Sunday, June 8, 2014

Walking down Howard Street

Today, I decided to walk down Howard to the OfficeMax and get some mailing supplies. It's a good 2.5 mile journey, past some interesting 1950s neighborhoods. So, I brought my camera to get some practice in.

This means you! Myself, I trespass all the time...

Howard is a "border" street, dividing Chicago from Evanston. Back in the 19th century, John Ure owned a dairy farm along the right-of-way, which he decided to name after his son. Howard Ure became one of the leading local businessmen, developing property and running banks. How can you say "no" to a guy with a major street named after him?

Low Clearance
Metra underpass at Howard Street

The underpass above doesn't have an obvious marker, but some further down the line are dated "1909", courtesy of the American Bridge Company of New York. Metra has been replacing many of the ones to the south, but this looks similar to the older ones still extant. 

american bridge
Metra underpass at Madison in Evanston

There aren't a lot of newer buildings down this way. The street is lined with various commercial buildings that represent most styles of the early 20th century. And then there's this oddball. I haven't been able to dig up any info about the architect or year it was built. It seems to be an unusual mid-century office building, perhaps once colored in turquoise.

1029 Howard
1029 Howard (Evanston side)
There are also some representatives of the usual fast food franchises. This Burger King has been sitting vacant for years. The company apparently had to shut down the franchise for various violations. The real estate records show this was built in 1969. That would make it one of the first "modern" versions with the mansard roof.


Blow Out Sale
2319 W. Howard (Chicago side)

For something a bit more cheery, there's a storefront with a neat 1960's tile front on Western, just south of Howard. Currently, it's an insurance agency. Right next door is the old streetcar turn-around that the CTA still uses for their buses.

7535 N. Western, built in 1963

But my real point of interest today was the sub-division just past Howard and Western. Most of the homes went up between 1957-59, after the Chicago Fresh Air Hospital sold off its land. Turning onto Maplewood from Howard leads you to a little parcel of 1960.

7500 block of north Maplewood, built in 1959

These aren't your usual Chicago designs, and have much more style than the usual ranch house communities. Even the monolithic apartment building that seems to anchor this development has a touch more of "modern" than I usually see. Perhaps one day I'll run across an old article in Architectural Digest showcasing these designs...

maplewood curve
Maplewood & Jerome, built in 1957

Update: Of course, Robert Powers covered this neighborhood briefly in a piece on mid-century townhomes, comparing it with other developments in the area. His blog, A Chicago Sojourn, is a great site for information on mid-century and suburban architecture.

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