I just can't get enough Randolph Street photos from the fifties and sixties, and only partly because my dad used to work in the block shown above, between State and Dearborn. The signage (including, just on the north side of the street, Eitel's Old Heidelberg, the Oriental Theatre and the Woods Theatre) is so gaudy that it's almost beautiful. Plus I love that there was a bowling alley right in the middle of downtown; its unlit sign is in the left-center of the photo, above the bus.
Meet me at the drive-in
Having not driven the north end of Illinois Route 47 for many, many years, I was quite pleased this past weekend to discover that the towns of Huntley and Hebron still have their old-fashioned ice cream stands: Huntley Dairy Mart and The Dari, respectively. The Dairy Mart even still appears to offer car-side service. Both places were packed on Sunday afternoon (not evidenced by these photos, which are from Google Street View). Nice to see that some old traditions still endure.
Strolling on Canal Street
I love this 1953 view of Canal Street, looking north from Fulton Street. I'm intrigued by the presence of the woman and child - back then the area was almost entirely industrial sites and railyards, and not exactly the ideal place for a stroll. All I can think of is that with the Chicago & North Western railroad station having been a few blocks from that corner, maybe the two had a layover between trains and the woman wanted the kid to burn off some nervous energy before getting on their next train.
Here is the current view from almost the exact same vantage point. The tall building in the old photo (North American Cold Storage) is just visible as a sliver at the left of the right-hand condo tower - the cold storage building itself was converted to condos during the 1990s. The industrial building on the west side of the street in the old photo is now Cassidy Tire, which is marked by red signage.
Fading Ad: Champlain Building
Walking down Wabash this afternoon, I was surprised to see this faded ad in the distance, a few blocks south on the opposite side of the street. I don't remember ever seeing it before, but I guess the El tracks block its view from most vantage points other than where I happened to be walking. The lettering is hard to make out, but I could just discern "Champlain" and "37", which I later found out was the Champlain Building, at 37 S. Wabash. Though the faded ad itself leaves much to be desired, I like the composition of this photo, particularly the contrast of the vertical columns of the buildings against the diagonals formed by the streetlights, tracks and windows.
(Photo by Erik Kwakkel)
I had no idea such places still existed: chained libraries, virtually unchanged since the Middle Ages, in which all the volumes were chained to lecterns or shelves, which provided access to the public while protecting the volumes from theft. The image above is from the chained library in Zutphen, Netherlands, one of only three left (in their original state) in Europe. More on the libraries here. So beautiful.
Ordinarily I love vintage signage, especially for a former Chicago institution like Karoll's. But I have to admit that this signage (shown in 1977) was kind of tacky, and really marred the exterior of the Reliance Building, one of the Loop's true architectural gems.
(Via Calumet 412.)
Hinky Dink Kenna's gold star
Sweet relic of Chicago, interesting backstory. But the saloonkeepers and pimps of the First Ward owed Kenna a hell of a lot more payback and appreciation than that.
From stable to chop house to coffee house
This is fantastic: Asado Coffee is opening a coffee roaster and cafe in the Pickwick Stable, a wonderfully obscure and out-of-the-way building that survived the Great Chicago Fire. The building is at the end of a gated alley on Jackson just west of Wabash, and is completely enclosed by the surrounding buildings. (It's the darkened square at the center of this satellite image.) It's also tiny - each of the three floors is only 19' square, which means the entire building is only 1,083 square feet. I first heard about the building last year and have been fascinated by it ever since. I can't wait to have coffee there, likely on a regular basis.
(Via Gapers Block.)
A 1930s tile facade for a long-gone hamburger stand, revealed during renovation of a former Mexican restaurant. I'll have a burger. Oh, hell, I've got ten cents - give me two.
This week I was pleased to discover that my office building stands on the former site of the Chicago recording studio of pioneering jazz label Okeh Records, where Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five cut all of their sides. Alas, my building only dates to 1987, so Satchmo's spirit doesn't exactly stalk the halls. And I haven't been able to find a photo of the old building.
