One of the reasons Chicago’s architecture is so fascinating is the quaint little details that escape every day notice. In the facade of a false-fronted two-flat, you might find a family crest, or a seal or mark of a nationality. Sometimes in an otherwise normal worker’s cottage you can spy a bit of Flemish brick-work, or a glimpse at the builders country of origin by way of decoration. Little hints and bits of decoration abound in the residential streets of our city. Sometimes it is subtle in a building with no particular pedigree and sometimes it is bold and prominent in a noteworthy building like the column at the entrance to the On Leong Merchants Association Building in Chinatown pictured above. Bridgeport and Armour Square on the city’s near South Side are exceptional communities in the abundance of hat tips to ancestry in the built environment. With a bit of investigation, one can trace the immigration patterns in the neighborhoods throughout the post-fire era just by examining the native hints left in the indigenous building styles of the time.
Chicago is a masonry town. The Great Fire forever changed the building code and wiped out all of the previous generations of architecture, leaving few surviving structures standing inside the fire line, each of them, a masonry structure. Post-fire laws and code changes systemically changed the pattern of what would be built and served as a clean slate of lots to develop after the tragedy leading to multiple generations of sturdy building styles and methods. The resulting decorative arts for buildings after the resulting changes brought out the most skilled and rare crafts and trades. Carved stone, poured concrete and terracotta all were utilized across architectural and decorative styles. Their durable nature has helped them weather the decades of weather extremes and city pollution even when the buildings themselves suffer from neglect, lack of maintenance and poor care.
In Bridgeport and Armour Square, the streets are filled with a wide variety of architectural styles and ages. The homes are largely worker’s homes, but amidst the residences are grand public buildings, churches, parks and other city treasures. This Saturday we will glide through the two adjoining communities to take a look at some of the nooks and crannies in the pedigreed and anonymous sites alike. I hope you will join us.
Tour of Bridgeport and Armour Square
Saturday May 9, 2015 at 11:00 AMat McGuane Park at South Halsted Street & West 29th Street
Postponing the Tour of Dunning and Montclare and the Summer Tour Schedule
The Tour of Dunning and Montclare has been postponed until August. All prepaid tickets have already been refunded. Instead, I will be running the event on August 8, allowing me more time to prepare. This Spring has been particularly brutal schedule-wise and my inability to complete the work necessary to provide a good tour force me to push it back. This will result however, in a summer of four all new-tours to help make up for that.
On Monday June 15, 2015 at 6PM we’ll meet up at Buckingham Fountain for the Mini-Tour of the Near South Side. This is a free tour to help kick off Chicago’s Bike to Work Week. More info on the Bike to Work week activities are available here.
That Friday, we’ll use the filter of the night to help select the best night-time sights for the Night Tour of the Near South Side.
I look forward to seeing some of you this Saturday at McGuane Park. Thanks for taking a moment to read.