WBEZ | North Side http://www.wbez.org/tags/north-side Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Inside Room 317: counting down the last days of the Chateau Hotel http://www.wbez.org/news/inside-room-317-counting-down-last-days-chateau-hotel-107793 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Chateau Hotel 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Tonight at midnight the last tenants of the Chateau Hotel will have to vacate their building, per court order.&nbsp;</p><p>The Chateau is one of several North Side single-room occupancy buildings that developers have bought recently, to turn into upmarket rental housing.</p><p>This has displaced hundreds of low-income residents of the North Side. Robert Rohdenburg will soon be among them.</p><p dir="ltr">Rohdenburg fought his eviction from the Chateau Hotel until the very end. In recent weeks, the new owners started gutting the building, even as he and a few others lived there. In the video below, crews decked out in hazardous materials suits are seen tossing carpets from the building&rsquo;s back windows.</p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ&rsquo;s Odette Yousef asked Rohdenburg to record his last week at the Chateau amidst this chaos. This is what he gave us.</p><iframe width="620" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/4M0UcouVdBg?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/oyousef" target="_blank">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 07:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/inside-room-317-counting-down-last-days-chateau-hotel-107793 Uptown, past and present http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-05/uptown-past-and-present-107115 <p><p>Uptown. The name seems more generic than natural.&nbsp;And the district the city calls Community Area #3 did start out as a series of separate communities.</p><p>During the 1850s, two rival railroads&ndash;the Milwaukee Road and the Chicago &amp; North Western&ndash;built parallel lines north from Chicago.&nbsp;Where the railroads opened stations, settlement sprang up.&nbsp;Buena Park was about five miles north of Madison Street.&nbsp;Moving further north, there was Sheridan Park, then Edgewater.&nbsp;All three were annexed by Chicago in 1889.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Uptown1--Broadway-Wilson.JPG" title="Welcome to Uptown!" /></div><div><p>In 1900 the first North Side &lsquo;L&rsquo; line pushed through&nbsp;the&nbsp;area to a terminal at Wilson Avenue. Rapid growth followed.&nbsp;The three distinct communities lost their separate identities and blended together.&nbsp;By the 1920s the whole area was referred to as Uptown.&nbsp;</p></div><p>Why &ldquo;Uptown?&rdquo;&nbsp;If you think about it, that was pretty savvy marketing.&nbsp;The name tried to put the community on the same level as Downtown, aka the Loop.&nbsp;The main local business street also adopted a more cosmopolitan identity: Evanston Avenue became Broadway.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Map.jpg" title="" /></div></div><p>In New York, Midtown was outpacing the city&rsquo;s older business areas. The same thing could happen in Chicago.&nbsp;Uptown boosters predicted that one day the Broadway Limited would locate its Chicago terminal at Wilson Avenue.</p><p>It seemed possible in the 1920s.&nbsp;Department stores, banks, hotels, and every manner of business were moving in.&nbsp;You could find or do almost anything&nbsp;in Uptown.&nbsp;Even Al Capone was investing in local real estate.</p><p>People from all over Chicago came to Uptown for entertainment.&nbsp;The action centered around the intersection of Broadway and Lawrence. Major movie palaces included the Riviera and the 4,000-seat Uptown, the city&rsquo;s largest.&nbsp;For dancing, there was the Aragon ballroom. The Green Mill was the place to go for hot jazz, and over on Clark Street, the Rainbo Gardens complex offered assorted cabaret shows.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Uptown3--Dover%20Street_0.JPG" title="Victorian homes in Sheridan Park" /></div></div><p>After a&nbsp;busy Saturday night, there were churches available.&nbsp;All Saints Episcopal and St. Mary of the Lake Catholic were architectural treasures.&nbsp;The biggest congregation gathered at the People&rsquo;s Church, where flamboyant Unitarian pastor Preston Bradley held forth.&nbsp;Summer Sundays might also include a visit to Lake Michigan for fishing off the Horseshoe or swimming at Montrose Beach.</p><p>And when you died, you could still find what you needed in Uptown.&nbsp;Graceland Cemetery, the city&rsquo;s most fashionable burying ground, was located in the community.</p><p>The Crash of 1929 and the Depression hit Uptown particularly hard.&nbsp;Businesses died and money left.&nbsp;Large apartments were carved into rooming houses.&nbsp;Poorer people moved in.&nbsp;The newcomers included African-Americans, American Indians and Appalachian whites.