Tag Archive: chicago

Chicago Art

For those of you who have wondered where the writer disappeared to, I’ll let you in on the secret. I’ve been drawing.

Like many people in the world of the arts I too enjoy the pleasure of more than one form of expression. Semi-consistently now for the past year I have been putting pen to paper and creating different scenes from Chicago’s present in the form of not words but of sketches.

Perhaps there will come a day when the scene I have recreated will no longer exist. When/if that day comes I will have given the world a slice of history. Since by and large most of my sketches are representations of photographs I’ve taken I already have found that some scenes no longer exist as new buildings have been added that where not there before. So history already has changed.

Please join me on this journey as well.

I can be found on Facebook as https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoSketchbook/

and on Instagram at @Chicago_ sketchbook

Here are just a few examples of what you’ll find there.

I hope to see you there soon.


There has always been a fascination between children and trains? How fast is it going? How much does it weigh? Will it really flatten a penny? The answer is simple. Trains go fast, they weigh a lot and they will flatten a penny.

As we get older our questions change to, ‘What if’s.’ What would happen if the tracks froze? What would happen if a car where on the tracks? How about a tire? Would that be a problem? If the tracks freeze the train goes on, if it hits a car it’ll spin the vehicle and stop when it can but it’ll stay on the tracks.

Unlike the penny that simply gets flattened, a tire on the tracks is an entirely new deal. If it hadn’t been proven before, it was a few months ago when a Chicago train encountered just such an issue. The Blue Line train left the city headed to Forest Park. At approximately 7:40 p.m ., they left the West Side station at Cicero Avenue. Shortly there after, the train encountered a very out of the ordinary problem.

There on the tracks was a semi trailer truck tire. With the tire suddenly in the driver’s vision there was no time to stop. Only Superman could see a tire a mile away and it takes a mile for a train to stop completely. With nothing to do but move forward train and tire hit head on. The result? The front car of the train derailed! The score? Tire 1, Train 0. The tire won.

As of the source date there were no injuries reported. The passengers were shuttled to the next station and the tale of the tire had come to a full circle. Pun intended.


Source: Chicago Tribune, Friday April 11, 2014 – Section 1, Page 9

Our Disappearing Skyscape



It might sound strange but there is a certain romance in a water tower. The very structure reminds us of days past when life was simpler. There were no cell phones then, no answering machines or caller Ids. It was not uncommon for people in the city to share their phone with their neighbors or to call “Yoo Hoo!” out the window to get a friend’s attention.

In many apartments in the city, the bathroom of the house was shared between residents. Timetables were kept and everyone abided by the other. Atop large apartment buildings and factories sat a cylindrical squat outline of riveted metal. This small water tower serviced the entire building. It was the private water supply for many and with its power it gave running water to each and every resident at all hours.

At one time the cites of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and others were home to these globes. The skylines was dotted with buildings tall and squat and on the roofs over-looking lakes, bays and oceans were the water tanks. Today many are missing. Time has taken their toll and new methods have come along and replaced the job of the personal water tower. However, in the city of Chicago 178 roof top water towers remain. 90 are still in use. They are icons, landmarks and a piece of history.

I wish I could say they will always be there but we all know that isn’t true. So next time you are driving through the city, look up. What can you see? Do you see the scaffolding stand of a tank long gone? Do you see a water tank old but loved and used? Driving into the city on I-90 there are many to see. Look up while you still can and enjoy. They won’t be there much longer.


History falls from the sky and sends water and wood on those below


Yesterday as people walked passed the Brewster building, in the Lakeview area, on the northwest corner of Pine Grove Ave and Diversey Parkway in Chicago, a wooden water tank came crashing down. It was a few minutes before 10 am. People shrieked as the 10 to 13 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter water tank toppled off the 120 year old building. Falling eight stories, it spewed water and splintered wood on those unfortunate to be walking by at the time.

Three people were injured and all are thought to recover. The tower was 1 of about 90 still in use. The Brewster tank supplied the domestic water for the building. Chicago has 178 roof top water towers. They are considered landmarks and require a 90 demolition permit in order to give the city a chance to save them. They are Chicago icons.

At the moment it appears that the reason for the failure and collapse is due to maintenance issues and not to any danger posed by wooden water towers. Many new roof top water towers continue to be built to this day with wood. While steel is sometimes used, wood it the preferred medium. It is naturally watertight.

An investigation is underway to ascertain the reason for the Brewster tank’s failure and if any action will be needed for other buildings in Chicago that still have rooftop water tanks.

Check this Writer Out!

There are many writers out there that we’ve never heard of. That in no way means that they aren’t good ones. In fact, they could be just as good as the ones on the best seller lists, they just haven’t gotten that word of mouth reputation that puts them over the top.


David J. Walker – is one of those writers. His stories are thought provoking and riveting. You don’t need a last name to a character to understand what drives them and that is exactly what David has done with his Wild Onion Series that takes place in Chicago.

As a long time resident of the city, David know exactly how to make the city come alive for those who’ve never visited and those that see the city streets in the dead of night, every night.

I encourage you to give this man a chance. I’m sure that all you Mystery and Detective readers will find that he’s well worth the time. In addition to his books, David has a newsletter that tells you all the new things coming out. He is also one of those rare  birds that answers messages.
So… What are you waiting for? Go check it out.

He can be reached at:


Caught by air duct!

If ever there was a man who didn’t think his plans through, it would be Charles Estell of Chicago. The man must have planned for some time to rob the Oak Lawn, Illinios’ Bank of America but I don’t think everything was taken into account.

His idea of entering the vault through the office next door’s air vent made sense. He wore a wig to disguise who he was as well. He even made provisions in case the bank’s employees thought to resist him and so he brought a gun to enforse his plan. All this speaks of purpose and forsight. However, did he take into consideration his body’s frame when he decided to make his speedy ceiling exit? I don’t think so.

Witnesses saw him make his get away. They knew how he left. Terrible for him you might think. In reality this could very well have been lucky for him. Yes he was caught. Yea he’ll probably go to jail for some time but it’s better than what could have happened to him.

Charles became caught hours before the police ever found him. No person grabbed and detained him though. His catcher was the very ceiling that supposedly was his escape route. Poor Charles got himself wedged in the air duct and could’t get out. So what would have happened if people had’t seen him leave via the ceiling? We’ll never know for sure but he might never have left. Charles could have died for the $100,000 he attempted to steal.

So again we see that crime doesn’t pay!

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