Historic Houses and Homesteads in Old Norwood Park

Gabriel X. Michael 7 comments

West elevation, John Wingert House at 6231 North Canfield Avenue. [Gabriel X. Michael/Chicago Patterns]

It’s one of the farthest neighborhoods from downtown Chicago, bordering the city limits, O’Hare Airport and suburbs of Harwood Heights and Norridge. But Norwood Park can also be considered one of the city’s oldest areas, where you will find remarkable 150-year-old examples of early American homes in every Victorian-era style. Continue reading »


The Value is in the Land: 1953 N. Hudson

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hudson [John Morris/Chicago Patterns]

hudson [John Morris/Chicago Patterns]

In our new series called The Value is in the Land, we’ll look at historic homes and buildings which face an uncertain future as a result of their high-value location.

The first entry is 1953 N. Hudson Avenue, in Lincoln Park (pictured above). This circa 1893 Italianate home sits on a street filled with garish jumbo houses recently built, with a few original homes remaining.

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A Brief History of Milwaukee Avenue, Part 1: an Indian Trail Becomes Dinner Pail Avenue

John Morris 1 comment

Milwaukee/Kimball/Diversey

Milwaukee/Kimball/Diversey [John Morris/Chicago Patterns]

Outside of Downtown, Milwaukee Avenue is likely the fastest growing and changing thoroughfare in the city, and it isn’t the first time in history it’s had this position. Since the early beginnings of Chicago, it’s been a busy commuting path and one of the most bustling commercial centers.

The beauty and lore of this avenue was captured over a century ago in a book by a Jefferson Park resident:

What Soho is to London this diagonal avenue is to the Garden City. By turns the Greek, Italian, German, Scandinavian, Russian, Lithuanian and Pole monopolize the street signs, the corner news-stands, the sidewalks and the cars, or proclaim to the passing nose one aspect of their national delicacies.

Every half-section line exhibits in its ganglia, as the crossing of the thoroughfares, a sharp-angled picturesque frontage, akin to Seven Dials or Five Points in their palmy days.

Alfred Bull, amateur historian describing Milwaukee Avenue in 1911

In the first part of this series, we’ll look at the early history of Milwaukee Avenue, and follow it until the boom years of the 1920s. Next we’ll cover the Chicago School of architecture, and later, the transition to the Machine Age and Art Deco.

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Redevelopment In Sight For An Overlooked 151-Year-Old Former Factory

Gabriel X. Michael 6 comments

154 - 166 North Jefferson Street, viewing northwest.

154 – 166 North Jefferson Street, viewing northwest. [Gabriel X. Michael/Chicago Patterns]

My last work on Chicago Patterns looked at “post-Fire” commercial buildings in Chicago’s downtown area erected in the aftermath of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. But a recent demolition permit led me to discover an alternate side of the catastrophe: a company’s former factory headquarters west of the Chicago River which avoided the Fire, stepped up and tirelessly restored the city’s damaged water supply, and still stands today.

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