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Showing posts from January, 2013

Iron Fire Escapes

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Something that I haven’t noticed in Lviv and Europe in general is iron fire escapes on the sides of buildings. I read that the reason such fire escapes are a rarity in Europe is because European cities have a long history of fire prevention and safety and were always ahead of America in their immunity against fire, and thus these fire escapes were not necessary. For example, starting in the thirteenth century, only stone and brick, as opposed to wood, structures were allowed in the inner cities, while even in later centuries wood remained a common building material in American cities.

The first external iron fire escape I took note of was in my suburb because the manufacturer’s stamp on the counterweight caught my eye. Then I started noticing them all over Chicago. Many of them have a circular or octagonal decorative counterweight stamped with the manufacturer’s name, while some don’t have any inscriptions at all.


The majority of these cast or wrought iron fire escapes would have been…

Hitching Posts in Chicago Suburbs

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I’ve come across three old hitching posts in two northern suburbs of Chicago. I assume they have been in the same locations near the curbs since the time horses were still used as modes of transport here. I also assume there used to be many more of these around. I’m glad to see that a few have remained.



Guard Stones in Winnetka

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Winnetka has a few guard stones that used to protect the sides and corners of walls from carriages.





Coal Chute in Winnetka, IL

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In downtown Winnetka, I found a well-preserved coal chute – the building and chute date to the early 20th century, probably between 1900 and 1930.


This is an excerpt I found about the chutes manufactured by the Majestic Company: “The Majestic Coal Chutes are made of carefully selected materials. In form they are fitted for the unloading of coal. Fuel can be thrown into the building through these chutes without any damage resulting to the building. When the door of the Majestic Chute is opened it affords an ideal opening for the admittance of fuel into a building. These chutes can be unlocked from the inside. They are locked automatically with the Majestic Gravity Latch,” from the journal The American Artisan and Hardware Record: 1920, Volume 79.
The company was founded in 1907 in Huntington, Indiana, and in 1957 it started to phase out coal chutes, as other sources of energy were becoming more common.

Mailbox with Speaking Tubes

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I saw this antique brass three-unit mailbox with old-fashioned speaking tubes and doorbells in an apartment building that was built in 1904 in the Ukrainian Village in Chicago. I'm guessing it was installed either when the building was built or no later than the 1920s. Currently there is a modern six-unit mailbox (now it is a six-unit apartment building, before I guess it was only three) mounted in a different place, and modern doorbells at each door.

Ghost Signs in Chicago

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Chicago has its share of ghost signs. Here a few from a couple neighborhoods on the north side of the city.

The first one is an old ad for the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, which was based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Schlitz brewery was opened in 1858 and in 1902 it was the largest producer of beer in the world and in 1934 it again became the world’s top-selling brewery. In 1982 the company was bought by Stroh Brewery Company and in 1999 sold to the Pabst Brewing Company.








This last one is interesting because half of its outside and half is inside - note the glass door that splits it in two.

Ghost Signs in Baraboo, Wisconsin

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Baraboo, Wisconsin, was the headquarters and winter home of the famous Ringling Brothers circus.

The Ringling Brothers held their first circus in 1884. In 1919 they merged with the Barnum & Bailey Circus and moved their winter headquarters to Connecticut.
The old grounds and buildings are now a living museum and some of the original hand-painted signs are still visible. 



And here are a few ghost signs from downtown Baraboo.




Ghost Signs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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I took a day trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and found some pretty cool ghost signs in the Third Ward, a historic warehouse district.







Fake Ghost Sign in Boulder

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Last spring a few of my friends found this fake multilayered ghost sign in Boulder, Colorado. It's on the side of a bike shop. There seem to be three layers of signs, and even the bricks are fake - they are painted on. (Thank you Julie, Eric, and Andrew for the photo!)