Friday, August 05, 2011

Some Bits And Bobs...

I've had a bit of a good laugh since beginning to read about this neighbourhood and its history. I've also found a few folks to ask questions about it's history and how people feel about living here. I really hadn't thought much about the layers of events behind the building of this suburb or that it was was considered a township outside Chicago where train lines took people right into the old Chicago.

Where I'm typing from right now is on a road that was a major thouroughfare for Native Americans. My in-Laws live a few minutes away from us in a neighbourhood with a slightly different feeling. Their neighbourhood has the feeling of a small town, whereas right here feels more like a strip mall, as it has more developed roads. The actual house we are staying in is situated ina very sweet area set off from two fairly busy roads.

Here is something about the geography of Edison Park, around my in-Laws, which, like I was saying they are a five minute drive away...

A series of little streams (later funneled into underground culverts) flowed into the local rivers, the Chicago River's North Branch to the east and the Des Plaines River to the west. The main stands of timber were along the river corridors. This was a local continental divide, with the Chicago River flowing then into Lake Michigan, which connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the Great Lakes, and the Des Plaines River feeding into the Illinois River and the Mississippi River to reach the Gulf of Mexico.

It is the Des Plains River which has been flooding so many neighbourhoods around here for the past two weeks of crazy weather.

Here at Grandma's which is called Norwood Park I found this webpage entry:

The Village of Norwood Park was designed to be a park like residential suburb with large lots, wide streets and elegant single family homes. One unusual feature is its curvilinear street pattern. A 1907 real estate sales brochure described Norwood Park as a place with "proper living conditions, fresh air and sunshine, good surroundings, a healthy religious activity,...[and], no saloons." By the 1920s, Norwood Park was a mature residential community. As the community evolved, the early Victorian homes were joined by tudor, bungalow and ranch style homes. Downtown Norwood Park is centered at Northwest Highway and Raven Street near the recently restored C&NW (now Union Pacific R.R.) train station. Additional retail and commercial activities are located on Higgins Road, Harlem and Milwaukee Avenues.

Norwood Park remains a quaint, picturesque community and lives up to the dreams of those early settlers who considered it an "ideal suburb." Since 1980, the Norwood Park Historical Society has been seeking landmark designation for a district and individual buildings in the community. The City of Chicago identified a large historic district in 1986. The Noble Seymour Crippen House at 5622-24 N. Newark Avenue was designated a City of Chicago Historical Landmark on May 11, 1988; the John Wingert House at 6231 N. Canfield was designated on July 31, 1990. The Noble-Seymour-Crippen House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 11, 2000; the Norwood Park train station was also listed, in 2001.

...shows what I know huh? In a million years I didn't see this neighbourhood in this manner...I feel like such a dolt. It's a difficult thing to imagine what the dreams of other people might be...for me, I am liek a creature from another planet wondering why on earth people would want to cut grass...or walk so far to go get a milk on a hot day. I think some of this has to do with time. In the suburbs the use of time is slightly managed differently than those folks who live in smaller walking zones like urban cores. Here it's not a big deal for peopel to drive out to big box stores or malls just to get a loaf of bread. Of course people also have room for freezers where they can buy several loaves of bread and freeze them so they don't have to run errands daily if they choose not to.

This neighbourhood is a blue collar neighbourhood with mostly firefighters, police and city service workers residing.

Living in an urban core, residents often pick up fresh produce and food on their way home from work.

In the United States it is a massive cultural practice to eat out a few nights a week. Canadians don't eat out as much as here.

Did I mention that in one week of travel across Canada we spent more money than we did ina month driving across the U.S. Food, take out, rerstaurants and most services are massively less expensive in the States. Hotel rooms were four times the cost in Canada than down here. Restaurants and bars have so many deals here that a couple and even a family can budget eating out and take out much more easily than in Canada. I also think there is an attitude difference about eating out. In Canada it tends to be more of a "special occassion" or effort to eat out, and part of that is likely the cost, but I think it's also a difference in how we spend our free time. It's a little bit fancy or decadent for many Canadians to eat out...especially more than twice a week. (I am unusual in this as when I was a single parent and working in the service industry as a bartender...I tended to have a take-out meal once a week, and eat out about three or four times a week, and then cook/prepare the other meals)

English farmers settled in the area in the 1830s. Over the years Germans became the major ethnic group, along with substantial numbers of Poles and Scandinavians. In 1853 the Illinois & Wisconsin Railroad, eventually the Chicago & North Western Railway, installed a rail line serving the area. For several months there was only one passenger, until other residents realized the advantages of railway travel to Chicago.