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Uptown4--The%20Horseshoe.jpg" title="Montrose Beach Horseshoe" /></div><p>By 1970 portions of Wilson Avenue had become a skid row.&nbsp;The crime rate soared and &lsquo;L&rsquo; commuters were warned not to change trains at Uptown stations.&nbsp;About this time residents north of Foster seceded from Uptown, gaining official recognition as Community Area #77, Edgewater.</p><p>Some sections of Uptown remained intact.&nbsp;These were mostly on the outer edges, near the Chicago &amp; North Western tracks or along Marine Drive. Two blocks of Hutchinson Street were designated an architectural landmark district.&nbsp;The construction of Truman College helped stabilize the central area.</p><p>During the 1980s nearby Wrigleyville and Boys&rsquo; Town began attracting yuppies, and it seemed likely Uptown would follow this path. That brought protests from various community groups. They claimed that Urban Renewal simply meant Poor Removal. Three decades later, gentrification continues to be a hot-button local issue.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Uptown5--Argyle%20Street.jpg" title="Argyle Street, aka Chinatown North" /></div><p>Today Uptown is home to 56,000 people. One of Chicago&rsquo;s more diverse communities, the population is identified as 52 percent white, 20 percent black, 14 percent Hispanic, 11 percent Asian.</p><p>Uptown endures. The Green Mill and the Aragon remain in business.&nbsp;Along Argyle Street, Asian restaurants are thriving. The boarded-up Uptown Theatre still stands, awaiting a financial angel with deep pockets.&nbsp;New apartments and commercial development have replaced the old &lsquo;L&rsquo; yards&nbsp;on Broadway.</p><p>Uptown endures.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Uptown6--New%20Construction.JPG" title="New development at Broadway and Montrose" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 13 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-05/uptown-past-and-present-107115 The magic motor bus http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/magic-motor-bus-106165 <p><p>A strange new vehicle appeared on the streets of Chicago for the first time on March 25, 1917. It was called a &ldquo;bus.&rdquo;</p><p>Since 1859 public transit in Chicago had been&ndash;literally&ndash;street railways. The first railcars had been pulled by teams of horses. Then came cable cars, and finally electric streetcars. For moving large numbers of people, streetcars seemed to be the ultimate form of surface transportation.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/03-25--bus.jpg" title="Chicago's first bus, 1917 (CTA photo)" /></div><p>Meanwhile, the automobile had been invented, and was evolving. Though early gasoline engines were small, they soon became bigger and more powerful. By 1910 full-size gasoline buses were a reality. Since buses weren&rsquo;t tied to rails, they had more flexibility than streetcars.</p><p>The City of Chicago had granted a transit franchise to the Chicago Surface Lines company. But the boulevards and parks were controlled by three separate park district boards. In 1916 the new Chicago Motor Bus Company was awarded a franchise by the Lincolon Park District. Now, on March 25, 1917, their new vehicles were ready to roll.</p><p>Mayor William Hale Thompson and a collection of dignitaries boarded the first bus at Sheridan and Devon. The ceremonial trip moved off over the regular route, down Sheridan to Lincoln Park, through the park and over various streets, until reaching its south terminal at Adams and State. Then, while the invited guests were brought back to the Edgewater Beach Hotel for a luncheon, revenue service began.</p><p>The buses operated from 6 in the morning until 1:30 a.m. Each double-deck vehicle had a two-man crew, with a conductor to collect fares and a &ldquo;chauffeur&rdquo; to drive. Passengers could board at any intersection. Though only 11 buses ran the first day, another 39 were on order.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3-25--1948.jpg" title="Buses on Michigan Avenue, 1948 (CTA photo)" /></div></div></div></div><p>The buses were popular from the start. True, the 10-cent fare was higher than the 7 cents paid on the streetcars. But the ride was usually faster&ndash;and prettier, too.</p><p>During the next few years, the&nbsp;three park&nbsp;districts gave franchises to other companies. As the advantages of buses became more apparent, even Chicago Surface Lines began replacing their streetcars with the rubber-tire vehicles.</p><p>All the different park district bus operators were later combined into the Chicago Motor Coach. That company continued in business until 1952, when it was bought out by the CTA.