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The Boulevard System of Chicago

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I am working on a major paper concerning the primary boulevard system of Chicago, so I biked the 28-mile network a few weeks back. First conceived in 1847, the boulevards were practically complete by 1900 and connect nine major parks with the lakefront.

 

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The Monument to the Great Northern Migration greets you at the entrance to Dr. Martin Luther King Drive (formerly Grand Boulevard) just south of McCormick Place.

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One of few remants of Bronzeville on the east streetscape of MLK

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Victory Monument at 35th and MLK

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The entire system is identified with unified signage

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Oakwood Boulevard connects MLK with Drexel and the lakefront, but doesn't take on the boulevard typology

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The connection with Drexel has been broken

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Drexel boasts some of the best architecture on the whole system

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Vacant land is more common than vacant buildings on Drexel

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Jessie Jackson endorses the boulevards

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Drexel Square leading into Washington Park

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Boulevard history and information kiosks are scattered at major entrances to the system

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Washington Park

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Fountain of Time

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University of Chicago fronting Midway Plaisance

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Jackson Park is anchored by the massive Museum of Science and Industry

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Midway Plaisance, the widest boulevard in the city, was completed in time to be showcased during the Columbian Exposition

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Getting off the system for a bit, the University of Chicago

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Coming back through Washington Park brings you to the entrance of Garfield Boulevard

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The Damn Ryan

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Western Boulevard

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McKinley Park

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California Boulevard

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Modest, but brick

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Turning onto 24th Boulevard

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Relatively short, 24th is dominated by this school

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Marshall Boulevard

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Douglas Park

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Field house at Douglas

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Douglas Boulevard

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Independence Square

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Independence Boulevard

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Hamlin Boulevard

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Garfield Park

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Central and Franklin Boulevards

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Franklin

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Sacramento Boulevard

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Humboldt Park

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Humboldt Boulevard

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Palmer Square in Logan Square

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Kedzie Boulevard

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Logan Square and the Illinois Centennial Monument

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Logan Boulevard is most the most intact stretch

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Diversy Parkway continues from Logan Boulevard to Lincoln Park, but was developed too late to acquire the needed right-of-way for true boulevard construction.

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Great stuff! I find this sort of planning to be so interesting.  Another city that would be great to study would be DC and the streets that connect to the large circles like Dupont, Logan, Washington, etc.

 

I do find most of the neighborhoods in Chicago to be rather ugly and lacking in uniformity.  The northside up by Lincoln Park is better, but even there I don't find the neighborhoods overly beautiful.

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Great coverage! I've walked the Midway Plaisance many times. It actually was the Midway of the 1893 Columbian Exposition, venue for the more tacky and risque amusements, including Little Egypt. The Museum of Science and Industry was the Palace of Fine Arts during the Exposition, and was later reconstructed as a permanent building; the orginal structures were temporary structures built of paper-mache over wood-and-wire matrices, and most of the complex burned in an arson fire a couple of years after the fair closed.

 

The Fountain of Time sculpture, by Lorado Taft, was recently restored after years of weathering and erosion.

 

 

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I think I posted a thread on Logan Square here a while back.  That & Humboldt Park are the parts Im most familiar with.  What makes these interesting is that they are interconnected with parks, and that the landscaping changed over time. 

 

The original landscaping was more formal, akin to European boulevards, but Jens Jensen re-landscaped Kedzie and Logan in a more naturalistic style, which is what you see today. 

 

Kedzie and Logan Square were part of my Chicago as this was where we'd catch the L downtown, as the L used to end there (before being extended out to O'Hare).  Wrightwood and Logan/Diversey was frequently travelled as the route to the north side German neighborhood, where we had relatives and did some shopping.

 

 

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Absolutely beautiful shots!


"You don't just walk into a bar and mix it up by calling a girl fat" - buildingcincinnati speaking about new forumers

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awesome. i love themed tours like this.

 

its kind of like a roller coaster ride as the architecture is wildly hit and miss -- the boulevards certainly have a lot of variety.

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^ I agree.  I do like the pictorial journeys down certain streets.  That view down MLK with all the towers is always interesting.  They are starting to fill in some of the empty areas around them with townhouses more recently

 

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