Monday, April 26, 2010

Trip 17: Alta Vista Terrace District

Date: April 26, 2010
Trip: 17
Landmarks Visited: 1
Landmarks To-Date: 23
Landmarks Remaining: 330
After work today I walked from home to Alta Vista Terrace. It's basically a one block street with town homes from the turn of the last century on both sides of the street. I called them town homes and not row houses, because on either side of the street each house is architecturally unique. But what makes the street even more interesting is that basically each design is repeated diagonally opposite on the other side of the street. It's like the two sides of the street are mirror images of each other. It's also interesting that this street is only a couple of blocks from Wrigley Field, but it seems very quiet and residential.
I would describe this neighborhood as quaint, which is a word I don't usually use to describe Chicago. The street is very narrow by Chicago standards, and the houses are built right at the sidewalk which adds to this feel. This street feels more like Boston than Chicago.

Trip 16: Immaculata High School and Convent Buildings

Date: April 25, 2010
Trip: 16
Landmarks Visited: 1
Landmarks To-date: 22
Landmarks Remaining: 331
On Sunday I walked from home to visit a neighborhood landmark. I had bigger ideas for the day, but the weather didn't cooperate--cool, rainy and windy.
I went to see the old Immaculata High School and Convent. It's obviously been abandoned for quite some time. There appear to be three basic sections to the building. The original part is the most ornate and it looks like it included an auditorium, gymnasium or chapel. There are additions on either side that look like they're from the 50's. The addition off the back looks like it included the main classrooms and it is currently in use as a Montessori school. The addition off to the other side appears to have been the dormitories for the nuns. It's definitely empty since you can see completely through the rooms.
For a largely vacant site, it's very well maintained. I only saw one small broken window, and someone mows the lawn and picks up trash.
The entire site has to be pretty valuable because of it's location near Lake Michigan--even give the current economy. I've read that the site is still owned by the Catholic Church which is holding on to it in hopes of putting it to future use. Given that churches don't pay property taxes, I expect the church can hold on for a long time.
I think it would make a great location for a horror film.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Trip 15: Armitage-Halsted District

Date: April 21, 2010
Trip: 15
Landmarks Visited: 1
Landmarks To-Date: 21
Landmarks Remaining: 332

On Tuesday I took the bus to work because Shawn wanted to use the car. I have a couple of options on which bus to take, but I took the Halsted bus to the Armitage bus because that way I would change buses in the middle of the Armitage-Halsted District. While I was waiting for the Armitage bus, I took a few photos.

The neighborhood is basically a high-end shopping district and the architecture is similar to the Milwaukee Avenue District that I visited earlier. Both neighborhoods are mainly 2 to 4 floor buildings with storefronts on the first floor, and apartments above.

The Armitage-Halsted District is smaller and I think not extremely architecturally interesting. I think it was probably landmarked to preserve the scale of the buildings. Without landmark status most of the buildings in the neighborhood probably would have been torn down to be replaced by bigger buildings for chain stores. It would have turned into an area of strip malls like North Avenue located not far away.

Trip 14: August Dewes House & Francis J. Dewes House

Date: April 19, 2010
Trip: 14
Landmarks Visited: 2
Landmarks To-Date: 20
Landmarks Remaining: 333

On Monday after work I drove to two landmarked homes that are located side by side in Lincoln Park. The landmark marker outside says the homes are built in the beaux artes style which became popular again after the 1893 World's Fair. The house on the corner is a stand-alone mansion, and the neighboring house is more of a town home. The houses were obvious built by the same person or family, because the styles match and they share a yard between them.

The mansion's most outstanding feature is the front entrance, which is flanked by two large sculptures--one each of a semi-naked man and woman. The sculptures are of classic design, and unfortunately are suffering from some damage. A surface layer of maybe plaster appears to be pealing away.