In 1868 the Norwood Land and Building Association created its curvilinear subdivision. Construction began on the Norwood Park Hotel and an artificial lake in hopes that the area would attract Chicagoans seeking a resort atmosphere. Although the hotel attracted local residents for entertainment purposes, it never drew enough customers to be a success.

Following incorporation in 1874, the village prohibited the sale of liquor. The village's name followed Henry Ward Beecher's novel, Norwood: Or, Village Life in New England. The word “Park” was added after it was discovered that another post office in the state had the name of Norwood.

Related Links:

1) history Norwood Park

2) Wiki page on this neighbourhood and enclyclopedia


Anonymous said...

Hey Candy ... you're actually still in Chicago. Edison, Oriole, Norwood Parks are all just neighborhoods within Chicago.

A big reason you find so many cops & firemen in Norwood & Edison (on the NW-side) is that is the "furthest out" a Chicago Cop or Fireman can live to meet the residency requirement - and most don't wanna live where they work.

Your nearest burbs are Harwood Hts., Norridge & Park Ridge.

- D

mister anchovy said...

I often pick up fresh food on the way home from work, although I no longer live in an urban core.

My parents had a big chest freezer and they would look for sales on meat and other foods and freeze them so they could afford to have plenty of food for the family. I'm not big on freezing stuff. In fact our house came with a small chest freezer which we gave away to a charity. Some things freeze well, like pierogi for instance. On the other hand, I've never liked what happens to bread when it gets frozen and my experience with that as a kid has fostered in me a love of really fresh bread.

The phenomenon of frozen food may be in part a suburban thing but I think in my family it also had to do with my parents both living through the Great Depression. They didn't ever want their family to not have food and so they stock-piled.

Candy Minx said...

Hi D. How ya doing? Hope to see you soon! Yes, I realize that to current boundaries we are still in Chicago. But earlier in these posts about suburbs I wanted to articulate a difference between urban cores and suburbs...I may not have been clear in describing the difference. although zoning and "megacity" would include neighborhoods like Edison and Norwood Ppark as part of Chocago I define the difference by their use of space geography street layout and design. We can extend the term city to include these kinds of suburbs but we are creating a barrier between people with different expectations of services, needs and geography because traffic amd space create ways of looking and thinking about needs of residents in two completely different living situations. I will be posting a bit more about this in my next post. But basically... On a real physical level this area is a suburb it's not an urban core. Everything moves and works differently here than downtown.

Mister Anchovy, I pick up fresh food everyday too. It's just hardwired into me is quite a hassle and I will write more about this in the same post about travel times and design in my next post. I grew up with freezers too. These were highly orchestrated machines in my family right through my grandparents and my parents and their marriages etc etc. I basically use the fridge unit freezer to make ice for cocktails and that is basically all I freeze maybe soup stock ha ha.

Greg S. said...

My family was never into the big freeze approach, even though we lived in the burbs and did a large shopping every week. Here in Frankfurt we mix a big shop a week with the car with almost daily trips to the local grocer around the corner.

I really liked the original concept of the "curvilinear streets", an attempt to superimpose a sylvan New England paradise on the meridian sectors that had all streets moving north-south or east-west in most places west of the Mississippi.

Was the suburb always part of the city of Chicago or was it eventually annexed? Were parts of the neighborhood torn down to make way for broader streets, commercial use, etc. if and when the city took over?

Greg S. said...

Oh yeah, and what do they mean at the historical society by "large expanses of public green space"? Do you have some nice parks there?

Candy Minx said...

Hi Greg, I will work on answering some of your wquestions in next coupke of posts. Off the top of my head...yes there are some nice parks. This area is really really pretty. I ammend this notion of evil I have portrayed in the post that I've been writing while you commented ha ha.

This is a lovely lovely neighbourhood. With hideous driving designs...which I also explain in my new post.

This suburb was originally a township...which grew out of Native American trails...then a railroad...which eventually people realized helped them get around. Appremntly no one used the train for months when it was first built!

I have also posted about the "curvilinear streets as you and I were cross-posting here just now. These are one of the biggest problems about the suburbs and its current uses on an obsolete design. Explained in new post