Mosaic tile entryway on Milwaukee Avenue
Viewing all posts from the Portage Park neighborhood
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.
—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.
The shop I featured last week, “Corner Barber Shop” in Lakeview, conjured the nostalgic yet timeless atmosphere most often associated with old school neighborhood barbershops. It had thrived for decades upon a business model that was essentially unchanged as the shop passed from one owner to the next–it was a great place to get a shave and a haircut in a friendly, informal setting. It wanted to be one thing, and do that one thing well. This week, I found myself drawn to explore a new shop in Portage Park that has a very different vision.