Chinatown: Some Last Reflections

Chinatown Reflections-12 Horiz Grain

 

Chinatown Reflections-13 Horiz Grain

 

Chinatown Reflections-14 Horiz Grain

 

Chinatown Reflections-15 Horiz Grain

 

Chinatown Reflections-16 Horiz Grain

 

Chinatown Reflections-17 Horiz Grain

Here are a few bonus images from Chicago’s Chinatown, when I chose to ‘look down’:

Taken on 22nd Place and Wentworth Avenue, five pigeons and a lone sparrow gathered for an early luncheon party...

Taken on 22nd Place and Wentworth Avenue, five pigeons and a lone sparrow gathered for an early luncheon party…

...and were joined by a sixth pigeon.  Funny, not a crumb of Dim Sum was to be found!

…and were joined by a sixth pigeon. Funny, not a crumb of Dim Sum was to be found!

At the corner of 23rd and Wentworth Avenue, this carved dragon sidewalk inset intrigued me...but not any of the other passersby!

At the corner of 23rd and Wentworth Avenue, this carved dragon sidewalk inset intrigued me…but not any of the other passersby!

Thank you for joining me on these many posts of Chicago’s Chinatown!

I hope they have been as interesting for you as they were for me.

There is so much more to this Chicago neighborhood and the wonderful Chinese inhabitants that I shall return, perhaps in a month or so!

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Chinatown: More Street Food

Oranges...lots of oranges!

Oranges…lots of oranges!

 

A type of Chinese Cabbage...very reasonably-priced!

A type of Chinese Cabbage…very reasonably-priced!

 

Live fish, waiting in a tank to be sold!

Live fish, waiting in a tank to be sold!

 

Cauliflower and other vegetables, bagged and displayed...ready to take home and stir-fry in the wok!  Just add rice noodles, right!

Cauliflower and other vegetables, bagged and displayed…ready to take home and stir-fry in the wok! Just add rice noodles, right!

 

I may be wrong, but this looks like some mighty fine, spice-rubbed pork shoulder...already cooked, just slice and heat!

I may be wrong, but this looks like some mighty fine, Spice-rubbed Pork Shoulder…already cooked, just slice and heat!

Chinatown: The Pui Tak Center

The Pui Tak Center during its 2009 restorationPhoto courtesy: Wikipedia

The Pui Tak Center during its 2009 restoration
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

 

From Wikipedia:

The Pui Tak Center (Chinese: 中心; Mandarin Pinyin: Péidé Zhōngxīn; Jyutping: pui4 dak1 zung1 sam1; Cantonese Yale: Pùihdāk Jūngsām; literally “cultivating virtue center”), formerly known as the On Leong Merchants Association Building, is a building located in Chicago’s Chinatown. Designed by architects Christian S. Michaelsen and Sigurd A. Rognstad, the building was built for the On Leong Merchants Association and opened in 1928. The Association used it as an immigrant assistance center, and the building was informally referred to as Chinatown’s “city hall”. In 1988, the FBI and Chicago Police raided the building as part of a racketeering investigation. The US federal government seized the building that same year.

The building was purchased by the Chinese Christian Union Church (CCUC) for $1.4 million and renamed the Pui Tak Center in 1993. That same year, the On Leong Merchants Association Building was designated a Chicago landmark by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. The CCUC spent $1 million raised from community donations to renovate and update the building’s neglected interior. The newly-named Pai Tak Center now hosts various religious, community, and educational programs, such as English-as-a-Second-Language courses (ESL).

In the 1920s, Chinese community leaders secured approximately 50 ten-year leases on properties in the newly developing Chinatown.  Jim Moy, director of the Association, then decided that a Chinese-style building should be constructed as a strong visual announcement of the Chinese community’s new presence in the area.  With no Chinese-born architects in Chicago at the time, Chicago-born Norse architects Christian S. Michaelsen and Sigurd A. Rognstad were asked to design the On Leong Merchants Association Building in the spring of 1926.  Moy decided to employ the pair again after Michaelsen and Rognstad’s firm built Moy’s Peacock Inn in Uptown in 1920.

After studying texts on Chinese architecture, Michaelsen and Rognstad’s final design was an example of Orientalism, a Western architect’s interpretation of Chinese architectural forms.  A good substitute for the liu li glazed ceramic found in traditional Chinese architecture, Rognstad designed exterior Teco sculptural accents, a type of terra cotta produced by Crystal Lake, Illinois‘s American Terra Cotta Company.  When the building plans were announced in the Chicago Tribune on July 4, 1926, the building was called, “One of the most expensive and elaborate buildings ever erected in America by the Chinese”.  Construction began in 1926 and was completed a year later for the cost of $1 millon.

