To the left is a vintage picture of Al Capone in a 1930’s courtroom. Although known as a famous Chicago gangster, Alphonse Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York 1899. As a child Capone was involved in ‘kid gangs,’ the Brooklyn Rippers and the Forty Thieves Juniors, and quit school at the age of 14 as a sixth grader. Years later, as an opportunist Capone moved to Chicago to take advantage of illegally smuggling, brewing, and distilling of alcohol during the age of prohibition as well as bribery and prostitution; however, he is famously known for his alleged involvement and orchestration of the Saint Valentine’s day Massacre when members of a rival Northside were executed in a garage of what is now known as the Lincoln Park Neighborhood.
To hide his illegal activities, Capone set up headquarters around the city that was later known as “Caponeville” at the Anton and Hawthorne Hotels where he pretended to be an antiques dealer and doctor. In 1931 Capone was incarcerated in tax evasion charges and sent to Alcatraz federal prison where he discovered he had neurosyphilis. Eight years later in 1939 he was released on parole and passed in 1947 from cardiac arrest.
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Still one of Chicago’s most famous beaches, Oak Street Beach is located on North Lake Shore Drive.
Once a dumping ground to a man named George Streeter and a place for squatters to reside in the late 1800′s, the city eventually claimed the land back after some legal and sometimes violent battles. From there the city filled in the sand to create this popular retreat. This part of the city became known as Streeterville.
After some years, the beach became a popular social spot in the warm summer months. Throughout the years, this beach has become a popular place to relax, hang out with the family, grab some food and even rent bicycles.
Vintage pictures from different eras of the Oak Street Beach are shown here and available for purchase from Friedman Fine Art’s Historic Chicago Collection.
After the infamous Chicago Fire, Daniel Burnham had big plans for the brand new Chicago one of which being for the city to have five piers around the city. However, when the Burnham Plan of 1909 went into production only one pier was built, Municipal Pier. After two years and a final price tag of $4.5 million, the historic Municipal Pier opened in 1914. However, as the United States entered World War I, the pier was transformed into a home for the Red Cross, regiments of soldiers and barracks for new recruits. In 1927, Municipal Pier had a name change to what it is known as today “Navy Pier” in honor of the Navy who personnel served in World War I. For the next 19 years Navy Pier served as the home of naval pilot’s orientation and practice.
In 1946, the University of Illinois used the pier as an offsite facility for a two-year undergraduate program until 1965 when it became a public entertainment space it is known as today.
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On December 25th, 1865, Chicago was given the Christmas gift of what would be known as “The Yards.” The Chicago Union Stockyards also known as ‘The Yards, were the epicenter of America’s meat packing industry and operated for nearly 106 years before closing its doors in July of 1970. By 1870, the stockyards had processed nearly 2 million animals per year and 9 million by 1890. In 1924, Chicago’s meat packing district had processed more meat than any other part of the world and gained the name “Hog butcher for the world.”
However, with all of that processing came a ton of waste, animal by-product that was dumped into the Chicago River for years. This led to pollution which ultimately led to the reversal of the River in the year 1900 as it was affecting the city’s clean drinking water. After the doors closed July of 1971, the Union Stock Yards sign was made a Chicago Landmark one year later. A decade later, it was made a National Historic Landmark in 1981. Photographed is a vintage image outside of the Yards in the 1920’s.
Once referred to as Polk Street station, the historic Chicago landmark Dearborn Street Station was one of six local Chicago train stations in 1883. Designed by Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz, Dearborn Station located on the corner of Dearborn and Polk opened May 8th 1885. The building is comprised of pink granite and pressed red brick forming a three story structure with a gargantuan twelve-story clock tower with train platforms that were once located behind it. Constructed at an estimated cost between $400,000 and $500,000, Dearborn station hosted 25 rail lines with 122 trains and serviced approximately 17,000 passengers daily.
On May 2, 1971 the station was closed to consolidate all of Chicago’s stations at the nearby Union Station. As a part of the city’s urban renewal efforts, the area surrounding Dearborn Station (train tracks and shed) was transformed into housing and the Printers Row district while the Station now operates as a series of retail spaces and restaurants and business offices. Pictured is a vintage image of the original Dearborn Station with its classic Romanesque Revival styled pitched roof.
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In honor of the 400th anniversary of Columbus and his exploration of the Americas, Chicago celebrated his finding of America with World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 (also known as The Chicago World’s Fair) beating out other cities like New York and D.C. In preparation of the fair, many of the buildings were designed by Daniel Burnham in the neoclassical and Beau-Arts architectural styles and temporary.
