Revisiting Roe's Hill and Our Shoreline

Vol. VIII No. 1 - SUMMER 1997

By: David L Schein,

14 February 1996: 2º C;

Dear Editor:

It is good to be back as a member of EHS. I dropped my membership a couple of years ago, actually quite by accident. I will try to be better at renewing.

I wish to comment on the article Roe’s Hill Revisited in the Spring/Summer 1995 Edgewater Scrapbook.

I enjoyed the story but, as a geographer, feel compelled to correct the misconception that Rosehill Cemetery occupies “…the highest elevation in the city and the second highest in all of Cook County” - Not even close.

According to the current editions of the U.S. Geological Survey’s topographic maps of this area, the highest elevation in Rosehill Cemetery is approximately 625 feet above sea level (Lake Michigan today stands at approximately 579.5 feet ASL). The highest natural ground elevation in the city of Chicago is on O’Hare Airport, at 675 feet. Excluding O’Hare, the city’s highest elevation is found near 87th and Western (Dan Ryan Woods) and is approximately 665 feet. On the North Side, the highest elevations are in Norwood Park, at about 655 feet. The ground elevations in your neighborhood are about 585 feet.

The article’s reference to Cook County’s elevations is even more incorrect. The highest point in Cook County is along Algonquin Road in Barrington Hills, where elevations approach 910 feet. There are many areas in the far northwest suburbs of Cook County with elevations over 800 feet. In the southern suburbs, the highest elevations are found in Palos Park at about 775 feet. The greatest relief in the county also occurs in the Palos area, with valleys 175 feet below the uplands.

The article in the same edition on the changing beach levels also interested me, as I have also studied this subject (it is required study in local college geography and geology curricula). I lived at 6256 Winthrop from 1946 to 1957 and then moved one block east to 6315 Kenmore, where I lived until 1973.

I remember street-end beaches at Devon (learned to swim there; its sea-wall provided great views and access to Mundelein and Loyola U and we successfully fought Mundelein’s illegal blocking of the beach in the early 1960s, only to lose to the city’s filling in of the beach about 1980); Rosemont (a great beach but sheetpiling was driven into the waterline in the mid 1950s, blocking access); Granville, tiny and rocky; Glenlake, not much and dangerous because of rocks; Thorndale, also rocky; “Little Ardmore” between highrises; and finally our beloved Ardmore-Hollywood beach, the Senn High retreat.

There were three boom eras of highrise building on north Sheridan Road. The first, a few years after the Second World War. I call these the “orange” buildings. They are pretty obvious. The second in the late 50s, which I call the “El Lago-Hollywood Towers” period. And the last, the “Malibu” period, in the mid to late 60s. Only a few were built in the 70s. With few exceptions, the big buildings built on the east side of Sheridan were built in what was lake Michigan at normal-to-high water levels, so how can we be surprised when the lake pays us a visit every few years?

Flood insurance is a good idea for some of these buildings and should be required by lenders for new loans there, even on the 30th floor, since the foundation holding up the 30th floor may be in the floodplain, as well as the common elements, for which owners will be assessed if they get wet and the condo association does not have a master flood policy, which I bet you they do not.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment and I look forward to more articles on the geography of Edgewater.

Best regards,
David L Schein,
Swift ‘60, Senn ‘64