Best-Kept Secret Street | Best of Chicago 2013 | City Life | Chicago Reader

Best-Kept Secret Street 

Alta Vista Terrace

It takes only five minutes to get from Wrigley Field, all-American domain of hot dogs, beer, and rowdy baseball fans, to a quiet, peaceful, astonishingly smog-free patch of 19th-century London. How's that? Well, fine, Alta Vista Terrace, which lies in a gap in the street grid between Seminary and Kenmore and extends for a single block between Grace and Byron, isn't really in London. It's merely inspired by London. Developer Samuel Eberly Gross visited in the 1890s, became particularly enchanted with the rowhouses in Mayfair, and decided to reproduce them in Lakeview. There are 40 houses on Alta Vista Terrace, set in two rows, facing each other across a narrow strip of asphalt. In terms of construction, the houses are pretty much identical—two stories (except for the four houses at the center of the block, which get an extra floor), bay windows, short stoops—but architect J.C. Brompton added special flourishes, borrowed from houses in London, to make them unique. Except Brompton ran out of models. And so each house has a twin across the street on the opposite end of the block. It's a great excuse to take a stroll and point out how each house is different in your best—or worst—British accent.

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