Vanishing Pond at Argonne

Article by JK

Where do you tell 500,000 gallons of water to move at one time? Anywhere
it wants to! An ill-fated joke for the boundless water but, no less, an interesting one as we move closer to the 30th Anniversary of the ‘Vanishing Pond‘ phenomenon that took place on the grounds of Argonne National Laboratory near Lemont, IL in March, 1982.

Adding to the intrigue is possibly the ‘where’ it happened. Argonne Labs is a highly secured area that employs hundreds of skilled scientists, engineers, and expert geologists who have researched several hypotheses for the sudden pond disappearance. Most have centered around shifts and slight vertical fissures in the pleistocene alluvials that migrate to the Des Plaines River Valley.
Somebody lend me a pocket protector!

Argonne Pond Site

Hmmm, interesting indeed. But I prefer the sexier, and quickly discounted
theory by Argonne, of a rare celestial event that occurred the preceding day-
-the unusual alignment of planets in our solar system. Now some blogheads
have suggested that the term “alignment” is not entirely accurate, but more of
a state if “Syzygy” occurred. This is when all 9 planets come within 91 degrees
of alignment on the same side of the sun; a very rare event indeed.

To put it in perspective, the event still only happens once in the history of humankind. Because some argue that all 9 planets will never statistically align on the same plane, March 10th 1982 is the closest we ever came. Now I may stop short of donning an aluminum-foiled pyramid hat when similar events occur, but the unexplained pull of the celestial heavens leave far too many questions than answers. In my opinion that water never stood a chance.

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Special thanks to JK’s father!

Food of the Gods


In this short, JK talks with Peter Poulos about the ingredients that are purchased by Margie’s Candies. Blommer Alpine dark chocolate figures prominently in the equation, as well as dried fruits from around the world. Apricots from Australia, pineapple from Hawaii and oranges from Spain.

Small Assorted Fruit
A small tray of assorted fruits from Margie’s Candies

Hand-Dipped Cherries


With just a couple weeks to go until Valentine’s Day, it’s go time over at Margie’s Candies! In this video JK talks to Maria about hand-dipping cherries. Margie’s owner Peter Poulos mentioned that his philosophy is “pile it high and let ’em fly“… Look around, you’ll see that he’s not kidding.
Margie's Inventory

Maryville Googie

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The East Wing of Maryville Columbus is an elegant building at the Northeast corner of Montrose and Clarendon. The gradually curving curtain wall is secured with aluminum casements containing tongue-in-groove glass windows and opaque plastic panels at the floorline. There’s a highly Googie-esque roofline feature that makes the eaves look almost like a painter’s palette when viewed from Montrose Street.

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The North and South walls of the building are covered with two foot limestone blocks. The inscription on a short span of West wall indicates that the building was erected in 1957. The architect, Edo J. Belli has a style that has been characterized as “Catholic ecclesiastical”, which was highly appropriate for this structure, as it origially served as Cuneo Hospital, a Catholic hostpital for women and children. He also designed St. Patrick’s High School at 5900 West Belmont, and the St. Joseph’s Hospital at 2900 N. Lake Shore.

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Maryville – Columbus served as a hospital and shelter for runaways until 2006 when it was closed because of budget shortfalls and sold by the Catholic church. The East building shows very little wear, with the exception of a few missing windows, it appears to have weathered the past few years rather well.

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The windows on the first and second floors of the East building have been covered with boards. Because of Uptown’s homeless population, the interior areas along Clarendon have been fenced off, as they have become a popular place to sleep.

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The West building of Maryville – Columbus is a much more angular, high-concept building of the 70’s. It has precious few windows and highly-abrasive outer walls, as they are covered with gravel, which is not holding up very well. It is falling off in places.

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One portion of the building appears to have been influenced by a flying saucer.

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The wall along the entry to the subterranean garage was tagged.

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The buildings are in a strange kind of limbo at the moment. Recently alderman James Cappleman hosted a vote for the local citizenry to decide if a developer could zone this land for four apartment towers and the proposal was rejected. You can keep up with the status of this building by reading the Uptown Update, or following them on Facebook.

Skyway Quaker Parrots

In this video JK takes to the streets of Southeast Chicago and discovers that there is a species of tropical parrot nesting in the high structural beams of the Chicago Skyway.

Have you ever sighted one of these wild parrots in Chicago?

About five years ago, I was jogging along the Chicago lakefront. Somewhere near Soldier Field I saw a brilliant flash of green in the corner of my eye. I looked over and saw a parrot landing on a bush about thirty feet away. As I got closer to the bush I counted eight parrots. What makes this more unbelievable is that this was in the month of January and there was snow everywhere!
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Playboy Club – On Location

There is a new series about the early days of the Playboy Club in Chicago. I was walking through the Gold Coast yesterday, and I noticed that all the cars parked for a couple blocks along Goethe Street seemed to be of the serious classic variety. There were also extras walking up and down the sidewalk in early 60’s clothing. A striking condo building designed by Bertrand Goldberg, the Astor Tower seems to be the backdrop for a fictitious place called “Cafe Bergthold’s“. There were vintage tables and Bertoia side chairs lining the parkway. Wait, I’m noticing a pattern here!

