11
Jul 14

South Shore: History and Fight for the Future

I gave a talk today at Mather’s More Than a Cafe in Chatham, modestly entitled “South Shore: History and Fight for the Future”. The crowd of 20-something was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The talk chronicled the history of South Shore’s development and architecture, the challenges that are now facing the neighborhood, and the great ways people are coming together to make change. It’s also, of course, very heavy on photos. If you have a fast connection, you can download the slide deck here (80mb). It may not make a ton of sense without me talking, but…photos!

About to give a talk about #southshore at Mather's More Than A Cafe in #Chatham


12
May 14

Huffington Post uses uncredited photos for Facebook sharing

3006/3008 Oak

The Huffington Post has now twice used a photo of mine without permission, attribution, or compensation. The use isn’t obvious – in neither case does my photo appear in the actual post. However, the website specifies a thumbnail image to be used when the pieces are shared via Facebook. In two cases now, these have been copies of my images (complete with original metadata intact). My photos are great, and they are being used to drive traffic that I in no way benefit from. I have thus written the following comment to the latest piece, about Marktown, and reproduce it here:

I am thrilled to see this travesty getting attention beyond the local level. Hopefully this will help secure the future for the parts of Marktown that remain. Readers who want to learn more and see the specific buildings that are being demolished might want to see the extensive piece I wrote about them on Chicago Patterns (http://chicagopatterns.com/marked-for-demolition-in-marktown/).

I would, however, like to ask for some clarification about Huffington Post’s image attribution practices. None of my photos appear within the body of this post, but the image that appears when it is shared on Facebook (http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1791326/thumbs/o-MARKTOWN-INDIANA-facebook.jpg) is one of mine (https://www.flickr.com/photos/reallyboring/14115558515) for which I have received neither credit nor compensation.

I probably wouldn’t have pointed this out, except that the exact same thing happened with a story last year: the post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/21/places-in-chicago-inspiring_n_4277343.html), the Facebook photo (http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1463978/thumbs/o-OSAKA-GARDEN-facebook.jpg), and my photo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/reallyboring/3499140581/).

That this has happened twice now with just my photos suggests that the Huffington Post needs to review its image usage practices, and offer either credit or compensation (as well as the right of refusal to use) for images that are used in this fashion. I am happy to have my photos used in both of these cases, and would have agreed if asked – with the caveat that I receive recognition. I ask that this oversight be corrected, and that the Huffington Post review and make the necessary changes to its image use practices.

I can be reached via email at eric@ericallixrogers.com or Twitter @EricAllixRogers if there are any questions. I look forward to a prompt resolution of this matter, and I thank you for your ongoing coverage of important and interesting news in the Chicago area.

Osaka Garden

Update: I got an email back from AOL’s copyright team tonight, alerting me that they “corrected” this by adding a credit to the post on the Huffpo Chicago Facebook page. If the credit had been there when it was posted, this would have made me very happy, but it seems a bit piddling now.


05
May 14

Marktown & a note about this blog

Oak

This afternoon, I published a blog post, Marked for Demolition in Marktown, on Chicago Patterns. If you’d like to see and read about all the buildings facing demolition in Marktown, click through.

Chicago Patterns is a group blog focusing on the built environment of the Chicago region. I’m excited that I will be contributing regularly going forward. I have obviously not had much luck marshaling my focus to produce content lately, but I think joining forces with a successful blog, and alleviating myself of any obligation to administer the site or worry about branding, will help inspire and motivate me to write more regularly.

So what will this blog be? I’m not entirely sure. I will certainly continue to post content that isn’t a good fit for Chicago Patterns – writings on other topics, personal ruminations, other projects, travelogues…I have a few ideas. I do intend to resurrect some content here from reallyboring.net pre-2009 (when the site was hacked and everything from 2003 on was lost). I have lately regained access to some of that content, and among all the angsty teenage drivel, there were some real gems. Watch for future posts where I mine that material.

In fact, something I wrote back in 2008 on this blog seems apropos, though I have ultimately made a different decision than I made at that time:

This blog has an identity problem: personal blog or Chicago photobikegeekblog? The answer is, and will remain: both.

I owe an apology to some of my longtime readers (*waves at Rockers out there*), who I’ve bamboozled into reading a blog that’s mostly photos of Chicago and rants about local issues. All that stuff is a big part of my life, but it’s not personal, and maybe you don’t care.

I do try to assign categories intelligently to my posts [not anymore!]. For instance, anything with Chicago photos is going to get a chicago-focus category. Anything with photos, period, will be flagged photo . In the past, most of my personal posts have probably been assigned to the ruminations category, but I overuse that one, and it includes my ramblings on non-personal subjects too.

