I guess some people in the world call large freshwater lakes “sweet water seas”. that would include Lake Michigan, a great lake.
The mouth of Belmont Harbor is a great place to photograph large planes arriving from Europe and Anchorage, charter fishing boats leaving the harbor, and pre- and post-war apartment buildings that overlook Chicago’s precious source of drinking water and recreation.
All photos taken on iPhone 14 Pro. The 3x zoom lens is handy, but still not as good as a handheld camera with interchangeable zoom lens. I’ll bring that next time I’m going to be around Belmont Harbor at the time the jumbo jets arrive.
A recent suspected teardown, at 1923 S Allport in Pilsen (25th Ward, 19th place for teardowns from 2006 to now). The demolition permit was issued August 7 and the new construction permit was issued August 5. The new building will have an increase in density, with three dwelling units. Photo by Gabriel Michael.
From Wikipedia, a teardown is a “process in which a real estate company or individual buys an existing home and then demolishes and replaces it with a new one”.
You can find suspected* teardowns in the building permits data on Licensed Chicago Contractors by looking for demolition permits and new construction permits for the same address. I limited my search to situations where the demolition permit was issued within 60 days prior or subsequent to the new construction permit. This shows properties that have a quick turnaround (thus more likely to get built). I didn’t want to include buildings that may have been demolished one year and got a building two years later.
This analysis is based on data since January 1, 2006, the start of the first complete year of building permits data in the Chicago open data portal, and ends today. The first demolition permit in this analysis was issued January 10, 2006, and its associated new construction permit was issued five days prior. There may be a case when the demolition permit and new construction permits were issued in different years, but for this analysis I only consider the year in which the demolition permit was issued. (In my review of permits since March I believe that new construction permits are issued most often after the demolition permit.)
The number for teardowns decreased dramatically as the economic crisis approached.
There were 1,717 suspected teardowns in Chicago distributed across 57 community areas (of 77, whose boundaries don’t change) and 45 wards (of 50, whose boundaries changed in 2012).
West Town, Lake View, and North Center share top billing, with the most teardowns each year, but Lake View was #1 for seven of 10 years. Other top five community areas comprise Logan Square (thrice), Lincoln Square (thrice), Bridgeport (twice), McKinley Park (once), and Near West Side (once).
From 2012 to current, the most teardowns occurred in Wards 32 (Waguespack), 47 (Pawar), 1 (Moreno), 44 (Tunney), and 43 (Smith). All of those wards include parts of the top three community areas mentioned above.
The sixth ward with the most teardowns in this period was 2 (Fioretti) but this boundary no longer represents any part of the pre-2012 boundary that covered almost the entire South Loop. That means Ward 2 is now covering the west side. Additionally, the 2nd Ward made sixth place with 28 teardowns and fifth place, the 43rd Ward had 60 teardowns.
In this photo you can see the new community center and harbor master office, picnic tables, parking garage, and shade sails on the roof of the community center.
I completely agree with Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin’s description of those colored trees: “garishly painted recycled trees that goes overboard in an attempt to create a festive atmosphere”. I would prefer to see them removed and real trees take their place. I was saddened to see mature-growth trees being removed during construction. I appreciate a lot of the new features the marina brings to Burnham Park, like the upgraded playground, a small park on the pier and a bike trail that should bypass a lot of beachgoer traffic.
These mature trees were replaced with…
…these garish trees.
The sign in the background is outdated and should be replaced. To access the trail from 31st Street you ride down the driveway and then enter the sidewalk.
This playground looks like a lot of fun. It has a climbing wall!
I have some criticisms about the new design of how people access 31st Street from the Lakefront Trail and vice versa.
1. The distance from 31st Street to the LFT has increased from the previous design. Before there was a short hill to traverse from the street to the trail. Now one must enter the trail by sharing the driveway with automobiles, then entering a sidewalk, and then entering the trail. At this sidewalk entrance, there’s an outdated sign. It says “Yield to pedestrians in crosswalk” when state law says motorists must “stop for pedestrians in crosswalks”. I think this sign should be immediately replaced.
The crosswalk that connects the sole sidewalk leading people from 31st Street to the beach house should be here, instead of 50 feet further south as this is the quickest way to reach the beach (actually the quickest way is to walk through the grass on the left side of this photo or through the shrubs left of the photo, off screen).
2. This crosswalk is also too far from the beach house and people will be crossing the street at the end of the lower curve where there is no crosswalk and no sign.
New intersection to access the marina parking lot and boat launch area.
