We divert from the parade of small- and medium-sized downtowns painful and vacant, or heartening and vibrant, and wander down the streets of Chicago. Or rather one street: Grand Avenue.

Grand Avenue was originally known as Whiskey Point Road, a muddy American Indian trail leading to the West Side of Chicago, near Western Avenue. On the Near North Side it was called Indiana Street. Thomas Jefferson Vance Owen, Chicago's first town president, is believed to have named it in 1833 after naming Chicago, "a grand place to live."

It has its good stretches and bad, but as you may have suspected by now, it's the ruination that provides this feature with its weekly parade of damnation. This week: the depressing effect of bricked-up windows.

Probably a bar, once, or a cafe; I'll bet that circular divide above the Dumpster traces the contour of a 30s rounded window that once had metal trim. There are three types of brick in that space - the red brick filling up most of the window, the light bright on the end, and the grey brick filling up a hole in the hole that was filled up.

It's like a sample case for urban undertakers.

For every five abandoned buildings, there's one bright bird chirping with promise:

Not what the architect intended, but who cares? It's lively.

The accidental compositional skills of the Google Street View strike again:

The brick around the door - original, or applied when stone fell off because someone's brother got the winning bid?

It's rare you'll see this color scheme and a facade renovation like this, intact, and touting its original owners:

I've no idea why some panels have lines and some don't. You'll have to ask the brothers.

Smushed-up smeary palimpsent ghost ads:


Some variety of angel float over the concept of IDEAL WELDING, it seems.

The church filled in the window, sor someone else did.

Why must they always fill in the windows.

You know this has to be some sort of power plant:

Were those spaces ever glassed? I'd say yes; the brickwork filling in the area is haphazard and patchwork.

It must have been beautiful, once - imagine that window glowing in the twilight.

I wrote that for picture #8 a few entries ago, but it applies here as as well.

When you want to brick up all your windows but can't quite shake the feeling that some light might be nice:

Small windows surrounded by glass blocks. Brilliant if everyone's walking around without pants.

There's something . . . I don't know, Druidic about this one. As though it's cowled and silent and will not tell you about its ceremonies.


The ground floor is bricked; the second floor isn't. Glass or wood.

Perhaps the bricks are meant to keep out the criminals, and the criminals don't bother with anything that's not on street level.


Not so much windows as gun ports.

Nice arch; bricked. Big windows: gone./The overall effect is a bored robot toad:


This I love: big proud entrance. Looks like a latter renovation of a 20s building; don't think the corner cylider was original.

You know it had a big sign, too. It had to.

Oh, I give up.


And so did they, it seems.

There's more: have a look.

Bonus fun: look at this photograph, and see if you can find the street. The 7th building from the corner is still around.