Driveway, Drexel Boulevard (A Merry Xmas to You)

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This week in our long overdue Flashback Friday series, we look at a holiday greeting postmarked Dec. 23, 1908 on a picture postcard of Chicago’s famed Drexel Boulevard on the South Side.

Although most, if not all, of the homes pictured above have since been demolished, the boulevard still boasts some of the city’s grandest homes.


Chicago, 12/19/08
Dear Anna,

Have received your letter was glad to hear from you. I wish you a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

Your cousin

Anna and Stanley

write soon.

This card, written on today’s date (12/19) 1908, came not long after the “Divided Back Period” had taken effect. In 1907, the Universal Postal Congress allowed postcards to have a divided back (address + message), which then enabled the front, the card’s other side, to display a full-width image. Historians say this change ushered in the country’s “Golden Age of Postcards.”

This change was prompted by the Universal Postal Congress, the legislative body of the Universal Postal Union. The convention decreed that postal cards produced by governments of member nations could have messages on the left half of the address side, effective October 1, 1907.

Smithsonian Institution Archives

Even after this law change, it wasn’t uncommon to have short notes handwritten over the postcard’s front image, like this one, even after the 1907 law.

Romanesque houses on Drexel Boulevard. John Morris/Chicago Patterns

Romanesque houses on Drexel Boulevard. John Morris/Chicago Patterns

Drexel Boulevard Today

Most of the homes that stand today on Drexel Boulevard are, like the one on this postcard, Romanesque Revival styled.

Second Empire styled rowhouse. John Morris/Chicago Patterns

Second Empire styled rowhouse. John Morris/Chicago Patterns

However, there are a few exceptions, such as the Second Empire styled rowhouse above.

Rowhouses at Drexel and Oakwood Boulevards

Rowhouses at Drexel and Oakwood Boulevards. John Morris/Chicago Patterns

Above are some lovely homes near where Drexel Boulevard intersects with Oakwood Boulevard.

We’ll further explore the history of this important boulevard early next year. For now, thank you for reading and taking the time to appreciate these oft-overlooked details of neighborhood architecture and culture.

Best wishes for 2015!

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One response to “Driveway, Drexel Boulevard (A Merry Xmas to You)”

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