July 08, 2011

Rifles, Rocks, & Range

Along the Lakeshore
The post will highlight The Lincoln Park Gun Club, The Belmont Rocks, the Limestone Art, & Diversey Golf Course
This sign blanketed the area along the lakefront between Diversey and Belmont Harbors on what was commonly 
known as the 'rocks'. This area included and was once the Lincoln Park 18 hole golf course/driving range, a rifle range, and sunbathing spot for LGBT folks. 
Chicago Tribune view of the 'Rocks' 1972
Join the conversation on Forgotten Chicago on Facebook
Belmont Harbor 'Rocks' unknown date
Gene Mundt via Kimberly Banks - Pinterest
The Rocks:
Some Background
The shoreline and the waves of Lake Michigan,particularly after storms, became an issue by the turn of the 20th century when Lincoln Park Commission, a precursor to the Chicago Park District, began to expand and extend the originally box sized park northward along the existing lakefront. Below is an article for the Chicago Tribune about the damage caused my the lake to the unprotected lakefront.
(click on article segments to enlarge)
page 2
 page 3
Again, like many times before, the Chicago's shoreline was threatened in the 1980's by high lake water levels that during storms closed North Lake Shore Drive. The Chicago Park District, the Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Chicago developed a plan to rebuild the limestone step revetment along the lakefront. They signed a Memorandum of Agreement in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards to ensure that the project would protect the historic value of the structure. However, when construction actually began in the 1990's the public was appalled -- long unrelieved stretches of steel and concrete where the historic limestone had been. After all but two sections of the lakefront had been ruined -- Promontory Point and Diversey-Wellington -- the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency halted the project. But in July of 2006 the IHPA, under by a riptide of political pressure, endorsed the concrete and steel reconstruction.- Preservation Chicago
The Types of Revetment
image - pdf called Shoreline History p.2
"The old limestone blocks that line the edge of the lake will be replaced by new concrete stones in that area as a part of the Chicago Park District’s eight-mile lakefront revetment plan. The park district and its project partners said the revetment – a renovation to protect the embankment – is necessary to prevent further lakeshore deterioration. Not everyone in the community is happy about the changes, however. South East Lake View Neighbors Vice President Robert Clarke said the majority of people at community meetings said they did not want the changes. “We accept the need to rebuild the revetment; we just challenge the design and the materials. That’s the essential issue,” Clarke said. 
- Medill Reports Chicago with video. 
"The northern half of the lakefront stretch between Diversey and Belmont is scheduled to be under construction beginning in May 2002, as part of the city’s Shoreline Protection Project, which in that particular area consists of the reconstruction of 3,300 linear feet of shoreline. Improvements will include the construction of the step stone revetment at an estimated cost of $19 million, according to the city’s Web site. Construction is expected to be completed in 2003".
- from the newspaper Skyline
The Shoreline Protection Project
Postcard of shoreline 
along the Gold Coast- 1940ish
Chicago's existing shoreline protection was built between 1910 and 1931. Known as revetments, the shoreline protection comprised of wood pile cribs filled with stones in the shape of steps. In the 1950's, the wood piles began collapsing, leaving shoreline protection structures and park land to erode and wash away. In 1964, the year when Chicago recorded the all-time lowest water levels on Lake Michigan, the wood piles became exposed and started rotting, further increasing the erosion process.
Due to their age and deteriorated condition, these structures no longer provide adequate protection for Lake Shore Drive, a Federal highway adjacent to this shoreline, and other public facilities. This threat of damage prompted Congress in 1974 to direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to investigate these and related erosion problems along the entire Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline - from City of Chicago website
Laying the out the artificial shoreline along 
Lincoln Park at Montrose Harbor area
- Daily News 1929
1949 negative slides - Ebay
 


