With an early morning flight home the decision was made to spend the night at the Hilton Hotel in O’Hare Airport. A 9th floor roon facing the runways was great for checking out the terminals, plane watching, and enjoying the sunset.
The control towers were literally just outside our windows.
The train between the terminals alternated amusingly from empty to packed.
The underground walkways between the terminals, the CTA station and the hotel had a number of murals.
With sunset coming before 5 PM local time, the airport was still busy as the sun set, providing great shots.
The great thing was the commute to the terminal took about 10 minutes to walk over, scoot through security and it was off to Tucson! But not before one last sunset photo.
With an afternoon to spend before heading to O’Hare Airport we wandered the Chicago suburbs of Oak Park and River Forest checking out the plethora of FLW works. Doing this tour in the winter, with a recent snow, gives a very different look to the area, with more of the homes exposed due to lack of leaves on the trees.
We start with the George Smith House at 404 Home Avenue in Oak Park. As an early example of his work this home is in a variation of a Queen Anne style known as Shingle. The rooflines and overall cladding gives the home an unusual look.
As we move north through Oak Park we reach the commercial Lake Street, home of Unity Temple. Home to a Unitarian Universalist Church, the building was completed in 1908. It is considered by many to be the first modern building in the world.
Unfortunately we were unable to view the interior.
There are so many FLW houses in Oak Park the neighborhood has been designated as the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District. Our tour of this area starts at 540 Fair Oaks Avenue – the William Fricke House.
This house was completed in 1901 in a 3 story Prairie style.
Just down the street at 515 Fair Oaks Avenue is the Rollin Furbeck House. The large open porches and front tower modifies a typical foursquare looking home. The cost of the lot and home in 1897 was $8250 – less than $300,000 in today’s money – a real bargain.
The house was a wedding present to the Furbeck’s, who only lived in it for a year before selling and moving to New York.
Next stop is the William Martin House at 636 North East Avenue. When William’s brother Darwin visited from Buffalo, New York, he engaged FLW to design a number of building there.
534 North East Avenue is the Harry Goodrich House. Restoration in the 1990s returned it to it’s original look, which as an early FLW work is very different than the later Prairie style homes.
Just down the block at 520 North East Avenue is the Edward Cheney House. With only 1 level above ground, and a large brick wall, it is barely visible from the street.
Next stop is 710 Augusta Street – the Harry Adams House. Completed in 1913 it was one of his later houses build in Oak Park, thus incorporating more of his famed lineal lines. One of the features we often spot when looking for a FLW house is the large concrete planter, which is evident near the steps (being December in Illinois it is void of any flowers).
North Euclid Avenue is another street with multiple FLW homes on it. We start with 321 – the Charles Roberts House. This house was completed in 1879 with FLW remodeling it in 1896.
Dating from 1897 the George Furbeck House is at 223 North Euclid Avenue. In a somewhat unusual look for FLW the front features two octagon shapes. The rooms in front were originally an open porch that was enclosed in 1922.
FLW became infamous for abandoning his family and going to Europe with his mistress in 1909, staying there for an extended period. This home, the Oscar Balch Home at 611 North Kenilworth Avenue was the first home in Oak Park he designed upon his return, completing it in 1911.
This home was one of his first flat roofed designs.
Making our way back down to Chicago Avenue we find 1027 – The Thomas Gale House. This home, as well as two others on the same block, are known as FLW Bootleg houses as they were designed independently by FLW while he was still in the employment of Louis Sullivan – eventually being fired for doing so.
The other two bootleg houses are 1031 and 1019 Chicago Avenue. On this trip missed 1019 – below is the Walter Gale House at 1031. These homes, while not quite the classic FLW look, are very different than most of the other homes of the time, both dating from 1892.
A block away is the corner of Chicago Avenue and Forest Avenue, home to the FLW Home and Studio. The FLW foundation offers numerous tours of the location and neighborhood, so if you are in Oak Park and want a more in depth knowledge of him I recommend stopping by for one or more of the tours.
Forest Avenue has numerous FLW homes on it, starting with 333 – the Nathan Moore Home. Completed in 1895 in a Tudor Revival style, FLW never liked it but did what the client asked (something he became famous for ignoring later in life).
A fire in 1922 gave him a chance to do significant modifications more to his liking.
318 Forest Avenue shows the significant change in FLW’s design style, having been completed in 1902 as the Arthur Heurtley Home. Situated on a large lot, with large overhangs, arches and the ubiquitous planters, it is classic FLW.
Just across the street is 328 Forest Avenue – the Peter Beachy House. An extensive update to an existing cottage, the house features a gabled roof and heavy frames around the windows – very un-FLW.
Another remodel at 313 Forest Avenue is the Edward Hills House. This house has undergone numerous changes from it’s original 1883 construction as a Stick style house. FLW redesigned it in 1906, with subsequent modifications between 1912 and 1965. In 1976 there was a a major fire that destroyed much of the house, leading to a reconstruction and restore.
It does contain rooflines similar to the first house featured on this posting, the George Smith House on Home Avenue.
A small street off of Forest Avenue, Elizabeth Court, is the location of the Laura Gale House. This home was built for the widow of Thomas Gale, the owner of one of the bootleg FLW houses on Chicago Avenue.
This home is considered one of the first small home, prairie style houses that he designed.
As we move to the next suburb over, River Forest, we find the 1893 William Winslow house. As one of Wright’s early designs, it reflects the style of Louis Sullivan, his employer at the time, with the graceful arches and the overall symmetry of the design.
The Ashland Avenue home of Arthur Davenport was a result of a collaboration with another architect, Webster Tomlinson. Dating from 1901 it is a very early Prairie style.
Edgewood Place in River Forest has two FLW homes. This one is known as the Chauncey Williams Home.
Dating from 1895 it has a much higher pitched roof than most FLW designs.
It does utilize the octagon shaped front room, as well as a liberal use of large stones gathered from the nearby Des Plaines River, blending the house into the surrounding landscape.
The second home on Edgewood is the Isabel Roberts home. Ms Roberts at the time was the office manager for FLW at his studio in Oak Park.
Ms Roberts later relocated to Florida where she started an architectural practice, despite no formal training. A number of former Wright draftsmen later occupied the house.
Our last stop on this tour is the James Kibben Ingalls House at 562 Keystone Avenue in River Forest. This was one of his last designs before he took off for Europe with his mistress.
It is indicative of his later works with the clean lines and cantilevered balconies.
If you are a fan of architecture in general, or more specifically the Frank Lloyd Wright styles the Chicagoland area is the center of the universe. I have excluded the numerous other homes that were done in this style by proteges of him, as well as those of him that were located outside of Oak Park or River Forest. There are over 70 existing FLW works in Illinois.
Normally a trip up the Red Line to Addison Station means it is baseball season. But not today, with snow on the ground.
For the past few years the area around Wrigley Field has held a Christmas Market. This year they expanded it to include events on the field inside the stadium, calling the festival ‘Winterland’.
The concourses were decorated for the season.
But it was when you popped out of the tunnel onto the field that the real magic happens. We are standing (on plastic flooring) in left field of the best baseball stadium in the world (sorry Boston). Even though it is dormant in the winter, we are next to the famed ivy covered outfield walls.
The giant baseball in front of the equally famous bleachers was for taking selfies.
For enough money you can rent one of the luxury chalets in front of the out of town scoreboard.
There were a number of activities available to participate in.
It was surreal to watch a small kiddie train run around the infield.
A giant Cubby Bear watched over the scene.
A carousel was located outside the stadium in the Christmas Market area.
Least you forget it is still home of the Chicago Cubs!
In what seems to have become a fairly regular visit, we spent some time in Chicago around the holidays. While the majority are from 2022, a couple of the holiday photos are from previous years.
The CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) decorate an El Train for the holidays. We were fortunate enough once to be standing on the platform as it rolled through.
Always a couple of my favorite buildings are the two at Marina City. This close up shows the pattern that cause some to call them the ‘corn cob’ buildings.
The Van der Mies IBM building reflecting Marina City
The Wrigley Building – from a distance and a close up of the top.
The famed lateral bracing of the John Hancock Tower.
A riveting close up of the Dearborn Street Bridge.
A well decorated alley with those large Chicago fire escape stairs. This view is just off State Street near the theaters.
The Merchandise Mart is only 25 floors high, but with the footprint covering over 2 blocks it has 4 million square feet. When it was completed in 1930 it was the largest building in the world by square footage.
A Pink Line El Train crossing the river into the loop.
Chicago is a great city that is well worth the visit.
The very impressive Chicago Cultural Center started out life as the Main Chicago Public Library. Despite the plethora of legendary Chicago architects this building was designed in the late 1890s by the Boston architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge.
The details are immediately evident as you enter from the Washington Street entrance and start up the staircases.
The main circulation room when it was a library is now known as the Preston Bradley Hall. This room features the largest Tiffany glass dome in the world.
A second view looking straight up with the light in the center, changing the look and coloring of the dome.
At the north end of the building is the Grand Army of the Republic dome. This 40′ diameter dome was designed by Healy & Millet. It contains over 50,000 pieces of glass in a Renaissance pattern.
The Chicago Cultural Center has free admission and a number of exhibits, none of which are as impressive as the building itself.
As we continue to be restricted to any travel the ‘virtual travel’ series is continuing with some history. This posting will detail the history of Chicago through maps and photographs, and take a look at what it looks like now.
In 1840 when New York City already had over 300,000 people, Chicago was just starting as a town with just a few thousand. By 1860 is was in the top 10 with over 100,000, and just 30 years later there was 1.1 million people and Chicago was ‘The Second City’, doubling in population from 1880 to 1890.
Celebrating Chicago through World’s Fairs
It was around this time that Chicago decided to make it’s presence known on the world stage by hosting a World’s Fair. Local leaders lobbied hard to land the right to host this fair with the federal government, winning out over New York, Washington and St Louis.
The site chosen, Jackson Park, provided the 600 acres required. The lead architect was the famed Daniel Burnham, who was a proponent of the ‘City Beautiful’ movement.
While most of the buildings were designed and built to be temporary, there are a few that remain to this day.
With all of the buildings built in a neo-classical design and painted the same color, it became known as The White City.
Getting to the Fair
With the incredible growth of the city from the end of the Civil War to 1890, Chicago’s transit struggled to keep up. Initially private companies had built horse drawn trolleys downtown. In 1892 the first of the famed El’s was completed from 39th Street (Pershing Road) to the Loop. The next year the Chicago and South Side Elevated Railway extended this to the fair site at Jackson Park.
The map below dates from the 1930s but clearly shows the line going south before turning left towards the lake, ending at Jackson Park. (Red Lines denote the El). This company failed not long after the fair ended because there was not enough ridership to maintain financial stability, being sold under foreclosure.
Of note this line was originally not electrified, the coaches were pulled by an engine.
The Chicago History Center has one of the original cars on display.
Green Line Train today
Also note the Midway Plaisance connecting Washington Park and Jackson Park (Green strip on map between the parks). This area was the Entertainment section of the park (more on this below).
Today the Green Line takes a very similar route, although the spur towards the lake only goes to Cottage Grove Avenue, and the southernmost branch is gone.
As noted in the photo description this is the entrance at the Midway Plaisance.
The map detail shows some of the highlights of this area, including the famed Ferris Wheel. While there had been a wooden wheel built in Atlantic City in 1891, but it burned down the next year.
Ferris’s wheel was to be Chicago’s answer to Paris’s Eiffel Tower. It was massive – 264 feet high, with a capacity of 2,160 passengers. So renown was this feature that for many years Ferris Wheel’s were known as ‘Chicago Wheels’
Today Chicago’s Navy Pier has one that, while impressive, is shorter than the original.
The Midway Plaisance today serves as a park area next to the University of Chicago. There are a few reminders of the fair.
The grounds and buildings were magnificent.
The Palace of Fine Arts was one of the few buildings built to remain after the fair.
It serves today as the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry
The Statue of the Republic Was the Centerpiece of the Basin.
While no longer surrounded by water it is one of the few remaining structures from the fair.
But Chicago had a second chance at a World’s Fair just 40 years later, when they hosted the Century of Progress, which ran from May 1933 until October 1934, taking the winter off.
But the city, and world, has had significant change since 1893.
The Auto Club sponsored ‘Routes’ with fair themed names for automobile travelers to come to the city. In addition they sponsored ‘Motor Villages’, campgrounds and motels on the outskirts of town,.
Despite the introduction of the automobile, train travel was still the primary way to get to Chicago.
This Conoco map shows an Illinois Central Railway Station at the entrance to the fair.
In addition to the station at the fairgrounds entrance, there were another 6 train stations downtown, including the commuter rail stations.
Today there are 3, two for the commuter rail and Union Station, and even that station is just a portion of what it was.
Union Station is still very nice, but this grand space above was torn down in 1969.
Once you were in town the El or streetcar network would take you to where you needed to go.
Including directly to the Fair.
Welcome to the Century of Progress World’s Fair entrance.
The skyride took passengers from the main entrance on Columbus Drive to the lake shore. In this photo the Field Museum and the skyline of downtown is clearly visible.
One of the features of the 1933 fair compared to 1893’s is that it was essentially downtown, whereas the Columbian Exposition was a couple of miles south of downtown.
The 1930s was the height of the Art Deco movement (a favorite of mine), and the advertising for the fair highlighted this.
