On and around Drexel Boulevard

I’ve been neglecting the south side lately, so here’s some views from Drexel Boulevard.

Drexel is a grand urban parkway, divided by a huge strip of grass and trees, which starts just north of the University of Chicago. It looks like a major thoroughfare till you reach its northern end and find that it goes nowhere, petering out around 39th Street. On and around its short length, however, there’s a lot of magnificent architecture and interesting urban sights, remnants of its heyday as a home to some of the city’s wealthiest citizens.

French.  Definately French.
I have no idea what this chateau-like building was originally, or even what it is today.

Apartments, block after block
Before it becomes a full boulevard, Drexel is thick with apartment blocks.

Victorian row

Abandoned railroad embankment
This abandoned railroad embankment once crossed the area on a bridge, now long vanished.

Modernist tile mosaic
The orange windows are pretty awful, even by my Mid-Century Modern-loving standards, but the tile mosaic is lovely.

Drexel dies without warning into Oakwood Boulevard. Take a left and cruise west, and you’ll find a couple of striking churches:

Blackwell Memorial African Methodist Church

South side church

South side twin

Just a bit west and north of that, they’re tearing down huge numbers of old public housing buildings, including a lot of low-rise stuff that really ought to be reconditioned instead — but that’s a post for another day…

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5 thoughts on “On and around Drexel Boulevard

  1. Great pictures, and blog. Just discovered it.The chateau-looking building you wonder about is now known as the McGill Park Apartments. It was built as a mansion in 1890, designed by Henry Ives Cobb, who was the original principal architect of the nearby University of Chicago. The abandoned railroad embankment is the remnant of the Kenwood branch of the Elevated, which terminated at 42nd & the Illinois Central tracks. That branch is a continuation of the same embankment the Green Line follows around the Indiana stop, and it used to continue in the other direction to the stockyards.I can’t stand how Drexel terminates at Oakwood, either. It’s maddening to ride through, especially if there’s snow on the sidewalks.

  2. Drexel, Oakwood, King Dr. (then called Grand Blvd. and South Pkwy.), and Washington Park once formed a grand circuit for Sunday pleasure drives in the 1890s. The Oakwood link was particularly denigrated during the public housing era, but as you’ve noted, there are still traces of its former grace.McGill Park was condo converted somewhat recently. I believe it had been some kind of group housing prior to that — a YWCA? Maybe the old AIA Guide could answer that.

  3. The chateau looking house was built in 1890 by Dr. John A. McGill, a maker of patent medicine. The architect was Henry Cobb Ives. Dr. McGill was born in Glasgow in 1842 and died in Chicago in 1924. He was three times president of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society and a generous donor. He gave the Society the money to purchase the property on which sits the Scottish Home in North Riverside. His wife left the house to the YWCA and it was eventually sold. It is now condominiums.

  4. Does anyone know where I can find a picture & info. about St. Marks Episcopal Church that at one time was in Hyde Park area on Drexel? Ibelieved they united with another parish & formed St. Paul & the Redeemer Church.

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