31 March 2014

Lost City: Chicago Edition: Milshire Hotel

The Milshire Hotel is grand old edifice on N. Milwaukee Street in the now fashionable Logan Square section of Chicago. It is little changed, inside and out. The vertical neon sign is original as is the traditional wooden booth the hotel manager sits in just inside the door.

The Milshire is today what it always was, that kind of shady urban hotel where people of no fixed address stay for short (sometimes very short) or long periods of time. As you can see from the faded ad on its side, it was a "weekly transient" hotel, even back in the day. Today, shifty character pass in and out of the front door. Nonetheless, there's a cheap coffee shop inside that advertises its wares ("Cappuccino!") to all and sundry.

I thought of taking a cup of coffee in this establishment, except when I entered the Milshire all eyes suddenly fell on me, and one lean, scruffy individual began to make a beeline toward me, as if he knew me or I owed him money. I beat it. The episode lasted a total of five seconds, but there something genuinely frightening about it.

Good thing, too. Further investigation led me to understand that this is a favored lodging of prostitutes, pimps, drunks, druggies, rats, mice and bedbugs. A shame. Such a handsome facade. (With it's burnt-out letters, the hotel's sign seems to be sending a message to passsersby as to its true line of business.)

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