Boy's gotta have it.
What a fantastic bit of local ephemera: a tape box cover from Chicago's Universal Recording Studios, circa 1960. Music-related, vivid artwork, and a Bertrand Goldberg-designed building that still stands. What's not to love?
The lost West Fork
I never cease to be amazed by facts that I gradually discover about Chicago. The latest: there used to be a West Fork of the Chicago River on the southwest side of the city, running west from the South Branch at Damen Avenue, all the way to the city limits and beyond, finally emptying into the Des Plaines River near the towns of Lyons and Forest View. In the Rand McNally map from 1910 shown above, the West Fork is the dark curvy line above the parallel lines of the Sanitary and Ship Canal ("Drainage Canal") and the Illinois & Michigan Canal. The West Fork was basically made obsolete by the Sanitary Canal (which was fully completed in 1922), and was filled in during the late 1920s. The only obvious traces of the West Fork today are several diagonal property lines (between California Avenue and St. Louis Avenue) which once ran along the river's banks.
The West Fork's current obscurity is somewhat strange since, as Libby Hill notes here in The Chicago River: A Natural and Unnatural History, the fork is the reason Chicago first came to exist, as it was the only waterway link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Because of the fork, voyagers could travel almost entirely by water, with only a short overland portage required at the fork's western terminus, before continuing on to the Des Plaines, the Illinois River and ultimately the Mississippi.
Very cool: the British Library's thousand-year-old manuscript of Beowulf is now fully viewable online. (Announcement here.) Historic literary treasures like this are a rare exception to my general objection to the electronic version of books. I'd never be allowed to get my filthy mitts on this relic anyway.
Michigan Avenue, 1960
I love this 1960 foldout cover of the Saturday Evening Post, which looks west from the Art Institute across Michigan Avenue toward the "street wall" that overlooks Grant Park. The tinting and the pedestrian bustle, plus charming little details like the man in the lower left corner taking a snapshot of the artist, make this a really wonderful image. And I especially appreciate the fact that most of these buildings are still standing, more than fifty years later. This stretch of Michigan Avenue has been remarkably resistant to the ravages of urban renewal.
The Kings' new home
What a wonderful image: Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King (the couple at the top center) at the apartment they moved into in 1966 at 16th and Hamlin on Chicago's west side, to bring attention to living conditions in the city's slums.
It's hard to imagine now, but there once was a CTA elevated track running right down the middle of North Wacker Drive (then called Market Street). That photo above shows the Market Terminal at Madison Street, where the line terminated, in front of the grand Civic Opera House. The stub was demolished during the late 1940s, undoubtedly to the relief of the Opera House's owners. This memorable 1946 painting by John Falter shows a scene beneath the terminal, at roughly the spot where the lone car protrudes from underneath the structure in the photo. I walk past this intersection on a regular basis and always admire the broad, airy expanse of Wacker Drive, and although I'm normally a traditionalist, I'll admit that the demolition of the Market Stub is one act of urban renewal that I have absolutely no objection to.
Hockey at the Garden
I have no interest in the New York Rangers, but I'd still love to own an original of this poster, as shown in this 1943 image. Interesting that they'd go to the trouble of printing and hanging a poster that only promotes the next three home games, which would have given the poster a useful life of no more than a few weeks.
"Business Is Bad. We Now Serve All Parties...Even Republicans"
Great 1950 image of the original Billy Goat Inn, on Madison Street across from Chicago Stadium - its previous location before moving to Hubbard Street and worldwide fame. (I would guess that's the original owner, Billy Sianis.) I love the place for its gritty aura (and Mike Royko connection, of course), but now I realize that I love its politics, too.
Three longs and a shortSo cool: barbed wire fences as early telephone networks.
"The number is 37."Of course, AT&T eventually stormed in and ruined everything.
"Sir, that's not a telephone number."
"It is in Liberty Hill. You'll have to contact an operator in Austin. She'll help you get the call through." Eventually the Dallas operator would contact an Austin operator, who would tell her how to put the call through and I'd get to talk to my parents - with half the town listening in.
