Friday, January 9, 2009

Birthplace of Philip K Dick?

Sutin writes:

"The birthing [of Philip and Jane] took place in their new apartment at 7812 Emerald Avenue. It was the dead of a very cold winter."

The photo above is a Google street view of the address (viewable here). Does this building appear to be built before 1928? I don't really know what to look for. But - is it just me - or does the kind of run down appearance of the place evoke the troubling history we've heard took place there?

This all comes up as I prepare to take my family to Chicago next week. I planned on driving out to find the place, thinking it was somewhere on the northwest side (don't know where I got that impression), but this place is WAY down on the South Side, and I'm not sure what kind of neighborhood it is down there. Long story short, this shot from Google may be the best we get for awhile.

Not quite as swanky as the Hemingway's birthplace just 20 miles away:


macshaggy said...

Could it be that Hemmingway came from a rich family? Did Hemmingway ever really struggle?

Dick on the other hand has had a very hard life. Which probably makes his books more interesting to read. I've read Hemmingway but I don't care for his style.

Dick on the other hand: his style seems eratic at best and for some reason there is some wild logic that makes it all work. You get to know his characters from the inside out their is nothing that seems petty and exploring the most minute personal detail yields fascinating information on the character. He somehow then uses that to drive the character through the plot.

Hemmingway seems to report what is happening. Guess that comes from the fact his was a reported at some time. But I can't get into his characters. Everytime I read his work I just think that the bulk of them are spoiled brats and that is my impression of him, right or wrong.

Each of their birthplace homes just reinforces my impression of both writers.

The History Rat said...

If you do a drive by visit - getting on and off of Halstead quickly - you should be OK. I would not linger. Get back on the Dan Ryan and head on up to see the current Jim Briskin residence in all its glory.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be *too* worried about a quick visit to take a photo or two, just go in the morning if you are concerned.

According to Google's map, should only take you about 20 minutes to drive from downtown. Hyde Park is directly north, you could go visit the Museum of Science and Industry at 57th Street.

Take a look at EveryBlock's crime statistics for the location:

Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews said...

Great blog! I just linked to it via a Dick tangent on my own blog:

Illinois Jacket said...

According to Zillow the home has been foreclosed on and is now for sale by the lender.
I emailed the lender to find out when it was built. I'll post again if I get a reply.

Anonymous said...

I worked in construction in Chicago for several years... I can tell you that house was not there in 1928. If I had to guess I would say late 80s or early 90s. But it doesn't matter as that is not the right location anyway. Google Maps, at least for Chicago area, is always slightly off - the pictures don't match up with the addresses. Plus if you look on the Zillow listing you can see that it is for 7822 S Emerald not 7812. If you scroll to the right you can see the right picture at 7808 Emerald. You can verify this by checking the Cook County Tax Assessor info for 7812 Emerald, which has a correct picture of the property - you can look it up for yourself here: That building was also built later and probably rehabbed recently.

My guess is it was a small wood frame house that was long since torn down like most of the other old single families in Chicago. If you scroll to the left you can see some of the old brownstones, which probably have been there since the 1920s or even earlier... they don't tear down the brownstones.. but those red brick buildings are all newer.

I'd recommend not taking the detour. Not that it would be dangerous just to drive through, but the south side is a pretty dreary and uninviting place, and not a fun place to take the kids. Besides that, the neighborhood is nothing like it was when Phil was born. That Chicago is no more. Enjoy your time in Chicago by sticking to the lakefront and the north side.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dickhead, I got a question you may be able to answer. Seems like old Mr. Lethem has edited a THIRD LoA volume entitled "VALIS and Later Novels" and it's supposed to be about 850 pages. Assuming it's got the whole VALIS trilogy, what's the fourth novel? I've combed the internet trying to find a clue but to no avail.

My money is on Maze of Death.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had read this earlier. I live in River Forest and went to Oak Park River Forest High School. I had English class in the same class as Hemingway. Never been to Dick's birthplace though.