Travel

Pacifico Preservation Adventure: Chicago, IL

Posted on: August 30th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

The National Trust is participating in the 2012 Pacifico Beer summer promotion, Make Adventure Happen, in which we are competing for a portion of $100,000 based on the number of votes we receive (voting instructions at the end of the post).

To raise awareness for the contest, we've partnered with five preservation fans to highlight "Preservation Adventures" in cities and states across America. This week's guest blogger is Matt Cole from Chicago, Illinois. We've been a fan of Matt's for a long time on Twitter (@urbanmatt), but also love the fact that in his professional life he coordinates the Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative, a not-for-profit program at Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago dedicated to preserving greystones and celebrating greystone neighborhoods.

Everyone has their own particular approach to travel and exploring a new city.  In a cliché dichotomy, some like to pick and choose amongst a broad range of options, racing from one activity to another to make sure they see and experience as much as possible, while others prefer to take more immersive approach -- staying in a particular neighborhood in order to interact with the locals, explore the architecture, and absorb a greater sense of place.

I tend to fall in the latter category.  In fact, given my tight schedule and even tighter budget, my big three trip planning questions are:  where can I linger and not get bored; where can I see some great old buildings; and last, but not least, where can I get some seriously good eats?

Linger in Logan Square

Therefore, when visitors ask me what they should do in Chicago, I recommend that they spend a day in the Logan Square neighborhood. Located 20 minutes northwest of the downtown Loop on the O’Hare Branch of the Blue “L” Line, the community takes its name from the traffic circle linking Logan Boulevard, Kedzie Boulevard, and Milwaukee Avenue and presided over by the 70-foot tall, eagle-topped Illinois Centennial Monument by architect Henry Bacon (perhaps best known for designing the Lincoln Memorial).

Logan Square’s history is rich, varied, and layered:  starting with Norwegian and Irish immigrants, segueing to a vibrant Hispanic and Polish enclave, and, more recently, becoming popular with artists, hipsters, and the stroller-set. The neighborhood also has a well-established track record of historic preservation activism.

A Neighborhood Mainstay

Start your day off right with brunch at Lula Café (2357 North Kedzie Boulevard). Located in the brick and terra cotta clad Logan Square Auditorium (built 1911), Lula opened in the 1990s as a small coffee shop. The restaurant’s success has charted the steady revitalization of the community, expanding into successive storefronts over the years -- the most recent renovation taking place in November 2011.  Still operated by original owners Jason Himmel and Amalea Tshilds, Lula offers an evolving menu of options focused on local, seasonal ingredients.  Grab a patio table for great al fresco dining and people watching.

Should Lula be packed, which is not uncommon on weekends, head up the street to Jam for a contemporary take on breakfast comfort food served up in a 1911 mixed-used apartment clad in green and white Tiffany glazed brick.

Explore the Emerald Necklace

Now that you are full and caffeinated, head east from Lula and spend some time exploring Logan Boulevard -- one of the best preserved sections of Chicago’s 26-mile long “emerald necklace” of parks and boulevards. Logan Boulevard features an architecturally diverse mix of mansions, two- and three-flat homes, apartments, and religious structures arrayed along deep yards fronting wide, tree-lined parkways. Many of these buildings are so-called “greystones,” which are best thought of as Chicago’s cooler/hipper limestone-clad cousins to New York’s brownstones.

Thanks to the longtime efforts of community residents, a 2.5 mile section of the park and boulevard system -- including Logan Boulevard -- in Logan Square was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1985 and designated a City of Chicago Landmark District in 2005. More recently, the City of Chicago just completed a nomination to list the remainder of the emerald necklace on the National Register.

This “Chicago Park Boulevard System Historic District” will make more than 3,000 properties -- including 600 greystones -- eligible to access state and federal tax incentives to support historically-sensitive rehab. Many of these buildings are located in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods on Chicago’s West and South, which will create opportunities to work with longtime residents to promote additional revitalization based on local heritage and culture.

Perhaps Something A Little More Strenuous?

If looking at great vernacular architecture doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping the same way it does for me, you may want to give the 1.5-acre Logan Square Skate Park (2430 West Logan Blvd) a try. Tucked under the Kennedy Expressway, the skate park serves a gateway to Logan Square and adds some much needed vibrancy to what was previously a dead zone of activity at the eastern edge of Logan Boulevard. The park is bound by an eclectic sculpture of salvaged metal by local artist Lucy Slivinski.

This Old Movie House

Ok, I’ll acknowledge that some people actually like to relax on their vacations. So, if you need a break from walking or if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your visit, drop by the Logan Theatre (2646 North Milwaukee Avenue) for a film -- matinee tickets are only $5.50. Opened in 1915, the Logan got an extensive and much needed facelift in 2011 that restored many of the theatre’s original architectural details while also upgrading the seating, sound, and projection systems. Plus, you can grab an adult beverage in the new lounge, which also offers up open mic comedy on Monday nights.

Eat, Drink, and… Sleep

Jane Jacobs once noted that new ideas need old buildings.  I would take this idea in a slightly different direction and argue that good food requires old buildings in revitalizing neighborhoods. So if you are as hungry as I would be after a full day of sightseeing, skateboarding, and movie watching, Logan Square offers a number of eating options that exemplify this idea.

My first recommendation is Yusho (2853 North Kedzie), which occupies a narrow turn-of-the-last-century storefront on a bustling and diverse section of Kedzie Avenue. The restaurant offers updated versions of Japanese street food in a modern space featuring reclaimed materials, rope-wrapped light fixtures, and what might be the tallest bar seating in Chicago. Much of the food is grilled over imported charcoal backed up by a craft cocktail program and a large selection of Japanese whiskey.  Be sure to save room for the rotating selection of soft serve ice cream and watch your step coming off those bar stools.

If upscale gastropub fare is more in your wheel house, then head over to Longman & Eagle (2657 North Kedzie). Located in a two-story commercial structure built in 1905, Longman & Eagle bills itself as a modern take on an old Chicago neighborhood inn. Like all such restaurants worth their ampersands, the restaurant offers up plenty of wood, tattooed servers, and (seriously) strong craft cocktails.  However, all of this is in the service of highlighting chef’s Jared Wentworths Michelin-starred food.

If for some reason or another you find yourself in need of a bed for the evening, Longman & Eagle also has six casual yet well-appointed rooms starting as low as $85 per night.  Each room features custom designed furniture and a curated selections of artwork unique to each space.

You can support our preservation work by voting daily at www.PacificoAdventure.com. A contest code is required to vote -- codes are available on specially marked packages of Pacifico beer, in bars and restaurants, by texting 23000, or by clicking “GET CODE" online.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

 

If I had to sum up my last week in Albuquerque, New Mexico in two words it would be this: the sky. During the day it was a brilliant shade of blue, at dusk a deep shade of pink, and there were moments this past week where I thought all I had to do was reach up and capture some of it in my hand.

It was everywhere -- along main roads, soaring forward when we drove around town completing errands;  along the Turquoise Trail on my birthday as we made stops at ghost towns on the way to Sante Fe; and at a rehearsal dinner located high on a hill where we could see all of Albuquerque spread out before us.

While the purpose of the trip was to celebrate the nuptials of an old high school friend, it was not devoid of the all-important historical wanderings. As suggested by some of our readers, I had dinner in Nob Hill, a local main street with shops and restaurants, and walked past the numerous murals that illustrate Central Avenue downtown.

But Tuesday (my birthday) was the kicker. The bride’s mother took us on a road trip to Sante Fe with stops in Golden and Madrid (pronounced with a long “A,” not like the city in Spain). In Golden we had the opportunity to shop at Henderson Store. A family-run business since 1918, it was a general store until the 1960s when a declining need transformed it into a trading post for handcrafted Native American crafts. Today, it is a great place to find amazing jewelry and cultural items from the various Native American pueblos in the area.

The best part? Getting to talk with Bill Henderson about his life’s work, something that not many visitors get to do. He’s someone you wish you could listen to all day -- filled with personal stories of the region’s history and culture.

I also learned that ghost towns are interesting places of revitalization. After all, what do you do when the industry that made it thrive no longer is supported? In Madrid, now a tourist locality, we saw the old coal veins and the small cabins for the workers that had been transformed into venues for local artists and craftspeople. It’s perfectly positioned along a scenic byway, too -- the Turquoise Trail on the way to Sante Fe.

And since we were in the neighborhood, we ended up making a second trip to the state capital later in the week to meet up with my former government teacher and historian James McGrath Morris.  Perhaps the best part of knowing someone in the area is their ability to point out attractions we may have overlooked. And while we never made it to Los Alamos, we did go to 109 East Palace, which we learned was the check-in site for Los Alamos workers back when it was a secret city.


Stopover in Madrid, NM.

Back in ABQ (as I’ve affectionately started to call it) I spotted Mt. Taylor in the distance and wished that there was more time for me to make my way to another place connected to the National Trust: Acoma Sky City

… which leads me back to the sky. After a week here I understand that the appeal and power of living in the Southwest is connected to nature. Understanding Albuquerque’s past and present means understanding the geography -- the mountains, the desert, the sky -- and understanding its connection with those who live there.

P.S.: Thanks to the group that responded to my earlier post soliciting suggestions for this trip. While I wasn’t able to make all of your suggestions they are definitely on my list for next time.

P.P.S. Traveling there soon and looking for some good places to eat? Try Scalo in Nob Hill and the Flying Star Café (multiple locations), and BBQ at The County Line. In Sante Fe I checked out the food at the La Fonda (a Historic Hotel of America), and some great Heuvos Rancheros at Tia Sophia’s.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.

A Double Dose of Southern Comfort

Posted on: August 27th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 6 Comments

 

By Susannah Ware

“Darlin, have you ever been here before?” the Bristol Campground manager asked in his sweet country drawl.

“No sir, I haven’t,” I replied, smiling through the phone and instinctually reverting to the Southern politeness I had grown up with.

“Well, we’ve got 1,300 acres and y’all are welcome to sleep wherever you like when you get here.”

This was our first introduction to Bristol’s laidback charm as I planned the trip for my boyfriend Jacob and me to attend Mumford & Sons’s Gentlemen of the Road (GOTR) concert. I had been particularly concerned that the campground, usually used for NASCAR races, would kick us off our site if we hadn’t filled out the online form properly. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

The campground and what seemed like the whole Bristol community were expecting us, as well as the other visitors from across the map. We were outsiders, but welcome to join in and poke our heads around to see if we liked what we saw.

What we saw were streets lined with flags, storefronts welcoming fans with mustachioed signs, and restaurants serving up local burgers, bar-b-q, and brews. We took an instant liking to it, much like Mumford and Sons had the year before.

When the band originally visited Bristol, they were passing through from Nashville to New York between shows. They spoke with a few locals about the possibility of the town as a concert venue and visited their hoped-for site. Even then, they envisioned the concert on the lot in front of the illuminated historic train station, which was renovated to become an event/meeting facility after passenger service ended. Recounting the visit to the audience during the concert, they had met with what they felt were kindred spirits in a place rich with music history. (Congress’ HR 214 named Bristol the “Birthplace of Country Music,” as it was home to the first recordings of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.) The historic site added great ambiance to already great music.

But music was only part of the experience—most of the morning and for a few afternoon strolls, we were drawn down Bristol’s central artery. State Street, which is bisected by the Virginia/Tennessee state line, offers two doses of Southern hospitality. (Jacob and I had started our relationship long-distance, so we found this walk-able dividing line a novelty for the day.)

We had four main takeaways from Bristol’s Main Street community, which undoubtedly contributed to Jacob’s frequent announcements of, “I like this place. I’d live here.”

- Happy Hosts: Regardless of long lines at restaurants with expanded storefronts spilling into the street, servers were courteous, kind, and curious towards the concertgoers. No doubt businesses were getting quite a boost from the event, but they were taking on the strain in stride. While waiting at one local watering hole, we even got to partake in a new Bristol cocktail -- homemade lemonade with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Whiskey, which Jacob dubbed “lemonade with confidence.” (I hope the lemonade was made in Virginia for a true VA/TN Bristol combo).

- “Come On In” Community: Finding a solid community seems like a given in such a small town but we city folk, who interact with neighbors at best with a smile and a nod, were impressed by the closeness. At one restaurant, a younger woman headed to the concert stopped to speak with the manager, who was swiftly emptying overloading trash bags and refilling drinks. We overheard him ask her to work at the next event from 10 a.m. – 1 a.m. As our eyes widened at the shift length, her chipper response was instead, “Sure, sounds great! How many more will you need me to bring? My sister might want to help.” Seemed like everyone was ready to jump in to show off Bristol.

- Local Lovers: While this was a massive event with people pouring in from all over the South and Mid-Atlantic, Bristol took advantage of showcasing their local beer, local grass-fed beef, and local music. (Our favorite brew was the Honey Cream Ale from Wolf Hills Brewery.)