(Via Boing Boing.)
This should be interesting: the Sun-Times will be republishing its landmark 1978 series of articles based on the Mirage Tavern, the undercover sting operation run by the newspaper and the Better Government Association that ensnared countless corrupt city officials in various degrees of graft. And if I don't keep up with the articles (each to be republished 35 years from the day it first appeared), I can always hunt down the book. (But I'm puzzled by this comment: "Special thanks is due to NYU who has a thorough archive of the original articles." Doesn't the Sun-Times itself already have a thorough archive of the orignal articles?)
The Great War
BibliOdyssey has a striking gallery of World War One propaganda posters. The one shown above (by Fred W. Cooper) is the most subtle of the lot and, to me, the most effective. Though I suspect the more shocking ones would have been better at spurring people to action.
I've long wondered why the Chicago "community area" that includes the famous Bronzeville neighborhood is called Grand Boulevard, when there is no street by that name in the area. (The name has nothing to do with Grand Avenue, on the North and Northwest Sides.) Now I know: Martin Luther King Drive was formerly known as South Parkway (this I already knew), which was formerly known as Grand Boulevard (this I did not know). One of my Marshland stories, "Singing for the Here and Now", is set in Grand Boulevard, at 48th and King Drive.
Schulze Baking Company
This morning, Frank Jump posted this photo of a faded ad for Schulze's Butternut Bread. And thanks to a Metra debacle, this morning I had to take the Rock Island train instead of my regular train, which serendiptiously brought me within two blocks of the old Schulze Bakery. My hurried photograph of the building (at 55th and Wabash) is shown above. Butternut was baked there until 2004, before the owners shut it down. I'm not sure what business (if any) operates there now, but at least the building is still standing, and the Schulze name is still emblazoned across the top.
This is one of several water-intake cribs on Lake Michigan, from which Chicago and many suburbs get their drinking water. The cribs were built three miles from shore, primarily to adequately dilute the pollution spewing from the Chicago River, which was an open sewer for decades. The water was (and still is) pumped to shore via underground tunnels.
My dad used to tell me than when he was a kid, the lake would freeze solid all the way to the cribs in winter, and it was possible to walk across the ice to the cribs. Though I didn't totally believe him - it sounded like a tall tale a father would be fond of telling - now I have visual proof. (Which is not to imply that my dad was a kid in 1875, when this photo was taken.) Forgive me for doubting you, Dad.
"...fiery nemesis of the impersonal, the imperial, the commercial, the cacophonous..."Jeff Sypeck on the "applied medievalism" of Ralph Adams Cram.
Cram may decry utopians from Plato to H.G. Wells, but his Walled Town is itself the trite utopia of an architectural sketch: happy, faceless people strolling through pristine shopping malls or public squares, doing only what their designer envisions, never misusing, abusing, or defacing their earnest surroundings, freed by architects alone from the ugliness of human nature.Indeed, I've had the impulse for a Walled Town of my own. There's a fifty-acre farm a few miles from here that is completely surrounded by subdivisions and commercial buildings. It's for sale, and would undoubtedly already be another subdivision had the real estate market not collapsed. If I somehow won Powerball - the selling price is a steep $3 million - I would quit my job, buy the property and become an organic farmer. (Never mind that I know nothing about farming - with a big Powerball jackpot under my belt, I could afford a protracted learning curve.) So I can sort of see where Cram was coming from, as comical as his ideas might sound today.
Chicago nightlife......as imagined by Ethel Spears...
...and as realized by the Minsky Brothers.
Though they were from different time periods (two or three decades apart), I would have loved to take in the show at Minsky's, followed by coffee at Spears' diner.
As a historical footnote, the Minsky ad announces a comedy act by Joe DeRita, who would later become the "Sixth Stooge", replacing Joe Besser as the third member (commonly known as "Curly Joe") of the Three Stooges, alongside Moe Howard and Larry Fine.
