During an earlier age, it was vey common for those with means (not the
working class) to summer up north and winter down south.
Community Area 77, 7 miles N of the Chicago Loop. Although it was an
elite nineteenthcentury suburb, Edgewater was not recognized as
distinct when scholars laid out the community areas in the 1920s.
Instead,Edgewater was merged into Uptown. In the 1970s, however,
Edgewater's property owners persuaded the city of Chicago to make a
rare change in its community area maps and recognize Edgewater as a
Few people lived in the Edgewater area before the late nineteenth
century. Scattered settlers farmed celery. Edgewater's residents were
mostly German and Irish. Swedes gathered along Clark Street in an
area they called Andersonville.
EDGEWATER ADVERTISEMENT, 1888
John Lewis Cochran (1857-1923) purchased land near Lake Michigan in
the town of Lake View in 1886. There he developed a subdivision he
advertised as "Edgewater." He first built mansions on the lakefront
for wealthy families and later had smaller houses built to the west.
In contrast to other suburban developers, Cochran installed
improvements such as sidewalks, sewers, and streetlights before
customers moved in. Cochran also founded the Edgewater Light Company
to ensure that his buyers could use the most modern conveniences.
Cochran's final task was to provide adequate transportation to the
area. He persuaded the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad to open
a stop on Bryn Mawr Avenue and was instrumental in the creation of
the Northwestern Elevated Railroad Company, which in 1908 opened up a
connection through to Howard Street. The availability of
transportation encouraged the erection of apartment buildings, a
development Cochran had not intended. This strip of "common corridor"
buildings and residential hotels, concentrated between Winthrop and
Kenmore, increased Edgewater's population density.
During the twentieth century, Edgewater solidified its status as one
of the most prestigious residential areas in Chicago. In 1898, the
exclusive Saddle and Cycle Club relocated to Foster Avenue, on the
lakefront. The Edgewater Beach Hotel (1916) and the Edgewater Beach
Apartments (1929), finished in sunrise yellow and sunset pink, served
as local landmarks. Residential Edgewater's wealth reinforced the
glamour of recreational Uptown.
Edgewater Gulf Hotel (Biloxi)
Surrounded by streets with names such as Kenmore, Bryn Mawr, The
Edgewater area was developed by executives of Sears Roebuck Company
from Chicago. The well to do families would travel by train to the
Gulf Coast to spend the Winters.
In 1870, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad was constructed
through the southernmost section of Harrison County, Mississippi,
connecting New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama. A northern
transportation route into south Mississippi was provided by the Gulf
and Ship Island Railroad at the turn of the 20th century. These
railroads provided an inexpensive means for moving passengers as well
as goods, and opened south Mississippi to both industrial and
recreational development. Rapidly progressing lumber and seafood
industries transformed the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the 1920s, and
people arrived from throughout the United States to take advantage of
the economic boom. Northern tourists were attracted to the
Mississippi Gulf Coast because of mild winters and cool sea breezes
in summer, before the introduction of air conditioning. Besides the
weather, other tourist attractions included seafood restaurants,
swimming, golf, schooner races, sailing to offshore islands, and
recreational fishing. During this period of economic expansion, grand
hotels were constructed along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to
accommodate businessmen, tourists, and transient workers.
Designed by architects Marshall and Fox and constructed in 1924 with
400 guest rooms, the Edgewater Gulf Hotel was one of the largest on
the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Guests that arrived in south
Mississippi by train could disembark at the rail station on the hotel
grounds at Edgewater Park. Early advertisements promoted the hotel as
an air conditioned, fireproofed structure, and the hotel's design
allowed 95 percent of the rooms to have a view of the Mississippi
Sound. In the formal dining room, guests ate on fine china atop heavy
linen tablecloths with a view of the Gulf waters. The hotel complex
was situated on 600 acres (243 hectares) that included gardens, a
golf course, tennis courts, and a glass-enclosed swimming pool. The
Edgewater Gulf weathered the Great Depression and attracted many
post-World War II conventions which boosted its business. It retained
its grandeur through the 1960s, but closed in 1970, unable to compete
with newer hotels. In 1971, the grand hotel was demolished by
implosion to make way for expansion of Edgewater Mall shopping
Behind the Hotel, the Edgewater golf club was built and became very popular.
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