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Wabash Avenue, Then and Now

Wabash1907

Wabash2011

I was pleased to recently see the first photo, shown above, at Shorpy.com. The image is from 1907 and shows Wabash Avenue in Chicago, facing north from Monroe St. Knowing how well-preserved Wabash is - being next to the El tracks makes it a less-than-desirable location for new skyscrapers, and thus many 19th and early 20th Century buildings remain there - I guessed that a lot of these buildings would probably still be standing. So I swung over there this week and was pleasantly surprised to find even more vintage buildings than I expected. The second photo is taken from almost the exact same vantage point as the first, and almost every building in the first photo can still be seen.

Working from left to right in the original photo, the first building (with the arched cornice) is gone, but remaining are 30 S. Wabash (the tall narrow one, three windows wide), the Atwater Building (pointed cornice), the Barker and Haskell Buildings (slightly shorter), Silversmith Building (medium height with sign painted on its side) and Hayworth Building (tall, at the very center of the photo). And just beyond the Hayworth is the Mandel Brothers Annex (with flagpole on the roof) which was originally part of the old State Street department store and now home to Filene's, TJ Maxx and other discounters. Of particular note, the Silversmith is now a boutique hotel (odd location for one - I can't imagine paying a premium room rate that close to the El tracks); the Atwater, Barker and Haskell buildings date from 1875-77 and are some of the very oldest in the Loop; and recent renovation of the Barker and Haskell buildings revealed gorgeous facades designed by Louis Sullivan.

In framing this photo, I was also quite pleased to capture the young guy with the sunglasses and shopping bag, who nicely echoes the top-hatted gentleman in the original photo.

July 2, 2011 in Chicago Observations, Photography | Permalink

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