The much maligned Tour of Evanston has been a long time coming. I have planned this tour for three years and have attempted to run it four times without success. In the intervening time and repeated failures of actually holding a Tour of Evanston, I have completely redone the tour twice. The three routes are all completely different. I managed to keep each of them to under 18 miles, but barely, and each time, I have missed large volumes of must-see homes and sites. It is pathetic.
Take this version for example. Even one of the most topical, trending, in-the-news historical Evanston sites doesn’t make the tour. On May 18, 2015, a contractor for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago was doing work by the CTA Yellow line trail at McCormick and Howard when the embankment supporting the tracks gave way. This has led to a 5 month closing of the Skokie Swift and a major re-construction headache affecting thousands of people, all at the base of an historic industrial Gothic revival masterwork, that, is not on the tour.
Truth be told, Evanston is just too big and too full of amazing to get all into one tour. The three routes have all been dense with stuff to cover. They have all made it difficult to come up with a Greatest Hits record with such a large catalog of great stuff. There are a wider variety of eras and styles than in most communities and Evanston’s footprint is quite large, even by suburban standards. It easily could have been divided into two or more tours. A north and south Evanston Tour, or east and west perhaps. Then perhaps we would at least be able to get on the Channel Trail. Even for a mile. Or dart to the other side of the Channel and enjoy some of the River side parks. Or the Arboretum and Ecology Center.
The items that are NOT on this tour, would make a fine tour. At least on the first go-around, I was able to capture a few lovely examples of the Oakton Historic District, bounded by Oakton on the North, Howard on the south, Ridge on the east and Asbury on the west. Doing this, meant I had to cut out the two Frank Floyd Wright designed homes in the northeastern section of the city in order to get this far south. So this time we see none of the historic district or even the area’s namesake school, where my daughter goes and that I go by nearly every day. This school is designed by Dwight Perkins, a resident of Evanston, one of the founders of Prairie School architecture and one of my favorite architects of all times.
Nuh-uh. Couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even get south of Main Street without making this a 20 mile ride.
Instead, I basically pretend large parts of the west side of the city don’t exist. I ignore a plethora of beautiful homes, churches, schools, businesses, industrial and commercial buildings in Greek Revival, Craftsmen, Italianate, Prairie, Gothic, Stick, International, Colonial Revival, Georgian, Dutch Colonial, Art Deco, Queen Anne, Shingle, Chateauesque and Romanesque styles to name a few. There are dozens of homes built in the 1800s that I pay no mind to. There are numerous landmark sites that we miss by blocks.
Worse yet, I have omitted completely great designs and amazing architecture by such names as Holabird and Roche, John Van Osdel, Daniel Burnham, Howard Van Doren Shaw, Tallmadge and Watson, Myron Hunt, and even the newly relocated John Shellette Van Bergen designed Irving House that was saved from the wrecking ball and transported from its former home in Wilmette to a parking lot along Green Bay road where it sat for months until it was recently lifted onto a new foundation on Crawford. Heck, we don’t even make it west of Dodge.
To be sure, we miss an awful lot of stuff on this tour.
But I bet that you will be blown away by everything that we do get to see. I hope you will join us this Saturday for the Tour of Evanston.
Here is the route: