Goodbye, Gray Buildings at Milwaukee/Grand/Halsted

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Gray buildings at 500 N. Milwaukee

John Morris/Chicago Patterns

Demolition has begun on the collection of gray buildings at the intersection of Milwaukee/Grand/Halsted.

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The Other Side of Old Town: Remnants of Swede Town and Little Sicily

Gabriel X. Michael 6 comments
Viewing east towards the Near North skyline, from 900 block of Hudson Avenue. Vacant former site of Cabrini Extension South high-rises in foreground.

Viewing east towards the Near North skyline from 900 block of Hudson Avenue. Vacant former site of Cabrini Extension South high-rises in foreground. Gabriel X. Michael/Chicago Patterns

Located just north of downtown and on the eastern side of Chicago’s man-made Goose Island and North Branch Canal, the Lower Near North Side has been called many names, and served as home to Chicago’s poor working class and multi-ethnic waves of immigrants.

It was notably put under a microscope by urban sociologist Harvey Warren Zorbaugh in his highly-influential and precedential book The Gold Coast and the Slum (1929), where he chronicled its notorious living conditions, detailed its socio-economic makeup, and elucidated tangled patterns of dysfunction sustaining this “slum’s” existence, blocks from one of Chicago’s wealthiest communities to the east. Central to his philosophy was the idea of “natural areas” within a city–the unplanned, organic enclaves that emerge out of a coincidence of physical geography and cultural segregration: the Lower Near North Side being a prime example of this urban phenomena.

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Trianon, “World’s Most Beautiful Ballroom”

John Morris 3 comments

This week for Flashback Friday we step back to the era of dancing and luxurious ballrooms with a look at Trianon, hailed as the most beautiful in the world. This phrase was more than just a slogan on a postcard, it was audible on many recordings and broadcasts here.

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Under Demolition: 2821 North Avers Avenue

Gabriel X. Michael Leave a comment
Viewing east towards front facade of 2821 North Avers Avenue house, circa 1880s, under demolition

Viewing east towards front facade of 2821 North Avers Avenue house under demolition. Gabriel X. Michael/Chicago Patterns

After some time on the city’s Demolition Delay Hold List, the review period has ended and demolition will be proceeding for the “orange-rated” house at 2821 North Avers Avenue. I recently visited one late afternoon to check on the site, and photograph the current state of the structure.

Looking into available public records, conflicting information exists regarding the actual age of this building: by all real estate-related and Cook County Assessor’s Office information that can be obtained, this house was built in 1908. However, the City of Chicago’s Historic Resources Survey–a ground-level, detailed effort completed nearly 20 years ago–also indicates this as a significant, “orange-rated” structure, circa 1880s.

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