19th-Century Chicago Addresses on the West Side3 comments
Before Edward Brennan developed the comprehensive 8 blocks-to-a-mile address system in 1909, Chicago street addresses were disorganized and confusing, being based on three distinct divisions of the city created by its surrounding waterways of the Chicago River, its branches, and Lake Michigan. Lake Street (the first street platted in the village of Chicago) was the city’s original dividing line between north and south but east and west designations depended on which side of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan you were located.
Chicago’s Address Numbering System Prior to 1909
Many of these pre-1909 original addresses still exist, preserved in stone or stained glass ornamentation on 19th-Century residential and industrial structures. I recently began discovering and recording these former addresses while biking through the West and Southwest sides of the city. Compared to speeding through neighborhoods in a car, this intimate method of traversing the city allowed me to notice these curious, overlooked artifacts of Chicago’s history. This article presents a portrait of these extant pre-1909 addresses and these beautiful historic buildings in their neighborhoods. Presented below are photographs of many pre-1909 examples, along with details of the building’s architectural style and any additional information recorded through the City of Chicago’s Historic Resources Survey (CHRS), completed in 1995.
East Garfield Park
2743 West Warren Boulevard, formerly 742.
A two-story two-flat Queen Anne greystone with original leaded-glass on first-story front window, constructed in 1889. Listed in the CHRS as a yellow-rated structure, indicating it is too altered for historical significance.
2754-2758 West Washington Boulevard, formerly 1149 – 1151.
A three-story six-flat greystone with Romanesque and Neoclassical details, constructed in 1889. Listed in the CHRS as an orange-rated historically significant structure, with architects denoted as La Pointe & Hickok. Interestingly, the only other La Pointe and Hickok structure recorded in the CHRS is a few blocks east at 2545 West Washington, but has no remaining pre-1909 address.
2334 West Washington Boulevard, formerly 875.
A single-family frame house with siding and original stained glass above front entrance and front window, constructed in 1889. Not listed in the CHRS.
3132 West Washington Boulevard, formerly 1371.
A two-flat two-story greystone with Romanesque details, constructed in 1894. Not listed in the CHRS.
2832 West Warren Boulevard, formerly 781.
A two-story two-flat greystone rowhouse with Romanesque and Gothic details, constructed in 1899. Listed in the CHRS as a yellow-rated structure, indicating it is too altered for historical significance.
3231 West Fulton Boulevard, formerly 1543.
A three-story four-flat building with strong Gothic and Islamic/Middle Eastern details, constructed in 1894, demolished September 2013. Listed in CHRS as orange-rated historically-significant structure.
2750 West Wilcox Street, formerly 1199
A three-story three-flat greystone building with Queen Anne and Romanesque details, constructed in 1909. Not listed in the CHRS.
2308-2310 West Harrison Street, formerly 1077-1079
A two-story brick industrial building with Romanesque details, constructed in 1887. Not listed in the CHRS.
720 South Oakley Boulevard, formerly 367
A two-story two-flat brick Queen Anne rowhouse with original stained glass detail and decorative bracketed cornice, constructed in 1886. Listed in the CHRS as an “orange-rated” historically significant structure.
West Town/Humboldt Park
2609 West Division Street, formerly 791
A three-story three-flat building with strong Gothic and Islamic/Middle Eastern details, constructed in 1894. Listed in CHRS as “orange-rated” historically-significant structure.
North Lawndale and Little Village
1217 – 1219 South Fairfield Avenue, formerly 592 – 594.
A three-story six-flat greystone with Romanesque and Neoclassical details, constructed in 1889. Listed in the CHRS as an “orange-rated” historically significant structure.
2702 West 24th Street, formerly 1145.
A three-story three-flat Italianate building with stained glass transom above the original second-story double-door entrance, constructed in 1909. Not listed in the CHRS.
References and Further Reading
- City of Chicago Plan of Re-Numbering, 1909 [PDF] (Chicago History Museum)
- Old Addresses (Forgotten Chicago)
- Chicago Historic Resources Survey
This story about the old address system is amazing!
The yellow brick castle-like house was demolished on 9/11/13. It has a twin at 2609 W Division street, though the twin doesn’t appear to have an old address carved in the limestone.
great interesting story…I am at 2831 w.washington blvd and 2840 w.fulton st..was trying to get ideas for the front of the 2 greystones that would fit into their past