So, a new category has been born, in which this is the inaugural post: personal. From now on, if you don’t care about Chicago (and want to break my heart! kidding.), you can just read those. Or even subscribe to just the personal category via RSS.

Anyway, hope this helps. And maybe I will try to post more interesting but non-compromising personal thoughts more often, since that seems to strike a chord. Like I need to spend more time on this thing…

Time to start drawing a bright line between unrelated content, a move I wasn’t ready to make 6 years ago. I hope you’ll follow me here for personal stuff, and start following Chicago Patterns for great writing and photos of Chicago.


28
Apr 14

Historic 71st Street Walking Tour a huge success!

I helped put together and lead a walking tour this past weekend. Reposting my recap here, which I originally posted at southshoreforall.org, another website I manage.

Historic 71st Street Walking Tour

The first Historic 71st Street Walking Tour was a runaway success! Nearly 50 people came out on a brisk Saturday afternoon to learn about the history and distinctive architecture of 71st Street in South Shore.

Historic 71st Street Walking Tour

Attendees were diverse in age, race, and place of residence. Some were revisiting a neighborhood they left long ago; others were discovering South Shore for the first time; and longtime residents improved the tour by sharing their memories.

Historic 71st Street Walking Tour

The architectural treasures of 71st Street are significant, but also in need of protection. Historic buildings in a variety of styles, constructed from the 1910s to the 1930s, should be included in a new Chicago Landmark District, in order to preserve the unique streetscape. The buildings owned by Urban Partnership Bank at 71st & Jeffery are particularly threatened, as they are now vacant and may be sold to a shopping center developer. We called on attendees to sign our petition for landmarking, which is also available to sign online.

Historic 71st Street Walking Tour

The tour concluded at the South Shore Tourism Center, which features a display on neighborhood history created by area high school students. Light refreshments were served, along with an engaging conversation about the opportunities and challenges facing South Shore’s commercial corridors.

Historic 71st Street Walking Tour

We are grateful for the support of our partner organizations, including Reclaiming South Shore for All, Preservation Chicago, the South Shore Docent Council, the South Shore Historical Society NFP, and the South Shore Chamber Inc. With such a strong group of collaborators, we are hopeful that we can make a difference on 71st Street.

If you took photos or videos on the tour that you would like to share, please get in touch by email to info@southshoreforall.org. Additional pictures are online here.

We will be offering the tour again on Sunday, May 25, departing from in front of Give Me Some Sugah (2232 E. 71st Street) at 1pm. Email info@southshoreforall.org if you have questions. See the Facebook event to RSVP or for more details.


27
Apr 14

Save Marktown!

Marktown - 02

Historic Marktown, a unique industrial village in East Chicago, Indiana, is facing the imminent threat of demolition by the ever-expanding BP refinery.

Marktown - 12

Built in 1917, the community plan resembles a small English village, but homes were intended for workers from the surrounding steel mills.

Save Marktown!

The village was designed by noted architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, who designed many homes for the wealthy in Chicago and the North Shore – including for industrialist Clayton Mark, who commissioned Marktown for his mill employees.

Marktown - 11

It is an utterly unique development, and residents are organizing to try to block demolition. Anyone so inclined is invited to join them at the East Chicago City Council on Monday, April 28, 2014 (Facebook event). There is also a Facebook group to join and a petition to sign.

Marktown - 08

Demolition of Marktown would forever wipe out an irreplaceable piece of history, on par with historic Pullman in Chicago as a planned industrial community. Acknowledging its significance, it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for decades.

Marktown houses

The houses are constructed of fireproof clay tile, and while a number are currently vacant, they continue to stand strong. Marktown has provided durable, affordable housing to generations of industrial workers, and it should continue to do so.

Save Marktown!


24
Apr 14

St. Laurence Under Demolition

St. Laurence, at the western edge of South Shore, has stood as a landmark in the community since 1911.  When it was built, more than a decade before the real estate boom that saw South Shore become a truly urban neighborhood, it served the small railroad suburb known as Parkside.

St. Laurence

St. Laurence

St. Laurence

The church is an imposing edifice, towering over its surroundings.  Warm orange brick is laid in interesting patterns, with copper trim, slate roofing, and stone figures enlivening the design.  The architect, Joseph Molitor, is known for designing a number of Catholic churches around Chicago.  He had a hand in the simpler St. Francis of Assisi on Roosevelt Road, as well as the much more ornate Holy Cross, a Lithuanian parish on 46th Street in Back of the Yards.

