WBEZ | Architecture http://www.wbez.org/sections/architecture Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The tale of the two-flat http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-two-flat-110681 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/164044282&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: The podcast version of the story includes an excerpt from a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-flammable-fire-escapes-109009#related" target="_blank">more extensive examination of Chicago-area wooden porches used as a means of egress</a>. To catch every episode, <a href="http://wbez.is/VIdLFv" target="_blank">subscribe to our podcast</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Most older U.S. cities have a signature kind of building. In Brooklyn it&rsquo;s the brownstone, one standing shoulder-to-shoulder to the next. In Philadelphia, newcomers and visitors are struck by the distinctive row houses.</p><p>What about Chicago? Well, it&rsquo;s a city known for its skyscrapers, for sure. Outside of downtown, though, you won&rsquo;t find soaring steel and glass. In the neighborhoods, it&rsquo;s wood, brick and stone. The real workhorse of Chicago&rsquo;s built environment is the modest, ubiquitous (yet fascinating) two-flat.</p><p>You know the building. Two stories, with an apartment unit on each floor, usually with bay windows greeting the street through of a facade of brick or greystone. Most were built between 1900 and 1920.</p><p>Two-to-four unit apartment buildings make up 27 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s housing stock, according to data from the <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">DePaul Institute of Housing Studies</a>. The rest is split evenly between single-family homes, condominiums and buildings with five or more units.</p><p>We recently got a question that returns some wonder to this everyday building. Our question asker, who chose to stay anonymous, is particularly interested in why the two-flat became so popular. And she wants to know who calls these buildings home. As she observes in <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/743" target="_blank">the question she submitted to Curious City</a>, they&rsquo;re somewhere between suburban houses and big apartment buildings:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Chicago-area two-flats straddle the line between apartments and homes. Who were they originally designed to serve? Has that changed?</em></p><p>The answer to that last part? It&rsquo;s revealed in a story, one you&rsquo;d miss if you choose to focus on the city&rsquo;s skyline or crane your neck to see the top of the Willis (Sears) Tower. It turns out the advent of the humble two-flat mirrors the development of Chicago&rsquo;s middle class. And in many ways it still does today, but in the wake of the 2008 financial and foreclosure crises, that may be changing.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A Bohemian building boom</span></p><p>Through the late 1800s, European immigrants made up almost half of Chicago&rsquo;s population. Hundreds of thousands of Polish, German and Czech people settled here, often making their first home in narrow one-story buildings usually made out of wood. Those came to be called worker&rsquo;s cottages.</p><blockquote><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://wbez.is/1q1Znnk" target="_blank"><strong>Related: How the size of the &quot;foreign born&quot; population has changed in the city.&nbsp;</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>As Chicago&rsquo;s big industries grew &mdash; Sears, McCormick Reaper and Western Electric, to name a few &mdash; so did the population. Soon it made sense for developers and architects to build up as they built out. Hence two- and three-flat buildings, which offered denser housing, and gave the owners a shot at some extra income from renting out their extra unit.</p><p>We found several architects from the era who built two-flats by the dozens on spec, meaning they weren&rsquo;t designing for a specific client, but acting as &ldquo;owner-architect&rdquo; in the parlance of records from the era. Many of them were Bohemian. (Today, the former Bohemia is part of the Czech Republic).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/czeckad.jpg" title="An ad for Lawndale two-flats steered toward Eastern European immigrants. (Courtesy Chicago History Museum) " /></p><p>In fact, along with Jen Masengarb of the <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a> &mdash; whom we partnered with on <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/743" target="_blank">this voting round</a> and helped us research this story &mdash; we found an old article from the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> that shows the connection between the city&rsquo;s booming Czech population and its sprawling housing market. A headline from <a href="http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/28540648/" target="_blank">Oct. 17, 1903</a> crows: &ldquo;BOHEMIANS IN LEAD AS BUILDERS OF HOMES.&rdquo;</p><p>At the convention of the Building Association league of Illinois, Bohemian Frank G. Hajicek boasted of &ldquo;$12,000,000 in shares in force&rdquo; held by the &ldquo;the Bohemians of Chicago.&rdquo; It was a point of pride for the 28-year-old resident of the South Lawndale neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Never in the history of the world, I believe, have people in a foreign land established themselves in homes so securely and rapidly as have the 200,000 Bohemians who make Chicago their home,&rdquo; said Hajicek in 1903.</p><p>In the heavily Eastern European Southwest Side neighborhoods of Pilsen (named for the Bohemian city of Plzeň), North Lawndale and South Lawndale, many of those homes were two-flats.</p><p>With Masengarb&rsquo;s help, we dug up some documents at the<a href="http://www.chicagohistory.org" target="_blank"> Chicago History Museum</a>, including a 1915 &ldquo;Book of Plans&rdquo; that enticed homebuyers to order away for all the materials needed to build a two-flat sized for a typical Chicago city lot.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/bookofplanslarger.png?X-Amz-Date=20140820T230405Z&amp;X-Amz-Expires=300&amp;X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&amp;X-Amz-Signature=0e3a3a6a0b29d425259052b3703515ab7598cbe280873635b935a1af08c36ea4&amp;X-Amz-Credential=ASIAIN5BXQNEZUY6CGKQ/20140820/us-east-1/s3/aws4_request&amp;X-Amz-SignedHeaders=Host&amp;x-amz-security-token=AQoDYXdzEB0agAL1JM9/evUYo4zSi5EslSe4w5BCdnblR6iWx/OMP5VfT%2BTAXjgZ5GaXATLEghwaxfzb23bqamb0oLMxy3ZkcNKr8Rx/VTnvM1pL6cqjnGhtdXbrNNdAN//OVwvuG7g2Dyi6mPMO4fVgnN4V8WkR8hTLLZCT7gvfClyS20d68gLiDZG0dNSfoTtV3ksuk60iO3zpM0HSgfdeUtqRArO0%2B%2BJVHEQ3MfYTDZ7ylKDcSYE1PACMgJ0UMv%2Bs0Iv5/yThsTk9v63rXfQCZe7sPT4L2QEDttAAWsnkXzPcwAKv8UDLe4axr%2BmfDZV8AoMj9nEj2iGWosSLs6DQHO2kqCBOauAzIOv%2B058F" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bookofplansinset.png" title="Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum. Click for larger view. " /></a></div><p>&ldquo;Our design No. 144 is a two-family flat designed for a money making proposition,&rdquo; begins one such ad. &ldquo;Anyone wanting a comfortable home and at the same time a good income on the investment will do well to consider this proposition.&rdquo;</p><p>Many, it seems, did consider it. A 1910<em> Tribune</em> article reported $38 million of flat building, &ldquo;a new high record in this field, exceeding by over $4,000,000 the figures of 1908, which also established a new record.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A &lsquo;workhorse building&rsquo; in a western paradise</span></p><p>Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that it often wasn&rsquo;t young first-generation immigrants buying Chicago two-flats. Instead it was those who immigrated to Chicago as children in the late 19th century, and by the early 20th century had built up enough money to graduate from renting.</p><p>&ldquo;What appears to have happened is that the Czech population was essentially moving further west, out of Pilsen and other sort of areas, Maxwell Street areas, to newer land, I guess you could say,&rdquo; says Matt Cole of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, which administers the <a href="http://www.nhschicago.org/site/3C/category/greystone_history" target="_blank">Historic Greystone Initiative</a>. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s where the name California [Avenue] comes from &mdash; it was like their western paradise.&rdquo;</p><p>Jen Masengarb and I take Cole up on his offer to point out one such western paradise: <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/North+Lawndale,+Chicago,+IL/@41.8582574,-87.7139721,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x880e328a692e8e51:0x26c3604dc3282d76" target="_blank">the part of North Lawndale known as K-Town for its K-named avenues (Kostner, Kildare, Keeler, etc.)</a> near Pulaski and Cermak Roads. In 2010 K-Town was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its collection of classic Chicago apartment buildings.</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/masengarbktown.jpg" title="Reporter Chris Bentley, Jen Masengarb and Matt Cole with Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago meet in K-Town to learn about Chicago's two-flats. (Photo courtesy Anne Evans) " /></div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a microcosm of Chicago architecture,&rdquo; says Cole, pointing out stately greystones, single-family brick residences and flats in styles ranging from Queen Anne to Prairie to mashups of any and all architectural detailing popular between 1900 and 1930. &ldquo;The reality is that the two-flat and three-flat are the workhorse building of this period of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>During our neighborhood walk, Masengarb points out that for a lot of early 20th century Chicagoans, the two-flat was a vehicle of social mobility.</p><p>&ldquo;This two-flat is that bridge, I think, between that older 1880s, 1870s housing,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;And then the bungalow which was the even bigger dream, and a bigger yard, my own space and nobody living upstairs, clomping around. &ldquo;</p><p>Consider Frank Stuchal. Census data shows in 1888 he immigrated to Chicago from Bohemia as a 13-year-old with his parents and two sisters. The census is taken every 10 years, and every 10 years as his income increased &mdash; Stuchal was first employed as a typesetter, then a print shop foreman, and finally business manager for a newspaper &mdash; he moved further west along Cermak avenue. In 1900 the 24-year old Stuchal rented an apartment at W. 23rd Street and South Spaulding Avenue with his two sisters. In 1920 he and his wife owned a two-flat, half of which they rented out to a German family. By 1930 he and his wife were raising their son in a bungalow they owned in the southwest suburb of Berwyn.