January 09, 2020

Northside Perspectives

North of Fullerton Avenue
This post reflects on how the Old Lake View area that has been documented by the writers/authors since 1974-2017 to be followed by my perspective on the subject in another post.
photo download with edit - Etsy
I begin with WBEZ's Curious City perspective followed by 'The Lake View Saga' that was first published in 1974 and 1985. After that, we move on to the 'Hidden History of Ravenswood & Lake View' published in 2013. The next two perspectives are called  'Lake View' published in 2014 and 'East Lake View' in 2017. The last book mentioned is from the township days and about laws/ordinances of that day established in 1879. 
I peppered this long but interesting article with other highlights from other sources and photos. The photos of the Budlongs & farm are from Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
by Monica Eng
August 20, 2017 
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image - Lycheerose via Zazzle
image - Esty
"In the decades following the city’s founding in 1833, Chicagoans drained swamps, and once they had gained metal-blade plows they worked the rich soil that lurked below a vast prairie. This farming continued for many decades, sometimes in land smooshed between roads and commuter rail lines. So, here’s a surprising twist to our answer to Barb: The city’s emergence as an agricultural center occurred at the same time the city was industrializing and, in fact, for some of the very same reasons. “If you think of it, all those things that made us this trading town, they also made us a very good place to export,” says Daniel Block, Chicago State University geographer and author of Chicago: A Food Biography. Specifically, these things included great railway access, abundant immigrant labor, central trading markets and processing facilities. Plus, Chicago had awesome soil and plenty of manure. If you’re inclined to think of 19th-century Chicago as a railway-tangled, smoke-belching industrial behemoth, here’s more about how it was also the first city of flowers, a pickle powerhouse and the heart of American celery. (Pun definitely intended.) 

Celery: Miracle food meets Lake Michigan

The city’s remaining link to its once-vast celery industry may be the celery salt finish on Chicago-style hot dogs. But 150 years ago the city was at the heart of a celery craze that had spread across the United States. “Celery was huge, kind of like kale today,” says food historian Bruce Kraig. “It was this big 19th-century food fad because people thought it had miraculous health properties. I think it’s because it was so fibrous and you had to chew it so long.”

Folks ate celery at restaurants, used special crystal celery vases and consumed celery pills and tonics like Paine’s Celery Compound advertised as “a positive cure for dyspepsia, biliousness, liver complaint, neuralgia, rheumatism, and kidney troubles.”

So, Chicago — with its celery-friendly sandy soil, abundant fresh water and national rail transportation — was a perfect spot to grow and export the vegetable to an often dyspeptic nation. Plus, celery could be harvested as late as January during a mild winter, so long as it was packed in sand or soil. Hundreds of Chicago immigrant farmers grew the vegetable on what became the city’s North Side. According to 19th century Chicago horticulturist Edgar Sanders, Lakeview Township soil was “black,” “boggy” and “plentiful mixed with sand.” He added: “There is no land which can compete with such as this for celery culture.” By the end of the century, though, other lands stole Chicago’s celery crown. Kalamazoo, Michigan, had cheaper land, as did California, which had also had an advantage of a year-round growing season. Farmers in what became the Edgewater neighborhood grew celery well into the 20th century. In an essay for the Edgewater Historical Society, Carl Helbig recalls that his father grew it in manure-filled hotbeds over “black and sandy” soil as late as the 1930s. But he admits the crop was already well on the way out. “I venture to say that my father was the last one to grow celery in that large a volume in Edgewater,” he wrote. 

