WICKER PARK — A combination of melting ice, wear and age caused two rows of brick to loosen and tumble from a 100-year-old building and onto the sidewalk Sunday, police said.
The incident happened around 8 a.m in front of a T-shirt shop at 1418 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park and was witnessed by a CleanSlate worker who was sweeping the curb nearby, a Shakespeare District police officer said.
No injuries were reported.
Reggie McGuire, 41, a tenant at 1418 N. Milwaukee Ave., said he was awoken by what he thought was "a big bookcase falling down from the apartment upstairs."
It turned out that about two rows of bricks above McGuire's window had fallen loose and tumbled to the ground below.
"This building is really old. Buildings annually are supposed to be checked for loose brick and tuck pointing," McGuire said. "The police told me they are afraid of bricks falling at other buildings because of ice melting."
The building where McGuire lives is owned by Harry James Management, a neighborhood-based second-generation realty company headquartered at 1420 N. Milwaukee Ave., just one door north of where the bricks fell.
Reached by phone, a Harry James Management Company's maintenance supervisor named Charlie who declined to give his last name said, "Everybody was blessed, especially on a Sunday. Everybody sleeps late here, the restaurants don't open, it was a blessing that nobody got hurt."
The supervisor said he arrived promptly to the scene and ensured that scaffolding was put up so that pedestrians could walk across the sidewalk and enter Cumin Restaurant, which is open for brunch on Sundays.
The supervisor attributed the loosened bricks to water from the snow and ice.
"Most of the buildings, all in Chicago of course, you do tuckpointing on them, but a little water gets in there, and the ice can get the brick out," he said.
In addition to police, a city building inspector was called to the scene.
"We're following the city inspectors rule," the supervisor said. "We put the scaffolding up so [Cumin] could open by 11:30, everything went right. We went back to work again."
Emphasizing other issues in the neighborhood, Charlie said, "There's a lot of people in the alleys selling drugs, worry more about those alley cats than what just happened."
Jimmy Seidenberg, owner of the building, couldn't be reached for comment.