</p><p>The 1920 census shows the street lined with two-flats occupied by second generation Czech, German, and Polish immigrants in their 40s and 50s, raising Chicago-born teenagers. Stuchal&rsquo;s neighbors included butchers, policemen, bookkeepers, bricklayers and librarians.</p><p>That two-flat Stuchal owned in 1920 was in K-town, near 21st Place and Keeler Avenue. It was built in 1916, and <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@41.852501,-87.731744,3a,75y,144.04h,88.86t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sj8F0Ae9ndTVLStijAJ4d8A!2e0" target="_blank">it&rsquo;s still there</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.google.com/maps/@41.852501,-87.731744,3a,75y,144.04h,88.86t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sj8F0Ae9ndTVLStijAJ4d8A!2e0" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/Capture_0.JPG" style="width: 610px; height: 234px;" title="Frank Stuchal's two-flat was built in 1916. (Google Streetview/Google)" /></a></div><p>Today it&rsquo;s owned by Arquilla Lawrence, whose parents moved in when she was two years old.</p><p>&ldquo;And I love it,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s been my home all my life, ever since I was two we moved into the neighborhood. I&rsquo;ve been here my whole life except when I went away to college.&rdquo;</p><p>Like many African-Americans, Lawrence&rsquo;s father moved to the neighborhood from the South &mdash; Oklahoma, in his case &mdash; during <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/545.html" target="_blank">The Great Migration of blacks to northern cities </a>during the middle of the 20th century. After World War II the neighborhood became the first African-American neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s so well kept,&rdquo; says Corey Brooks, who also grew up in K-town. &ldquo;Because most of [the property owners] migrated from the South. This is where they put their roots in, so they all know each other.&rdquo;</p><p>Brooks introduces us to his wife, Rita, who is on her way to check in on her mom. Both of them moved back to their childhood homes in order to care for their parents. Turns out it&rsquo;s not just the neighborhood&rsquo;s property ownership that has lasted all these years.</p><p>&ldquo;This is my childhood sweetheart,&rdquo; says Rita, pointing to Corey. &ldquo;He was my first boyfriend! Then he got married to someone else, I got married, I lost my husband, and then two years ago we found each other and got married.&rdquo;</p><p>Before we leave K-Town, Jen Masengarb surveys the mishmash of early 20th century architectural styles on display.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like a metamorphosis or an evolution. We&rsquo;re gonna try this over here on this block, and then this is five years later we&rsquo;re gonna try this &hellip; You can just see it evolving in the way that we live and the decisions that we&rsquo;re making in terms of what our families need, what is stylistically impressive,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;This architecture is us, it&rsquo;s a reflection of us.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Losing equity: Is the workhorse getting exhausted?</span></p><p>So the form of two-flats was basically a response to economics and demographics, as well as the size and shape of a Chicago city lot. The buildings no longer house predominantly Czech and other Eastern European immigrants, but today&rsquo;s tenants share a lot with their neighbors across the decades &mdash; many of them used two-flats to build community and a little bit of personal wealth in the form of equity. The two-flat was a bridge to a better life for the families that built Chicago as we know it.</p><p>One hundred years later, however, it&rsquo;s not clear how much longer two-flats will be able to fill that role.</p><p>K-town is well kempt, thanks in part to incentives from its historic district status. But two-flats are expensive to maintain. And since the 2008 financial and foreclosure crises, a lot of two-flats in other neighborhoods around Chicago are sitting vacant or being bought by developers who don&rsquo;t occupy the units.</p><p>And sometimes the ownership moved in the other direction. Eric Strickland tells us he bought a K-Town two-flat in the 90s. When he purchased the building on 21st Place, it was divided into three units. Once he&rsquo;d saved up enough money, Strickland converted the two-flat into a single-family home. He lives there now with his wife and daughter.</p><p>During the housing crisis two-to-four unit properties were disproportionately impacted by foreclosure. And Geoff Smith from the DePaul <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Housing Studies</a> says two-flats don&rsquo;t really make economic sense for new development, so they may well be lost to history in lower-income neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;What you see more commonly is a single-family home targeted for owner occupancy, or you see a larger rental building,&rdquo; Smith says.</p><p>He adds that, if older two-flats fall into disrepair, there will likely be no two-unit rentals to replace them. &nbsp;&ldquo;The concern is that in some of these more distressed areas, where there is a substantial stock of these buildings, there is a risk in some neighborhoods that this kind of housing could be lost,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>That prospect matters. According to data from the DePaul <a href="http://www.housingstudies.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Housing Studies</a>, today there are more than 76,000 two-unit apartment buildings in Chicago. In some neighborhoods &mdash; Brighton Park, New City, and South Lawndale &mdash; they still make up more than two-thirds of the housing stock, as well as a substantial proportion of the city&rsquo;s affordable housing.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://housing-stock.housingstudies.org/#13/41.8759/-87.6436" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/depaulmap.PNG" style="height: 300px; width: 620px;" title="Click to view full map from DePaul's IHS. " /></a></div><p>Prices for two-to-four unit buildings in distressed areas of Chicago fell roughly 70 percent between the pre-crash peak and current figures. That means many homes in those areas are worth less than they were in 1997, says Smith.</p><p>So if the &ldquo;money making proposition&rdquo; that two-flats once promised to working families is more elusive these days, what will become of the lower-income neighborhoods where these historic buildings are most prevalent?</p><p>&ldquo;Because of changing population dynamics, the changing nature of the city, in some areas you are going to see demand in decline. You may not see it recover, and there just may not be an economic value to some of these properties,&rdquo; says Smith. &ldquo;Hopefully some prescient, some really far forward-seeing investor can come in and say &lsquo;these properties have value for the long-term.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a freelance journalist and reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Follow him at cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>. Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research for <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">the Chicago Architecture Foundation</a> and contributed reporting to this story. </em></p><p><em>Correction: A draft of the text for this story misstated the time period during which the majority of Chicago two-flats were constructed. The correct timeframe is between 1900 and 1920.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-two-flat-110681 A shot of history: Ingredients of the Chicago speakeasy http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shot-history-ingredients-chicago-speakeasy-110616 <p><p>Ask people around the world to play word association with &ldquo;Chicago,&rdquo; and you&rsquo;ll hear a few common responses. Modern architecture and bruising politics have nothing, it seems, on our Prohibition-era gangster reputation.</p><p>&ldquo;You go anywhere and it&rsquo;s Al Capone or Michael Jordan,&rdquo; says Liz Garibay, who runs the website <a href="http://www.talestavernsandtowns.com/" target="_blank">History on Tap</a>. &ldquo;In Chicago we have this love-hate relationship with gangsters. It&rsquo;s not the most pleasant side, but at the same time people love to talk about it.&rdquo;</p><p>To that end, Garibay says the bar owners around town with any connections to that era are happy to play it up. It&rsquo;s good for business.</p><p>Even modern bars are reappropriating that speakeasy vibe. Take <a href="http://theviolethour.com/" target="_blank">The Violet Hour</a>, a favorite spot of the recent University of Chicago alumna who asked our question.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the secrecy is interesting. There&rsquo;s something sort of cheekily illicit about [speakeasies] that I think is cool,&rdquo; says<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shot-history-ingredients-chicago-speakeasy-110616#elena"> Elena Hadjimichael</a>, who was part of a student team that<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/history-and-mystery-behind-chicago%E2%80%99s-produce-market-107918" target="_blank"> tackled a Curious City question about Chicago&#39;s wholesale produce markets</a>. Her question for Curious City gets at what made the original original speakeasies successful:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What sorts of buildings housed speakeasy bars in Chicago during the Prohibition era? What made these buildings particularly well suited for speakeasies?</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to determine Chicago&rsquo;s ideal speakeasy building, since speakeasies came in almost as many varieties as there were speakeasies. (How many is that? It&rsquo;s hard to confirm an exact number, <a href="http://www.umich.edu/~eng217/student_projects/nkazmers/prohibition1.html" target="_blank">but probably thousands</a> &mdash; more than there are bars in the city today.) Illegal gatherings to drink in the back of a warehouse, a candy store or a backyard were all technically speakeasies. Still, a few common elements made it easy to get away with skirting this very unpopular law.</p><p>Here are a few things that most &mdash; if not all &mdash; Chicago speakeasies needed.