Greenebaum home

Street Address: 
Union St. and Randolph
Chicago, IL

In her 1942 memoir, Hannah Greenebaum Solomon recalls growing up in a house at Randolph and Union in the 1860s. The book has been digitized by the Internet Archive/Open Content Alliance.

From pages 10-12:

The house in which I was born, in 1858, was situated on the first land purchased by my father. The property was on the corner of Union Street, with about one hundred feet fronting on Randolph Street and extended to the next corner.

Here, in one of the four dwellings my father owned, lived our cousins, the Beckers, while a frame cottage on the Union Street side was occupied by our relatives, the Harts, who had also come to Chicago from Eppelsheim, in the wake of the Greenebaums.

On the north corner of his property my father built our comfortable home. The dining room, on the first floor, extended across the entire width of the house, with the table placed near the windows at one side so that the rest of the space might serve as an ample playroom. In the basement there was a furnace — a rare possession in those days — but it was seldom used, as the house was well equipped with

stoves, then more generally in vogue. The second-floor bedrooms were unheated, but all opened into a wide hall in which stood one of the stoves, and here we sisters, Theresa, Henriette, Mary and I would dress when we arose in winter. Each cold morning the windows were heavily frosted, but we all slept under feather beds and never knew that it was frigid...

We four sisters shared a room, Theresa and Henriette in one bed, Mary and I in the other. Each wide bed was placed before a large window, with bureau and mirror between. Here, in our room, we played our favorite games of 'school' and 'Indians'. Indians still lived near the west side of Chicago and occasionally they walked on Randolph Street, always in single file and wearing leather clothes with blankets over their shoulders. They fascinated us and we were never afraid of them. Indeed,we were brought up to be without fear of anything.

Randolph was the chief business street of the West Side. The section near us extended from Desplaines to Halsted Street and was known as The Haymarket...

We were not permitted to cross Randolph Street, which was very wide, unless we were accompanied by an older person. To us it seemed quite a thoroughfare and we saw its first cedar blocks take the place of the deep mud which formed the original roadway for Chicago vehicles. Later, when streets were being graded and the sidewalks raised, there was a continual going up and down stairs in the climb from one level to the other.

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