Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A man, skyscrapers and a newspaper!

A query..
Can you spot the man reading newspaper in all the above images?
Click on any image for an enlarged view..
Today was a sunny, but a very cold day!
Mostly these stairs are filled with people enjoying the sun, but the blustery wind kept them indoors... I couldn't help noticing a man enjoying the newspaper... Besides the river, on the foot of skyscrapers, in the densely populated downtown, there he was, alone, with his newspaper..

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chicago Riverwalk: An ongoing project ..

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Chicago Riverwalk is runs east-west along the lower Wacker Drive from Lake Shore Drive to Franklin Street.. But there are many interruptions, where a person needs to climb the stairs, cross the street descent another staircase to resume the riverwalk path.. Pedestrial underbridges will solve this problem.

Two such pedestrial underbridges have been completed..
- Michigan Avenue Underbridge
- Wabash Avenue Underbridge

Staircase leading to Michigan Avenue underbidge

Michigan Avenue underbridge is about 17 feet wide..
The refletive canopy protects the pedestrians from falling debris, and is also a good place for self-portraits!

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If only it was possible to walk uninterrupted along the Chicago River from Lake Shore Drive to Franklin Street.. .. In the fall of 2007, Mayor Daley established a Riverwalk Development Committee to help the city with the design and vision of Chicago Riverwalk .. It works along with CDOT.. CDOT: Chicago Department of Transportation..
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Wabash Avenue underbridge..
is about 20 feet wide.. It's three feet wider than the 17-foot under-bridge at Michigan in order to extend the riverwalk beyond the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Wabash Plaza and continue the pathway to State Street..

So now one can walk along the Chicago River to the Wabash Avenue..
However, there is no bridge underpass for the State Street bridge..
Future build-up of the Riverwalk between State Street and Franklin Avenue will occur as funds arrive. The City is still developing concepts for raising funding for the remainder of the Riverwalk, estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.
The goal is to complete the pedestrian promenade, along the entire South branch of the Main Branvk, allowing for contoinuous access at the river level under every bridge..

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ira J. Bach Walkway

Ira J. Bach Walkway..
Everyone knows the Wacker Drive..
But few know the honorary street name Ira J. Bach Walkway ..
It's the Upper Wacker Drive between Franklin Street and Michigan Avenue [along the Chicago River]..

But more importantly, who was Ira J. Bach???
I could hardly find any information...
Except for this small head sculpture..

I saw this head sculpture at the Chicago Cultural Center ..
Below is inscribed..
Ira J. Bach
City and Regional Planner

"In developing a general plan, we must look at the city as if it were going to be entirely rebuilt, because a healthy city naturally rebuilds itself in the long run"..
Sculptor: Fiorle de Hernriquez
Thanks Phil Bach for the information on the sculptor!

Thanks Alan Gornik for the information..
which I am posting here..
Ira Bach was an MIT trained architect who became Chicago's City Commission of Planning director in the late '50s. Prior to that he was the Exec Dir of the Cook County Housing Authority. Ira served as the Chairman of the Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks in the '80s. He had many other involvements in Chicago's planning efforts including O'Hare and the El line out to it. In 1983 he published "A Guide to Chicago's Public Sculpture," which remains an essential reference work. In '83 he was Chicago's Director of City Development. Other excellent references Ira Bach published were "Chicago on Foot" and "A Guide to Chicago's Historic Suburbs" and was editor of "Chicago's Famous Buildings." I took a special interest in Mr. Bach because we lived on the same street when I was a kid. I used to see him walking to the bus. He died in 1985...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Michigan Avenue Bridge & The Roaring Twenties ..

Like many others, I must have crossed the Michigan Avenue bridge so many times, but this time out-of-nowhere, I remembered the Roaring Twenties.

The Roaring Twenties.. associated with phrases like, the age of contradiction, the Golden Age of mobsters, the age of Prohibition, the formation the League of Women Voters, age of the flappers, of short hair and rising hemlines.. and of the the most enduring hallmarks of the age.. the Michigan Avenue bridge, it's bridge houses and the four remarkable buildings in the four corners of the bridge, which till today, not only defines the Chicago cityscape, but make for some of the most beautiful buildings along the Chicago River..

- Michigan Avenue bridge: 1920
- Wrigley Building: North Tower: 1921, South Tower:1924
- London Guarantee Building: 1923
- Tribune Tower: 1925
- 333 North Michigan Avenue: 1928..

Michigan Avenue bridge.. click here..

North of the Michigan Avenue bridge, are Wrigley bldg. [west] and Tribune Tower [east]

Wrigley building..
Address: 410 N. Michigan Avenue
Year completed: 1924
Architect: Graham, Anderson and Probst..
It consists of two structures,
South Tower completed in 1921, and...
North Tower completed in 1924..
It was built to house the corporate headquarters of the Wrigley Company. When it was completed, there were no major office buildings north of the Chicago River and the Michigan Avenue Bridge..