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>1. Secrecy</strong></span></p><p>Speakeasies were common, but they still had to operate in the shadows, in the legal and sometimes literal sense. &ldquo;It was probably in a place where you could make a little noise and get away with it,&rdquo; says Craig Alton, who leads Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.gangstertour.com/" target="_blank">&quot;Untouchables&quot; gangster tour</a>. Some places boarded up their windows, or moved their saloons to back alleys. Gioco, an Italian restaurant in the South Loop, still has the back room where illegal booze was served to guests including Al Capone. The building, 1312 S. Wabash Ave., was a cold storage facility at the time. According to Alton, this made it easy to keep the beer cool. Thick vault doors prevented sound from escaping and tipping off authorities.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>2. A cover or front</strong></span></p><p>Sometimes being invisible from the street wasn&rsquo;t enough. To keep up appearances, a lot of speakeasies had legitimate businesses up front. Twin Anchors in Lincoln Park was across the street from a school (now the LaSalle Language Academy), so the adjacent building housed a school supplies store, as well as a shop selling soda and candy. The two buildings were eventually joined, and Mrs. Keefer&rsquo;s Schoolbook Store became Twin Anchor&rsquo;s kitchen. But between schoolbooks and Tante Lee&rsquo;s Soft Drinks (named after the tavern&rsquo;s original owner, Lee Tante), it was maybe the last place you&rsquo;d think to look for booze. &ldquo;Other than maybe putting in a church or a convent or something,&rdquo; says Paul Tuzi, one of Twin Anchor&rsquo;s owners, &ldquo;they probably couldn&rsquo;t have come up with anything more benign to hide the operation.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/alibi.jpg" style="height: 429px; width: 620px;" title="Bert Kelly’s Stables, 431 N. Rush St., was a famous jazz club and speakeasy. (Photo courtesy University of Chicago archives)" /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>3. Access</strong></span></p><p>While you didn&rsquo;t want law enforcement to find its way to your speakeasy, you needed it to be accessible for patrons and the back-of-house help that would load in your illegal alcohol. Subterranean networks helped &mdash; sewers or access lanes under the street &mdash; and in older parts of Chicago these were common. <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/uptown-greenmilljazz-bar-history-owner-bartender-musicians/Content?oid=12784766" target="_blank">The Green Mill benefitted from tunnels</a> connecting the bar to neighboring establishments of their Uptown block. Likewise in Pilsen (a neighborhood partially spared by the Great Chicago Fire), speakeasies used basement connections to a subterranean network of access tunnels hidden beneath the city&rsquo;s original street grid. According to Craig Alton, one former funeral home on the 700 block of West 18th Street hosted wakes, parties and other get-togethers downstairs after their services, serving alcohol they ran through the underground tunnels. We couldn&rsquo;t verify that particular story, but it&rsquo;s true that in older neighborhoods like Pilsen, Chicago at one point raised sidewalks off the city&rsquo;s swampy foundations to make space for sewers and other infrastructure that could have been useful for illicit transport.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/drawings-at-gioco.jpg" title="" /></div><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/gioco.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Top: Drawings on the wall at Gioco, an Italian restaurant in Chicago's west loop. Bottom: The back room at Gioco. The space hosted a speakeasy during prohibition, using its thick safe doors to shield the windowless back room from foot traffic on Wabash Avenue. The building was a cold storage facility during that time, so it was easy to keep the beer cool. (Photo by Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><strong style="font-size: 22px;">4. Connections</strong></div></div><p>Running a successful speakeasy was impossible without connections. Bar owners relied on a network of people to transport alcohol, pay off cops and bounce unruly patrons, among other things. That often involved the mob, but it didn&rsquo;t have to. As long as you were somewhat discreet and had a person who brought in regular shipments of alcohol, you could run a speakeasy. <a href="http://www.twinanchorsribs.com/" target="_blank">Twin Anchors</a> was so named because the owner during Prohibition, Captain Herb Eldean, was a harbor master at Chicago&rsquo;s Monroe Harbor. &ldquo;He had more access than most people would have to the possibility of acquiring liquor coming down from Canada into the port here,&rdquo; says co-owner Paul Tuzi.</p><p>That Great Lakes connection was critical to sustaining under-the-table taverns all over the city, according to <a href="http://www.talestavernsandtowns.com/" target="_blank">History on Tap</a>&rsquo;s Liz Garibay. &ldquo;Location, location, location. It&rsquo;s the whole reason Chicago is even here,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;The fact that we had access to a couple of waterways, and we&rsquo;re so close to Canada, was helpful.&rdquo;</p><p>Some tavern owners didn&rsquo;t have to look across the border for a reliable source of alcohol. Schaller&rsquo;s Pump in Bridgeport is considered by many to be the oldest bar in Chicago still serving drinks. Now it&rsquo;s flanked by parking lots and gravel, but during the early 20th century its neighbor was the South Side Brewing Company. Prohibition forced the brewery to boost production of low-alcohol &ldquo;near beer,&rdquo; but barrels of its more potent products found their way into Schaller&rsquo;s Pump.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/236180239/A-Mixologist-s-Guide-to-a-Chicago-Speakeasy" target="_blank">(Check out our mixologist&#39;s guide to a Chicago speakeasy).</a></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>5. Emergency precautions</strong></span></p><p>Even if you had a good cover and had paid off the right people, it didn&rsquo;t hurt to have a backup plan. At Schaller&rsquo;s Pump, there&rsquo;s still a peephole looking south from the bar area. That came in handy when patrons and barkeepers needed to keep an eye out for unwelcome visitors. Twin Anchors had a half-size door installed in the back of the saloon so drinkers could escape in a hurry, but Tuzi says he has no evidence the bar was ever raided. (Though he did use it to escape inclement weather outside when he was still living in the building above the bar.)</p><p>While secrecy and good connections were probably the most critical parts of any successful Chicago speakeasy, some bar owners added their own innovations. Simon&rsquo;s in Andersonville has a bank teller&rsquo;s window tucked under the stairs. &ldquo;In that day if you took your check to the hardware store or the butcher shop or the shoemaker,&rdquo; says owner Scott Martin, those people would cash your check for you, but would take a percentage of your check for the risk of cashing it, much like a currency exchange does today.&rdquo; So Swedish immigrant and World War I veteran Simon Lundberg installed a bullet-proof bank teller&rsquo;s window (in what today is storage space), offering to cash checks free of charge. He also advertised free sandwiches on Fridays. &ldquo;So you would get a free belly full of food and get all of your hard-earned money, which you&rsquo;d oblige by gettin&rsquo; a beer and a whisky.&rdquo; Of course, it rarely stopped at just one drink.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/twin anchors.jpg" title="Paul Tuzi, one of the owners of Lincoln Park's Twin Anchors Restaurant &amp; Tavern, shows off a half-size door at the back of the bar, which he says was installed during prohibition to enable quick escapes. (Photo by Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>That entrepreneurial spirit seems to fit with Simon&rsquo;s history. The bar began when Lundberg noticed the patrons of his cafe spiking their drinks with whisky, so once he&rsquo;d made enough money from legitimate business, the Swedish immigrant bought the building next door and turned its basement into the NN Club &mdash; the &ldquo;No Name&rdquo; Club or maybe the &ldquo;No Norwegians&rdquo; Club, jokes current owner Scott Martin. A spare and cramped basement now used to store liquor for Simon&rsquo;s bar, the N.N. Club still has its original hand-painted sign. Decorative Swedish wall painting known as rosemaling peeks out from behind racks of liquor bottles.</p><p>After prohibition, Lundberg brought his drinking club upstairs. Simon&rsquo;s Tavern still has its original 1933 mahogany bar, and the bank teller door lined with 12-gauge steel and three panes of bullet-proof glass. Now people cash their checks elsewhere, of course, but they still oblige themselves a beer and whisky. Or several.</p><p>&ldquo;My mother and her sisters used to have come every other Friday night to get my grandfather out of here,&rdquo; says Martin.</p><p>A faithful clientele creates a powerful profit motive &mdash; one worth skirting the law and going through all that trouble for.</p><p>So to answer Elena Hadjimichael&rsquo;s question about what buildings housed speakeasies, and what made them well-suited to be speakeasies, let&rsquo;s recap: Speakeasies need secrecy or privacy; they often used a cover or front to keep up appearances; and they needed access to shipments of alcohol.<a name="elena"></a></p><p>It&rsquo;s not the building itself that made a successful speakeasy, so much as its management and business savvy. And that much about running a bar hasn&rsquo;t changed &mdash; even if modern speakeasies, like the ones that inspired Elena&rsquo;s question, don&rsquo;t have to worry about hiding the booze.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/elena%20photo.jpg" style="height: 289px; width: 190px; float: left;" title="" /><span style="font-size:22px;">We&rsquo;ve got an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p>Our question about speakeasies comes from someone who has only been able to legally drink for two years. Elena Hadjimichael graduated in early June from the University of Chicago, where she majored in international studies. Now she&rsquo;s off to New York University, where she&rsquo;ll study law. But before she skipped town, Elena wanted to learn about the history of Chicago&rsquo;s prohibition-era watering holes.</p><p>&ldquo;One of my favorite bars in Chicago is The Violet Hour, which is kind of in the speakeasy style,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;So I was interested in what more original speakeasies might have been like in Chicago.&rdquo; Another &ldquo;modern speakeasy&rdquo; that comes to mind, she says, is <a href="http://nymag.com/listings/bar/angels_share/" target="_blank">Angel&rsquo;s Share</a> in New York&rsquo;s East Village. It&rsquo;s an exclusive whisky bar cached behind a Japanese restaurant.</p><p>Elena grew up in Reston, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. She spent three years in Paris before coming to Chicago. She also happens to be a member of the University of Chicago team that tackled a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/history-and-mystery-behind-chicago%E2%80%99s-produce-market-107918" target="_blank">Curious City question about Chicago&rsquo;s wholesale produce markets</a>.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a reporter for <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/" target="_blank">WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City</a> and a <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">freelance journalist</a>. Follow him at cabentley.com and on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p><p><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/236180239/A-Mixologist-s-Guide-to-a-Chicago-Speakeasy" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/speakeasy%20graphic%204.jpg" style="height: 906px; width: 620px;" title="" /></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shot-history-ingredients-chicago-speakeasy-110616 Long-forgotten landscape architect helped save the Indiana Dunes http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/long-forgotten-landscape-architect-helped-save-indiana-dunes-110378 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jens%20Jensen%201.jpg" style="float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Danish-born Jens Jensen helped develop Chicago’s park system. He’s also credited with helping preserve much of the Indiana Dunes. (Photo provided by Carey Lundin)" />As the temperature rises, thousands will be flocking to the <a href="http://www.indianadunes.com/" target="_blank">Indiana Dunes</a> this summer. But if it weren&rsquo;t for a little-known landscape architect, the miles of beaches along southern Lake Michigan might not exist today.</p><p>Jens Jensen first became known for his pioneering work on Chicago&rsquo;s park system a century ago. The new documentary <a href="http://www.jensjensenthelivinggreen.org/" target="_blank"><em>Jens Jensen, the Living Green</em></a> also shows his role in saving the Indiana Dunes from industrial destruction.&nbsp;</p><p>WBEZ&rsquo;s Michael Puente recently sat down with the film&rsquo;s director Carey Lundin. She began by talking about how the Danish-born Jensen first ended up in Chicago.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jens Jensen 2.jpg" style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; height: 496px; width: 620px;" title="Carey Lundin (middle) on location shooting the documentary Jens Jensen The Living Green. (Photo provided by Carey Lundin)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Carey Lundin (middle) on location shooting the documentary Jens Jensen The Living Green. (Photo provided by Carey Lundin)</em></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 15:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/long-forgotten-landscape-architect-helped-save-indiana-dunes-110378 New exhibit takes unique look at death, food and remembrance http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/new-exhibit-takes-unique-look-death-food-and-remembrance-109974 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/death exhibit.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When someone passes away today, it&rsquo;s pretty common for friends and family to reminisce about them over food and drink. Just think about all those casseroles and cookies that pile up or about hoisting a glass at an Irish wake.</p><p>It turns out, in some ancient cultures, that use of food went, well, further.</p><p>A new show at the University of Chicago&rsquo;s Oriental Institute opens Tuesday, and it takes an unusual look at death. The show&rsquo;s called <a href="http://oi.uchicago.edu/museum/special/remembrance/" target="_blank">&ldquo;In Remembrance of Me: Feasting with the Dead in the Ancient Middle East</a>.&rdquo;</p><p>It examines how we&rsquo;ve remembered our loved ones across cultures and time, and the ways people have tried to control how they&rsquo;ll be thought of too. It highlights some ancient Middle Eastern cultures that believed souls lived on in monuments and needed to be fed so later generations could just come and hang out with them.</p><p>&ldquo;Cultures all over world, in all different periods in all areas of the world have done this, have had some way of maintaining contact their deceased ancestors,&rdquo; said Emily Teeter, a research associate and special exhibits coordinator at the Oriental Institute.</p><p>&ldquo;In Egyptian theology, they thought they would live forever, as long as they were remembered by the living,&rdquo; she said, adding that this ancient culture believed part of the soul lived on in monuments, and keeping those souls alive required lots and lots of food.</p><p>She pointed to a stone slab with an engraving of a couple who were unmistakably Egyptian, with angular black wigs, jeweled collars.</p><p>All over the monument, there are tiny carvings of birds, oxen, bread, even beer. Teeter said those are instructions on what to bring the couple to keep them alive: They wanted a thousand each of oxen, birds, bread and beer.</p><p>&ldquo;The Egyptian dead were apparently constantly hungry,&rdquo; Teeter said. &ldquo;...To stay alive you need to eat, and their whole goal with mummification, with creating these monuments, is to live eternally.&rdquo;</p><p>Teeter said the couple - who died more than 4,000 years ago -- even planned ahead on what to do once all their descendants had passed away, and there was no one to bring them food anymore. The engraving says that if visitors don&rsquo;t happen to have 1,000 oxen on them, it&rsquo;s enough to just pray for the food.</p><p>And it&rsquo;s not just the ancient Middle East where rites like this happened. At an excavation site in Vatican City, University of Chicago Divinity School Dean Margaret Mitchell saw tubes sticking out of burial sites. She said that was so people could pour in beverages to share with their dead loved ones.</p><p>Mitchell said some Roman catacombs had tables for people to eat between rows of burial urns.</p><p>&ldquo;Whether the dead can still eat a Twinkie or can still drink a good glass of merlot, it&rsquo;s a way of tenderly caring for the dead,&rdquo; Mitchell said.</p><p>The monuments go beyond providing the living with that connection to the dead, or assuring the dead will keep getting fed. In some cases, these statues and stones let people control how they&rsquo;ll be remembered.</p><p>The exhibit&rsquo;s showpiece is a replica of an ornately carved memorial stone of a man named Katumuwa. He&rsquo;s in fancy dress, sitting at a banquet table full of food, looking relaxed and happy in the afterlife. Before he died, commissioned it himself.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not just &lsquo;Pete was here,&rsquo; but it&rsquo;s even bigger,&rdquo; Mitchell said. She likened this memorial stone to the huge monument Illinois politician Roland Burris has had built, even though he&rsquo;s still very much alive.</p><p>It&rsquo;s like saying, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not going to leave it to the winds or your children to decide how you&rsquo;re going to be remembered, but I want to steer that process myself,&rdquo; Mitchell said. &ldquo;In some ways, the monuments are like a fist to the sky that says, I refuse to be forgotten.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a WBEZ producer/reporter covering religion, culture and science. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes">@LynetteKalsnes</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 05:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/new-exhibit-takes-unique-look-death-food-and-remembrance-109974 O'Hare's ghost: Terminal 4 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/ohares-ghost-terminal-4-109632 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: A Curious City<a href="https://soundcloud.com/curiouscity/how-bad-is-this-years-winter"> podcast episode</a> features this story, beginning at 5 minutes, 25 seconds. You can subscribe to the podcast on <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/curious-city/id568409161">iTunes</a> or through <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CuriousCityPodcast" target="_blank">Feedburner</a>.</em></p><p>O&rsquo;Hare International &mdash; our area&rsquo;s flagship airport and one of the nation&rsquo;s busiest &mdash; is the nexus for more than just travel; judging by the number of questions Curious City receives about ORD, it&rsquo;s a center of mystery as well. We&rsquo;ve answered a question about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-why-there-aviary-o%E2%80%99hare-airport-102520">whether there&rsquo;s an aviary on the airport&rsquo;s grounds</a>, but we&rsquo;ve also been sent more bread-and-butter questions about the airport, such as what <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/744">impact it may have on property values and development</a>.</p><p>The sheer number is not a complaint (we encourage you to <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/">ask your own </a>O&rsquo;Hare-related question, by the way!), but more of a setup to introduce the question that&rsquo;s had more versions of it asked than any other. It was pretty much random luck that we picked this particular one from teacher and writer Tim Troemner of Prospect Heights.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Why isn&#39;t there a terminal 4 at O&#39;Hare? They have terminals 1, 2, 3, and 5.&rdquo;</em></p><p>But it&rsquo;s a good thing we took on Tim&rsquo;s version of this question since, he later told me, this mystery has been his &ldquo;lifelong concern.&rdquo; Given that he&rsquo;s thirty years old, he&rsquo;s really applied the pressure to put this question to rest!</p><p>Well, the answer&rsquo;s not deep, but it <em>is </em>interesting, and it&rsquo;s got a kicker, to boot: There&rsquo;s an easy way to find the former whereabouts of the elusive, now ghost-like terminal.