My irregular musings on city life, politics, baseball, roller derby, and whatever happens to be getting my goat today.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Demolition of the Week: Chez Ted

While everyone remains a bit stunned that the Illini lost the big game, there's no keeping spirits down on a day like this. It's in the seventies and sunny with a light breeze coming off Lake Michigan, daylight savings time is here, the spring bulbs are coming up, the Bulls somehow have home field advantage for the playoffs, and the Cubs won their first game of the season, something like 16-6. Who needs Sammy when you have Carlos Lee?

Even the death of the Pope hasn't put a damper on things. St. Hedwig's may be draped in black, but in the fenced-in parking lot next door, a balding but exhuberant dad teaches a bemused first grader how to swing an aluminum bat.

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St Hedwig's tries in vain to spread gloom

Everybody and her dog is out walking in the warm spring air. There's nothing like a long, miserable winter to teach you the value of a nice day, fresh air and baseball season.

Unfortunately, the nice weather brings out the wrecking crews as well. The first victim of the season is one of my favorites, a neighborhood landmark I never would have dreamed anyone would destroy. It used to be the public service office of 32nd Ward Alderman Ted Matlack, before he abandoned us for an office in Lincoln Park. I think these pictures pretty much speak for themselves, I don't have much to add about why this old gem, the tower which marked the neighborhood's edge for generations, should have been preserved.

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The former ward office, with its distinctive Victorian tower, marked the border where Bucktown meets the Kennedy Expressway, which separates the neighborhood from the Elston Avenue industrial district bordering the window. Industry is actually disappearing from the area, a new Kohl's is opening a block away on a former factory site.

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This kind of commercial-residential mix was a great design, and very attractive.

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New condo buildings replicate the storefront-apartment mix of the old buildings, without the old-world charm. Still, they're better than most of what's being built today. And there's a new coffee shop on the way back from the gym. The old building would also have been a great location for a new coffee shop, and actually had more retail space. I'm guessing someone wants to build another tall condo building to maximize profit from the land. Located right by a highway onramp, condos here could bring a hefty price from Loop workers wanting a short commute.

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Some of the more delicate details have already been ripped off, but you can tell what it was like when it was nice. You know, like last week.


Wells said...

In typical BoSox-Yanks series today, Darth Rivera blows yet another save against the Sox, yet gets the win.

Wells said...

Are they knocking down that beautiful building?!

Trope said...

And there's a new coffee shop on the way back from the gym.

That sentence is the reason why developers are knocking down old buildings in favor of new condos. I'm thankful for the gym, and pleased at the new not-Starbucks coffee shop, but in our honest moments we must remember that we're still part of the problem, not part of the building-preserving solution.

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