Thursday, February 21, 2013

Townhouses at Greenleaf and Oakley, 1968

Not long ago I came across a 1968 Chicago Tribune article about a West Ridge development coming on the market.  It included double houses, courtyard buildings, and townhouses on the north and south sides of Greenleaf, between Oakley and Western.  All of them duplexed, with small private rear yards in addition to communal front yards or interior courts.  All have accomodations for parking, ranging from garages with direct street access to parking spaces along the alleys.   Their design and detailing is consistent, but they have a variety of form you don't often see in multi-building developments.

I  think of 1968 as a turning point in Chicago history.  In one year you have the race riots following the assassination of Martin Luthur King, Jr. and the disastrous Democratic National Convention.    This signaled a period of public and private disinvestment in the city which continued for decades.  It was also the year my parents, lifelong Chicagoans, left for Columbus, Ohio.   So clearly things were pretty bad.  So what kind of housing might still attract city residents in 1968?

Looking southwest from the corner of Greenleaf and Oakley.
 A weird version of French Provincial!   With mansard roofs and arched dormers!  The buildings are an odd blend of traditional and modernistic elements.  According to the article there are three and four bedroom units in two-story or tri-level designs.  The model unit had a family room with a 16 foot high ceiling merging with the breakfast room.  They featured central air, wall-to-wall carpeting, and plastic laminated counter tops.  I wonder if they've changed much in the past 45 years.

So to summarize, large informal living space, tiny private outdoor areas, accomodation for parking, and weird semi-traditional architectural styling. Not sure this really tells me much about 1968.  In other parts of the city they were building walls topped with broken glass, so maybe West Ridge wasn't doing too badly.


  1. Larry,

    Boy am I glad I stumbled upon your site. I live in one of these townhouses! We're a self-managed condominium association and I've been starved for information like this. A few of the units look just like they did when originally built but most have been updated by their respective owners.
    We're a well-run association in a great part of the city in West Ridge (or West Rogers Park as it's most commonly known). If you can point me to more info on the history of our development, I'm sure other unit owners would appreciate it as well. I can be reached at: derrick DOT everett AT comcast DOT net

  2. Glad you liked the post! I'll email you the article when I track it down. There's a little more information in it than I've posted here, but that's probably the best I can do. And if I can convince you to send a photo of a double-height living space I would glad to post it here...