Pickles: Agriculture Meets Industry

In the late 1880’s Chicago was home to no fewer than three nationally famous pickle brands: Budlong, Squire Dingee and Claussen. These operations thrived in Chicago for several reasons: European pickle know-how; a robust local salt processing industry; rail and other transportation options; and — early on, at least — productive pickle farms. In 1903, the Chicago Tribune reported that there were “12,000 bushels of onions and cucumbers picked and sacked in a day” during the busy season on North Side farms that stretched from Bowmanville (around Foster and Western) to Evanston. Lyman Budlong became an industry leader shortly after he arrived in Chicago. In 1859 he established a pickling business near Foster and Lincoln avenues in the middle of his Budlong Pickle Farm, which, by some accounts, stretched across 700 acres. By the turn of the century, though, a pickle blight forced pickle-makers to import cukes from outlying farms. Still, according to Eleanor Atkinson’s 1912 The Story of Chicago and National Development, Budlong’s farm kept growing other crops. “The farm is occupied profitably with raising every kind of garden truck [vegetable] which can be persuaded to grow, most of it going to city tables, but some shipped to distant points in the U.S. and Canada. This farm gives employment to about 2,000 hands in the busy season and affords healthful and remunerative employment to those who toil in the city during the winter and can get out to the pickle farm for air and ready money when the work is slack in town and the city is stifling with dust and heat in its crowded quarters.” But such a large farm couldn’t last forever in the expanding city. By the 1920’s the Budlong Farm had become a golf course and was later subdivided into a residential area called Budlong Woods. Squire Dingee also moved its operations out of Bowmanville to Lincoln Park and eventually merged with Beatrice Foods.

 The Budlongs 

photos - Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
Lyman Budlong [with the support of his wife] became an industry leader shortly after he arrived in Chicago. In 1859 he established a pickling business near Foster and Lincoln avenues which by some accounts, stretched across 700 acres. 
 photos - Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection







The farm's boundaries were Bryn Mawr Avenue on the north (5600 north); Foster Avenue on the south (5200 north); Western Avenue on the east (2400 west); and Kedzie to the west; (Budlong  Woods western boundary was changed a little to the east when the North Shore Channel was completed in 1910) - edited map below
(article continues)
Vegetables for any season: 
Chicago’s climate meets European Innovation

Even though Chicago had the fertile soil and infrastructure needed for farming, the city lacked year-round warmth. So local truck farmers (those who “trucked” produce to Chicago’s central markets) turned to greenhouses to supply lettuce, tomatoes, peas and other veggies in the off season. It was a popular European technology that could be fueled cheaply by Chicago’s abundant coal supply. “Illinois ranked first among other states in area covered by glasshouses. … A large percentage of these [were] in neighborhoods of Chicago, and several firms have each over a million square feet of glass,” Cathy Jean Maloney writes in her book Chicago Gardens.

In 1870 the John C. Moninger Company was founded in Chicago and would become one of the nation’s biggest greenhouse manufacturers. Immigrants from Luxembourg ran many of the greenhouses on Chicago’s far North Side and its northern suburbs.

Thousands of Luxembourgers settled around Ridge and Devon Avenues, where the ground was higher and good for planting outdoors as well. In the Encyclopedia of Chicago, author Kathleen Neils Conzen writes that there were “Perhaps a hundred greenhouse clusters stretched from Rogers Park northwest through West Ridge, Niles Center, and Des Plaines, most in Luxembourg hands by 1919 when their growers’ association numbered some 1,200 families.”

Jim Leider of Leider Horticulture is a third-generation Chicago grower. But he says his tropical plant business today is different from his Luxembourgish grandfather’s turn-of-the-century truck farm with a greenhouse in Rogers Park. “My grandfather tells a story that he had to get up early, early in the morning to take his produce down to South Water Market,” Leider says. “He’d load it up on the horse and buggy, sell it there, and come back home. He said that he was so tired by the time he was going back to Rogers Park that he would fall asleep, but the horse knew the way home.”

Chicago’s greenhouse culture wouldn’t last forever. Once refrigerated trains could efficiently import cheaper produce from across the country, there was less need to grow off-season produce locally. “Plus, the cost to heat them in the winter was getting prohibitive,” Leider says, “and rising real estate values in the city made it more attractive for people to just sell them.” 

Flowers: Infrastructure and technology allow Chicago to bloom

It may be hard to believe, but for several decades Chicago was the nation’s flower capital. One of the earliest citizens to grow commercial flowers, especially roses, was Dr. John A Kennicott. In 1837, he settled in what is now the village of Glenview — specifically a National Historic Landmark called The Grove. In 1881 his descendants built a wholesale business that served flower farms across the city and suburbs. Great-great-grandson Harrison “Red” Kennicott says Chicago was the nation’s floral capital for some familiar reasons. “For one, Chicago was a railroad hub and that was the main means of getting flowers to other localities,” he says. “There was also a very inexpensive local source of coal to fuel the greenhouses. And there was also a plentiful supply of labor to work in the greenhouses.”

