Archive for the ‘Aerial Photos’ Category

WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE WOODFIELD?

September 24, 2017

I get asked that question a lot.  And now, through the generosity of Richard Frank, a frequent reader of the blog, we are able to see for ourselves what the eastern edge of Schaumburg Township looked like before Woodfield Mall rose from the ground.

The photos belonged to his father who found them in a desk drawer when he worked for Sears. It took some time to figure out what he was looking at but, once he did, he hung onto them.  Sensing their historical value, Richard was kind enough to donate them to the library.

These aerial photos were taken on September 26, 1969 by Airpix, which was based on North Laramie in Chicago at the time.  We have to assume that the developers of Woodfield hired Airpix to take the photos just as development of the mall was beginning.  The views are from four different angles so it’s possible to get a 360-degree sense of the area.

This first photo looks towards the southwest at the large Woodfield plot.  Off to the left of the property, we can see several trucks gathered near the long diagonal, dirt road that stretches to the middle of the plot.  It appears that the construction trailer for the project is far to the right, along Golf Road.

While it’s impressive to see the enormous scale of the project, it’s just as interesting to see what skirts the property.  Note Route 53 in the foreground of the photo–or Rohlwing Road–as it was often called at the time.  A cloverleaf is in place to allow traffic flow from two-lane Golf Road to merge onto 53.  Having seen other earlier, aerial photos, I believe this cloverleaf was relatively new at the time.  It was clearly designed around the four lane bridge that goes over Golf Road.  Another interesting point is that there seems to be a rise in Golf Road just west of the cloverleaf.  Does anyone remember this before Golf Road was graded to a more flat terrain?

It is hard not to notice the farm in the foreground with its large white barn.  It is the Rohlwing farm.  The family, in fact, sold a portion of their property for the Woodfield development.  The home place on the east side of Route 53 was eventually sold to the Cook County Forest Preserve.  The barn was used for years as a maintenance location and was only torn down within the past decade.

The subdivision of Lexington Fields Estates in the background of the photo was begun in in the late 1950s and is obviously flourishing. The trees are well established and there is easy access to the four-lane Higgins Road that runs adjacent to the subdivision.

A very narrow Meacham Road bisects the back of the photo.  In addition, there are two other farms that are still obviously still operating.  The Edward Koenig farm is in the grove of trees in the top left corner.  The farm in the back center of the photo is the Emil Freise farm.  Notice the long lane off of Higgins Road that leads to the house.  You can barely see the telephone poles along the lane.  It is possible the small farmette to the right of this farm belonged to one of Emil’s brothers.  In the 1954 Farm Plat Book published by Paul Baldwin & Son, the initials H.F. are near that piece of property.  (He had brothers named Herman and Henry.)

This photo looks due south so we get a good view of the Woodfield site and Lexington Fields Estates.  Again, it’s a good idea to look at the periphery and catch a few things that become more obvious with a different perspective.

First of all, it’s possible to see that there IS a slight rise in Golf Road on the eastward approach to Route 53. We can also tell that Route 53 is a two lane road to the south of its intersection with Golf.

And, take a look at that jog Route 53 takes a bit south of the Golf Road cloverleaf.  Frankly, in looking at that area around Higgins Road, it’s pretty clear that work had already begun on a clover leaf at that intersection too.  We can see in this view that the main construction facility–for possibly both the mall and the roads–was on that curve and not in the trailer along Golf Road.  So, when the village fathers got started with Woodfield, they also started planning for the infrastructure that would make getting there much more feasible.

Isn’t it interesting to look further south on Route 53 and note a couple of roads intersecting with just a simple stop sign?  Imagine that today!  Also, note the big pond in the upper left of the photo and the smaller pond just beyond it.  Those are the former gravel quarries at the L.A. Scharringhausen Material Co.  They are now part of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District property.  The quarries began operation in the early 1950s under Scharringhausen.

