A Bit of London in Chicago

In the 1890s, a Chicago developer by the name of Gross visited London and took a shine to Mayfair. From 1900 to 1904, he built a replica of its houses in Chicago. He set aside one short block, made the street narrow -- just like the original -- and constructed four bedroom row houses of great charm. The result is Alta Vista Terrace and by luck, it is just five blocks from where I live. I walk by it every chance I get.

The buildings have a lively variety of styles and yet have much in common. Each townhouse has a bay window but the kind of bay changes as you walk down the street: some bays are two stories, some one, some square, some round, some curved. The variation is pleasing to the eye while the mind enjoys the general similarity.
The neighbors are proud to live on such an interesting, indeed, unique block. They plant in the narrow spaces in front of their houses, put out interesting bits of concrete objets d'art and generally improve the view.
This bit of London in Chicago has a secret, a secret free for all to view and to notice and not to notice. Apparently, there weren't enough nice bow fronts in Mayfair so Mr. Gross decided to double up on the ones he had. But having identical houses face each other would be too obvious so he repeated the house designs diagonally on opposite ends of the block. Even then, variations in brick color, paint, plantings, etc. hide the identity of the "twin." Here are two matching doorways.
Here is another pair of "twins".
One short block with a very human scale, Ala Vista Terrace has a unity and harmony unique in my part of Chicago.

Chicago's Alta Vista Terrace
© 2002 Joe Kelley