“Down the Shore to Uptown” by Henry Justin Smith

Down the Shore to Uptown


Sheridan Trust and Savings Bank, Uptown, Chicago, 1924. (Click to enlarge)

Sheridan Trust and Savings Bank, Uptown, Chicago, 1924. (Click to enlarge.) If the building looks strange to you, that’s because it’s four stories shorter than its current height. Located at Broadway and Lawrence. Image courtesy University of Minnesota Libraries, Manuscripts Division, Northwest Architectural Archives.

A half-mile north of Wilson Avenue is a newer district vividly suggesting prosperity, a more solid kind. A huge bank building stands there to prove the case. There were close to five million dollars of savings deposits in that bank a year or so ago. Giant movie houses and other industries furnish a gaudy glow upon the intersection of the impressive streets, Lawrence Avenue and Broadway. On the streetcars of these streets ride sixty thousand, seventy thousand, even a hundred thousand people some days. West of the L, life grows quieter, an air of suburbs returns. The staid citizen whom it was hard to find at Wilson and Sheridan hurries to his stone-fronted dwelling, turning his back on the array of delicatessens and beauty shops.

Yes, viewed as a whole, Uptown Chicago probably merits its boast of being the shopping center of a million. A sanguine view of it, or what might be called a semi-official version, runs like this:

The spirit of Chicago, typified in its well-earned motto of “I Will,” has nowhere been better exemplified than in that section which lies to the north, approximately bounded by Argyle, Clark, Montrose, and the Lake. Here is a community complete in itself, within whose borders one could live quite satisfactorily and never step beyond them. Though but a section of the city, it has in itself every accessory of a city—delightful places in which to live, dozens of smart and utilitarian shops, great churches and strong banks, and every imaginable form of entertainment.

Yet an academic writer was so hasty as to assert that, in Chicago, everything converged in the Loop!

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