Although the fairs celebratory opening festivities were held in 1892, the actual fair did not open until a year later in May of 1893. The exposition was held in Jackson Park (between 59th and 60th streets) and covered over 600 acres of land. With over 40 countries participating, the fair had many new and attracting exhibits such as the Ferris Wheel, a moveable sidewalk and an ice rail way. With over 716,000 people in attendance, the fair was successful to the city that a red star was added to the city’s flag.
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Pictured is an image of the historic Chicago River. Named “Chicagoua” after the smelly garlic plant found on the banks of the river once used by Native Americans. However, this would not be last time the Chicago River would have an odor problem. Pollution was a major issue for the growing city in the 19th century specifically in the river; in addition to businesses dumping their waste into the river, raw sewage flowed into is as well which in turn began to pollute the city’s clean water supply. Later, a proposal to reverse the flow of the river and to form a commission dedicated to sanitation.
By 1900 the Chicago River was cleaned of all the major impurities. Over the years, smaller rivers and canals were built to join the river together giving it a length of about 156 miles divided into two branches, North (as far north as Niles) and South (the downtown Chicago area) that converge at Wolf Point (Fulton Street) to form the main stem (Lake Michigan). Bridges that could move up and down for the passage of tall ships and boats were built to facilitate their passage and tunnels were built for traffic to not be disrupted during these periods are still in use today.
In 1915 Chicago’s most devastating tragedy occurred on the river when the Eastland boat overturned killing 844 people.
“In breadth, length, height and weight, these buildings belonged to the prairie just as the human being himself belonged to it with his gift of speed. The term ‘streamlined’ as my own expression was then and there born. As a result, the new buildings were rational: low, swift, and clean, and were studiously adapted to machine methods.”
— Frank Lloyd Wright. from Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer and Gerald Nordland, ed. Frank Lloyd Wright: In the Realm of Ideas. p35 via http://www.greatbuildings.com/.
Like most of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings, the Coonley house was influenced by nature and art. In collaboration with George Mann Niedecken the house was built in the classic Midwestern Prairie style architecture and ornamented with Niedecken’s decorative arts such as murals and textiles. Prairie style is characterized lots of flat surfaces and roofs and horizontal straight lines. Built in 1908, the home has a wood frame with stucco and emphasized with raised gardens. By the 1950’s the Coonley home was divided into three separate residences and sold with restorations later made in 2007. The homes are located in Riverside, Illinois, a suburb outside of Chicago.
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Pictured is vintage Wrigley Field circa 1914. Originally known as Weeghman Park (after its owner Charles H. Weegman), it is the second oldest baseball park in America after Boston ’s Fenway park that was constructed in 1912. Prior to Wrigley field becoming a baseball park it was the home of a seminary. Over the years many upgrades have been made to the park including the addition of almost 30,000 seats (its original seating capacity was 14,000) and lights in the late 1980’s in order to host night games. In the midst of all the upgrades, the original scoreboard still remains today with each scoring inning numbers changed by hand as well as the traditional “W” and “L” (win and loss) flags on top of the score board after each game.
The clubhouse’s first team was the Federals and when the Federals stopped playing due to financial issues, the Cincinnati Cubs were purchased and moved to Chicago. The park became Wrigley Field in 1916 after the Wrigley Family purchased and renamed it in honor of the new owner. The stadiums famous ivy-covered walls were a part of a beautification initiative by the 1937 Cubs General Manger Bill Veeck; the ivy is a mix of Boston Ivy and Bittersweet.
In 1874 the Tribune was founded, however, it wasn’t until 1869 that it had its first building. Standing at four stories high, the Tribune was originally located off of Dearborn and Madison. Two years later, the historic building (along with most of Chicago) was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire. After a short period of two days, the Tribune ‘emerged with an editorial piece saying “Chicago shall rise again.”
In 1922, the company hosted a design competition with a prize of $100,000. Out of nearly 260 submissions, the winners were two architects from New York, John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood for their neo-Gothic design far different from the runner-up’s modernist form.
Although the Tribune Tower is known for its paper and WGN radio broadcasting, it is more famous for its relics. Outside the Tribune Tower are pieces of famous buildings and structures from around the world on display such as bricks from the: Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, the White House and the Berlin Wall.
This photo is a vintage aerial view of the Tribune Tower in Chicago. The tower now stands on the northern end of the Mag Mile at 435 N Michigan Avenue standing at 462 feet tall and 36 floors high.