Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Monday, June 24

Gapers Block

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Where We Started

Gapers Block went live on April 25, 2003, with a Merge post about the Berghoff adding seats in the bar. The first couple Fuel questions were kind of silly, but got down to business soon enough.

The oldest Slowdown calendar entry was on May 1, 2003. We went fully public on May 5, and on that day Shylo Bisnett's "A Dialogue Between KISS & ABBA" was our first Detour feature.

We launched Airbags, our collection of columns, on Sept. 2, 2003, beginning with Ramsin Canon's Revenge of the Second City, Alice Maggio's Ask the Librarian, Media Warm & Tepid by various authors, and Cinnamon Cooper's One Good Meal.

A couple things from the earliest days of the site are missing -- including the first incarnation of Transmission, a weekly mp3 from a local artist, shared in a box on the front page. It was hand-coded and uploaded by FTP, so there was no archive. And the first 14 months of Rearview were lost in a server transfer, so the earliest we have in the archives is from July 9, 2004.

It's good to look back at where we started, so we have perspective on where we are today, and where we're going from here. This may be the end of Gapers Block for now, but it's not the end of the incredible work being done by the writers who made the site such an invaluable resource for Chicagoans -- nor is it the end of independent journalism in Chicago. It will just be (temporarily, I'm positive) harder to find. The mission for you is still the same: Slow down and check out the city. Thank you for coming along on this particular ride.

The Legacy of the Yards

Curious City looks at what's changed in meat packing and butchery in the years since The Jungle. (Spoiler alert: quite a lot.)

Feel the Old Bern?

A semi-famous photo of Bernie Sanders helping organize a sit-in protesting discriminatory housing practices in 1962 when he was a University of Chicago student actually may depict one of his classmates.

GB Gift Guide: Chicago History in Photos

Photos from the 1933 Century of Progress exposition tell the story of the events and people dramatized in Chicago's last world's fair. In this 144-page book, photos from the Tribune archives track all aspects of the fair from technology through entertainment.

The Day Chicago Wept

Fifty-seven years ago today, a massive fire at Our Lady of the Angels School on the city's West Side killed 92 children and three nuns. Read more here.

"You get a car!"

It's been 10 years since everyone got a car. Oprah reflects on that incredible moment.

The moment lives on not only as a silly catchphrase, but as a very important internet meme.

Smoke'em if You Got'em

In 1954, you could smoke in the Sun-Times newsroom. Copy editor Dave Karno gets took full advantage.

Molding History

Learn all about Mold-A-Rama's history -- and future -- in Curious City's latest story.

Making McCallister History

James Hughes, son of John Hughes, wrote an oral history of Home Alone.

Dive into the Collection

Chicago Collections is a new consortium of libraries, museums, schools and institutions dedicated to preserving and sharing Chicagoland's history and culture. Explore the archives online.

Our own Mad Hatter

Benjamin B. Green-Field was known as "Chicago's Mad Hatter," using all manner of materials for his creations, from feathers to silver cutlery. He passed away in 1988. You can buy one of his amazing hats, modeled after a beehive, for $895.

Time Travel

Last week Whet Moser went back in time to create a collection of newspaper infographics from the 1900s.

When Sinatra Came to Gary

On Nov. 1, 1945, Frank Sinatra performed a concert in Gary to try to end a walk-out by white students at a racially integrated high school.

Austin City Limits

Did you know that Austin was once part of Cicero Township? Its undoing as a suburb was the extension of the L line -- but not in the way you might think.

An Eye-Watering Trade

Planet Money tells the story of how a New York onion farmer played the futures market and ended up flooding the Chicago River with onions.

Let's Go Microbes

The Chicago Microbes was the nickname of a playoff contending Cubs baseball team in 1903. Time Out looked into where the moniker came from.

Ancient Maps of the City

Some of the oldest maps of Chicago were recently found in a north suburban estate sale. They'll be on display at the Chicago International Map Fair later this month.

The Way We Were

Photogrammer is a project organizing and displaying more than 170,000 photos taken between 1935 and 1945 for the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information. There are 2,407 photos of Chicago and Cook County. (Thanks, Bob!)

Art & Architecture

Author Thomas Dyja writes about IIT's iconic Crown Hall and the iconic building before it on the same plot: the Mecca Flats, once the heart of African-American culture and an exhibition at the Cultural Center last year.

Wanna Buy a Train?

The Museum of Science and Industry is unloading part of its historical train collection to make room for other modes of transportation. The trains, including a horse-drawn Chicago streetcar, will be sold at auction on Oct. 5.

An Early Perspective on Chicago History

Read Chicago: An Instructive and Entertaining History of a Wonderful City, published in 1888 -- 55 years after the city's incorporation. Of note: "The Visitor's Complete Guide to the City of Chicago." [via]

Where Aunt Jemima is Buried

Nancy Green, the original Aunt Jemima, was buried in Oak Woods Cemetery nearly a century ago, but nobody was sure where. Sherrie Williams, president of the Bronzeville Historical Society, finally founder her.

Robbin' and Stealin'

The Panczko brothers were known as the Polish Robin Hoods of Chicago.

The Swinging City

An old-school promo video shows how Chicago was one of the most happening cities of the 1970s.

Seeking Shelters

While nuclear fallout shelters still dot Chicago, few of them are in working order.

Chicago at Night

Photographer Jeff Johnson shares somewhat eerie film footage of downtown Chicago in 1940, shot by his grandfather.

Ego Trip Down Memory Lane

Chicago politicians love putting their names on new developments and road signs, and those labels remain long after they're out of office.

Black-Owned in Bronzeville

Bronzeville was once a hub of black-owned businesses, but difficulty accessing investment and global economic trends put many of them out of business.

Digital Newsreels

Witness elephants racing through the streets, a visit from the Queen of England, and a 1930 championship wrestling match with classic Movietown newsreels now available online.

History of Homes

Over 165 years of the history of home architecture can be found on Chicago's streets today.

Honring Ida B. Wells

Today's Google Doodle celebrates civil rights activist and journalist Ida B. Wells, who was born into slavery in 1862 and spent time working for the African-American Chicago Conservator newspaper.

History Bot

Curious City asks why an animatronic Harold Washington tells the late mayor's story to visitors at the DuSable Museum of African American History.

Remembering the Heat Wave

UIC will be holding a free, daylong event Sept. 16th dedicated to the 1995 Heat Wave that killed over 700 people.

Ending "Patriotic Tetanus"

Firework injuries were fatal for many in the early 1900s so the Tribune tracked tetanus infections in the days following the 4th of July, attracting a national spotlight to the issue.

Miss This Stuff?

Reminisce about the dearly departed on Craig's Lost Chicago, a cavalcade of what's come and gone.

Sex Tourists

A Sexual History of Chicago tour highlights the revolutionaries and rascals of Chicago's past.

Hot Times in the City

An oral history of Chicago's 1995 heat wave explores why over 700 people died in the extreme heat.

Punching Their Numbers

Chicago aldermen faced off in a boxing ring during the Roar by the Shore back in 1997.

Historic Pride

On a Gay Pride weekend caught up in momentous civil rights news, let's also reflect on the past. Diane Alexander White shares photos of the 7th annual parade in 1976, while Time Out has photos from the 1985 parade.

Behind the Battle Flag

As the mass shooting in Charleston rekindles conversations about the confederate flag, the ongoing Battle Flag documentary project by Chicago-based producers explores its complicated identity.

History on Trial

A mock trial of the Eastland Disaster found defendants from the steamboat company not guilty of manslaughter over the capsizing tragedy in 1915.

The Sexy 606

The "606" was the name of a legendary strip-tease joint dating back to the 1930's. [Previously.]

Crossing the Red Line

Racist property assessments and predatory tax-lien sales in Chicago called the "Black Tax" in the '70s hurt African American homeownership in ways that endure today.

Zeroing the Grid

Chicago's streets used to be a chaotic mashup of names and numbers - until one man made it his life's mission to bring order to the grid.

School Sucks, Part 1

Curious City answers the question, Were Chicago's public schools ever good? The answer, as you'd expect, is complicated. Meanwhile, Whet Moser explores how Big Business has pushed school reform over the past 100 years in Chicago.

White Riots

White Chicagoans rioting in response to people of color moving into their neighborhoods in the '40s and '50s shaped the racially divided city of today, writes Whet Moser.

The First Lady

The city's first Mexican church, Our Lady of Gaudalupe, was built in South Chicago to serve the first wave of Mexican immigrants as they settled in the area.

Clean Lines & Glass Block

Forgotten Chicago posted the final installment of its overview of the work of architect James F. Eppenstein. Load up parts one and two and save it for lunchtime reading.

Event to Remember the TB Sanitarium

North Park Village Nature Center will mark the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium on April 25. The nature center is on the sanitarium's former grounds.

1001 Chicago Afternoons Salute Ben Hecht

Paul Dailing writes the 1001 Chicago Afternoons blog as a sort of homage to Ben Hecht's gritty daily slice-of-life newspaper column from the 1920s. It was later compiled in to a book called A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago. If any part of you gladdens at accidentally wandering in to the meat packing district, or eavesdropping on late night bar brawls, or gaping at the people and places of Chicago with a sense of wonder, you will enjoy both Paul and Ben's works equally.

Remembering DePriest

Oscar DePriest was elected as the first African-American alderman in Chicago 100 years ago.

Mayor Emanuel's Activist Past

The Reader's Jake Malooley unearthed footage of a teenage Rahm Emanuel protesting against a rally of neo-Nazis on the southwest side in 1978.

20 Years After the Towers

Twenty years ago, the City began dismantling the Henry Horner Homes and other CHA public housing projects. The Chicago Reporter looks at the legacy of that decision and what the near West Side is like now..

Taking Stock After Two Decades of Demolition

It's been nearly 20 since the demolition of the Henry Horner Homes, presaging much of the Chicago Housing Authority's Plan for Transformation. How is everything going? For another look at what life was like before the demolition, take a look at this Henry Horner Mothers' Guild video from 1991.

Blue & Grey Chicago

Curious City digs up the history of Fort Douglas, a Civil War prison camp that saw some 40,000 Confederate POWs pass through its 80 acres on the South Side of Chicago. Dig deeper into Illinois in the Civil War.

The Merchant Prince

In 1899, the play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand was determined by a US court to have been plagiarized from a play by a Chicago businessman. You can read Samuel E. Gross' The Merchant Prince of Cornville online. [via]

Historic Segregation

A study of segregation on the street level found Chicago was more segregated than cities in the South in 1940.

Tragedy in Black and White

Another newly-discovered clip of the Eastland Disaster shows the grisly recovery effort as divers and workers pulled hundreds of bodies from the Chicago River.

Brightly Colored Bungalows

Chicago Patterns visits McKinley Park, home to dozens of quaint Italianate cottages and one of the easiest places to see how Chicago raised the streets to accommodate the sewer system. [via]

Freeze Out the Vote

Why are Chicago's municipal elections held in February, anyway? Curious City finds out.

Eastland's Lost Reels

While the first-known footage of the Eastland Disaster surfaced recently, Robert Loerzel found Chicago's censorship office rejected several films documenting the event.

In Right Field, Bill Murray

Back in 1978, Bill Murray played a few weeks of minor league baseball in between "Saturday Night Live" seasons. [via]

Fly to Chicago

Curbed shares some vintage Chicago tourism posters aimed at bringing travelers our way.

A Home for LGBT History

The Henry Gerber House in Old Town was named as a National Historic Landmark for its connections to the Society for Civil Rights, the first gay civil rights organization.

Preserving Pullman's History

The Pullman Historic District will be designated a national monument by President Obama.

The Eastland Disaster on Film

The first-known film footage of the Eastland Disaster was recently discovered in a Dutch news reel from 1916 by a UIC grad student. [via]

The Eastland portion begins at 1:10.
Laatste bioscoop wereldberichten

Making History

Mikki Kendall started #HistoricPOC to add images of people of color to people's often-whitewashed visions of history. [via]

Map Maker for the World

Starting in the 1850's, Chicago cartographers pioneered many new ways to make and use maps, from charting the spread of disease to plotting the future of a city.

Follow the Lines

Check out the evolution of Chicago's train lines from 1895 to today in five-year increments. The Southwest Side was robbed between the '60s and '80s. [via]

The Old Streets

Check out this 1934 road map of Chicagoland -- before the expressways, before Lake Shore Drive continued south of the River, before O'Hare Airport. [via]

And here's an article in the Tribune announcing its availability.

Star-Crossed Locales

Curious City looks into whether Romeoville and Joliet were originally named after Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

A History of Prejudice

Related to the previous, Subuk Hasnain recounts the political legacy of the KKK in the Chicago Reporter.

"And now they're just gone."

NPR traces the history and demolition of Chicago's public housing projects, drawing on the photos and memories of documentarian Patricia Evans.

Gate-Crasher Supreme

Get to know James Leo "One-Eye" Connelly, world-champion gate-crasher.

Empty Pews

Chicago Magazine takes an in-depth look at the Catholic Church's struggle to sustain itself and grow in Chicago while many are leaving the church behind.

Enemies Among Us

More than 45,000 World War II POWs, mostly Germans, were housed in Chicagoland military bases, Curious City reports.

The Writing on the Wall

The Guardian looks back at the Wall of Respect, a mural constructed in the 1960s to celebrate the black experience that inspired community murals around the world.

Return of the Mummy

Field Museum scientists cracked open the coffin of a 2,500-year-old mummy for some long-overdue maintenance.

Stone Stories

DNAinfo's Sam Cholke investigates whether limestone blocks discovered near a bus stop in Kenwood belonged to a faux castle built in the area in the 1920s, which once housed the collection of Medieval armor and artifacts now on view at the Art Institute.

Chicago's Catholic Past

With Blase Cupich set to take over as archbishop, Neil Steinberg looks back at Catholicism's history in Chicago, including its "discovery" by a priest in 1673 and the poisoning of a Cardinal's welcome feast by anarchists in 1915.

Parking's Past

Parking garages built by the City in the 1950's were meant to solve Chicago's parking problems and put the cars they contained on display, writes Serhii Chrucky in Forgotten Chicago.

Remembering Jane Byrne

Commemorate the passing of Chicago's first female mayor with some classic photos from the Tribune's archives or a visit to places named after Jane Byrne.

A Sinking Anniversary

Steve Kahn looks back at the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975.

Seven Years Before O'Leary's Cow

NYTimes' Disunion blog writes about a Confederate plot to burn Chicago on election day in 1864, during the Civil War.

The Scariest Halloween

During Halloween 1982, the city was terrified by much more than ghosts and ghouls -- the Tylenol Poisonings had folks frightened for the kids' lives.

Watch Chicagoland Spread

A video from the NYU Stern Urbanization Project shows the spread of the Chicago metropolis from 1850 to 2000.

Home Bang Bang Home

A two-flat that was Al Capone's first home in Chicago is up for sale in Greater Grand Crossing.

Hef's Sketches

Read Hugh Hefner's (SFW) pre-Playboy cartoon book, That Toddlin' Town. [via]

United States of X: Turn of the Century Edition

Slate found a 1903 map of "Race and Occupation of Immigrants by Destination" by state. Illinois' immigrants break down about how you'd expect.

illinois immigration 1903 stats

We Didn't Start the Fire Festivities

While a festival inspired by the Great Chicago Fire seems like a novel idea, the city has been taking advantage of the disaster since the flames went out.

Rebuilding the City

Although many barriers between Chicagoans went up in smoke in the Great Chicago Fire, the rebuilding process reinforced class distinctions and inspired an influx of new residents, Curious City reports.

The Great Chicago Fire

Curious City imagines what the city would be like today if there were never a fire.

This Old House

While an author writing in 1940 about old houses in Chicago was concerned a farmhouse built in 1858 wouldn't last much longer, it's still standing today.

A Death a Day

Dead in Chicago shares stories of people who met an untimely end on each day in history. On October 1, 1902, elevator conductor Thomas Byrne was killed when his lift's cables snapped.

The Fall of the McSpoon

In the late '70s, the McDonald's coffee spoon became a victim of the war on drugs, resulting in its replacement, the coffee paddle.[via]

Pick Up a Flyer

Eric May reflects on his days as a raver kid in the '90s, and shares a bunch of vintage flyers. [via]

Home of the Rising Middle Class

As the co-owner of a two-flat, I found Curious City's investigation of the two flat's history in Chicago particularly interesting.

Don't Get Bitten by a Boomslang

On Sept. 26, 1957, Field Museum herpetologist Karl P. Schmidt became the first recorded victim of a boomslang snake, at the time thought to be harmless but now known to be one of the deadliest snakes in the world. [via]

Remember the Cabbage War

West Ridge and Rogers Park once fought in the streets over a park district.

Housing History

Chicago Tonight looks back at how real estate brokers took advantage of African Americans looking to buy a home in the 1950's- and how the community fought back.

The Worst Kind of Butt-Rock

Today is the 10 year anniversary of the day the Dave Matthews Band became synonymous (for Chicago residents, anyway) with the phrase "800 pounds of raw sewage." [via]

Romance from the Past

Love letters sent during World War II finally made it to their destination in Little Village, although the intended recipient is long gone.

The Olden Days

MentalFloss shares photos of notable moments in Chicago's history, from the 1890s to the 1930s.

Ferry Anniversary

100 years ago the Silver Spray ferry crashed into the Morgan Shoal and sank off the coast of Hyde Park.

News Like Flash Gordon

A 1976 Chicago Daily News article predicted a future where electronic newspapers would be delivered to homes through cable television.

Remembering Marquette

A fading limestone monument alongside Damen Avenue commemorates the site where Father Jacques Marquette camped in 1674.

A Very Belated Homecoming

The remains of three native Tasmanians kept in the Field Museum's collection since the 1950's are returning to their homeland.

Makes Trump Look Tiny

While many are upset over the TRUMP stamped on Trump Tower, back in the 1930's a lighted sign 23 stories high sign burned the Chevrolet logo into the skies.

Chicago's World Cup Moment

Twenty years ago today, the 1994 World Cup opening ceremonies were held in Soldier Field.

Life in a Great City

LIFE magazine launched a new "Great Cities" series with a collection of historic photos from Chicago. Chicagoist's Chuck Sudo wrote the introduction.

Wither the 2nd Ward?

The 2nd Ward went from being one of the least gerrymandered to the very most over the past 80+ years, as WBEZ demonstrates with a .gif.

The Devil Wants You!

"Thee Satanist Church" once practiced in Lawndale, as well as spots in Oak Park and elsewhere, in the early 1970s. It was run by Terry Taylor, an occult bookstore owner who acted as high priest -- but who didn't believe in the devil.

Current Events of 1914

The Tribune has been posting front pages from 100 years ago on its Pinterest account, which right now means articles on the women's suffrage movement and the Mexican revolution.

Out of the Suburbs & Into the Grid

Chicago gave the world the suburbs, and historian Elaine Lewinnek explains how and why in a new book.

80 Acres of History

Urban archaeologists are digging into the history of a Civil War prisoner of war camp located in what is now the near South Side of the city.

Get to Know the Chicago Imagists

The group behind the new film Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists just published an online archive of material about Chicago Imagism. The interactive archive includes everything from rarely seen artwork to personal correspondence to new interviews conducted with artists, scholars and collectors.

Maxwell Street, 1964

And This is Free is a documentary of Maxwell Street in its hey day, made by Mike Shea. [via]

Pinball Wizards

Curious City delves into Chicago's past as a hub of the pinball industry.

Courting History

A plan for the State of Illinois to borrow $100 million to help pay for the Obama presidential library moved forward in Springfield, and the City is asking for public input on where the museum backed by George Lucas should go if it's built in Chicago.

Large Section of Marktown to be Demolished

The landmark "industrial Shangri-La" of Marktown, Indiana may be coming to an end. Residents recently received notice that approximately 10% of the neighborhood may be demolished as soon as May 5, with more demolitions potentially on the way. A group of concerned residents and friends are trying to stop the demolitions. A few photographs of the development are below.

Marktown, Indiana Aerial Marktown Street at Dusk Marktown

A Hot Neighborhood

Radioactive sand sits beneath the concrete and dirt of Streeterville, a byproduct of lantern factories in the 1900's that was used to shore up the neighborhood's soggy soil.

Dateline: Chicago

British Pathé, one of the original newsreel companies, just put 85,000 videos up on YouTube -- including quite a few of Chicago. [via]

A Pothole Named Desire

A pothole in Logan Square revealing a piece of metal track beneath the street is like a concrete window into the past, when streetcars shuttled people through the area.

United States of X: Alternate States Edition

Geography professor Andrew Shears draws Chicagoland as its own state in a map showing what the U.S. might look like if failed proposals to divide up the states had been successful. [via]

History of the Corner

A documentary restored by Chicago Film Archives shows what life was like in the 1960's for members of the Vice Lords on the West Side.

In Frankie Knuckles' House

Media Burn just posted some great archival video by Phil Ranstrom from the opening of Frankie Knuckles' club, the Power House. Jump to 2:55 to hear the first of Frankie Knuckles' interview segments, and then to 6:38 to see a pretty amazing performance by J.M. Silk.

Let's Play Too Late

While Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier in 1947, the Cubs waited until 1953 to get with the times -- and it may have been the reason for the team's long decline, writes the Reader's Steve Bogira.

Disco Demolition Documentation

Diane Alexander White brought her camera to Comiskey Park on July 12, 1979 for Disco Demolition Night, and captured the crowd on film. (Thanks, Dee!)

The Moulin Vert

Grab a corner table and dig on the history of Chicago's storied hangout of gangsters and beatniks, the Green Mill, through these oral histories collected by the Reader.

White Bread for Health

Before it was considered junk food, Wonder Bread was a health innovation. Loaves will soon be back on Chicago store shelves.

Why Pennytown is Avalon Park

Ever wonder how Chicago neighborhoods got their names? Some are obvious, others less so. Mental Floss has answers for all of them.

Frosty History

CBS takes a look back at the worst winters of all time in Chicago (other than this one).

Chicago's Baby Book

Breaking out the photo albums is a classic birthday pastime, and you can celebrate Chicago's 177th with a look back at how the city grew from a trading post to a bustling metropolis.

Demolished Legacy

Gizmodo takes a look back at the Garrick Theater and Chicago Federal Building as two of the most beautiful buildings ever torn down in the U.S.

Lost Majesty

Forgotten Chicago recalls the towering bridge that might have crossed the river at 12th Street (aka Roosevelt Road) were it not for World War I.

Chicago Used to Have Fun

Jake Austen recalls Fun Town, Chicago's last amusement park in a story for Beltmag. The South Side park was overshadowed by Riverview in life and in death.

Discounted History

Groupon offered a special $10 off deal for Presidents Day in honor of Alexander Hamilton, "one of our greatest presidents." The only problem is Hamilton was never president.

Dimples on the Train

Shirley Temple Black, who died Monday at age 85, received a 40-mile private tour of the CTA's elevated lines in 1938. (Her first husband, John Agar, Jr., was born in Chicago.)

shirley temple cta 1938

City as Amoeba

Chicago became the metropolis it is today by swallowing up nearby townships like Hyde Park, Lake View and Jefferson.

Vintage Crime Reenactment

The "Police Reporter!" series that ran in the Chicago Herald-American in the 1940s led to photography that ranged from high art to high camp. [via]

"Black Partridge Saving Mrs. Helm"

American Thinker resurrects a "forgotten masterpiece," sculptor Carl Rohl-Smith's depiction of the Fort Dearborn Massacre. Black Partridge, one of the Native Americans depicted, nearly had a new park named after him in 2009.

Drunk History

In 1927, Chicago scientist W.D. McNally had a hand in the development of the breathalyzer. Here's hoping you don't meet the state of the art tonight. Be safe, and happy new year!

Lesser Known Great Wall

Archeologists with the Field Museum are tracing the course of the First Great Wall in China, a predecessor that may have been the inspiration for the Great Wall.

Home History

Nearly one-third of the single-family homes in Chicago are bungalows, and WBEZ's Robin Amer looks back at the popularity of the cozy houses over the past 100 years.

Protest on FIlm

Cicero March, a short documentary of a 1966 civil rights protest in Cicero, was accepted into the National Film Registry.

Scenes of Christmas Past

Catch a glimpse of Christmas in 1978 Chicago through an artist report by Franklin McMahon digitized by the Chicago Film Archives.

Reagan's Welfare Queen

"In Chicago, they found a woman who holds the record," claimed Ronald Reagan in a 1976 campaign rally. The real story of Linda Taylor, Reagan's notorious Cadillac-driving "welfare queen" is more nuanced.

Privatized Transit Woes, Then and Now

The Nation's Rick Perlstein sums up the Ventra debacle in part 1 of a series on privatization perils. But as Robert Loerzel pointed out in the Reader back in 2010, the city's struggle with private transit operators is nearly as old as Chicago itself.

Empty Spaghetti Bowl

One cold night in 1968, the Circle Interchange was so busy it looked almost quiet in a long exposure. National Geographic was there. [via]

Enemy in Our Midst

During WWII, Chicagoland played host to several POW camps. WBEZ's Curious City dove into the history of the camps, talking with both prisoners and workers.

Disney's Hermosa Home

Walt Disney was born in Chicago in 1901, and his boyhood home at 2156 N. Tripp may soon become a museum dedicated to his early life.

View Larger Map

Remembering the Our Lady of the Angels School Fire

On Dec. 1, 1958, 92 students and nuns died in a tragic fire at Our Lady of the Angels School. On the 55th anniversary, the Sun-Times' Mitch Dudek spoke with some of the survivors. GB's Robyn Nisi wrote about the 50th anniversary in 2008.

Max Headroom Examined

Who was "Max Headroom?" Vice revisits the mysterious hacking of two Chicago TV stations in one night back in 1987.

Sinatra's 8 Night Stand

In 1962, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack spent eight nights playing Villa Venice, a Chicago nightclub owned by mobster Sam Giancana -- in retribution for the Kennedys breaking their deal with the Outfit.

"He thought he was going to be a hero."

Jack Ruby was born and raised in Chicago. His remaining local relatives talked with NBC5 about the the man who killed Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 25, 1963.

The Vanishing Neighborhoods of Chicago's (Real and Imagined) Past

If you like urban history and film, you may want to check out tonight's event at Comfort Station. Preservation Chicago, the Chicago Film Archives and Kartemquin Films are teaming up to present three Chicago films about community change in the 1960s in 1970s in their original 16mm glory.

Art on Storied Ground

Artist and Northwestern professor Pamela Bannos researched the history of the ground under the MCA, resulting in the website Shifting Grounds and a series of lectures starting this weekend.

First Texts

Curious City looks back at Chicago's first phone numbers, which included letters and numbers to direct calls through local exchanges.

A Century of Political Wrangling

The Newberry Library has digitized 175 volumes of the Chicago City Council Proceedings from 1865 to 1963 -- and now you can read it all online in the Internet Archive.

Kup's Legacy

Robert Feder memorializes "Mr. Chicago" Irv Kupcinet, the longtime Sun-Times columnist and media personality who passed away ten years ago.


From nuclear reactions to the vacuum cleaner, Blue Sky looks back at 20 Chicago innovations that changed the world.

History of Prevented Tragedies

Nearly 50 years after JFK's assassination, an investigation found there were two other plots to kill Kennedy while he was in Chicago, three weeks before his fateful trip to Dallas.

The Last Survivors

The AP shares the stories of the last generation of Holocaust survivors living in Chicago's Selfhelp Home.

Life & Death of Motel Row

Curious City digs into the past, present and future of Lincoln Avenue's motel row.

Further reading here on GB:
Ask the Librarian: What's the deal with all those motels on North Lincoln Avenue?
The Stars Go Out on Lincoln
Get a Room

Yellow for a Reason

The telltale yellow hue of cabs got its start in Chicago, when a study commissioned by cab company owner John Hertz found that it was the easiest to see from far away.

Behind the Bottom Loop

A short film looks back at the history of the South Loop, from the Burnham Plan, through the Century of Progress, and into today.

Chicago, City of Necessity

Lee Bey unearthed a 1961 documentary, The City of Necessity, that shows Chicago in great transition, culturally and physically.

Cutting Class, Changing History

50 years ago in Chicago, over 200,000 students- around half of those enrolled in public schools- boycotted classes to protest segregation.

A Red Letter Day

Today is the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The Lost Menagerie

A Curious City investigation finds that Union Park was once home to a zoo of sorts, although the iron cage that held "Bob the bear" was pretty far below today's standards.

"I would like to be paid like a plumber."

Read Steve Albini's letter to Nirvana ahead of recording In Utero, which turned 20 years old this week. (It's apparently included in the super-deluxe edition of the re-release.)

105 Years & Counting

The 105th anniversary of the "Merkle's Boner" play that led to the Cubs' last World Series win was yesterday. The umpire who called the play, Hank O'Day, is being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Keith Olberman suggests this is the moment the Cubs' curse began.

Old-School Mythbusters

LIFE looks back at a meeting of the Anti-Superstition Society of Chicago on Friday the 13th, December 1941, where members did every unlucky thing they could think of, from breaking mirrors to laying in a coffin.

Preserving Pullman

A study by the National Park Service found that the Pullman Historic District on the far South Side could become a national park because of its unique history.

The L Word & Jane Addams

Was Jane Addams a lesbian? Not an easy question to answer, finds Curious City.

Bridging the Subcutures

Resident Advisor takes a look back at what made Medusa's so culturally important. If you enjoyed that, you may also want to read Sheila Burt's oral history of the club from our archives.

Buttons & Civil Rights

On this historic day, local button makers Busy Beaver Buttons blogged about some historic buttons relating to the civil rights movement.

History Through the Viewfinder

Smithsonian created an online tool that lets you see what the city grid looked like at the time of the Great Chicago Fire. (Thanks, Dee!)

Garbage In, Garbage Out

WBEZ looks back on a century of refuse, comparing modern waste management with that of the 1900s.

Unite Together Among Ourselves

In March of 1963, Malcolm X was interviewed on WMAQ-TV's "City Desk" program about the "Black Muslim movement." [via]

Do We Still Have a Dream?

The Reader looks back 50 years after the March on Washington to see if anything has changed, whether justice is yet served, and who's leading the movement now.

Clout was Once Pull

What we refer to today as political clout, John "Hinky Dink" McKenna would have called his "pull." The former took hold over the latter in the 1940s.

Your Long Read Today: "Taken"

In five chapters, CNN tells the story of the oldest cold case ever solved: the kidnapping and murder of Maria Ridulph in 1957. The man convicted of the crime, Jack Daniel McCullough, is planning an appeal.

Reversing the River

Radio show 99% Invisible shares the story of how the Chicago River was reversed.

Looking for the Real Paul Fronczak

The Chicago FBI office is reopening a kidnapping case from 1964 after a DNA test determined the 14-month-old infant returned to the grieving parents was not the missing baby.

Midcentury Corporate Art

Page through Art in Chicago Business, a book published in 1966 featuring art hung in the city's major corporations' collections -- along with executives who presumably had a hand in selecting them.

Mapping Chicago's 1st Century

Whet Moser found 10 maps that tell the story of Chicago's first hundred years. The Atlantic Cities collected a few more from then and beyond. (Thanks, Daniel!)

When TV was Weird

"This Week in Joe's Basement" aired on Chicago public access cable from 1989 to 1993. You can watch all 60 episodes on Media Burn

Watch the City Grow

Take a look at Chicago's growth over time on a collection of cool maps by WEBZ.

Notable Chicagoan: Jackie Ormes

Jackie Ormes was the first published African-American female cartoonist. Her comics appeared in the Chicago Defender, among others, and she was a founding board member of the DuSable Museum of African-American History.

Haymark-(hic!) Riot & Other (hic!) Events

Comedy Central's "Drunk History" covered Chicago's tipsy past in its latest episode.

Banal Views Made Interesting by Time!

Check out the Illinois Department of Transportation Chicago Traffic Photographs collection for vintage photographs of all sorts of historic Chicago street scenes, including the intersections of Jackson and Market and Michigan and Washington, and -- for some reason -- Oak Street Beach. [via]

Chicago, Believe it or Not!

On Nov. 21, 1968, Ripley's Believe It or Not! opened a museum in Chicago. (They'd been here before, at the World's Fair.) By the late '80s, it was gone. Dan Kelly tells the story.

Satchmo at Ravinia

Two high school reporters share their experience of interviewing Louis Armstrong at Ravinia in 1964 at Blank on Blank.

Media Burn Video Feature: Dennis and Bobby Hull in 1985

While you're still reveling in the 'hawks win, why not take a stroll down memory lane with Media Burn's digitized featurette on Dennis and Bobby Hull from 1985.

Porch Collapse: 10 Years Later

On the night of June 29, 2003, 13 people died and more than 50 were injured when a wooden porch collapsed during a house party in Lakeview. RedEye takes a look at the aftermath, 10 years after the tragedy.

Hey Der, Milwaukee

If you're old enough, you might remember former Loop DJ Jonathon Brandmeier performing jokey songs with his band, the Leisure Suits, back in the '80s and '90s. With Milwaukee's Summerfest starting this weekend, it seemed like a good time to share his song "Hey Der Milwaukee Polka," a true love letter to our neighbors to the north.

Uptown & the Hillbilly Highway

As SROs die out and talk of gentrification swirls, Whet Moser shares the story of the long-forgotten effort to establish Hank Williams Village, an Appalachian planned community in Uptown.

Documenting Marginal Waters

In 1985, photographer Doug Ischar documented the gay scene at Belmont Harbor. [via]

Steve Dahl, Rock'n'Roll Star

Steve Dahl is infamous for his radio antics, Disco Demolition Night and more, and now has a successful podcast network. But did you know he was also a Billboard-charting recording artist?

In 1979, Dahl recorded "Do You Think I'm Disco?," a parody of Rod' Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy," that peaked at 58 on the Billboard 100 charts in 1979. He went on to record several other songs with his band, Teenage Radiation. Here's a sampling:

"Do You Think I'm Disco?" - 1979

"Ayatollah" - 1979

"Skylab" - 1979

"Crew Cut Hero" - 1981

"Another Kid in the Crawl" -1981

"Falklands" - 1982

Dahl also recorded two albums of original, non-parody songs in the '90s as Steve Dahl & the Dahlfins.

The Talk of the Town

This week in 1926, the first issue of The Chicagoan magazine was published. UofC has a full archive of The Chicagoan online.

Chicago 13 Years Ago

In 2000, more than 200 photographers documented the city in more than 500,000 photos. Chicago in the Year 2000 is now housed at UIC. (Thanks, Max!)

The Green of the Ivy, the Cork of the Bat

This might make you feel old: Sammy Sosa's corked bat incident was 10 years ago.

History in Wide Screen

Chicago mag shares historic panoramic photos of Chicago from the Library of Congress' collection.

White's Black Chicago

John H. White, one of the photographers laid off from the Sun-Times yesterday, was one of the contributors to Documerica, a national photodocumentary project in the 1970s sponsored by the EPA. White documented the black community in Chicago.

The National Archives have put his and other photographers' work from the project up on flickr.

"Epton: Before It's Too Late"

Twenty years later, members of Harold Washington's 1983 mayoral campaign recall the role race played in the election.

Puppets at the Opera

The building that now houses Lawry's the Prime Rib was once home to the Kungsholm Puppet Opera Theatre, which featured a technologically advanced stage. [via]

kungsholm puppet stage
Image via John Chuckman.

10 Years of Body Massage & Pork Chop Sandwiches

In 2003, Chicago filmmaker Eric Fensler (who now lives in Portland, OR) created "GI Joe PSAs," a series of weird remixes of the odd PSAs tacked onto some episodes of "GI Joe" cartoons, which wet viral before anyone had ever heard of social media. The Verge examines their legacy.

"It's what every white boy off the lake wants."

Thirty years ago, Risky Business came out and made a star of Tom Cruise. Highland Park residents recall the film and its effect on the suburb. (Presumably the Drake Hotel and residents of Belmont Harbor were not consulted.)

"You're Going to Dunning"

On Curious City, Robert Loerzel tells the history of Dunning, a legendary insane asylum and potter's field on Chicago's Northwest Side that eventually gave its name to a neighborhood. In 2009, Gapers Block's Dan Kelly took a look at what the Dunning neighborhood (and nearby Schorch Village) is like today.

PS: Listen to Loerzel talk about this story -- and to me talk about Gapers Block's 10th anniversary -- on "The Afternoon Shift" on WBEZ at 3pm today.

Yo Mammy Don't Wear No Drawers

According to Jelly Roll Morton back in 1938, the Dozens turned dirty right here in Chicago (NSFW).

You probably shouldn't play this at work without headphones.

The Fighting Futures Traders

During the Civil War, 156 members of the Chicago Board of Trade served as an artillery battery for the Union from 1862 to 1865. The battery was well decorated and only lost 19 men, nine to disease. There's a whole book about them. [via]

8. Help All the Kiddies

From the Chicago Film Archives, a pretty little ditty from 1942: "Obey Your Air Raid Warden."

Where do We Put this Sh*t?

As the rains wreaked havoc on our drainage system, Whet Moser wrote a history of Chicago's struggle to figure out where to put water and sewage.

Does UofC Glow?

Did the birth of nuclear energy leave the University of Chicago radioactive? No, but that's just the beginning of the story.

Robinson at Wrigley

Jackie Robinson, whose life is depicted in 42, out this weekend, made his major league debut at Wrigley Field in 1947. A snippet of film shot by a fan shows him out on the field and signing autographs. [via]

Ranking the Mayors' Control

Mayor Emanuel may have an even stronger rubber stamp City Council than Daley, but Michael Bilandic wielded even more control back in 1977. That didn't stop Jane Byrne from running against him, though.

It Works

William H. Macy may be an unemployed drunk on "Shameless," but in 1976 he found a job through the Chicagoland Job Mart. [via]

Chicago Introduces the Beatles

Did you know that former Chicago label Vee-Jay Records released the first U.S. Beatles record?

Vintage Photos of Gacy Excavation Unearthed

In the winter of 1978-79, the foundation of John Wayne Gacy's home and garage were excavated to discover the remains of 27 of his victims. This set of photographs (some NSFW) by retired Des Plaines Detective Aug Schwiesow shows some of what the investigators found. [via]


UPDATE: Chicagoist has a little more background from Schwiesow about the photos.

Chicago Firefighter History, Here and in Baltimore

A retired firefighter whose main introduction to the profession occurred in a South Side firehouse has recreated the station in his Baltimore, Maryland basement as the Engine 61 Museum. As for the actual fire station, it will be transformed into the Chicago African-American Firefighter Museum by 2014.

Snappy Service

Some recent paint scraping on the former La Pasadita taqueria just south of Division and Ashland revealed some excellent classic hamburger signage. Forgotten Chicago has some additional details and Noah Vaughn has a wider shot.

Hamburger - Ashland & Division - Chicago

"The Natural" Inspiration Dies

In 1949, Ruth Ann Steinhagen lured former Cubs first baseman Eddie Waitkus up to her hotel room and shot him, an act that landed her in a mental hospital and was fictionalized into the book and film The Natural. Steinhagen passed away in December at age 83, the Cook County Coroner's Office announced Friday.

Wells Street Bridge's Last Rebuild

The Wells Street bridge is half replaced (replacing the other half will disrupt Brown Line service in April), but you may be interested to learn that the old bridge was not the original one.

Own a Classic Piece of Chicago History

Chicago's greystones are disappearing, so why not try to rebrand them? Lean more through the Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative.

See Hinky Dink's Gold Star

Michael "Hinky Dink" McKenna, notoriously corrupt alderman of the 1st Ward at the turn of the 20th century, received a gold star from his constituents. It'll be on display at the History Museum this Friday.

Happy 176th Birthday, Chicago!

WBEZ celebrates by asking people what they would give the city for its special day. Bonus: It's also Casimir Pulaski Day!

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois!

Check out the Boston Public Library's online collection of Tichnor Brothers postcards, including this set of 194 Illinois gems. Tip: the Chicago images, which include everything from historical skylines to more impressionistic industrial scenes, are towards the end of the set.

The Shipwreck on Morgan Shoal

In 1914, the Silver Spray wrecked on Morgan Shoal, a rocky reef near the 49th Street Beach. The remains are one of the easiest of Lake Michigan's shipwrecks to explore, but now the wreck and Morgan Shoal are in danger of being covered over by a shoreline restoration project.

As the World Turns

Social history photographer Camilo José Vergara is developing a personal website to share more of his repeat photography work. Included are four Chicago sites: 4434 W. Madison, 4337 W. Madison, 1117 N. Cleveland and 5134 W. Madison. Each series starts in the 1980s and continues to present day.

Riding a Ravenswood B Train

WBEZ's history blogger, John R. Schmidt, narrates a 8mm film of a ride on the Brown Line in 1981.

Motels by the Lake

Forgotten Chicago continues its series on the city's shoreline motels, this time focusing on downtown lodging.

The Wrong Thing

The St. Louis-based Preservation Research Office blog uses Chicago's battles over Prentice and Michael Reese to evaluate each city's hospital preservation experiences. The verdict: "Alas, Chicago has done the wrong thing while St. Louis years ago made a wise choice."

Love at the Opera

Frank Lloyd Wright fell in love at first sight with his last wife, Olgivanna "Olga" Milanoff Hinzenburg at an opera at the Eighth Street Theater, which once stood under the Conrad Hilton Hotel.

How the City Once Was

Chicago is The City to See in '63. A recent preservation project from the Chicago Film Archives. [via]

What the Baby Boom did to Chicago

Bill Rankin of Radical Cartography created maps of racial distribution in Chicago and the suburbs during the 1940s, '50s and '60s, in connection with a journal article on how the Baby Boom affected population here.

The Rosemont Corridor

O'Hare Airport is officially part of Chicago, thanks to a narrow strip of land south of Rosemont. WBEZ's John Schmidt explains how it came to be.

We Are the Bears Shufflin' Crew

Jake Austen put together a fantastic oral history of "The Super Bowl Shuffle" for Grantland.

"Industrial Shangri-La" in Trouble

Marktown, the landmark northwest Indiana community surrounded by industry, may be threatened by BP's expansion of its Whiting refinery. See an aerial view of the neighborhood after the jump.

Marktown, Indiana Aerial Looking East

Blotting Out the Sun

One hundred years ago, Chicago was smoggier than Beijing today.

Games of Skill

From the early coin-op games invented in Chicago to the new "barcade" concept, The Verge tells the story of the rise and fall of the arcade. While you're at it, don't miss the photo essay of Stern Pinball's factory.

A Tour of Uptown's Darker Days

Take a video tour of 1970s abandoned buildings in Uptown and Edgewater and then stick around for the political discussion of redlining from Media Burn's archive.

Looking Back at the Mirage

The Sun-Times is revisiting The Mirage, the bar the newspaper opened in 1977 with the Better Government Association to document governmental graft.

How the Mission from God Began

Vanity Fair has the engrossing story of how The Blues Brothers came to be.

History Pulled Through the Streets

Forgotten Chicago shares a feature on the remnants of Chicago's cable car system written by Greg Borzo, author of the new book Chicago Cable Cars.

Tracing Segregation

What was the geographical distribution of minorities changed in Chicago and other cities before and after the Fair Housing Act of 1968? Pro Publica shows you.

Famous Names, Forgotten Residences

Ronald Reagan's one-time apartment may have a date with a wrecking ball, Clarence Darrow's house is just fine.

The Great Fire in the Sky

If it wasn't Mrs. O'Leary's cow, might it have been ...a comet? A discredited theory proposes that remnants of Biela's Comet were the cause of the Great Chicago Fire and the Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin in 1871. (Thanks, Ron!)

Come Along to "Playboy's Penthouse"

Light lunchtime viewing: the debut episode of "Playboy's Penthouse," a television show hosted by Hugh Hefner and featuring guests Lenny Bruce, Nat "King" Cole, Cy Colman, Ella Fitzgerald and Rona Laffe. It was filmed Oct. 24, 1959 in Chicago.

Your Guide to Turn-of-the-Century Vice

Incredibly detailed maps of Chicago's Levee District, which thrived on the near South Side from 1895-1923, on Mario Gomes' fascinating in its own right My Al Capone Museum. [via]

The Ripper in the White City?

Was H.H. Holmes, the Chicago serial killer immortalized in The Devil in the White City, also London's Jack the Ripper? Handwriting analysis commissioned by Holmes' great-great-great-grandson suggests he may have been. (We took a tour of places from Holmes' era in 2006.)

Elevated Map Art

Print magazine collects map art from the CTA (and its predecessors).

From Chicago to Evanston, in Only Eight Hours

On this day in 1895, Chicago hosted America's first automobile race. The course ran from Hyde Park to Evanston, and the winner -- one of two cars to complete the entire race -- clocked in at seven hours and 53 minutes.

C-c-c-catch the Wave

Nov. 22 was the 25th anniversary of the Max Headroom pirating incident broadcast hijackings on WGN and WTTW. Last year a reddit member claimed he knew who did it.



Media coverage the next day:

A recent overview, with industry sources providing perspective:

Your Manuscript is Returned

Chicago's Essanay Studios, once home to Charlie Chaplin, used a form letter to reject film scripts.

essenay studios rejection letter

Harold! 25 Years Later

This week marks 25 years since Mayor Harold Washington's death in office. The Sun-Times offers a timeline of his ascent to mayor.

The Last of the WACs

For Veteran's Day, the Tribune visits with the Chicago chapter of the Women's Army Corps Veterans' Association. There's an exhibition about WAC, WOW, WAVES and other WWII women's service organizations at the Pritzker Military Library right now.

Lincoln through Obama

Take a look at Tribune front pages from every election since 1860 -- including the famous "Dewey Defeats Truman."

A Prize in Pitcher Pollack

In an otherwise unremarkable book, Kevin Guilfoile found an unexpected souvenir from the Cubs' 1929 World Series.

Wright for the People

Frank Lloyd Wright designed some of Chicago's earliest attempts at subsidized housing.

Dantrell Davis, 20 Years Later

The Reader's Mick Dumke has begun a five-part series looking back on the murder of Dantrell Davis, whose death helped bring about the end of housing projects in Chicago: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five.

Debating on Television

Just in time for debate season, Art Shay shares photos and recollections of the Kennedy-Nixon debates -- the first ever televised -- held at WBBM-TV studios in 1960.

From Jane Addams to Oscare Wilde

The Legacy Walk, a series of plaques from The Legacy Project that honors heroes from the LGBT community, will be unveiled on Halsted Street in Boystown today, National Coming Out Day. Download a PDF walking map.


"I live in mortal fear of Chicago winters."

Read a 1985 letter from Barack Obama to a friend back in New York.

"It was a smoky bar."

Eater continues its "the Regulars" series with an oral history of the Rainbo Room

Building Night Life in Woodlawn

Flickr user WayOutWardell has collected extensive area photographs, including these Woodlawn images. By the way, his name is a reference to the jazz musician Wardell Gray, who spent a lot of time in Chicago. [Thanks, Jolyon!]

Aeroplanes Over the City

Whet Moser came across what may be the first aerial footage of Chicago -- shot in 1926.

Tylenol Murders 30 Years Later

Chicago Magazine profiles the Tylenol Murders of 30 years ago. The crime is still unsolved.

The Tylenol Murders, 30 Years Later

Chicago magazine's October issue has an oral history of the Tylenol Murders in 1982, from first death to today. State prosecutors continue to work the case, and may even be close to taking it to a grand jury.

The Decline of the Southeast Side

Exit Zero is a book, documentary and website examining the aftermath of the decline of Chicago's heavy industry.

Muhammad Ali Goes to Mars

In 1966, a New Trier highschooler named Michael Aisner drove to the South Side with a friend to interview Muhammad Ali. The reel-to-reel tape hadn't been heard for 50 years -- until Aisner submitted it to Blank on Blank, a new collection of "lost interviews" old and new.

Watch Tumblr Storyboards animated version of the interview, or listen to the extended version on Soundcloud.

Chuck Taylor: Chicago Shoe Salesman

SPIN Magazine assembled an oral history of the Chuck Taylor shoe, and while it's a fleeting mention, according Converse archivist Sam Smallidge, Taylor got his start working for Marquis Converse as a salesman in Chicago in the 1920s. [via]

Roosevelt to 13th

Ever wonder why streets on the South Side are numbered, but North Side streets aren't? WBEZ's Carrie Shepherd decided to try to find out.

Staying Near the Lake

Forgotten Chicago is exploring the city's shoreline motels, the little-heralded accommodations along Lake Michigan, particularly on the North Side.

Yesterday's Transit System of Tomorrow

John R. Schmidt shares pictures and details on a 1958 CTA plan to create subways and bus-ways throughout the city.

Capone on Trial

The Tribune recently unearthed glass-negative photos of Al Capone from his 1931 trial for tax evasion, found in its archives.

Close Knit Crew

Varsity-like gang sweaters used to be a thing among Chicago's gangs. More about them. [via]

Gang Sweaters

Come on Over to "Studs' Place"

On Sept. 5, the Media Burn Archive, the Museum of Broadcast Communications and the Studs Terkel Centenary Committee are hosting a free screening at the MBC of four episodes of Studs Turkel's "Studs' Place," the TV show he starred in back in 1950-51, recently discovered in Turkel's basement after 60 years.

Gag Boxes Galore

Chicago was a center for the gag trade -- including the sometimes odd, often off-color "gag box" mailer.

The Unexpected Icon

Forty-five years ago, Chicago marveled and mocked a brand new Picasso sculpture. Ask the Librarian covered its controversy back in 2004.

Big Dreams and Encased Meats

If, at some point in the past 50 or so years, you stood in line for a hot dog and fries at the Parky's on Roosevelt Road, you know the unmatchable feeling of a real Chicago stand and the way that the best of them transcend the notion of a restaurant. Just when condemnation seemed inevitable for the building that housed the iconic spot, Chicago native Brendan O'Connor, a man with a dream and curious palate, set out to save it.

Thanks to his creative take on sausage, and the overall fast food experience, the Food Network show "3 Days to Open With Bobby Flay," chose to help O'Connor and Big Guys Sausage Stand become a reality. Bobby Flay himself showed up at the small, narrow-roofed building at 7021 W. Roosevelt Road in Berwyn and worked with O'Connor and his team to turn passion into crowd-pleasing originality. Ultimately, they stayed true to O'Connor's vision of creating a classic atmosphere, with a nod to the Chicago "Super Fans," while taking a truly unique and modern approach to traditional menu items. So far, Big Guys has been well-received, living up to its promises of big flavor, competitive prices and the quick-but-satisfying turnaround perfected by the best Chicago hot dog stands for decades. Check out the food, the vision and the Bobby Flay touch Mon-Thru 11am-2am; Fri-Sat 11am-3am; Sun 11am-6pm.

The Battle Fort Dearborn's 200th

Today, Aug. 15, is the 200th anniversary of the Battle (or Massacre) of Fort Dearborn. Whet Moser has some reading recommendations for you.

Pictures of Old Chicago

Old Chicago is a Tumblr full of photos from years gone by. Follow it along with Calumet412, Chicago Past and the Chicago History Museum.

Historic Map Fun

Here's an overlay of an 1857 map over a current one of the city. [via]

Some Time to Spare

Nothing like looking at pictures of old Chicago bowling alleys to help a summer Friday go by. [via]

Own a Piece of the Untouchables

A collection of Eliot Ness memorabilia is going up for auction later this year. You'll be able to bid on such items as his Department of Justice credentials, a business card and posters from his failed bid for the mayorship of Cleveland.

A Newspaper Man's Ode to "Boyle's"

Pete Anderson came across a 1922 poem dedicated to restaurateur Billy Boyle, the proprietor of a famed "Chophouse in the Alley" on Calhoun Place.

We Live in a (Slightly) Growing City

After several years of decline, the Census Bureau estimates that Chicago is once again growing in population. It's only by 8,800 people, but that's a big change from the previous average declines of 20,000 people a year.

Walt Disney's House is for Sale

No, not Disneyland, his childhood home -- 2156 N. Tripp Ave. in Hermosa, built by Walt's father and in which Mickey Mouse's dad was born. The two-story house is listed for $179,000. [via]

Challenging the "Latin Lover" Over Powder Puffs

The Smithsonian blog chronicles the 1920s film star Rodolfo Valentino's enemies, chief among whom was the Trib.

"Savers of the Lost Ark"

Chicago Jewish News tells one part of the story of trying to save the former Anshe Kanesses Israel synagogue.

Southern Whites on the North Side

Newcity's David Witter provides a contemporary treatment of Uptown's Appalachian influences and history. For further reading, view Whet Moser's January post about the history of Appalachian migration to Chicago.

All Roads Lead to Chicago

Whet Moser digs into the city's history in the drug trade.

Remembering the Dream Team

No direct reflections from Jordan or Pippen, but this oral history of the '92 "Dream Team" US Olympic basketball team is a great read -- and it does include quotes from Tony Kukoc, who played for Croatia against his future teammates.

Photos of the Eastland Disaster

On July 24, 1915, 844 people died when the SS Eastland capsized in the Chicago River. The Tribune has a gallery of photos of the tragedy and some of its victims. Lookingglass Theatre is currently staging Eastland, a new musical about it, through July 29.

Blue Ribbon Type

A moment of typeface history: Pabst Oldstyle was based on the hand lettering Frederic Goudy created for the Pabst beer label. It was commissioned in 1902 by Schlesinger & Mayer, a Chicago department store that later became Carson Pirie Scott, for its exclusive use. You can download it now from MyFonts.

Pabst Oldstyle

Plenty of Vacancies

A Chicago Sojourn checks in to see what remains of Lincoln Avenue's Motel Row, which we've covered once or twice in the past.

The Old Ball Game

The Chicago Amateur Base Ball Annual and Inter-City Base Ball Association Year Book from 1905. [via]

It'd Be Faster to Ride a Horse than the Red Line

Chicago Mag's got a cool photo retrospective of CTA cars.

Oh, the Humanity

Sunday was the 75th anniversary of the Hindenburg tragedy; what you may not know is that the most famous recording of the incident is WLS radio reporter Herb Morrisson.

That South Side Jazz

Explore the history of Chicago's South Side jazz clubs.

Remembering Ingrid Bergstrom

Grub Street expands on the obituary for Ingrid Bergstrom, matriarch of a long-gone gathering place for Chicago's Scandinavian community.

Sears and the Past Tense

Crain's strolls through Sears' past, present and future in a lengthy feature about the company "where America shopped."

The History of the Portage Theater

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks is considering landmark status for the Portage Theater, which a controversial church wants to convert into a house of worship. In A/C, Dan Kelly delves deep into the theater's history and its role as a cinema and community center.

Honoring Chicago Icons

John Schmidt proposes a Chicago Walk of Fame -- statues of the city's historic figures immortalized in bronze on CTA Loop pillars.

20 Years Ago: The Great Loop Flood

On this day in 1992, much of the Loop and parts of River North flooded after workers repairing the Kinzie Street Bridge drove pylons into an old freight tunnel beneath the river.

Here are a few stories that should give you enough to keep you occupied for the next couple hours:

WBBM's 20-year retrospective.
Photos from the flood.
Disaster Recovery Journal's special report.
The Chicago Tunnel Company website.
More about those tunnels.
• "Remembering the Loop Flood" on WBEZ in 2007, the 15th anniversary.
The Army Corps of Engineers' perspective.
• "Soaked," an essay by Richard Powers in Granta.

The Day the Generals Won

Speaking of hoops, A.V. Club recalls the day another great Chicago basketball team, the Harlem Globetrotters (what, you didn't know?) were beat by the ultimate heels, the Washington Generals.

Give it the Old Jazz

Did you know the term "jazz" originated in baseball? The word migrated from sports to music in Chicago with Bert Kelly.

T-Shirt Waiting to Happen

The Cubs were once known as the Microbes.

Digging Up Gacy

The Cook County Sherriff's office hopes to excavate the yard of an apartment building where John Wayne Gacy once worked on the possibility that more of the serial killer's victims are buried there.

Streaming the Blues

Among the thousands of recordings by Alan Lomax recently made available for streaming online are several by/of Chicago bluesmen, including music by Big Bill Broonzy and Broonzy, Sonny Boy Williamson and Memphis Slim talking about racism, moving here from the South, double-jointedness and all sorts of other stuff.

The Language of Protest

Collectors Weekly traces the modern history of protest posters and manifestos from Chicago 1968 up to today's Occupy movement.

606 S. Wabash

According to legend, the "606" in Chicago's zip codes is an homage to the 606 Club, a speakeasy turned supper club with strippers favored by Richard J. Daley and other bigwigs. Judging by these matchbooks, it must have been a distracting place to do business.

Former Synagogue to be Demolished

Lee Bey reports that negotiations have failed to save 3411 W. Douglas Blvd. The former Anshe Kanesses Israel synagogue will be demolished as early as next week.

A 40 Year Old Murder Case

The Reader published the second part of Steve Bogira's story of the unsolved murder of Joe Henson.

Lipstick Killer Dead

William Heirens, the man who confessed to being the "Lipstick Killer" in the 1940s, died today at 83. Wikipedia has a surprisingly thorough history of Heirens and the Lipstick Killer case.

Wait, We Have a Castle?

Chicago's Only Castle is a documentary about the Givins' Irish Castle, now home to the Beverly Unitarian Church. It's screening at the History Museum this Sunday.

Happy Birth Incorporation Day

There's a lot of buzz going around about the city's "birthday" this Sunday, including a daunting list provided by the Sun Times filled with ways to celebrate it. However, because March 4th marks city's incorporation rather than the day it was founded, it's arguable that Sunday better resembles the day it got its first job.

The Bunny's Left the Building

On this date in 1960, the first Playboy Club opened. And earlier this month, this year, the Richard Hunt sculpture of the magazine's iconic Rabbit Head was taken down from the lobby of the Chicago office, which will close completely April 30.

Here's a second view of the rabbit head sculpture coming down, juxtaposed with the intro from a vintage Playboy film. (Thanks, Dan!)

Election Ads Were Always Bad

Mental_Floss collects eight campaign commercials from Adlai Stevenson's presidential bid in 1952. [via]

The Legacy of Cabrini Green

In Design Observer, author Lawrence Vale examines the Cabrini Green public housing complex and its place in the city's history and future. [via]

A Late Valentine

"Machine Gun" Jack McGurn, the alleged mastermind of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, met his own end in a bowling alley the night before Valentine's Day in 1936. The hit was believed to have been inspired by a 1932 film depiction of the massacre.

Watch an L Car Leave the Tracks

The Chicago History Museum's YouTube channel has some pretty great short videos, including this recent post showing the installation of their L car.

Pinning Your Hopes on a Candidate

The Busy Beaver Button Museum got attention in Time for its collection of political pins.

It's Not Irving Park Boulevard

WBEZ history blogger John R. Schmidt explains why some Chicago streets are roads, others avenues or boulevards, and where there are some anomalies.

Filet of Pork Pagoda

This is what you would have eaten if you flew first class on United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Chicago in 1966. More airline menus in Northwestern University Library's transportation collection.

We'll Survive on Wacker Drive

Crews working on the Wacker Drive reconstruction discovered a fully stocked fallout shelter from 1962.

Established 1890

Paul Reda has delved into the history of Miss Cora M. Strayer, a private detective on the South Side at the turn of the century. He's posted a timeline of the information he has so far, and is looking for other history buffs to help him with further inquiries. [via]

The Blizzard was a Year Ago

Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon, snOMG... Whatever you called it, a year ago today, you were preparing for a lot of snow. We wouldn't know until 24 hours later that it was the third biggest snowfall Chicago had ever seen. Here's a look back at some of the sights and sounds from the blizzard.


Stuck in a car on Lake Shore Drive for 10 hours:

The aftermath on Lake Shore Drive:

Associated Press story on Feb. 2, 2011:

An amazing story from Baratunde Thurston, who happened to be in town during the blizzard, of going to LSD to help get people's cars unstuck: "I'm just a man from Brooklyn with a shovel. My epic tale from Chicago's Lake Shore Drive."

Photos and video I took in West Ridge:

South Lake Shore Drive, photographed by David Schalliol:
Lake Shore Drive in the Blizzard

Up on the El tracks, photographed by Michael Patrick Perry:
Looking north over the "L" tracks

Old Lake Shore Drive

Lake Shore Drive was a dirt path along the lake in 1905. It was already different story by the 1920s.

Where the Gangs Were

Chicago's Gangland, a map from 1926. It's among many housed at the University of Chicago Library. [via]

The Moon, Up Close

The Field Museum once displayed a roughly 18-foot scale replica of the moon. Wonder if they still have it. [via]

Field Columbian Museum Moon Model

This Old Tape: Chicago's Red Light District

Rush Street was once Chicago's red light district. Here's some footage of Rush in 1966, and a little more background from Chicago magazine.

13 Tables of 13 in Room 13

LIFE magazine chronicled a Friday the 13th party held by Chicago's Anti-Superstition Society in 1940. Wait, what's today? [via]

Chicago's Nightlife, ca. 1947

The Bismark, Chez Paree, the Pump Room and the Edgewater Beach Hotel were among the stars of Chicago's nightlife in 1947.


See The World's Fair in Technicolor

Whet Moser dug up some amazing color footage of the 1934 Century of Progress.

United States of X: Odd Nickname Edition

Hey, who are you calling "Sucker," you map of "nicknames of the states" from 1884?

Nicknames of the states, 1884

It's especially odd considering the map was produced by a hog ring manufacturer based in Decatur. Maybe "Sucker" was a nice thing in 1884.

Mo' Mummy

The Field Museum will soon display (for a limited time) 20 mummies from its collection--several of which haven't been displayed since the Columbian Exhibition.

Chicago: Cable Car Capital

Once upon a time, Chicago had the largest cable car system in the world. Dig deeper here.

Buy the Mayor's House

No, not Emanuel's. Not Daley's. Our first mayor, William B. Ogden's. [via]

120 E. Pearson St.

In the first of three articles on architect Bertrand Goldberg's homes in Chicago, Forgotten Chicago reminds us that the Mag Mile wasn't always all giant stores and highrises.

"A Festive New Holiday Look"

The Sears Wish Book for the 1975 Christmas Season. Even more here.

Possibly my favorite from the '75 wish book:
1975-xx-xx Sears Christmas Catalog P014

Meet Isham Randolph

Chris McAvoy has been doing research on Isham Randolph, the civil engineer behind the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, in order to rewrite his Wikipedia entry. Among his findings: Randolph's son was Batman, and this sales pitch to manufacturers to build factories along the canal.

Carl Sandburg's Birthplace Home is in Trouble

The Carl Sandburg Historic Site may not reopen in the spring thanks to worsening state finances.

Around the World

Whet Moser explains how Marshall Field, a PR man and a Civil War veteran created a turn-of-the-century travelogue.

The High Cost of Driving

Congratulations Chicago, you've been paying over three dollars a gallon for gas for a full year now, with the highest area average in May of $4.469, according to AAA.

Marshall Field and Company

Marshall Field's gets a bountiful entry in the Department Store Museum.

A Broth with History

College Inn chicken broth has its history in the Sherman House Hotel, which once stood on the block now occupied by the Thompson Center.

Gacy Victim Identified

Sheriff Tom Dart announced today that one of the eight unknown victims of John Wayne Gacy has been identified through DNA (previously) as William George Bundy, who disappeared in 1976.

Here's an exclusive 1992 interview with Gacy by Channel 2's Walter Jacobson, 13 years after he was convicted of murdering 33 young men.

Future Regifting

When you're out shopping today, try to avoid buying this year's Snuggie -- or worse, Hear Muffs.

Hear Muffs

Apparently, these have been re-invented over in the UK.

The City's '70s Soul

John H. White photographed Chicago in the 1970s for DOCUMERICA, a documentary project sponsored by the EPA. (Previously.)

Atomic Type O

In 1950, at the height of atom bomb paranoia, a plan was put in place to tattoo citizens' blood type under their left arms, starting in Chicago. For some reason it never went forward.

Honoring Ida B. Wells

A new monument to civil rights pioneer Ida B. Wells is in the planning stages for Bronzeville.

Go Go Cougars

Remember the Chicago Cougars? No? Not surprising, since they were a World Hockey Association team for just three years in the mid-'70s. Their main claim to fame might be bringing about the only major-league championship to be played in Mount Prospect.

The Galloping Ghost

A truly evocative photo of Red Grange, one of the first big stars in the early NFL, running for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Yellowjackets on Dec. 5, 1925. [via]

Spraying History

Spray paint was invented in Chicago and made portable by a company in suburban Sycamore.

A Magazine of Business

Reading Chicago, the Great Central Market is a walk through the turn of the century city.

Old-Time Ads

The Uptown Update dug up a 1940s video made to showcase the era's most cutting-edge billboards and points out a few neighborhood landmarks along the way.

The Game Master

Rock'em Sock'em Robots, Lite Brite, Operation and countless other toys and games were invented or brought to market by Marvin Glass, a legendary and troubled toy designer based in Chicago.

Black Pilots in a White Sky

There's a screening of Double Victory, a documentary about the Tuskeegee Airmen, tonight at 7pm at the DuSable Museum, with a panel discussion afterward featuring two Airmen. The screening is sponsored by the National Association of Black Journalists Chicago and is free; RSVP here.

Capone, Chicago, 1931

"Waiting for a sight of 'Public Enemy No.1.'"

Brewing Another Big Box

The former Brand Brewing Co. complex on Elston may be demolished to make room for yet another big box store along the strip. Our Urban Times offers reasons why it shouldn't.

Not Just About Worshiping Satan

The Onion's AV Club celebrates Halloween with the first installment of a four-part oral history of Chicago's metal scene.

The Fashion Police, ca. 1922

No showing leg in your bathing suit.

Yakity-Yak & Yack

As you know, fake vomit was invented in Chicago. So were chattering teeth.

Visions of Minnie

The creator of Minnie's Dream discovered his/her great grandmother's photo albums in his/her grandmother's Springfield attic. Consisting mostly of cabinet cards from the 1890s--many shot in Chicago photo studios--the site author speculates on the life Great Grandma Minnie might have lived back then.

Mr. & Mrs. Chicago

Infographics about Chicago from 1914.

It's Quittin' Time

A look at Chicago's saloon culture in 1900. From GB's own archives: "Tapped Out," an elegy for the city's fading tap rooms.

Historic Chicago in Photos

Hiding in the bowels of's forums is a treasure trove of photos of Chicago from throughout the 20th century.

Digging Under Downtown

On Oct. 16, 1943, work on Chicago's subway began. (Of course, even then it wasn't the first underground train line downtown.)

Hey, that Building Looks a lot like a White Castle!

That's because it used to be one.

The Other Sears Tower

Not the one they call Willis -- the original 1905 tower. It's one of more than a hundred architecturally significant sights you can see during the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Open House Chicago this weekend.

The Great Chicago iPhone Fire

Speaking of apps, the Chicago History Museum today launched The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory, an app for iPhone and iPad that brings to life that fateful event 140 years ago. Download it from iTunes here for 99 cents.

Vintage Card Stock

The Exhibit Supply Co, or "Ex. Sup. Co" or "ESCO" as they often printed, was a prolific printer of novelty cards from the 1900s through the '60s, featuring athletes and movie stars -- as well as some more risque material.

Exhibit Supply Co. kiss card

Photos of Old Chicago

...In among this Denver Post Library of Congress photo raid; stay sharp around #46.

Wilmette Man Translated at Nuremberg

The Wilmette Beacon has interview with Peter Less, a Wilmette resident of 64 years, about the time he spent as a translator during the Nuremberg Trials. He escaped Germany before the war began, lost his entire family, and still managed to sit across from Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess and Hans Frank and translate their words into English. After he moved to the US, he became a lawyer and still has a law practice in Chicago.

Goodbye, Our Curvy Friend

Clever Apes sends off the Tevatron with an episode dedicated to the world's most powerful proton-antiproton accelerator.

We're Getting a New Moon Rock

The moon rock embedded in the Tribune Tower has been removed so that NASA can replace it with a new one sometime soon.

Bitter Pills, 30 Years Later

Joy Bergmann follows up her 2000 Reader article on the Tylenol murders with an update and Q&A with Scott Bartz, author of the new book The Tylenol Mafia.

Chicago Mourns Lincoln

Among the Library of Congress' collection of Abraham Lincoln photos one of the president's funeral procession through Chicago in 1865. [via]

Arch at Twelfth St., Chicago, President Abraham Lincoln's hearse and young ladies (LOC)

And here is an engraving of the scene as it appeared in the May 20, 1865 edition of Harper's Weekly.

Vintage Firehouses

Mike Legeros photographed every 19th century firehouse he could find in the city. [via]

Screaming Yellow TV

Ever wonder why it used to be "Son of Svengoolie"? The Museum of Classic Chicago Television has unearthed recordings of "Screaming Yellow TV," the predecessor to the current show and originator of the Svengoolie character. The show aired 1970-1973.

From Ambrosia to Yusay

The endearingly quaint Chicago Breweriana collects promotional products and ephemera from Chicago's bygone breweries.

Talented to the Point of Genius

A letter from a doting teacher provides details of the dramatic early years of Orson Welles.

Yesteryear's Racial Tensions, Part II

The second half of Steve Bogira's must-read article "The Price of Intolerance" is in this week's Reader. Here's the first half.

Where the Bunnies Are

We've linked to it before, but with all the Playboy Club hub-bub, it seems like a good time to point out the Ex Playboy Bunnies Website, an online community for Bunnies new and old.

The Old Boys' Club

As a new Playboy Club prepares to open, Time Out takes a look back at the original model.

This Old House -- or That One

The City is preparing to celebrate the 175th birthday of the "oldest house in Chicago," the Henry B. Clarke House -- but the true oldest house may be clear across town, in Norwood Park. It was built four years earlier, and unlike the Clarke House has stayed in one place the whole time.

White Men Floating Along Wacker Drive

GB flickr pool contributor MewDeep uploaded a somewhat creepy 1965 Life magazine photograph of balloon men over the Chicago River.

Fake Vomit had to be Invented

And it was invented here in Chicago. [via]

Ride the Mysterious Train

Imprint also recently took a look at the Green Hornet and other vintage Electroliner trains in Chicago. (Thanks again, Dee!)

The Ravinia Festival of Design

Imprint digs through 30 years of Ravinia program covers. (Thanks, Dee!)

Carousels, Little Dippers and Lava Run Cars: What Ever Happened to the Kiddieland Rides?

WGN managed to track them down at their new homes.

Historic Sports Fandom

"My t-shirt? It's for the Duffy Florals. You've probably never heard of them." It's rare that sports fans get to play the hipster superiority card, but Peoples Garment Co. helps make it happen. (Duffy Floral, the team's sponsor, still exists, incidentally.)

Field Museum Honors 9/11

On Sept. 2, the Field Museum will debut Ground Zero: 360°, an exhibit that immerses museumgoers in the events of 9/11 from the perspective of a police commander and a photojournalist. The exhibit runs through the end of the year.

Pictures Remain as Memories Fade

Frances Archer introduces photographer Allan Zirlin, whose collection of photography and vintage ephemera can be found here.

Chicago Before & After the Fire

Here's a bird's eye view of Chicago in 1874 -- a nice contrast to this map of the damage from the Great Chicago Fire the same year (previously). [via]

Mapping Our Melting Pot

Remember that "Community Settlement Map" from 1950 that circulated the web earlier this year? Redditor objectathand dropped the data it's based on into modern mapping software and came up with a much more specific version.

How Chicago Used to have Fun

Jazz Age Chicago shares tales of "urban leisure from 1893 to 1945." An oldie but goodie that was recently dug back up by MetaFilter.

Royko Knocks One Out

An oldie but a goodie: Royko at the Goat, a short film of Mike Royko telling stories about 16-inch softball. Now with a preface from cinematographer Scott Jacobs.

There's a media league playing today -- head over to Trebes Park on Monday and Thursday nights this month to catch Gapers Block, Chicagoist, RedEye, Time Out, CHIRP, WBEZ, The
Reader, WSJ, WCIU and ChicagoNow battle it out on the dirt diamond. We play at 6 and 7pm.

Wabash Then & Now

Pete Anderson spotted a photo of Wabash Avenue on Shorpy, and decided to recreate it today. He did a pretty good job, right down to the pedestrians. (Related in the GB archives: Chicago Then & Now.)

Ghosts of L Stations Past

There were once more than 227 miles of elevated train tracks in Chicago. Forgotten Chicago digs up what remains of several train lines demolished by the CTA over the years.

It's Been a While

GB flickr pool contributor Gabriel X. Michael found lingering ephemera from the Eugene Sawyer administration in a Goose Island alley.

Yippie Treasure Trove

The FBI released more than 6,000 documents related to its investigation of the Yippies today, including many related to the group's activity at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Meanwhile, BoingBoing notes graphic design similarities between a Yippie flier and Yahoo's logo.

An Early Look at Chicago Gang Development

South Side Projections and the South Side Community Art Center are putting on a rare screening of the classic Chicago Vice Lord films The Corner (1962) and Lord Thing (1970) on Thursday. Check out the Cinefile review for attendance encouragement.

A Posthumous Award

William Butler Ogden, Chicago's first mayor, was inducted into the National Railroad Hall of Fame for his work making the city one of the nation's railroad centers.

Building Moment by Moment a Comic Valentine

WFMU's Beware of the Blog tells the rambling tale of the rise and fall of Chicago-born comedian Shecky Greene.

The Loss of Another South Side Icon?

Lee Bey reports that a South Side auditorium building known as The Forum may soon be demolished, but there is a vague hope for the building in a demolition delay.

Laughing in the Lyons Den

The Reader this week offers an oral history of the comedy open mic at Lyons Den, where countless standup comics honed their craft.

Mobbing the Beach Since 1898

Whet Moser puts the recent "flash mobs" in perspective with a history of Chicago's beach violence.

Buildings on Paper

Letterhead used to be much more elaborate -- as evidenced by a sampling of Chicago companies in the Biggert Collection of Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery.

Old School

Archaeology students (and DePaul University Associate Professor Jane Eva Baxter) unearth the remains of an 1840s schoolhouse in the Edgebrook neighborhood.

Brush Up on Your Assyrian

The Oriental Institute at the U of C has finished a 90 year undertaking: the creation of a 28,000 word Assyrian dictionary.

Breaking Chicago's Nose

Open Culture turns up an interesting interview between Studs Terkel and Nelson Algren about Algren's move to Paterson, NJ, and why he didn't miss Chicago after he left. [Via]

Atomic Time Capsule

At 4pm today, the University of Chicago will open a time capsule placed in the Research Institute Building's cornerstone in 1950. You can watch it live online.

Don't Save $1.29

Buy the Hero Fire Extinguisher so you don't end up like this Chicago housewife. [via]

Gaylords on Film

And speaking of the Gaylords, the entirety of Great American Youth a 2006 short documentary on the gang by Daniel Wojack, is online on YouTube.

Gangs of Chicago

There are a couple sites devoted to Chicago's oldest gangs: the Gaylords and Stone Greasers; for more recent gang lists, check out

The El in 1907

On Shorpy.

Losing a Little Magic

A forgotten piece of Chicago history -- a Lincoln Square property that once housed police horses, was owned by Al Capone and served as a boarding house for traveling magicians and storage space for nearby Magic Inc. -- may face demolition.

Police on Parade in 1896

Chicago magazine's Whet Moser finds Chicago's earliest appearance on film -- even earlier than Thomas Edison's films.

Honoring Mothers Since 1909

Yesterday may have been Mother's Day, but that doesn't mean we can't learn about its Chicago history today, right?

The Motor Club Building

Speaking of architecture, the Chicago Motor Club Building is up for landmark status tomorrow. Forgotten Chicago has a great look at the design and history of the building.

Neighborhood Architecture

Ultra Local Geography catalogs the lesser-known marvels of architecture in Chicago. For instance, did you know the Chicago Daily News built three model homes in the '20s? [via]

The Indian Languages

At the turn of the last century, the Linguistic Survey of India recorded 179 languages and 544 dialects from around the Indian subcontinent and Burma. The Digital South Asia Library at the University of Chicago recently digitized two dozen of the phonographs and posted them online.

Get Your Good Times Here

If you're itching to get outside and amble this weekend, check out the newest of the Chicago historical tour scene with a "Good Times Around Michigan Avenue" tour by Detour Chicago. Public tours start today and include the use of interactive iPads for each participant and plenty of info. about jazz clubs, grand balls, elite soirees, and all sorts of diversions, past and present, on the Mag Mile.

Prices for the tours range from free (kids under 12) to $26 for adults ($24 for students/seniors). The group, Detour Chicago, will also launch some other great-sounding tours this summer, including "Our Chicago Sound: Jazz, Blues & Beyond" (tickets free-$70) and "Inside the Loop: Explore the Unexpected" and they also offer up private tours and school group tours as well. They also have cool online multimedia resources great for teachers and those just wanting to learn more.

Kubrick's Chicago Redux

More photos of Chicago in 1949 by Stanley Kubrick have surfaced (Previously). [via]

Taking a Slice of NYC's Pizza

An odd chapter in Chicago and New York's pizza rivalry: Supposedly you can't get a just a slice of pizza at certain NYC institutions because of Al Capone's strong-arm tactics regarding cheese distribution.[via]

A Storied Gun or Just a Gun Story?

GB flickr pool contributor Clark Maxwell took some fine photographs of a gun he says was found in a hotel wall last year. For what it's worth, "AC" is carved in the handle, and Al Capone supposedly stayed in the hotel.

Storm of Last Century

On April 21, 1967, a tornado touched down in Oak Lawn. Theater owner Robert Kehe recorded an eye-witness report. [via]

Chicago in the Late '70s

Photos on Flickr by westvillagebob.

Our Unsavory Past

1952: "White Families Protesting Black Family, Cicero, Illinois." Part of the

Pre-Google Maps Redux

Expanding on yesterday's link, offers several views of Chicago from 1938 to 2002. (Thanks, Brian!)

Pre-Google Maps

Illinois Historical Aerial Photos offers a look at Cook County from above in 1938-1941.

The Black Cubs?

Were the 1918 Cubs paid to throw the World Series the year before the infamous "Black Sox"? Maybe so, Joe.

Cathode Rays from the Past

Dig deep into Chicago TV history on the charmingly retro

Freshly Forgotten recently launched a redesign with some new features. Maybe that means it's time to read about sidewalk stamps or outlying banks.

If You Build It, They Will Come

The Arts Engagement Exchange published this interesting article last week about "overcoming cultural barriers" -- basically a history of public arts programming in Grant Park and how Millennium Park is carrying on the tradition of tricking people into listening to music they wouldn't normally seek out.

1977 vs. 2011 compares vintage footage shot from the John Hancock Observatory to how the city looks today.

The Old L

Zoom way in on a map of the Elevated trains, circa 1897. Note the many branches off in the distance. [via]

Theater of Blood

Coming across an interesting tidbit about a former silent-age movie theater near my neighborhood led to one thing, and then another, and then a strange, WTF? other.

Trustworthy Buildings

Forgotten Chicago explores the history and architecture of outlying banks.

Chicago the Beautiful, Annotated

We've linked to the 1948 travelogue Chicago the Beautiful before. Now Max Grinnell annotates it with more info on the sights, and a bit about what's there now.

Workers Unite (to Fund an Event)

Pocket Guide to Hell plans mark the 125th anniversary of the Haymarket Affair with a reenactment on April 30. It's looking for assistance via Kickstarter to help cover to cost of the event.

Touring the Nuclear Fringe

Pruned digs into Chicago's Cold War past with posts examining our missile defense infrastructure and the site of the first nuclear reactor. Oh, and also our tollway oases, just for fun.

Suggestive Stockings

Chicago's Bear Brand Hosiery Co. (whose Gary factory was finally torn down in 2009) once sold socks that grew with, um, you.


Chicago in Film, 1897

Some of the earliest motion pictures ever recorded were of Chicago. Thomas Edison shot footage of the corner of Madison and State, Armour's electric trolley and sheep and cattle being driven to slaughter in the Chicago Stockyards in 1897.

Sidd Finch Today

On Friday the Tribune caught up with Joe Berton, the guy who portrayed Sidd Finch in photos for George Plimpton's legendary April Fool's hoax story about a pitcher with a 168mph fastball.

Clever Apes Wants to Crush Our Souls

Many of your favorite facts about dinosaurs are totally wrong.

Who was Wacker?

Wacker Drive is named for Charles Henry Wacker, the chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission from 1909 to 1926. He published a book, Wacker's Manuel of the Plan of Chicago: Municipal Economy, which for 12 years all CPS eighth graders were required to read -- and so can you.

And Now, Here's Yippie

BoingBoing digs up an odd 1968 film from the Yippie movement that supposedly aired on TV stations as an equal-time counterpoint to propaganda from the National Democratic Convention.

The Big Wheel of Lincoln Park

For a couple of years, the Ferris wheel from the World's Columbian Exposition was set up along Clark Street, where a post office and McDonald's now stand.

Where Rock Once Lived

The host of Chicago Rock Tours gave A.V. Club Chicago a mini-tour of "hidden" former hotspots for Chicago's music scene on the North and West sides.

Cooking up History

Chef Troy Graves has been trying out recipes from an 1896 edition of the Chicago Daily News Cook Book; we ran excerpts from the 1930 edition in Drive-Thru awhile back.

Dixiana at Diversey

For three years in the '30s, the showboat Dixiana was moored on the Chicago River just south of the Diversey bridge. In 1937 it was to house a performance of Tobacco Road, but Mayor Kelly saw the play and banned it from Chicago. The Dixiana headed to Michigan City, IN, where it sank in the harbor. [via]

Labor Disasters and Social Reform in 1911

The NY Times' coverage of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on its 100th anniversary includes a collection of front page newspapers covering the event. The only non-New York paper is the Trib, whose Sunday edition also included news about Virginia Brooks, a social reformer in West Hammond who led "a small army of women" in a riot over paving stone quality and price. As it turns out, the Times also included a truncated version of the story in its edition.

Striking a Pose

Related to our feature on Chicago's underground ball scene, here's a video from 1990 of the House of Avant-Garde performing to Madonna's "Vogue."

The video was a submission to an MTV contest to promote Madonna's tour, and was one of 10 winning finalists shown on the music television station. [via]

Hipsters: Invented Here

The word "hipster" was coined in Chicago, with a slightly different meaning.

2-1-2 in 312

Lee Bey finds "Chicago Code's" ancestor in a rare 1950s TV show about Chicago firemen.

Digging Up Gacy Victims

The possibility that more victims of John Wayne Gacy are buried in and around a Northwest Side apartment building has gained more attention thanks to an investigative report that implies a CPD cover-up in the late 1990s. The Cook County Sheriff's Department is considering reopening the case.

When Gunne Sax Dresses Terrorized the Earth

The All Things Edwin G. Foreman High School tumblr is running some amusing, washed-out snapshots of 1970s life around the Belmont Cragin neighborhood. Help them identify the subjects!

Racing Technologies in a Blizzard

We mentioned it last year, but the Atlantic digs deeper into the first car race in America and finds an interesting angle: it was also pitted gas versus electric. The magazine shares a first-hand published account of the race, too.

Urban Reflections of Transportation Technology

BLDGBLOG's recent interview with Greg Lindsay identifies Chicago as an exemplar of a city that reflects its railroad heritage, in contrast to contemporary cities which may soon be direct responses to their airports.

Restoring the Sights and Sounds of Illinois Courthouses

The Chicago-based Driehouse Foundation is working to restore downstate courthouses, including the Logan County Courthouse, which hasn't rung its bells in decades.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

The 1950s were an important era for transportation in Chicago.

A plane crash at Midway, 1955:

A Rock Island Line promotional film from 1950:

Street scenes in the 1950s:

Yesterday's News Now

Chicagology is a collection of historical photographs (oddly, with blue skies added to them) and moments from the city's history, written when those moments were fresh. [via]

1001 Afternoons with 007

Ben Hecht, who as a Daily News columnist wrote 1001 Afternoons in Chicago, went on to be a prolific Hollywood screenwriter. Turns out he wrote an early script for Casino Royale, and it's been sitting in the Newberry Library.

Capturing Hizzoner

Photographer Art Shay shared more photos from his archives over on Chicagoist today -- this time the lens is trained on the Honorable Richard J. Daley.

The Old Wards

Continuing on the history lesson this week (previously: 1, 2), A Look at Cook includes Chicago ward maps from 1870 through 1930.

Streets of Old

Peruse UIC's collection of IDOT Chicago Traffic Photographs from the 1930s and you'll find shots of Lake Shore Drive under construction, Sheridan and Irving Park and a very snowy South Shore and 67th.

Horses & Other Bodies in Motion

Eadweard Muybridge debuted the first motion picture device, the zoopraxiscope, at the 1893 Colombian Exposition. Read more about Muybridge, including his now lesser-known, racier stuff. [via]

This Year's Chicago's 7

Yesterday, Preservation Chicago released its list of the seven most threatened buildings in 2011. This year's range from the North Pullman Historic District to skyscrapers, and includes two buildings with university connections: the Prentice Women's Hospital and the Chicago Theological Seminary.

TV about Movies, on the Web

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert's "At the Movies" -- as well as its predecessors, "Opening Soon at a Theater Near You" and "Sneak Previews," and its successor, "Siskel & Ebert" -- are collected on Siskel& for your viewing pleasure. [via]

Watch Out for Stale Greens

Drivers of a certain age might have seen this goofy '70s instructional film.

Apropos of the Election

A list of Chicago's mayors. [via]

Your Morning Detour: John Fischetti

Peruse the John Fischetti Manuscript Collection at Columbia College, and get to know a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist.

Blizzard Revisions

The National Weather Service was doing some thinking, and they decided that last week's blizzard wasn't as bad as everyone thought, and also that "1979 was messed up." So they revised the '79 and '11 snow totals and last week's blizzard dropped to fourth worst. But then they talked with some local meteorologists, who all basically said, "No way, and in fact you counted wrong." So a couple hours later, this year's blizzard was third again and everyone was happy.

Just Don't Call Him the Comptometer Kid

50 years ago, the legacy of the homegrown Comptometer ended in Chicago. Developed by Dorr Eugene Felt using a macaroni box in 1885, the Comptometer became the first commercially-successful key-driven adding machine. Relics of its reign still exist: the original prototype at the Smithsonian, the main factory building at the 1700 N. block of Paulina (now lofts), and this nose-poke threatening ad from 1942.

Mark of the Trade

Long-gone Nedwick Books is the sole entrant in this collection of book trade labels -- though there are many more here. [via]

Another Vanished Neighborhood

In 1971, Lou Fourcher, father of Center Square Journal founder Mike Fourcher, shot some great photos of the neighborhood that once existed where UIC and the medical campus are now.

Forget Looking Beneath the Floorboards

Are more John Wayne Gacy victims buried at an apartment complex near O'Hare? This exhaustive article implies just that.

"The Chicago Executive"

If United is really hurt for business, they might consider bringing back this men-only "club in the sky" from the 1950s -- though a women-only version would most definitely be in order as well.

the chicagoe executive

It's Not Brigadoon

Lee Bey solves the case of the missing neighborhood over at WBEZ.

U of C Player, Roaring 20s Edition

Nice to know that style, sex appeal, and the University of Chicago have always gone hand in hand.

Chicago's Unstirred Melting Pot

Here's a "Community Settlement Map for 1950 (bigger) from the Department of Development and Planning under Mayor Richard J. Daley. The color delineations can be hard to differentiate sometimes, but it's an interesting snapshot of the city 60 years ago. Compare it to the map for 1900.

Chicago's First President

The Hyde Park apartment Ronald Reagan spent a year in as a child may be at risk for demolition. (he was apparently fond of the place.) Meanwhile, Nancy Reagan's Chicago-area roots were highlighted in a documentary that aired on WTTW last night.

Bilandic's Downfall: Beyond the Mythology

Mayor Bilandic's defeat wasn't solely due to the Blizzard of '79 -- the plow blade was already falling thanks to 9 inches of snow already on the ground the week before, and a series of other PR blunders.

Tire Smoke & Exhaust Fumes

Indoor drag races? Yes, in the early 1960s right here in Chicago. [via]

More from the 1967 Blizzard

While we wait for the snow to pile up, let's listen to radio reports in the aftermath of the legendary Chicago Blizzard of 1967.

Back in the Winter of '67...

...those were the snowiest days of my life. (Photos and testimony from 1967's city-stopping blizzard at Chicago Now.)

A Repository of Culture

Celebrate Black History Month in February with a trip to the Vivian Harsh Collection of Afro-American History & Literature at the Woodson Regional Library.

Calling All Men...

Sadly, it is no longer possible to order strip tease necktie that glows in the dark; the office at 215 N. Michigan Ave. no longer exists. [via]

The Young Mayoral Candidate

How would the Daley of 1983 run in the election of 2011? Let's go to the tape.

UNCAPing Knowledge

Set aside some time this afternoon to pore through the Uncovering New Chicago Archives Project's stacks.

Another Glimpse of a Past Chicago

If you like the shot from today's Rearview photographer, nofauxchicago, you may want to check out his set of Chicago photographs dating back to the 1970s.

Chicago's King

The Defender offers a look at Martin Luther King Jr.'s time in Chicago.

Collect'em All

Robert Young (aka Marcus Welby) is the latest and last in If Charlier Parker Was A Gunslinger's series of Hollywood tobacco cards.

Stream the Folk

FolkStreams is a collection of documentary films new and old, such as a great Studs Terkel piece about Halsted Street and the Popovich Brothers of South Chicago.

The City's Oldest Business

The jewelry store C.D. Peacock was founded the same year Chicago was incorporated. You may be familiar with the ornate doors to its State Street store.

Turn of the 20th Century Architecture

Architecture Theory delves deeply into Frank Lloyd Wright's Quadruple Block Plan.

UA 727 Flying, then Driving to its New Home

GB flickr pool contributor cmraseye posted some photographs of the Museum of Science and Industry's 727 en route to the museum in 1992. Here's a news clip from the day for video of the landing and some additional background.

Blanketing the Skies

Found by chance, a photo of several thousand model WWII warplanes hung from the ceiling in Union Station in 1942.

Chicago Murder Rate Lowest Since 1965

Though it was a deadly year in Chicago, the total number of homicides was 435, the lowest since 1965 when the total was 395. The 2010 total represents a drop of more than 54% from the all time high set in 1992 with 943 homicides.

Vote for Helen Lishman

Speaking of the blizzard of '79 and mayoral races, here's a spoof campaign commercial promising to get rid of the "snow jobs in City Hall."

Blizzard Politics

Mayor Jane Byrne was interviewed on NPR yesterday, sharing lessons learned from the blizzard of '79 that New York's Mayor Bloomberg may want to pay attention to.

Origin Point, 1897

Thomas Edison filmed the intersection of State and Madison in 1897, showing it was bustling even back then.

Old City Documents

The National Archives have a search engine that lets you dig into its holdings. Quite a few from Chicago, going back to some of the city's earliest days.

Ah Yes, I Believe It Happened on a Tuesday

Today, shares an awesome comic panel recalling when fear ruled Chicago (true story!).

Architects Say the Darndest Things

In Chicago Magazine's "40 Reasons to Love Chicago," reason 35 highlights some epic architectural rivalries. Stanley Tigerman's "shove it" to the UIC architecture department takes the cake.

Jackson the Mushroom Man

Herbert Fickenworth, 12 years old, Chicago, writes: "I am picking and selling mushrooms every day."

Arnie's & Zorine's: Another Era

Gridface tells the story of DJ Sim Garrett, who used to DJ at Zorine's, a nightclub owned by Arnie Morton of Morton's fame. Looking for more info on Zorine's led me to this interesting reminiscence by Robert Patrick about working at Arnie's, another Morton restaurant from the 1970s.

Occupation: World Famous Architect

Frank Lloyd Wright appeared on "What's My Line?" back in 1956. [via]

Racing Cars at 7.5MPH

The first American car race took place today in 1895, here in Chicago, during a blizzard.

The Y in City

Ever notice the Y motif on Chicago's buildings, bridges and other places? It's known as "the municipal device," and symbolizes the three branches of the Chicago River.

Gangster Death Mask

At an auction of historic Chicago memorabilia on Thursday, the death mask of gangster John Dillinger sold for $3,600.

When People Were Pixels

Check out these great WWI-era photographs where people were organized to make giant patriotic mosaics on display at the Carl Hammer Gallery. (via)

Not Like Uncle Al

The young Al Capone seen on "Boardwalk Empire" is far from the real Scarface, says one of his grand-nieces.

Follow the Labor Trail

The Labor Trail is an interactive website about "Chicago's history of working-class life and struggle."

Spying Sputnik

We're worried about mystery missiles now, but back in 1957, the eyes on the heavens were watching for satellites.

The Militarized West Side of Days Gone By

The Boat Lullabies just posted film footage from 1966 featuring National Guard members patrolling the West Side, along with some shots of kids having fun in the streets.

35th Anniversary of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

On Nov. 10, 1975, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a gale on Lake Superior while on its way to a steel mill in Gary.

Not Our Style of Story

A rejection slip from Essanay Studios.

To Market, To Market

An industrial film from 1942 (part one, part two) for a billboard company reveals some pretty interesting views of the city... and WWII-era advertising. Did you know there used to be billboards along Lake Shore Drive?

The War Effort at Home

Historic photoblog Shorpy finds a photo of a Melrose Park aircraft plant in 1942. As noted in the comments, the plant is still there, just south of O'Hare, now producing engines for International Harvester.

If Chicago Went Dry

A pre-Prohibition rumination on the matter, from 1914.

No Longer Taking Off

Meigs Field isn't the only abandoned airport in Chicagoland. [via]

Forward This Post to 10 Friends

Chain letters were invented in Chicago. (Thanks, Adam!)

Importing Peace

The peace symbol was brought to the US from the UK on buttons imported by U of C freshman Philip Altbach in 1960.

