The Largest Advertisement for Edgewater - Ever

Vol. XXIV No. 2 - SUMMER 2013

By: By LeRoy Blommaert

We have known for a long time that John L. Cochran aggressively and creatively marketed his Edgewater subdivisions. The classified and display ads in the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers provide ample evidence of that; they also testify to his skill as a wordsmith.

What we did not know until recently was that he did not limit his advertising to newspaper ads or brochures. He used buildings as well – downtown buildings (or at least one!) Examine closely this view looking north on Clark Street from just north of Washington St. The predecessor to the current County Building is on the left. In the upper right corner is an advertisement on the side of a building with “Edgew” in Cochran’s familiar script. The close-up in figure 2 gives more detail. It shows the top line as “—The Ideal Lake…; followed on the second by “EDGEW” in large letters, followed on the third by “Located on…”, the fourth by “7 miles north…”, and the fifth by “Lots $5…” On the left is a scene of a house or perhaps the Guild Hall. And “no”, the lots were not $5.00 but more likely $500.00. The other lines probably read in full: “The Ideal Lake Location: EDGEWATER, Located on the Sheridan Drive, 7 miles north of City Hall, Lots $500- $700.” See Figure 3 for a reconstruction of what the sign probably read in full.

Unfortunately for us now (and for Cochran then), the lower part of the advertisement is blocked by the construction of a new building next door to the south. In a few months from the date the photograph was taken, the whole advertisement would become blocked by the new building.

The photograph bears a date of 1889 on the reverse, but this is in error, as the photograph shows what appears to be the Clark-Lake “L” station in the background and this leg of the Loop “L” was not completed until 1895.