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!

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

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

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.

Woks-n-Things-1 BW

The door to Ken Moy’s “Wok ‘n’ Things” is a few steps up and is in English. I much prefer the sidelight, which is in Chinese.

To the left of the door is a window full of articles, including this great sign!

To the left of the door is a window full of articles, including this great sign!

 

How about this...a Kahuna Burner!  Looks very interesting, if you cook outdoors!

How about this…a Portable Kahuna Burner! Looks very interesting, if you cook outdoors, or at the beach!

 

What would the Chinese kitchen be without stainless steel ladles, like these...

What would the Chinese kitchen be without stainless steel ladles, like these…

 

...or bamboo-handled mesh strainers?  Use these to take your food from the wok to the serving dish.

…or bamboo-handled mesh strainers? Use these to take your food from the wok to the serving dish.

 

These biscuit cutters are stainless steel, not tin, as you normally find.  See that small heart at the left?  Yup, it's mine now, just in time for some heart-shaped cookies!

These biscuit cutters are stainless steel, not tin, as you normally find. See that small heart at the left? Yup, it’s mine now, just in time for some heart-shaped cookies!

 

Looking up, there's a beautiful array of Chinese lanterns, both plain and printed...I almost bought one, but didn't want to be balancing a huge bag AND the camera, so I bought a large mesh Tea Ball instead!

Looking up, there’s a beautiful array of Chinese paper lanterns, both plain and printed…I almost bought one, but didn’t want to be balancing a huge bag AND the camera, so I bought a large mesh tea ball instead!

Just in case you’re wondering, the next day I baked some cookies.  Of course I used my new cutter, so they looked like this:

Just plain old sugar cookies, made with real butter, raw sugar, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans, and cinnamon, ginger and cloves...ready to go back in a warm oven with Rolos and Dark Chocolate Kisses...oooh, YUM!

Just plain old sugar cookies, made with real butter, raw sugar, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans, and cinnamon, ginger and cloves…ready to go back in a warm oven to lightly melt Rolos and Dark Chocolate Kisses…oooh, YUM, and just the right size!

Chinatown: Street Food UPDATED!

CT Street Food-1 Horiz Grain

Rice: Tasty Joy and Golden Jasmine

CT Street Food-2 Horiz Grain

Cilantro: A bit past its prime

I have been informed in the comments by Ng Tom of ‘That’s how I see the world’ that this is PARSLEY! 

CT Street Food-3 Horiz Grain

Firm Tomatoes and a much fresher Cilantro

Also PARSLEY!

CT Street Food-4 Horiz Grain

And the tomatoes cost how much?

CT Street Food-5 Horiz Grain

Fresh Cilantro for only forty cents a pound…I think?

Also PARSLEY, and most likely forty cents a bunch!

How I wish I could read Chinese!  Perhaps my friend in Hong Kong will be kind enough to send a translation of these signs!