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A Courtyard Alley in Chicago’s Loop

In the hunt for more unknown spots in Chicago; one such place covered during my “Secret Streets” presentation during Great Chicago Places and Spaces this year was 22 East Jackson Boulevard.  At one time, it was better known as “Pickwick Place”.

Historical View, Pickwick Place (image from Dennis McClendon)
Historical View, Pickwick Place (image from Dennis McClendon)

While seemingly a public right-of-way, Pickwick Place dead ended just north of Jackson, flanked by substantial buildings on either side.  The building on the eastern side currently has a dazzling array of fire escapes hanging over Pickwick Place, reinforcing the theory that this was a public street of some sort.

The commercial concern on Pickwick Place was Ebson’s English Chop House – a restaurant.  There were a couple floors above the main door.

22 E. Jackson Boulevard, as current
22 E. Jackson Boulevard, as current

The site sits forlorn, waiting for a new owner.  While many things could be developed within the existing building, it’s doubtful if this could be combined with any adjacent properties.  The prospect of buying a tiny, three storey building in the middle of one of the world’s best financial districts without any enhanced development prospects appear dismal. 

We are quick to look at post war development and wonder why this exact model isn’t happening anymore.  The spirit of postwar development was that it was based on future potentials and prospects, not on cramming everything into a zoning envelope that has been maximized and then some, just to seek immediate returns. 

Posted in Architecture, History, Real Estate Development, Urban Planning.