Like a lot of Chicago’s flower growers, Joseph Budlong (the brother of pickle-maker Lyman Budlong) started his Bowmanville greenhouses to grow vegetables, but when their profitability declined, he transitioned to flowers exclusively by 1880 with the Budlong Nursery around Lincoln and Foster Avenues. A 1907 description in American Florist magazine estimated that the Budlong Nursery housed 30,000 grafted rose plants (mostly American Beauty and Richmond) in its dozens of glass houses.

In the early part of the 20th century flower greenhouses covered swaths of the North Side and northern suburbs. And there, Kennicott says, growers produced hundreds of thousands of roses and carnations that would find their way to tables, weddings and graves all over the country. But by the 1950’s, affordable and reliable air shipping shifted the center of flower production to California and later South America. Block says remnants of Chicago’s greenhouse past linger in legacy flower centers along the Chicago border; they include Clesen Wholesale in Evanston and Urhausen Greenhouses in the village of Lincolnwood. Perhaps the oldest legacy of Chicago’s floral past can be seen in the annual Chicago Flower and Garden show, which started in 1847 as the Chicago Horticultural Society’s “Exhibition of Fruits and Flowers.” 

Fields of produce: Dutch and German truck farms feed the masses

In the mid 1800’s, rural immigrant farmers from Holland, Germany, Sweden, and Luxembourg flocked to areas just outside the city limits to establish truck farms. Geographer Daniel Block notes that a legacy of this Dutch farming hung around the Chicago area well into the 21st century; the DeJong Brothers spinach farm in Lansing didn’t close until 2015.

Another legacy of Chicago truck farming remains on the North Side to this day. The Meinke Garden Center stands where Henry Meinke’s grandfather started a farm on Chicago’s border with Niles on Touhy Avenue in the 1870’s. “Back when I was a boy, we grew beets, carrots, onions, and tomatoes, and took them down to the South Water Market,” says the 91-year-old third-generation farmer. “Later, we started a farm stand on the property here in 1929.” Before World War II, Meinke says, “this whole area was German and Luxembourger farmers,” and they were growing for a clientele with largely European roots. But today, Meinke says, his family’s garden center caters to a new wave of Chicago immigrants.

“We sell a lot of hot peppers and bitter melon plants because we have a diverse group of customers these days,” he says. “One new plant we are raising this year is a moringa tree. It’s native to India, grows quite rapidly, and is supposed to be very nutritious. … You see, people, they like to have the plants that they are used to from their home country.”

The Community of Bowmanville was once part of
 Jefferson Township that bordered with Lake View Township 
- Western Avenue was that border
photo - Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
Map of the Chicago Area in 1887
The southern border with Lake View was Fullerton Avenue
and Western Avenue separated Jefferson Township from Lake View
by A.T. Andreas 
Mr. Andreas wrote a book on Cook County
 of which Lake View Township is mentioned
pages 708-744
The First Township Election was held in 1857
The Greenhouses of Old Lake View:
The Fuch Greenhouses
image - Find a Grave

1904 ad from Florists' Review, Volume 13

By the turn of the 20th century Albert Fuch changed his business  from floral to real estate owning buildings along Halsted, Grace streets and Sheridan Road according to his 1927 article below.