The Chicago Shoreline Review
'The Study/Project Description. Chicago’s shoreline is largely man-made and constructed on landfill an average of 1,500 feet wide. This landfill is a key-contributing factor to the creation of an extensive series of lakeshore parks that began in the mid to late 1800’s and continued through the 1940’s.
During the turn of the last century and into the 1930’s, wooden cribs structures were constructed primarily to contain the stone fill material in order to provide a base upon which 4 to 8 ton cut limestone blocks would be placed in step-stone fashion to construct the existing revetment structure. This project provides storm damage protection to the Lake Michigan shoreline and, in particular, to Lake Shore Drive, a major transportation artery in the City of Chicago. The previous shoreline structures, built in the early 1900s, had deteriorated and no longer functioned to protect against storms, flooding and erosion.' - page 2 of the report
The Irving Park Road to Belmont Avenue project consisted of the reconstruction of 4,000 linear feet of shoreline. Improvements include the construction of steel sheet pile and concrete revetment. Contracts on this project were administered by USACE. The construction cost of the project was $15.6 million and was completed in summer 2002. The ITR was completed on 4 August 1999 and construction was completed in 2001.
The Belmont Harbor Peninsula project consisted of the reconstruction of 1,000 linear feet of shoreline. Improvements included the construction of steel sheet pile and concrete revetment. The construction cost of this project was $5 million. Contracts on this project were administered by the
DOT and CPD. The project was completed in 1999.
The Belmont to Diversey North project consists of the reconstruction of 1,700 linear feet of shoreline. The contract on this project was administered by USACE. The cost of the project was $10.5 million & completed in summer 2004.
image - Skyline Newspapers
On Sept. 25, 2001, the Hyde Park Historical Society wrote a letter to IHPA asking them to review the proposal to rebuild Promontory Point, which, like the entire lakefront project, is a joint venture of the Park District, the Department of the Environment, and the Army Core of Engineers.
The DEACE, according to its 1994 congressional report on the project (House document 103-02), had originally agreed "that the design and construction of the revetment will match the existing structures. The IHPA's early notification, along with what board member Jack Spicer calls a supportive alderman, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), helped delay construction on Promontory Point, pending an acceptable plan. Lake View activists, however, did not notify the IHPA, which has only gotten involved with Belmont/Diversey in the last three months.
The main issue were the sometime violent impact of the waves along the shoreline. The question would be, is it better that waves hit the shoreline naturally or artificially during violent weather? The view from the citizens and associations were the 'rocks' provide less of an aggressive impact to the shoreline while providing a more natural configuration. The limestone blocks that adorned over the countless decades were, according to some community residents, the art and poetry of the community. 

William Swislow had an idea!  He was aware of the artwork created on those cubes. He thought before the limestones were to be removed from the landscape he thought to preserve it with photography and post them on his own website. With this task, he helped reserve the now lost art of Chicagoans who patronized the lakefront and created art of various forms and shapes beyond the graffiti we most often remember to a time when man first created art in caves.
My thanks to Allen Anthony Maniscalco for posting a link to Mr. Swislow site on Forgotten Chicago-Facebook. Below are some samples and with a link to his website telling his story along with the other photography not to be forgotten from the artists that created them. 

 
 
The Rifles:
 The Rifle Gun Club Along the Lake
1912-1991 with buildings razed by 1995
photo - Daily News Archives 1929 
You can view of men standing on a lawn in front of the Lincoln Park Gun Club in the Lake View community just north of Diversey Harbor - 2901 N. Lake Shore Drive. The building is visible in the background, and people are standing and sitting at tables on the lawn and on a path behind the lawn.
Urban Shooting in 1931
images - Ebay 
History of the Gun Clubs: 
Their Beginnings in Chicago 
In the early 20th century, the elite families of Chicago built a remarkable shooting facility called the Lincoln Park Traps (LPT) on Chicago’s lakefront, where they had begun to play a new, unnamed sport. By 1918, it was common to hear the pop, pop, pop of gun fire on the lakefront, the sound of which was muffled by the big lake that absorbed and deadened the explosive sound of firing. But even before that time period Germans from Chicago traveled north to Wright Grove Woods as early as 1867 to enjoy the lively sport of sharp-shooting just north of the Chicago border (Fullerton Avenue) and within Lake View Township per this article.
(click on image to enlarge)
Chicagoans of all backgrounds enjoyed this sport that was started by Charles E. Davies, an avid grouse hunter, who invented a shooting game in 1915 using live pigeons. During the next decade, the game evolved and clay targets were used instead of pigeons. In 1926, a contest was held to name the Davies new rifle sport.  Gertrude Hurlbutt won the contest with the name “Skeet,” which is derived from the Scandinavian word for shoot. By the 1940's, Skeet was used by the U.S. military to teach novice gunners the principle of leading and timing flying targets. The Lincoln Park Traps was formed by the upper class of Chicago society. As the years went by, the LPT became a public entity and evolved into a very egalitarian facility. Everyone was welcome to shoot at Lincoln Park Traps, and it was common for Chicago’s plumbers and carpenters to shoot Skeet next to the city’s elite. The Lincoln Trap and Sheet Club was established in 1923 and incorporated on February 25, 1967 as the
Lincoln Rifle Club and Junior Division, Inc., a registered, non-profit organization. Since December of 1926, the LRC has been a proud active member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) with 100% of members belonging to the NRA.
photo - Craigs Lost Chicago

  photo - Calumet 412
 Shooting towards the lake - Calumet 412 
negatives below - Ebay
Easy & Fun in 1964
(enlarge to view)
page 2
 The Gun Club Ending Saga
photo - Tom Morrissey via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
"The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency sent us a letter saying it appears the Lincoln Park gun club was violating the law," says Nancy Kaszak, general counsel for the Chicago Park District, which owns the property on which the gun club operates, but not the club... 
"We did some investigation and came to the conclusion that the gun club was, in fact, violating eight statutes. They were, and are, shooting lead into the lake, and as a result, the Park District could be held liable." Kaszak recommended that if the gun club couldn't satisfy the legal requirements--which, apparently, it cannot--the Park District should evict it from its current site near the intersection of Diversey Parkway and Lake Shore Drive. The Park District's five board members agreed, and on September 14 they unanimously adopted a resolution that could shut the club sometime after January 1, 1989. "The weapon is a shotgun; it uses a shotgun shell. The powder in the shell is separated from the lead shot by wadding and contained within a casing. When you shoot the shotgun, it propels the shot out toward the clay pigeon; as part of that process, the wadding can be thrown out of the shell as well." Bathers and boaters frequently complain of shell waddings washing up on beaches and docks, Park District officials say. At least 400 tons of lead have settled on the lake bed just east of the gun club, not to mention the remnants of hundreds of thousands of clay pigeons. "We tested the clay pigeons and found traces of antimony, arsenic, nickel, lead, zinc, silver, and chromium in them," says Kaszak. "Now, I'm no environmental expert. But I am a lawyer. It is my job to protect the Park District against liability." -  Reader newspaper
photo - Joseph Schlesinger via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
"The gun club`s attorney, former 46th Ward Ald. Christopher Cohen, said the club is willing to erect a net or other device to catch the wads, or to use paper wads that explode into nonpolluting confetti. He said Scott Diving Service, of Niles, is willing to dredge the lake bottom near the gun club for free-as long as it gets to keep most of the lead it picks up." Chicago Tribune
“Apparently, the Park District board agrees. On September 14 they unanimously approved a resolution that gives the gun club 90 days to prove they are not violating any laws. If they can't prove that, they will have to close.”
-  The Reader newspaper
“Wads are no longer a problem and haven`t been since the inception of our one-cent-per-wad bounty program. More than a million wads were recovered last summer, effecting nearly 100 percent recovery.”- Chicago Tribune
No matter, the club owners received and eviction notice in 1991 and the club closed and the building, years later, were demolished and replaced by green space.
The Belmont Rocks 
 both photos
A Place for Us: LGBTQ Life at the Belmont Rocks
on Facebook 
The revetment to the existing shoreline began by 1910. The constant construction last until 1930. By that time the harbors of Diversey, Belmont, and soon after Montrose were open to the public. The Belmont Rocks were mostly dolomite stone blocks were pulverized in 2003 and used as a base underneath a new broad concrete, runway-like, seawall. The original wood-pylon retention wall had failed along perhaps 50% of this reach, permitting some stone blocks to tumble into the nearby shallow lakebed and limited land erosion to occur. The park land east of Canon Drive, Lakeview Ave., and Sheridan to the north is artificial fill emplaced between the Lincoln Park Zoo and Hollywood Avenue during the first half of the 20th century. By the late 1970's the rocks north of Belmont Harbor parking lot were known by the locals as the as a gay sunbathing location until the modern revetments of the shoreline occurred in the 2000's.
Referred my Many as the
The Gay BAY
“I recall that the early 1990s was a tumultuous time for gay men and women. Friends and acquaintances were dying from AIDS. Many of us were "OUT" to family and friends but not necessarily at work,” Brotebeck added. “We were finding our identity, strength, resilience, independence and confidence while still battling the homophobia of the outside world. I believe “THE ROCKS” is a perfect metaphor for the men we became despite the obstacles that existed within the gay community during those days.” Read more ...
Many of the photos below are from a Facebook page called 'A Place for Us: LGBTQ Life at the Belmont Rocks'
which mostly originated with photos from Doug Ischar
photos - Doug Ischar
View more adult photos from the photographer Doug Ischar
This gay gathering place was yards away from a rifle range just south of the so-called 'gay rocks'. I was told that the ‘standing joke’ at the time was whenever a rifle shot was fired toward the lake some ‘gay’ sunbather would scream out to the others while basking in the sun, “They missed another faggot again” that would be accompanied with a recognized smile or momentary chuckle.
'The Rocks' had its own Pride Parade Float 1985
photo - Jason Szekeres
once just made of rock and wood ...
 photographer Alex Fradkin 
UIC via Explore Chicago Collection
and now ...
The rocks replacement
parallel to Barry Street - Kristen Hidinger Pinterest
a Facebook Story 
by Garry Albrecht
Remember the ‘rocks’ along the lakeshore; those chucks of limestone cubes that once graced the man-made shores of Lake Michigan? Well, while those cubes of limestone have been removed from the lakefront landscape the man-made artwork carved in those limestone cubes have not been forgotten thanks to a Chicagoan named William Swislow. 
The art posted here reached beyond the Belmont Rocks 
 