The industrialists of the day had major exhibits. GM even built an assembly line.
You could see the homes of tomorrow.
After the fair an investor purchased the homes and moved them by barge to nearby Indiana, and placed them along the lake shore as an attraction to the community he was building.
Time was tough on the homes, but over the last 20 years or so the state of Indiana has sponsored a program where you can lease them for $1 with the stipulation you fix them up (which costs $1m +). The results are fantastic.
Many Chicago landmarks were part of the fair including Adler Planetarium
as well as the Field Museum and Soldier Field.
Chicago has always used their lake shore for the public’s enjoyment, never more so than during the two World’s Fairs. Part 2 of this series in a few days will focus more on the development of the transportation in the city.
1959 – With the Interstate’s recently been started, Illinois was proud to show one of their’s on the cover. At this time the only freeways in the state were in the Chicago area.
The Tri-State Tollway was one of the first completed. It was one of the first to built service plaza over the traffic lanes.
Hinsdale Oasis today
1961 – Cook County (Chicago) Motor Vehicle Office. From 1900 until 1960 Cook County had the largest population of any county in the United States. It has since been passed by Los Angeles, County, but remains 2nd most populated to this day.
By 1961 freeways had been built through Chicago to downtown from every direction. This view is the Northwest/AKA – Kennedy Expressway. Amazingly there are reversible express lanes in the middle.
This view from 2012 looks much the same.
1968 – Celebrating Illinois’ Sesquicentennial, 150 years of statehood. Who better than Abraham Lincoln for the cover.
1970 – View of the loop downtown Chicago.
1973, 1975 & 1978 – They must have fired the photographer.
1976 – A tribute to the Native Americans and pioneers. The first European explorers in the region were Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, which explains the number of French names for towns.
The Native American tribes included the Miami, Winnebago, Fox, Sacs, and of course – the Illinois.
Cahokia Mounds State Histori Site is the location of a pre-Columbian Native American city that they estimate once had 40,000 residents in the year 1100.
They were, as most tribes in this area, mound builders.
1979 – Transportation in Illinois. While Chicago was a center of the early automotive manufacturing by the 1920s much had gone out of business and moved to Detroit.
Today there are 3 automobile manufacturing facilities in Illinois. The most important is the Chicago Ford Assembly Plant.
This factory is the oldest continually operated factory for Ford.
1983 – Frank Lloyd Wright.
Frank Lloyd Wright had a studio in Oak Park, and design a plethora of fantastic homes and buildings throughout Chicago, and the world.
1985 – People’s of the Past.
1987 – Festivals. Chicago has some of the country’s best festivals.
1989 – Another year, another Lincoln map.
World’s largest Lincoln statue. 72′ high, hanging out in a campground.
1989 – The hill country of Southern Illinois
1991 – Illinois & Michigan Canal. This canal linked the Illinois River to Lake Michigan, thus providing the first interior route from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
When it was in use mules or horses pulled the barges along the canal. (Photo – Chicago Public Library)
Today you can rent a longboat and spend a vacation on the canal. (photo – iandmcanal,org)
1993 – Celebrating Craftmaking.
1995 – History of Illinois Roads. When the first European settlers began to arrive in larger numbers they made their way inland via ‘traces’. These roads generally followed the Native American paths that had been used for hundreds of years.
1995 – Showing the Regions of Illinois.
1997 – Another Lincoln Statue. There are over 200 Lincoln statues in the United States.
This one is in New Salem, Illinois.
New Salem State Historic Site is a reconstructed town that Lincoln lived in from 1831 to 1837. It was from here he was first elected to public office. (Photo from Wikipedia)
Once again in the late 90s and early 2000s a state has chosen to have nondescript scenes on their maps.
2005 – War Memorials throughout Illinois.
2007 & 2011 – Again celebrating the regions of Illinois.
Chicago is easily the most visited part of the state. The architecture here is second to none.
2009 – Lincoln Presidential Library 2015 – Lincoln (again)
Located in Springfield it is an impressive building in a state full of Lincoln tributes.
2013 – Modes of Transportation
O’Hare Airport in Chicago in 1956 (photo from Airways Magazine). For you airport code trivia fans, most have seen baggage routing tags with ORD for this airport.
It was originally a small airport for a factory known as Orchard Place, and gained that code then. ORchardD.
2015 – Mississippi River Bridge. It can easily be forgotten that there the Mississippi River runs the entire western boundary of Illinois. This bridge connects St Louis with southern Illinois.
2017 – Our last stop is at a Lincoln Cabin made out of …. Lincoln Logs.