Skip to main content

A Slice of Italy in Chicago

 

The Italian Courtyard of Le Petit Gourmet once had a cocktail bar and served lunch, tea and dinner in the late 1940s, according to a description on the back of the postcard.


The Italian-style courtyard shown in the postcard was loved by many before it was razed in 1967. The scenic “slice of Italy” located near 600 N. Michigan Ave. featured shops, restaurants and about 20 apartments for artists.

The courtyard was surrounded by three buildings that were fitted together between 1919 and 1926. The Chicago Daily Tribune wrote that the project was one of the earliest private urban renewal projects in the city. When the first building was acquired by the Ira B. Cook estate, Michigan Avenue was still named Pine Street and the area was surrounded by soap factories and breweries.

The new owners handed the building and its development over to Architect Robert S. DeGolyer, according to the Tribune. The idea for a shop-studio compound was also worked up by artists Nancy Cox McCormick and Frederick Grant.

In 1921, a run-down hotel to the south was renovated, and another building on Ontario Street was bought in 1926. In the courtyard’s early days, it housed a large shopping space called Le Petit Bazar, which benefitted the Illinois Children’s Home and Aid society. The group of well-known Chicago women who started that charity were Mrs. Potter Palmer, Mrs. John Alden Carpenter and Mrs. Marshall Field.

Those who lived in the buildings surrounding the courtyard included artists, writers, critics, architects, designers and advertising personalities, among others. Portrait painters Leopold Seyfert and Paul Trebilcock resided there.  One apartment was occupied by the Baroness Violet Beatrice Von Wenner, who is known for painting portraits of five presidents as well as European and Middle Eastern royalty.

Von Wenner asked the Tribune, “Why do they have to tear it down? Do we need another monster high rise building?” A 27-story office building was soon built at the site, and the little slice of Italy disappeared from Chicago, making way for more high-rise office and retail buildings that would come to characterize North Michigan Avenue.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Going to Graceland

Graceland Cemetery is also known for its beautiful landscape and magnificent trees. Postcard printed by V.O. Hammon of Chicago. Situated at Irving Park Rd. and Clark St. near Wrigley Field is Graceland Cemetery, a scenic 119-acre burial ground and arboretum where many of Chicago’s elite have been laid to rest. The cemetery was established in 1860 by lawyer Thomas Bryan and designed by landscape architects H.W.S. Cleveland, Ossian Simonds, and William Le Baron Jenney, who is also known for designing the first skyscraper. Graceland became famous as the “Cemetery of Architects.” Along with its three designers, other prominent architects who are buried in Graceland include Louis Sullivan, who designed the Carson Pirie Scott building; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who designed Chicago’s Federal Center; and Fazlur Khan, who designed the Sears Tower and John Hancock Center. The grave of architect Daniel Burnham, who was chief of construction for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, lies on a small, wo

Lost Souls on Chicago's Forgotten Suicide Bridge

On this postcard, the bridge is called Suicide Bridge instead of its official name High Bridge. Postcard publication is unknown.  A tall pedestrian bridge that was built over the Lincoln Park Lagoon in 1894 was later dubbed “Suicide Bridge” after the structure became a popular place for people to take their own lives . It is believed that about 100 people jumped off of the bridge during its 25 years. Located south of Fullerton and east of Lincoln Park Zoo near Webster Avenue (originally called Asylum Place), High Bridge allowed pedestrians to cross from Lincoln Park to the lakefront. At 75 feet--or four stories--tall, the bridge was built high enough to allow sailboats to pass underneath. It was so high that people standing on the bridge on a clear day could see as far as the stockyards, Jackson Park, and the steel mills.   High Bridge was featured in a chase scene in the 1916 film Cousin Jim . The stuntman hired to jump off the bridge refused to do it because he thought

The Most Haunted Hotel in Chicago

  The Congress Hotel at 520 S. Michigan is "one of the most beautiful hotels in the middle west," according to this postcard. Published by the Aero Distributing Co., Chicago. The Congress Plaza Hotel at 520 S. Michigan Avenue is one of Chicago’s oldest and largest hotels. It was also one of the tallest buildings in Chicago for a time. With over 800 hotel rooms and so many people coming and going over the years, the Congress Plaza has seen its share of accidents, drug overdoses, murders, and suicides, earning it the distinction of being the most haunted hotel in the city. The Congress Plaza Hotel was built in 1893 to house visitors to the World’s Columbian Exhibition. In the 1920s, mobster Al Capone was known to play cards on Friday nights in a meeting room at the hotel. According to the Choose Chicago website, Capone also had a private suite on the hotel’s eighth floor. Some say that ghosts of the victims of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, which was believed to be or