The town home has a three story external spiral staircase. Both houses are beautiful but don't exactly blend into the neighborhood. They are larger in scale and are more decorative than the neighboring buildings.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Trip 13: Two Northside Landmarks

Date: April 20, 2010
Trip: 13
Landmarks Visited: 2
Landmarks To-Date: 18
Landmarks Remaining: 335
On Monday after work I drove to two northside landmarks. First was the Milwaukee-Diversey-Kimball district. It's basically another of Chicago's six-way intersections. As far as I could tell, there are three buildings of note in the district. Probably the most interesting thing is that the three buildings are from different eras. The building with the Gap Outlet store has very ornate terra cotta details. The Footlocker building looks somewhat art deco. And the third building, which seems to be abandoned, is more of a minimalist office building. It also seems to be the exact same design as a building a little south at Milwaukee and North (in Wicker Park) that is also landmarked. But the Wicker Park building (called the Northwest Tower and more affectionately the Coyote Building) is taller and has a tower.
The second landmark of the trip was the Vasser Swiss Underwear Company building. It's pretty typical of factory buildings in neighborhoods around Chicago. It has a clock tower, but there is no longer a functional clock. I read somewhere that factories used to have clock towers because workers couldn't afford watches so they needed to know when to go to work. But it could also be that the clock towers actually hide water towers.
I also think that this building used to house a lamp factory after the underwear business left. It's currently being renovated into a "Green Exchange" which is sort of an incubator for green businesses. Almost all of the building's windows have been replaced which must have cost a fortune.

Trip 12: Two Diversey Area Landmarks

Date: April 18, 2010
Trip: 12
No. of Landmarks Visited: 2
Landmarks To-Date: 16
Landmarks Remaining: 337

On Sunday I had some errands to run in the neighborhood, which included searching for rock candy to make my dad's cherry bounce recipe for a friend's birthday. I walked a little farther to Diversey street to see a couple of landmarks.

First I saw the Brewster Apartments on Pine Groove. It's an approximately eight story apartment building built from reddish-brown stone. It has a beautiful front entrance of polished stone, and the front corners are rounded rooms that rise up the full height of the building.

Across the street I also noticed some beautifully row houses--so much for my theory that there aren't many row houses in Chicago.

After the fact I realized that I had actually been in the Brewster building before. There is a Red Hen bakery in the building where I've gotten coffee and a snack before, but you enter from the Diversey side which is the less interesting side of the building.

Next I went to the Elks National Memorial Headquarters building that is just across Diversey. It's a huge building that resembles the Jefferson Memorial in DC. It's a round, stone building with a dome that's surrounded by a ring of columns. I didn't go in the building on Sunday, but it is open to the public and I have walked through it before. The interior is pretty impressive. There are marble columns of different types of marble from around the country.

An interesting thing in the basement is that they have maquettes of old Rose Bowl parade floats. Apparently, the Elks sponsor a float every year.
The building is flanked on either side by large bronze sculptures. Those are included in the pictures above. There are also two large elk sculptures out front, but because of the angle of the sun I couldn't get shots of those.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Trip 11: Burling Row House District

Date: April 15, 2010
Trip: 11
No. of Landmarks Visited: 1
Landmarks To-Date: 14
Landmarks Remaining: 339

On Thursday I also drove to Burling Street on my way home from work. It's about half way between my office and home, but it's a small residential street that's only a block long, so I had never been there before. The row house there is definitely the longest I've seen in Chicago. In my experience, row houses are pretty rare in Chicago. They're definitely not as common as in East Coast cities like Philadelphia and Boston. Most residential buildings in Chicago are separated, even if it's only by a foot or two. I'm guessing that's because of zoning requirements after the Great Chicago Fire.

I counted how many houses appeared to be in this building, but I've forgotten the exact number. I think it's around 10 or 12. They are beautifully maintained, which makes since because they are located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Lincoln Park is one of Chicago's wealthiest neighborhoods.

This was also the first time that I set out on two different trips in the same day. I realize that I have to pick up the pace if I'm going to make my goal.