</p><p><strong>The short-lived Terminal 4</strong></p><p>The way O&rsquo;Hare is set up now, Terminals 1, 2 and 3 are on one side, while Terminal 5 is way off on the other &mdash; almost like a thumb. But in this metaphoric hand, the forefinger is missing, and that&rsquo;s the former site of Terminal 4.</p><p>Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride says there was a Terminal 4 ... once upon a time.</p><p>&ldquo;It was a temporary international terminal here from about 1985 until 1993,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tim t for web.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; height: 181px; width: 230px;" title="Tim Troemner told Curious City that knowing more about O'Hare's Terminal 4 was a 'lifelong concern' of his. (Photo courtesy of Tim Troemner)" />Let&rsquo;s back up a bit. Just before 1985 O&rsquo;Hare had three terminals, but United Airlines wanted more space and the airport was taking on more international travel. So the international terminal, (Terminal 1), became United&rsquo;s hub. Terminals 2 &amp; 3 stayed domestic. Terminal 4 was assigned to international flights.</p><p>According to David Woodcock, whose 50-year career at O&rsquo;Hare included a stint in Terminal 4 as Scandinavian Airlines&rsquo; station manager, designers panned Terminal 4 as soon as it was opened. Among other things, Woodcock says, the foreign airline companies found the operating area too small, and there were problems coordinating bus traffic through the site, too. Airlines and designers quickly began planning a new international terminal, which opened as Terminal 5 in 1993.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody was very excited about Terminal 5,&rdquo; says Woodcock. &ldquo;I remember walking through terminal 5 the night before we opened it and said &#39;Wow, this is great, this is terrific.&#39; &rdquo;</p><p>Terminal 4 was quietly closed, having been a victim of the march of progress to Terminal 5.</p><p><strong>But what about the numbers?</strong></p><p>O&rsquo;Hare still had terminals 1, 2, and 3. Why didn&rsquo;t they just call the newest terminal, Terminal 4?</p><p>&ldquo;That would&rsquo;ve been more confusing,&rdquo; said O&rsquo;Hare&rsquo;s Karen Pride, adding that travelers at the time who were familiar with the old Terminal 4 would have headed to the wrong location.</p><p>And maybe there&rsquo;s no need to keep an obsolete number. As pointed out by Woodcock, a traveler is really only concerned with a single location &mdash;&nbsp;the terminal mentioned on their ticket.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4%20sign%201.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="O'Hare's Elevator Center 4 is located not too far from the site of former Terminal 4. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe) " />But the number 4 hasn&rsquo;t completely disappeared from O&rsquo;Hare, and therein lies the possibility of some confusion. There <em>are&nbsp;</em>signs displaying the number 4 at O&#39;Hare; however, they&#39;re associated with a bank of elevators near a parking garage and the airport&#39;s current-day bus terminal. That puts &quot;Elevator Center 4&quot; close to the former site of airport Terminal 4.&nbsp;</p><p>Maybe the elevators&#39; numbering is a subtle joke about the old Terminal 4, one that can still make some O&rsquo;Hare workers smile.</p><p>&ldquo;They keep everyone puzzled here,&rdquo; one told me. &ldquo;It keeps Chicago as interesting as it is.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Yolanda Perdomo is a news anchor and reporter at WBEZ. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/yolandanews"> @yolandanews</a><a href="http://twitter.com/yolandanews" target="_blank"> </a>and on <a href="https://plus.google.com/106564114685277342468/posts">Google+</a></em></p></p> Tue, 04 Feb 2014 13:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/ohares-ghost-terminal-4-109632 Schoenhofen Brewery: Of suds and (unfounded) suspicions http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/schoenhofen-brewery-suds-and-unfounded-suspicions-109530 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/3228849121_80a727e9d1_o[1].jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ted Land asked Curious City to clear up rumors about the old Schoenhofen Brewery in Chicago&rsquo;s Pilsen neighborhood.</p><p>Besides wanting to get a snapshot of the brewery in its heyday, Land also wanted someone to get to the bottom of persistent hearsay about the facility.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s his entire request, in his own words:</p><blockquote><p><em>My brother lives next door to the old Schoenhofen Brewery on W. 18th st. near Pilsen. I&#39;ve often wondered about the now-shuttered facility -- how busy it was and what they produced there. A quick internet search reveals some websites stating that Schoenhofen was once one of the largest brewers in the Midwest, which even had its own spring supplying fresh water to the operation. Another site mentions something about how federal agents seized the brewery during WWI because members of the Schoenhofen family were broadcasting radio messages to Germany from the brewery&#39;s tower. Any truth to this?</em></p></blockquote><p>My own investigation didn&rsquo;t get far; I found many anecdotes about the brewery, but no definitive source could end the confusion for good.</p><p>But then I found a relevant story in Mash Tun Journal. Paul Durica, a recent University of Chicago Ph.D. and frequent <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994">Curious City collaborator</a>, brought his immense research skills to bear on the Schoenhofen rumors &mdash; once and for all.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Durica shared his findings on an episode of the <a href="http://wbez.org/strangebrews">Strange Brews </a>podcast, joining Ted Land, me and my co-host, Alison Cuddy, for a taping in Pilsen, just a few blocks from the Schoenhofen Brewery. Among the points he took up:&nbsp;</div><ul><li class="image-insert-image ">Rumors of radio signals being broadcast to the German enemy during WWI.</li><li class="image-insert-image ">Claims about the brewery&#39;s water purity</li><li class="image-insert-image ">The brewery&#39;s appearance in the Blues Brother movie</li><li class="image-insert-image ">The brewery&#39;s creation of Green River soda pop</li></ul><p>After the conversation Land said, &ldquo;That&rsquo;s well more than I thought I&rsquo;d learn about this building. I still want to see the artesian springs, though.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Strange Brews is WBEZ&#39;s podcast covering craft beer and related culture. Hosted by Andrew Gill, Alison Cuddy and Tim Akimoff, episodes are recorded on location around the Midwest and include interesting guests including brewers, artists and craft beer lovers.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/andrewgill">Follow web producer Andrew Gill on Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 17:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/schoenhofen-brewery-suds-and-unfounded-suspicions-109530 After four years on the beat, architecture blogger bids adieu http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2014-01/after-four-years-beat-architecture-blogger-bids-adieu-109461 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capture_2.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>This blog started four years ago this month.&nbsp;</p><p>During that time you&#39;ve been gracious enough to indulge me as I wrote about new buildings, explored abandoned structures, documented lesser-known streetscapes and found obscure movies and video&mdash;all in service of telling stories about Chicago&#39;s built environment.</p><p>Some of these explorations were pure fun, like the time Columbia College&mdash;which owns the former Johnson Publishing Company headquarters on south Michigan Avenue&mdash;let me photograph the building&#39;s perfectly-intact <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-01/soul-survivor-look-intact-and-avant-garde-interiors-ebonyjet-building-104868">1970s mod interiors</a>.</p><p>Others were tougher to swallow, such as the demolition of the former Michael Reese Hospital. Wrecking those buildings compounded an earlier, and greater, civic tragedy: that a world-class medical institution like Reese would be allowed to waste away in the first place. The continual erosion of building and population from the greater South Side was another point of concern.</p><p>And there are more stories: The redevelopment of the city&#39;s neighborhoods; the fate of all those shuttered schools; the midcentury architecture and classic churches at are at risk. But they are stories others will have to tell. This is my last blog post for WBEZ.</p><p>It&#39;s been a good run here and I&#39;ve been treated well. But I&#39;ve just landed a new job at the University of Chicago working with artist and placemaker Theaster Gates that&#39;ll demand my full energies.&nbsp;</p><p>After years of sounding the trumpet about the importance of assisting neighborhoods, I figured it was time to join in and do some work of a different sort.</p><p>So a hearty thanks to WBEZ and executive producer Justin Kaufmann who brought me in four years ago and named the blog &quot;Beyond the Boat Tour&quot; (I wasn&#39;t fond of that name, originally&mdash;and I caught flak from friends at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, as you might imagine). But after a while, the title grew on me. And praise is due to Digital Content Director Tim Akimoff and his team who manage a stable of bloggers of which I was proud to be a member.</p><p>My biggest &quot;thank you&quot; goes out to you readers. You&#39;ve suggested ideas, posed questions, praised what you liked and challenged what you read. All of that made me better, sharper and appreciative. And let&#39;s stay in touch. You can follow me on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/leebey" target="_blank">@leebey</a>, Facebook and <em><a href="http://soulcloset.blogspot.com">Lee Bey&#39;s Soul Closet</a>,&nbsp;</em>a personal blog devoted to 20th Century African-American pop culture, movies, film and ephemera, that will re-debut in a few weeks.</p></p> Tue, 07 Jan 2014 05:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2014-01/after-four-years-beat-architecture-blogger-bids-adieu-109461 100 years of Chicago bungalows http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/100-years-chicago-bungalows-109448 <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/Bungalows%20Cover%20Image2_sm.jpg" style="height: 384px; width: 960px;" title="There are more than 80,000 bungalows in Chicago, accounting for nearly one-third of the city's single-family housing stock. (Photos by Robin Amer)" /></div><p>When it came time for Carleen Lorys&#39; parents to buy their first home, they selected a brand new ranch. It was the 1950s, and this was the culmination of their American dream.</p><p>But their daughter grew up eyeing the row of old bungalows across the street.</p><p>&quot;I loved the sturdiness, I loved the glass,&quot; Lorys said. &quot;They looked solid.&quot;</p><p>Other places have their bungalows -- California, Michigan, Milwaukee. But in Chicago a bungalow has come to mean a single-family home, one-and-a-half stories tall, longer than it is wide, built between 1910 and 1940. It is made of brick -- yellow ochre, russet, deep red, whatever -- usually with stone trim. It has a low-pitched roof with overhanging eaves, a full basement and a front entrance that&#39;s set off to the side.</p><p>And here, at least, they are nearly ubiquitous. There are more than 80,000 bungalows in Chicago, making them a critical part of the city&#39;s architectural landscape as well as accounting for &quot;nearly one-third of the city&#39;s single-family housing stock.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s according to the <a href="http://www.chicagobungalow.org/">Historic Chicago Bungalow Association</a>, the agency responsible for cataloguing and promoting these homes. And this year and next, the bungalow association will celebrate what is roughly the 100th birthday of this housing type in Chicago.</p><p>There were a small number of bungalows built here in 1907 and 1908, and another handful in 1910. But Mary Ellen Guest, the association&#39;s executive director, said that the building of bungalows really picked up a century ago.</p><p>&quot;Bungalows really started to catch fire in 1913 and 1914,&quot; Guest said, in large part because a population boom was underway. The city grew by more than 500,000 people -- from 2.2 million to 2.7 million -- between 1910 and 1920, according to data from the University of Illinois at Chicago.</p><p>The city would gain close to 675,000 additional residents by 1930, growth that, geographically, maps nearly perfectly to the contours of the &quot;bungalow belt,&quot; the area of greatest bungalow concentration. The belt &quot;is literally a &#39;C&#39; that goes around the old center city,&quot; Guest said. &nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bungalow%20map.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Bungalows are largely clustered in the city's 'bungalow belt,' which was developed between 1910 and 1940. (Image courtesy of the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association)" />The workaday architects and developers who built these homes sometimes did so just a lot or two at a time. But often they built in clusters of 30 homes or more, creating street after street lined with nothing but bungalows. There are <a href="http://www.chicagobungalow.org/bungalow-communities/historic-districts">10 bungalow districts</a> in Chicago listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Six (the Falconer, North Mayfair, Wrightwood, Rogers Park Manor, Talman West Ridge and Schorch Irving Park Gardens Historic Districts) are on the North Side and four (the South Park Manor, South Shore, West Chatham and Auburn Gresham Historic Districts) are on the South Side.</p><p>How fancy these homes were depended on when they were built, and for whom. More ornate bungalows can have wide pentagonal porches, emerald-colored mission-style tile roofs and delicate, Prairie Style stained glass windows. Others are more plain and utilitarian, with red brick and a simpler facade. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>But like the contemporaneous two-flat, bungalows housed the backbone of Chicago&#39;s middle class. &quot;Sociologically, (a) bungalow used to signify a specific kind of homeowner,&quot; Guest said. Bungalows meant carpenters and mail carriers, or firemen and printers, as Mike Royko wrote in &quot;Boss,&quot; his biography of former Mayor Richard J. Daley.</p><p dir="ltr">The book opens in Bridgeport on the Daley family home, a bungalow built by the mayor and his wife, Eleanor &quot;Sis&quot; Daley, in 1936:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><em>Sometime after seven o&#39;clock a black limousine glides out of the garage of the police station on the corner, moves less than a block, and stops in front of a weathered pink bungalow at 3536 South Lowe Avenue. . . It&#39;s an unlikely house for such a car. A passing stranger might think that a rich man had come to visit his people in the old neighborhood. It&#39;s the kind of sturdy brick house, common in Chicago, that a fireman or a printer would buy. Thousands like it were put up by contractors in the 1920s and 1930s from standard blueprints in an architectural style dubbed &lsquo;carpenter&#39;s delight.&rsquo;</em></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Today bungalow owners are as diverse as the city itself, with the bulk of the homes located in largely black and Latino neighborhoods. &quot;Jumbo bungalows,&quot; as Guest calls them, can go for as much as $700,000, depending on the location. But there are also bargains to be had for under $200,000, according to Dream Town Realty.</p><p>Current bungalow owners can join Guest&#39;s group, which boasts nearly 15,000 members, as long as they haven&#39;t made significant alterations to the outside of the home.</p><p>&quot;Your house can be certified if you don&rsquo;t put those pop-tops on them,&quot; Guest said, referring to vinyl-sided second-story additions, almost with a shudder. &quot;We encourage people to do whatever they want inside.&quot;</p><p>After Carleen Lorys and her husband, Jan, purchased their own bungalow in West Rogers Park in 1983, they set about exposing the bright arched windows the previous owner had covered up. Their home has aged well, and they love it so much that Carleen said they hope to stay there another 30 years.</p><p>&quot;Hopefully our next move is to the cemetery,&quot; she said with a laugh.</p><p><em>Below: Take a virtual tour of Jan and Carleen Lorys&#39; bungalow, and the historic bungalows of two other Chicago families.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a reporter in Chicago. You can follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" height="480px" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://zeega.com/160824/embed" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" height="480px" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://zeega.com/160825/embed" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" height="480px" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://zeega.com/160826/embed" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" height="480px" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://zeega.com/160846/embed" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 30 Dec 2013 07:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/100-years-chicago-bungalows-109448 Gone but not totally forgotten: Chicago Park District Administration building http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-12/gone-not-totally-forgotten-chicago-park-district-administration-building-1 <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/379274pr.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 474px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">A decade has passed since the Soldier Field renovation was completed.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The propriety (and $600 million expense) of putting a new seating bowl half-way down into the confines of the neo-classical stadium made the project one of the most hotly-debated public projects of a generation or more. So much so, comparatively few back then noticed the redesign also meant the outright demolition of the Chicago Park District Administration Building, an unusual pre-War modernist structure designed by architects Holabird &amp; Root.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Built in 1939 for the then-new park district, the long, four-story limestone building, 425 E. McFetridge Dr., abutted Soldier Field&#39;s northern edge, as the image above shows.</div><p>The vanished building is worth a revisit. The old headquarters, with its strong WPA modern design and European modernist inflections, was unusual for Chicago&mdash;if only because so little on that scale was built here in the 1930s. The building lives on, thanks to a compelling set of <a href="http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=chicago%20park%20district%20administration">Historic American Building Survey</a> images on the Library of Congress website. The photos accompanying this piece come from there.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Here&#39;s a photo of the lobby during the building&#39;s final years. You can get sense of the building&#39;s modernity with the circular recessed lights and the marble walls:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><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/376634cr.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 487px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The open staircase, with its minimalist, curved railings...nice:</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/379283pr.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">And look at this enclosed garden out back, with seating, located outside the building&#39;s basement dining hall:</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/379297pr.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 484px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Here&#39;s the park district board room:<br /><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/376636cr.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 480px;" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">And here&#39;s a photo taken from the roof of the Field Museum showing the building and the stadium&mdash;pre-renovations&mdash;behind it:</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/376629cr.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 487px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The administration building was in sad shape in its last years. The park district estimated it would have then $20 million to fix up the old building&mdash;and that was in the mid-1990s.</div></div></div></div></div></div><p>It was demolished in 2001 and the agency took up residence, as renters, at 541 N. Fairbanks.</p></p> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-12/gone-not-totally-forgotten-chicago-park-district-administration-building-1 Moving in: Why old buildings are getting new business http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/moving-why-old-buildings-are-getting-new-business-109414 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: This story was produced through a collaboration between Curious City and a&nbsp;University of Chicago class called &quot;Buildings As Evidence,&quot; taught by professor Sarah Lopez. Reporting, writing and production contributions from Temple Shipley, Katrina Nygaard, Justin Manley and James Baatz.</em></p><p>The city of Chicago is a well-known hub of historic architecture, architectural tourism, boat tours and rabid debates over building preservation.</p><p>So what happens when this architectural pride has the potential to get dented by &mdash; of all things &mdash; retail buildings targeted and designed for exurbs, suburbs and strip malls? This is more than a hypothetical issue because in recent years big retailers have been expanding into urban markets, the Windy City included.</p><p>The property-quest stories of stores like Target, Walmart and local stalwart Walgreens, for example, aren&rsquo;t necessarily new. After all, many corporate retailers even say they design stores to be built (or even demolished) easily, and they often start from scratch when operating in the suburbs. In the last year, though, some companies have chartered new territory in older, existing spaces &mdash; particularly in cities with deep-rooted architecture like Chicago.</p><p>Katrina Nygaard used to work at the intersection of Damen, Milwaukee and North Avenue, right where a Walgreens opened in a historic and long-abandoned bank building in 2012. She knew that surrounding neighborhoods Wicker Park and Bucktown had a tendency toward historic preservation, but she still questioned the motives behind big, corporate retailers to jump on the local bandwagon.</p><p>So, she asked Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What&rsquo;s driving the decision for some retail corporations to reappropriate old spaces in urban areas?</em></p><p>With help from Katrina and her University of Chicago classmates James Baatz, Temple Shipley and Justin Manley &mdash; who collaborated with Curious City as part of a course called &ldquo;Buildings as Evidence&rdquo; &mdash; we learn how a corporation&rsquo;s deep pockets can help sell us our own city&rsquo;s history as well a Cubs T-shirt in the check-out line.</p><p><strong>Small is the new big</strong></p><p>Katrina, our question-asker, says she&rsquo;s particularly interested in why retail corporations appropriate historic spaces.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re a more flexible type of operation in terms of what kind of merchandise they&rsquo;re selling,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Target merchandise is small and varied enough to just fit in your hand.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s especially the case for the company&rsquo;s CityTarget locations, a small batch of &ldquo;re-imagined&rdquo; stores designed for the mostly-carless, grab-and-go lifestyle of the company&rsquo;s increasingly urban customers. Six CityTarget locations opened in 2012 across the U.S., one in Chicago&rsquo;s century-old Sullivan Center, formerly the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company building, downtown.</p><p>CityTarget&rsquo;s goal? To bring the suburban experience to the urban guest, says company spokesperson Erika Winkels.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re not going to find a 30-pound bag of dog food in a CityTarget location,&rdquo; she adds.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/target buy stuff_0.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="The Louis Sullivan building appealed to the Target Corporation because its architecture strengthened the Target brand, which is 'very much about the design of objects,' says a Target spokesperson. Chicago's CityTarget caters to urban consumers. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p>And that makes sense. Who wants to wrestle an oversized bag of Lamb Meal formula down State Street?</p><p>But that logic &mdash; simple as it seems &mdash; actually took a long time for corporate retailers to act on. It took <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304830704577493032619987956" target="_blank">mass migrations of people from suburbia to cities</a>, monumental changes in consumer preferences and (maybe) a fight or two from local governments before key retailers looked beyond the big-box to smaller, variety-packed oases.</p><p>Corporate America&rsquo;s recent realization to reappropriate urban structures is worth tracing because it suggests a new attention to brand identity and design that&rsquo;s forced to coexist with the built environment.</p><p>In most cases, that hasn&rsquo;t happened before.</p><p><strong>The comfort zones of control freaks</strong></p><p>When companies with strong holds in suburban markets (say, Target, Walgreens, or Wal-Mart), move into urban space, they&rsquo;re moving away from a business strategy that&#39;s borne their financial success.</p><p>A lot of that financial success comes from having tight control in areas without much external pressure from the community or local government, says Zeb McLaurin, the developer of the new Target store on the former lot of Cabrini Green.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Chicago%20Division%20vw%201.png" style="height: 240px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="This is the design for the Target store that opened on the corner of North Larrabee and West Division Streets in October 2013. The store was built on the former lot of the Cabrini Green public housing development. (Photo courtesy Target Corporation)" /></p><p>The availability of space in the suburbs has allowed many national retailers the freedom to develop unique formulas for maximizing profits, he says.</p><p>&quot;They know what kinds of goods and services they need to sell, they know how much of it they need to stock and how much of it needs to be delivered on a regular basis, et cetera,&rdquo; McLaurin says. &ldquo;So they have a formula which translates into store size, and it&rsquo;s very difficult to deviate from that.&rdquo;</p><p>This formula&rsquo;s worked, McLaurin says, because the companies can replicate it.</p><p>Ninety percent of Americans live within 15 minutes of Wal-Mart, and the corporation is ranked number 1 on the 2013 Fortune 500 list, according to Fortune Magazine. Walgreens and Target are also ranked within the top 50.</p><p>But their replicable recipes for success caused some problems, too.</p><p>&ldquo;These companies grew up in the suburbs. They started out with stores out in the fields where nobody really cared,&rdquo; says <a href="http://garreteakin.com/" target="_blank">Garret Eakin</a>, an architect and <a href="http://www.saic.edu/index.html" target="_blank">SAIC</a> professor who&rsquo;s written about adaptive reuse. &ldquo;Now they&rsquo;ve absorbed all those locations and the market has gotten a lot thinner.&rdquo;</p><p>So, some corporations followed their customers in toward the city, Eakin says, a move that traded some of that control for access to new markets.</p><p>He says he experienced this in his own community. Ironically, it was the Walgreens Corporation &mdash; which actually<a href="http://www.walgreens.com/marketing/about/history/default.jsp" target="_blank"> began its own history</a> near Chicago in 1901 &mdash; that was met with tight building restrictions and demands from his community when it tried to demolish a historic storefront.</p><p><strong>New frontier in old buildings</strong></p><p>Eakin lives in the Village of Oak Park, on Chicago&rsquo;s western border. When he heard Walgreens was slated to open on a historic corner there in 2011, Eakin dreaded it. After all, noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright began his career in Oak Park and built several homes, including his own, in the area. While Oak Park isn&rsquo;t necessarily &ldquo;urban,&rdquo; it is historic. And many residents want to keep it that way.</p><p>It&rsquo;s no surprise, then, that some Oak Parkers fought against Walgreens opening in the Collins Building, which has stood at the corner of Madison Street and Oak Park Avenue since 1922. They eventually reached an agreement with Walgreens that would preserve the building&rsquo;s facade.</p><p>It was the first Walgreens store to reappropriate an existing structure. Given constraints from local government, Walgreens developers and architects were forced to rethink traditional store structures. Walgreens even documented the process and its take-aways in a presentation called &#39;<a href="http://www.architecture.org/document.doc?id=676" target="_blank">Reinventing the Retail Drugstore</a>&#39;.</p><p>The store was an immediate success when it opened in 2011. It featured geothermal heating, solar-powered hand dryers and LED lights. Corporations flew their CEOs from all over the country to take a look at the Oak Park store, and it was also filled with local customers, Eakin says.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Let&rsquo;s be clear, this unique project was realized because the community demands were met after Walgreens bent their development rules,&rdquo; Eakin <a href="http://www.garreteakin.com/Wednesday_Journal/revival.html" target="_blank">wrote in an article</a> for the Oak Park Wednesday Journal. &ldquo;Could this very successful company continue now to do the right thing in other locations across the nation?&rdquo;</p><p>Flash forward a few years, and corporations across the country are moving into old buildings. Oak Park&rsquo;s success proved there was money to be made in adaptive reuse. So, some companies decided to take advantage of the new frontier and move into empty Chicago buildings, but without pleas from the local community.</p><p><strong>The branding of history</strong></p><p>Last year, Target debuted its Chicago CityTarget store in the century-old Louis Sullivan building on State Street, while Wal-Mart opened an &ldquo;express&rdquo; branch in an old Pearl art supplies store off the Chicago Avenue Brown Line stop. Walgreens, too, opened an urban store in the landmark Noel State Bank building on Wicker Park&rsquo;s six corners &mdash; the one that sparked Katrina Nygaard&rsquo;s curiosity.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/danxoneil%20%282%29.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Walgreens opened a store in the historic Noel State Bank building in Wicker Park in 2012. This is the store that sparked our question-asker's curiosity about corporations adaptively reusing old buildings. (Flickr/danxoneil)" /></p><p>The store&rsquo;s openings have sparked applause, protest and much discussion in community development and activist circles as well as media. In a way, the adaptively reused stores became architectural spectacles on their own.