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The 1923-built S-shaped apartment complex, while unique in design, provides insight into a wealth of cultural history attached to the 1920s. In contrast to the dark, urban apartments that dominated the landscape of many cities during the height of the Industrial Revolution, Chicago-area apartments of the post-WWI era were required to provide at least 20% courtyard space, if not 35% -- combating the urban ills for which famous progressive Jane Addams fought. The apartment arose amidst a strong Chicago and U.S. economy and building boom, helped when Evanston received rail access to Chicago's downtown.

A courtyard within the S-shaped Andridge Apartments.

A courtyard within the S-shaped Andridge Apartments.

Andridge Apartments, Taken 2012

Andridge Apartments, Taken 2012

As Chicago grew from swampland in the mid-nineteenth century to one of the world's biggest cities in the 1920s, it became congested; the city exhibited the same urban problems found in other cities like New York and London. Hence, many people sought refuge, and Evanston proved to be a place for which residents migrated, notably due to a rapid transit system that connected Evanston to Chicago's downtown, created during the first two decades of the twentieth century. The transit system and migration coincided with a building boom, including several apartments such as the 1923-built Andridge Apartments and its two courtyards. 

The strong U.S. economy not only helped Chicago enjoy its "Bungalow Boom" in the 1920s (100,000 single-dwelling cottages were built the Chicago metro region) but also led the tremendous growth in apartment construction nationwide; an average of 226,000 multiple-family dwelling units arose each year from 1924-1928. However, in Chicago and Evanston, as was the case in many places, apartments enjoyed features that would promote healthier living.

Progressive Jane Addams proved influential nationally, and certainly locally in her hometown of Chicago (and the suburbs) by promoting that healthy living led to healthy citizens, which meant for a better democracy. Much of that can be seen with apartments such a the Andridge and its unique S-type design. With one courtyard facing Church Street and the other facing Ridge Ave., residents enjoyed plenty of light and cross-ventilation, as well as outdoor space -- both features missing from must urban dwellings at the height of the Industrial Revolution. 
Babcock, Richard F., and Fred P. Bosselman. "Suburban Zoning and the Apartment Boom." University of Pennsylvania Law Review 111, no. 8 (1963): 1040-091. doi:10.2307/3310792.

Brown, Victoria Bissell. "Jane Addams," in Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary. edited by Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001. 

Duis, Perry R. Challenging Chicago: Coping with Everyday Life, 1837-1920.  Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1998. 

Hansmann, Della. "Chicago Building Types: The Courtyard Apartment." Moss Architectural Design. Accessed September 30, 2014. 

Hoffmann, John, editor. A Guide to the History of Illinois. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. 

"Nomination Form: Suburban Apartment Buildings in Evanston Thematic Resource: Andridge Apartments." National Register of Historic Places. January 30, 1984. Digitized form currently found at the National Archive Catalog at 

Prosser, Daniel J. "Chicago and the Bungalow Boom of the 1920s." Chicago History 10.2 (1981): 86–95.

Quinn, Patrick. "Evanston." Encyclopedia of Chicago. . Accessed April 11, 2018.

Wilson, Mark R.. "Construction." Encyclopedia of Chicago. . Accessed April 11, 2018. 

Photo Sources

Andridge Apartments, Taken 2012: By Thshriver - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Andridge Courtyard: (date and photographer unknown).