Survivors, Chicago, August 2023

We’ll finish up Chicago by looking at those vestiges from the past that survived the rapid gentrification and rebuilding of the central core of the Windy City which has happened over the last forty years. A hundred years ago, the area north of the Chicago River was a relatively peaceful residential neighborhood, but with the construction of the Michigan Avenue bascule bridge, development began to creep north.

Vachon, John, photographer. Untitled photo, possibly related to: Stop light, Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. United States Illinois Chicago, 1941. [July] Photograph.

As can be seen in the historic image above from 1941, there were just starting to be a few skyscrapers, such as the Gothic Revival one on the left (which I mysteriously created two identical posts for here and here–scratching my head on this). The Allerton, a little further south, was also already built by then. Most famously, the “Watertower” and pumping station have survived, just as they did during the Great Fire of 1871.

But what fascinates me, and what I have looked at before along Rush street back in January of 2008, are the little two and three story buildings that have survived all of this redevelopment.

Perhaps their footprint is too small, haphazardly cut off by nearby tall buildings, or maybe their current owners are already getting the best economic benefit from them.

The Medinah Temple is a Chicago Landmark, so perhaps it is saved from demolition. It currently is a Bally’s but I remember when it was part of a department store.

A lot of these small former houses have famous restaurats in them.

But other buildings sit empty on the first floor, their restaurants closed, possibly victims of the pandemic.

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