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Preservation, Not Gentrification

Some landmarks wear their significance on their exteriors; other structures are notable for the stories they contain. Both are worth saving. The buildings around us are a historical record of who we were, how we changed over time, and the urban cycles that will shape us going forward.  
 
The Chicago Historic Resources Survey (CHRS), is a comprehensive record of architecturally significant structures in the City of Chicago. A 12-year undertaking, it was never intended to be a guide for what to keep and what to demolish, but rather a catalog of historic buildings that meet certain criteria of significance, age and upkeep. Its publication resulted in the passage of a 90-day demolition delay ordinance for buildings deemed noteworthy, but the survey did not generally include post-1940s structures, making exceptions for buildings of outstanding significance, such as the work of Mies van der Rohe and Bertrand Goldberg.
 
The completion of the survey in 1995, unsurprisingly, was not enough to stop the tide of destruction in Logan Square. In 2017, Chicago Magazine reported that 109 buildings were demolished in the neighborhood, the most torn down that year in any area of the city.

The following Logan Square buildings were not included in the survey, and are therefore at risk for demolition. 


   

  • 1815-1823 W Fullerton Avenue
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 3235 W. Wrightwood Avenue
  • Father and Son Restaurant, 2475 N Milwaukee Ave

Preservation is about more than architecture. 

As Elizabeth Blasius, architectural historian, cultural resources consultant and Logan Square Preservation member says, “History is not static, and old buildings are continually taking on the mantle of significance. It is up to everyone to decide what deserves to be a landmark, and not be limited by the opinions of city researchers over a quarter-century ago.”

It is part of LSP’s mission to "preserve the historic character" of Logan Square. While there are a lot of homes that may not be architecturally significant, they tell stories about the people who live here. As small, one- and two-story residences are replaced with “luxury” developments, it is not only old buildings that are lost, but the families and community that define our multifaceted neighborhood. 

Learn more about Demolition Delay.

This opinions expressed in this article may not be those of all Logan Square Preservation members. 

Tree Planting on the Boulevard
Logan Square Preservation was awarded a TreePlanters Grant in partnership with Openlands, a community forestry non-profit, to plant healthy, new trees along the boulevard. The initial reforestation took place along the north and south medians of Logan Boulevard between Sacramento and Richmond on Saturday, October 5, from 9 am to 1 pm.
LSP's Beautification Chair, Shana Liberman, organized the event and was interviewed by LoganSquarist ahead of the event. A record number of volunteers came out for the event, including a group of girl scout cadets earning their environmental stewardship badge and a couple who had just purchased their first home in Logan Square. Many families came with young children who learned the importance of giving back to the environment.
THE SOUNDS OF SOLSTICE:
AN EVENING ON THE BLOOMINGDALE TRAIL

By Ben Helphand and Ronit Mitchell

For a century, the Bloomingdale Trail, or 606, was a rail embankment. But for one evening this summer, the reclaimed park blossomed into a series of intimate musical performances and sitespecific art installations as part of a new music and art festival. The Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, Freakeasy Chicago, a network of artists and performers who share the Friends’ sustainable, do-it-yourself vision, and the Chicago Park District joined forces to present The Sounds of Solstice on June 22, 2019. The free, family-friendly event took place at sunset on the western end of the trail from Spaulding to Drake Avenues. The event highlighted music from the surrounding neighborhoods. The Afro-Puerto Rican sounds of Los Pleneros de Don Segundo, from the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Center, were part of an eclectic lineup of music and performances. Famed blues artist Lurrie Bell — a regular at nearby Rosa’s Lounge — played soulful guitar, and festival patrons danced to the beats of Chicago house music legend Paul Johnson. As the sun began to set, neighbors and friends gathered for intimate performances lining the trail. Young and old alike meandered from the hill at the trail’s Spaulding Avenue entrance, picked up bites to eat at Kimball Avenue, and paused to listen at “Camp Bloomingdale” at St. Louis Avenue. One person commented that it was reminiscent of New Orleans street life. Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail is an all-volunteer, community-based organization that advocated for the conversion of the underused rail embankment and now acts as the trail’s community stewards. To get involved in next year’s Sounds of Solstice or other Bloomingdale Trail activities, visit bloomingdaletrail.org or email info@bloomingdaletrail.org.
✍ MEETING CALENDAR 

Be sure to mark your calendar to attend these next important and informative meetings!