</p></p> Mon, 25 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/magic-motor-bus-106165 1981 Brown Line Ride http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/1981-brown-line-ride-105401 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2-13--Halsted curve.jpg" title="Clybourn curve near Halsted, Ravenswood 'L'" /></div></div><p>A few weeks ago Lee Bey posted a great video of a 1970s ride on the Dan Ryan Red Line. That inspired me to digitalize some of my old Chicago &lsquo;L&rsquo; home movies.</p><p>Right up front, I&rsquo;m offering a warning&mdash;my films are strictly amateur. I&rsquo;m not a film-maker, and my equipment was a tiny, hand-held&nbsp;Super-Eight silent movie camera. Since I had to change cassettes every four minutes, there are many gaps in the action. I&rsquo;m sharing the video because it provides a look at how some parts of Chicago have changed in the course of three decades.</p><p>Today&rsquo;s film shows the second half of a 1981 ride on the Ravenswood &lsquo;L&rsquo; (Brown Line), from Roscoe junction to the Loop.&nbsp;It runs&nbsp;about 8 minutes, and includes audio commentary.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="465" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/d_x0uFd1i7w?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 25 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/1981-brown-line-ride-105401 Rogers Park, past and present http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/rogers-park-past-and-present-104722 <p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re Number One!&nbsp; We&rsquo;re Number One!&rdquo;</p><p>Any Chicago neighborhood can shout that.&nbsp;But Chicago&rsquo;s&nbsp;official Community Area #1 is Rogers Park, in the city&rsquo;s northeast corner.&nbsp;That&rsquo;s where some anonymous U of C social scientist started the numbering system in the 1920s.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1-15--Chicago%20NE%20corner.jpg" title="Chicago's northeast corner" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The earliest residents here were the Potawatomi.&nbsp;Sometime before 1800 they established villages along the glacial ridge that&rsquo;s now Ridge Boulevard.&nbsp;The land eastward toward the lake was too low and swampy for much of anything.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">When white Americans moved in, they stuck to the high ground.&nbsp;In 1839 Philip Rogers built a cabin near (present-day) Ridge and Lunt, and began truck farming.&nbsp;Over the next several years, other farmers settled in Mr. Rogers&rsquo; neighborhood.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1-15--map.jpg" style="width: 350px; height: 260px;" title="" /></div></div><p>Patrick Touhy, Rogers&rsquo; son-in-law, really spurred development.&nbsp;During the 1860s he organized many of the locals into a building and land association.&nbsp;The Chicago &amp; North Western Railroad arrived on the scene in 1873.&nbsp;Five years later, the Village of Rogers Park was incorporated.</p><p>Growth was slow but steady.&nbsp;Large Victorian homes were erected in the blocks between the C&amp;NW line and the ridge.&nbsp;A small commercial district sprang up just east of the train station, around Clark and Lunt.&nbsp;In 1885 a second&nbsp;commuter line was completed&nbsp;through the eastern lowlands by the Chicago, Milwaukee &amp; St. Paul Railroad.</p><p>Rogers Park was a sleepy little community of 3500 people when Chicago annexed it in 1893. But as the century turned, &lsquo;L&rsquo; service came to Rogers Park over the CM&amp;SP right-of-way. And then Rogers Park really took off.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1-15----Jackson-Thomas%20House-7053%20N%20Ridge%20Blvd.jpg" title="Early Rogers Park: The 1873 Jackson-Thomas House" /></div><p>Loyola University relocated from the West Side. Two-flats and large apartment blocks went up near the &lsquo;L&rsquo;, and the Howard line became the city&rsquo;s busiest.&nbsp;The population jumped from 6,700 in 1910 to over 57,000 twenty&nbsp;years later.&nbsp;</p><p>Rogers&nbsp;Park didn&rsquo;t have a single dominant shopping district.&nbsp;Most stores were small and locally-owned, and could be found in clusters near the &lsquo;L&rsquo; stations.&nbsp;Clark Street, the main streetcar line, developed its own commercial ribbon.&nbsp;</p><p>Howard Street was a special case.&nbsp;The street bordered Evanston&ndash;which was dry&ndash;so a whole range of bars and liquor stores set up on the Chicago-side of Howard.&nbsp;&rdquo;Going to Howard&rdquo; was a favorite field-trip for generations of Northwestern students.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1-15--The%20Jungle.jpg" title="Juneway Terrace in The Jungle" /></div><p>East of the &lsquo;L&rsquo; the border jumped north of Howard to include&nbsp;the few blocks up to Calvary Cemetery.&nbsp;Here the narrow streets were crammed with&nbsp;three-story apartments that&nbsp;shaded the sidewalks the whole day.&nbsp;Someone called the area The Jungle, and the name stuck.&nbsp;</p><p>In&nbsp;Patrick Touhy&rsquo;s day, most people in Rogers Park were English in ancestry.&nbsp;They were later joined by Germans and some Irish.