Sunday, December 31, 2017

A primer about the difference between a Chicago community and a Chicago neighborhood.

Chicago consists of 77 communities. Many of those communities having multiple neighborhoods. People who grew up of live in Chicago may know the neighborhood name but would call the community by the neighborhood name because that is what most Chicagoans did. Not to be confusing but... some communities also have the same name for one of its neighborhoods.

Chicago community and neighborhood names are use in legal documents, such as real estate titles along with longitude and latitude and plot coordinates.
West Ridge and Rogers Park communities (in black), have neighborhoods (in blue). Throughout Chicago's history, many neighborhood boundaries have changed or shifted as 'progress' forced some of these changes. 

Example of community and neighborhood loss of area: In the "Near West Side Community (with neighborhoods of: Columbus Circle, Greektown, Little Italy, Medical Center, Near West Side, Tri-Taylor, Fulton River District, and University Village), the "Little Italy" neighborhood used to be larger, but like many other neighborhoods of Chicago was effected by the construction of new expressways. It lost a considerable chunk of land when the Eisenhower Expressway was built in the 1950s. It lost even more real estate when the University of Illinois-Chicago moved into the area in the 1960s.
NOTE: Some Chicagoans, mostly southsiders ask "What parish are you from?" Parishes are Roman Catholic Churches of the Archdiocese of Chicago. They are NOT legal names of Chicago communities or neighborhoods. Chicago has many religions and faiths. Asking or stating a Parish as a Chicago neighborhood is assuming the other person knows the church AND its location. What you, your friends and family call a Chicago area is up to you, but a parish name, unlike New Orleans, Louisiana, is not official.
An interactive Google map of all Chicago Neighborhood within each community.

By Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Chicago Leland Giants Negro Base Ball Team. (1901-1909)

The Leland Giants, originally the Chicago Union Giants, were a Negro league baseball team that competed independently during the first decade of the 20th century. The team was formed via a merge of the Chicago Unions and the Chicago Columbia Giants in 1901, and then split in 1910 to form the Chicago Giants (1910-1921) and what would become known as the Chicago American Giants. The team was named after the owner and manager, Frank Leland and president of the "Leland Giants Base Ball and Amusement Association."

During the half century that baseball was segregated by race, black America created their own major leagues. These Negro Leagues showcased black competence and grace at a time when Negros were denied other opportunities. No team better conveyed black baseball's history than the Chicago American Giants, who, for four decades, were central to black Chicago, especially as the Great Migration swelled its ranks. Chicago, in turn, was the center of black baseball during the 1920s and home to its most important annual event, the East–West all-star game, in the 1930s and '40s.

The Leland Giants was managed by Andrew “Rube” Foster in 1909. In 1910, Foster and Leland split and Foster won the rights to the Leland Giants name; Leland's new team was called the Chicago Giants who began play in 1911.
Rube Foster of the Chicago Leland Giants base ball team, (1909)
 Perhaps the best black team of the 1920s, the Giants sometimes outplayed and outdrew the White Sox and the Cubs. Relying on speed, defense, and pitching and billed as “The Greatest Aggregation of Colored Baseball Players in the World,” the Giants prospered on and off the field. In addition to battling white semi-pro, major league, and Negro League teams, the Giants barnstormed their way across the country and even played in Cuba. After Leland's death, November 14, 1914, the team came under the control of longtime player Charles "Joe" Green.

In 1920, Foster founded the first stable black league, the Negro National League (NNL). They played as a travelling team, without a home field, and finished in last place in both 1920 and 1921. Their best player was a young catcher/shortstop named John Beckwith, who was purchased by Rube Foster for his Chicago American Giants after the 1921 season.

The American Giants won five pennants in that league, along with another pennant in the 1932 Negro Southern League and a second-half championship in Gus Greenlee's Negro National League in 1934. From 1920 through 1940 the American Giants played their home games at Shorling Park, a park which dated back to the 1880s and had served as White Sox Park throughout the 1910s. From 1950 the American Giants called Comiskey Park home until the team ended in 1956.
The 1905 Chicago Union Giants, L to R: Alex Irwin, Willis Jones, Fred Roberts, Haywood Rose, William Washington, Harry Hyde, Clarence Lytle, George Hopkins, Topeka Jack Johnson, George Taylor.

The 1907 Chicago Union Giants. Standing L to R: Will Horn, Topeka Jack Johnson. Seated, middle row, L to R: Albert Toney, Joe Green, Jimmy Smith, George Hopkins, Ginney Robinson, unknown. Seated, front row, L to R: unknown, Sam Strothers.
The 1909 Leland Giants. Standing L to R: Pete Hill, Andrew Payne, George Wright, Walter Ball, Charles Dougherty, Bill Gatewood, Rube Foster. Seated L to R: Danger Talbert, Harry Moore, Frank Leland, Bobby Winston, Sam Strothers, Nate Harris.