Tribune Tower..
Address: 435 N. Michigan Ave.
Year completed: 1925
Architect: Raymond M. Hood and John Mead Howells ...
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: February 1, 1989..
The Tower design was the result of an international competition for "the most beautiful office building in the world," held in 1922 by the Chicago Tribune newspaper.
For more.. click here..

South of the Michigan Ave. bridge are London Guarantee building [west] and 333 N Michigan Avenue [east]..

London Guarantee building..
Address: 360 N. Michigan Ave...
Year completed: 1923
Architect: Alfred S. Alschuler ...
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: April 16, 1996..
It is built at the site of Fort Dearborn..
Fort Dearborn - a U.S. Military Garrison - was the first government building to be built in Chicago. The fort was named for U.S. Secretary of War, Henry Dearborn. Its purpose was to protect the settlers against attacks by Native Americans.

333 N Michigan Avenue..
Year completed: 1928
Architect: Holabird & Roche/Holabird & Root..
Relief panel sculptor: Fred M. Torrey.
Each depict major event in Chicago history..
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: February 7, 1997..
For more.. click here..

Some other buildings in the Roaring Twenties phase include:
- 35 E Wacker Drive: 1927
- Mather Tower: 1928
- The Carbon & Carbide building: 1929
- Intercontinental Chicago Hotel: 1929
- Civic Opera building: 1929
- Riverside Plaza: 1929
And then we were hit by the Great Depression!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring in the city..

Today was one of my worst days in the [still] New Year..
It was one of the days for which exemplifies Murphy's Law...
Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong..
And 'almost' everything went wrong..
Except for these spring images,
At the end of the day, I think, the day was not all that bad..
How a few satisfactory images can save a day!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pilgrim Baptist Church

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Pilgrim Baptist Church..
Address: 3301 S. Indiana Ave.
Year Built: 1890-91
Architect: Dankmar Adler & Louis Sullivan
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: December 18, 1981..

The building was built as a synagogue [Kehilath Anshe Ma'ariv synagogue].. Dankmar Adler was a member, and his father was a rabbi.
[That congregation now continues as K.A.M. Isaiah Israel Temple]... A Baptist congregation moved into the building in 1922, forming the Pilgrim Baptist Church.

Chicago Landmark burned..
On January 6, 2006, the church suffered from a massive fire, which damaged it's architecturally significant interior. Now only the shell remains. And there is little hope of any recovery.

Birthplace of Gospel..
Thomas A Dorsey, known as the Father of Gospel music, was the the choir director at Pilgrim Baptist Church from 1932 to 1970. His most famous song, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" was introduced here. The song was a favourite of Father Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, help me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, Through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand, precious lord
Lead me home..

Many famous singers are among those who have sung at the church, including Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Sallie Martin, James Cleveland, and Edwin Hawkins .. Its famous members include Bessie Coleman, the first African American female pilot and the first person of African American descent to hold an international pilot license. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. also delivered some sermons in the church during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Architectural History..
Although best known for its association with gospel music of the early 20th century, the Pilgrim Baptist Church has an important place in architectural history of the city. It was designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan during a period in which Frank Lloyd Wright worked for their firm.

Now, destroyed by the fire, only the shell of the building remains. One can still see the three-story stone facade, although it's tall attic and the steeply hipped roof are destroyed. Behind the steel support, one can see a stepped voussoir arch entrance and arched third story windows. Inside the sanctuary was a soaring wooden ceiling in golden tone. There was a continuous row of Sullivan-designed terra cotta at the base. In the terra cotta and in the stained-glass windows were Jewish iconography which Pilgrim Baptist Church retained, but a large cross was added above the altar.

The architect Dankmar Adler was a self-taught acoustical engineer. This engineering masterpiece from Adler and an equally impressive architectural decoration by his younger partner Sullivan has now been lost forever.

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Grant controversy..
The now disgraced and ousted Governor Rod Blagojevich had pledged $1 million to help rebuild the non-church part of the building, administrative offices that housed the church’s school and historic documents. But there were legal complaints filed questioning the constitutionality of the grant. The issue cited was that the state’s constitution does not permit public funding church-run schools. It was alleged that it was impossible to limit the funding to the church’s “secular” functions and the grant was unconstitutional. I dont know what happened with the case, but the grant has been cancelled, citing insufficient funds with the Illinois State.

Pilgrim Baptist Church, is yet another of the Adler & Sullivan’s buildings have been destroyed/ demolished, like the Schiller Theater, the Stock Exchange and earlier buildings such as the Troescher and Ryerson.

Nine Bronzeville Structures and Beyond..
There are many stuctures beyond the nine structures that the Chicago Landmark Commission describes as..
"These nine structures are what remain of the "Metropolis," one of the nation's most significant landmarks of African-American urban history"...
It does not include the Pilgrim Baptist Church..
Although now it's destroyed by the fire, it was not so at the time when the Black Metropolis District was designated on Sep 9, 1998..
For more on the Nine Structures and Beyond.. click here..