Great Neighborhood Walks Of Chicago: Bienvenidos a Pilsen
Jul21

Great Neighborhood Walks Of Chicago: Bienvenidos a Pilsen

Chicago truly is a series of one fascinating neighborhood after another. If you’re armed with a camera and interested in seeing an especially colorful area, it’s hard to beat Pilsen. Today I joined a dozen street photographers to absorb the sights, smells and sounds of the Pilsen neighborhood. We stuck mostly to the heart of the action along 18th Street, meandering down an alleyway here and there. We viewed ornate old churches,...

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It’s Chicago Architects Versus Kids in a Battle of LEGOs
Jul18

It’s Chicago Architects Versus Kids in a Battle of LEGOs

There’s a 15-year-old kid in Iowa City named Rasmus who’s better equipped to design buildings than I am. It’s slightly unnerving, but I’m OK with it. As Dirty Harry said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Designing a building, evidently, is not my forte. Last night, I joined a handful of architects and some lay folks to try our hand designing stuff at the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s ArcelorMittal Design Studio (224 South...

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West Randolph-Fulton Market Plan Generates More (Mixed) Reviews
Jul15

West Randolph-Fulton Market Plan Generates More (Mixed) Reviews

Kah-blam! That was, more or less, the noise I heard as I hit a ginormous pothole on Lake Street. I was headed to an open house hosted by the City of Chicago. The subject was the long-range plan for the West Randolph-Fulton Market District. A denture-rattling pothole was an interesting takeaway from the gathering, during which I heard a few residents grouse about issues they’d like to see resolved. One gentleman I saw at the meeting at...

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Great Neighborhood Walks: Motor Row, Where Anything Can Happen
Jul09

Great Neighborhood Walks: Motor Row, Where Anything Can Happen

The plan was to photograph some grand old buildings. Then things got a little weird. I was in the company of a dozen fellow members of the Chicago Street Photography Group. Our route was one of the city’s great neighborhood walks—Motor Row. We spotted the old Hudson showroom down at 2222 South Michigan Avenue. It was frozen in time, the checkerboard-tiled floor untouched for decades. One by one, we crouched on the grungy sidewalk to...

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Graffiti Artist Xenz Visualizes A Dark Turn Of The Century Chicago Loop
Jul08

Graffiti Artist Xenz Visualizes A Dark Turn Of The Century Chicago Loop

A fountain gently burbled as I walked into the pocket park at West Monroe and South Wells in the Loop this afternoon. Worker bees ate Jersey Mike’s subs and fiddled with their smartphones. Did any of them know the grisly, infamous history of this site? My guess is, probably not, unless they read Gus Russo’s 2003 book “The Outfit.” Russo specializes in researching the Mafia and the JFK assassination. “The Outfit” traces Chicago’s...

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Great Neighborhood Walks: Exploring The Turrets Of Armitage
Jul04

Great Neighborhood Walks: Exploring The Turrets Of Armitage

  Take a stroll west along Armitage Avenue from North Halsted Street and squint. Imagine those modern cars you see are horse-drawn carriages and you’re walking on a wooden sidewalk. Then look up at the buildings on either side of the street. You’ve basically taken a mental trip back to 1880. Those homes and businesses look pretty much the same now as they did 134 years ago. There’s something else that makes these structures stand out....

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How Chicago’s Mayor Used The Power Of Architecture To Influence Politics
Jun23

How Chicago’s Mayor Used The Power Of Architecture To Influence Politics

Richard J. Daley didn’t much care for modernist architecture. But his personal preference for classical design didn’t deter him from championing the development of sleek, steel-and-glass buildings like the Chicago Civic Center, the Sears Tower, the Inland Steel Building, and the Federal Plaza complex.   In fact, during his tenure as the city’s boss, the Loop and downtown Chicago underwent a transformational building boom. Along...

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West Loop Not Rolling Out the Red Carpet For MTV’s “The Real World” Reality TV Show
Jun17

West Loop Not Rolling Out the Red Carpet For MTV’s “The Real World” Reality TV Show

I think it was the Buggles who sang, “Skyscrapers killed the West Loop.” Folks in my neighborhood don’t much like tall buildings. They aren’t very impressed by big-time movie stars and TV shows, either. On Monday night, the executive producer of MTV’s “The Real World” gave residents a preview of the show’s 30th season venue—smack in the middle of Restaurant Row. The 20 people in attendance were less than welcoming. There’s really only...

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Chicago’s Newest Architectural Attraction: A Five-Letter Sign!
Jun14

Chicago’s Newest Architectural Attraction: A Five-Letter Sign!

The world is watching. Of course, I don’t mean soccer from Brazil. I’m talking about Trump Tower Chicago. I wonder, has a simple sign attached to the side of a building ever received so much attention? Only it’s not exactly a simple sign. It’s 2,891 square feet large. And now its become personal. Rahm is unhappy. He called it “tasteless.” Others say it’s ruined the skyline, it’s a blight, it’s Donald Trump throwing his weight, and...

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Marking 40 Years, Chicago Women In Architecture Launches a New Exhibit
Jun12

Marking 40 Years, Chicago Women In Architecture Launches a New Exhibit

The second week of January, 1974 had a few noteworthy events: Richard Nixon refused to hand over tapes to the Watergate Committee The Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” hit #1 on the pop charts The Loch Ness Monster was reportedly photographed And, at 664 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago Women in Architecture held its first official meeting, with nine attendees. This year, C.W.A. celebrates its 40th anniversary, and the organization will...

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