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Spotted From the El

A building in Chicago with a problem we see all the time in New York. The front facade – on the right, around the corner – has hard-burned brick veneer with thin joints. That’s the classic nineteenth century fancy brick. The side wall – the one we’re looking at – is common brick with wide joints. As a result, the coursing doesn’t match and it’s impossible to tooth the two together where they meet. You end up with a long continuous vertical joint between the front and the side. 

It’s a weakness in the wall, but not catastrophic. The masons building it knew it wasn’t quite right, but there was really no way around it until wire reinforcing was introduced to brick construction in the second half of the twentieth century.