Jos. Kohler's Bier Halle, 1883
Vielen dank, Herr Kohler. I'll have a lager in my regular stein.
"Twee apen maken muziek"
I love this collection of Flemish anthropomorphic engravings by Quirin Boel and David Teniers, from 1635. I couldn't help noticing that the monkey musicians shown above are creating their art, as have musicians since the beginning of civilization, with libations within easy reach.
Garrick Restaurant, 1963
This 1963 photo of a Chicago parking garage is pretty cool, but even cooler for me is the inset photo above, which shows the front of the Garrick Restaurant, where my dad ate lunch every day for fifteen or twenty years before his office moved out to the suburbs. (I'd like to pretend that the dark-suited man just reaching the front door is him, but given the odds that would be just wildest fantasy on my part.) Though I've seen a few interior photos that my brother took during a downtown visit in the early 1970s, this is the first time I've seen the outside of the building. Nice.
"We're not moving an inch. It's the world that's moved."I really enjoyed revisiting this fascinating 1994 article from the Chicago Reader on the House of David religious colony in Benton Harbor, Michigan, which I first read in print at its original publication. But not until I found the article in the paper's online archive did I realize the author was Adam Langer, a native Chicagoan who subsequently became a well-received novelist (Crossing California, The Washington Story, etc.). At the time of Langer's writing, the House of David and City of David colonies had only twenty-six members remaining, with the youngest being 47-year-old Ron Taylor.
"We at one time could have a moral code and tell unmarried people that we weren't going to rent to them. But as we approach the mid-90s, that's not only a lawsuit but that's a major problem because who do you rent to? There's so much of that going on that you have to rent to some of them in order to maintain a business. People come in, unmarried. Or maybe they are married. They'll tell you one thing. They'll tell you another thing. Sometimes one person moves in and then their boyfriend or girlfriend moves in with them. That instability isn't ours. It's the world's. We're the same people we started as. We still stand by the things we've started with. We're not moving an inch. It's the world that's moved."The "Israelites" (as colony members refer to themselves) not only practice celibacy, but also haven't actively recruited new members since the 1930s, so the colonies have steadily diminished over the decades as older members died and only a few new members joined. Based on this 2012 report, it looks like only five members remain today, including Taylor (who is now 65). Though my religious days are long past, I find it touching that Taylor, despite the Second Coming not happening in 2000 as it was originally prophesied, is still hoping it will happen soon.
What a fantastic image: a tower of empty beer crates at the Schoenhofen Brewery in 1933, waiting to be filled at the repeal of Prohibition. This implies that Schoenhofen must have been one of the few Chicago breweries that refrained from surreptitiously continuing to brew and sell beer during Prohibition. Because the city never came close to going dry.
Daily News Plaza
The top photo is a 1929 image of the fountain on the plaza at the Chicago Daily News Building. The second photo was taken yesterday, from the exact same vantage point (the building is now called Two North Riverside Plaza). Sadly, the fountain is no longer functional, and during my visit yesterday there was also a complete absence of behatted gentlemen and genial ladies. (The only person present was a guy, just out of view behind the foliage at the right, copping a quick smoke.) But although all of that foliage is a poor substitute for gloriously descending water, it's actually a big improvement over a few years ago, when Washington Mutual (then still in its heyday of pushing subprime mortgages on every homeowner who still had a pulse) leased the space for advertising, and built a miniature log cabin inside the basin to represent, I guess, how cozy and quaint owning one's own home could be. Within the context of the grand Art Deco plaza, the log cabin was one of the most hideously incongruous pieces of advertising I've ever seen.
The last photo shows detail of the sculpture on each side of the fountain. I'm really not sure what that's supposed to be. A fish? An alligator?