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church

Holy Cross Church

The rectory, also by Joseph Molitor, was a match in materials and style to the church.  It burned several years ago, and I am astonished that its remains were left standing until now.

St. Laurence

The parish hall, designed by George Smith in the 1920s, is a more modern-looking building, low slung, with more elaborate and expensive Mediterranean Revival details, and marble around the front door.

St. Laurence

St. Laurence

The school building, about which I know little, takes its design cues from the Art Deco and Prairie School styles, with very strong verticality and spare ornamentation.

St. Laurence

St. Laurence

The entire complex was closed by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2002 – by which time it had very few members in this no longer particularly Catholic neighborhood, and was in need of at least $3 million in work.

St. Laurence

It was purchased in 2005 by Eden Supportive Living, a company that develops and manages supportive living communities for those with physical disabilities.  It appears that they planned to tear down the buildings from the outset – which makes no sense, given the available inventory of vacant land quite nearby.  (Their website still lists a South Shore community anticipated to open in 2014.)

St. Laurence

Because of its distinguished architecture and history, St. Laurence was rated Orange by the Chicago Historic Resources Survey.  This mandated a 90-day demolition delay, an opportunity to identify possible reuses or ways to preserve the buildings.  Perhaps sensing that there might be significant opposition to their plans, or perhaps just because of the recession, Eden Supportive Living waited out the clock – and then some.  Under Eden’s neglectful watch, virtually no maintenance was performed, and efforts to secure the premises were desultory at best.  The rectory fire, in 2010, was started by an open flame – likely by vagrants burning trash for warmth or doing drugs.  Eden has been difficult to reach and has resisted reasonable offers of purchase from parties interested in preserving some or all of the buildings.

St. Laurence

St. Laurence

Having allowed St. Laurence to crumble for 9 years, they have now begun to demolish it.  They surely hope to escape any blame for doing this – though it was their plan all along – by arguing that it is now unsafe and must be demolished.  This may be true on its face, but of course the unsafe conditions were caused entirely by Eden’s neglect.  The Demolition Delay Ordinance can’t save a building if an owner is determined to let it fall down.

The rectory has already been demolished, and its rubble was being loaded into a dump truck yesterday.

St. Laurence

As I write this, demolition is likely almost complete on the parish hall.  Fortunately, some material, including beautiful wood paneling, is being salvaged for reuse.  The church will be the next to fall, very soon, in what is sure to be quite a spectacle.

St. Laurence

St. Laurence

St. Laurence

The school building is not currently the subject of a demolition permit.  However, it is not secured, and is being actively looted.  It too will almost certainly be demolished.

St. Laurence

South Shore is a neighborhood facing many challenges.  It has many assets – among them gorgeous historic architecture.  Eden Supportive Living is committing an act of cultural vandalism here, and it is too late to stop them (though preservationists and community members have been trying for years).  In failing to hold Eden accountable to any standards whatsoever, the neighborhood’s political leadership has once again shown its uselessness.

Build a New Chicago, one closed grocery store at a time

Just a few short blocks to the east, a similar fight may soon unfold.  The orange-rated Jeffery Theater and attached buildings – long the home of ShoreBank, the institutional anchor of South Shore – is now vacant. Urban Partnership Bank, which claims to carry on ShoreBank’s mission, is but a pale shadow of what ShoreBank once was.  The only potential buyer recruited for the property wants to demolish the buildings and construct a strip mall – which would be located next to a commuter rail station, and kitty corner across the intersection from an existing strip mall, which is itself missing an anchor grocery store thanks to Dominick’s departure.  The building has been boarded up – which is not conducive to selling. Adding insult to injury, Urban Partnership recruited a Bridgeport-based artist to paint the boards, making no effort to involve neighborhood residents.  The bank has not allowed outside parties to view the building in order to assess its condition and market it to more sympathetic buyers.    Urban Partnership is seeking to cash out quickly, and doesn’t care if that means saddling the neighborhood with another eyesore of a failed strip mall.

former Jeffery Theater

former Jeffery Theater

Urban Partnership Bank boardup being painted by artists from Bridgeport. Why not #southshore artists? #chicago

But it’s not too late to fight this.  Please consider coming on a walking tour of 71st Street, showcasing its architecture and history, this coming Saturday, April 26.  And please sign the online petition calling for the creation of a Chicago Landmark District along 71st.  A Landmark District provides much stronger protection against demolition, as well as incentives to owners to preserve and rehabilitate the buildings that give 71st Street and South Shore a distinctive sense of place.

71st Street

Don’t stand by and let Urban Partnership Bank sink to the level of Eden Supportive Living.  With your help, we can avoid a repeat of what’s happening at St. Laurence.

St. Laurence