Friday, March 29, 2013

Chateau Hotel

Chateau Hotel-Chicago, IL by William 74
Chateau Hotel-Chicago, IL, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
I could never tell if this was supposed to be the "Chateau Hotel" or the "Hotel Chateau". The signs seem to suggest both!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Eighty Six Forty Six

The Chicago and North Western was a midwestern rail icon, known for it's distinctive yellow and green locomotives and "400" series of passenger trains. This is particularly true around the Chicago area, which was the road's hub-after all, people still call Ogilvie Transportation Center "North Western Station", despite the fact that the distinctive station was demolished in the 80's.

Quite a few old CNW railcars are still running around the Union Pacific system, eighteen years after the two companies merged and the North Western's name phased out. There are even a few yellow and green locomotives in use, but only two still carry their original numbers and CNW logos. This is one of them, captured at rest at the LaFox Metra station.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Warehouse by William 74
Warehouse, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
An Allied Van Lines ghost sign on a former warehouse in Aurora, Illinois. This building has housed a number of businesses, most recently a custom motorcycle shop, whose banner sign covered up the top of this sign.

This building is around the corner from the Aurora Cycle Co. sign.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gas For Less

Gas For Less by William 74
Gas For Less, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
No Gas is more like it. This ancient vacuform sign is in Aurora, Illinois, tucked away around the corner of a building on a side street in a residential neighborhood. It's seen better days, clearly. It's still got a little towing globe on the top (which is all busted up), and it used to say "& Body" where it now says "Repair".

There are no gas pumps in evidence anymore, but I think some sort of repair work still goes on here. Spotted from a bike path that goes right by this building, reinforcing my opinion that it pays to walk around the back streets.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


The Campana Building is a landmark in the town of Batavia, Illinois. This Streamline Moderne building received landmark status in the late 70's, and still retains much of it's period style and detail, such as the glass block windows and teal green tile.

It also still has it's neon sign, the logo for Campana Balm, the company's signature product. Sadly it no longer works, and you can see some busted glass in this shot. I don't remember the last time I saw it illuminated, although I know I have. When it was foggy, all you could see was the sign at the top.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fox River Crossing

Fox River Crossing by William 74
Fox River Crossing, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
This is the former Chicago Great Western railroad bridge over the Fox River, in St. Charles, Illinois. Originally part of CGW's mainline to Oelwein, Iowa, this line became a secondary route after the CGW was bought by the Chicago and North Western (another classic Midwestern road), which gradually cut the line shorter and shorter. Latterly part of the Union Pacific system, this line ended a few miles west of the bridge, dead ending just before a highway crossing. Today it's unused, the last customer on that side of the Fox having closed in 2009, and today the rails are cut off from the rest of the system by road construction on Route 64, which tore up the tracks at the grade crossing and which have not been reinstated.

Abandoned in place, the bridge and the tracks that are still there are some of the few remaining CGW structures in the area, which includes a few repurposed stations to the east and another bridge further west. One of the biggest legacies of the CGW is the Great Western Trail, a bike path that uses the former right of way, including that westernmost bridge in Elburn.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Northgate-Aurora, IL by William 74
Northgate-Aurora, IL, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
The Northgate Shopping Center has been a fixture in Aurora, Illinois for decades. The buildings have been modernized down through the years, but it still has this excellent Googie style sign (the font practically date codes it to the mid 50's, don't it?). Sadly, most of the neon is now burned out, as well as several of the letters. Still, at least it's still standing.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Tower

The Tower by William 74
The Tower, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

The Art Moderne City Hall building in downtown St. Charles, with it's distinctive white clock tower. Situated along the Fox River, the building serves as an anchor to the downtown area, as well as a center for municipal services.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Deuce by William 74
Deuce, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
The 1932 Ford coupes and roadsters are the quintessential hot rods. They started becoming popular lakes racers just before the Second World War, but interest really blossomed postwar. They were cheap, plentiful, looked good, and could take a variety of engines from the stock 4-bangers and flathead V-8's to Red Ram Hemis. Suitable for street or strip use, the Deuce quickly became a legend.


Friday, March 1, 2013

The Tivoli Theater

The Tivoli Theater by William 74
The Tivoli Theater, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
The historic Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove, Illinois. A classically styled old school movie palace.