Your NPR news source

Tumblr site Calumet 412 is a lost-and-found of Chicago's architectural past

The Tumblr site Calumet 412 allows folks to post all sorts of Chicago images and ephemera. There are video clips, ads, political cartoons and more–all telling a bit of the Chicago story.

SHARE Tumblr site Calumet 412 is a lost-and-found of Chicago's architectural past
tumblr-m08ecmxx5w1r79v1io1-500.jpg

The magnificent pile in the above photo, taken in 1919, is the Illinois National Guard First Calvary armory that once stood at Lake Shore Drive and Chicago.

Until now, I’d never seen images of this building. I remember its sturdy, less-embellished successor, which was demolished in the 1990s to build the Museum of Contemporary Art. But this building–a vertical and heroic structure built when the now-packed Streeterville area still had room to grow–was a revelation to me.

And there is more where that came from, courtesy of Calumet 412, a Tumblr that allows folks to post all sorts of Chicago images and ephemera. Users have shared images from the posthumously-celebrated amateur photographers Vivian Maier and Charles Cushman, as well as Library of Congress files such as the one above.

There are video clips, ads, political cartoons and more–all telling a bit of the Chicago story. And since its a story that can’t be told without architecture, buildings are a huge part of Calumet 412. Like this honey below–care to guess what it was?

tumblr-m02q44ng9k1r79v1io1-500.jpg

The above photo almost could be an image of the Lyric Opera’s lobby or something. Actually, it’s a 1911 photo of the Madison Street vestibule of the old Chicago & Northwestern train station. The building was wrecked in 1984 to build the Ogilvie Transportation Center.

I like the photo below, showing the rapidly fleshed-out skeleton of the John Hancock Center. With this image, you get a sense of how startling the building’s height must have been. Look at the Art Deco then-Playboy Building just to the right of the tower on the photo. When it was completed in 1929, the Holabird & Root-designed structure was quite the tall building–just five stories shorter than the city’s tallest, the Chicago Board of Trade. But in the late 1960s, there was a new giant in town. And more to come:

tumblr-lvuhjuohqm1r79v1io1-500-0.jpg

Be prepared to spend some time at Calumet 412. The six-month-old site is constantly updated with all kinds of coolness such as wanted posters, a cop posing with an anarchist’s dead body in a chair and this one of Mies van der Rohe and his iconic 860-880 Lake Shore Drive buildings.

The Latest
Liesl Olson started as director at The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum earlier this month. She joins WBEZ to talk about her future plans for this landmark of Chicago history. Host: Melba Lara; Reporter: Lauren Frost
The city faces criticism for issuing red light camera tickets at intersections where yellow lights fall slightly short of the city’s 3-second policy. And many traffic engineers say the lights should be even longer.
There was a time Chicago gave New York a run for its money. How did we end up the Second City?
Union Gen. Gordon Granger set up his headquarters in Galveston, Texas, and famously signed an order June 19, 1865, “All slaves are free.” President Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday last year.
As the U.S. celebrates the second federal holiday honoring Juneteenth, several myths persist about the origins and history about what happened when enslaved people were emancipated in Texas.