1916 Chicago American Giants
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Chateau De La Plaisance Amusement Park, Chicago, Illinois. (1907-1910)

In 1907 two Negro men, lawyer and businessman Beauregard Moseley and Robert R. Jackson a former postal worker turned publisher, opened the Chateau De La Plaisance (House of Pleasure) at 5318-26 South State Street in Chicago, Illinois. The Chateau was a part of the "Leland Giants Base Ball and Amusement Association."

Moseley and Jackson designed the Chateau "resort" to meet virtually every amusement need of the South Side community because Negros were not allowed in Riverview ParkWhite City Amusement Park or 
Sans Souci Amusement Park during this time period, unless they were workers. The Chateau De La Plaisance opened to Chicago's Afro-American public on November 2, 1907.




The Broad Ax Newspaper, November 16, 1907

THE CHATEAU DE LA PLAISANCE

Continues to meet with popular favor and craws large crowds.

At half past twelve o'clock last Saturday evening a chop suey supper
was given in honor of invited guests.

Beaurgard F. Moseley toastmaster - Major R.R. Jackson and others
delivered brilliant toasts at the conclusion of the repast.

"On Saturday evening, November 2, the Chateau De La Plaisance, 5318-26 State Street, under the management of the Leland Giants Base Ball and Amusement Association, threw its door open to the  public, and every afternoon and evening this new house of pleasure has been well patronized by the better element of the Afro-American population in the city.
In fact, the very best class of its citizens have been in evidence since its opening, and have manifested a willingness to give it their moral and financial support.
Last Saturday evening, so far the largest number of people were present, and the Chateau De La Plaisance was more than well filled with a jolly and good natured crowd of pleasure seekers, who spent most of their time in whirling around the skating rink mounted on the top of a first class pair of roller skates. 
At 12:30 o'clock the managers of the Leland Giants Base Ball and Amusement Association gave a chop suey supper in the American-Chinese restaurant, which is run in connection with the Chateau De La Plaisance, in honor of the specially invited guests. Col. Beauregard F. Moseley, the new 'captain of industry' among the Afro-American race in Chicago, served as toastmaster, and ladies and gentlemen licked their chops while feasting on chop suey and other Chinese eatables.
At the conclusion of the feasting, Dr. McKissack, in behalf of the judges to award the prizes to those selecting the best name for this new place of amusement, and the first prize, consisting of a $5.00 gold piece, was awarded to Mr. Adams, of Toledo, Ohio, who selected the name the Chateau De La Plaisance, from the French, which means 'house of pleasure' and as Jacob L. Parks and the other judges are high up French scholars, it was adopted as the most appropriate name, and the second prize was awarded to Mrs. William Emanuel.
Major Jackson was next called upon by the toastmaster to give a short review, and to set forth the aims and objects of the Leland Giants Base Ball and Amusement Association, which he did in the most glowing terms, and intimated that in the near future the Association expected to launch an enterprise in the neighborhood of 31st and State streets which would astonish the natives.
Some brilliant toasts were also delivered by Edward H. Wright, Doctor Bert Anderson, Frank Seay, David Manson, Lloyd Wheeler, Mr. Washington, who all declared that the Chateau De La Plaisance was the real thing, and it was just the place to spend a pleasant evening or afternoon.
The writer was also called on for a toast, as we had been called upon to pronounce the blessing at the beginning of the feast, which we had to decline, and in concluding our toast it was plainly intimated that as long as the Chateau De La Plaisance was conducted on a high moral plane, where saints and sinners both could pass an enjoyable evening it deserved the hearty support os all good citizens, and this same sentiment was expressed by the others called upon to express their views, and as first class order has been maintained on all occasions, and as the Leland Giants are popular and had a strong following among the better class of citizens during the past base ball season, there is no reason on earth why this new enterprise launched by its managers should not prove a grand success."
The Chateau branded itself as “The Only Amusement Park and Pavilion in the World Owned and Controlled by Negros,” and "The Only Summer Resort of it's Kind in the World" advertised regularly in the Chicago Broad Ax and the Chicago Defender newspapers.

Visitors to the Chateau De La Plaisance, which was easily accessible by the State Street streetcar, could enjoy a variety of "Open Air Attractions." Features included Big Musical Programs, a double-decked parisian gallery over looking a dance pavilion that accommodates fifty couples, a band-stand and stage with a solid up-right facade for moving pictures and illustrated songs. Band Concerts, Vocal Solos and the best meals procurable for the low admission price of 10¢. Everything from soda to venison was served.

