Friday, December 1, 2017

A Brief History of North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

1855 Colton Map.
In this 1866 drawing, a small portion of Pine Street was "vacated" and moved eighty (80) feet further west of the original Pine street location to accommodate the installation of the new pumping station's standpipe.
This standpipe, engineered to regulate water pressure, would be housed within architect William W. Boyington's castle structure (Water Tower) that still stands on that site today.

In 1869 the Board of Public Works began paving Pine Street from Chicago Avenue to the northern terminus, Whitney street (today, Walton street), paved using Belgian woodblocks also known as Nicolson pavement.
Pine Street looking north Huron Street, Chicago. 1870
Pine Street (Future Michigan Avenue) after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.
Pine Street (400 to 999N) was renamed Lincoln Park Boulevard (600 to 999N) as far south as Ohio Street (600N) when the street connected with Lake Shore Drive in the early 1890s.

Michigan Boulevard was renamed Michigan Avenue in Chicago in 1909. The name change was made to simplify the city's street numbering system. Prior to the name change, Michigan Boulevard was south of the river. The name change made it clear that both streets were part of the same thoroughfare.

The name "Michigan Boulevard" was still used informally for many years after the name change. In fact, the name "Boul Mich" was still used to refer to Michigan Avenue in the 1920s. However, the name "Michigan Avenue" eventually became the standard name for the street.
Looking north from Chicago Avenue at Pine Street (today's North Michigan Avenue) in 1872, after the Great Chicago Fire. The photo was taken from the top of the Water Tower, as you can see its shadow in the lower right corner. The ruins in the foreground are from the Lill & Diversy Brewery.
Pine Street (now North Michigan Avenue), is being widened. (circa 1915)
Both North Michigan Avenue and Michigan Boulevard, south of the Chicago River, were joined physically with the opening of the Michigan Avenue bridge in May of 1920. 
Looking south on Michigan Avenue, Chicago. Circa 1930.
In 1926, after years of clogged automobile traffic, the water tower and pumping station were separated by realigning Michigan Avenue to run between them.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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