Chicago's Oldest Sidewalks

On today’s tour you will have the chance to walk on 108 of the oldest remaining bluestone sidewalk slabs in Chicago. Most are on Kenmore from 5801 to 6018. John Lewis Cochran made sure his Edgewater development had many upscale improvements, including the best sidewalks made of bluestone and slate, starting in the late 1880s-90s. Now prized by many east coast port cities’ historical societies, stone sidewalks have been replaced in Chicago by concrete, which does not last as long. Some of these stone sidewalks are over 120 years old. (Do you think your concrete would last that long?)

An investigation by WBEZ in 2012 concluded that Edgewater had Chicago’s oldest sidewalks. In recent years, Dorian Bezanis (owner of 1020 W. Ardmore) took the initiative to repair and straighten his slabs at 5801 N. Kenmore; it is a fabulous juxtaposition to his beautiful adjoining garden.

You can see a short video of the WBEZ site visit, including a stroll on Dorian’s sidewalk at: http://vimeo.com/54305635. The full radio show and article can be heard and seen at: http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/19152 . You can also go on the EHS website and search under “sidewalk” for more articles on the subject.

Current Inventory of Blue Stone Slate Sidewalk Slabs remaining in Edgewater – July 2014:

N. Kenmore 6018 6 slabs  
  5851-59 20 slabs  
  5850 10 slabs  
  5841-43 12 slabs  
  5840 11 slabs  
  5836 2 slabs  
  5825-29 20 slabs  
  5801 22 slabs Address is 1020 W. Ardmore
6 composites are replacements
N. Sheridan 6040 5 slabs  
W. Rosemont 1101 &
1108-10
42 slabs One block north of the tour area

There is a total of only 150 left in the year 2014, down over 25% from the year 2000 when there were over 200. Only 11 locations remain.