In preparation for the restoration work, the structural and architectural engineering firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates completed an evaluation of the building’s eastern and southern facades, focusing on its terra cotta portions.  By using ultrasonic testing, engineers were able to evaluate the state of the terra cotta without further damaging the pieces. Severely cracked or damaged pieces were partially removed and a report was written from these findings.  This report provided recommendations for the masonry facade and terra cotta repair work.  Restoration work began in spring 2009 and is scheduled for completion in early 2010.  All of the damaged terra cotta elements have been replaced on the south tower and parapet, and scaffolding has been erected on building’s eastern facade in preparation for further restoration work.  Fully restoring the building’s exterior terra cotta pieces and clay roof tiles is the first step in a long-range $2 million repair plan.

*********

Here are a few images of the restored Pui Tak Center’s glazed terra cotta tile pieces, which I took during my short visit to Chicago’s Chinatown:

Pui Tak Bldg Detail-1

A bit of damage has been done here at the northeast corner of the building, because it borders on an alleyway used by delivery trucks.

Pui Tak Bldg Detail-2

The south wall off the doors located in the final image of this post.  This peacock faces his twin, standing regally on the opposite wall.

Pui Tak Bldg Detail-3

Here’s a closer look at the craftsmanship of this peacock.

Pui Tak Bldg Detail-4

Looking up at the ceiling of the entrance seen in the next image.

Not exactly 'tile', but the door handles, rails, and leaded glass of this entrance truly intrigued me!

Not exactly ’tile’, but the door handles, rails, and leaded glass of this entrance truly intrigued me!

In Chinatown, at “Woks ‘n’ Things”: Part Two

NOTE: I have processed these images in black and white, because I felt color distracted from the simplicity of the wonderful designs.

Each has also been run through Photoshop’s (TM) Smart Blur filter, in small, but varying amounts.

You name, it's here!  From teapots, to spoons, to kitchen scales...

You name, it’s here! From teapots, to porcelain spoons, to kitchen scales…

...to plates and bowls...

…to plates and bowls…

...to large bamboo-handles wire mesh strainers...

…to large bamboo-handled wire mesh strainers…

...to smaller bamboo-handled wire mesh strainers...

…to smaller bamboo-handled wire mesh strainers…

...to several sizes of wavy cutters--I love these, they make vegetables look so much nicer!

…to several sizes of wavy cutters–I love these, they make vegetables look so much nicer!

And, I know you'll be amazed...Woks 'n' Things actually has WOKS...

And, I know you’ll be amazed…“Woks ‘n’ Things” actually has WOKS

...And wok covers, so you don't have oils splatter all over your kitchen!

…and wok covers, so you don’t have oil-splatter all over your kitchen!  They also carry many hardware and cleaning items…AND…will even make you a SPARE KEY!

As ‘Jake Blues’ said in “The Blues Brothers” during the mall chase scene, “This place has everything!”

Ken Moy’s “Woks ‘n’ Things” is located at

2234 S. Wentworth Avenue, Chicago Illinois  60616

Phone: 312.842.6701

Back to Chinatown

In the first Chinatown post, I showed you the Nine Dragon Wall, the first ‘welcome’ to this fascinating Chicago neighborhood. Just beyond the wall is this lovely pagoda, the second ‘welcome’, as it were.

Magnificently constructed, the pagoda was still decorated with greens for the holidays.

Magnificently constructed, the pagoda was still decorated with greens for the holidays.

Here’s a closer look at the roof of this fine structure:

Chinatown-3

As I understand, the glazed terra cotta tiles for this pagoda and the Nine Dragon Wall were made in China…obviously by excellent craftsmen, because the detail is amazing!

Directly across Cermak Road is the Chinatown Gate–the third ‘welcome’–designed by architect Peter Fung, and erected in 1975.

The Chinese characters are hand-painted tiles, declaring, "The world belongs to the commonwealth"...pretty provocative, isn't it?

The Chinese characters are hand-painted tiles, declaring, “The world belongs to the commonwealth”…pretty provocative, isn’t it?

The building on the right, with the twin pagodas I showed you previously, is the Pui Tak Building, designed by Christian S. Michaelsen and Sigurd A. Rognstad in 1928 for the On Leong Merchants Association.  In 1993, it was purchased and renovated/restored by the Chinese Christian Union Church.

After you enter the Gate, you are bombarded with signs like these, in both Chinese and English.

Chinatown Signs-1

Chinatown Signs-2

Chinatown Signs-3

Chinatown Signs-4

There’s even one of these, located in the alleyway just before the Pui Tak Building:

Chinatown Signs-5

More, much more on Chinatown tomorrow!

‘Playing’ with Chinatown images

Here are a few things I worked on today:

It wouldn't be Chinatown without Fortune Cookies--bagged and boxed and ready to go!

It wouldn’t be Chinatown without Fortune Cookies–bagged and boxed and ready to go!

 

And, it wouldn't be Chinatown without this detail from the little pagoda on Cermak Road...

And, it wouldn’t be Chinatown without this detail from the little pagoda on Cermak Road…

 

...and the pagoda towers atop a building on South Wentworth Avenue!

…and the pagoda towers atop a building on South Wentworth Avenue!

N.B.:  On these last two, after converting them to black and white images, I applied the Artistic Filter ‘Plastic Wrap’.  It’s the first time I found it to be usable and effective!