Rambling thoughts from a rambling ride

Junkyard dog

At the end of an afternoon of wandering across the city’s south side with bike and camera, I made my way east on 47th Street, seeking the Red Line as the sun dropped behind me. Suddenly I heard a strange clonking noise from my left. I look, and there’s this fellah, galloping after me on his metal rooftop. For a second I’m worried, but then I realize that the drop and a barbwire fence are keeping us safely separated. I stopped to photograph a colored glass block building across the street, and he soon lost interest in me.

…until I moved again to get a better shot. Then he came galloping right back. He never made a sound, never barked once, but the sound of him on that metal roof would ensure that anyone trying to cross the fence would know about him, and know they were being watched with great interest.

The area he’s guarding is part of a huge swath of industrial land, a square mile or more where the street grid vanishes between 47th and Pershing, Ashland and Halsted. Scanning my tattered old street map on the train trip home, I was amazed by the volume of railroad tracks running through this area. Railroads carve up the city’s street grid to an amazing degree, putting the lie to the notion of easy travel through the city. I was very amused by a map at the 47th Street Red Line station showing the city streets as if they were a solid, unbroken grid. Ha!


Robie House to close for renovation

Frank Lloyd Wright’s landmark Robie House is slated to close for extensive interior renovations starting in November, as announced publicly in a neighborhood newspaper today.

New Era for Robie House

"And so this is the view that Mr. Goodman wound up with."

The house is currently open daily for volunteer-led tours. Renovation at the house has been ongoing for several years; visitors to the house witness the construction in progress, and at times various rooms have been closed off and unavailable. The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, which operates the house, recently secured a $5 million dollar loan, allowing renovations to speed up. However, the expanded construction schedule means that the house will be completely closed off for the first time since tours began nearly ten years ago.

Much remains unknown about the operational changes that are planned when the house re-opens; the article from the Hyde Park Herald speaks of not re-hiring the current guest services staff, and mentions the possibility of “all-day events” and renting the house out. How this will affect public access to the house (which, after preservation and restoration, is the Trust’s primary mission), and how it will affect the Trust’s goal of operating the house as a museum, remains to be seen.

It appears the house may be closed for well over a year, based on a 2010 re-opening date mentioned in the article.