"No discriminatios, no boisterous or bad mannered people... and those who wish to patronize an institution meritorious and worthily will make a mistake if they don't visit the Chateau at least one evening a week."

There was a Cafe, a Merry-Go-Round, mechanical swings that rotated in a circle and the finest roller rink in the west with a seperate rink for beginners.
A 1900s Merry-Go-Round time period example.
The Chateau advertised regularly in the Defender and the Brtoad Ax newspapers, noting visits by luminaries such as Mrs. Booker T. Washington and vaudeville legend Bert Williams.

In 1910 the Chateau De La Plaisance changed its name to the Chateau Gardens, still keeping the 10¢ admission price. They closed sometime in late 1910.

The Leland Giants were Chicago's first successful Negro baseball enterprise, playing games weekly at 79th and Wentworth.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Carmelita Pope - One of the First Ladies of Chicago Television.

NOTE: CARMELITA POPE IS NOT THE DAUGHTER OF CHEF FRANCOIS POPE & HIS WIFE ANTOINETTE POPE OF THE TV COOKING SHOW "CREATIVE COOKERY."


Chicago Television airwaves were reigned over by a trio of stylish, smart and sophisticated ladies - the three “First Ladies of Chicago Television.”

Over NBC’s powerhouse Chicago affiliate, WMAQ (then WNBQ), Dorsey Connors was known for her plethora of household helpful hints, and later turned that into national exposure over NBC’s “Today” show, a series of successful books and a long-running daily newspaper column.

On WBBM, the city’s CBS affiliate, Lee Phillip (later Lee Phillip Bell) began her on-air career arranging flowers before seguing into a TV career as an interviewer with an on-air career that spanned 30 years. Later, with her late husband Bill Bell, she co-created TV’s “Young & the Restless” and “The Bold & the Beautiful.”

And then there’s Carmelita Pope. The true show biz hyphenate of the group, Pope, over the Windy City’s small screens, was known as a commercial saleswoman, actress, and game show regular.


Carmelita Pope
Born on April 15, 1924, and bred in Chicago, Pope practically had showbiz in her veins. The daughter of an ex-vaudevillian turned attorney, Pope’s father instilled in her and her older sister, Clarissa, a love for the stage. Pope says, “He LOVED his career in show business and I think he bend over my crib every night and told me to be an actress.”

By age five, Carmelita was already dancing and singing and while her older sister bowed out of performing after getting married, Carmelita stayed with it. She got her first “real” theater job at age 17 in the “hillbilly” play, “Maid in the Ozarks.” Says Pope, “I yelled for the pigs in that one! We played for a year and a half in Chicago and then went on the road for six months. I got my Senior Equity Card for it.”

Pope’s next notable role came in a Chicago production of George Abbott’s three-act comedy “Kiss and Tell.” That play where she played Corliss Archer - took her around the world as Pope and the play were soon part of the USO.
Beginning in January of 1945, Pope and the “Kiss” company spent six months traveling to war zones to entertain the troops. Eventually, those travels included Italy and Northern Africa. She said, “We played theaters, wherever we could. Sometimes, though, they just spread out some chairs and we made a ‘theater’ that way. We’d play in hospital rooms for the wounded soldiers.”

Returning to the States, Pope settled in New York and quickly found work as a double for actress Ida Lupino and in film short subjects for 20th Century-Fox and RKO. In 1947, she even had a bit part in the Christmas classic “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Finally, after pounding the pavement and hitting up auditions, Pope got her first feature film starring role. In “Citizen Saint,” Pope took on the part of America’s first canonized saint, Frances Cabrini. The film was independently produced and was directed by Harold Young. 


Citizen Saint - Full Feature Film - 1:03:47

This 1947 religious film, for Pope, though, was a bit of a mixed blessing. She says, “I liked the work we did in the original scenes but then they spliced in a lot of this stock footage that looked cheap. It undermined the film.” Pope’s first film role also came with a short-lived, in fact, one time only - name change courtesy of the producers. She says, “They thought that nobody would believe my name was actually ‘Pope,’ so they abbreviated my first name to ‘Carla’ and made my last name ‘Dare.’ Carla Dare!”

Still, “Citizen Saint,” got the young actress (Pope was only 19 at the time) her first big screen exposure and she got to travel with the film as it played screens across the country. “After the film, I’d take the stage and speak to the audience,” she says.

Even better, though, was who happened to catch her in the film: Elia Kazan! Kazan was a mega film and stage producer/director who, after seeing 'Citizen Saint,' “called every agent in New York looking for me. Finally, he found my agent and my agent called me and said, Elia Kazan wants to see you!”