</p><p>&ldquo;I do think some corporations are trying to capitalize on the fact that they are inhabiting these converted buildings,&rdquo; says Jenn Masengarb, spokesperson for the Chicago Architecture Foundation. &ldquo;People are just as curious to see what they&rsquo;ve done with the space as they are about what they&rsquo;re selling.&rdquo;</p><p>This is particularly the case for Chicago. We speak architecture here in the city, Masengarb says, so any move by corporations to inhabit Chicago&rsquo;s architecturally significant spaces is a nod to Chicago&rsquo;s history and an attempt to connect with a source of local pride.</p><p>For example, the ornamental terra cotta, bronze and cast-iron exterior of the Sullivan Center, now emblazoned with a Target logo, she says, was meant to be both resilient and attractive when it opened as a retail space in 1899. Louis Sullivan&rsquo;s building literally defined Chicago architecture.</p><p>Little wonder, then, why the building appealed to the Target Corporation as it hunted for urban storefronts.</p><p>&ldquo;We know the building&rsquo;s history means so much to the people of Chicago,&rdquo; says Target spokesperson Erika Winkels. &ldquo;So we really wanted to preserve that while creating a uniquely Target experience.&rdquo;</p><p>And what is the Target experience? &ldquo;Great design that should be affordable and accessible to all,&rdquo; according to the most recent slide of<a href="https://corporate.target.com/about/history" target="_blank"> an interactive timeline on Target&rsquo;s website</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;The Target brand is very much about the design of objects,&rdquo; Masengarb says. &ldquo;K-Mart or something would have been less interested in the fact that it&rsquo;s a Louis Sullivan building.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Chris%20Smith.jpg" style="width: 205px; height: 300px; float: left;" title="CityTarget opened in the former Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building, now the Sullivan Center, in 2012. The building was designed by Louis Sullivan and opened for retail in 1899. (Flickr/Chris Smith)" /></p><p>In other words, corporations that could use existing architecture to promote their own brands began to do so. And this is a new, monumental leap in marketing, considering that only a few years before, Target was stuck in Chicago&rsquo;s suburbs.</p><p>Walgreens is another interesting example, as it&rsquo;s recently used adaptively reused buildings to help reinvent its own brand. The company first opened its doors in Chicago in 1901 as a drugstore, but it soon expanded to the suburbs and added convenience items and cosmetics to its product line.</p><p>Its company history changed course a bit, though, when it opened a store in the Noel State Bank building on 1601 North Milwaukee Ave in 2012. The new &ldquo;flagship&rdquo; store retained much of the building&rsquo;s original design, including its terra-cotta exterior, ornamental cornices and two-story pillars topped with Corinthian capitals. Inside, the hexagonal skylight, large windows and geometric, terra cotta ceiling were all restored. (You can read more about its renovation on the blog <a href="http://blog.chicagoarchitecture.info/2012/11/20/first-look-flagship-walgreens-inside-historic-noel-state-bank-building/" target="_blank">ArchitectureChicago</a>).</p><p>Most significantly, the new Walgreens store downplays its historic role as a pharmacy for the sake of attracting the urban consumer. It features a wine and cheese section, grab-and-go lunches and even a small cafe. The company did, however, transform the building&rsquo;s underground vault into something it now calls a &ldquo;Vitamin Vault.&rdquo;</p><p>While the Noel State Bank example does show the potential of corporations to restore historic interiors, most examples of adaptive reuse still point to looser interpretations of historic preservation and they usually involve a building&rsquo;s facade.</p><p>As it becomes clear that more corporations are using architecture as a marketing tool, the &quot;architecture&quot; we&#39;re referring to in some cases may be more of an architectural aesthetic than the blueprints, materials, and structural integrity of a building&#39;s insides.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/6965394948_1a150e67b4_b.jpg" style="float: right; height: 210px; width: 280px;" title="The Walgreens Corporation preserved the interior of the Noel State Bank building as much as it did the exterior. (Flickr/danxoneil)" /></p><p><a name="facadomy"></a>Even though Eakin is satisfied with Walgreens&#39; preservation of the 1922 facade in his Oak Park neighborhood, he still calls it &quot;a lobotomy.&rdquo; Turns out there&rsquo;s actually a word for the physical manifestation of compromise between property developers and preservationists. It&rsquo;s called a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facadism" target="_blank">Facadomy</a>. Walgreens, in the Oak Park case, left only the skin of a building that survived about 90 years on its own.</p><p>Similarly, Chicago&#39;s CityTarget preserved Sullivan&#39;s original facade, but the store&#39;s interior is a very simplified version of the original design, Eakin says.</p><p>&quot;You&#39;ve taken out what&#39;s original to it but you&#39;ve preserved the history of the place and street,&quot; he adds. &quot;It&#39;s not the same, but it recalls it in a way that&#39;s, to me, pretty satisfying. Because if a building can&#39;t adapt it&#39;s never going to survive.&quot;</p><p>And that&#39;s where we come in.</p><p><strong>Popular (consumer) culture</strong></p><p>If Eakin&#39;s right, corporations sometimes appropriate old spaces in response to consumer demand. This isn&rsquo;t demand for, say, avocados or appliances. It&rsquo;s also not demand in the sense of &ldquo;community demands,&rdquo; as seen at the Oak Park Walgreens. Instead, companies expect urban residents desire sustainability, unique architecture and preservation.</p><p>&ldquo;You have to fit into the way your customers have changed their thinking about the environment,&rdquo; says Alan Malter, a consumer psychology professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago.</p><p>Malter says a few decades ago cities were emptying out, but today that trend has reversed. So, some corporations are following more than their customers&rsquo; footsteps; they&rsquo;re following their customers&rsquo; psychology.</p><p>As <a href="http://hbr.org/2010/05/back-to-the-city" target="_blank">one article</a> in the Harvard Business Journal puts it, the recent movement of people into cities is about &ldquo;more than evolving tastes; it&rsquo;s at least partly a reaction to <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/articles/urban_sprawl_and_public_health_phr.pdf" target="_blank">real problems created by suburbs</a>.&rdquo; Those problems include obesity, depression and other health risks associated with long commutes and general isolation. Some of these problems, Eakin says, have been made worse by retail corporations that partly created bland suburban environments in the first place.</p><p>&ldquo;You drive down the street and see all these prolific signs everywhere &mdash; everybody just screaming for your attention,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no cohesion in the architecture, no interest in bringing people together and doing things that make them healthy. We&rsquo;re our own worst problem, really.&rdquo;</p><p>That may explain why more people are moving to cities, and why urban consumers may be more sensitive to design and architecture. Corporations have to consider some urbanites&rsquo; preference for existing structures. Often, however, preservation is just a nod.</p><p>&ldquo;The company doesn&rsquo;t have to have all their locations like that,&rdquo; Malter says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a signal that they&rsquo;re capable of that, and that adds a certain amount of class to the brand it didn&rsquo;t previously have.&rdquo;</p><p>So, when Malter first walked into Chicago&rsquo;s CityTarget store on State Street, he says he was expecting a little more. But it still just felt like a Target, he says.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/target%20columns.jpg" style="float: left; height: 255px; width: 340px;" title="The Target logo between two columns designed by Louis Sullivan. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe) " /></p><p>And he&rsquo;s okay with that. To him, the gesture to restore the historic architecture was enough, even if it was splattered with Target logos.</p><p>&ldquo;It makes you stop and think for a second that this brand is more sophisticated than I thought,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Despite the advantages of reappropriating old spaces, Malter says he&rsquo;s not convinced corporations would do so if they didn&rsquo;t have to &mdash; at least in dense, urban environments.</p><p>&ldquo;If a company had its own way its preference would be to keep replicating the formula its already developed,&rdquo; Malter says. &ldquo;Why not? At the end of the day they&rsquo;re all about making profits.&rdquo;</p><p>That gets to the heart of Katrina&rsquo;s question about what&rsquo;s driving some corporate retailers to reappropriate old spaces. It&rsquo;s money: the same thing that&rsquo;s always driven them. What&rsquo;s changed, though, is the tactic in which they&rsquo;re making it, at least in urban markets.</p><p>In Chicago, it seems, that new strategy largely involves architecture with deep ties to our city, and how it feels to live here.</p><p>After CityTarget shoppers step inside between the large, restored pillars of the Sullivan Center, they&rsquo;re greeted by large selections of Chicago-themed souvenirs. They can buy Cubs, Soxs, and Blackhawks T-shirts, postcards of the skyline, and keychains of Buckingham fountain.</p><p>A massive sign that reads &ldquo;Hi, Chicago&rdquo; is backed by a huge, red wall of Target logos. Even the trash cans have a CityTarget logo on them.</p><p>And what is the feeling of <em>Chicago</em>, then?</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/target%20chicago%202.jpg" title="The back wall of Chicago's CityTarget location reads: 'Hi, Chicago.' (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Logan Jaffe is Curious City&#39;s multimedia producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>.&nbsp;</em></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 15:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/moving-why-old-buildings-are-getting-new-business-109414