&nbsp;Beginning about 1910, a significant number of Russian Jews began moving into the community.&nbsp;By 1950, when the population reached 63,000, they were the largest identifiable ethnic/religious group.</p><p>Rogers Park was a good place to live.&nbsp;Public transit was fast, stores were plentiful, crime was low, rents were affordable, and Lake Michigan was at your doorstep.&nbsp;That last one was important in the era before air conditioning.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1-15--Morse%201978.jpg" title="Morse Avenue at the 'L', 1978" /></div><p>My wife and I lived in Rogers Park during the 1970s.&nbsp;Our apartment was across from Loyola Beach, and if you sat in the right chair, you could actually see the lake from our living room.&nbsp;Nearly every summer weekend, relatives and long-lost friends descended on us.&nbsp;Could the reason have been that it was often 20 degrees cooler at our place than a few miles inland?&nbsp;</p><p>In the years since, like many Chicago communities, Rogers Park has had problems.&nbsp;Some of the older housing deteriorated.&nbsp;Businesses left.&nbsp;Crime increased.&nbsp;Parts of The Jungle became blighted.&nbsp;</p><p>Yet&nbsp;the positive factors remain.&nbsp;Meanwhile, new construction has replaced many run-down buildings.&nbsp;The Gateway Centre Plaza has helped stabilize the area around the &lsquo;L&rsquo; terminal.&nbsp;</p><p>The 2010 Census counted 55,000 people in Rogers Park. The community&nbsp;has a diverse population&ndash;39% White, 26% African-American, 24% Hispanic, 7% Asian.&nbsp;Rogers Park&nbsp;also boasts an active historical society and numerous other community organizations.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re Number&nbsp;One!&rdquo; In many ways, it&rsquo;s true.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1-15--Rogers%20Park%20Lakefront.JPG" title="Rogers Park lakefront" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 15 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/rogers-park-past-and-present-104722 There in Chicago (#17) http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-11/there-chicago-17-104132 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04--2012-Belmont-Wilton.JPG" title="Belmont Avenue at Wilton--view west" /><br /><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-06--image.jpg" title="1955--the same location (CTA photo)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">How well did you find your way around 1955 Chicago?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">We are at Belmont and Wilton, a short-block east of Sheffield. The &#39;L&#39; station is one clue to the location. The platform canopies indicate that there are four tracks running through the station, which tells us we&#39;re somewhere on the North Side main line. Notice the building behind the turning bus. In the contemporary photo, that building has been torn down because of renovations at the station.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The double overhead wires reveal that we are on a street with trolley buses, and one of them can be seen in the distance. The gasoline bus turning onto Belmont is on a short extension route that ran between the &#39;L&#39; station and Lake Shore Drive. Like the streetcars that preceded them, the Belmont trolley buses went only as far east as Halsted.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In 1955 this neighborhood was simply known as East Lakeview. Today&#39;s it&#39;s called Wrigleyville. The name change hasn&#39;t seemed to have helped the Cubs.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 07 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-11/there-chicago-17-104132 Ghost Street: North Ogden Avenue http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/ghost-street-north-ogden-avenue-103468 <p><p>Driving north on Ogden Avenue, just&nbsp;past Fry Street, you come upon a concrete railroad overpass, emblazoned with the name of your street and the year &ldquo;1925.&rdquo;&nbsp;You emerge on the other side, and Ogden abruptly ends.&nbsp;You have just discovered a classic example of urban planning gone wrong.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/11-05--Ogden%20%40%20Fry.JPG" title="Ogden Avenue at Fry Street, 2012" /></div><p>Ogden Avenue is named after Chicago&rsquo;s first mayor, William B. Ogden.&nbsp;Like many of Chicago&rsquo;s major diagonal streets, it follows the path of an old trail. The original starting point of the street was Union Park.&nbsp;From there it ran southwest to the city limits and beyond.</p><p>As early as the 1880s, plans were hatched to extend Ogden to the northeast.&nbsp;In 1903, Alderman William E. Dever unveiled an ambitious project to push Ogden through to Lincoln Park, while building another diagonal boulevard from Union Park southeast to the lakefront at 22<sup>nd</sup> Street (Cermak). The idea was to provide two speedy bypasses around the Loop.