Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 214, 30 May 2013

I was fortunate enough to be able to watch the demolition of a whole section of the wall this morning. It was interesting to see how the drill attacked the wall from all sides and how cracks slowly became visible. I even got to see a huge chunk come crashing down (pictures 8 through 10).

In the short amount of time it took me to eat a bowl of cereal and drink a cup of coffee, the rest of the wall bit the dust.

Here are two videos of this machine (which i think is called a crawler excavator) in action. In the first (CLICK HERE), it is loading the debris from the last section of the wall into a dump truck. In the second (CLICK HERE), it is smoothing the remaining pile of debris in preparation for the arrival of a second dump truck.

And here's the unsung hero of this operation, the man who operates the excavator.

I feel like i've been neglecting the south end of the site, but it's a little harder for me to get good pictures because of the way the buildings are configured and all the overhead wires. There seems to still be a little more tieback installation going on at that end. 

The pile of bricks salvaged from yesterday's digging were carted away today, but thanks to the crew for putting one aside for me to add to my little substation museum. It does look a lot like the paving bricks on the next block of Glenwood Ave. At some point, i'd like to do a little more research into when the streets were paved and when and how the Red Line was built through this section. But in the meantime, i now have my own little piece of that history.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day 213, 29 May 2013

This morning, it didn't seem like this was going to be a very exciting day at the worksite.  All the machinery seemed to be occupied with the task of smoothing out the dirt surface to a uniform flatness. Work was concentrated at the two ends of the project, especially the north end. 

Then at about 9:00, i noticed that a large pile of bricks had been unearthed. I would love to know the source of these old bricks, whether some earlier structure stood on this site or they were just added as filler. It's possible that they were surplus from the paving of Glenwood and Wayne Avenues, both of which are still brick-paved between Farwell and Morse. 

When i returned at the end of the day, those mysterious old bricks were neatly stacked on a pallet. 

I was also surprised to see that one of the few remaining sections of wall had been demolished and all the dirt from the north end of the site had been dug out to ground level. The crew certainly had a busy day today!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 212, 28 May 2013

In general, things seem to be slowing down as this stage of the project winds down, with the next stage (the actual building of the substation) slated to begin in two weeks. 

A little fine tuning at the north end of the site.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 209, 25 May 2013

This seems like a good moment to pause and look back at the changes that have occurred since this project got underway. I took this picture on 25 October 2012, four days before the beginning of the substation project. The trees were the first things to go; the wall (including the painted-on "no parking" sign in the foreground) was among the last. Since i am by nature more interested in demolition than construction, i'm a little worried that the building stage won't be as much fun to watch and photograph as this first part has been, but i'm keeping an open mind.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 208, 24 May 2013

What appears to be a cement mixture is being pumped into the area of the tiebacks. 

A new notice was posted around the neighborhood today regarding the next stage of construction: the building of the substation; installation of sewer, water, and electrical service for the building; and installation of the electrical equipment that it is the reason the substation is being built. It gives the range of dates for the actual building of the substation as starting on 12 June and continuing until 28 February of next year. So it looks like this stage of the project is nearing completion. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 207, 23 May 2013

It's a miserable day here in Chicago, and the crew is slogging through the mud clad in their foul-weather gear. Judging by the absence of noise and the way people are looking at it, i suspect that the Hütte is being temperamental in that special way that only a machine with about three million moving parts can be.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 205, 21 May 2013

More tiebacks were installed today.

A blast of mud is released as the Hütte bores into the earth. 

 And finally, a couple of pictures of ... 
Hütte and the Blowtorch.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Day 204, 20 May 2013

The Hütte (formerly known as "Big Blue") has returned! The sections of steel paneling exposed by last week's digging are being scraped clean and additional tiebacks are being installed by the Hütte . 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Day 201, 17 May 2013

One dump truck is filled and is soon replaced by the next as the retaining wall continues to disappear.

CLICK HERE for some exciting footage of a dump truck picking up a load of very large chunks of construction debris. Between this and the giant jackhammer, the floor has been shaking and the china has been rattling on the shelves all week. In fact, at one point i got mad at the cat for knocking a jar off a shelf (in my defense, she has a real talent for pushing things off whatever surface she thinks should be reserved for her); however, the next day the same jar crashed to the floor again while the cat was curled up sleeping ten feet away. I've found myself singing THIS SONG a lot this week.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Day 200, 16 May 2013

In honor of the 200th day since the beginning of the substation project, here is a link to a YouTube video i made of the very noisy work of taking down the retaining wall (CLICK HERE). I haven't had much luck with posting videos before, but hopefully the YouTube format will be more successful. Make sure to turn the volume all the way up to get the full effect. 
PS. Thanks to the guys at 0:01:25 for the thumbs up.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Day 199, 15 May 2013

It wasn't quite Berlin in 1989, but it was still very exciting to see the wall come tumbling -- very reluctantly -- to the ground. Watching the demolition definitely made it clear that "they don't build 'em like they used to"-- this was one solid wall!
The first two pictures were taken at the start of the work day. The "No Parking" sign painted on the wall in the lower right corner of the first picture makes a good point of reference with the later pictures. With the exception of the final picture, which was taken after the work ended for the day, the remaining pictures were taken over the course of about 30 minutes this afternoon. 
This was some of the most apartment-shakingly loud work so far and will continue into tomorrow. But my neighbors and i were gathered on the back porch, cheering as each chunk of wall crumbled. I even donned my pretty pink hard hat for the occasion.

This picture shows the depth of the excavation and the size of the wall.
Note the "No Parking" sign in the lower right.

Here's how it looked at ground level this morning.

This picture shows some of the chucks of rock flying through the air.
The "No Parking" sign is half gone at this point.
All in a day's work!