It's pretty astounding that this 400-foot-deep hole once existed in the middle of a busy city neighborhood on the Southwest Side. If you look at the lower edge of the quarry in this photo, you can see there were houses right across the street. The quarry still exists (though, I assume, at much shallower depths) and has been redeveloped into Palmisano Park.
Love this 1907 ad, which apparently appeared in Chicago theater programs. (I wonder how many people waited until the show was over, and how many snuck out for a quick nip during intermission.) Wonderful graphics, but oh, such shoddy punctuation: the incorrect usage of "it's", and the accent mark placed above the S instead of the E in "cafés."
"Step high, stoop low, leave your dignity outside."
Aimee Leavitt has a terrific piece, "The migration of the hipster", in the Chicago Reader which surveys the city's primary artist/bohemian/hipster neighborhoods since the end of the 19th Century. This quote, from an unidentified University of Chicago student, is nearly perfect:
"This is no place for a beatnik, and the weather is the principal reason. If you want to lie around like a beachcomber in Chicago, contemplating your navel and grumbling about the uselessness of it all, you're out of luck. It gets cold here in the winter time, and you might have to go to work. And that would spoil everything."And I admire Leavitt's observation that Nelson Algren, while admittedly a Wicker Park hipster of the 1940s, probably would have beat the crap out of the wimpy Wicker Park hipster/musicians of the 1990s.
Hanson Gregory, inventor of the doughnut?Someone here at the office wondered aloud if doughnuts are an American invention, and a quick check of Wikipedia indicates they probably are. Of course, fried dough has been around for a long time, and no single individual could reasonably claim to have thought up the original concept. However, a little online digging unearthed a 1916 article from the Washington Post, in which an old sailor, Hanson Gregory, claimed to have been the first to cut a hole in the center, sometime around 1847, which would make him the inventor of what we now know as the doughnut. Here's the full, charming article. I love how he compares himself to Columbus and Admiral Peary.
'OLD SALT' DOUGHNUT HOLE INVENTOR TELLS JUST HOW DISCOVERY WAS MADE AND STOMACH OF EARTHS SAVED; Special to The Washington Post.; The Washington Post (1877-1954), Washington, D.C.; Mar 26, 1916
Boston, March 25. — The man who invented the hole in the doughnut has been found. He is Capt. Hanson Gregory, at present an inmate in Sailor's Snug Harbor, at Quincy, Mass. Doughnut cutters have made fortunes for men; millions eat doughnuts for breakfast and feel satisfied. Doctors do not assail the doughnut. And all of this owes its being to Capt. Gregory, who made the doughnut a safe, sane and hygienic food.
It's a long story, mates; but as the 85-year-old chap relates it, it's only too short. Outside the fact that Capt. Gregory is a bit hard of hearing, he's as sound as new timber.
He's a product of Maine; and so Maine can lay claim to the discoverer of the hole in the doughnut, along with the discoverer of new ways to evade the prohibition laws. But Capt. Gregory's discovery is of real use in the world; millions have risen, and millions more shall rise up, and call him blessed.
"It was way back—oh, I don't know just what year—let me see—born in '31, shipped when I was 13—well, I guess it was about '47, when I was 16, that I was aboard ship and discovered the hole which was later to revolutionize the doughnut industry.
"I first shipped aboard the Isaac Achorn, three-masted schooner, Capt. Rhodes, in the lime trade. Later I joined other crews and other captains, and it was on one of these cruises that I was mawing doughnuts.
"Now in them days we used to cut the doughnuts into diamond shapes, and also into long strips, bent in half, and then twisted. I don't think we called them doughnuts then—they was just 'fried cakes' and 'twisters.'
"Well, sir, they used to fry all right around the edges, but when you had the edges done the insides was all raw dough. And the twisters used to sop up all the grease just where they bent, and they were tough on the digestion."
"Pretty d—d tough, too!" profanely agreed one of the dozen pipe-smoking fellows who were all eyes and ears, taking in their comrade's interview by The Post reporter.
With a glance at the perfervid interrupter, the discoverer continued:
"Well, I says to myself, 'Why wouldn't a space inside solve the difficulty?' I thought at first I'd take one of the strips and roll it around, then I got an inspiration, a great inspiration.
"I took the cover off the ship's tin pepper box, and—I cut into the middle of that doughnut the first hole ever seen by mortal eyes!"
"Were you pleased?"
"Was Columbus pleased? Well, sir, them doughnuts was the finest I ever tasted. No more indigestion—no more greasy sinkers—but just well-done, fried-through doughnuts.
"That cruise over, I went home to my old mother and father in Camden, Me., where I was born. My father, Hanson Gregory, sr., lived to be 93, and my mother lived to be 79. She was a pretty old lady then. I saw her making doughnuts in the kitchen—I can see her now, and as fine a woman as ever-lived, was my mother.
"I says to her: 'Let me make some doughnuts for you.' She says all right, so I made her one or two and then showed her how.
"She then made several panfuls and sent them down to Rockland, just outside Camden. Everybody was delighted and they never made doughnuts any other way except the way I showed my mother.
"Well, I never took out a patent on it; I don't suppose any one can patent anything he discovers; I don't suppose Peary could patent the north pole or Columbus patent America. But I thought I'd get out a doughnut cutter—but somebody got in ahead of me.
