Do you have nicknames for the buildings in your neighborhood? Many Chicago apartment buildings have formal names, and some have nicknames that enjoy broad usage. (“The Toaster” in Hyde Park, an early, ugly, I.M. Pei design, formally known as University Park Condominium, is one instance.)
Other nicknames are probably more obscure. I’ve heard this formidable-looking co-op building at 399 Fullerton referred to as “Stalag 399” because it’s notoriously hard to get into. (Legend has it you need something like 22 personal references to be approved.) And this classic building at 2130 Lincoln Park West has been dubbed “the Statue of Liberty building” because of the iron diadem above its door.
As for the modern building above, it’s referred to in our house as the “Pagoda building” because its cantilevered slabs bring that ancient building tradition to mind.
The Pagoda building (at 320 West Oakdale) was the first all air-conditioned apartment building in Chicago when erected in 1954. It was originally intended to be cylindrical, and its wrap-around floor-to-ceiling windows were excitingly innovative. Its architect: the 29-year-old Milton Schwartz, who eventually took up residence in its penthouse.
The nifty sales brochure originally drawn up to advertise the building has thoughtfully been made available here. Featuring Jetson-era line-drawings, it exudes the spirit of those mid-modern times.