Sunday, August 22, 2010

Trip 61: Chicago's Original Gold Coast

Date: August 22, 2010
Trip: 61
Landmarks Visited: 6
Landmarks To-Date: 172
Landmarks Remaining: 181

1. Prairie Avenue District

On Sunday morning I headed down to the 1800 block of S. Prairie Avenue. This was the original home to Chicago's wealthiest families. The Armour's, Pullman's and Field's all lived there. Later the street saw tough times, and many of the original mansions were torn down. Most of the surviving homes are pictured here.

I thought this Com Ed substation in the district was interesting because it has both an image of an electric train and an Egyptian motif. Apparently, the architect wanted to appease every taste.

2. Glessner House
This house is part of the Prairie Avenue District. It's also the first paid tour that I've taken. I paid $10 to tour the interior of the house. The house isn't very inviting from the outside--it looks like a fortress with high stone walls and slit windows.
The interior has a very unusual lay-out, but otherwise seems very traditional relative to the exterior. The house was definitely designed for servants to care for the family without being seen. The servants had a separate section of the house, and there are hallways and stairways for them to reach rooms in the house without disturbing the family.

3. Wheeler-Kohn House
This house is also part of the district, but it's the last remaining original house on Calumet Avenue.

4. Clarke House
This house is claimed by some to be the oldest surviving house in Chicago. But others claim it shouldn't get that title because it wasn't in Chicago when it was built. That area was later annexed to the city, and the house was even later moved to its current location.

5. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co. Calumet Plant
This industrial building is impressive for its size (given it's location in an urban neighborhood) and the amount of architectural detail. There are faux balconies, coats-of-arms, and relief sculptures.

6. American Book Company Building
This is another office/ industrial building just across the street from the Donnelley building.

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