Monday, May 31, 2010

Trip 31: The First Bike Ride of the Season

Date: May 29, 2010
Trip: 31
Landmarks Visited: 3
Landmarks To-Date: 58
Landmarks Remaining: 295

On Saturday I pulled my bicycle out of storage for the first time. I pumped up the tires and rode north to the Uptown neighborhood to see two landmarks, and then headed a little west to Lincoln Square for one more.

Sheridan Trust and Savings Bank Building

This is a relatively large bank building that is today a Bridgeview Bank branch. Probably its most interesting feature is that the building curves around the corner.

Uptown Theatre

This building is a classic old movie house that has been abandoned for as long as I have lived in Chicago. Fairly recently one of the major concert promoters (I think it was Jam Productions) bought it to use as a live performance space. But nothing has happened yet, and the recession means it could be a long time--if ever.
I lucked out that the boarded-up front was open for some sort of maintenance the day I was there. So I was able to snap a couple of photos of the interior. The little that I could see looked much cleaner than I expected.
The Uptown neighborhood had to be a happening place in the day. The Riviera Theater, the Aragon Ballroom and the famous Greenmill Jazz Club are all nearby. The Riviera was a movie house, but today is a live performance venue. The Aragon has always been a concert and dance hall.
The Uptown Theatre was recently listed on a preservation group's list of most endangered landmarks. But I don't think it will be torn-down any time soon. It's so huge that demolition would have to cost a fortune. And after the real estate bust, the land underneath wouldn't be worth that much. I think it will just continue a slow death as it deteriorates over time.
It looks like there used to be a huge vertical Uptown sign above the marquee. But that probably had to be removed for safety reasons.

Krause Music Store

This building is a store front designed by Louis Sullivan. Apparently late in his career he was no longer able to get large projects, so he designed stores. Not many of them still exist. This store front is amazing because it looks to be in perfect condition. Considering the terra cotta architectural details, it's surprising that it was never vandalized over the years.
Today the building is used as an office, but it was have been a high-end music store in its day.

Trip 30: Reebie Storage Warehouse

Date: May 26, 2010
Trip 30
Landmarks Visited: 1
Landmarks To-Date: 55
Landmarks Remaining: 298

On my way to work I stopped by to see the Reebie Storage Warehouse in Lincoln Park. It's a storage warehouse with a facade decorated in an Egyptian motif. The amount of decoration on the building is surprising given its utilitarian function. And it's the only Egyptian-themed building that I've seen in Chicago. It's also interesting to me that it's still appears to be used for its original purpose as a storage facility.

The last photo is of the building next door that is currently a bank. I just think it's interesting that the building next door continues the Egyptian motif.

Trip 29: Michigan Ave

Date: May 23, 2010
Trip: 29
Landmarks Visited: 21
Landmarks To-Date: 54
Landmarks Remaining: 299

On Sunday I took the bus to the north end of Michigan Avenue and started walking south. My goal was to see all of the landmarks on Michigan. I didn't make it all of the way, but I walked from 900 N Michigan to 2600 South, so it was a pretty good distance and I saw 21 landmarks. The northern end of Michigan Avenue is a high-end shopping district known as the Magnificent Mile.

As you head south you enter an area of more corporate offices near the Chicago River, and then farther south is part of the cultural district. I walked past the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Cultural Center. Next comes a more residential area of the South Loop, and then the most vacant (at street level) Motor Row. I ended my walk just where Michigan Avenue crosses I-55 just south of the McCormick Place convention center.

Palmolive Building

The Palmolive Building is an art deco tower that was built as a headquarters for Colgate-Palmolive. Later it was home to Playboy, and now it's a luxury condo complex. The building has a spire on top that I've been told originally had a spot light on it. As taller buildings were built around it, apparently the neighbors started to complain and use of the light was discontinued.

Old Chicago Water Tower District
The Water Tower is beloved in Chicago because it was one of the few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire because of its stone construction. Today the district houses a small art gallery, a theatre, a tourist center and a working fire station.

Perkins, Fellows & Hamilton Office and Studio

The plaque describes this landmark better than I could.

Allerton Hotel

The Allerton Hotel is probably most famous for the sign at the top of the hotel that says "Tip-Top-Tap".

Farwell Building
This is the first landmark that was gone before I got to photograph it. As you can see in the photo, today it's just a construction site. It used to be home of the Terra Museum of American Art, but it closed and most of its collection is on long-term loan to the Art Institute of Chicago.
I think Ritz-Carlton brand luxury condos were planned for the site before the real estate bust. I don't know if the plan is still going forward. Some of the landmarked building might be back because I also think the facade was saved and will be used for the front of the new building.

McGraw-Hill Building
This building is most recognized for the relief sculptures on the facade. Today it is part of a shopping mall.

Woman's Athletic Club

Tribune Tower

Site of Fort Dearborn

Fort Dearborn was the first permanent European presence in Chicago. Today there are simply markers in the sidewalk outlining the original fort walls.

Carbide and Carbon Building

This is one of my favorite buildings on Michigan. It has a facade of green stone and brass accents. The building also has a spire of dark green and brass. Today the building houses a Hard Rock Hotel.

London Guarantee Building
This building today houses Crain's publications, although I have read that Crain's is considering moving.

333 North Michigan Building

Historic Michigan Boulevard District

This area of Michigan is famous because the parks on the east side of the street offer beautiful views of the curtain wall of buildings on the west side of the street.

Gage Group

Fine Arts Building

The Fine Arts Building holds a theatre, artists' studios and small offices. It's the only building on this trip that I walked inside to photograph the interior. This is also the only building in Chicago that I know of that still has elevator operators. There is also an outdoor atrium in the building on maybe the 4th floor with a fountain. But I've heard that it's no longer open due to safety issues with the building.

Auditorium Building

The Auditorium Building houses a pretty famous live performance space. I like the exterior of the building because it is so massive. The walls and the pillars are incredibly thick.

Blackstone Hotel

I think the Blackstone is famous because the term 'smoke-filled rooms' was coined there to describe meetings of the 'Chicago Democratic Machine' were held there. This would have been during the time when the Chicago machine influenced national as well as local elections.

Former Engine Company 104, Truck 31

This old firehouse is now a nice looking restaurant.

Chess Records

Chess Records was a blues label, I think. Today the building houses a small museum.

Motor Row

There are a lot of photos of Motor Row, because it is a huge district. It runs from the 1400 block of S Michigan to 2600 South. It was the orginal home to car dealerships in Chicago. Today it looks like only one lonely Ford dealership is left. Many of the buildings look like they have been renovated, with condos or offices on the upper floors. But most of the street level spaces are vacant. I took one interior shot of a tile floor, because I thought it was pretty fancy for a car dealership.

Motor Row: Illinois Auto Club building

This building is part of the Motor Row District, but it really is worthy of a designation of its own. I first saw it when I went to the area to watch the Chicago marathon with my brother Kevin. I immediately liked the buidling. It was originally the headquarters of the Illinois Auto Club. Later it was home the the Chicago Defender, a major African American newspaper. The building is now abandoned, with boarded-up windows. But it does appear to be structurally sound.
I especially like the clock tower with a weathervane shaped like a car.

Second Presbyterian Church