Sunday, November 23, 2008

Before McJunkin, 1914

If you haven't checked out, you're missing out on a lot of great CTA related history. Did you know that where the McJunkin Building now stands, train tracks once ran in a big loop? Check out the photo above from 1914. Just about where Ald. Shiller's office now stands, there was a small train station (see more detailed photo below). Street cars also used to zip up and down Broadway (as seen in the photo) when it was known as Evanston Avenue. Back in the top left section you can see the Wilson Yard shops that burned in 1996. Way back in the left corner you can see the St. Mary of the Lake's belltower which is still here today.


  1. If you look closely in the bottom photo, you'll see a little girl, Eleanor, crying. Why is she crying? She doesn't realize that the Aldi mini-mart in the train station that was supposed to be a "pedestrian friendly" public works project actually had an entrance in the REAR of the building, not at the store's sidewalk facing storefront.

    Poor Eleanor. This traumatic event in her childhood percipitated a chain of unfortunate events leading to a crazed, yet brilliant plan to have the 46th Ward Alderman replaced out of sheer personal rage.

    First, she worked tirelessly to raise funds to hire lawyers to block the Alderman from completing the train station's retail building.

    Eventually, through an inheritance from a rich uncle, Eleanor forced the sale of the train station, at that time owned by the politically connected but bankrupt developer who owned it.

    Eleanor razed and replaced "the train station from hell" with a stately office building. Eleanor's new building was an ornate white terra cotta building with tall Greek columns rising from the corner and street level retail. Eleanor made sure that the architects included glass storefronts with extra large doorways, so that it was "the most pedestrian friendly building ever built."

    Eleanor also had the architects emblazon her last name on the cornice of the building. This was a not so subtle reminder to the 46h Ward Alderman that Eleanor McJunkin was not happy with him over "the Aldi entrance nightmare."

    In the 1970's, Eleanor finally found the "perfect" Aldermanic candidate to replace her nemesis, a young Communitst Party and Black Panther activist named Helen Shiller. Eleanor's plan worked. Helen Shiller won the election in the early 1980's.

    On Eleanor's death bed, her dying words were this: "My life is complete. I can die in peace. Uptown will never see such an idiotic idea as placing the entrance of a storefront in the rear of a building."

    Gasping for air, barely in a whisper Eleanor continued,"The only thing worse than than that would have been to, oh I don't know, concentrate poverty in Uptown or something as ridiculous as that that." Eleanor's eyes slowly closed as she breathed her final, peaceful breath.

    Now you know ............. the REST of the story. Too bad Eleanor didn't vet her candidate a little more carefully.

  2. Oh fer chris'sake. Where the hell is the Pirate? His attempts at humor are at least brief.

  3. I got sucked into the vortex once before, spending a good six hours there. It's amazingly comprehensive. Who knew that what we now call the Blue Line once extended out to Cermak and Mannheim in Westchester? If you're a history nut, you'll love

  4. "Attempts at Humor".

    It's an outrage.

  5. Wow who knew Kenny from Helen's office was a comedic critic as well.

    I would take those old train tracks any day over the crack heads that hang out in front of Kenny's bosses office.

  6. Zesty is the besty! Thanks for the chuckle!