Black Chicago, 1973

As part of the EPA's DOCUMERICA project, photojournalist John H. White created a Portrait of Black Chicago in the mid-1970s.

The Old Morning Commute

"Arriving from the suburbs," circa 1907. [via]

This is Hollywood

Want to learn more about Hollywood Park? Frances Archer is giving a talk about the research she's done into the neighborhood's history tonight at 7:30pm at Northside College Prep.

Pride of '77

Feast of Fun unearths video from the 1977 Chicago Gay Pride Parade.

Richard J. Daley on TV

The father of our outgoing mayor appeared on "What's My Line?", the popular game show, in 1956.

History in Black and White

One of Chicagoist's readers shares some great photos from decades worth of Chicago history.

Photographic Evidence

Ernest C. Withers, the photographer who documented the Civil Rights Movement as well as the Emmett Till murder trial, was a paid FBI informant.

Chi Don't Dance No More

XLR8R surveys Chicago's thriving juke and footwork scene, giving me another opportunity to link to BBU's awesome song.

Drawing for the Trib in 1931

"The men and women who write and draw for the Tribune do their work in -- The Tribune Tower." (Thanks, Phineas!)

Happy Sesquicentennial, Jane!

Monday was Jane Addams' 150th birthday.

Gangland, 1931

This poster is like Chicago Gang Maps from the golden age of organized crime.

Monsters and the Lake

Speaking of, FoGB Phineas Jones points out that Dinosaur Comics references the S.S. Eastland disaster in today's comic. Learn more about it from the Eastland Disaster Historical Society.

TB in the City

Chicago was home to one of the last operating tuberculosis sanitariums in the country. Frances Archer grew up across the street, and has a great series of posts collecting its history and eventual closure.

Look Down at the Sidewalk

Ever wonder about who's behind those stamps in the sidewalk? Forgotten Chicago has some answers.

The City on Stilts

Lilli Carré breaks down the 19th century raising of Chicago's street grades in comics form for Chicago Magazine.

Goodbye, Skid Row

New City tells the story of how south Uptown went upscale.

He Had It Coming

Ever wonder about the ladies on death row who dance the cell-block tango in the musical Chicago? Journalist Douglas Perry wrote a book about the real-life murderers and their stories.

Chicago, Birthplace of the Zipper

Yep, the zipper was invented here, and displayed for the first time at the 1893 World's Fair.

Legends Never Die

In an interview with NPR, the author of a new book called Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster reveals close details about the famous gangster and the way city folk felt about him: "The real issue for most Chicagoans was the damage it did to the city's reputation. We already had an image of corrupt politics, we had a mayor who was widely perceived as being one of the most venal in the country's history, and then you've got these gangsters walking down the street with machine guns shooting it out on Michigan Avenue in broad daylight." Glorious times.

I Am Woman, Hear My Buttons Roar

The Chicago Women's Liberation Union herstory project site is interesting in and of itself, but this article about feminist buttons is fascinating.

Nobody Calls it LSD

As noted by the Chicago Lampoon, the song "Lake Shore Drive" by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah was recorded 40 years ago this weekend. It was released in 1971 and became a regional hit.

"The Times, They Was Rough"

The Denver Post has unearthed an incredible collection of color slides from the Great Depression. The photos are from all across America and really emphasize the poor and poorer (rich people, mercifully, are left out). Heartwarming and heartbreaking each image tells a tale of the brutal life in the real Depression. Look out for the exhilarating shots of Chicago's great railyards and the northward looking PBR sign that shows what, in that day and age, was Chicago's glorious skyline pre-Sears or Aon or Hancock.

Discovering Gilded Trash in the Gold Coast

The headquarters of the Society of Architectural Historians, the Sullivan and Wright designed Charnley House, is currently a living history museum thanks to an archeological dig going on in its (very small) backyard.

Art is a Moving Object

Chicago Art Magazine takes a look at the rise and fall of River North and the ascendancy of gallery districts in other parts of the city.

Master of Puppets

Chicago magazine's list of words Chicago gave the world (previously) was missing a surprising one: puppeteer.

2 Cs Became Cubs & Sox

DesignCrave compares Major League Baseball teams' original logos to their current ones. The Sox logo may look familiar to fans, but the Cubs' original is really obscure. [via]

Chicago: Sin in the Second QWERTY

Zoomar reprints an old ad touting a, presumably, naughty book about a pretty girl in Chicago. I'd touch-type that, bro.

Does Anyone Know Where the Love of God Goes, When the Waves Turn the Minutes to Hours?

Just off the Milwaukee shoreline, divers rediscovered a 112-year-old wooden steamship perfectly preserved in Lake Michigan's icy waters. The L.R. Doty sank with all hands (and two cats) in 1898.

Our Gonfalon Bubble

"Tinker to Evers to Chance." Baseball's Sad Lexicon in pictures.

"How to Govern Chicago"

From 1895: "Chicago needs a deliverer, a leader strong enough to raise the people to a higher plain of political morality. There are already too many reformers who are in the business because it is popular."

There Should Be a Nerd Museum. Wait, Aren't They All?

MuseumNerd tweeted his/her way through a plethora of Chicago museums this weekend. That's right: a whole PLETHORA. [via]

Karate Kid Too?

Local filmmaker Floyd Webb wrote up an interesting and thoughtful pair of blog posts about his early martial arts days in Chicago and elsewhere, and the "Mr. Miyagi" in his life. Also, look forward to his upcoming Flicks of Fury martial arts film series at ICE Theaters down in Chatham.

Buildings Sans Faces

Ever notice some older buildings look like they're missing something? It's because of those darn cars.

Privatizing the CTA

In the Reader, Robert Loerzel takes a look at the era when Chicago's public transit services were in private hands. Do you think Chicago should privatize the CTA? Share your thoughts in Fuel.

Chicago's Grain Silos

Chicago wasn't just the nation's butcher. It was once also its stacker of wheat.

Letter from Public Enemy No.1

Earlier this month, the excellent Letters of Note posted a letter from John Dillinger to his father, asking him to help secure his parole. (Thanks, Kate!)

The Monkey Hustle

Lee Bey recalls when Hollywood came to Woodlawn.

Spirit of 1877

If you missed the re-enactment of The Battle of the Halsted Viaduct presented by Paul Durica's Pocket Guide to Hell, read Vice magazine's recap of the event.

Chicago Community Trust Turns 95

The Chicago Community Trust was founded on this day in 1915 by banker Albert W. Harris (of Harris Bank) and other business leaders to fund community-oriented philanthropy. It was one of the first in the nation.

SUElebration Time

The Field Museum's chatty T-Rex named Sue is turning 10 years old (well, give or take 60 million) and the museum's having a party and a fancy online auction.

Wal-Mart: Pullman's New Company Store?

As the Chicago Zoning Committee prepares to vote on the proposed Pullman Wal-Mart, Newstips explores the similarities between the commercial giant and a company store.

Sun-Worshipers in Chicago

Ever heard of Mazdaznan? Neither had I, but it's a spiritual movement with roots in turn-of-last-century Chicago. Here's a cookbook first published by the sect in 1901.

Engraving Chicago

The publicity department for the Chicago Engraving Co. sure had beautiful letterhead. Their books were pretty nice, too.

Bring Me a Martini, Will Ya Sweetheart?

Check out this United Air Lines ad from the good old male chauvinist pig days. Trapped on a plane with a bunch of drunks, all smoking cigars and pipes and stuffing themselves with steaks? Uh, I'll take the train.

The Way We Used to Travel

A great collection of vintage CTA photos. [via]

In Search of the Phantom Kangaroo

In 1974, a kangaroo haunted the streets of Chicago, then the Midwest. What could be lurking today?

"We're in trouble."

Transcripts of conversations between President Johnson and Mayor Richard J. Daley during the riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. have just been released.

From Poles and Beyond

How well do you know Avondale?

Chicago on C-SPAN

C-SPAN has opened up video archives stretching back into the '80s and earlier. Here's what they have featuring Mayor Daley, Studs Terkel, the 1989 Chicago mayoral race, and the 1996 championship Chicago Bulls.

The Original Online Community

Before the Web, there was the Bulletin Board System, or BBS. The first public one was CBBS, launched in Chicago during the Blizzard of 1978. You might think they're a thing of the past, but at least one is still up and going strong.

The Powerful Anti-Hatpin Lobby

Today, Whitney Gifford runs an article about the public nuisance of hatpins, 100 years ago today. "One man told me he was almost decapitated in the City Hall elevator by the sweep of a hatpin like a scimitar worn by one of the City Hall belles."

Celebrate Chicago's 173rd Birthday

Take in musical performances from the Latin School Jazz Band and have a slice of Bleeding Heart Bakery's Chicago-style birthday cake for free at The Chicago History Museum--where else? The festivities begin at 10:30am, March 4. And, if you share a birthday with the Windy City, you'll receive a special certificate signed by the mayor.

Buffy the Rail Splitter

Michael Krebs is a local Lincoln presenter who's appeared at the Chicago History Museum, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, and now the trailer for the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Incidentally, Mr. Krebs once played our 16th president as a member of the undead. Our president was a very complex man.

Goodbye, M

Lee Bey bids farewell to the CPD's M license plate with some references to it in popular culture.

"A Directory of Human Needs for Chicagoans"

Mr. Scantastic has a very impressive collection of archaic Chicago ephemera, scanned for your viewing pleasure. For example, behold the grand Prudential Building--tallest edifice in the city! Or the mighty strange-looking Chicago's How to Do It Guide.

Official Recognition for Capone

For the first time ever, the City is acknowledging the existence of Al Capone on an official sign, marking the historic location of The Metropole and The Lexington hotels, where Scarface was known to hang out.

Collect the Media

Editors of Chicago newspapers once merited trading cards. Sure, it was back in the 1880s, but still.

Chicago Dream Wedding

Have a great Chicago proposal story? Eligible engaged couples can enter to win a wedding through the Chicago History Museum.

Landmarks Pass City Council

Chicago City Council conferred landmark status on the former houses of the Hansberrys, Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, along with the first location of the DuSable Museum of African American History and the George Cleveland Hall Branch Library.

Potentially Landmarking the Hansberry House

The Chicago City Council may vote today to confer landmark status to 6140 S. Rhodes Avenue. The house was owned by Carl Hansberry, a prominent progressive African American businessman and father of playwright Lorraine Hansberry. A court case related to his ownership of the building ultimately struck down one form of racially restrictive covenants.

How the City Expanded

Dennis McLendon of Chicago Cartographics mapped historical population growth for Chicago, decade by decade. [via]

Chicago's Musical History in MP3

WFMU's Beware of the Blog shares a massive MP3 of music recorded in Chicago between 1908 and 1980, which was presented in Millennium Park last summer by historian Tim Samuelson and The Numero Group.

Sun-Times Photos on eBay

The Sun-Times Photo Archive is auctioning original photographs from the Sun-Times and Daily News on eBay. [indirectly via]

Remembering the Montrose Sinkhole

Two years ago today, the portion of of Montrose Avenue adjacent to the Brown Line station caved in after a massive water main break. Commemorate the event, if you wish, with a newly minted t-shirt.

Photos to Make Your Heart Skip a Beat

A high-flying lass dances, balances, and jumps rope from the heights of a Chicago building in 1955.

How To: Dead Tree Media

Fry cook on Venus digs up a gem from 1937: "From Trees to Tribunes," an industrial film about how trees from the Tribune's vast Canadian wilderness become the newsprint rolling through the presses.

Frederick Douglass on Haiti

In 1893, Frederick Douglass delivered a speech about the United States' relationship with Haiti here in Chicago.

He Was the Nazz

Nikola Tesla was a brilliant Serbo-American scientist and inventor whose alternating current equipment powered the electric lights of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. According to the thumbnail portrait in the Wall Street Journal, he also recorded the seminal albums The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Lodger.

From Out of the Toothy Mouths of Dinosaur Babes

Sue the T-rex reminds us that Chicago was, essentially, founded by a Haitian. Please help out.

The Schaumburg Needle

The world's tallest building was nearly in Schaumburg. No, really.

History's Gland Panic

The Reader's Cliff Doerksen has tracked down a handful of newspaper clippings regarding a very peculiar crime wave in 1920s Chicago.

70 Year Old Murder Case Reopened

Chicago police are taking another look at the 1939 murder of lawyer Edward J. O'Hare in advance of a new book about Al Capone that's due out this spring.

The King is Dead, Long Live the King

Today is/would be Elvis' 75th birthday, and Chicagoist has a nice look back as well as video from his 1972 concert at Chicago Stadium. You might also be interested in this feature from the GB archives profiling Mark Hussman, one of the city's top Elvis impersonators.

2010 from 1972

Dan Sinker bought the 1972 book 2010: Living in the Future from a public library 25 years ago. The moment has finally arrived to find out how different the world is.

The JFK Nude Yacht Party That Didn't Happen

Playboy sunk's "news" of a scandalous photo allegedly of President John F. Kennedy sunning himself on a yacht full of naked babes. Turns out it was a photo from 1967 Playboy photo shoot. (Both links NSFW.)

Once a Bunny, Always a Bunny

The Ex Playboy Bunnies Website tells the tale of the legendary Playboy Clubs through the eyes and fuzzy tails of its iconic waitresses. (No nudity, but still probably NSFW.)

The Incomparable Filmo

A century ago, Bell & Howell's (click the Company History tab!) HQ and factory was located on Larchmont Avenue, where they made Filmo movie cameras. Tough, dependable, and, in some cases, quite lovely, Filmo cameras were the preferred brand among filmmakers in the early days of motion pictures.

Our Great City of the Middle West

Travel to 1948. [via]

The Neon Glow of the City

Forgotten Chicago takes a look at some of the city's most memorable neon signage. (Further reading about Lincoln Avenue's famously neon-lit motels in our archives.)

Trailer for a New Algren Documentary

A documentary on the life of Nelson Algren -- titled simply Algren -- is set to debut next year. The trailer has just been released. [via]

Michigan Avenue Once Turned West

Ever wonder what Chicago looked like, streetwise, before the Great Fire? Here's a map. [via]

This Day in History: Blago Arrested

That's right, one year ago today Dec. 9, Gov. Blagojevich was arrested by the FBI. Blago celebrated yesterday on his radio show by talking about the break-in at his lawyers' offices.

There Wasn't an App for That

The NYTimes covers cellphones and the industry's drive to keep people chatting on them when they shouldn't. Interestingly, the piece shows a photo of a 1983 event at Soldier's Field, when Ameritech executives (huge trench-coat fans, apparently) gathered to watch the first cellphone call.

Happy Birthday Illinois

Gubernatorial candidate Dan Hynes tweets that today in 1818, Illinois was admitted to the Union.

I Love Your Painting/I Think I'm Fainting

Happy 150th Birthday Georges Seurat! Well, there are worse things/Than staring at the water on a Sunday.

More Cops and Cameras

Chicago police and perp pix from the 1900s and 1950s and 1960s. Those turn-of-the-century overcoats weren't at all flattering, were they?

What A Croc!

Chicago's own Indiana Jones, Universtiy of Chicago celebrity palentologist Paul Sereno, unveils five new species of ancient crocodiles that he unearthed in the Sahara over the past few years. The new findings include the PancakeCroc. We're guessing it didn't eat flapjacks.

Remember Urbis Orbis?

If you do, you should check out the videos GB reader Anna sent us documenting the Wicker Park coffeehouse's last weeks and the interesting folks who worked and hung out there.

There's Just so Many Buttons... So... So Many Buttons!

"Bunky's Pickle" has a nifty photo of three Chicago recording studios from a 1976 issue of the Billboard Recording Guide, all staffed, unsurprisingly, by total dudes.

Where Your Kicks Will Have Been Gotten

We know Route 66 "officially" begins at Buckingham Fountain, but it's recently been decided that it ends at Santa Monica Pier... which is fudging, actually, though fans of the "Mother Road" aren't complaining.

Lupe Fiasco on Eight Forty Eight

Check out this podcast of Chicago superstar Lupe Fiasco's interview on Chicago Public Radio about the The People Speak, a new documentary spinoff of sorts from The People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. An excerpt preview of the film will show at 8 tonight along with live readings by Fiasco and others at Northwestern University's Leverone Auditorium.

Lost Chaplin Movie Found

Speaking of eBay... a man in Essex, England bought an old film canister on eBay that turned out to contain a long-lost Charlie Chaplin film, Zepped, produced by Chicago's Essanay Studios in 1916. He and a friend are researching the film and twittering their progress.

Chicago History: Park by Park

You can learn some amazing trivia about the city by just reading the brief descriptions of city parks. For example, Gompers Park was named after Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, who got his start in Labor as president of a local cigar makers' union.

More Then and Now

Inspired by our recent post about vintage photos of Chicago, Berg with Fries went out and reshot most of the images from the same spot for a little then-and-now action. (Thanks, Amanda!)

"You Will Like Des Plaines"

Revitalize Des Plaines! will be of great assistance if you're interested in our northwestern neighbor's politics, history and, in one case, amazing sheet music.

Your Friendly Neighborhood SpiderDan Skyscraperman

About 28 years ago a fellow by the name of Dan Goodwin scaled both the John Hancock Center and the Sears Tower and a few other famous skyscrapers. Now he's back with a book. Look out! There goes the Spider Dan!

The Great Snowstorms of the Last Century

While we sit out the longest rain in recent memory, Kevin Guilfoile shares footage of the great snowstorms of 20th Century Chicago. Well, the first two, anyway -- 1939 and 1967; look elsewhere for 1978 and 1999.

A Submarine in the Chicago River?

Lodner D. Phillips was an inventor and engineer in turn-of-the-century Chicago who specialized in submarines and diving suits. One of his subs, which claimed the life of its owner and his dog, was pulled out of the Chicago River in 1915. [via]

The City in Celluloid

There weren't a lot of movies shot in Chicago during the first Daley's reign, but those that were captured a city a bit grittier than today.

Building History

If last week's historical Chicago photos whet your appetite for others, here's a great shot of the Hancock Building under construction from a compilation set of relatively historical photographs.

Our History in Print

HelloChicago hosts scans of several historic books about Chicago. You have to download them as PDFs, but it's still pretty cool.

Casimir Pulaski's Citizenship Status

On President Obama's to do list: Sign a resolution declaring Casimir Pulaski an honorary citizen of the U.S. If he signs the resolution, which was sent to his office after being unanimously passed by the Senate yesterday, this Polish Revolutionary War hero would become the seventh foreigner who's been granted this status.

"We Don't Die, We Just Get High"

We Are Supervision blog shows a series of old '70s and '80s Chicago gang calling cards. Crudely drawn, sometimes offensive, and frequently opaque, they're also quite compelling.

Get Your Piece of Kiddieland

How do you put a price on a memory? Rides, equipment, signage and other bits of Kiddieland will be auctioned off by Norton Auctioneers on Nov. 24. Here are some photos of auction items.

Flying Out of Chicago

On this day in 1909, the first airplane flight in Chicagoland occurred at Hawthorne Park racetrack in Cicero. Chicago Public Radio has the full story.

Deep Below the Loop, Trains Once Ran

While we're digging into the archives, Granta's story on the semi-forgotten tunnels that led to the "Great Loop Flood of 1992" gives us the opportunity to link again to this site about the Chicago Tunnel Railroad Company.

The Twitter of an Extraordinary Gentleman

"Chicago femme fatale, known to police as 'The Nemesis Sweetheart,' claims sixth victim in underworld--one husband, five lovers." Librarian/researcher/author Jess Nevins finds and posts amazing historical headlines like that to his Twitter page under the "on this day in 1929" #otd1929 tag.

And Daniel Burnham Looked Upon the Ruins and Said, "Let's Rock!"

It's the 138th anniversary of the Chicago Fire, and MTV pays sentimental tribute with... Dragonforce? Indeed, the city did arise from the ashes like a huge, shredding, windmill-headbanging phoenix.

If Chicago's Youth Violence Were Elsewhere

Bernadine Dohrn, writing on the Huffington Post, reminds us that "Were this in Colombia, the Congo or Myanmar, we would recognize that children who are recruited into warring groups by much older adults to fight as child soldiers must be disarmed, demobilized, rehabilitated and reintegrated into the community."

Brown's Chicken Murder Verdict

James Degorski, the second suspect in the infamous Brown's Chicken Massacre case, was found guilty this afternoon. Now all that remains is sentencing before this grisly tale finally comes to a close.

The Mighty Maroons

Did you know that Chicago's first college football team was at the University of Chicago? Led by Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, the Maroons won all but two games from 1905 to 1909, and were Big Ten champions seven times. Discovered in the Library of Congress' stash of photos from the Chicago Daily News.

A Conventioneer's Guide to Chicago Nightlife, 1957

Chicago's hospitality is world famous -- but the city's less savory entertainment options for visiting opthalmologists and auto part salesmen were a bit more on display in the '50s than today. [via]

Michael Jackson, the Earliest Years

Jake Austen details the discovery of the earliest known recording of Michael Jackson and his brothers in today's Reader.

Have $2.6 Million on Hand?

Then you may want to consider buying Al Capone's Wisconsin retreat. It has "407 secluded acres with a 37-acre private lake, an eight-car garage and a guard tower."

They Say It Ain't So

The classic book Eight Men Out about the 1919 "Black Sox" may be much more fiction than fact, two Chicago lawyers argue in the latest issue of Chicago Lawyer.

Emmett Till's Original Casket Going to Washington

The National Museum of African American History and Culture will take possession of Emmett Till's glass-topped coffin on the 54th anniversary of his death. The ceremony will take place at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, the same location as his funeral.

Steve Stone in Playgirl?!

The things you learn from someone's Wikipedia entry. Here's the semi-SFW (no full frontal) pictorial. Delicious innuendo: "Many ballplayers were dazzled by Steve's slick curve ball."

Don't Forget the Beer

Forgotten Chicago focuses on Chicago's bygone breweries in its latest feature -- and has started selling some lovely photos of historic structures.

White Sox, Black Ops

"Scholar, Lawyer, Catcher, Spy," a fascinating 1992 profile of Moe Berg, a third-string catcher for the White Sox -- and a WWII spy. [via]

Shambling Through the Second City

We debut a new occasional feature in A/C today: Chicago Revenant, which sheds light on some of the lesser known neighborhoods of the city. First up, Dunning and Schorsch Village on the Northwest Side.

Historically Speaking, of Course

The Chicago Reader's blog points us to this home video from the 1930s that shows plenty of family and canine fun but also gives a rare moving picture look into Jackson Park and the lakefront.

A City of Superlatives

A travelogue from 1948: Chicago The Beautiful -- and another examining our nightlife. [via]

Create Your Own Speakeasy Tour

Want to drink in some history? The Chicago Bar Project has a list of still-active bars that were once Prohibition era speakeasies.

Burn That Mutha Down

Sunday's the 30th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night. This week's Reader has a great sampling of photos from the night (and is sponsoring an exhibition of more on Sunday), while Time Out Chicago has a more nuanced take on the event.

Even Capone Needed a Vacation

When Al Capone needed a break, he and his cronies headed up to Wisconsin ... and you can too.

Confessions of a Corrupt Alderman

WindyCitizen points us to The Untold Stories of Alderman Don Perillo, "the most admittedly corrupt Chicago politician you probably never heard of," by Anthony DeBartolo.

Requiem for Spike

Did you know... Laurens Corning "Spike" Shull, a U of C alumnus and WWI war hero whose "doughboy" image graces Rockefeller Chapel, is featured in Wikipedia's "Did You Know..." section today?

Spoiler Alert!

Taking full advantage of the buzz surrounding Public Enemies, the gun that fired the fatal shot for John Dillinger in 1934 will be up for auction along with its holster, a letter and press photos on July 28.

The Chicago Music Scene: 1990-1999

Chicago Rocked! 1990-1999 is the working title of an - as yet unpublished - book by former Q101 radio show host, James VanOsdol. The book chronicles the Chicago music scene in the 90's, as experienced by those who were at the core of it; and VanOsdol himself. He plans to independently publish the book and is currently seeking donations.

What Makes a Nerd?

The answer varies depending on the times -- and who exactly you're talking about.

Ah-One, Ah-Two, Ah-Three...

Harry Caray's famous "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" singing didn't start at Wrigley Field, even if North Siders have made it their own. FuzzyMemories.TV digs up video of Harry leading the 7th Inning Stretch at a Sox game in 1980

When Muscle Cars Ruled

Big Happy Funhouse turns up photos of spokesmodels from the 1968 Chicago Auto Show.

Crying Over Cooked Milk

Speaking of old news, Chicagoist went digging through LexisNexis and found a 100-year-old story about the controversy over pasteurizing milk.

Bad News from the Past

The Hope Chest, scans of microfilmed tabloid newspapers of the 1930s. Lots of Chicagland murder and mayhem (and witchcraft?) in there. [via]

A Day to Remember

After Memorial Day weekend, it's nice to see some veterans get the "thank you" they deserve. Recently, Honor Flight Chicago took several area World War II vets on a special trip to the memorial in Washington D.C.

More than Capone's Old Haunt

The Uptown Chicago History blog highlights the grandeur and class that once pervaded in that neighborhood.

Without Bounds or Limits

The Art Institute's Ryerson & Burnham Archives has launched a website about the Burnham Plan of Chicago for its centennial, including a set of lantern slides of images from the plan.

Historic Tube Steaks

"Hot Doug" Sohn and culinary historian Bruce Kraig will be discussing the history of the hot dog at Kendall College tonight; details in Drive-Thru and Slowdown.

Endangered Places

Landmarks Illinois has released its 2009 list of the 10 most endangered places in Illinois. Chicago entries include two hospitals -- Michael Reese (as covered in Mechanics) and Prentice Women's. Chicago's Landmarks Ordinance itself got special 11th designation.

The House That Scarface Built

A house once lived in by late gangster Al Capone is for sale, and is expected "to fetch a $450,000 asking price."

Elie Wiesel to Speak at Illinois Holocaust Museum

A public grand opening ceremony Sunday for the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie will feature Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, in addition to former President Bill Clinton and a host of local and international dignitaries. Thousands of guests are expected, so plan ahead for transit, and get more details in Slowdown.

Voices of Gettysburg

Local storyteller Syd Lieberman is bringing the Battle of Gettysburg to life with a new blog, Voices of Gettysburg, featuring first person accounts of the bloodshed. The blog is a companion to Lieberman's new story, Abraham & Isaac: Sacrifice at Gettysburg.

New Neighbors for the Bean

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Burnham Plan, Millennium Park will enjoy two new pavilions come June 19. More in A/C.

Bridge Out Permanently

There are a lot of bridges over the Chicago River -- but there used to be a few more.

Introducing the Illinois Holocaust Museum

The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center will be opening in Skokie on April 19. You may request tickets to the public grand opening ceremony or get a sneak peek by purchasing tickets for the Inaugural Gala on April 2.

Addams on Burnham

What would Jane Addams have said about the Burnham Plan? That's the question asked in a forthcoming book timed to the 100th anniversary of the great plan for our city.

A Life in Layers

Can't make it down to the Oriental Institute but want to learn more about mummies? The University of Chicago Magazine created an interactive mummy dissection that combines photographs, CT scans and interviews with researchers to examine the Institute's 2,800-year-old dummy -- without cracking the seal.

Lost Connections

My family lineage is a bit murky and hard to trace, so I'm always flummoxed when people ask me where my ancestral heritage came from. Even so, I'm enthralled by the stories of Chicagoans who can visit the homes their ancestors lived in -- but this post by John Tolva is one of the best I've read.

Happy Pulaski Day!

Unless you're a K-12 student or a government official, you might have forgotten that the first Monday in March is Casimir Pulaski Day. Chicago Public Schools, Cook County government offices, and the Chicago Public Libraries are closed today.

The TV Generation

How many of these Chicagoland TV ads do you remember? [via]

Avast, Ye Landlubbers

The Chicago Maritime Festival will be weighing anchor at the Chicago History Museum Saturday. Details in Tailgate.

Serving the People of Chicago Since 1835

A brochure for the Chicago Board of Health, circa the early 1960s.

How Newspapers Used to Work

Care to take a trip through the Sun-Times circa the 1950s?

Lincoln bLogs

Chicago Public Radio's blog is celebrating Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday with a day of posts about the president.

Lincoln at 200

In celebration of Abe's 200th on Thursday, The Newberry Library and the Chicago History Museum have launched Lincoln at 200, a pair of online exhibitions about our 16th president, featuring hundreds of nineteenth century photos, maps, manuscripts, letters, cartoons and broadsheets. The site offers a tool for zooming in close, allowing close inspection without getting yelled at by a museum security guard.

Gaga for Googie

NewCity explores a vanishing architectural style. More examples of Googie on flickr.

Because There's A Lot of Salt on the Ground...

The history of the Morton's Umbrella Girl logo. [via]

Ketchup To Reality

Most Insignificant News Item of the Day: After more than 100 years, the H.J. Heinz Company is removing the pickle from the logo on its ketchup bottle and replacing it with the more appropriate tomato. The Chicago connection? The pickle logo idea was hatched during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

The Scene of the Crime

The Chicago Crime Scenes Project seeks to document the locations of the city's infamous crimes. [via]

Architecture of Years Past

If you haven't explored Google Book Search, you owe it to yourself to find the time. Lynn Becker has an excellent starting point for you. [via]

Is the Time Is the Place Is the Motion

Did you know that Grease was based on Chicago's Taft High School in the late '50s?

Segregated Chicago

"[B]lacks in Chicago are the most isolated racial group in the nation's 20 largest cities, according to a Tribune analysis of 2008 population estimates. To truly integrate Chicago, 84 percent of the black or white population would need to change neighborhoods."


Empire Today has collected videos of its classic carpet commercials at Sing along!

Blast From The Past

The "unique" local political scene gets yet another national dissection. This time, it's The Atlantic. And this time it's from October, 1930. The more things change...

Forgotten but Not Yet Gone

Forgotten Chicago profiles Michael Reese Hospital, most recently in the news as the just-purchased future location of the Olympic Village.

A Life of Reform

Northwestern's law school recently created a new site dedicated to Florence Kelley, one of Chicago's most important social reformers at the turn of the century.

Shopping in Another Era

The Trib shows a collection of holiday ads from the Great Depression.

A Tragedy 50 Years On

On this date in 1958, 92 students and three nuns died when fire ripped through Our Lady of the Angels School. In Detour, Drive-Thru editor Robyn Nisi recounts the tragedy and introduces a 2004 in-depth article about it, republished with permission.

Set Your TiVo for the Lake

On Dec. 1 at 7:30pm, WTTW debuts a new documentary on Chicago's lakefront.

Voices of Hope

So what were you doing when you heard the news? The Chicago Reporter wants to know your reaction when you first heard that Barack Obama had won the election as part of their upcoming "50 Days/50 Voices" project. Video, audio and essays are all welcome.

Height of Fashion

The Chicago History Museum has an exhibit of "Couture Treasures" running right now. If you don't have time to hit the museum, check on this flickr slideshow of the highlights.

Chicago LIFE

Speaking of random imagery of the city, Google is now hosting images from LIFE magazine, including a trove of photos of, in and around Chicago.

Historic Warmth

Today's mid-70s temperature may set a record, and makes me think of "Indian Summer." Read more about that term in Ask the Librarian, and a very heated discussion in the Fuel archives.

A Sock Monkey Story

Picture this: You/your baby/your toddler/your dog are dressed up as a sock monkey for Halloween and someone poses the question, "Oh, a sock monkey. Nice job with the local costume." You stare back at them blankly. The horror! You didn't know that the sock monkey was created in Rockford, Illinois! Read up, and don't be afraid.

Feel Good About Chicago Baseball

Tune in to WYCC at 6:30pm on November 9th for the premiere of Buck O'Neil and Black Baseball in Chicago. O'Neil was a Negro League player and coach and subsequently spent more than 30 years with the Cubs becoming the first black coach in the majors. More info at the Chicago Baseball Museum website.

Burge Background

Need refreshing on John Burge and the Police Torture scandal? Read up on the U of C's Chicago Police Torture Archive and Human Rights Watch's overview.

Architecture is in the Details

More than you ever expected to learn about "sculptured glass modules," a particular subgenre of glass blocks.

Sent Back

The documentary A Forgotten Injustice, by Chicago journalist Vincente Serreno, highlights the "repatriation" of thousands of Mexican Americans in the 1930s. The film is screening at the Instituto Cervantes this weekend. Here's an interview with Serrano on Chicago Public Radio.

100 Years and Counting

A Cubs timeline from the NY Times.

Fossett's Plane, Belogings Found

After a hiker discovered money and identification of missing Chicago-based adventurer Steve Fossett while hiking in the mountains of eastern California this week, the wreckage of his plane has been found as well.

Sooouulll Traiiinn!

Roctober's Jake Austen tells the story of "Soul Train" and its roots in Chicago in this week's Reader.

Postcards From History

The Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation recently acquired a collection of over 250 postal documents from World War II, many of which were smuggled out of concentration camps. The collection will be exhibited in the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, which opens next year.

Further Frank Lloyd Wright

...this time courtesy of Jason Fried: The Mike Wallace Interview.

World Famous Architect

Edward Lifson digs up a video of Frank Lloyd Wright on the game show "What's My Line?" in 1956. [via]

Resurrecting Pilgrim Baptist Church

Architecture fans take heart. Plans are afoot to rebuild Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan's Pilgrim Baptist Church, which caught fire in January 2006 (one of three Sullivans to burn to a crisp that year). The current estimate for repairs is $37 million. Donations are encouraged.

OTS Looks To Community for Musical History

The Old Town School of Folk Music is assembling a huge "Timeline of Music" that will encompass the varied flavors of music that its students study, know and love. The school's executive director Bau Graves posts an invitation on his blog for music lovers to contribute to what he wants to be "the most flamboyant and informative bulletin board in town."

"They Better Be Good"

The Reader has a great excerpt from a book by Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen about their experiences as the first black-and-white stand-up team.

Racing on Lake Shore

Ron from Big Happy Funhouse tipped us to this site dedicated to Robert Lester and Team Wink, amateur racer and one of several members of The Outer Drive Hero Drivers Club, which runs clue-based car rallies in Chicagoland even today.

This Guy's Insaaaaaaannnnnneeee!!!

Today, Wikipedia is featuring former Elgin native Earl "Madman" Muntz -- engineer, entrepreneur, grandfather of the 8-track tape player (among other inventions), and the original television saleslunatic.

Think Back to '68

You may not have any memories of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, but your parents might. Tell them that Chicago Public Radio wants to hear their stories. (In the meantime, really wants to hear from you.)

Dead Hospital

A big set of photos of the abandoned Edgewater Hospital in Andersonville. [via]

Happy Birthday, Chicago

Wikipedia tells us that on August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was founded. Population: 350.

The Plot to Kill Castro

Chuck Goudie memorializes Robert Maheu, the FBI agent who hired the Chicago mob to try and assassinate Fidel Castro.

More Vintage Chicago Pix

Some cool shots of 1950s Chicago (part 1, part 2) by Institute of Design student Leon Lewandowski. Keep an eye on bighappyfunhouse for more amazing found photos. (link found at Pete Lit)

Crime in Chicago, Then As Now

While Chicago suffers through a devastating crime wave, the Smithsonian takes a look at a murder that rocked the city and the nation...84 years ago. If the case sounds familiar it might be because you ran across it here first., 1926 Edition

Not another googlemap -- an actual map of Chicago's gang activity in 1926, as well as ethnic and socioeconomic data. Did you know that where Cabrini Green is was once "Little Sicily?"

Gigglesnort, Bozo & More

Do you remember Chicago's Kids TV?

See You In Chicago

There are plans afoot to reenact the 1968 DNC protests. Tell your parents.

A Perfect Memorial

Cultural Chicago thinks the Harold Washington Library is a fitting tribute to the late mayor.

Remembering Maxwell Street

As the Sun-Times asks Chicagoans for their favorite memories from the past, no doubt many would include the one-of-a-kind Maxwell Street. A new DVD looks at the history of the cultural crossroads and includes a 1964 documentary on the street, vintage recordings of some of the blues legends who plied their trade on the street and a 38-page booklet.

The Ripper Crew

Learn about a gang of four serial killers from the daughter of one of the detectives who caught them.

I Want to Take You to a Gay Bar

Well, more like the history of Chicago gay bars, actually.

The Wizard of Oz Effect

The Library of Congress has uploaded an impressive amount of photos to Flickr, including these breathtaking pix of trains and railway workers taken in the 1940s. In color!

Adjust that Dial

Step back in time on the charmingly old-school Chicago Television History website.

This Date in Chicago History

On June 2, 1883 the first electric elevated railroad had its first trial run around the main building of the Chicago Railway Exposition. The expo ran from June 5 through June 23, during which the prototype train carried over 26,000 passengers.

Find Any Crystal Skulls Yet?

Undergrads from the University of Chicago have launched the first archeological dig of the site of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, aka the "White City." The students are following in the footsteps of another famous U of C archeologist who's been in the news a lot lately.

All Together Now: Chicago! Bang-Bang!

Lincoln Avenue was gussied up for the new Michael Mann film Public Enemies, as testified by this Flickr photo set. Johnny Depp plays Dillinger. I wonder if he's heard the (false) rumor about what happened to Little Dillinger after John was gunned down near the Biograph Theater?

Yet Another Googlemap - Ancestry Edition

Chicago Ancestors helps you track down historical and genealogical info based on street address.

Under the Park

Did you know that much of Lincoln Park was not originally a park? Learn more at Hidden Truths, a website with real world companion pieces in the park itself.

Laurie Dann's Rampage, 20 Years Later

In Winnetka on this day in 1988, a 30-year-old woman with a history of mental illness attempted to burn down a house, tried to poison people she knew, went on a shooting spree in an elementary school—killing one student—and shot a college student in his home before killing herself. The Tribune spoke with three people who’s lives were impacted by Laurie Dann on that terrible day.