&nbsp;There would also be two new streets opened for commercial development.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/11-05--Cram's map.jpg" style="float: left; height: 307px; width: 325px;" title="North Ogden Avenue (Cram's Chicago Street Map, 1935)" /></div></div></div><p>The southeast route was never built.&nbsp;But in 1921, the city began constructing the northeast Ogden extension.&nbsp;The roadway was designed to accommodate six lanes of vehicular traffic, with a separate&nbsp;parkway in the middle for streetcar tracks.&nbsp;The first stage was completed in 1925 and dedicated by ex-alderman Dever, by now the mayor of Chicago.</p><p>Construction continued for several years.&nbsp;The most notable feature was a half-mile long viaduct, which carried Ogden over Goose Island and the Halsted-Division intersection.&nbsp;The street was finally cut through to its Lincoln Park terminus, at Clark and Armitage, in 1934.</p><p>There it remained. Buses were becoming the favored form of mass transit, so the new section of Ogden never did get streetcar tracks.&nbsp;Then, the city completed its expressway system in the 1960s. The Ogden extension was no longer needed as downtown bypass, and traffic on the street steadily declined.</p><p>In the area between North and Armitage, neighborhood residents now demanded that Ogden be removed&ndash;the 100-foot-wide swath through their community was a blight, and served no useful purpose.&nbsp;The city agreed.&nbsp;In 1969, the section of Ogden north of North Avenue was closed and built over.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/11-05--Ogden%20Ave%20%28The%20Plan%20of%20Chicago%201933%29.jpg" title="Ogden Avenue, looking southwest from Lincoln Park (The Plan of Chicago 1933)" /></div><p>A few years later, the street was cut back to Clybourn.&nbsp;Then, in 1992, chunks of concrete started falling off the Ogden viaduct on Goose Island.&nbsp;Rather than spend money to fix the structure, the city tore it down.</p><p>Today, except for a couple of isolated sections, Ogden Avenue halts at the Fry Street railroad overpass.&nbsp;That means that roughly two-thirds of the northeast extension has been abandoned&ndash;after taking thirteen years to complete, and costing millions of dollars, and requiring the removal of hundreds of homes and businesses.</p><p>Easy come, easy go.</p></p> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/ghost-street-north-ogden-avenue-103468 The world's biggest high school http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-09/worlds-biggest-high-school-102301 <p><p>On September 17, 1934 Chicago posted another superlative. The new Lane Tech was dedicated and the city now had the largest high school in the world.</p><p>Named after a pioneer Chicago educator, the first Albert G. Lane Manual Training School opened at Division and Sedgwick in 1908. The school offered vocational education in fields such as carpentry, foundry, printing and electrical work. All the students were male.</p><p>Other courses were added over the years, and the school became Lane Technical High School. By 1930 enrollment had grown to 7,000, with students going to class in shifts. The search began for a new site for a bigger Lane.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09-17--Lane%20Tech.jpg" title="Artist's drawing of the new Lane Tech (author's collection)" /></div><p>Over at Addison and Western, the Mid City Golf Club was having financial problems. The economy was getting sluggish &mdash; this was the beginning of the Great Depression &mdash; so the course sold off part of its land to the Board of Education. In the summer of 1930 ground was broken for the new school.</p><p>Four years and $6.5 million later, it was finished. At 10 in the morning on dedication day, 6,000 Lane students assembled at Wrigley Field. They were handed small American flags, then began walking down the middle of Addison Street toward the school, two miles away.</p><p>They laughed and shouted and waved at the people watching from the sidewalk. Along with them, in marching order, came squads of ROTC cadets and bands from seven other high schools. They passed the reviewing stand at Western Avenue and moved into the school stadium. About 10,000 additional spectators were on hand.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kelly%2C%20Edward%20%2801%29_0.jpg" style="float: right; " title="Mayor Edward J. Kelly (author's collection)" /></div></div><p>At the formal dedication, various educators gave uplifting orations on the value of learning. The Lane students saved the most applause for Mayor Edward J. Kelly. &quot;You fellows have to swim upstream from now on,&quot; Kelly told them. &quot;But I&#39;m looking at you and seeing real men. If any of you gets in trouble and you come to me &mdash; and you&#39;re on the square &mdash; I&#39;ll help you.&quot;</p><p>The ceremonies ended and the students dispersed. The mayor and the other dignitaries adjourned to the school cafeteria for a luncheon of macaroni and cheese.