Sweet History from Wiltberger Street, NW


Looking at it from the front you’d almost have no idea that there was a row of houses here:


I was fortunate enough to run into the nephew of one of the street’s longest residents, Mr. Roland Swingon. Mr. Swingon is in his 80s and was unfortunately unable to speak at the time I passed by but his nephew, Dave, recounted a couple of cool stories for me. First let me situate you, the street is between S and T behind the Howard theater:

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Well apparently after the great musicians would play the Howard Theater they would sometimes come to this row of houses for a visit. One time the great blues singer Billie Holliday came to visit Mr. Swingon. Dave told me that when he was growing up the whole area smelled like bread from the nearby Wonder Bread factory (soon to be a recipient of a horse’s ass award…). But before’s Dave time he told me that when Mr. Swingon moved to the block the floors were made of dirt, there used a coal stove, and an ice truck drove and dropped off blocks of ice. I love hearing stories like this. It is wild to imagine the city back then. But truthfully I was most intrigued by Billie Holliday’s visit. One day, I hope to meet Mr. Swingon in person to get the full story of Billie Holliday’s visit.

2 Comment

  • That’s an awesome and wonderfully intact little niche. I can only hope that the bakery will get rehabilitated, which would make it totally cool again (instead of potentially so), rather than torn down.

  • I also like the two houses on the corner facing S and know the owner. I gave him lots of grief for cutting down the huge handsome tree that was in front.

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