The historic Burger Bar (rumored to be the place of Hank Williams' last meal) slings grass-fed beef burgers in their iconic 1940s-era building.

- Music Metropolis: To close out the concert, Mumford and Sons pulled the other GOTR artists on stage for “Wagon Wheel,” a rousing cover that left the place echoing with one last love song to the South. But the show didn’t end there—after-parties thumped into nearby venues and local musicians dotted State Street serenading fans on their retreat. For those eager for more al fresco entertainment, Americana band The Black Lillies jammed with Bristol's Country Music Mural as their backdrop.

As State Street finally grew quiet, we begrudgingly headed back to our temporary camp, but we were left wanting more. More music. More local food and drink. More welcoming folks. More Bristol.

So now, the next time we're meandering along the state line, and someone asks me, “Darlin', have you ever been here before?” I can say, “Well, yes, I have. And I can't wait to get back.”

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Pacifico Preservation Adventure: Portland, OR

Posted on: August 22nd, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

The National Trust is participating in the 2012 Pacifico Beer summer promotion, Make Adventure Happen, in which we are competing for a portion of $100,000 based on the number of votes we receive (voting instructions at the end of the post).

To raise awareness for the contest, we've partnered with five preservation fans to highlight "Preservation Adventures" in cities and states across America. This week's guest blogger is John Chilson from Portland, Oregon. John blogs about Oregon history at Lost Oregon and is currently writing a book on downtown Portland in the 1950s.

Despite the urban renewal projects during the post-WWII years -- when whole neighborhoods met their demise from misguided planners, and perfectly functional housing succumbed to the wrecking ball -- many of downtown Portland’s early architecture still remains intact. True, much has been lost (Portland once boasted the largest collection of cast iron buildings in the Western U.S.), but there are still many gems still standing and ready to explore.

Getting Here: Arriving at Union Station

Downtown Portland is easily accessible by car, public transportation, walking or by bike. But if you’re coming to downtown Portland directly from out of town, start your trip by arriving by train at the wonderful Union Station. Opened in 1896, the structure was built in the Italian Renaissance style using brick, stucco and sandstone, and still deservedly garners attention. The clock tower is one of Portland’s most recognizable structures and the interior is well preserved. The station even boasts a small section dedicated to the station’s history.

Check In: The Heathman Hotel

Once here, hop in a cab to your hotel: The Heathman -- located right next to the old Portland Publix Theater (now the Schnitzer Concert Hall). Built in 1927 and located in the heart of downtown Portland, this 150-room luxury hotel is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Like many grand hotels in downtown areas, the hotel saw some rough times and seedy tenants in the 1970s before it was lovingly restored in the 1980s to its original glory. It’s also known to be haunted -- so be sure to ask your concierge about the ghostly goings-on.

Portland’s Living Room: Pioneer Square

Once you’ve checked in, take a short walk to Pioneer Courthouse Square, also known as Portland’s Living Room. The square, named after Pioneer Courthouse, a federal building built in 1875 across the street from the square, was also the original site of the Portland Hotel. Demolished in the early 1950s, a textbook parking lot was built on the former site. An even larger parking structure was proposed in the late 1960s to the Portland Planning Commission, but thankfully they rejected the idea and wanted a public plaza. From that, the Square was built.

Nowadays, the square is the site of the annual Holiday Tree lighting, summer events such as movies and music, and the Holiday Ale Festival. The square also offers a fantastic sweep of some of Portland’s finest buildings. Stand in the middle and you can see the Pioneer Courthouse, the Jackson Tower (formerly The Oregon Journal Building, built in 1912), and the former Meier and Frank building (now Macy’s) designed by one of Portland’s most famous architects, A.E. Doyle.

Be sure to check out the original Portland Hotel’s original iron gates that greet visitors from the SW 6th Avenue entrance.

Get Smart: Central Library

Feeling bookish? Walk east from Pioneer Square and stop by downtown Portland’s Central Library. Originally built in 1913 and designed by A.E. Doyle (there’s that name again) and extensively renovated in the mid-1990s, the structure is a wonderful example of Doyle’s work in Portland and also how older buildings can be retrofitted while keeping their historical integrity.

Lunchtime at Dan and Louis

After all this walking and exploring you might be getting hungry. If so, Dan and Louis Oyster Bar is the place to go. Yes, it's a haul from the core downtown area -- but totally worth it. In business since 1907 and located in Portland's original downtown (the Skidmore District, where many buildings didn't make the cut during the 1950s urban renewal-o-rama), the decor is part sea fare, part kitsch, and definitely worth a view.