What Kazan wanted was to meet with Carmelita about a show, the show he had just opened on Broadway: Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.” After a brief meeting, without an audition, Pope was cast by Kazan as the understudy for Kim Hunter in the role of Stella in “A Streetcar Named Desire's” Broadway debut in 1947.
Also in that original cast, making his Broadway debut, was Marlon Brando. Interestingly, Pope and Brando or “Bud,” as he was known then already knew each other. They had known each other for years in Chicago and their friendship followed them to NYC; they would remain friends.


Marlon Brando and Carmelita Pope.
Kim Hunter, of course, was not only a very good “Stella” in “Streetcar,” she was also a healthy one; she never missed a performance. And though Carmelita had hopes of taking over the role once Hunter departed from it, it was hard to make a case to the producers since they never actually saw her in the role. To remedy that, Hunter worked out a little plan. Carmelita remembers: “Kim said to me, ‘I’m going to be sick next Thursday and you can go on so everyone can see you. "Well... I never thought, she was serious. But come Thursday, she pretended to be sick and I went on!”

Pope performed, and impressed. She was cast as the stage’s new Stella, signing the contract with the show’s producer, Irene Mayer Selznick, the next day.

Not only was her career on the ascent, so was Pope’s personal life. At a wedding reception back in Illinois, in 1942, Pope met young “Chicago Tribune” reporter Howard Charles Ballenger II. The duo married in April of 1949.

But as strong as the lure of the stage was, so, too, was the call of marriage and motherhood, so Pope moved back to Chicago. Lucky for her, Chicago was booming at the time as both a theater town and as a production center for the new medium of television.

Back in the Windy City, Pope heard about an audition for a new TV show for an on-air game show called “Down You Go.” They were looking for on-air panelists. She said, “I wasn’t sure I was that smart, but I went anyway.” Pope was that smart, and engaging and good at thinking on her feet. She was soon cast on the live show beamed out every week from a WGN theater.
Carmelita Pope on the set of the nationally-syndicated TV game show, "Down You Go."
Prefiguring “Wheel of Fortune,” “Down You Go” was a TV version of Hangman that utilized a set of four regular panelists to solve its word puzzles. Debuting in May of 1951, the program originally aired over the now-defunct Dumont network and was hosted by Dr. Bergen Evans, an English professor from Northwestern. The show’s title phrase was uttered when a panelist/player was eliminated from the game for a wrong answer or guessing an incorrect letter. Along with Carmelita, other early panelists included fellow actress Toni Gilman, WGN employee Fran Coughlin, and university prof Robert Breen.
Carmelita Pope 1951
Pope, who would remain with the live TV show until 1956, has fond, fun memories of her “Down” days, the only hiccup being when she was pregnant once during the show’s run. She relates, “I was pregnant with my second son during the show’s second season so they would have me out and seated before the audience came in. They didn’t want me coming in, in front of the audience! I had to sit there all alone. It wasn’t so bad though, the stagehands would take pity on me and talk to me. They told me all sorts of naughty jokes!”

Chicago was coming into its own at this time in regard to TV and was a hotbed of various daily and weekly broadcasts. Along with her weekly work on “Down You Go,” Pope could also be found as “femcee” (feminine equivalent of an 'emcee) of the show “Magic Slate” over WNBQ in 1951. 
Carmelita Pope, 1953
Earlier she had roles on the legal drama “They Stand Accused” in 1949 and in the title role of a live staging of the operetta “Frederika” on Mutual in 1950. Other small screen credits included “Baby of the Week” in 1954 and as the host of the interview show “Guest Star” in 1952-53 as well as the nationally-seen weekly show “Today on the Farm” featuring country star Eddy Arnold. “Farm” aired 1960-61.

Beginning in 1958, Pope began appearing on TV’s first (non-radio derived) soap opera, “Hawkins Falls.” Along with appearing in the serial “off and on,” Pope also got pulled into doing commercials “every other day” for the show’s sponsor, soap detergent Surf. Pope recalls, “I enjoyed doing commercials. They were, of course, live. They just told me what they wanted and they paid me!”
Carmelita Pope, 1961
Pope’s skill as a seller soon made her in demand. And soon she was doing ads for Bell Savings, Wanzer Milk, and Northern Illinois Gas Co., too. When Perry Como had his own New York-based music show, they would switch back to Chicago and Carmelita for their live commercials, probably the only time in TV history that that was done.

Most famously, Carmelita was the face for PAM cooking spray beginning in around 1961. She recalls, “I turned down a lot of products that I was offered if I didn’t like them. Then they came to me with this revolutionary spray that said it made food not stick. I was like, ‘Really?’”


