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Summer, Morgan Shoal (looking northwest) | by davekaleta
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Summer, Morgan Shoal (looking northwest)

A continuing series of autobiographical Lego builds


When Devon and I first moved in together, one of our favorite summer activities was going to 49th Street beach in the summer. The lakefront in Chicago is protected meaning there is an 18.5 mile stretch that is dedicated for public use. When I was a teenager living in Hyde Park, this was an actual beach with life guards, unofficially named Pebbles Beach because of the conglomeration of rocks instead of sand. One of the best things about it was how quickly the water got deep - about 15 feet out, it was already shoulder deep. Eventually the life guards left, and 49th Street became an unofficial dog beach on the South Side. One of the highlights of 49th Street is the Morgan Shoal, the remains of a prehistoric coral reef now turned to Silurian dolomite that still teems with diverse life. Many a swimmer has dared to swim out to the wreck of the Silver Spray, a 100ft wooden steam ship which sunk in the shallow waters of the shoal in 1914, and stand atop the wreckage that jutted out slightly above the water.


Since 2013 the water level of Lake Michigan has risen over 6ft. You can no longer see the Silver Spray wreckage from shore. The large concrete embankment has been eroded. This area from this build is completely underwater and the environmental reclamation is encroaching on the lakefront path. Hyde Park is not alone. Chicago beaches are being swallowed and closed from the north to south ends.


This model was started in 2014 as a companion piece to Winter, Harper Avenue. I wanted to show the polar opposites of Chicago seasons. The figures and towels were built first, but I really wasn't sure how to build the rocks and the lake. After a huge life change in 2015 (hey Elliot!), I came back to the build late in 2018 with the help of Matt Rowntree and Keith Goldman. Matt said the characters were too static and encouraged me to add more story. We ended up with the dog (Ciara; pronounced KEER-uh) shaking on Devon and the trail of wet paw prints.


While we can no longer recreate this experience, I am so pleased to be able to keep this memory of our early relationship and share it with Elliot.


See the previous builds in the series:

Winter, Harper Ave, Work in Progress, Lurie Garden, Cake Topper, 411C, Sleep Regression, One Small Step, and One, Two, Three, Whee!

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Taken on July 30, 2019