Monday, February 20, 2017
A young man told me recently...
I love stories like that!
According to Wikipedia:
Western Avenue is the longest continuous street within the city of Chicago at 23.5 miles in length. Western Avenue extends south as a continuous road to the Dixie Highway at Sibley Boulevard (Illinois Route 83) in Dixmoor, giving the road a total length of 27.38 miles.
So the road actually begins in Dixmoor, which is adjacent to Harvey. But the Wikipedia page doesn't say anything about Western Avenue being the longest road in the United States or the second-longest in North America.
So what -- it's still a good story! And I knew there was a Sunday hike in there somewhere for my son John and me. But 26 miles in one day? No way! How about if we just tackled the portion of Western Avenue in the city and broke it down into, say, three eight-mile hikes or, better yet, four six-mile hikes? That would be more like it. So I ran it by John and of course he was game.
After lunch we crossed back into the city at Howard and commenced our march down Western Avenue. At 2400 west, Western was actually the far western border of the city from 1851 to 1869. While I thought we were in Rogers Park, it was actually the community area of West Ridge, which begins -- surprise! -- west of Ridge Boulevard. (On some maps the neighborhood of East Rogers Park is in the community area of Rogers Park while West Rogers Park is in the community area of West Ridge -- very confusing.)
A Chicago Sojourn, loves it and writes about it a lot.
Lincoln Square begins.) The only thing I could find out about this terra cotta gem is that it was built in 1930 and contains the letter "Y" hidden in a colorful floral design. This "Y"-shaped figure, which represents the three branches of the Chicago River as they come together at Wolf Point, can be found on structures all over the city.
North Center. (Can you believe I've never been here either?) I told John to take a good, long look at the counter because places like this are not long for this world. I sure hope I'm wrong.
Now I know what you're thinking: How come no mention of Riverview? Or pictures of Hero's Subs on Addison, or Lane Tech?
Riverview was an amusement park which opened in 1904 and closed in 1967. It occupied 74 acres east of Western Avenue between Lane Tech on the north and Belmont on the south. I don't think I ever went there but Riverview had an almost mythic place in our family's culture. The "Bobs" wooden roller coaster, built in 1924, was practically the Holy Grail. (Who, though, would name a roller coaster the "Bobs"?)
As for Lane Tech and Hero's Subs, it was really just a matter of the fading afternoon light. We walked south on the east side of Western to take advantage of the unseasonably warm February sunlight. But it made for taking pictures on the other side of the street problematic. Lane Tech, by that time of day, was shrouded in shadow. But I've written about the legendary high school elsewhere in this blog.
When we reached Diversey we had covered seven miles since the Howard el stop and it was time to go home. We walked east on Diversey to Ashland and caught the number 9 bus to Harrison. Including that last leg it was a good eight miles in all. I was tired but it was worth it. What a beautiful day in Chicago!
77 community areas, West Ridge, Lincoln Square and North Center, and umpteen unofficial "neighborhoods." (I didn't see a banner, or any sign, for West Ridge.) Next time we'll go back to Western and Diversey and walk south another six miles or so to about Cermak on the Lower West Side. Maybe next Sunday.