Sticking Around

Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood gains landmark status

City Terrain Midwest Preservation
Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood gains landmark status. (Chicago Crime Scenes/Flickr)
Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood gains landmark status. (Chicago Crime Scenes/Flickr)

The Chicago City Council has voted to bestow landmark status on the Uptown Square District on the city’s north side. The designation protects 42 historically significant structures including some of Chicago’s most notable theaters.

“Characterized by highly stylized, mixed-use buildings and performance spaces, the area is considered one of the best-surviving commercial and entertainment districts developed in Chicago in the early part of the 20th century, according to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, which recommended the designation in October,” noted the City Council in a press release.

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The historic Uptown Theater is one of the largest movie palaces in the United States. (Courtesy IvoShandor/Wikimedia Commons)

The area is filled with structures clad with intricately detailed terra-cotta facades. A wide range of styles is represented in the area including Art Deco, Venetian Gothic and Spanish Baroque Revival. The work of important Chicago architects such as Marshall and Fox, Rapp and Rapp, John Eberson, J.E.O. Pridemore, Walter Ahlschlager, and Huszagh and Hill are also represented in the district.

The district is home to the Riviera Theater, the Aragon Ballroom, and the famed Green Mill jazz club. There are also individually landmarked buildings including the Uptown Theater, former Sheridan Trust and Savings Bank, and the Mutual Insurance Building.

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Uptown is famous for its connections to Al Capone. The Green Mill was notably one of the gangster’s favorite haunts. (Courtesy Viewminder/Flickr)

The district is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, which makes available Federal Historic Tax Credits, but does not protect the buildings from demolition or alteration. Landmark Illinois, a preservation advocacy group, has been working to get the Uptown district for the past 15 years. The designation from the city provides protection through the building permit process. Any work involving designated properties must be approved by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Along with reviewing permit applications, the Commission works with applicants in providing guidance on preserving significant historical or architectural features.

The year also saw Row Houses in Lincoln Park, the Plymouth Building in the South Loop, and the Bertrand Goldberg-designed Marina City, among others, given status as historic landmarks.

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