In 2006, Lecturer Jim Peters and Landmarks Illinois noticed that buildings, signs, and monuments from our recent past (1935-1975) were disappearing from the landscape at an alarming rate, without any record of their existence. These resources, often thought to be too old to be fresh and too new to be historic, lacked a natural constituency and hence an advocate. Thus was the impetus for the launch of the “Suburban Cook County Survey”. With the help of the Jocarno Fund as our sponsor, by documenting these works of the built environment, we preserve their memory and hopefully build an appreciation for our recent heritage.
Through the diligent work of the SAIC students of the Historic Preservation Program under the direction of Jim Peters, Eiliesh Tuffy and Charlie Pipal, to date over 4,100 commercial, religious, industrial and institutional buildings, monuments and public infrastructure works of Mid-century merit have been documented in 53 municipalities. One of our crews, while surveying West Suburban Cicero, got a ride-along with WBEZ producer Lynnete Kalsnes.
This year, the students are focusing on the south suburban communities of Calumet Park, Riverdale, Dixmoor, Country Club Hills, Phoenix, Hazel Crest and East Hazel Crest. Prior to the start of their survey work, students study survey methodology and hone their descriptive writing and photography skills. We even spend a session learning maps with cartographer Dennis McClendon. This year, the students will also benefit from GIS training at UIC’s Urban Data Visualization Lab. By documenting these significant resources, our students are putting their new skills to practice and building an advocacy for these fabulous resources. Some of the best photos have been selected by Landmarks Illinois and are featured here.