 
 
 

 

 
William Swislow had an idea! He was aware of the artwork created on those cubes. He thought before the limestones were to be removed from the landscape he thought to preserve it with photography and post them on his own website. With this task, he helped preserve the now lost art of Chicagoans who patronized the lakefront and created art of various forms and shapes beyond the graffiti we most often remember ... to a time when man first created art in caves. My thanks to Allen Anthony Maniscalco for posting a link to Mr. Swislow's site on Forgotten Chicago-Facebook. Below are some samples and his website telling his story along with the other photos not to be forgotten from the artists that created them. 
And then there was this other type of artwork at the 
edge of the harbor towards the entrance ....
originally a 18 hole golf course
1933 photo - Chicago Park District via Jeff Nichols,
Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
postcard - unknown source
1936 IDOT photo of the area near the Diversey Harbor
before the Lake Shore Drive WPA project 
Bathing Beach is filled in for Links 1922
The 18 hole course is open 1931
The Links are cut in half 1942
The Diversey Range & Mini Golf
2000 photo - University of Illinois-Chicago, City 2000
via Explore Chicago 
 2000 photo - University of Illinois-Chicago, City 2000 
via Explore Chicago  
2000 photo - University of Illinois-Chicago, City 2000 
via Explore Chicago  
2000 photo - University of Illinois-Chicago, City 2000 
via Explore Chicago  
2000 photo - University of Illinois-Chicago, City 2000 
via Explore Chicago  
 2000 photo - University of Illinois-Chicago, City 2000
via Explore Chicago 
2000 photo - University of Illinois-Chicago, City 2000
via Explore Chicago 
signed by Ernie Banks 1976 - Ebay
and The Diversey Miniature Golf Course 
1976 photo - University of Illinois-Chicago 
via Explore Chicago
The Options for a Playlot 2016 near the Range
The Chicago Park District is planning a new playlot at Lincoln Park Driving Range just east of the miniature golf course. The community will select their choice to the district.


 all photos - 44th city ward office


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These posts are exclusively used for educational purposes. I do not wish to gain monetary profit from this blog nor should anyone else without permission for the original source - thanks! 

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