Humboldt Park — between North and Division, a bit west of Western — isn’t really hidden, but it’s easy to not really know about or visit. I paid it a visit by bicycle a while back. It’s in a neighborhood that feels transitional — old clans and residents still around, but starting to dwindle; newcomers with a bit more money to spare moving in to escape rising prices to the west. People fish in the lagoons, children run wild in the fenced play area, and a fantastic drum jam was going on when I passed through on a Saturday afternoon.
Three of the park’s buildings are worthy of special note:
The old stables building is fairy tale architecture at its best. There are ten thousand photos hidden in those gables and red tiles. It’s been under renovation for a long time; it suffered a fire years ago, but looks great today.
The Tudor Gothic bathhouse faces an empty lagoon at present.
An open-air pavilion shows a Prairie School influence, echoed in a formal garden court nearby.
They cover mile after mile of street grid in the far southern reaches of Chicago and its inner suburbs. They are simple houses, small and modest, one story over basement, shallow-pitched roofs, built for narrow lots — but they are distinguished by the endless variation of a few simple elements: brick color, horizontal limestone accent bands, three-paneled screen doors, doors with geometric window designs, groupings of single glass blocks, groupings of colored glazed tile.
The overall unity of their style and details seems to suggest a single builder — but could one company have built all this? These houses cover miles of land; there are thousands and thousands of them. Dense concentrations can be seen on the streets around 79th Street and 85th Street, as they leave Chicago and enter Burbank and Bridgeview.
They delight in their tidy, well-kept ranks; they charm with their little accents that suggest individuality even within the confines of a limited design scheme.
They are supplemented by a series of three-flat and six-flat apartment buildings, which share some of the same details — particularly the colored block. More on those in the future.
This house sits on the 1600 block of W. 16th Street, right across from the magnificent St. Adalbert’s Church.
It’s a mini-Parthenon, grandeur wrought on the smallest possible scale. Or at least it wants to be grand. In truth…
…it’s a puffed-up ordinary gabled brick house, with a Classical facade sitting in front of it.
But I love it. It’s such an oddball among all the standard brick and wood siding, and it’s obvious that whatever else the owner was thinking, they really really wanted it to be special.
Came across this place on a long slow trek across the south side today. It’s on a side street near Halsted — 6954 S. Union Avenue, say the Internets.
What got my attention was the crazy colored glass front elevation, which was clearly a 1960s design tacked onto a much older building. It’s a strange, jarring, but colorful juxtaposition.
Yet, looking again, the towers share the same stone crosses as the 1960s building next door, as well as same the square glass block that demarcates so much of far south Chicago’s Mid-Century housing. So they appear to be a 1960s job too — but there’s vintage stained glass in their windows, and an older corner stone on that facade. Very puzzling!
The sign and adjacent office/classroom building look to be of the same vintage as the facade. Check out the engraved stone crosses on the building facade.
This church is deep in the hard-luck neighborhoods of the south side, so I’m sure they’ve got their work cut out for them on the missionary front. They don’t have a web presence, though they do seem to be home to the Illinois National Baptist State Convention Headquarters.
What a shame to have to start off a blog this way!
But I can’t help it; something special’s been lost, and I’m compelled to document.
This was the New City YMCA, a circa-1981 building on Halsted just south of Clybourn, west of downtown, just north of infamous Cabrini-Green.
Not much of a building, but oh, those bricks, those glossy glazed bricks!! 9 shades of rainbow-colored glazed bliss. They’re tearing it down right now. There’s not much left, just a few partial walls and a huge pile of debris.
– YMCA That Served Cabrini-Green Residents to Close
– Redevelopment Planned for New City YMCA
This is A Chicago Sojourn, a Chicago-based photography blog.
And this is about the only Chicago skyline photo you’ll see here.
You also won’t find any photos of the bean sculpture in Millennium Park. No Sears Tower. No views from the John Hancock. No shots looking up the Chicago River toward the Wrigley Building. No interior shots of the grand hall in the Field Museum. None of Frank Ghery’s titanium nonsense.
In my years of visiting Chicago, I did all that and much more. As a resident of this city of millions, my interest has expanded beyond all that, to an endless cityscape filled with places wonderful and terrible, famous and forgotten
It’s the forgotten parts that fascinate me.
I’ve always gravitated to the forgotten: in St. Louis, in Milwaukee, everywhere I go. And so it is here.
This blog will be a casual document of my own discoveries, as I continue to branch out and delve deeper and deeper into the guts of Chicago. It will be photo-intensive. It will feature lots and lots of architecture. It will be relatively obscure. And hopefully, it will convey my own sense of wonder and amazement at the endless cityscape around me.
I hope you’ll come along for the journey.