Saturday, July 3, 2010

Trip 41: North Side Bike Ride Part II

Date: July 3, 2010
Trip: 41
Landmarks Visited: 3
Landmarks To-Date: 101
Landmarks Remaining: 252

On Independence Day Eve I finished the north side bike ride that was rained-out on June 6th. But more importantly, the three landmarks that I visited today also put me over the 100 mark. Still, ever since I was a school kid I've thought of 4th of July as the half way point of summer. So I can't celebrate too much because I'm not nearly half way to my target of 353 landmarks during 2010.

Today is also my brother Dan's birthday--so Happy B-day Dan!

1. Getty Tomb

The Getty Tomb is located in Graceland Cemetery just north of Wrigley Field. I've taken enough out-of-town visitors to the cemetery that I could find my way directly to the Getty Tomb, which is toward the back of the cemetery. It's a nice place to visit because it's like a pleasant urban park, only quieter. And because much of Chicago's high society from around the turn of the 19th century was buried here, it's both a history lesson and an architectural tour. The names on the grave markers are like a who's who of early Chicago. And the styles of the markers follow the architectural trends of their eras, for Victorian through art deco to contemporary.

The grave makers and mausoleums also show the extreme wealth of these people. Many of the mausoleums have bronze outer gates in front of solid bronze doors. They have stained glass windows with bronze bars. They have stone urns out front and marble benches and tables inside. Certainly at the time, these mausoleums were nicer than the homes that most of the world had to live in. It might even still be true today.

The Getty tomb was designed by Louis Sullivan, and according to the landmark plaque shows the final maturity of his design style that led the way to modernism. The design is more clean and streamlined then his earlier work, and it's more geometric as opposed to his earlier more organic designs.

Louis Sullivan is also buried at Graceland Cemetery, but his grave maker is not nearly as impressive as the tomb he designed for Getty.

1b. Boldenweck Tomb
This tomb is not landmarked. But because it appears to have been also designed by Louis Sullivan, I threw in a couple of photos.

2. Dover Street District

This district is basically a three block area of nice, single family homes on tree lined streets. I guess what makes the district unique is that many of the homes are wood framed (they were probably built before the area was part of Chicago, so Chicago's post-fire building codes didn't apply) and because they are large for a neighborhood relatively far from downtown Chicago and relatively far from Lake Michigan.
It's also surprising that so many of the homes survived, rather than being torn down for apartment blocks or at least being chopped up into multiple units. There is one house in the photos that has a double-decker porch. That's something that I've never seen in Chicago before.

3. Essanay Studios
Essanay Studios was an early movie studio in Chicago. Before Hollywood established itself as the center of film making in the US, Chicago had some early success. As the landmark plaque states, Charlie Chaplin made some of his first films in Chicago.
This is also the first landmark that has a connection to my day job as an insurance agent. I have insured a couple of commercial productions at the current Essanay Studio, but I don't know if it is directly related to the original company. This buidling is no longer a studio--it looks to have been converted to apartments.
Next door (or maybe it was part of the original studio) is a building used by St. Augustine College that includes a Charlie Chaplin Auditorium.
I don't know how Hollywood beat out Chicago, but I'm guessing it might be related the the weather. You can film outdoors year-round in southern California and that's still challenging to do in Chicago even with today's technology.

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