"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer

9.6.08

The Hidden Side of Chicago's Bike Routes: The Edgewater Beach Hotel

Nothing quite stands out like pink.

It catches your eye like a glint of sunlight off someone's watch. Especially when surrounded by dull colors of slate and gray and steel and black. Pink is the color that says, “Look at me! I’m super fabulous! Thanks for asking!”

So it is fitting that among all of Chicago’s lakefront, among all that mishmash of grey brick and black steel, of glass and brownstone, of turn-of-the-century masterpieces and the birth of modernist architecture, there is but one, sole, pink building. And it announces brightly, loudly, the north end of the Lakefront Trail.



The Edgewater Beach Apartments stands tall and proud at Bryn Mayr and Sheridan, carrying on the optimism of a bygone age, holding out for a neighborhood's distinctiveness against encroaching homogenization, with the echoes of Tommy Dorsey’s band and the happy shouts of celebrities and movie stars still reverberating within its hallways.

It was once a twin of a second building just to the south, and together they were the Edgewater Beach Hotel. A resort of sorts, it was a destination for the many rich and famous who visited Chicago from the Roaring Twenties through the war years and beyond. The building that is still standing, the pink Apartments, was built in 1927 as an expansion to the hotel. The original 400-room building, in Spanish-style stucco in the form of a Maltese Cross, was constructed in 1916 and stood where the black, monolithic condominium now dominates the northshore skyline.



The hotel was a victim of Chicago’s success, as the expansion of Lake Shore Drive from Foster northward in mid-1950’s removed the beach front, and the advent of television and air-conditioning further drove away the hotel’s clientele. The quality of service steadily declined as well with the sale of the original owners’ interest in the late ‘40s, and by 1967, the hotel had closed.

But in its heyday, the Edgewater Beach Hotel was the place to be and be seen in Chicago, and truly set the northside lakefront apart. It featured such national acts as Tommy Dorsey’s band, and you might have seen Bette Davis or Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig. Hotel manager William Dewey had a knack for booking top acts at the Edgewater, and all that talent and celebrity drove the allure of the Hotel and gave the now Historic Bryn Mawr District it’s name.

We're going to pull off the path now, and head into Chicago's neighborhoods and take a closer look at some of our favorite urban routes. So be sure and get a closer look at Edgewater while you're here. Stop in at Johnny Sprocket's Bike Shop for a quick tune up, grab a massive bleu-burger and take in the anti-Wicker scene at Moody's, sample some fair-trade coffee and attentive service at Metropolis, or experience the last vestiges of the area's Jewish heritage with a Reuben at the Bryn Mawr Deli.

Sources: Wikipedia.org, WTTW

2 comments:

Tamara Fraser said...

You're a cool cat, Morissey.

The Car Whisperer said...

Thanks Tamara...you're pretty hip, yourself.