The Wittbold & Company
image - Find a Grave
text - Tales of a Traveler 1916
George Wittbold was a florist, who resided at No. 1708 North Halsted Street [pre-1909 address], has been engaged in his present business since 1862, and has been a resident of the city of Chicago since 1857. He was born on the 25th of April, 1833, in the city of Hanover, Germany, and is the son of Frederick and Elizabeth Wittbold.
Frederick Wittbold was a florist, and after receiving his education in the schools of his native city, George Wittbold learned the details of his father's occupation. The former was very successful in this line of work, which he followed all his life. George Wittbold spent five years in the king's garden and there learned many valuable points in his trade. In 1857 he set sail for the United States from Bremen, in a steamship, and landed in New York. He came direct to Chicago, and upon arriving here, found employment with Ebenezer Peck, taking charge of his greenhouses for three years, and then spent two years in the service of L. B. McCaig.
In 1862 Mr. Wittbold established himself in business on the corner of North Avenue and North Clark Street, where he continued to prosper for many years. In 1867 he bought four acres of land on North Halsted Street, where he is now situated. Two years later he improved this land and built two small greenhouses, where he cultivated flowers for the city market.
Mr. Wittbold has confined his attention to palms and ferns for the past ten years, cultivating such varieties as can be successfully grown indoors, and in winter he has a large decorating trade. His plants are sent to most of the different states of this country, and to Canada. About two acres of his land are covered with glass, and he steadily employs a force of sixteen men. He has a salesroom at No. 512 North Clark Street, where he carries on a good retail trade, which has been established fifteen years. His is the oldest establishment of its kind in the city. Mr. Wittbold has always shown himself prudent and industrious, and has attended carefully to the details of his business, thus having little time for public affairs.
He was married in 1861 to Miss Emma Fricke, a native of Germany, who came to the United States when a child. She is a daughter of Henry C. Fricke, a sketch of whose life appears in these pages. Mr. and Mrs. Wittbold were the parents of eight children, namely: Henry, Fred, Gustav, Louis, Otto, Mary, Sophia and Helen. Four children died in infancy. Mr. Wittbold and his family are faithful members of the Lutheran Church
 1894 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of the location
via Edgewater Historical Society
called Bruno's Celery Garden
by Carl Helbig
"Did you know that Edgewater was once known for its celery farms?
My family never owned one, but we certainly were in the celery-growing business. Mr. Miller lived across the alley from us on Hermitage [Avenue]. He was a retired farmer, but there was nothing to indicate “farmer” in his dress. He always wore a vest and tie. My father, Bruno Helbig, was a bricklayer, but he dressed like a farmer. Some mornings, Mr. Miller would walk through our yard and stop to talk with Bruno in his high, squeaky voice. I don’t know how much my father knew about growing celery before talking to Mr. Miller but, once he got interested, we sure grew a lot of it.
Our backyard was exceptionally large since Clark Street ran on an angle and the Northwestern Railroad ran straight, north and south 
[can not confirm the location] There wasn’t room enough for another street so we got a large lot. The soil was black and sandy - ideal for growing celery. But you didn’t just plunk seeds in the garden and expect celery to grow. The plants had to be started in hotbeds to make their growing season long enough. The hotbeds had to be ready for seeding by March 15th of each year. Our four hotbeds were patches of earth covered by bottomless, boxlike structures we constructed with planks and topped with special glass windows with cedar frames. The planks were low in the front and higher in the back so that the hotbeds would be slanted toward the sun.
The ground under the boxes was dug out to make room for a layer of horse manure, then soil was relayered over that. As the manure fermented it got hot. The boxes trapped this heat as well as the heat from the sun, making the hotbeds warm enough to merit their name. There were a couple of stables within wheelbarrow distance, one at Ridge and Ravenswood and the other at Consumer’s Ice Plant, which supplied our needs very well. Besides celery, we seeded tomatoes, lettuce, endive, cabbage, kohlrabi and radishes. The garden provided needed food for our table and my father sold the tomato plants for 25 cents a dozen. Those were Depression times and my father couldn’t find a job at his trade, so the tomato money was welcome. My mother even raised his beer money allotment. But celery was always king of the crops.
The celery plants were very fine when they first came up, but later they needed more room to grow in the hotbeds. Except for the tomatoes, the other plants had either been harvested or relocated elsewhere in the garden by the time this was necessary. Thinning out, or transplanting, was a back-breaking job, especially in hotbeds since you couldn’t get at the plants without reaching down into the boxes. Meanwhile, the area of the garden where the celery was to be planted next was being prepared with our own compost or more horse manure. One year, when I was a milkman driving a horse and wagon, my father talked me into bringing some horse manure home from work in my ‘62 Plymouth convertible. I took the cushions out of the rumble seat and filled it with manure. I never could get it all out of the car. Trying to wash it out with a hose only drove it further into the crevices. From then on my car smelled like a stable.
Transplanting the celery from hotbed to garden was another monotonous job. A couple of weeks before Halloween, we would dig a trench a foot deep, dig up the celery, now 4 to 5 inches tall, pull off any yellow stalks and replant it in the trench, real close together. We did the same with our endive, though the trench was not as deep, and covered up both crops with burlap bags and leaves to prevent freezing. After a couple of weeks, the celery and endive would bleach and turn yellow. The celery would be real tender and the endive would no longer be bitter.
My father was very proud of the fact that we had vegetables out of the garden at our Christmas table. We had celery on the table at every evening meal and celery in the stuffing of our Christmas bird. 
When I married Lorraine and brought her to my home, my father, who lived on the second floor, finally gave up on trying to make me a gardener and taught my wife what he knew about the subject. At last a reprieve! I was called upon to help, however. One year my wife decided we should gather the dead alewife fish that Lake Michigan washed ashore on the beach and use them for fertilizer. We had to spread mothballs all over the yard to keep the neighborhood cats from digging up our garden. Everything grew very well - the tomatoes, corn, even the carrots. But you couldn’t eat them; they tasted like rotten fish! Despite the “fishy” story, my father taught my wife well. She continues to garden, although in a space one quarter the size of my father’s garden. Our garden does not have even one hotbed. We do not plant celery! I venture to say that my father was the last one to grow celery in that large a volume."
Other Accounts of Old Lake View Area
 Being a General Survey of Cook

