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Salvages / Urban Remains Chicago News and Events

Salvages

  • a recently discovered cache of 1890's refuse, in the form of everyday household bottles, jars, shoes, stoneware (i.e. impermeable and partly vitrified pottery), flint glass, ink wells, etc., was unearthed the other day during excavation of a residential lot where a house built around 1890 was demolished months earlier. the dense layer of trash, found nearly 5 feet below grade, was either used as a "makeshift" dumping site by city night scavengers (i.e., residential privy vault cleaners) or possibly as "fill" for the non-extant house (without basement and/or crawlspace) constructed at the time the street it faced was being raised to...
  • [caption id="attachment_28725" align="alignleft" width="2481"] theater ticket stubs found on the plenum floor. note the earlier one locate in the top left corner. very little pertaining to the theater itself has been found - unlike the lawndale theater for example, where i found several programs and coat check cards dating back to 1927 when that theater opened.[/caption] for months now, the developer has been incredibly generous by allowing me to repeatedly access and photograph congress theater (1926). any and all images taken during the course of the theater's transformation will be copied and handed over to him to use as he sees...
  • a few hundred bottles, pottery fragments, and so on, were discovered during excavation in a chicago residential neighborhood. the machine operator was gracious enough to grant me highly coveted time to extract as much as i possibly could before loads were sent to the landfill. [caption id="attachment_28681" align="alignleft" width="1500"] note the children's toy doll arm, comprised of glazed porcelain.[/caption] based on preliminary research, this forgotten "landfill"​ was likely a dumping ground and/or burn pit for neighborhood "night scavengers,"​ who were licensed (issued by the city of chicago) individuals making their living cleaning or "dipping"​ privy pits across the city during the evening...
  • the following images represent a small sampling of artifacts and/or objects added to the urban remains catalog within recent weeks. in addition, we have discounted several items within the collection, so please revisit your "wishlists" and/or search the catalog for sale items.  
  • remnants from the site of a short-lived druggist's pharmacy (1872-1874) were discovered under a downtown chicago parking ramp (since demolished). during excavation in preparation for new development, machine operator john propeck unearthed nearly 30 (mostly broken) stephen israel mineral water bottles lying against a foundation wall belonging to his post-fire building (demolished when the parking ramp was built in the 1950's). the original and completely intact late c.1870's israel bottle included here, is virtually identical to the bottles discovered along the foundation wall. the reddish amber glass saratoga style quart mineral water bottle with mug base, was manufactured specifically for chicago druggist stephen...
  • i discovered a sea of candy wrappers, matchbooks, ticket stubs, and bottles deep within congress theater's underbelly last weekend. for nearly 91 years, moviegoers would conveniently dispose of their trash through cast iron "mushrooms" located directly beneath each and every seat in the auditorium. [caption id="attachment_28429" align="alignleft" width="1500"] all images courtesy of the bldg. 51 museum archive[/caption] [caption id="attachment_28428" align="alignleft" width="1500"] layers of depression era refuse found "in situ" within the theater's multi-chambered balcony plenum.[/caption]   the space directly beneath the auditorium floor is known as the "plenum" or a concrete chamber designed to facilitate air circulation by a fan system located in the...
  •   once again i managed to reserve some time for congress's theaters dark, cavernous attic space when i revisited the theater last week to resume documenting the interior and exterior before its its extensive overhaul gets underway. almost immediately after entering the attic, i discovered a heavily-used galvanized steel bucket with drop handle wedged under one of the suspended catwalks surrounding one of the smaller, dimly-lit domes. finding the plaster-coated bucket is a great representation of my unyielding desire to "connect" with people (i.e., theater tradesmen) from the past. the pail was no doubt left by one of the union plasterers in...
  • last year i devoted a great deal of my time documenting 19th chicago workers cottages built before and after the great chicago fire of 1871. thankfully, the majority of the houses i photographically surveyed were not threatened with demolition, espeically on the north side of chicago, just west of the outskirts of the fire's "burnt district." many of those surviving cottages were quickly erected (over 5,000 homes erected in a month's time) shortly after the fire through building materials and labor provided by the relief and aid society.   one afternoon while identifying and documenting structures along orchard street (city sewers were first installed in...
  • the full-figured terra cotta eagles (american terra cotta company) and the largely unornamented shields they're perched on, were carefully removed from the towering gothic style arched buick automobile showroom's main entrance, designed by notable chicago architect clarence hatzfeld in 1921. the tan-colored, mottled glazed terra cotta full-winged eagles flanked the building's entrance, which was heavily altered when the second floor's terra cotta was stripped off the building and replaced with textured brick.   one of two eagles reassembled and photographed in my studio shortly after returning from demolition site.   [gallery ids="28360,28359"] the successful removal of the finely executed eagles...
  • as demolition of the early 20th century building housing the storied pacific garden mission - more commonly known as the "old lighthouse" - was drawing to a close, a battered and broken floor safe was found in the rubble. the diminutive, baked enameled black safe, with wood compartmentalized interior, was partially hidden under a field of old blank stationary, bibles and postcards that had spewed out when it busted open upon impact. the safe was either forgotten or left behind, since most of the ephemera possessed little historical significance as it relates to the mission's current narrative. i was taken aback that...

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