</p><p>The original Lane became Cooley High School, and was eventually torn down. Though it is no longer the world&#39;s largest high school &mdash; and no longer all male &mdash; the 1934-vintage Lane still operates at Addison and Western.</p></p> Mon, 17 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-09/worlds-biggest-high-school-102301 The 'L' beauty show http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-07/l-beauty-show-100803 <p><p>Ever get bored riding the &quot;L&quot;? Tired of texting, or talking on the phone, or reading the paper, or daydreaming? Want to just look out the window and watch the city go by?</p><p>A century ago there wasn&rsquo;t much to do on the train except read the paper or look out the window. That&rsquo;s why there was an &quot;L&quot; floral contest in 1910. The idea was to get the people along the line to spruce up their property.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/00--North%20Side%20%27L%27.jpg" title="" /></div><p>Two years before, the <em>Tribune</em> had partnered with a fertilizer company to select Chicago&rsquo;s best front porch garden. The new contest was sponsored by the Northwestern Elevated Railroad, one of the city&rsquo;s privately-owned transit companies. Northwestern&rsquo;s service covered the modern Brown line, and the Red line north of Belmont.</p><p>The contest was open to all outdoor floral displays visible from the Northwestern tracks. Five judges from the Industrial Club had been riding around in a special train to inspect the entries. On this date 102 years ago &ndash; July 23, 1910 &ndash; the winners were announced.</p><p>Northwestern did not skimp on the prizes. First place in any of six categories was worth $50, close to $1200 in today&rsquo;s money. Cash was awarded for backyard gardens, window boxes, and porch displays.</p><p>No one was surprised that one of the awards went to Mathias Overton of 3649 North Sheffield Avenue &ndash; he had taken the grand prize in the 1908 <em>Tribune</em> contest. The most startled winner was Mrs. J.P. Hutchinson of 5430 North Winthrop Avenue.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/00--Gardening%20by%20the%20%27L%27%20%28CDN%29.jpg" title="Chicago gardening along the 'L' (Library of Congress)" /></div><p>&ldquo;I entered my garden as a joke on my husband,&rdquo; Mrs. Hutchinson said. &ldquo;He told me what I thought was pretty no one else would think was pretty, and that it was foolish to enter.&rdquo; Then she added, &ldquo;Just think how I can laugh at my husband now!&rdquo;</p><p>Another delighted winner was Reverend Paul Roberts of St. Joseph Catholic Church at 1107 North Orleans Street. His garden, located behind the church, was an arrangement of geraniums, pansies, Zanzibar beans, and other plants, surrounded by neatly-trimmed hedges. &ldquo;I had no idea of winning a prize,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve always been interested in plant life, and spend all my spare time tending the garden.&rdquo;</p><p>The <em>Tribune</em> called the 1910 floral contest &ldquo;The &lsquo;L&rsquo; Beauty Show.&rdquo; Maybe it&rsquo;s time for the CTA to sponsor a revival.</p></p> Mon, 23 Jul 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-07/l-beauty-show-100803 North Side Red Line could see similar major construction http://www.wbez.org/news/north-side-red-line-could-see-similar-major-construction-99828 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/redline-belmont.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The president of the Chicago Transit Authority says the North Side of the Red Line is next.</p><p>Earlier this week, Forrest Claypool announced the South Side portion of the Red Line will be completely shut down for five months next year for reconstruction.&nbsp;But Claypool says a similar project is in the works for North Side Red Line riders as well.</p><p>&quot;I got news for people,&quot; Claypool <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift-steve-edwards/2012-06-05/forrest-claypool-red-line-south-closure-plan-99825">said Tuesday on WBEZ&#39;s <em>Afternoon Shift</em></a>. &quot;The north Red Line has to be rebuilt as well. And we&#39;re not that many years away from that happening.&quot;</p><p>Claypool said he would not want to completely shut down the North Side Red Line.</p><p>He said the Red Line is longer on the North Side than on the South Side and construction would likely be staggered, rather than have the entire stretch closed at one time.</p><p>&quot;There clearly will be disruptions at that time, but at the end of the day years from now, assuming we get the proper federal support for that project, you will have literally a brand new railroad from the far northern suburbs to the very southern portions of the City of Chicago,&quot; he said.</p></p> Tue, 05 Jun 2012 16:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/north-side-red-line-could-see-similar-major-construction-99828