This past Saturday I walked into the Prairie Avenue Bookshop for the last time. It will be closing on Monday, August 31st.
Started in 1961 as the Prairie School Press, the bookshop opened in 1974 in the historic Printer’s Row neighborhood in Chicago to support the Prairie School Review, books on the Chicago School, the Prairie School and related subjects. Over the decades the shop grew and moved to Wabash Avenue. Tucked under the elevated mass transit system, it was a modest gem.
One of the greatest pleasures of living in a city committed to architects and architecture was a carefree afternoon at the bookshop. Just walking in the door and breathing in the musty air was sheer joy. Air that was filled with the scent of books—old, new, out-of-print, imported—the broadest range of just one subject: the spaces we live in.
Whether about construction techniques or materials research, famous and/or controversial architects, furniture design and decorating indoors and out, multi-million dollar projects, city planning or village homes in Vietnam; Prairie Avenue was world-renowned as the best resource for print materials on architecture. And thankfully, it was right in our backyard.
As much as we love new technologies and all the information at our fingertips, we recall all that we’ve learned from the books we bought. We will miss you.