Carmelita Pope in a Pam Cooking Spray Commercial, 1970.

Pope would be the on-air rep for PAM for the next 10 years.

In time, Pope became so synonymous with on-air advertising in Chicago that, unfortunately, it eventually began to work against her. She says, “One day I went to a local audition because I heard they were looking for a ‘Carmelita Pope’-type. But, when I got there I was told, ‘We are looking for someone like you, but not you.’”

This career crossroads occurred at the same time as a personal crossroads developed as well. Pope and her husband, Chuck, after 23 years of marriage and two sons, had decided to divorce.

“Overused” in Chicago, and with her two sons (Bruce and Buzz) largely grown, Pope decided it was time to try her luck on the West Coast. “I rented a furnished apartment in Los Angeles for $350 a month you can’t do that now! but I kept our house in Highland Park, Illinois.”

Out in LA, Carmelita appeared on “General Hospital,” “Days of Our Lives” and in the original “Spider-Man” TV movie from 1977. (In the latter, she was a choir member turned bank robber.) Carmelita also kept busy doing commercials for Minute Maid and the Pet Food Institute. That latter job quickly turned into a major new role as Carmelita became the Institute’s roving ambassador. For two years, she traveled the country on behalf of the organization. Her work required not only ample travel but also tapped into her old sales and performing skills. She says, “I’d do 15-20 shows a week in different cities. I did the job for two years.”

That job also lead to Pope’s next great evolution. In 1978, Pope was named the director of the Hollywood office of the American Humane Association. That body had the responsibility of overseeing animal welfare in all movie and TV productions. In the high-profile job, Pope reviewed thousands of scripts and sent her officers onto the sets of hundreds of productions to make sure no animals were harmed or injured in their creation. (If they were in danger, the officers were empowered to make arrests.) It was under Pope’s leadership that that now-famous phrase “No animals were harmed or injured in the making of this motion picture” became part of the Hollywood vernacular. Pope’s office also pushed through a clause in the Screen Actors Guild that allowed performers to walk off sets if they felt any animals were being abused within the course of their work.

Pope loved the job: “I LOVE animals,” she says. But, after 10 years of the “exhausting” work, Carmelita found it necessary move on.

Besides, she had other business to attend to. In 1984, Pope remarried and, due her new husband’s health, the couple moved from LA to FL. Mr. and Mrs. William Wood would reside in the Sunshine State for the next 10 or so years. Carmelita says, “It was really lovely. I even learned to play golf but, when you learn something new in your 60s, you know you’ll never get good at it.”

Mr. Wood, who had been a TV producer and director on the West Coast before the move to Florida, passed away in 1995. Wanting to be closer to at least one of her two now adult sons, Carmelita took on a major change in climate when she relocated to Idaho. (Her other son lived in California). That move occurred in 1999. True to her nature, though, Carmelita was/is not one for sitting idly in her “retirement.” Since 2002, she’s been assisting in the local Veteran’s History Project, an endeavor of the Library of Congress. Working largely out of the Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa, Idaho, Carmelita organizes the talks with veterans from all branches of the US armed forces and from any conflict, any era, so that they can record their stories. She says, “We record the interviews on video, so it was helpful in the beginning as I knew about TV production and lighting.” She began her work with the project in 2002. In her latest incarnation for the vets projec, Pope and her team have just surpassed 1,000 completed interviews.

In terms of Carmelita Pope, “incarnation” seems like a most appropriate word to apply to her. Consider: in her singular, remarkable career, Carmelita has been an actress and an activist, a panelist and a personality, a spokesperson and even an American saint. All the while underscoring that the title that she wears of “First Lady” is a term, not so loosely bestowed, but fully earned.

Pope (now 93) lives in Boise, Idaho, where she volunteers at the Warhawk Air Museum.

by Cary O'Dell
Edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

The Sidney Wanzer & Sons Creamery of Chicago. (1857-1970s)

Sidney Wanzer (1834-1906) was the son of Nicholas and Betsey (Hill) Wanzer. Sidney and his parents followed his oldest brother Moses to Dundee Township in Kane County Illinois about 1840. He married Jane Bradley, the daughter of William S. Bradley from Fairfield, Vermont on October 22, 1857 in Elgin, Illinois.
Sidney began hauling his ‘country-fresh' milk from the farms in the Elgin and Dundee areas to Chicago in 1857. He later partnered with his brother to form the Wanzer Dairy in Chicago.
They pioneered the use of glass milk bottles, scientific testing to determine the butterfat content of milk, mechanical refrigeration for milk storage and applied the pasteurization process invented by Louis Pasteur to kill bacteria in milk.
Sidney Wanzer & Sons' main plant was at Garfield Boulevard (55th Street) at the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago along with two other southside plants. Wanzer also had a north-side distribution center on Lawrence Avenue between Ravenswood and  Wolcott.