Note, too, the many small groves of trees that are in the area.  The larger grove in the right background of the photo is today’s Spring Valley.  It was owned by Frank Merkle in 1969 and was even then a beautiful oasis in an arena of fields.

This view looking northeast gives us a completely different, more suburban perspective.  We can see Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows in the background.  The Northwest Tollway (I-90) intersects the middle of the entire photo with the much larger cloverleaf at Route 53 clearly visible.

The Woodfield Garden apartments, nestled in the northwest corner of the Northwest Tollway and Route 53, are visible as is the round parking lot of Pure Oil just below.

To the east of Route 53 is the all concrete Western Electric building in Rolling Meadows.  This building was later renovated by 3Com in 1998 and is now the Atrium Corporate Center.   To the right of Western Electric is the former Chemplex / Quantum Chemical Company / Helene Curtis / Unilever building that was purchased by Weichai America around 2012.  It was newly built when this photo was taken in 1969.   In the very middle background are the radomes on Central Road in Arlington Heights across from the relatively new Northwest Community Hospital.  These were used at the time as part of the Nike Ground to Air missile defense system with underground missiles in bunkers at that location.

This is a similar view with a more westerly slant.  The plane was a bit higher and further east so it gives us a greater perspective of northwestern suburbia.  We get a wonderful view of the magnificent Pure Oil property with its unique, circular parking lots.  Compare those lots to the regular, square parking lots of AT&T and Chemplex.  They are a combination of whimsy and futuristic design.

Also more visible are the many apartments in the Woodfield Garden complex.  Across Route 53 is the site of the future Rolling Meadows Holiday Inn. The hotel is in the same state of construction as the Woodfield site and opened in 1970.  If you look further back in the center of the photo you can see the round oval of the Arlington Race Track.  To the left of the track is the multi-story Arlington Hilton.  You can also see the big curve Route 53 takes going north.

If you spot something else I haven’t seen, please let me know.  I’m happy to add the details.  And, let’s once again thank the Franks for keeping these marvelous photos for so many years.  In addition, we must thank Barbara Perricone, President of the former Airpix company for granting permission to share these photos.  It all rolled into a wonderful opportunity to view our area’s history from the air.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

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PHEASANT WALK SUBDIVISION AERIAL PHOTO

August 29, 2010

This neat photo fell into my lap after a Schaumburg Township History presentation I gave at Spring Valley Nature Center.  It is compliments of Jean and Bill Tucknott who are longtime volunteers.  (Double click on it and you’ll get a larger view.)

The central part of the photo shows the somewhat circular outline of the Pheasant Walk subdivision as it is being constructed during the spring/summer of 1977.  A total of 93 homes were approved for the subdivision that was originally called Arlingdale by the developer and is off of Roselle Road which is in the background of the photo.  (Notice that it is two lanes.) 

Hartford Drive is off of Roselle Road at the top of the photo.  It flows into the already constructed Weathersfield Homes with Holyoke Court being in the foreground.  (Notice the  round pool in one of the backyards.) 

The Pheasant Walk models are on Hartford Drive right before the turn off for the main part of the Pheasant Walk subdivision.  They are obvious with their already grassed yards.  The back part of the subdivision has a number of already constructed homes.  These are on Long Meadow Drive with a court opening off of it.   Yet to be constructed on Pheasant Walk Drive between the third and fourth house is Slingerland Park which is presumably named for Walter Slingerland, a former Schaumburg Village trustee who also owned the property where the Schaumburg Municipal Complex now stands.

On the opposite side of  Hartford Drive is the Pickwick Place apartment complex under construction.  It is interesting to note the Pizza Hut was already there on Roselle Road along with the strip mall that is also still in existence.  The other distinctive building of note is the barn that is currently owned by the Mennonite Church.  At this point the silos are still in place and the back view of the barn is neat to see.  Hidden in the trees on the opposite side of Roselle Road is what used to be the Emil Licthardt farm. 

This photo is a unique capture of a moment in time.  What else do you see on this photo that I haven’t spotted?