Books of Interest:
The Lake View Saga 1837-1974
1st edition
 part of my personal collection
selections for the book below
The Journey West:
Early Chicago:
 The Lake View's Pioneer:
The Lake View Saga 1837-1985
2nd edition
 part of my personal collection
selections for the book
Dr. Conrad Sulzer
photo - Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
and later that same year the City of Lake View
The first of many cemeteries established 
in the Township of Lake View
photo - Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
This cemetery was established after the closure of Chicago Cemetery once located in Lincoln Park, the park
 part of my personal collection 
selections from this book
The Ekstrom & Walden's Bakery
photo - Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
Once located at 3709 North Clark Street, near Waveland Avenue with an interior view of bakery owned by Swan G. Ekstrom of 3233 North Halsted Street and Karl Walden. Here we see six men pose in the bakery workroom. Sign on window reads "Ekstrom & Walden Swedish Health Bread."  A 1914 calendar hangs on the wall. 
part of my personal collection
selection from this book
A photo book of personal experiences ...
One of Several Immigrants Groups of Lake View
image - Discover Nisei

The commercial district of Lake View 
at the intersection of Belmont-Lincoln-Ashland in 1917
photo - Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection

photo - Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
a German-American gathering place on Paulina Avenue
part of my personal collection
This is part of a continuous series of books by this author
I am mentioned in the acknowledgments! - ya me
1960 photo - Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
1899 photo - Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
When this segment of original roadway along the shore was renamed Sheridan Road/by Grace Street




"I lived in the neighborhood (Patterson Avenue) from 1945-1955, and then my family moved to a house in suburbia. It was a wonderful neighborhood to grow up in at that time. Everyone knew their neighbors and everyone was friendly. There were all kinds of grocery shopping on Broadway -- everything you could imagine; a butcher shop, a fresh fish store, grocery stores, a huge Woolworths at Irving Park and Broadway... Read more from the title link above
A Review in 1986
A Contribution 
to the Community in 2018
a collaboration 
This story is about a small triangluar garden space called Sheridan Triangle Garden located at inner Lake Shore and Sheridan Road. I drafted a short tale about the garden spaces history - its link to the Hotel Lake View, the namesake of the township (1857-87) and city (1887-89). The story was published by a local historical association called the Ravenswood-Lake View Historical Association and then a local newspaper called Skyline (p.11)
Below is a cut/paste version from their newspaper







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