Wanzer had ten children: Luna, Bertha E., William Bradley, Bessie, Howard Hill, Sidney, Jennie L., Breddie, Arthur Grant and Charles. They all lived in Chicago.

In November of 1948, Wanzer Dairy began publishing the "Wanzer's Kitchen Adventures" magazine, which was stories and recipes using milk, cream and other Wanzer products. The magazines last issue was April 1951.


Carmelita Pope (A Broadway Theater actress and a pioneer in early television) did TV commercials for Wanzer Dairy. She would hold up a 1/2 gallon carton of milk and say "Wanzer on milk is like Sterling on silver".
Northshore Milk Distribution Wanzer Truck after the blizzard of 1967.
Photo by Charles Chernawsky

Wanzer was sold to Borden's Milk in the 1970s. In April of 1999, Hawthorn Mellody Inc. tried to Trademark "Wanzer Dairy," but they failed to complete the request.

Wanzer Dairy Toy 1953 Ford Milk Truck.

Wanzer Milk Box - Holds 4 One Gallon Glass Bottles, 1966

 
Wanzer Glass Milk Gallon, 1950s. & 100 Year Anniversary Paper Milk Carton, 1957.

Ever wonder how milk dating began in Illinois? We have Al Capone and his brother Ralph to thank.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Monday, December 25, 2017

'The Birdcage' Apartments at 6901 North Ridge Boulevard (at Farwell) in Chicago was built by architect Don Erickson in 1959.

Erickson curved this flagstone and curtain wall building to give every apartment a view of open space. The steel-rod staircase gave the apartment it's nickname, 'the birdcage' which originally rose above a fish pond whose reflection doubled its pizzazz. He also used the slope of  Ridge Boulevard  to develop a variety of apartments types to the north of the main pavilion.
'The Birdcage' Apartments at 6901 North Ridge Boulevard (at Farwell) in Chicago.
Don Erickson was born in Chicago in 1929. He graduated from Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois in 1947 and studied architecture at the University of Illinois at Navy Pier.  Erickson began his apprenticeship to Frank Lloyd Wright in 1948, on a dare from a college professor. He was an 18-year-old who was torn between a career as an architect and a life as a classical pianist.
Don Erickson, Architect. May 2010
Erickson has designed numerous custom homes in the Northern suburbs of Chicago, as well as his most well-known project, the Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale, Illinois.

He died on October 24, 2006 after a long battle with multiple myeloma and is buried in White Cemetery in Barrington,  Illinois.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The History of Indian Boundary Park in Chicago, Illinois.

Indian Boundary Park at 2500 West Lunt Avenue in Chicago, is a 13-acre urban park in the West Ridge community of Chicago that opened in 1922. 

