Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Mid-Century Cornocopia

Western Avenue long marked the western boundaries of the city of Chicago. And today, it remains something of a dividing line -- an identifiable centerline to the amorphous region where the city's urban environment begins to weaken, falling apart into 1950s suburbia.

This means, however, that streets to the west of it have treasure troves of Mid-Century Modernism.

Most awesome showcase lamps ever.

The whole shooting works

Concrete pattern wall

Peterson Avenue, west of Western, offers one 1960s building after another, with a nearly complete array of the stock design elements and styles common to the period. Delicious details abound, easily overlooked as motorists zoom past at 50mph, but easily found if you make the trip by foot or bike.

Colored glazed brick, raised metal letters, funky stainless steel railings, crazy hanging lamps in the lobby, jagged fieldstone contained in limestone borders on brick walls... it's all here.

Glazed brick

1960s stone and brick

Even the side streets offer the occasional find:

Apartment door

And sometimes, the MCM creeps east of Western:

One day, I'm coming back after dark for this shot.

There's no knockout buildings out here, nothing to make a MCM preservationist stand on the mountaintops and shout; instead, there's a collection of buildings that reinforce each other, crying out the optimism and elegance of the 1960s, achieving far more together than any one of them does alone.