Living on LSD

That would be Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, the sixth place I lived, from 1970 to 1972.  I arrived here when I was 19, a young bride (too young!), and I loved living in this neighborhood. We could walk to CBS, where we both worked.  Walking to work and shops (Saks Fifth Avenue!) was a new experience for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In 1970, this stone building was a very dark, charcoal grey color, a result of the combined years of neglect plus car exhaust.  It was divided into several apartments.  The wide, inside stairway to the second floor was a beautiful polished wood, and the steps were covered in that ubiquitous dark red, patterned, apartment building carpet. (Today, the building’s exterior is a much lighter color – presumably having been sandblasted – and is joined to the building to the south, with the whole thing divided into a few condominium apartments. Their monthly assessments are probably a little more than our $185 monthly rent.)

We had the second floor front, which included a huge living room (on the right), a small bathroom, and, next to an air shaft, the world’s tiniest kitchen.  Which was fine, since I did not know how to cook anything other than scrambled eggs and bacon.  The bedroom, on the left side, had a door leading out to the “balcony.”  I went out on the balcony once, never to return. Filthy!  I discovered that dirt was a real problem here – the windows were not very tight, and 20 minutes after cleaning them, the inside window sills would be covered with soot.  Which was fine, since I really didn’t want to clean anyway. [Update: I found an old photo, which shows that the door to the balcony was in the living room.]

lsdscurveWhile living here, I finally learned how to drive and, most importantly (for that neighborhood), how to parallel park.  On a beautiful Sunday morning, a driving instructor picked me up and immediately put me in the driver’s seat!  We proceeded to the Outer Drive, where he actually had me navigate the terrifying “S-curve.”  My first day!  We both survived, but I had severe doubts about his sanity.  For years, I remained terrified of those two 90 degree turns, regardless of who was behind the wheel. Thankfully, it is no longer with us!  And, I passed my driver’s test with flying colors.

I wanted to sketch this building properly, so much so that, when I was finished drawing, my shoulders ached, my hand hurt, and I had a headache!  I hadn’t realized how tense I was until it was finished.  (And this is why I can’t sketch buildings when I am out and about with the Urban Sketchers!)  A few tricks helped – lots of lines using a ruler, lots of measuring, lots of erasing.  Pencil first, then pen and watercolor (three colors – Payne’s grey, cerulean blue, and I-don’t-know-green).  I referred to old and new photographs, as well as Google maps and images.  I kept picturing it in my mind as a black and white image, but I couldn’t resist adding just a little color.  Here is 1254 N. Lake Shore Drive.


Next stop…The Suburbs.  Or as I like to call it, the Beginning of the End.

4 thoughts on “Living on LSD

  1. I too lived in that apartment after enjoying the 2nd floor N rear, and the 3rd floor front S. The building was in disrepair yet as my first city apartment, a real find. I worked in the Hancock building at the time. I loved those times and the building and living there remains a strong memory. I couldn’t count the times I heard a crash late at night and was the first to call to report. Loved the 2nd floor front. You had to step up out of the “door”which was much like a window. I still have some photos of the building and a few from the roof. The people who lived there, an eclectic bunch would’ve made a great story or movie. Reminded me of the stories like ” Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Thank you for your lovely art which absolutely captures the beauty of 1254 N Lake Shore!

    • Thank you, Linda! It’s nice to (virtually) meet someone who also lived in that great building. I can definitely picture it as a residence for Holly Golightly. Thank you for sharing your story!

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