Decades-old photo shows Jefferson Park as Kennedy Expressway being built, includes current development site at Long & Argyle, where dairy once stood
by BRIAN NADIG
As foundations are being poured for nine houses on a former industrial site at 5340-56 W. Argyle St., a decades-old aerial photograph captures much of the area’s history, including a dairy and a business associated with a former alderman.
The photograph shows the Kennedy Expressway being built in the late 1950s, as the new highway cuts through the heart of Jefferson Park, leading to the demolition and relocation of homes and the removal of a local park, according to the Northwest Chicago Historical Society.
In the photo, the development parcel is located at the northeast corner of Argyle Street and Long Avenue, to the west of the expressway’s construction and to the north of former Jefferson Park Lutheran Church, 5009 N. Northwest Hwy.
The approximately 28,000- square-parcel was once home to a distribution center for the Bowman Dairy and before that it is believed that the Borden’s Farm Products Company had an outlet there.
“These dairies and distribution centers were all over the city,” said resident Kurt Kuhlman, who has lived on Winnemac Avenue behind the site since 1995. “I recall reading somewhere in the past that there were stables there for the horses that pulled the milk wagons.”
Kuhlman bought the aerial picture on eBay.
By the time Kuhlman had moved into the neighborhood, the site was occupied by Cowhey Materials and Co. William J. Cowhey held many governmental posts in the 1940s through the 1960s, including 41st Ward alderman and committeeman and state fire marshal.
Until the early 2000s, the Cowhey family operated a cement-mixing facility at 5206 W. Ainslie St., which was upzoned about 6 years ago for a 16-story building that has not been built.
“At the time (the Long-Argyle lot) was being used as a truck and equipment depot for Cowhey,” Kuhlman said. “They housed their cement trucks and front end loaders there.”
Some of the dairy distribution complex had been demolished before Kuhlman purchased his home, while the remainder was demolished after plans were announced about 15 years ago for the construction of “Argyle Corners,” a single-family home development by American Colony Homes that was never built.
The new project currently under construction is by MK Construction. The first of MK’s homes is expected to completedby September, with all of them built by the spring of 2024, Alderman James Gardiner (45th) said. The homes will include 3.5 bathrooms, three or four bedrooms, and two-car garages, he said.
The site had been rezoned about 6 years ago for a 48-unit apartment complex by former alderman John Arena, but Gardiner had the property downzoned after it went up for sale in 2021.
The Kennedy Expressway opened in 1960, and about 10 years later the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave., opened.
At one time there was talk of an on-and-off ramp for the Kennedy at Ainslie Street that would lead to a large parking facility, as motorists could then take the train to the Loop. However, controversy derailed the plan.
And around 1990, there was a plan for an underground parking facility under the terminal, with a retail component above ground, but the proposal never got beyond the early planning stages.