Have you ever been stuck in traffic on the Skyway and seen this enormous art deco'ish building and what looks like an airplane hangar next to it? That is Chicago Vocational High School & next to it is indeed the school's airplane hangar.
Today the school is the 2nd largest school in Chicago.
It opened in 1940 with an all-male class of 850. The next year the school was turned over to the United States Navy. The country was focused on the conflict overseas and preparing for the United States' entry. The plan was to have students be trained to be mechanics who could both build and repair aircraft. Later during the war the program was expanded to providing training in other areas for civilians for national defense jobs. As the war progressed, the school began to operate 24 hours a day to accommodate the training of so many people.
In 1946, after the war, the Navy returned the school to the Chicago Public School system and for the first time, the school admitted women for education in a non-wartime setting.
The aviation program, now civilian based, continued for several more years at the school. In 1948 the students restored a Stinson monoplane. The school received special permission to fly it over to Midway Airport. How did they manage that? They wheeled the plane onto Anthony Avenue and used that as their runway. The Skyway wasn't built for another 10 years so Anthony Avenue I guess would make a pretty good runway.
I have heard similar wartime aviation programs ran at Roosevelt and Lane Tech schools. Does anyone have any more information or photos about that? I'd love to learn more.
Here is a video of an actual plane that was used as a teaching tool at this school for 20 years:
Click here for a good history of the school.
For more information see this WBEZ article about recent changes at the property:
It's not every day that a Wilmette resident gets to go date Elvis, wins a Grammy, Emmy & Golden Globe and perform in a rock opera. Well, Ann Margaret is not your typical person on any level. A lot of Wilmette residents are proud to recount her time in our lovely suburb, at New Trier and later Northwestern but did you ever wonder how she got from her home (pictured here) at 1315 Wilmette Avenue to Hollywood?
This 1961 Chicago Tribune article explains it really well. Click on it to go to the Tribune's archive to read the entire piece.
I have resided in west Wilmette for the last 18 years and keep a very close eye on the market. I know the differences each elementary school boundaries can make in home pricing. The village’s construction plans, taxes and retail changes are personal to me and I make sure my clients are on top of the news that affects them as well.
My last transaction was just 5 blocks from my home and my clients won it in multiple-offers. West Wilmette has a tremendously well-built housing stock situated on streets with mature trees, plenty of unrestricted parking and near the transportation options used by all. I am proud to live here as well as work here.
Let me show you around.
ABOVE - A 1950's sales ad for west Wilmette homes.
BELOW - My west Wilmette home - the same model!
West Wilmette has lots of great secret places to go. The Wilmette Bowling Alley at Ridge and Schiller is a place I love to go to with friends for a drink and an hour or two of great music and bowling. At the same time I feel comfortable having my kids go there with friends for a Saturday afternoon excursion. With just a few lanes, really great thin crust pizza and super nice owners Wilmette Bowl really is a gem.
1903 Schiller Avenue
Wilmette, IL 60091
When I have a special event I head to Vibrato in the charming Plaza del Lago. Here I will always find unique pieces of clothing or jewelry that I know nobody else will have. It makes gift giving a snap as well because your recipient will always get something unique.
Just next door to Vibrato is another decadent shopping spot – the Artisan Shop. I have been shopping here since I was a kid. It was my mother’s favorite go to store for home décor, gifts and jewelry. Here too you are supporting a local small business that buys its inventory from local artists and designers.
Another favorite place for me is the Keay Nature Learning Center at the intersection of Hibbard and Skokie Boulevard. My family and I am there with our dogs nearly every day. What a completely hidden gem. The lake, log bridge and all the variety of trees, plants and flowers makes each visit unique. Throughout the year you walk through there and feel such a natural peace and have such a non-suburban feeling. Go check it out!
I'm supposed to cook dinner?
As a busy realtor, I have to admit getting a cooked dinner on my family’s table some nights does not happen. That’s when we head out to one of favorite west Wilmette restaurants.
My kids were raised by me and my husband of course but I have to say they also spent a tremendous amount of their childhood at Akai Hana, Wilmette’s delicious sushi restaurant. We know which waitress has the same birthday as my son. The hostess comments each time she sees them how much they have grown. The warm feeling of community at Akai Hana really matches the love I have for west Wilmette.
The other delicious spot you can find us in is Dowize. This sister restaurant to Evanston’s Doziku has the most amazing lunch specials. It does not hurt at all that they are located across from the Wilmette Coldwell Banker office. The food is plentiful and delicious but I love more than anything the staff. They remember their customers and make everyone feel very much at home.
Sarah Rothschild, Realtor & Architectural History Nerd.