19 January 2012

Augusta Street

IMG 0167Augusta Street is named for Augusta Carpenter, the daughter of Philo Carpenter, Chicago's first pharmacist and a real estate developer. More on him will follow when I walk Carpenter Street, named for dear old dad. Daughter Augusta, on the other hand seems to have achieved little fame beyond her street, a park in the city and her relationship to dad.

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The Grand Illinois Trail uses Augusta as its route across Oak Park. This bike trail loops 500 miles across the state  reaching from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. In Oak Park, Augusta serves as the only real probable route to cross from the east side to the west side courtesy of most of the low-traffic streets being blocked on Austin Boulevard.

Augusta itself is a mostly residential street. In its eastern reaches, most of the homes have addresses on the streets running north and south and we're left with a view of garages and back yards, although some of these reveal interesting things, such as artwork on garage doors:

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or tree houses in back yards:

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Just past Lombard Ave, one of the three Oak Park fire stations has its home.

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The Dole branch of the Oak Park Library is located in a building owned by the city of Oak Park and shared with programs from the park district. and the HO model railroad club and a park district art studio.

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The building was originally constructed as the home of North Congregational Church. In 1933, the building became the home of the Oak Park Junior College which didn't survive the depression and closed in 1938. There were rumors that the building was to be bought for use as a synagogue and in this environment it was purchased by Andrew Dole and his wife and the building donated to the village in 1939. In 1940, the library moved its north branch library from a pharmacy at the corner of Ridgeland and Chicago.

Further down Augusta at number 414, is one of the homes in which Edgar Rice Burroughs lived while he resided in Oak Park.

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I found this garage with its connected green house to be charming.

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Further down Augusta is the Norman Smith House, built in 1927, designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, the architectural team responsible for such notable Chicago landmarks as a the Civic Opera House, the Wrigley Building and Merchandise Mart

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This house, built in 1912, by Carl Linder shows the influence of the prairie style of architecture on its design. Note the broad horizontal lines of the home and the symmetrical single-story wings on either side of the two-story edifice.

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Also on Augusta is Frank Lloyd Wright's Harry S. Adams home.

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This is the last Wright home built in Oak Park. Adams rejected Wright's original plans for the home several times because of the cost of building the home, at one point turning to another architect to design the home at which point, perhaps out of a feeling of jealousy and rejection, Wright provided the final plans for the home as it was built.

RIght next door is a gorgeous mid-century modern home designed by Arthur Myrhum. The horizontal lines give it a sense of conversation with the Wright's design and its clean geometry manage to make it appear as if it were designed for the asian accents the current owner has added to the landscaping.

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A 1927 Lowenberg & Lowenberg home designed in renaissance style looks nice in isolation (I especially like the arch work on the front fa├žade), but has little relation to the surrounding homes.

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I rather like the way this 1896 Queen Anne-style home was modernized.

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This home, built in 1929 was designed by John Malina for himself.

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A pair of twin duplexes built in 1916 for A. D. Lurinow.

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Proof that not everything on Augusta is historical. There are touches, like the ground-floor bay window that make this home look like it has the bones of an older home, but it doesn't appear in the inventory of the Frank Lloyd Wright historical district. Certainly the attached garage would be an addition, but I suspect that the whole home is of relatively recent construction.

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01 June 2011

Alexander Lane

Alexander Lane is really little more than a pair of driveways in the midst of the Madison Square townhouse development. In fact, only the townhouses on the north side of Alexander Lane have addresses of Alexander Lane, with those on the south side having Madison Street addresses (the non-garage sides of those townhouses front on Madison Street).

Alexander Lane is presumably named for the developer of Madison Square (and a number of other projects in and around Oak Park), Alex Troyanovsky, aka, "The Russian" (no, really!). Most recently Troyanovsky appeared in the news because of his failed plan to build a four-story condo/retail development at the corner of South Boulevard and Oak Park Avenue which displaced the restaurant Thyme & Honey (now in Forest Park) and Val's Halla Records (no ensconced in the Harrison Street arts district).

16 May 2011

Adams Street

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Adams Street continuing from the street of the same name in Chicago is named for the second president of the U.S. A series of streets in Chicago are named for presidents, mostly in order, but Jefferson was banished to the near west side while John Adams took his son's place, with his son being relegated to being represented by an intermittent road with his middle name which in places is little more than an alley.

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But in Oak Park, Adams Street manages to run nearly the width of the village. It begins with a cul-de-sac parking lot, as many streets on the east side of Oak Park do, presumably to present a foreboding barrier to would-be traffic from Chicago.

Most of Adams Street consists of the sides of buildings with addresses on the north-south streets that intersect Adams. For the most part, Adams is a pleasant tree-lined street.

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There are few buildings with addresses on Adams, although Adams does give a good view into the backs of some buildings. Below, we can see a garage which has had a residence added above it as well as a rather nice sunroom added onto the back of an older home.

MG 4834Many of the buildings with addresses on Adams Street are tacked onto lots which have been split in half with the alley half of the lot getting the Adams address. This is not always a recent phenomenon as this older apartment building demonstrates.

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Behind city hall, there's a bit of green space, which despite appearances is not an official park.MG 4837

It's not until we reach Ridgeland Avenue, that we come to the first official park, Longfellow Park, which on this Saturday morning was well-stocked with visitors.

MG 4838No doubt, it was the wonderful spring weather which was marked also by the arrival of new tulips planted in the parkway.

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Just past Oak Park Avenue, Adams Street takes a jog to the south, with president Monroe finally getting his chance to be part of the Oak Park street grid (John Quincy Adams and Thomas Jefferson, however, are forever banished).

I found it interesting to note that some alleys leading into Adams Street had, rather than stop signs at the corner, the traffic direction inlaid in tile in the pavement.

MG 4845Because there are so few buildings with addresses on Adams Street, I can safely say that this is the only single family residence with an Adams Street address (everything else is an apartment building).

At Maple Avenue, Adams Street comes to its conclusion, ending just a short block from completely traversing Oak Park.MG 4848MG 4847

03 May 2011


When I lived in Santa Monica, California, I started a project to walk all of the streets of Santa Monica in alphabetical order. I made it up to the D's before my wife and I moved to Oak Park.

Oak Park is a bit smaller and while I had projected the Santa Monica project would take two years if I walked every week, I think I can do Oak Park in a year.

The rules: I'm walking the streets in alphabetical order, end-to-end. I try to do a bit of research before and after the walk to be able to find interesting things to write about and take lots of pictures to help provide some sense of the streets.