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Last 1934 Sea Wall Remnant In Edgewater Should Be City Landmark, Group Says

By Linze Rice | April 19, 2016 5:48am
 The lakeshore along Egdewater has changed immensely over the years, and one neighborhood group is trying to get the last piece of a sea wall from 1934 saved as a city landmark. 
Edgewater Lake Shore
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EDGEWATER — To most, the concrete slab sitting at the end of an alcove outside the Edgewater Beach Apartments looks ordinary, but to at least one group, it's legendary — worthy of city landmark status, even.

Edgewater Beachwalk, a group of residents who advocate for the neighborhood's parks and historical features, wants to see the last remaining North Side portion of a sea wall from 1934 saved by city officials.

The nonprofit said they want Ald. Harry Osterman's office to request to the City Landmarks Commission to save the portion of the wall, which 82 years ago served as the protector between Lake Michigan and Edgewater's shores.

Today, the sea wall looks far from significant: At the base of the pink Edgewater Beach Apartments, 5555 N. Sheridan Road, it sits, partially serving as a barrier for a small dead end street, but mostly completely innocuous to those passing by.

The sea wall marks a boundary of the Bryn Mawr Historic District. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

Most people are unaware of the partition's significance. It sits at the end of a dead end street near Lake Shore Drive. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

But until the mid-1950s, its presence was essential.

Old aerial photos and postcards show how the shoreline used to swerve in between Foster and Bryn Mawr, hugging the side of the Edgewater Beach Apartments — right where the last piece of the sea wall stands today, marking the beginning of the Bryn Mawr Historic District.

Before 1950, Lake Shore Drive's northernmost exit was at Foster Avenue, just south of the famous hotel.

But during that decade, it was expanded first north to Bryn Mawr Avenue, where the sea wall and the Edgewater Beach Apartments sit, before being completed at Hollywood Avenue in 1958.

In fact, it was Lake Shore Drive's expansion through what was once the hotel's private beach that helped eventually lead to the building's downfall.

Walking under the overpass now at Lake Shore Drive and Bryn Mawr Avenue, a sparkling tiled collage displays colorful mosaics along side bits and pieces of the neighborhood's history — including a plaque from when the drive was built in 1954.

Osterman was not available for comment.

A plaque under the Lake Shore Drive overpass at Bryn Mawr Avenue from when the drive was expanded in 1954. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

A graphic from the Edgewater Historical Society shows how the shoreline between Foster and Bryn Mawr Avenues changed between 1916 and 1971. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

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