Lost Houses of Lyndale
About - Exhibit - Stories - Index

Lost Houses of Lyndale is a project to memorialize dozens of homes which have been recently demolished due to rapid gentrification and redevelopment of one street in the Logan Square neighborhood.

Like many residential streets in Chicago, the two long blocks of Lyndale between California Avenue and Kedzie Boulevard are lined with a mix of ordinary frame houses and apartments. Few of the buildings could be considered architecturally significant or worthy of historic preservation; no famous Chicagoans once lived here. The history of the street since the 1880s is little recorded except in the built environment of its humble houses, which represent the hard-won rewards of home-ownership for generations of working-class immigrants who passed their property on to their children or sold to the next wave of immigrants to arrive.

Now, many families are selling their houses to developers. Construction crews topple the old houses in a day, scrape the ground clean and erect cinder-block condominium towers which relate little to the story of the street. To a passerby, these boxy dwellings quickly become the new familiar backdrop and there are few visible remnants of the history of the previous houses and residents of this place. Though I have lived on the street for over a decade, I too am forgetting my memories of the recently-demolished houses which had once been such familiar neighbors.

3036 Demolition

Lost Houses of Lyndale is a two-fold project to create portraits of these missing houses in careful pen-and-ink drawings and to discover and document stories of the families and individuals who lived their lives in these homes over the past 130 years. Through archival research of property records and census data as well as oral histories of older neighbors, the project is an ongoing attempt to record and re-tell local street history in the face of the discontinuity of city-wide redevelopment. The house portraits are framed in scraps of wood scavenged from the demolished buildings as a physical memory of the buildings, and miniature wooden models of the houses contain relics, toys, and photos left behind by former residents.

3036 Framed

These two blocks of Lyndale Street have lost twenty-nine homes just since 2015. In the previous decade, eight houses were lost to development and one due to fire damage. Not since the 1920s has the street seen such a dramatic change in its architecture and character.

2800 Lyndale 2810 Lyndale 2828 Lyndale 2861 Lyndale 2869 Lyndale 2903 Lyndale 2910 Lyndale 2914 Lyndale 2954 Lyndale 2955 Lyndale 2950 Lyndale 2821 Lyndale 2834 Lyndale 2946 Lyndale 2818 Lyndale 2900 Lyndale 2820 Lyndale 2855 Lyndale 2941 Lyndale 2931 Lyndale 2866 Lyndale 2912 Lyndale 2300 Milwaukee 2232 California 2234 California 2230 California 2836 Lyndale 2863 Lyndale

3000 Block 3021 Lyndale 3048 Lyndale 3137 Lyndale 3050 Lyndale 3145 Lyndale 3117 Manhole 3101 Lyndale Henrietta Bldg 3036 Lyndale 3037 Lyndale 3049 Lyndale 3109 Lyndale 3129 Lyndale 3032 Lyndale 3026 Lyndale 3100 Lyndale

Lyndale Fragments 2

Read more stories about the history of Lyndale Street