When we think of landmarks, we usually think of historically significant buildings. But in The Image of the City urban planner Kevin Lynch broadly defines landmark to include physical objects, stores, signs, buildings, rivers–anything that stands out in a landscape. Landmarks, he says, help us know a place well enough to picture it in our minds and form a memory of it.
By Lynch’s definition of landmark, the Hollywood Park of my childhood was a very knowable place. There was no shortage of visually strong landmarks. When I asked ten former Hollywood Park residents to name the neighborhood landmarks, everyone listed at least three landmarks and nearly everyone listed the same ones.
This same group of people came up with seven different versions of the boundaries of Hollywood Park. You’d think a neighborhood that disagreed on its own borders would have had problems seeing itself as a community. But in Hollywood Park, an abundance of distinctive landmarks, particularly ones associated with shared experiences, compensated for the weak borders.
In other words, seen from the outside Hollywood Park may not have looked like a distinct neighborhood, but from the inside … we knew.
Here’s how ten former residents remember Hollywood Park:
- “1. Peterson School, 2. Hollywood Park, 3. the McDonald’s (one of the first ever, I believe), 4. the ‘commercial district’ of Bryn Mawr, 5. Northeastern University (‘the Teachers College’ as we called it), 6. Shaare Tikvah synagogue”
- “1. The Park, 2. the stores on Bryn Mawr, 3. Teacher’s College”
- “1. McDonalds, 2. Peterson School, 3. CV’s restaurant, 4. Bryn Mawr Ave.”
- “1. Hollywood Park, 2. the McDonalds on Peterson and Kedzie, 3. Northeastern Ill. University, 4. the TB Sanitarium”
- “1. Hollywood Park, 2. Peterson School, 3. Congregation Shaare Tikvah (where ‘everybody’ seemed to ‘congregrate’ for the Jewish Holidays), 4. certain fabulous houses, e.g., The Krausses at Christiana and Ardmore, 5. the Bryn Mawr Avenue shopping strip”
- “1. Loree’s Snack Shop, 2. Hollywood Park, 3. Kiddieland w/ miniature golf, 4. Community department store [aka Shopper’s World, Zayre and now Home Depot].”
- “1. The Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium (of course) and later Peterson Park, 2. Northeastern Illinois University, 3. Hollywood Park (the Park District Park itself), 4. the Bryn Mawr shopping district (because it gave it that neighborhood shopping feel), 5. the Peterson Ave. shopping/office district (because it gave it that urban city feel), 6. Peterson School, 7. Shaare Tikvah (definitely the stained glass windows!). And, I guess, 8. the McDonalds on Peterson, too, because it has been there for so long. (My Dad said he remembered when the sign said something like ‘One thousand hamburgers served.’)”
- “1. The Park, 2. MacDonalds, 3. Peterson School, 4. the big white house on the corner of Kimball and Ardmore, 5. Zfaneys, 6. The Pit, 7. Bryn Mawr Ave., 8. Shaare Tikvah”
- “1. Lincoln Village: I bet I can name all of the stores….and 2) the Fishery on Lincoln and Kimball”
- “1) Peterson School and 2) Hollywood Park-the two places I spent most of my time. I would also call the 3) TB Sanitarium and 4) the Hollywood Bowl landmarks.”
- “1. Peterson School, 2. Northeastern Illinois University (and its predecessor Chicago Teachers College North), 3. Hollywood Park itself, 4. River Park (and its extension north of Bryn Mawr, officially known as Park #274, when I was a kid – read it on the map), and 5. the whole strip of mom & pop businesses along Bryn Mawr Avenue between Bernard and Kedzie. And, of course, 6. Hollywood Kiddieland, located just north of Lincoln Village.”
- “1. The public library and 2. Peterson, 3. Von, 4. Northeastern, and 5. Shaare Tikvah (our synagogue) come to mind as landmarks.”
Note: In the early 1900s, Hollywood Park was one of Chicago’s largest remaining undeveloped parcels of land, making it an ideal, out-of-the-way location for several large public institutions.
The Chicago Parental School (1900-1973), the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium (1915-1974), and the Northeastern/Chicago Teachers College-North (1961-present) were seen as landmarks of the neighborhood, though they also were separate, unrelated communities.
Credits: Thanks to Frederick J. Nachman for use of the photograph of Shaare Tikvah and to Jennifer Stix for the use of the photograph of the TB Sanitarium gate.
Related Posts: This is the third in a series of posts about the image of a Chicago neighborhood in memory. Part One is an introduction and Part Two covers the boundaries of the neighborhood. The series was inspired by my reading of Kevin Lynch’s The Image of the City.
If you’d like to see what businesses made up the Bryn Mawr Ave. business district of Hollywood Park, check out my list.
I also have a series of posts on the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium.