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Unexpected Blast From the Past – Resurrection of LaSalle Street Historic Auto Row

Earlier this month I had a home inspection scheduled on the West side of Aurora, IL.  The home located in a Historic area was a short sale and the buyer wanted to know exactly what needed to be done to bring it up to today's standards.  Unfortunately, when we got to the home none of the utilities were on so we had to reschedule the inspection.

I called the listing agent and told him the issues.  He promised to work on getting the utilities turned on and also inviited me to go see him at a special event that was happening on LaSalle Street.  When I heard where the event was located I had to think back to many years ago when I was just a little kid.

I grew up on LaSalle Street - in fact it was the 2nd apartment that I can remember living in during my childhood.  Back in the 60's LaSalle Street was quite the place.  As a child, of course, I had a totally different perspective.  My siblings and me along with an assortment of cousins loved playing on the tar roofs that streteched from building to building.

The street probably was not the best place to raise a family but in those days where we were allowed to rent was limited.  Discrimination was strong and few places rented to minorities.  Of course, as a child, it took me a while to figure out that my family and I were "minorities".  We went to a local Catholic grade school where we and my cousins were the only Hispanic's in the school.  Again, just a few little incidents that I still have imprinted in my mind let me know that we were "different".

But despite all these other factors we had a great time as kids.  The apartment that we lived in was large with high ceilings and lots of different rooms.  We had great family parties where the extended friends and families celebrated many holidays and birthdays.

So with these fond memories I headed out to LaSalle Street to check out the special event.  Although it had started misting a bit I was prepared for rain.  But I was not prepared for what I saw when I got to LaSalle.Street View LaSalle St. Car Show

Row after row of vintage cars were parked on both sides of the street.  Balloons formed an arch from one side of the street to another.

I found my fellow realtor, Larry Thomas, manning an outdoor grill with people lined up for a pulled pork sandwich, hot dog or ribs.  I spoke with him and he told me the Cliff notes of what was happening on the street.

I started walking around and looking at the cars.  In the center of the block an announcer was telling people that there were tours starting on the various bldgs.  I joined in and went through the tour of the various buildings that were open to the public and learned a little bit of history about my old stomping grounds.

Blue ConvertibleDuring the turn of the century in the early 1900's LaSalle Street was known as "LaSalle Street Auto Row" due to all the different car dealerships and auto related businesses that were located on the street.  Now in the 21st century, a group of visionairies want to bring the street back to life and its history to a new generation.  Friends of LaSalle Historic Auto Row put together the event and classic car enthusiasts registered to show their lovely autos.  Jan Manger, Director of Historic Preseveration for Aurora gave the guided tours along with the help of Joe Dispensa one of the long time building owners who is putting his time and money on the line in helping to develop this bit of Aurora's history.

Corvair

Now for those of you who missed this event but would like to contribute to make this vision a reality call Joe and contribute to the cause.  You can reach Joe through www.lasalle-auto-row.org

Teal Chevy

But better yet, if you are a visionary investor and are looking for a location for your business in the 2nd largest city in Illinois give me a call.  There are a variety of spaces available that would be perfect for a restaurant, a coffee shop and even a nice modern "speakeasy".  Spaces are available for auto related business, speciality auto's, or you can bring your creative ideas to us and we will work with you to find a place on this Historic Auto Row!  Be in on the bottom floor of an upcoming redevelopment in Aurora, IL.  With easy access to Metra's Aurora downtown stop, the Historic Roundhouse, the new Waubonsee College campus, Paramount Art Center and of course, Hollywood Casino - LaSalle's Street Auto Row will be the place to do business and have a great time!

Although LaSalle Street went through a rowdy and sometimes violent period my childhood memories don't include any of that.  Perhaps the "pretty ladies" were not what I thought they were but they always gave me candy or a quarter for ice cream.  Music was always on at night and weekends could be loud but for a child the hustle and bustle was a lot of fun. 

Orange Fire Car

Enjoying playing on the roofs and waving to the commuters on the train and wondering where they were going was one of my favorite past times.  Years later I became one those commuters and passed the building that I called home for many years and pictured that little girl waving as I waved back and the past becomes the present in many surprising ways.

Keep your eyes and ears to the ground for the next car show in  2011.  If possible contribute to the organization and better yet call me and find out how you can move your business to this up and coming location.  Aurora is changing and you can become part of the grassroots movement and make LaSalle St. a great place to work and call home.

 

 

Evelyn Santiago

Dynamic Real Estate Network, Inc.

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