Thursday, March 24, 2016

Garage Pass-Throughs in 1920s Apartment Buildings

I've written previously about the large courtyard apartment buildings that were built in Rogers Park throughout the 1920s. During that same decade there were also smaller buildings constructed, similar in style but closer to single family homes in terms of their size and amenities. Many of these buildings accommodated a family on each floor, including a live-in housekeeper.   But an increasingly important perk for middle-class urban dwellers was parking for the family car. 
A. 1518 W. Greenleaf (1930),  B.7058-60 N. Greenview (1927),  C. 1535 W. Estes (1927)
Rear garages with alley access have always been important in Chicago, but when an alley wasn't available a driveway pass-through would allow residents to park their cars behind the building. These tunnels were especially common in dense areas where side yards had been eliminated in an attempt to maximize value.  With tunnels going through the building, all floors could continue to benefit from windows facing the street to bring light into the units. In the case of the three examples here, all were constructed on a block which lacked an alley.

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These buildings use a Georgian Revival vocabulary, including quoins, cornices, ornamented pediments, balustrades, urns, and a strongly emphasized main entrance. A primary characteristic of the Georgian Revival is symmetry. But it's hard to maintain symmetry when you have one big opening for cars and a much smaller opening for people. The building on Greenview solves this problem by doubling the design and having two tunnels.  This wasn't possible for the smaller buildings. Instead, they use sidelights, windows, and door surrounds to try and balance out the size difference. It doesn't work entirely, but I can appreciate the effort.

I also like these buildings because they physically memorialize the size of cars in the 1920s, which were somewhat narrower than today's cars. I don't envy the drivers who have to squeeze through these garage pass-throughs today...on their way to vintage 1920's garages.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

6657-6707 N. Clark, c.1925

Still making my way through some Clark streetscapes.  Back in 2008 and 2009 I put together some information about corner buildings on Clark, between Howard and Devon.  The intent was to compile a booklet of drawings, site plans, and history.  That project never made it to publication, although I posted most of the drawings and maps that came out of it.  So it's satisfying to be able to cannibalize some of the research I did back then.

View looking Southeast

The two story red brick building doesn't have a construction date from the assessor, but based on its ornament I would say c. 1925.  The second floor windows have been changed to sliders, but the first floor retains a large open storefront, in contrast to many in the area which have been infilled or reduced in size.  Currently this is a tattoo parlor.

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The yellow brick  and stone building was designed by the firm of Loewenberg and Loewenberg, and built at a cost of $75,000 in 1926.  This is a bit grander than most of the mixed-use buildings on Clark, and has a nicely detailed broken pediment entry to the apartments above.  The facade is flanked by slender stone pilasters, and the rounded corner is emphasized with classical ornament. Loewenberg and Loewenburg designed many neighborhood buildings throughout Chicago, including several synagogues and Hebrew theological colleges in North Lawndale.  They also designed the Broadmoor Hotel in Rogers Park, at 1532 W. Howard.  Their successor firm is still active in the area.  This building is currently a liquor store, although when I moved to the neighborhood it was one of the last video arcades.

The red brick building on the opposite corner was designed by Benjamin Leo Steif and constructed in 1922 at a cost of $45,000.  It also keys to the classical style, but its primary ornament is a stone pediment and brick pilasters at the corner. Steif also designed neighborhood buildings throughout Chicago and the suburbs, but his practice shifted towards large apartment buildings.  The digital collection of the Art Institute of Chicago contains a large amount of his firm's work. There's a taqueria in this storefront at the moment.

Northeast and Southeast Corners of Clark and Northshore, 2009