Metra Tracks, River West 1996

River-West-2©2019 Michael Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

It’s amazing how much this area has changed since I stood in the cold drizzle to photograph this scene. This was near Chicago Avenue and Odgen. New homes went up around here since then and a lot of the older homes were rehabbed. That day, I was more interested in capturing the low clouds that shrouded the skyline. Didn’t quite see how much would change in twenty years.

Philadelphia Church

Philly-Church-1996-A© 2018 Michael Priorie.  All Rights Reserved.

In the mid nineties, I continued to venture into different neighborhoods as a resource to continue my ongoing project on photographing Chicago. The area north of Foster Avenue and Clark Street is known as Andersonville. In 1996, this area was experiencing a revival when new coffee shops and galleries opened. It also became a new hub for the LGBTQ, specifically the Lesbian community. The area maintains its Swedish American heritage and certain icons remain untouched. This is one of them. A former bank, this church has been in the same location since 1940–that sign included!

Ravenswood Rapid Transit, 1996


©2014 Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

This was taken at the Montrose Brown Line station. It was not too long before this photo was taken that the CTA decided to ditch the rather wordy  names of the rapid transit lines in favor of a color coded system. This was originally known as the Ravenswood Elevated Line. The color system is so much easier to give out directions to someone. Would you rather tell someone that they need to take the O’Hare-Congress-Douglas to Damen or the Blue Line to Damen?

Fire Escape, 1996


©2014  Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

I believe this was taken somewhere in Lincoln Park. These old fire escapes always evoke a noir-like feeling in me. It’s   like in a old black and white film where the bad guy escapes on a rainy night down the fire escape in order to get away.

Beer Bottles 1996


©2013 Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

This was near Belmont and Clark, I believe. This used to be a fairly common sight back then before things really changed. People would hang out in the doorways along Clark St. to drink or eat. They weren’t all homeless either– many were just young people who hung out there. As the area got better, the police started to crack down on loitering. This pretty much killed the Saturday night congregation of punk rockers by the Dunkin Donuts on Belmont and Clark. By 1996, Lake View was becoming way less edgy and way more stroller friendly.

North/Damen/Milwaukee 1996


©2013 Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

So at this point, which was the summer of 1996, Wicker Park had become the focal point of Chicago’s music and art scene. The landscape was rapidly changing since I began photographing there a few years before. Gentrification had started to reach south on Milwaukee toward Division and north toward Armitage; to the west toward Western and the east toward Ashland as well. More new storefronts and Lofts began replacing the old and I began noticing the influx of newer people coming to the area. It would be a few years before I started to see baby strollers though.

Vintage Townhomes, 1996


© 2013 Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

I walking out of the old Tower Records in Lincoln Park when I looked up and saw these vintage town homes on Belden. These beautiful, historic buildings are a testament of how diverse Chicago’s architecture is. When this was taken, this area of Lincoln Park had already been gentrified.

Uptown Theater, 1996


©2013 Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

 It’s sad to see the Uptown Theater. It’s still closed just as it has been since the early eighties. There’s always talk of reopening it as a live venue. It tried that back in the 1970’s. Hopefully, it will one day have the success this grand old palace deserves. As a side note: this photograph reminds me of the Uptown photos by Bob Rehak which, by the way, are incredible. .

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