Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mid-Century Suburbs, Part 1

South Chicago house

South Chicago house

South Chicago house

They cover mile after mile of street grid in the far southern reaches of Chicago and its inner suburbs. They are simple houses, small and modest, one story over basement, shallow-pitched roofs, built for narrow lots -- but they are distinguished by the endless variation of a few simple elements: brick color, horizontal limestone accent bands, three-paneled screen doors, doors with geometric window designs, groupings of single glass blocks, groupings of colored glazed tile.

The colored block

The overall unity of their style and details seems to suggest a single builder -- but could one company have built all this? These houses cover miles of land; there are thousands and thousands of them. Dense concentrations can be seen on the streets around 79th Street and 85th Street, as they leave Chicago and enter Burbank and Bridgeview.

They delight in their tidy, well-kept ranks; they charm with their little accents that suggest individuality even within the confines of a limited design scheme.

They are supplemented by a series of three-flat and six-flat apartment buildings, which share some of the same details -- particularly the colored block. More on those in the future.

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