Marshall Field and Company, 1900
This is pretty terrific: a 1900 cross-section of the bowels of the Marshall Field flagship store on State Street. "Basement Salesroom" is the present-day lower level, which now includes housewares, the food court, candy store, etc. "The Subway" isn't the CTA, but the long-abandoned freight tunnels that weave throughout downtown. (The lower level does have access to the Red Line, via the Pedway, but the station didn't open until 1943 and thus doesn't appear here.) And it's interesting to see that the concrete caissons go down 110 feet below street level - essential to reach bedrock and support such a massive building, on what originally was marshland.
Lapham Brothers Shoe Store
Wow. From this 1880 image, Lapham Brothers looks more like the Library of Congress than a shoe store. Their selection surely would have put even DSW to shame today.
Fading Ad: Chicago Paper Company
Over the weekend I was very pleased to see this 1960 image of a Baltimore and Ohio train pulling into Chicago's old Grand Central Station. (The station's distinctive clock tower is in the center of the photo.) And the reason I was most pleased is that although the station is long gone, the "faded ad" on the right for the Chicago Paper Company still exists and is modestly visible. The bottom two photos were taken this morning, from my Rock Island District train just before pulling into LaSalle Street Station (Grand Central was two blocks to the west, at Harrison and Wells). I had to play with the contrast and brightness a little to bring out the lettering, but overall the photos are pretty faithful to what you can see with the naked eye. (The greenish tint is due to the tinting of the train window.) That building is a long walk from my office, so I figured that even though I'd get a better shot from the street, I might not do so anytime soon, so the train vantage point will have to do for now.
Lots for sale, 1860
So cool. The top image is an 1860 real estate company advertisement for industrial lots on the South Branch of the Chicago River. The six canals (Stetson's, Sampson's, Throop's, Allen's, Mason's and Joy's) were carved into the river bank to expand waterfront access and, of course, to boost the value of the lots. Looking at the current satellite image, four canals remain (the westernmost canal in the photo apparently post-dates the ad), with the others at some point having been filled back in, likely due to the subsequent decline in river freight traffic. The easternmost streets have been renamed, as has the east-west street at the top, which then was called South Street but is now Cermak Road (22nd Street). Also, the meandering street just north of the river (Lumber Street) no longer exists between Ashland and Halsted, other than a short diagonal portion that runs west from Halsted. Not surprisingly, given the name of that street, this area was once the center of Chicago's vast wholesale lumber industry.
Here's a fine 1956 image of Randolph Street, looking east toward State Street. My dad worked literally right here, on the north side of Randolph (in the Oriental Theater building, just beyond the left edge of this image), though not until a few years later. Most of the buildings shown here are now gone, including all of that great neon signage on the right which was demolished as part of the infamous Block 37 renewal project. I particularly admire that Swift Quality Foods sign, and its depiction of a cheerful pig, cow and chicken who seem utterly delighted to become your next meal.
Don the Beachcomber
Love this image from Don the Beachcomber, an old tiki bar in Chicago. I can practically taste the navy grog, which is really saying something since I've never even had one. And after checking out this 1941 menu, I have a sudden urge for an order of shrimp chow dun and a planter's rum punch. And note how many of the cocktails say "Limit of 2" - I'm guessing those packed quite a wallop.
Oh my, this is marvelous: the former Turtle Wax headquarters, at the three-way intersection of Madison, Ashland and Ogden on the Near West Side. The company is still around and locally owned, but sadly, the charming building is long gone. No word on the current whereabouts of the turtle.
Chicago, a study in contrasts
Wow, just...wow. The glittering Palmolive Building on Michigan Avenue, framed by the degradation of Little Hell (just a few blocks to the west) and foregrounded by that casual act of vandalism - although there seemingly wasn't much left to destroy on Orleans Street by 1952. The neighborhood was apparently undergoing one of the city's periodic waves of urban renewal.
Dancing, er, picnicking on Stalin's grave
Struck by the oddity of this window sign, I did a Google search which produced a news item from the Tucson Daily Citizen on March 9, 1953, which reported that Irwin Berke, the owner of the shop (which offered "Town and Country Garb for the Discriminating Woman"), took out a classified ad in a Chicago newspaper to announce the employee picnic:
Berke, a 37-year-old ex-navy veteran, said he paid $200 for the advertisement. He said he "always hated the guy and this seemed like a good way to show it." Berke said he didn't think his four employees would actually show up for the picnic, but "with Stalin dead I'll buy them dinner or throw a picnic with champagne."
