Illustration of Edward Robert McClelland
Illustration: Greg Clarke

That distinction, according to Hidden Chicago Landmarks by John R. Schmidt, was long held by 76-foot Ziegfeld Court, off Van Buren in the Loop, next to the Ziegfeld Theater. But in 1970, the city sold the street to Continental Assurance, which built the CNA Center on top of it.

That made Hoey Street, off Archer Avenue in Bridgeport, the new shortest street. But Hoey didn’t reign for long. In 2000, construction began on the Belmont River Club, a townhouse development on the west bank of the Chicago River in Avondale. Since the site was an old boatyard, it needed streets of its own. Two of those — Bay Court and Pier Court — are shorter than Hoey. According to Hidden Chicago Landmarks, geographic information system measurements have Pier Court at 128.88 feet and Bay Court at 127.52. Pier and Bay are not part of the city’s grid system because they’re in a private development, but people live, drive, and receive mail there, so they count as streets.

I visited Belmont River Club and paced off both streets: Bay Court is 49 steps and Pier Court is 49 and a half. As a result of methods both scientific and un-, I declare Bay Court the shortest street in Chicago — at least until somebody builds a shorter one.

— Question submitted by James Finn Garner, North Center


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