V28-3 The Edgewater Triangle Neighborhood

Vol. XXVIII No. 3 - SUMMER 2017

The name Edgewater Triangle is a modern one coined in the late 20th century to identify the area between Ridge on north, Bryn Mawr on the south Clark Street on the west – a triangle. Long before the area was subdivided, it was vacant land between two of the earliest roads, both Indian trails, Ridge Road and the Green Bay Road (now Clark Street). To the east was the Lake Shore Plank Road which was later called Evanston Avenue and is now called Broadway.

In 1842, Nicholas Kransz and his brothers became the owners of a farm that extended from the north side of Hollywood to Devon Avenue west of Glenwood. The Kransz homestead was built at the corner of Ridge and Clark in 1858. After his brothers left, Nicholas married and raised a family at this homestead while he continued to farm the sandy soil. The land sloped down from the ridge along Clark Street. He subdivided some of the farm – from the point along the south side of Ridge to the north side of Ardmore – in 1883.

In 1885, John Lewis Cochran came to the Chicago area from Philadelphia. After having successfully sold the land he had purchased along Oak Street, he began looking at the land along the lakeshore. He purchased the land from Foster Avenue (called 59th Street) to Bryn Mawr and named the area Edgewater. He began advertising the sale of 50 foot lots. He negotiated with the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad to stop at Bryn Mawr and built the train station and a community center which he called the Guild Hall.

At least two of the landowners in the area decided to capitalize on Cochran’s name, Edgewater. In 1888, Cairnduff announced his subdivision, calling it Cairnduff’s addition to Edgewater. This was on the north side of Ridge between Broadway and Wayne. J.L. Higgie announced the First Addition to Edgewater along the north side of Bryn Mawr between Glenwood and Clark. His plat design included two north-south streets called Myrtle and Pearl. But in 1889, this subdivision was vacated and the land sat idle until 1909, when it was platted as the Bryn Mawr Addition to Edgewater.

In 1890, Henry Kransz, the son of Nicholas, decided to subdivide more of the farm south of Ridge, calling it the Clark Street Addition to Edgewater. It extended from the north side of Hollywood to Ardmore. The streets in the middle were Edgewater and Victor (now Victoria). At the same time, Robert Purvis announced his addition to Edgewater from the east side of Glenwood to the alley behind Wayne, and from Bryn Mawr to Hollywood.

Editors Note: Subsequent research has determined that the above is partially incorrect.  It was Adolph G. Wiese, and not Henry Kransz, who subdivided the land that he named the Clark Street Addition to Edgewater, and it extended from Hollywood north to Victoria, not Hollywood to Admore.

The remaining land in the triangle area was owned by Charles Staves, who began subdividing it in 1894. He owned the land where the Firehouse stands and all the land from the east edge of Purvis’s land to the point at Broadway. Between 1883 and 1909, virtually all the land in the Edgewater Triangle was subdivided and the lots were sold.

Though these developers capitalized on Cochran’s name and advertising, they did not offer the amenities such as electric power. The paving of the streets in brick came later, as did the sidewalks and planting of trees along the parkways. The James McManus family purchased a home on Ridge in 1905, the year daughter Dorothy was born. The family owned the Edgewater Grocery store on Bryn Mawr. When the McManus family moved to 5776 Ridge, it was still an unpaved road of packed sand with many ruts. Dorothy recalled that a lamplighter would light the gas street lights in the evenings and that he carried a little ladder in order to reach the lamp.

In the early days, families moved to the area and built the wooden homes with steps up to front porches. But wood as a construction material faded from fashion and, with bricks more available, two-flats were built to provide added income from the property. In the 1910s and 1920s, larger buildings, such as six-flats, were built.

The area benefited from the great transportation brought to Edgewater by J.L. Cochran. The train stop at Bryn Mawr was an important factor in the development of the Edgewater Triangle neighborhood. In 1889, Edgewater became a part of the City of Chicago.