Indian Boundary Park is named for the territorial boundary established by the Treaty of St. Louis in 1816 between the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Pottawattamie tribes and the United States government.
Over the Fieldhouse Entrance.
Indian Boundary Village Marker: Long ago, Native Indians lived on this land. Before recorded history, the Mound Builders traveled the area, perhaps along the nearby ridge. Later the Illinois Tribe hunted game and planted maize. Last it was the Ottawa, the Chippewa, and especially the Pottawatomie who lived here. The Pottawatomie, which means "People of the Place of the Fire", lived in villages on the Indian Boundary Line which runs through this Park.
The 1816 Treaty of St. Louis - Like many diagonal streets that interrupt the grid patterned streets of Chicago, Rogers Avenue comes from a past far earlier than the surveyors who laid out Chicago’s streets. An ancient Indian trail, the passageway we now know as Rogers Avenue holds a special historic significance.
On August 24, 1816, the Treaty of St. Louis designated this particular trail to be a boundary dividing the land between the Indians and white settlers. Signed on behalf of the United States by Illinois’ first Governor, Ninian Edwards (1775-1833); Auguste Chouteau (1749-1829), and William Clark (1770-1838, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and brother of the Revolutionary War hero Gen. George Rogers Clark, after whom Clark Street is named), the treaty was negotiated with the Council of Three Fires, the united tribes of Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Pottawatomie. White settlers were permitted to settle south and east of the boundary line.
The line ran southwesterly to what is now Ottawa, Illinois. The boundary existed until the Treaty of Chicago in 1833, when Indian tribes were driven out of the area.
This treaty line exists now as Rogers Avenue, which runs from Eastlake Terrace to Ridge Boulevard, and then starts and stops a few times in the Chicago neighborhoods of Sauganash and Forest Glen. The same trail picks up again briefly as Forest Preserve Drive, just west of Narragansett Avenue and continues the path to Belmont Avenue between Highway 171 and River Road. Rogers Avenue is named in honor of the same man after whom the community of Rogers Park is named, Philip Rogers.
Although the boundary now exists in history, it has lent its name to a very familiar landmark in our community, Indian Boundary Park, which lies directly in the path of the trail. Further down the trail, at the end of Forest Preserve Drive, the history of the trail is further memorialized by the aptly named “Indian Boundary Golf Course.”
An historic plaque was installed at Clark Street and Rogers Avenue on the Northeast corner. Presently it is partially hidden by the housing of the traffic light controller for this busy intersection.
The plaque reads as follows - "Indian Boundary Lines - Clark Street honors George Rogers Clark whose brother William Clark with Ninian Edwards and Auguste Chouteau, in 1816, negotiated indian treaty ceding land including Chicago site from Rogers Avenue to Lake Calumet. Erected by Chicago’s Charter Jubilee, Authenticated by Chicago Historical Society, 1937."
About Indian Boundary Park
The park was created in 1915 by the Ridge Avenue Park District (RAPD) for a purchase price of $3000 per acre. The Ridge Avenue Park District was the first of 19 neighborhood commissions established in 1896 to serve areas recently annexed by the City of Chicago.
Indian Boundary Park 1916 Stone Marker: This 13.06 acre park commemorates the treaty of 1816 which established the land boundaries of the Pottawatomie Indians. Indian Boundary Area Council - 1979.
The park was the 2nd and largest of four passive parks created for middle and upper class residents who were purchasing some of the "finest apartment buildings in Chicago (then under construction), besides the houses and (Chicago style) bungalows" per the Chicago Evening Post on July 11, 1925. Whereas other Chicago parks were created for healthy outdoor activities for "the poor and immigrant communities", the passive parks were created for strolling through gardens and quiet activities such as bird-watching. 
Philip Rogers Home Site. Philip Rogers, Born in Ireland, came to Rogers Park about 1843 and bought 1600 acres from the government. First lived in a log house at Lunt and Western Avenues. Dies in 1856. Village named after him in 1844. Erected by Chicago's Charter Jubilee. Authenticated by Chicago Historical Society 1937.
The park landscape architect was Richard F. Gloede of Evanston, Illinois, the creator of many North Shore estate landscapes. Two stone columns (still in place) on Lunt Avenue marked the entry to a large, oval perennial garden designed by Mr. Gloede with many shrubs and meandering paths. One can imagine people in the 1920s strolling or sitting in the park with friends on a Sunday afternoon visit.
Old City Hall Keystone: Historical. This keystone, taken from the arch of the Washington Street entrance, in the City Hall building Chicago, which was erected in 1877. Replaced by the present building in 1909. Presented to the Indian Boundary Park, July 4th, 1927 by Julius H. Huber. Erected by the Ridge Avenue Park Commissioners.
The park was unique in that it had no straight lines criss crossing it like most of the other city parks. The park's eastern and northern lawns flow seamlessly into the front yards of the Park Gables, Park Castle, Park Manor, and Park Crest co-op apartment buildings. The original plan also included the lagoon and spray pool; still important features of the park.

Indian Boundary Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.


Flying around Indian Boundary Park - 2016


The Indian Boundary Park Zoo
In the mid-1920's, the Ridge Avenue Park District opened a small zoo in Indian Boundary Park at 2555 West Estes Avenue with the donation of a black bear given by the district president, Frank Kellogg. Although many parks had their own zoos at that time, the animals were eventually transferred to Lincoln Park Zoo.
In the early 1980's, the community successfully lobbied to prevent the zoo from closing. The Chicago Park District spent $300,000 on repairs and new habitats for the animals. Work was completed in 1984. In 2013, the zoo at Indian Boundary Park finally closed. The few remaining animals - a goat and some chickens - were moved to the Lincoln Park Zoo.
The former zoo has been transformed into an interactive play area with elements that encourage physical and imaginative play for children of all ages.

The Indian Boundary Park Lagoon
The park's lagoon, designed by Richard Gloede, is a 1.04 acre multi-habitat natural area that features prairie plants at its north end; the west end of the park is the former site of a small prairie planting. The lagoon itself contains wetland vegetation, while grassland plants dominate the island in the middle of the lagoon.
In 2001, the lagoon and the prairie areas underwent a restoration, while the island saw the planting of Bur oaks. Periodic controlled burns are used to maintain plants on the island and in the prairie area.



