Sunday, March 11, 2012

Western Avenue Series

Mile 19: Diversey-Addison
This sketch is a part of my Western Avenue Series, through which I'll be making 24 watercolor paintings, one to document each mile of Western Avenue, in Chicago.  I started this project because while it is not considered to be among the most “beautiful” of Chicago’s streets, Western Avenue is a perfect place to document the humanness of Chicago, the positive and the negative. In the words of Stuart Dybek, "Western, with apologies to State Street, is a great street,  Unlike State, it is a street that goes to the interior, the heart of the city, as it glides and glows through a United Nations of neighborhoods."  Check back next Monday to see the painting completed based on this sketch.
This stretch of Western is a bit unusual because where the Avenue crosses the North Branch of the Chicago river. there is a bridge and a long stretch of overpass.  The overpass creates two levels of street, cars whiz along the upper section, while the lower section is a dark forest of concrete columns with small structures lining the street. 
The Riverview Amusement park, which opening in 1904 and operated for more than six decades, was once located along this section of Western.  Riverview was the last of big amusement parks that once dotted Chicago.  At its close it had 120 ride, including six rollercoasters, a parachute jumps and rockets.
Just north of where Riverview once stood, is Lane Tech High School, which began in 1905 as the Thomas Hoyne Manual Training High School.  Today it is one of Chicago's public college prep high schools and home to eleven beautiful WPA murals.
Have you seen the beautiful Lane Tech murals?
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