyed by the 1932 fire which signaled the decline of that area.  Watch the video here! The Villa Demetre sign had the number "2" above it, while this building had the number "1" above its sign.  Did this tiny snack shop come first?  Possibly.  I'm also baffled by the tiny glass enclosure at the front of the building.  Was this so you could eat your lunch and watch the traffic whizz by without choking on the fumes?  Very odd.  Plaza del Lago made use of a Spanish Mission Revival style, and this building seems to make a nod in that direction as well.

Sheridan and Juneway as it looks today.
Building #4 is another service station, this one providing gas from Texaco.  It incorporates the Spanish tile roofs seen on the other structures, and some arched details as well.  Difficult to say if this is brick or stucco. 

There was another gas station just to the east, but it wasn't included in the image from 1937 so I left it out.  But it's interesting that these auto-related businesses began to cluster from the very start.  You could see this early on in Chicago's historic Motor Row and later at the used-car lots and motels strips to be found throughout the city.  They seemed to thrive on proximity and competition.

As a side note, there was still a gas station at this location when my wife moved to an apartment half a block away in 1997.  That night their moving van was broken into and she walked over to that gas station to make a police report from their pay telephone.  Ah, the memories.


  1. love your researches. Did you ever check into the giant lips sign for the Magikist carpets? You kids always used it as a landmark.

  2. I do miss the Magikist sign. But I still don't understand why that was an appropriate name for carpets...