Tuesday, September 29, 2015

6924-6928 N. Clark, Then and Now

I've been impressed with the "Images of Change" digital photo archive of UIC.  Many of these photos were developed to document building violations for the City of Chicago in the 1950s, which is a great way to show the guts of the city.  But it also includes a large number of streetscapes.  The 1950s was at the very beginning of a long decline and disinvestment in urban areas.  You can really sense the desperation as signage becomes larger and more strident on buildings that look increasingly shabby.  At least that's my take on it...


The gothic revival building on the right is long gone (replaced with a drive-through bank), and the central building has been mostly rebuilt. With the loss of the corner building that feeling of enclosure has been lost on this block.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

7354-74 N. Clark, c.1925

This 1-story brick and terra cotta commercial building was designed by architect Maurice L. Bein and constructed some time around 1925.  Bein designed a number of Rogers Park buildings, and I'll be investigating some more as I'm able to get out and take current photos.


SW Corner of Clark and Rogers


I was lucky to find two historic photos, one from the Digital Archives of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the other in a UIC collection called Images of Change.  Both are great sources for overlooked neighborhood buildings.

Originally the storefront at the corner was pulled back to allow a generous entrance flanked by display windows.  By the time the middle photo was taken that area had been enclosed by a homemade wall insert.  In the bottom photo a new storefront has made the transformation permanent.  Porches that become enclosed over time often have the same progression.

People generally tend to idealize signage on historic buildings, but by the 1950s the era of tasteful gold stenciled lettering in the windows was long gone.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Morse Avenue Walking Tour

The graphic below is the culmination of the work I've done on Morse Avenue since last February. Some history and analysis was written for each of the illustrations, and can be found on this blog.  These were intended to be thumbnail images, but some of the subjects required a more detailed treatment.  You'll probably need to click on the image to see it at a decent resolution.

The point of the project was to take a single street and show it as a microcosm of Chicago architecture and history.  Not sure if it succeeded entirely, but I still think the idea is a good one.  I might try it again on another street... 

L. Shure, 2015


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

1130-1142 W. Morse (1907-1917)

Morse Avenue dead-ends at the lakefront, and, as you approach the lake, you find a wide variety of building types.  These three buildings, all built between 1907 and 1917, illustrate the rapid change in density that occurred along Morse Avenue.

Looking North

According to the Assessor, the frame building in the center was built in 1907.  The building to its left followed in 1912, and the one on its right in 1917.  Chicago's  1914 Zoning Code anticipated greater density along the city's lakefront, a development that was already happening by the time the Code was adopted. In the early 20th century, just like today, there was a strong desire to be close to Lake Michigan, even if you were sharing your lakefront real estate with several other families.

All of the frame houses on this block originally had generous porches to capture cool breezes from the lake.  The one above lost its porch and wood siding some time after 1937.  It's looked a little bit blank ever since, but it makes up for it with an amazing roofline!  The six-flat on the left side of our frame house has classical details, with limestone lintels and a pressed metal cornice with dentils.  The one to its right has a sort of Craftsman appearance with very restrained ornamentation.

One final note: You'll notice that there's a hill in front of these buildings.  It's a good bet these were built atop a low sand dune.