Our Fave “Building to Pass By”

Sometimes a building looks interesting on the outside, but you just never have time to go in. Sometimes you can’t get in. Sometimes, you have a favorite building to pass by that you’ve never been in…

Lauren says:

When I used to work down in the Gold Coast, I would take the 147 Express bus from Foster and Marine to Michigan and Oak. Every single morning I would pass by the ridiculously magnificent houses (castles?) on Inner Drive just before Division. I would spend the rest of my commute and walk to the office pretending I lived in one of those houses, and marveled at how totally awesome my interior design skills were. Man, to live in one of those places. I bet that would suck.

Jennifer says:

There are two buildings I’ve been meaning to wander into for a long time. The first is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House at 5757 South Woodlawn in Hyde Park. For two years, I worked down the street from it and never ventured in – what a mistake. Now, I don’t get to Hyde Park enough. Will someday need to make a special trip.

My other favorite is tucked in my neighborhood, and even though I walk by it all the time, I’m always kind of surprised to see it — The Midwest Buddhist Temple at 425 W. Menomenee. It exudes a peace-a-tude, but that may be because I’ve never seen anyone go in or come out. Their Ginza Festival is coming up on August 14 — 16. Perhaps I’ll finally get my chance to sneak a peek inside. . .

Alana says:

No doubt in my mind, if I had a chance to break into the The Uptown Theatre and scout around, I would. I wouldn’t have to think twice about it. I’ve begged my boyfriend to help me and he’s refused. Surely there’s someone in our readership who’s privy on how to execute this expedition.
Speak up!

CP says:

I’m with Alana. I can barely control my urges sometimes to find my way into some buildings. The whole idea turns me into a little kid. But there’s one building over in Humboldt Park I drive by all the time to get to the warehouse where my group practices. I would imagine it’s just the Humboldt Park Pavilion (not the Boat House, which is equally beautiful) but it’s amazing. Check it out. Most folks will tell you to stay away from that area after dark, and it may be good advice, but during daytime hours, I see a plethora of people there and I always mean to stop but still haven’t because I’m constantly rushing around. It really is an ass-kicking park with all sorts of amazing architecture.

Simply driving by it is therapeutic is some sort of weird way.

Rob says:

I’ve always wanted to explore the Uptown Theatre. I’ve never been a big fan of the crazy terra cottta/plaster ornamentation thing but the rumors of the Uptown’s size, dilapidated state, and overall spookiness cause me to circle the place looking for an open door every time I pass by. I’ve been digging around for pics of the interior without much luck. The Uptown Theatre site has a calendar that got my hopes up but each month is an architectural detail shot. *sigh*… The site, though, does have some choice links. My favorite is the picture of Don Isham at the Uptown Theatre Wurlitzer in 1927.

Officer Gleason says:

Okay, there is one building I drive by, on a daily basis that I really want to see. It’s on Damen and Roosevelt, and I have no idea what it is. Allegedly, this building is going to be an FBI training center. Nothing fancy, I just really wanna know what the hell it’s going to be.

Fuzzy says:

Mystery Building

This building is just down the street from my house on Ardmore. I love the ornate touches — they’re reminders of a time when even industrial buildings were built to look good. I have no desire to go inside — I’ve seen the big door open and it’s some sort of taxi parking facility now. But I love to walk by.

Roderick says:

Here’s a weird one. There’s a small building on a lot on Damen in between Argyle and Ainsle that has a label on the door that says “Rodam Club.” It is a small place, I’d say 20ft on both sides. The building itself is recessed from the street, behind a rather large lawn area. It is a simple brick building, no windows. From time to time I see some old men enter and leave.

My neighbor told me that it is a men’s club (not a gentlemen’s club, aka strip club), where cranky old men go to drink to get away from their wives or something like that. Sometimes they grill on their front lawn.

A google search for the Rodam Club doesn’t yield much. Here’s an address if anyone wants to investigate: 4923 N. Damen

Steven says:

I’d love to be able to head up into the Wrigley building downtown. Such a beautiful piece of architecture. What I love most though is that little bridge that connects the two towers. It somehow reminds me of images or movies I’ve seen of “the future”…little walkways in the sky connecting you to wherever you want to go, or at least to the next building. It actually makes me giddy thinking about it.

Tankboy says:

My favorite building that I’ve never been in is (I think) at the corner of Western and Madison.

It’s been abandoned for years and my girlfriend has always wanted to buy it and turn it into an artist community. I have no idea what the condition of the interior is but the facade just has a timeless “when-buildings-were-men” feel to it. Know what I mean? It just looks like a building should look. Like something out of Atlas Shrugged or something. Solid. Permanent.

Maybe I should take up urban spelunking and see what’s inside.

4 Comments so far

  1. Friends of the Uptown (unregistered) on July 25th, 2005 @ 5:53 pm

    Hi. Glad to see the UPTOWN THEATRE mentioned a few times here. If the UPTOWN is one of your favorite places to pass by, you should check it out today as a lot of decorative elements will be removed in the coming days as a part of exterior stabilization. Some interior views are posted on the two sites listed at the bottom of this note. Please don’t attempt to break in. The building is secure, has a security guard and an alarm hard-wired to police. Instead, sign up for Uptown Adviser via http://www.uptowntheatre.com

    We will send any invites to events or tours that happen in the future. Also, there is a petition to express interest at http://www.compassrose.org/uptowntheatre/overview.html

    Views of the building



    Thanks for your interest. Please stay in touch!

  2. Alana (unregistered) on July 25th, 2005 @ 7:26 pm



  3. Nicko (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2005 @ 9:15 pm

    I work at Rush University, and before that worked at UIC Medical Center for nineteen years, and one building that has always interested me is the huge Cook County Hospital building on Harrison and Damen, which I have passed every day for about twenty-three years, but have only been inside once or twice.

    The building has been closed for some years now, its fate still unsettled, and I have to wonder whether it is completely vacant or whether some parts of it are still being used.

    I have been involved in the relatively new sport of geocaching, and this kind of fits in with another, sort of related sport: “Infiltration” or “Urban Exploration” which involves just what you guys are talking about in this thread.

    I used to explore abandoned structures such as theaters and factories some years ago, before I even realized that this was actually a sport, and I have seen some amazing places doing this, and I urge anyone to, while being aware of the legal issues of trespassing, follow their urges and at least scope out the possibilities of getting into some of these abandoned places. The old abandoned Falstaff Brewery, near the Lakefront and Skyway on the far Southeast Side, now unfortunately demolished, was one of my faves.

    As far as buildings that are currently occupied, I have this advice: Having spent some time as a journalist, I developed a talent for charming people into…into letting me nose my way into places where I might otherwise not be welcome, and have found that, if you approach the right people in the right manner, you can gain entry into some of these other, currently used places. Having a camera and a starry-eyed interest has always helped. You just have to leave your shyness at home.

    I could tell you about how I charmed the security guard into bringing me to the roof of the Amoco Building (or maybe it was the Standard Oil Building at the time), so that I could take photos, but something that ambitious would be kinda pointless to even attempt in these post-9-11 days.

    Anyway, I have a series of geocaches around Cook County Hospital, and during my project of hiding them and posting the cache descriptions, I made one photo in particular that kinda shows the grim and grimy majesty of this structure, in case you have never seen it:


    You would do well to disable image resizing in your browser to view this photo, as it is actually a huge panoramic photo.

    Gawd, what a creepy experience it would be, to roam the deserted rooms and halls of that historic place. Maybe one day I will go over there in my lab coat, looking all official, and see how far I can get.


  4. Uptown Adviser (unregistered) on August 5th, 2005 @ 10:50 am


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