For sheer determinism, resources and brain power, no one matches a quality librarian...nobody.
We turned to Alice, the librarian at Gapers Block, to ask about the strange change in street names for our neighborhood. A property map of 1933 lists our street as "Trumbull" which is not its name now. And she introduced us to the
beautiful simplicity endearing confusion of the streets of Chicago.
After some diligent research, here is Alice's reply:
I think this is about the best I can do - at least it's a start.
According to "Streetwise Chicago: A History of Chicago Street Names" by Don Hayner and Tom McNamee, [your current street] is named after a builder/developer J.L.S. B_______ who was very active in building large homes on the city's Northwest Side and in the suburb of Oak Park.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find any more specific information on Mr. B_______. If we knew when he lived or when he was active, we could probably guess about when the name change happened.
But, I did find a document from the Chicago Historical Society regarding Chicago street name changes, compiled by a William Martin in 1948. Your street was already named B_______ at this point, so, knowing that the plat you have from 1930 still shows the street as Trumbull, we can probably put the name change somewhere between 1930-1948.
The funny thing is that Trumbull Avenue still exists in Chicago. Like B_______ Street, it is about 3400 West and runs North-South from 1052 N to 11324 S. But, it also looks like when the name change took place, B_______ Street sort of took over several different street names. Although B_______ now stretches from 2400 N to about 6200 N, the part from 2400-2600 was once known as Smalley Ct., 3100 to 3200 was once Dresden Ave., 3350 to 4000 was Hernart Street, and 5200-5800 was Trumbull Ave. (This information is all from the CHS document.)
Finally, you're right that most North-South streets in Chicago are titled "Avenue," but, as with anything, "there are exceptions." :)
For information on the history of the North Park neighborhood, my only recommendation (and maybe you've already done this without success) is to try the Municipal Reference Collection at the Harold Washington Library or the Chicago Historical Society which does have a research center that is open to the public.
Anyways, good luck, and I hope this information helped!
Seriously. Alice is amazing. I searched and couldn't find any of this and I take my research pretty seriously. I've even been to the Harold Washington Library (see earlier adventure) and couldn't FIND the Municipal Reference Collection (because I didn't know what I was asking for.)