Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bicycle adventures: From Chicago to Skokie

Today I decided to try to push further west on my bike. It may sound silly, but it's fairly easy to bike north or south in the suburbs around me. There aren't many good bike lines or trails going west from the lake. I tried a few different major streets and ended up covering 27 miles. So, I'll break up my adventure into multiple posts.

First, I zigged over to Rogers from my apartment. If you want to play along, this is a good starting point:

Indian Boundary historical marker at Clark and Rogers
Hidden from the scrap metal thieves, behind an electrical box.

Screwed to a storefront at Clark & Rogers, and since covered up by an traffic control box, is an old historical marker. It celebrates the family that gave their name to both streets, and the Indian Boundary Line, which Rogers Avenue follows.

Sandler's Drugstore on Rogers
Sandler's Drugs, just east of Rogers & Touhy (since remodeled)

Rogers takes us up to Touhy, which isn't as bad to bike on as I feared. Going west on Touhy takes one through an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood with kosher pizza restaurants and religious centers.

mosaic celebrating united hebrew trades
Bernard Horwich Community Center

Upon hitting the Sanitary Canal, I turned north and followed the bike path to Howard. Howard was a pretty easy ride west, passing lots of ranch houses until I hit Lincoln. I turned onto Lincoln, following a pokey street cleaning machine, until arriving in downtown Skokie.

painted electrical boxes in Skokie
Aww Yeah, electrical boxes!

However you arrive downtown, one is cheerfully greeted by traffic control boxes that have been painted by Art Baltazar. Besides being a local artist, he co-owns the local comic book store.

first national bank building in skokie
First National Bank building (now Chase) built in 1973

The downtown is dominated by a massive, brutalist office building. Around this block are arranged the local stores and restaurants. I decided to stop and have some carbs and coffee at Sweetie Pie's.  Besides having tasty outdoor cafes, Skokie also provides free wifi in the downtown area. So, a good commuter stop all around.

sitting outside at Sweetie Pies in skokie
Iced coffee, day old pastries and free wi-fi.

While sitting outside, I noticed that Skokie is having some sort of weird fire hydrant sculpture fest. You know, like how Chicago had big cows all over the city that local artists decorated? But fire hydrants. Because that's what I think of when I think of Skokie. Perhaps it's meant to refer to the old Engine House? I don't know.

skokie engine house
Historic Fire Engine House built in 1887

Anyway, I decided to try Oakton for the next bit of my excursion west. It started off well, lots of room, lots of weird mid-century architecture.

8001 Lockwood, built in 1966

And then things started to get bad....

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