Flying around the Lagoon at Indian Boundary Park - 2016

Indian Boundary Park Bird Sanctuary - 2010

The Fieldhouse
The Fieldhouse incorporates Indian interior elements and is a Tudor revival "Arts and Crafts" style structure. It was designed by Clarence Hatzfeld who was responsible for many of the Chicago Park District’s distinctive public buildings including the nearby Green Briar Park & Chippewa Parks. Built in 1929, the structure serves as one of the twelve Cultural Centers of the Chicago Park District offering classes for all ages in theater, dance, visual arts, and music, as well as performances presented to the public.

The interior design motifs acknowledge the Indians who lived here before being driven to the west. The motifs include an Indian Chief keystone carved in relief over the entryway, chandeliers in the Banquet Room/Auditorium feature parchment as drums with bows and arrows, and Indian Head carvings on the walls.

The centerpiece of the Fieldhouse is the multi-use Auditorium with the original 1929 lighting fixtures and sprung, maple dance floor.
This room is used as a theater rehearsal and performance space, dance studio, lecture hall and music performance venue. Some of the music classes were conducted in the auditorium on the newly restored 1929 Mason Hamlin grand piano.

The Basement is another multi-use space but is primarily the province of the theater program. It multi-tasks as a large rehearsal space, black box theater, and gathering space for teen programs. 

The Ground floor Board Room and Solarium are where some of the visual arts classes take place because of the excellent natural lighting. Smaller community meetings take place there. The room is equipped with a piano for some of the music programs as well, and the ground floor front office, also equipped with a piano, is used for music instruction in a more private, one-on-one setting.

The Second floor has been devoted to the rapidly expanding stained glass and ceramics programs, complete with kilns for ceramics and glass fusing. The studio is set up with student work stations, each with easy access to storage and equipment.

In 2005 Indian Boundary Park fieldhouse was designated a Historical Landmark by the City of Chicago and was also listed in the National Register of Historical Places.
Chicago Landmark Plaque: Indian Boundary Park Fieldhouse, Clarence Hatzfeld, architect, 1929. An unusual combination of the Tudor Revival style and Indian-inspired decoration distinguishes this park fieldhouse. The exterior features a slate roof, carved stone, patterned brick, and timber details. On the interior, and particularly unique and distinctive to this building, Indian imagery is incorporated into the light fixtures, woodwork, and sculpture. The fine quality of this fieldhouse reveals the prominent place these buildings historically have occupied in the community life of Chicago's neighborhoods. Designated on May 11, 2005. Richard M. Daley, Mayor - Commission on Chicago Landmarks.
The Robert Leathers Playground
The large playground was built by the community in 1989. Funds were raised over a 3 year period and 1500 neighborhood volunteers constructed the playground in 5 days.




The Fieldhouse Catches Fire
An extra-alarm blaze severely damaged the park’s landmark fieldhouse on May 20, 2012. A partial roof collapse sent three firefighters to the hospital, two of the firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries and the third firefighter was slightly injured. All three were checked out and then released from the hospital.
According to the Chicago Fire Department, the fire broke out around noon. Firefighters arrived quickly on the scene after the park supervisor called 911. The fire was caused by an electrical problem in the upper level of the fieldhouse. Windows were shattered and interior beams appeared to have crumbled inside the fieldhouse.
Witnesses say there were at least eight fire engines were on the scene. About 15 firefighters enter the building at one point through the thick smoke.

Indian Boundary Fieldhouse Fire - May 20, 2012

The fieldhouse was closed to the public.

The Fieldhouse Restoration
The entire restoration cost $1.5 million, but the tab was covered by the Chicago Park District's insurance policy, said park district spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner. The restoration included all new electrical, new interior finishes, new slate roof, new steel roof beams, new copper gutters, masonry repairs and restoration of "destroyed" historic chandeliers and wall sconces, she said.
Indian Boundary Park Fieldhouse (now named the Cultural Center) offers theater arts, painting and dance lessons.
Park supervisor Phil Martini said the fieldhouses' memorable Indian relief artwork, sculpted from plaster and wood trim, was also restored by an art restoration specialist. The auditorium's ceiling was reinforced with steel support beams. Its wood floor was also replaced.

The Indian Boundary Park fieldhouse reopened in January of 2014.

The restoration of the burned-out Indian Boundary Park fieldhouse received two preservation awards;
  • "Landmarks Illinois" awarded the restoration project the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award.
  • The recipient of the City of Chicago's Preservation Excellence Award.
Chicago Park District opens Nature Play Area at Indian Boundary Park, August 7, 2014.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.