Sounds like a great, if eccentric, boss.
Bar Car, 1968
Welcome to the Bar Car...Joe the bartender is eagerly waiting to mix your first martini. Metra eliminated the last of its bar cars a few years ago, although those I was familiar with weren't swanky like this one - instead, they consisted of a small service counter jammed into one of the vestibules, and with no comfy dedicated seating. The closest thing to luxury remaining on Metra is the near-silence of the Quiet Car, and we're somehow expected to be wowed by the electrical outlets and flush toilets on the newly rehabbed cars that are being rolled out in the near future. Meh. I doubt that the Jackie Kennedy-esque woman in this photo would have been impressed either.
Union Station, 1948 and 2012
The top image is a 1948 view of the main waiting room at Union Station in Chicago, by Esther Bubley. The bottom image was taken yesterday, from roughly the same vantage point. Interestingly, the benches are in almost the identical location in each photo, despite them being removed regularly for various events. Though I would have loved to shoot from the exact vantage point and angle as the original, I didn't want to get right up in that young woman's face - which is one reason I never would have been a good photojournalist. However, had there been a grandfather, mother and two towheaded boys eating popcorn on that bench, I definitely would have overcome my natural reticence.
(1948 photo via Chicago Past.)
This partially obscured faded ad is for Uneeda Biscuit, located on the back wall of an old office building at 209 W. Jackson Boulevard in Chicago. I've been aware of this ad for several years but never photographed it before, figuring the usual street-level vantage point wouldn't make for a good image. But yesterday while out for a stroll I headed to the parking garage next door and took the elevator to the top levels, where I took several photographs. From photos of other Uneeda ads I've seen, I can decipher the hidden portions of this ad; from top to bottom it reads:
THE WORLD'S BEST SODA CRACKER
SOLD ONLY IN PACKAGES
NATIONAL BISCUIT COMPANY
That logo at the lower right is for Nabisco's groundbreaking In-Er Seal packaging, which was first used with Uneeda. The logo eventually evolved into the familiar Nabisco logo of today. Uneeda ads seem to be fairly common (I've photographed at least one other, but haven't put it online yet) and this one is less colorful than most, probably due to its southern exposure and consequent fading from the sun. Looking closely at the lettering, it looks like this one originally had a green and black background. The ad is fairly massive - five stories high, and as wide as it is tall - and I don't even mind the parking garage obstruction nor the windows carved right into the face of the ad. Those are reminders that the city continues to evolve, even as it retains glimpses of its long-ago past.
Here's some interesting background on Uneeda and In-Er Seal at the Nabisco Wikipedia page:
After the consolidation, the president of National Biscuit Company — Adolphus Green of American Biscuit and Manufacturing Company - asked Frank Peters to create a package to distribute fresher products. This paved its way for In-Er Seal package, whose logo is a prototype for the "Nabisco Thing". The In-Er Seal package is a system of inter-folded wax paper and cardboard to "seal in the freshness" of the product. At the beginning of his presidency, Green decided the National Biscuit Company, often shortened to NBC, needed a new idea that grabbed the public’s attention. He got it when his employees created a new cracker that was flakier and lighter than any of their competitors' versions.
The UNEEDA biscuit looked promising, but Green had to make sure it got to customers fresh and tasty, so it was the first to use the In-Er Seal package in 1898. Until then, crackers were sold unbranded and packed loosely in barrels. Mothers would give their sons a paper bag and ask them to run down to the store and get the bag filled with crackers. National Biscuit Company used this as part of Uneeda Biscuit advertising symbol, which depicts a boy carrying a pack of Uneeda Biscuit in the rain. In 2009 (after over 110 years), Nabisco discontinued the Uneeda biscuit out of concern that the product was not as profitable as others.