Classis car at Bergthold's

Thunderbird on Goethe

Red Nash on Playboy location

Old Yellow and Checker Cabs

Red Chevrolet on Goethe

Goethe Street in 1963

Edgewater Beach Apartments

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Designed by architects Marshall and Fox, the Edgewater Beach Apartments were completed in 1928. Seen from above, you’ll note the building’s distinct core form, known as a cross moline, or croix fourche which means “forked cross” in the English language:

Among the more interesting facts about the apartments, I came up with curious murder case of the late Dr. Silber C. Peacock, a reputable Chicago pediatrician and resident of the Edgewater Beach Apartments, who was murdered after responding to a phony house call. You can read some of the legal correspondence in Reck v. People of the State of Illinois“.

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Edgewater Beach Apartments from Jay Hagstrom on Vimeo.

Preliminary animation for a film short about the Edgewater Beach complex. So far, I’m just messing around with 3D layers in Adobe After Effects. Eventually I hope to have an entire series of architecture animation features, with narrations.

During it’s heyday, the Edgewater Beach Hotel and Apartments exclusive clientele demanded the services of a seaplane. No need to commute to the airport when a plane awaits at the end of a dock.

An interesting current day fact about the Edgewater Beach Apartments building; It houses a restaurant called the Edgewater Beach Cafe that doesn’t look bad, if you believe the user reviews written in Citysearch. Apparently they have an excellent roast duck in apple brandy sauce.

Where is Bob Newhart’s Condo?

I’m sorry to admit that I have played Hi Bob on several occasions. I’m talking about the drinking game where everyone in the room takes a drink whenever a character on the Bob Newhart show says Hi Bob… I don’t play drinking games too often, instead I run along the lakefront path. I was always of the notion that it was the brown brick highrise building closest to Hollywood. Recently I asked an Edgewater area resident to tell me which building was indeed Bob’s. He claimed that it was a building on the 6000 block called “The Malibu”… After consulting Wikipedia on the subject, it turns out we were both wrong.

The actual Bob Newhart building is called “The Thorndale”, and it is at 5901 North Sheridan. The entire area is brimming with mid-century highrise buildings. If you walk up to Bob’s building from the beach, you can actually convince yourself that you are in San Diego, unless less it is autumn or winter, which makes self-deception more difficult to achieve.
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It’s not the one in front, it’s the less tall building just beyond it.
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The Thorndale Beach Condos. The unit above Bob was recently on the market.
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Balconies in Chicago: Extremely useful for three months of the year!
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Bob smacks this sign with his hand on his way to work.

1921 Chicago Elevated Map

1921 Elevated
Download this map of the Chicago L from 1921

Kiddieland

Kiddieland, a family-run amusement park on Chicago’s West Side, closed it gates for the last time on September 27th, 2009. After opening in 1929, it operated for a total of 81 years. The last of Chicagoland’s permanent small box amusement parks. It will be greatly missed. The parents of one of my friends rode the Polyp on their first date. The Polyp, for those of you who have never been to Kiddieland, is a green octopus type ride, with faces painted on the front of each car. If you have an interesting story, please leave a comment.

Chicago Fact: giant hot dog statues on rooftops sell a lot of frankfurters
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Not the world’s largest roller coaster, in some ways more scary
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Make a b-line for the rocket. No one wants the bikes.
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A Moser Rides drop tower
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Oh, the swings! Such joy!
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The elation of a bumper car collision
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Who dares to ride the Polyp?
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Get more vertical, on the Saucers:
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Stroller jam in the concession area:
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The thrill of cotton candy, the agony of defeat:
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All the way up the cargo nets:
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…and back down the shoot to ground level:
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Special thanks to my niece Piper, and to Tony’s nieces too…

Weathered Signs

Weathered Signs

Chicago has some of the best examples of hand-painted signage in the world! Many of these signs are very old and barely discernible, but that’s what makes them even more appealing. You’re like an urban archeologist when you gaze upwards and spot an old sign you’ve never seen before. There seems to be interest in making newer murals look older, using sandblasting and faux-finish techniques:

Most of the murals featured here will be naturally deteriorated. In some cases I’ve photographed murals that have been freshly painted over. Even with nothing there, you still look! Something about the muted coloration of an old mural, juxtaposed against the texture of the firebrick makes your eyes want to scan. Even in the absence of an advertisement, one’s eyes are intrigued by the texture of white-washed firebrick:

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