On a Sunday evening…

…in 1871, on this date, October 8th, disaster flared in Chicago.

The Great Chicago Fire, as rendered by John Chapin (published in Harper's Weekly)

The Great Chicago Fire, as rendered by John Chapin (published in Harper’s Weekly)

From Wikipedia:

The Great Chicago Fire was a conflagration that burned from Sunday, October 8, to early Tuesday, October 10, 1871, killing hundreds and destroying about 3.3 square miles (9 km2) in Chicago, Illinois.  Though the fire was one of the largest U.S. disasters of the 19th century, the rebuilding that began helped develop Chicago as one of the most populous and economically important American cities.

An 1868 map of Chicago, displaying the area destroyed by the deadly, devastating fire.

An 1868 map of Chicago, displaying the area destroyed by the deadly, devastating fire.

The fire started at about 21:00 on Sunday, October 8, in or around a small barn that bordered the alley behind 137 DeKoven Street.  The traditional account of the origin of the fire is that it was started by a cow kicking over a lantern in the barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O’Leary.  In 1893, Michael Ahern, the Chicago Republican reporter who wrote the O’Leary account, admitted he had made it up as colorful copy.  The barn was the first building to be consumed by the fire, but the official report could not determine the exact cause.

There has been speculation as to whether the cause of the fire was related to other fires that began the same day.

The fire’s spread was aided by the city’s use of wood as the predominant building material, a drought prior to the fire, and strong winds from the southwest that carried flying embers toward the heart of the city.  More than ⅔ of the structures in Chicago at the time of the fire were made entirely of wood.  Most houses and buildings were topped with highly flammable tar or shingle roofs. Most Chicago architects modeled wooden building exteriors after another material using ornate, decorative carvings.  All the city’s sidewalks and roads were also made completely out of wood.   The city did not react quickly enough, and at first, residents were not concerned about it, not realizing the high risk of conditions.  The firefighters were tired from having fought a fire the day before.  The firefighters fought the flames through the entire day and became exhausted. As the fire jumped to a nearby neighborhood, it began to destroy mansions, houses and apartments, most made of wood and dried out from the drought. After two days of the fire burning out of control, rain helped douse the remaining fire. City officials estimated that more than 300 people died in the fire and more than 100,000 were left homeless. More than four square miles were destroyed by the fire.

The corner of State and Madison streets showing the utter destruction.

The corner of State and Madison Streets, showing the utter destruction.

The fire also led to questions about the developments in the United States. Due to Chicago’s rapid expansion at this time, the fire led to Americans reflecting on industrialization.  The Religious point of view said that Americans should return to a more old-fashioned way of life, and that the fire was caused by people ignoring morality.  Many Americans on the other hand believed that a lesson that should be learned from the fire was that cities needed to improve their building techniques.  Frederick Law Olsmsted attributed this to Chicago’s style of building:

“Chicago had a weakness for “big things,” and liked to think that it was outbuilding New York.  It did a great deal of commercial advertising in its house-tops. The faults of construction as well as of art in its great showy buildings must have been numerous.  Their walls were thin, and were overweighted with gross and coarse misornamentation.”

A Chicago Tribune editorial published after the Great Fire, stated the obvious...and Chicagoans took that message to heart, as rebuilding began almost immediately.

A Chicago Tribune editorial published after the Great Fire, stated the obvious…and Chicagoans took that message to heart, as rebuilding began almost immediately.

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Chicago is not my hometown, but I feel it is important to know some history about wherever I live.

Please click here if you want to read more about the Great Chicago Fire.

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Demolition Day #2

Shambhala-1

The demolition crew returned Saturday around noon to continue the tear-down of what was known as the Shambhala Meditation Center.

Here are some images of what they accomplished in four short hours:

Sham-1

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No idea why this Chicago Police Sergeant stopped in...perhaps he needed directions?

No idea why this Chicago Police Sergeant stopped in…perhaps he needed directions?

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The shovel man switched to using this huge claw in order to pull down brick walls.

The shovel man switched to using this huge claw in order to pull down brick walls…

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Sham-26…and the constant stream of water kept down the dust.

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The claw also worked well in dismantling the roof...

The claw also worked well in dismantling the roof…

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Sham-43…and the many interior walls.

The structure was once considered a ‘Sheridan Road mansion’, but had been so carved up into various little rooms inside, some of which had those wonderful ‘drop ceilings’–sorry, I couldn’t resist a bit of sarcasm;  I’m one of those people who wish ‘drop ceilings’ had never been invented–they are soooo ugly!

I went down to ground level on my lazy Sunday afternoon and took many more shots…here are a few:

Sham-Day 2-1

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Sham-Day 2-3

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Sham-Day 2-4

Not bad, for a Saturday afternoon’s work and, surprisingly, there wasn’t nearly as much noise as I had thought.

This demo crew approached this project with precision and also seem to be quite safety-conscious, as one man serves as a type of ‘director’, giving a lot of hand signals to the shovel operator…and he also has a piercing whistle to let the shovel operator know when to stop.

It’s quite apparent they’ve worked together many times in the past.

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I’ve taken many, many more images…and Monday’s group has not even been re-sized, so I’ll try to get them up as soon as I can.

I seem to be the only photographer cataloging this demolition, as I’ve seen only two others who only took a few shots, then walked away.

In my mind, cataloging is extremely important historically…we must be able to ‘know what things were like along the way’ in order to make a better life for future generations.

Ultimately, I’ll process all the images and turn them into a video slide show and, perhaps, present it to Tawani Enterprises, Inc. to commend them for all the good things they are doing for the Rogers Park neighborhood.

While walking home…

…from the grocer the other, I happened upon this signpost which I realized I’d never shown here before.

It’s just less than a block from where I live, and it brings back so many childhood memories, because this was the very first children’s program I viewed when my Dad bought our first television in 1950–“Kukla, Fran and Ollie”!

Please, take a moment to read…this TV program gave me and my brothers many hours of great entertainment!

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Tillstrom-2

To think, he gave puppet shows from his apartment window!

Now, I’ve passed this building many, many times, always admiring it for having that ‘certain something’…I just really like the look of it, so I began photographing it in relation to the information re: Mr. Burt Tillstrom.

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I figured that this had to have been the puppet show window, as I could envision the neighborhood kids gathering on the lawn below, enjoying themselves on a war Summer evening.

I figured that this had to have been the puppet show window, as I could envision the neighborhood kids gathering on the lawn below, enjoying themselves on a war Summer evening.

I was about to walk away when I noticed a plaque to the right of that window.

I walked right over the lawn to take a shot, thinking it was a typical ‘management’ sign–but NO!

To my surprise, it not only signified the name of the building, but also the architect!

Are you as surprised as I?

Are you as surprised as I?

As I recall from viewing a DVD on Mr. Wright’s life recently, he was really scrambling for money in 1918, so perhaps he took this commission ‘for the bucks’, diverging from his normal-for-that-time Prairie style architecture!

As I said, the building has that ‘certain something’, but I hadn’t realized it was THAT ‘certain something’!

On this day…

…I’d like to wish all fathers a very Happy Father’s Day!

Father's Day 2013

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The little guy on the left is my own Dad, who passed just before Father’s Day in 1994.

The photograph was taken in the summer of 1919 and was originally hand-tinted.

My Dad had a copy negative made back in 1980, from which I printed a number of  8×10 black and whites, then sepia-toned.

Copies were given to his two brothers and four sisters.

My grandparents were immigrants from what was then Czechoslovakia, who came to America in 1912.

I’m pleased they revered the art of photography, so that I am able to present this image today, ninety-four years later!

Flag Day

Replica of the original flag of the United States of America

Replica of the original flag of the United States of America

From Wiki:

Flag Day (United States)

In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on that day in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.

 The United States Army also celebrates the Army Birthday on this date; Congress adopted “the American continental army” after reaching a consensus position in the Committee of the Whole on June 14, 1775.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day; in August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.

Flag Day is not an official federal holiday. Title 36 of the United States Code, Subtitle I, Part A, CHAPTER 1, § 110 is the official statute on Flag Day; however, it is at the President’s discretion to officially proclaim the observance. On June 14, 1937, Pennsylvania became the first (and only) U.S. state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday, beginning in the town of Rennerdale.  New York Statutes designate the second Sunday in June as Flag Day, a state holiday.

Perhaps the oldest continuing Flag Day parade is at Fairfield, Washington.  Beginning in 1909 or 1910, Fairfield has held a parade every year since, with the possible exception of 1918, and celebrated the “Centennial” parade in 2010, along with some other commemorative events.

One of the longest-running Flag Day parades is held annually in Quincy, Massachusetts, which began in 1952, celebrating its 59th year in 2010.  The 59th Annual Appleton Wisconsin 2009 Flag Day Parade featured the U.S. Navy. The largest Flag Day parade is held annually in Troy, New York, which bases its parade on the Quincy parade and typically draws 50,000 spectators.  A Flag Day parade is also held annually in Hudson, New York, where ten to twelve thousand people gather to participate in this annual extravaganza.