"Of course a hole ain't so much; but it's the best part of the doughnut—you'd think so if you had ever tasted the doughnuts we used to eat in '31. Of course, lots of people joke about the hole in the doughnut. I've got a joke myself: Whenever anybody says to me: 'Where's the hole in the doughnut?' I always answer: 'It's been cut out!'" and the old chap laughed loud and longat his little sally, while the rest joined in.
So there he sits—in the Snug Harbor by the sea. And whenever there's doughnuts on the day's fare, Capt. Gregory takes a personal pride trying to do what nobody's succeeded in doing yet—in trying to find the hole in the doughnut. And whenever the old salts rally him about it, he always springs his little joke:
"The hole's been cut out, I guess!" to the delight of the whole shipful.
A tale of two buildings
The photo above shows the top floors of the Waterman Building at 127 S. State Street, right next door to the Palmer House Hilton. Designed by Holabird & Roche and built in 1920, the building originally housed the Chicago branch of the Waterman fountain pen company, with a luxurious street-level retail showroom and assembly/warehousing operations upstairs. The building is now considerably worn and showing its age, but still retains a sort of muscular elegance.
Meanwhile, this photo shows the Beef & Brandy Restaurant, also on State, which dates from the 1960s and is also showing its age. The ugly maroon awning, atrium-like front windows (which always remind me of a 1980s-vintage Wendy's) and pseudo-Colonial upper windows add little to the aesthetics of State Street, which itself has been aesthetically challenged for decades.
The strange thing is that both of these photos are of the same building. Here's the full view:
This might be the Loop's most comically incongruous building. Designslinger has much more about the building. As that site notes, the blank white area in the middle floors was once an enamel background for a two-story-high sign; for some reason when the sign was removed the enamel panels were left behind, and are still pockmarked by holes from the sign's former mountings. I'd love to see the latter-day embellishments of the bottom four floors totally stripped away, and the building restored to some semblance of its former luster. Perhaps for a high-end jeweler, condominiums or a boutique hotel. But I'm probably just dreaming.
Cocktails at Henrici's
I'd love to have a framed original of this cocktail menu from Chicago's legendary Henrici's, circa 1945. Having it would probably inspire me to finally find a vintage cocktail cabinet for our living room, which it would hang directly above. Until I saw this, I didn't realize that a Cuba Libre is basically the same as a rum and coke, but with a much better name. I'd guess it became known as the more generic "rum and coke" during the Cold War, when making any sort of tribute to Cuba would have been a major no-no.
Incidentally, if you've ever been to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, you may remember Yesterday's Main Street, a re-creation of a Chicago street, circa 1910. For many years, one storefront was made up to look like Henrici's. But with that restaurant now long gone, presumably along with any potential benefactors to the museum, that space now depicts the still-thriving Berghoff, whose family owners undoubtedly made a generous donation to the museum to make this happen. I preferred the Henrici's.
Fading Ad: W.W. Kimball
This fading ad is pretty tough to read. Running vertically down the right side of this building, you can just barely see the name "Kimball", with the "K" being even more faded than the rest. This was the former home of W.W. Kimball and Company, the famous manufacturer of pianos and organs, at the corner of Jackson and Wabash. (And, incidentally, right across the street is the old Lyon-Healy building; Wabash was once Chicago's Music Row.) Both the Kimball and Lyon-Healy buildings are now owned by DePaul University as part of its downtown campus.
This charming medieval couple has clearly been keeping diligent watch over the fire alarm at 314-316 S. Federal for decades. The building was originally St. Hubert's English Chophouse (which was quite the destination in its day) but is now used only for storage by the adjacent Union League Club.
Happy birthday, Chicago!
Happy 180th birthday to Chicago, which was incorporated as a town on this date in 1833. I'm not sure exactly when this map dates from, but it must be from very early on since the town mostly consisted of just four square blocks at the time. (The map's orientation is skewed - the top of the map is west, not north.) I'm intrigued by that branch of the river that extends from Water Street (now Wacker Drive) and State Street, and runs southwest before ending near Clark and Washington, as well as the shorter one that parallels LaSalle and Clark. I've heard about underground rivers beneath other cities (particularly Manhattan) and have wondered if any remain in Chicago. These two undoubtedly no longer exist, as they would have interfered with the vast network of freight tunnels which were later bored beneath the Loop, and were surely filled in during the nineteenth century. Still, I have hopes of discovering some other river (or, more accurately, a stream) around here that was built over instead of filled in - that is, just not one that runs under my house.
Seeing this 1954 photo of commuters getting off the Illinois Central train in Park Forest, Illinois, reminds me that I still want to read Walter H. Whyte's landmark study The Organization Man, which was based on the denizens of Park Forest, one of America's first centrally-planned suburbs. After Whyte's book, I'd also like to read The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Sloan Wilson's bestselling novel of the same era and subject matter. Based on this photo, it looks like Park Forest had quite a few gray-suited organization men back then.
River North usually gets a bad rap as being a vacuous playground for suburbanites, but at least the area has preserved its architectural heritage much better than the Loop has. Here is the main entrance for the old Union Special Machine Company building, at 310 W. Kinzie, right behind the Merchandise Mart. The building is now condominiums - which is far better than being demolished.
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.