A very nice ad, and one I'm glad I finally got around to photographing. And I never would have guessed that the product survived until just three years ago.
"The Chophouse in the Alley"
The January 1922 edition of the trade journal The Mixer and Server noted the passing of legendary Chicago restaurateur Billy Boyle ("the man who taught Chicago to eat beeksteak and roast beef"), who opened his chop house in 1878 at Calhoun Place and Dearborn, behind the Chicago Inter-Ocean newspaper building. Apparently it was a regular hangout of newspapermen, as evidenced by this charming poetic ode:
The Chophouse In The Alley
By Henry M. Hyde
Formerly of the Tribune staff
Talk about old Roman banquets,
Blow about old Grecian feeds,
Where the ancient, paunchy warriors
Toasted their heroic deeds!
They were gustatory classics —
Still a longing I confess
For the chophouse in the alley
When the paper's gone to press.
Peacock's tongues are very dainty,
Served upon a golden plate.
Crowns of roses for the victors,
While the whipped barbarians wait!
Let old Horace sing their praises —
Still a longing I confess
For the chophouse in the alley
When the paper's gone to press.
There we sit for hours together,
Wit and laughter never fail.
Up from cellars dim and dusty
Yellow Henry brings the ale.
There we sit and chaff and banter —
Envy no old heathen's mess,
At the chophouse in the alley,
When the paper's gone to press.
Delve in problems philosophic —
How did Adam lose his rib?
What's the chance of war in Europe?
Has the Herald scooped the Trib?
Let the millionaire grow sadder.
While my credit grows no less
At the chophouse in the alley,
When the paper's gone to press.
Till, untimed by eyes that sparkle.
From the lake the sun leaps up.
And, 'mid many a roaring banter,
Big Steve drinks his stirrup cup!
Those were days we all remember.
Those were nights we all must bless.
At the chophouse in the alley,
When the paper's gone to press.
An Art Deco gem
The Chicago architecture blog designslinger has a nice feature today on the Chicago Daily News Building, where I worked for five years for my previous employer. It's a wonderfully gracious building (and an engineering marvel - built on top of eight working railroad lines), though I'm still waiting for the owner (ahem) to put the renowned ceiling mural back into the concourse, where it belongs.
Besides the anachronistic Gay Nineties imagery of this 1957 Schlitz ad, I have to admire the sheer chutzpah behind all of the Schlitz neologisms: Schlitzfest, Schlitzfellows, Schlitzchums, Schlitzlight ("Sits light because it's Schlitzlight"), Schlitzfestive, Schlitzkept, Schlitzness and Schlitzer. Interestingly, in the company's mania to propogate a catchphrase, they push the hard-earned Schlitz brand name dangerously close to meaninglessness.
(Via Today's Inspiration.)
Pneumatic for the people
Oh my, this is just so wonderful: the New York Public Library still uses its hundred-year-old pneumatic tube system. In fact, the NYPL even installed a new system in its Science, Industry and Business Library...in 1998!
"In the terraces of two-up two-downs, people could talk over the garden fence but in the towers they became strangers to each other."
At Spitalfields Life, there's a striking set of images (from 1962-82) by John Claridge which show the old slums of London's East End, and the tower blocks (high-rises) which slowly replaced them. These images are eerily similar to ones I've seen of Chicago's South Side in the fifties and sixties, where a similar effort at urban renewal turned out to be an utter failure. Today, few of the CHA high-rises remain, having been demolished over the past fifteen years and mostly replaced with low-rise townhouses. You might think that the failed American experiment in high-rise public housing would have been a cautionary tale for today's urban planners, but as Spitalfields Life indicates, new tower blocks are still being planned for London. Those who ignore history...
"F is poor Fannie caught in the rain."
Love, love, love this: an odd nineteenth-century toy consisting of a linen strip printed with alphabet rhymes, all coiled on a spool inside a wooden barrel for easy viewing and putting-away. Who needs Nintendo?