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A Question of Character

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Response to the response [Letters, January 17] of Brian Goeken (deputy commissioner for landmarks, city of Chicago Department of Planning and Development) to the Ben Joravsky article "Talk, Talk, Talk" [December 13]. Mr. Goeken mentions the Landmark Commission's Chicago Historic Resources Survey, but apparently he doesn't get around to reading it very often. If he did he would find a short biography of the architect A.L. Himmelblau, who in 1923 designed the Gothic Revival terra-cotta building at 5306 W. Lawrence that was demolished last summer. He would also find in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey 11 buildings attributed to Mr. Himmelblau. If Mr. Goeken had done the slightest bit of research he would not have sent a letter stating "the building did not have sufficient architectural or historic significance." As for historic significance, the building housed a U.S. Marines recruiter's office for many years. I'm sure a few heroes came through those doors.

More important is the damage to the character of the busy intersection of Lawrence and Milwaukee avenues. The 5306 W. Lawrence building was one of three buildings that with its sister buildings of the same era, Hoyne Savings and the 4800 Milwaukee building, formed the three points that defined this area for most of the last century.

Jefferson Park is not Lincoln Park or Lakeview. It does not have anywhere near the number of architecturally significant buildings that those neighborhoods have, and that is why it is even more important to save such buildings in Jefferson Park and other outlying neighborhoods.

The Chicago Historic Resources Survey map is another tool that, instead of being an aid to save buildings, is being used as an excuse to tear these buildings down. "It's not on the survey map" is the developer-friendly Department of Planning and Development's battle cry. This is the map that Mr. Goeken's "professional" staff made from their "windshield" survey, as he puts it.

If more weight isn't given to the character of our neighborhoods, then you will see them clear-cut and paved over, and then you can say "Welcome to Schaumburg."

Robert Bank

TIF committee chairman

Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association

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