The novel coronavirus is top of mind for most people in the world. Many people are working from home, learning how to practice social distancing, and tackling easy home projects while they’re cooped up.
It’s prompted a state-wide stay-at-home order and drastically disrupted daily life. It’s hard to find much else in the news and headlines. And, sometimes a break from that is much needed. If you’ve come looking for a small distraction, we’ve rounded up some of Curbed Chicago’s favorite long reads. Learn how local artists are turning Ravenswood into the new Printer’s Row. Get a peek inside some of the most beautiful apartment buildings across the city. And take a walk (virtual, or real!) through Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park.
Take care, and thanks for reading.
An illustrated guide to Chicago architecture
by Elizabeth Blasius
The Chicago architects who rebuilt the city were astonishingly innovative, with advancements in engineering like fireproofing and modern skeletal steel construction, as were the working-class immigrants who created our local residential styles, the backbone of our housing stock. The end result? Chicago is a city of supertall skyscrapers and belts of bungalows—and both are equally important to its narrative.
How Fulton Market lost the last of its grit
by Ryan Smith
“Wow,” Jeff said while staring at the clear blue afternoon sky through the glass of his old third-floor windows. “All of this happened so fast.”
Welcome to the Fulton Market District in the 2010s—a neighborhood simultaneously moving forwards and looking backward with an incredible amount of speed. In the rush to make the new seem lived-in and carefully preserve the bleached bones of this historic neighborhood for the sake of authenticity (“Don’t sanitize the neighborhood,” a Google executive told developer Sterling Bay earlier in the decade), the actual grit and character have been sanded down.
Take a walking tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park
by Jay Koziarz
Before Frank Lloyd Wright became an internationally-recognized name in the world of design, the architect spent many years in Oak Park, Illinois, designing homes for Chicago-area residents. for fans looking for a free self-guided tour of the district, we’ve mapped 25 buildings in Oak Park that were designed or remodeled by the iconic American architect.
Chicago neighborhoods: How they got their names
by Jay Koziarz
While most Chicagoans know the city got its name from shikaakwa, an American Indian word for the pungent wild onions and leeks that grew in the area, few can tell you how Chicago’s many neighborhoods got their names. They involve larger-than-life personalities, contradictory local folklore, the movement of immigrants, and, sometimes, just clever marketing on the part of land speculators and developers.
Feast your eyes on Curbed’s favorite Chicago apartment tours
by Jay Koziarz
Need skyline views? Wish you had a designer lounge with swings? Do you long for pool deck topped by dramatic stone archways? Luxury dog amenities? These newest rental buildings have everything you want and more. While living in a pricey brand new high-rise may not be realistic for every renter’s lifestyle or budget, these are a few we love getting inspiration from.
Looking for Chicago’s Printers Row? It’s on Ravenswood
by Patty Wetli
There are no more printers in Printer’s Row.
Once one of the nation’s liveliest printing hubs, the Printer’s Row neighborhood hasn’t lived up to its name for decades. Following the exodus of industry giants like R.R. Donnelly, Palmer Printing stubbornly hung on as the Row’s lone survivor, weathering economic downturns and adapting to changing customer demands. But after receiving an offer apparently too good to refuse for the plant’s prime piece of real estate, ownership finally cashed out on Clark Street.
A walk through the Pedway
by Elizabeth Blasius
Despite living in Chicago for almost two decades, I find myself chronically underdressed each winter and usually in need of protection for impractical footwear making it from the L to meetings that take place in the Loop. For this reason, I have become quite familiar with the downtown Pedway system.
While the notion of an indoor pedestrian subway in Chicago existed as early as the 1920s, it took the success of indoor suburban malls and the transition of State Street from that ‘Great Street’ to a series of discount stores, pawn shops, and burlesque theaters to encourage city planners to push for all-weather pedestrian walkways.
The most interesting historic interiors in Chicago
by Sara Freund
From afar, Chicago’s architecture dazzles. But get up close to the city’s historic lobbies, atriums, and libraries? It’ll be hard not to wonder what’s on the inside of the next steel-framed or terra cotta-clad building you see. We all know and love the old favorites like the Tiffany-glass dome at the Chicago Cultural Center or the handsome Palmer House Hotel lobby. So with this list, we took the opportunity to suggest a few historic landmarks that might be under the radar for their interiors.