3. I’d like to know if the intersection here is timed or has a sensor. If it has a sensor, will it pick up the presence of cyclists? Regardless, this intersection is an improvement over the previous access path which couldn’t facilitate Lakefront Trail cyclists who wanted to travel westbound on 31st Street (they could use the south side sidewalk, which is inappropriate). Westbound cyclists can now share the driveway with automobiles (less than ideal) but can enter westbound 31st Street without any awkward sidewalk moves or crossing the Lake Shore Drive ramp against the light.
4. My good friend Calvin points out that the new marina doesn’t have storage for small sailboats like Lasers and Vanguards. These boats are a cheap and easy way to teach children and young adults how to sail and are more accessible to the wider population. Storage is less expensive and they can be operated alone. He says that only Montrose and Belmont have storage for these boats.
UPDATE: Thank you, Bill, for sending me a Chicago Park District document with additional artist’s renderings of the promenade, playground and restaurant.
Many Chicagoans are curious about the new marina the Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Building Commission are building on Lake Michigan at 31st Street (3100 S Lake Shore Drive) near Bronzeville and the old Michael Reese Hospital campus.
Taken with a Sony HX5V on the handlebars of my Yuba Mundo cargo bike.
This video shows the new access path to the Lakefront Trail, the pier upon which construction equipment is stored, and some people working at the end of the newly constructed breakwater.
Also features a passing Metra Electric train and a view from the marina of the factories in Whiting and East Chicago Indiana.
I took these photos at the same time as the video:
A temporary new path will replace the existing access path. In the artist’s renderings for the new marina and surrounding facilities, the Lakefront Trail will go underneath a marina and parking lot access road that will intersect where the existing access path does now. People who want to access the Lakefront Trail will travel (off street) a little north to an intersection.
See Exhibit B on page 12 for a drawing and list of proposed changes. They’re exciting. When designing for the lakefront, the stakes are pretty high.
The only mention of “bike” or “bicycle” is misnaming the Lakefront Trail as the “Chicago Lakefront Bike Path.” Can’t anyone get this right? According to the LEED Strategy document, though, the project aims to get 1 point for a “bicycle storage/changing room.”
The 31st Street Harbor project is one of two new harbors being designed for the Chicago Park District along Chicagoâ€™s lakeshore. Located in the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicagoâ€™s south side, the 31st Street Harbor will incorporate extensive new community amenities and a new 950 slip marina. These include over two new acres of green space located on a peninsula of land formed by a 1,200 foot long breakwater sheltering the new harbor, providing exceptional views of the Chicago skyline to the north. The breakwater will also create new underwater habitat and provide opportunities for fishing.
Photo shows the new breakwater and pier under construction. See Exhibit B.
The existing surface parking will be removed and relocated within a new parking structure covered by an accessible green roof that allows park users improved views of the lake while reducing impervious surface. Landscape plantings will include native plants selected to provide food and cover for the twice yearly bird migrations through the City, while also reducing maintenance and irrigation demands. A new fully accessible play area that connects the green roof area to the beach will replace an older existing playground, while improvements to pedestrian and vehicular circulation will improve connections to the neighborhoods in Bronzeville to the west. Located atop the green roof will be a new LEED Certified community center and restaurant, providing sorely needed facilities currently missing along the south lakeshore.
The marina itself will include approximately 950 new slips ranging from 35â€™ to 80â€™ in length, on site covered storage in the parking structure, fuel dock, marina store, dedicated shower facilities, and a public access boat ramp. Additionally, youth sailing programs and storage for small craft including kayaks will be provided, allowing this facility to make boating economically accessible to a very large portion of the community.
Breakwater and pier construction panorama at the beach in August 2010.
As part of these improvements, additional parking accommodations in addition to the new parking structure are being planned. Approximately 200 new parking spaces will be incorporated along the Fort Dearborn access road north of 31st Street, serving 31st Street beach. A new surface lot west of Lake Shore Drive and immediately south of 31st Street will be constructed with a capacity of over 150 spaces.
The existing attractions of Burnham Park near 31st Street will remain, including 31st Street Beach, the beach house, and the Burnham Skate Park.
31st Street Harbor Parking Garage (310 covered spaces)
Surface Lot on Fort Dearborn north of 31st Street (202 spaces)
Surface Lot off Moe Drive south of 31st Street (161 spaces)
Total: 573 spaces
[Currently this beach has 188 auto parking spaces, a difference of 355% compared to the proposed quantity. It currently has about 14 bike parking spaces and needs more but I cannot find evidence that this number will increase when the new harbor opens.]