The intersection of Halsted and Willow Streets is home to four Victorian-era buildings on three of the corners, serving as a gateway to the Sheffield neighborhood. These distinctive corner buildings were built during the same period as the architecture seen in the adjacent Sheffield National Register Historic District. The buildings at Halsted and Willow could not be included in the National Register District due to a 1970s residential development that separates the residential part of the neighborhood from the commercial area. However, the intersection marks a stylistic and visual entry point to the neighborhood and to the Armitage-Halsted Chicago Landmark District, which was established in 2003 and is one of the few commercial landmark districts in the city.
Remarkably, historic and visually cohesive area has changed little since the first decade of the 20th century, with buildings at the Halsted and Willow Gateway dating back to at least 1889. Of particular note is 1800 N. Halsted, known as the “Black Duck,” which housed Schulien’s Tavern from 1914 until 1949. The tavern, owned and operated by amateur magician and gag artist Matt Schulien, was a gathering place for noted Chicagoans and many magicians, including Harry Blackstone. The Chicago style of magic, which soon spread throughout the world, was born in this building.
(Photo credit: Liz Chilsen)