November 21:
Monthly Meeting
The Minnekirken
2614 N. Kedzie Blvd
In This Edition - Fall 2019
  • Preservation, Not Gentrification
  • Let's Get Ready To Plant
  • The Sounds of Solstice
  • New Home Research Guide
  • Logan Square's Lost Tunnel
  • The Hospitality Side of Logan Square
  • Volunteer with LSP
  • Meeting Calendar
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Did you know we are on Instagram?  Follow, like and share our engaging content! 

@LSPreservation
New Home Research Guide
by Marcy Marzuki
 
HOW TO RESEARCH YOUR HOUSE WITHOUT EVER LEAVING IT
If you can go online, you don’t have to go outdoors to find out about your Logan Square home. With our handy tips, you’ll be able to find out the timeframe in which your house was built, see changes and additions made over the years, and even find out who lived there before you. Check out the online guide in the "Current Newsletter" section of our website.
Volunteers Needed

Logan Square Preservation has the need for some experienced volunteers for our ongoing projects.

Grant Writer – We are constantly engaged in community based activities that would benefit from grant funding.
QuickBooks – LSP is seeking a volunteer to assist in the growing volume of activity.
Events – We are planning some exciting events for next year in 2020, and will need lots of volunteers. It’s a good way to get engaged in Logan Square Preservation.

It was the summer of 1986. One hundred angry residents were gathered for a vigil on Logan Boulevard near the expressway viaduct, not far from St. John Berchmans church. The evil they gathered to combat was the “tunnel of terror,” a walkway constructed under the Kennedy Expressway. Part of the original expressway construction, it was designed to connect pedestrians on the north and east sides of the viaduct at Campbell Ave. with the church and school on the south and west.

But much had changed since the expressway opened in 1958. The block-long tunnel now had a foreboding look. Murals that Berchmans students had painted were covered with graffiti: “Welcome to the Town where the Folks Go Down,” read one gang’s scrawl, while the words “Latin Kings” shouted its dominance at the peak of the entranceway. “There are fights, gunshots, knives, you name it in there,” said one church volunteer who labeled the tunnel “a battle zone.” The Chicago Tribune covered the Aug. 8 vigil with the headline “Walkway Leads to Gang Turf.”

In the months leading up to the furor, 23 violent crimes and assaults had been reported in connection with the tunnel, including the stabbing of a 20-year-old. One resident told the paper the last time he walked through the tunnel, a gun had been put to his head. “Going in after dark,” he said, “you take your life into your own hands.” Residents, church members, and members of the Logan Square Residents Association (a precursor to the Logan Square Neighborhood Association) met with local aldermen, but were told the CTA would have to study the impact of a closure.

Residents didn’t want to wait; they pressured then-Alderman Richard Mell into proposing the tunnel be closed. The city had to seek permission from IDOT, which had funded the tunnel’s construction, but on Aug. 24, as the Tribune reported, “Angry Residents Close Down Gang Haven.” The city’s Public Works department installed iron gates at both ends, and the entrances were later filled in. “I’m hoping at some point in the future we can look at opening it again,” Mell said wistfully.

Aerial photos obtained by LSP’s own Steve Isakson show reopening the tunnel now would be a long shot, despite the fact that the same viaduct has again come under scrutiny by planners looking for ways to expand bicycle and pedestrian access.

Isakson was able to pinpoint the trajectory of the tunnel, which shows where a railroad bridge was added and then removed, likely filling in the central portion of the tunnel.