Enjoy fresh oysters, the ambiance, a cold beverage -- and soak up the history. And as a side note, around the corner is Voodoo Donuts. If you don’t mind waiting in the Disneyland-in-summer-like lines, it’s a Portland experience.

Downtown Bridges

A walk through Portland wouldn’t be complete without a stroll across our many bridges. Each offer a unique history, easy walks and nice views of downtown. One suggested route is a walk across the Willamette via the Morrison (the original bridge was wooden and constructed in the late 1880s and replaced in the 1950s).

Once you reach the east side of Portland, stroll through the buzzing Central Eastside, or Produce Row, then back across the Hawthorne Bridge. Built in the early 1900s, the truss bridge with a vertical lift also carries many of Portland’s commuter bicyclists every day and its looks define the downtown waterfront. It also stops traffic when it rises and lets ships through. But remember, it’s all about the journey.

Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Once you make it back over the Willamette into downtown Portland, enjoy the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Home of the massively popular Oregon Brewers Festival and other fests throughout the year, including Cinco de Mayo and a Bite of Oregon, it’s named after former governor Tom McCall.

However, it wasn’t always a park. Before preservation became a part of the fabric of planning and building, the park was once a highway (Harbor Drive) that cut through the city (as you can see from the postcard). During the 1970s, the highway was ripped out and the park was constructed. McCall was instrumental in many of Oregon’s environmental issues, such as Oregon’s Bottle Bill and public ownership of beaches, so it was appropriate the park was eventually named after him.

After a stroll through the park, the rest is up to you. Downtown offers many dining options, including blocks of food carts, the world’s best bookstore, and other entertainment options. If you still want to get your history fix, a visit to the Oregon Historical Society should be on the list.

This is by no means a complete tour, but it should give visitors a good sense of Portland’s past and its architectural legacy, and offer some great exercise while exploring a very walkable city.

You can support our preservation work by voting daily at www.PacificoAdventure.com. A contest code is required to vote -- codes are available on specially marked packages of Pacifico beer, in bars and restaurants, by texting 23000, or by clicking “GET CODE" online.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Searching for San Francisco’s History, Part Two

Posted on: August 17th, 2012 by Gwendolyn Purdom 7 Comments

 

After a second day visiting with friends and working out our quads on San Francisco’s notoriously hilly streets and our credit cards in its charming neighborhood boutiques, day three of my recent visit to the City by the Bay was filled with more heritage tourist must-sees. We hopped a cable car (okay, hopped may be a generous description, we waited in an hour-long line to squeeze onto a cable car), an enduring symbol of the city and one of the only moving National Historic Landmarks in the country, and made our way to the popular Fisherman’s Wharf. There, we filled our cameras’ memory cards with shots of the adorable pack of lounging sea lions that has made Pier 39 its home before boarding a boat to tour the bay.

Captain Jim led us under the breathtaking 4,200 foot span of the Golden Gate Bridge, constructed over four years between 1933 and 1937. The icon, glowing in International Orange paint even on our foggy day, was the longest span in the world for many years. With the bridge at our backs, the boat brought us close enough to Alcatraz Island to read the faded sign warning of severe penalties for aiding prisoners at the once-infamous prison. “The Rock” has inspired imaginations and movie scripts for its years as a federal penitentiary, but as historian Erwin N. Thompson reported in his Historic Resource Study of Alcatraz Island in the early 1970s after the land was transferred to Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Alcatraz also served as a Civil War fortress, the first lighthouse on the West Coast, and the site of pivotal Native American occupation and protest in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

A hearty helping of soup from a signature sourdough bread bowl at the wharf’s storied Boudin Bakery is a satisfying way to wrap up an afternoon of history as the French shop has been serving up fresh-baked loaves of sourdough since it fed gold seekers when it opened in another section of the territory in 1849. On our way back to the hotel, we can’t resist a stroll through the crowded Ghirardelli Square, considered one of the earliest successful adaptive use projects in the country. When the original chocolate factory established by Domenico “Domingo” Ghirardelli shuttered in the 1960s, shops and restaurants popped up within the old factory walls, officially opening in 1964. Sea salted milk chocolate Ghirardelli square in hand, I took in the beautiful city around me. Gabby Douglas and Michael Phelps can hold onto their medals, after a trip like this, I was the one feeling victorious.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.