Charles J. Driever

Mr. [Charles J.] Driever Interview*

History of Uptown, Edgewater District/J.L. Cochran’s Subdivisions, Document #16

Source: Mr. Driever, 40 North Dearborn. President of the firm of Cochran and McCleur. Informant is an executive of the firm of Cochran and McCleur who was familiar with the later subdividing of Cochran in Edgewater. Interviewed in November, 1927.

Mr. Cochran did not push businesses in his subdivisions because he knew that if people were living in a community, stores would follow normally. He rented stores that were already built, but I don’t recall that he built any store buildings. The automobile salesrooms began coming in on Broadway about 1918. Prior to that time the street was a semi-home district with apartments on it.

Mr. Cochran contributed to the Methodist Church and encouraged the building of other churches in the district. I believe he sold his power plant and stables around 1893.

The typhoid epidemic that you hear of in the section was widespread over the city. At least, our epidemic was not due to local causes.

Of the people who owned land when it was bought by Cochran, Bristle was a farmer who later did some subdividing around Ainsley and Magnolia Streets. E. Kellogg Beach has a son living who could tell you about his father’s land in Edgewater.

The third addition had a cheaper type of home than the other additions. Kenmore and Winthrop sold out easily and were built up to Devon Avenue. Sheridan Road on the other hand, came slowly.

There were several people connected with Cochran in the early work. McDowell was a half brother who was in on the deals until 1912 when he sold out. Austin was distantly related. Vanuxem, who a brother of Mrs. Cochran, owned lots and helped out financially later.

The type of subdividing done by Cochran was pretty much the same as done by other subdividers of the time, but none did it on such a large scale. Charles Rascher subdivided west of Clark to the Northwestern tracks. I think his land went from Foster to Bryn Mawr.  [Editor’s note: Rascher’s land was north of Balmoral to Bryn Mawr.] When I first saw the district there were truck gardens north of Bryn Mawr to Devon west of Clark Street. Clark Street had very little business on it and what there was was scattered when Cochran began subdividing. Rosehill was an old settlement but not important at that time. There were always factories on Ravenswood because of the tracks. They stay there now for the zoning law won’t let them in anyplace else in that district.

The type of people living in Edgewater has changed with the arrival of apartments. In 1905 there were some apartments and in the last eight to ten years Edgewater has been desirable for hotels. There have always been some Jewish people in Edgewater for they built some of the first homes there. Cochran named Kenmore, but Sheffield was the name of what became Sheridan Road further south.

The values of land in Edgewater have increased tremendously. During the war Mr. Cochran wanted to get rid of some land on Broadway and offered it for $50 a foot. Now it brings $900 a foot. Kenmore sold at $40 originally and Winthrop at $30 and now they draw from $700 to $1,000. The reason for the increase is that the land had been restricted to homes and so the prices remained medium for some time, but with the beginning of apartments and hotels, there is more demand for the property.

*Charles John Driever was born 30 October 1870 in Preston, Ontario, Canada to parents born in Germany. He came to Chicago in about 1891 and married Christie B. Jones in 1895. He died 5 August 1935 at his residence at 550 Ridge Avenue, in Evanston, Illinois. His occupation was given as “bonds and mortgages” in the 1930 U.S. Census.

Cover page citation: Documents: History of the Uptown Community, Chicago. Prepared for the Chicago Historical Society and the Local Community Research Committee, University of Chicago. Research under the direction of Vivien M. Palmer; staff investigators Marion Lindner and Beatrice Nesbit. These documents contain data just as it was secured from old residents and from existing documents. A final check of the data will appear in the volume of the Social History of Chicago.

Publication date: 1925-1930

Format: Photocopy of a typed manuscript without page numbers in the library of the Chicago History Museum.