Nonetheless, the history of the lost tunnel provides for some modern musings: how crime can impact and imperil public spaces (I’m talking to you, 606), and how an invigorated grassroots movement can cut through intertwined layers of state, county and city government. It is also worth reflecting on the changes in Logan Square during the life of the tunnel: the view from its opening in 1958 versus its nadir in 1986—and all that has happened since it last saw daylight.

From upscale to casual, from ethnic to American, modern-day Logan Square offers residents and visitors a cornucopia of options for places to eat and drink — some of which have garnered national accolades. 

But the rise in the neighborhood’s culinary and nightlife stature is a relatively recent development, driven in large part by Logan Square’s desirability as a place to live, work and visit.  When my wife, Sharon, and I moved to an apartment on Logan Boulevard in 1992, it was a very different scene. There were relatively few restaurants of note, and even fewer places to enjoy a beer or cocktail. 

Here is, to the best of my memory, a recap of a few places around the Square that are well-remembered, but no longer open for business.

  • Abril – 2607 N. Milwaukee. A wonderful and authentic Mexican restaurant operated by a Norwegian couple. I can still savor memories of the delicious guisado de puerco. Now on the site: Reno.

         

  • Boulevard Café – 3137 W. Logan Blvd. An American-themed restaurant and bar, with live music most nights of the week.  (Side note: My band, Love House, played there a few times.) Now on the site: Merchant

  • The Big O – 2631 N. Kedzie. A decidedly divey — frankly, scary — bar that I visited only a handful of times. Now on the site: Passion House Coffee

  • Tania’s Restaurant – 2659 N. Milwaukee. Operated by a Cuban family, this restaurant and nightspot thrived until New Year’s Eve 1998, when it closed.  Now on the site: Your Pet’s Wellness.

  • Golden Rise Bakery 2597 W. Diversey. Another family-run operation, the bakery produced delicious breads and croissants. Before that, the corner storefront was a bar with live music. Now on the site: Fat Rice

  • Johnny’s Grill – 2545 N. Kedzie. The proverbial greasy spoon was a mainstay for decades on the corner of the Logan Square Auditorium building. Now on the site: Young American.
          

  • Terminal Restaurant – 2529 N. Kedzie. This fine-dining establishment boasted a stainless-steel kitchen, air conditioning, a cocktail lounge and a view. Now on the site: former Midwest Bank.

While many, many other places opened, closed and changed hands in Logan Square over the past two decades, one restaurant has remained in its space, remodeled to meet the changing times: the McDonald’s at Milwaukee and Sawyer. 

Just what is LOGAN SQUARE PRESERVATION and what do we do?

LOGAN SQUARE PRESERVATION is a cornerstone non-profit organization working for over thirty years to preserve, restore and beautify the historic square, architecture and boulevards that make the Logan Square neighborhood unique.

You can help support the continued beautification of this magnificent and historical area by becoming a member of Logan Square Preservation where you’ll have a voice in important issues affecting one of the most desirable places in the city to live. Informative and topical meetings are currently held the third Thursday of each month. You’ll be notified of locations and meeting agendas by email.

Join today if you would like to help keep and preserve Logan Square the acclaimed neighborhood that it’s always been and remains today. www.logansquarepreservation.org
THANKS to our CONTRIBUTORS...  Elizabeth Blasius - Edward M. Bury - Leslie Gray - Ben Helphand - Steve Isakson - Vicki Logan - Marcy Marzuki - Ronit Mitchell - Ian P. Murphy - Kate Paris - Andrew Schneider - Tom Vlodek
LOGAN SQUARE PRESERVATION
 PRESIDENT Andrew Schneider      VICE-PRESIDENT Jaime Szubart
 TREASURER Bruce Anderson      SECRETARY William Bennett

BOARD of DIRECTORS
 Elizabeth Blasius - Betsy Elsaesser - Josh Gartler - Steve Isakson - Ron Kaminecki - Shana Liberman - Vicki Logan - John Parizek - Kate Slattery - Heidi Thornton - Michelle Warner 
Logan Square Preservation is a 501(c)3 non-profit.

Copyright © 2019 Logan Square Preservation, All rights reserved.



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