Wednesday, October 14, 2015

6952-6964 N. Clark (c.1905 - c.1925)

L. Shure, 2015
From the 1870s through the 1930s nearly everyone agreed on the best way to construct a local commercial district.  The buildings should be 2 or three stories in height, they should come right up to the sidewalk, and there should be commercial space on the first floor and residential or office space above. Buildings should be tightly spaced to maximize square footage.  High quality materials and ornamentation were reserved for the street elevations, which were the only portions of the building readily visible.   Above is a fairly intact stretch of buildings in Rogers Park constructed between 1905 and 1925.

Storefronts are basically large panes of fixed glass supported by wood or metal mullions with a center or side entrance.  Storefront technologies have changed dramatically over the years, but if you're selling something it's better to let people see into the store.

The upper floors were accessed through a front door adjacent to the storefronts.  Typically this would be a solid door to convey the more private nature of the space above. Most of these on this stretch are apartments.
Projecting bays were common.  These would allow additional light into the upper floors and offset some of the limitations of the minimal front and side setbacks.  These were typically covered with elaborate pressed metal ornamentation, which was inexpensive and readily available. The bays often utilize the steel beam above the storefront to cantilever over the street.

Cornices were used to emphasize the termination of the building, and were often stone or pressed metal, built up from stock pieces available though a catalog or a local supplier. Corbelled brick cornices often depended on the abundance of inexpensive skilled labor available at the time.

Decorative parapets often add additional interest to the top of the building.  As different styles became popular the parapet offered a good location for their expression.  On the far right the parapet has a castellated profile and is inset with Sullivanesque terracotta ornament. 

Modern signage, even with strict code regulations, doesn't have a consistent methodology. It often blocks storefronts or interferes with the underlying ornamentation of the building. This is nothing new, can be seen even in historic photos.


The other major type of commercial development in Rogers Park is the strip mall.  That might take a broader analysis.


  1. Really great post! Thank you so much! It also helped that this particular group of buildings is one of my favourite views in the neighborhood.

  2. Thanks OutnAbout! That whole block of Clark has some good buildings. Some in better shape than others.

  3. Nice breakdown with the color coding. Makes me pay more attention to the solid doors that lead up to apartments. I never thought about how they are solid to make them more private looking.

  4. Thanks Matt. You'll find exceptions, but that's generally a historic condition owners maintain even for replacement doors.