Exclusive Unabomber Feature Preview

The Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, planted his first bomb in his hometown of Chicago in 1978. Thirty years later, Tribune investigative reporter Robert K. Elder has gained rare access to family photos and letters, and unpublished writings which contradict the Unabomber's public image as an eco-crusader. The feature will be published on Monday, but the Tribune shared an exclusive photo with Gapers Block; link after the jump.

This is a photo of Ted and David Kaczynski, taken in their Evergreen Park home in 1952.

Says Elder, "This is also a story about his brother, Dave Kaczynski, and Gary Wright, Ted's 12th target. Dave lost a brother in a very tragic, public way but formed a new, unlikely bond with Gary. Included in the story: family revelations about Ted's upbringing in Evergreen Park, the Unabomber's diary entries and news of a romance Kaczynski had in prison with a woman for 10 years via mail."

My School Ruled

Did your high school get closed or torn down? Its memory lives on. [via]

No Relation to Forrest

Today, in its weekly Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed series, the Comics Should Be Good site shares the sad story of Sidney Smith -- Trib cartoonist and creator of the incredibly successful but seldom remembered comic strip "The Gumps".

Chicago in Black and White

Between 1946 and 1948, Wayne Miller photographed residents of the "small town" of Chicago's black community. Buy the book here. [via]

This Date in Chicago History

On April 21, 1878 Chicago firefighter George Reid and his captain David Kenyon invented the firepole, which soon made their Engine Company 21 the first responder to Chicago fires and prompted the fire chief to order poles installed in all Chicago firehouses.

The County's Family Tree

Let's take a look at Cook County.

"Conveyor Belts Speed Your Mail to Oblivion in Half the Time!"

The Modern Mechanix blog revisits the August 1931 issue, which announced the creation of the largest post office in the world. No mention is made of the building's suitability for condo conversion.

8mm Zeitgeist

Watching family home movies can be duller than dirt, but there's something beautifully captivating about this slice of Chicago Americana—scenes from a wedding at St. Benedict's on Irving Park—from the 40s... in color no less. Man, people dressed so much better back then.

Architectural Background

The Art Institute has an impressive collection of oral histories from Chicago architects. [via]

Chicago 1968 Reexamined

AREA Chicago's new 1968/2008 takes a new look at the cultural legacy of 1968 in Chicago: the Democratic National Convention, riots, Chicago 10, Daley's shoot to kill order, etc.

More Then & Now

Following in our footsteps, Joe M500 recreated several more shots from the Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection.

"Gran' ol' river! Onhealthy, says ye?"

ClusterFlock casts a sideways look at the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal on this fine St. Paddy's Day.

If Thomas Jefferson Had His Way

We'd be living in the state of Assenisipia today!

Happy Pulaski Day!

It's the first Monday in March, and in Illinois that means Casimir Pulaski Day. If you're a Chicago Public School student, a garbage truck driver, a Chicago librarian, or a county court employee, you get the day off! Everyone else has to work.

Glimpses of the White City

Couldn't make it to the 1893 Columbian Exposition? Here's a Flickr collection of scenes from the big fair.


The University of Chicago Press published Vietnam Zippos: American Soldiers' Engravings and Stories, an amazing gallery of Vietnam era Zippo lighters engraved with the sort of images and sentiments you'd expect of American soldiers of the era.

Valentine's Violence

If you're not up for a tour, Voice of America Radio reaches back to 1929 for a report on the enduring legacy of the Valentine's Day Massacre. Capone must not have appreciated the messages on the candy hearts the unlucky seven gave to him.

Dwell loves Chicago

The March issue of Dwell shows a lot of Chicago love; first with a profile of Wilkinson Blender Architecture's gut-renovated, Gold-certified LEED-H home the Wis Tavern Building and secondly an interesting article about architect Bertrand Goldberg, best known for his landmark Marina City complex and the endangered cloverleaf-towered Prentice Women's Hospital.

History of The Chicago Young Lords

Here's a set of extended videos about the Chicago Young Lords, a late-60s movement out of Lincoln Park.

The Most Disturbing Show on Earth

Ladies and gentlemen! Today Dr. X provides us with vintage circus photos from the 1940s. Coulrophobia is apparently not a new development.

Where Might One Purchase Beefsteak These Days?

Margaret Truman Daniel, the only child of President Harry Truman, has passed away at the age of 83 in a Chicago assisted-care facility. A mystery novelist, Truman is best remembered for an incident regarding her former singing career. After critic Paul Hume panned her performance, Harry sent him a letter threatening "you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter down below. You are a guttersnipe!" Give those critics hell, Harry!

Movies as Historical Documents

From Call Northside 777 to The Blues Brothers, the Trib reminds us of another reason to check out movies filmed in Chicago.

City of Cards

The Chicago Postcard Museum takes a look at the Museum of Science and Industry this month.

FAQ: MLK in Chicago

The Chicago Public Library offers answers to some FAQs in regards to Dr. King's time in Chicago. If you want a bit more, take a look at the Encyclopedia of Chicago History.

A Public Housing Museum?

Efforts to create the Public Housing Museum on the West Side are gaining ground but still require more than $13 million.

Black Sox Revealed

The Chicago History Museum has acquired an archive of documents related to the 1919 Black Sox scandal. The collection was on auction in Burr Ridge and will eventually be available for viewing by the general public here and copies will be on display in Cooperstown.

Who Owns the Machine?

Modern Mechanix blog reprinted a charming blurb from the September 1934 issue, showing how perpetual motion was soundly discredited at the Century of Progress International Exposition. Who owns the machine? No one does. That's right. No one.

Who Died in the Chicago Fire?

The answer is not as easy as you think.

Forgotten Chicago

Though the design is often frustrating, Forgotten Chicago has put together a rather wonderful archive of places gone from our city. Stop in to see the

Happy Anniversary, Max!

20 years ago tonight, Max Headroom the Video Pirate hijacked Chicago's Airwaves. He's never been caught. If anyone cares to confess please drop us an email.

The City, Remembered

Forgotten Chicago.

Will Venerated Grocery Fly the Coop?

In a move typical of urban landlord schools, the University of Chicago is dangling an organic carrot in front of the venerated Hyde Park Co-op, promising to forgive their back rent if they'll close down and make way for a chain. The co-op has been beset by organizational and management problems for several years. The move would certainly spell the death of the 75-year-old grocer, long viewed as a model cooperative enterprise.

"This is Marina City"

A new site about the Marina City building complex just launched, including a great promotional film from 1965. (As you'd expect with any condo association, there were some disagreements about how it should be done, so two condo owners did it themselves.) [via]

A Self Made Man

Did you know that the founder of Selfridges, one of Britain's famed department stores, got his start in Chicago? (Thanks, Matt!)

Haunting Ruins

Being Halloween week, it seems like a good time to link to the legend of Bachelor's Grove. Here are a couple videos. [via]

A Cemetery Resurfaces

Up near Harvard, a family cemetery lost since the 1880s was recently discovered in the Alden Sedge Meadow nature preserve.

Drunken Debauchery -- and Dancing!

Found in the Library of Congress: The Public Dance Halls of Chicago, published by the Juvenile Protective Association in 1917. (Thanks, Erin!)

Mississippi Apologizing

The Tallahatchie County Board of Supervisors of Mississippi signed a resolution to apologize to hate crime victim Emmet Till's family over the conduct of the trial of his murderers (both men were acquitted and later confessed to the crime in a 1956 magazine article). Till, whose death partially inspired the modern Civil Rights Movement, is buried in Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, IL.

From Pseudonym to Lisagor Award

Chicago Magazine's recent profile of Jeff McCourt is not only interesting for its discussion of the Windy City Times founder's life but for its Chicago gay and lesbian history. [Thanks, Matt!]

Little Italy: Mostly Mob-Free

Chicago Daily News tells the story of Dead Man's Tree, and finds Taylor Street is largely free of mob influence.

That Old Town

The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago has a video preview available for their new exhibit; Daily Life Ornamented: The Medieval Persian City of Rayy.

Speaking of Tunnels...

The Tribune takes a tour of the tunnels below the Green Mill and other businesses at the Broadway/Lawrence intersection; watch a video here.

An Oldie but a Goodie

We've linked to this site about the old freight tunnels under the Loop before, but I just came across a 1933 article in Time about them. "Bowels of Chicago," indeed! (You might also be interested in the Central Electric Railfans Association.)

Haymarket Monument Memories

In just a few hours, a walking tour of Haymarket history will take off from the Hull House, but yesterday former Chicagoan Josh MacPhee and a nearby Milwaukee art historian Nicolas Lampert spoke about that history on Berkeley's famous radio show Against the Grain Radio on KPFA. Their discussion deals primarily with the history of the monuments associated with Haymarket's contested history.

Save the Viking!

No, not the street artist -- the replica of the Gokstad Viking ship, which is weathering away in dry dock out in Geneva. It's on the Landmarks Illinois endangered list, and there's an international movement afoot for its preservation.

"Put Traction Issue Up to Straphangers"

The Tribune has an interesting list of Chicago transit facts (with an inexplicably capitalized headline).

Workers Unite! and Learn History!

There are many places and opportunities to celebrate May Day (the worker holiday that most people in the world celebrate instead of the US's Labor Day) this year and GB's Slowdown calendar will keep you in the loop! On Friday you can get some history lessons with the folk's organizing a free conference on anarchism and a film festival at Loyola, the conference continues through the weekend but the downtown walking tour starts friday at 330. Then on May 1st you can join up with the immigrant rights demonstration that promises to be huge (especially after last night's raid's in Little Village) and on May 2 there is another walking tour and celebration at the Hull House.

Beyond the Concert Hall

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is taking great strides to expand its audience and influence, notably including a retooled nationally syndicated radio program and a performance and educational video series.

Chicago History Roundup

From the establishment of the Hull House Theater to the World's Columbian Exposition, the Sun Times lists their take on "The 50 Greatest Chicago Moments."

The Last Lamb and Veal Slaughterhouse in Chicago

Now that Easter and Passover are almost here, the New York Times offers two features on Chiappetti Lamb and Veal. NOTE: The first link is a TimesSelect article, so if you aren't enrolled in the program, you can either sign up or start a free trial. If you are a student or faculty member with a .edu email address, you can get a full account for free right now.

"Excuse Me? Which Way to Fort Dearborn?"

The Map Room site (no relation to the bar of the same name), currently featured links to U of C Library pages featuring gorgeous old maps of the city that you can "zoomify." Zoomify? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Yours Truly, Jack the Reporter

The Whitechapel Club is a strange bit of forgotten Chicago lore. A late 19th Century gathering of Chicago journalists who wet their whistles at a local tavern and named themselves after the London slum terrorized by Jack the Ripper, the group eventually held meetings in a room decorated with skulls, nooses, and other grisly artifacts. Guest speakers were invited to address the club, only to be insulted away from the podium, and the subject of death was routinely lampooned. Alas, it lasted only five years, but the Newberry Library holds the club's remaining papers.

Happy Pulaski Day!

If your city or county bank, library, public school or government office is closed today, it's in honor of Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski. However, you will get mail and, sadly, you must feed the meter.

A City Paved with Wood

Chicago once had 481 miles of wood-paved streets; only two small stretches remain today. YoChicago has a video of one of them: Wooden Alley, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. [via]

Three Decades of Opinions

Now that the locally produced General Social Survey completed its 26th run, the New York Times published a sneak peek of the 2006 results. Some interesting findings include a precipitous drop in the percentage of those who have a "great deal of confidence" in the military since 2004, as well as a 50% decline in daily newspaper readership since 1972.

This Godless Communism

It's 1961 and the communists have overthrown the government of the United States of America. Prepare yourself for the U.S.S.A.! What is the communists' first step? Move the government to Merchandise Mart! As J. Edgar Hoover says, read this comic now in order to "help us recognize and detect communists as they attempt to infiltrate the various segments of our society."

Another Step Towards the Great Midwestern Megalopolis

Now that Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee are seriously considering feeding into Metra, a Milwaukee historian has summarized the interesting transportation history we have with our neighbors to the north.

One in Two Hundred

What appeared to be the theft of an original Monadnock Building ornament turned out to be the theft of the only replica ornament in the building.

From Slave to Priest

Interesting article on Augustine Tolton, the first black priest in America, who preached in Quincy and the South Side of Chicago in the late 1800s.

President Ford and Chicago

While I'm sure you've read several national tributes to President Ford, his local connections deserve a mention.

Chuck's Tree

Evanston-based Pop Matters has a great story about the making of "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

Believe it or not, Chicago's gallows auctioned off

There was a macabre item up for auction this week: the Cook County gallows, which was built in 1887 for hanging some of the men convicted for the Haymarket Square riot. The Chicago History Museum wanted to purchase the item for their collection, but they were beat out for the item by the San-Francisco-based Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum. No word on where the gallows will be displayed, although a spokesperson for Ripley's promises the city's history will be a part of the ultimate display of the item.

Populated Street Photography

Photographer Lee Balterman shot Chicago in the '50s and '60s, and unlike many of his street photography compatriots, he included people -- lots of people. [via]

The Sausage Vat Murderer vs. H. H. Holmes

How much do you know about bizarre Chicagoland murders? Take this short quiz and find out!

Touring the Dead

Dan Kelly and friends made a day of visiting South Side cemeteries recently, and they came across many graves of famous folk, from politicians to bluesmen.

From cow to Bean

Gadgetgirl reminds us that today is the 135th anniversary of the start of the Great Chicago Fire. It started at 8:30 PM (according to a newly found Chicago Fire Department log) and lasted for two days (see this interactive map of the fire's progression). The debris from the fire was pushed into Lake Michigan, forming the base for what would eventually become Grant Park. So if it hadn't been for Mrs. O'Leary's cow, there would be no Millennium Park group on Flickr.

Chicago History Museum Debuts

The Chicago History Museum (formerly known as the Chicago Historical Society) reopens this this weekend after an extensive renovation, and it's celebrating with free admission, performances by dance troupes, the Jesse White Tumblers and other acts, and more. This will be your first chance to see the first El train car, and Federated and Target just donated Norman Rockwell's painting of the Marshall Field's Clock to the museum, so you can see that too. Big crowds are expected, so you might want to make a reservation.

Getting Weird in Chicago

Over at Metroblogging Chicago, contributor Artemis gives a thumbs up to Weird Chicago Tours, a 3-4 hour citywide tour of Chicago's most unusual locations, from the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre to Underpass Mary. The tours started this past weekend, and run Friday and Saturday nights through November, in case you need some weird inspiration in the Halloween season.

Chicago: Present at the Creation

NPR's Present at the Creation provides unique insight to some Chicago-related icons. Our fair city pops up in some obvious place like Animal House, A Raisin in the Sun , and Nighthawks, but it's also there for Cracker Jacks!

Chicago's living history

Flickr geotaggers and those viewing one recent post may have noticed that Chicago's historic neighborhoods like Little Hell and Shantytown are alive on the Internet. Other interesting locations include the Berkeley Cottages and Packingtown.

Guide to the Gangsters' Homes

The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest has an interesting tour for you mob aficianados: "Welcome to the Neighbor Hood," a trolley tour of gangster homes in the two suburbs. On Sept. 24 and Oct. 8, see the former homes of Sam Giancana, Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo and Paul "The Waiter" Ricca. Combine it with an "Untouchables" gangster tour and you've got yourself a day you can't refuse.

Buzz Buzz Buzz

Do you remember the great cicada invasion of 1990? That was the last time 17-year cicadas came out of their underground burrows in Chicagoland, and the Lake County Forest Preserve is collecting stories about it in anticipation of next year's resurfacing. Eric Zorn reprints a column from '90 about the 1973 invasion in his blog.

Today in Chicago History: August 12, 1833

On August 12, 1833, Chicago was incorporated. The population of the town at the time was about 350 people. According to the Chicago timeline from the Chicago Public Library website, the original boundaries of the city were "Kinzie, Desplaines, Madison, and State streets, which included an area of about three-eighths of a square mile." Happy 173rd Birthday, Chicago!

Today's Forecast: a Seiche

Sunday's Coastal Flood Statement predicts a seiche caused by severe thunderstorms. While not uncommon, they have caused considerable damage in Chicago. In 1954, an eight to ten foot reflective wave caused by a seiche drowned eight people (page 24) and swept dozens into the lake (page 67). But don't worry: today's seiche should be less than a foot tall.

Midway Magic, Then and Now

Erik Larson's perennial best-seller, The Devil in the White City, has done much to resurrect interest in the 1893 World's Fair, but the event has fascinated the public ever since it came and went in a season. In today's paper, Sun-Times art & architecture critic Kevin Nance talks to Larson, author Chris Ware, historian Tim Samuelson and others about why it continues to capture our imagination. Relive the magic with an under-construction visual simulation model being developed at UCLA, and if you've not read Larson's creative non-fiction, the GB Book Club will be tackling it in September.

Thinking Allowed in Chicago

In 2002, BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed visited Chicago to do a five-part series about the city in the spirit of early Chicago School sociologists. With interviews from prominent Chicago academics, musicians, and public thinkers, the programs are surprisingly fresh four years later.

Hey, is that building a landmark?

The city's Landmarks Division has prepared interactive Chicago Landmarks Maps that include photographs and important information about officially notable places. While you're on their website, check out their comprehensive Historic Resources Survey and other fascinating resources.

Need more Tut?

If the Field Museum's Tutankhamun exhibit piqued your interest, head to the Oriental Institute's dual exhibitions of artifacts from the Tut era and Harry Burton's photographs of the Tutankhamun expedition. If you have an mp3 player, don't forget to download the podcast ahead of time.

Representin' CHI

Did you know that July is Chicago Hip Hop Heritage Month? Lots to do.

Misty Chocolate-Covered Memories

Once upon a time, Milk Duds were produced in Chicago (they're now made downstate in Robinson). Daniel Pinkwater reminisces about the allure of working next door.

Chicago's smallest museum?

Almost exactly two months after opening the Freedom Museum, the Tribune is opening another museum: the McCormick Tribune Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum, which will be housed in a bridge-tender tower on the southwest corner of the Michigan Avenue bridge. According to the Associated Press, the building has only 1600 square feet of floor space, and will only be able to accommodate 34 visitors at a time. The museum officially opens on Saturday, and admission will be a suggested donation of $3.

The Real Estate Board and Beyond

"The story of institutionalized racial discrimination and economic segregation in Chicago begins in 1931." So begins the second installment of BeyondChron's provocative three-part series, "Paradise Lost: A Recipe for Gentrification in Chicago, San Francisco, and Beyond." (The first ran yesterday; the last is forthcoming.)

Mafia in the Machine

Today marks the conclusion of the Sun-Times's three-part series on the continuing political influence of mobster Bruno Roti Sr., even fifty years after his death. Let's just say his family sounds pretty well-connected.

The Crime of the (19th) Century

This week marks the 120th anniversary of the Haymarket Riot. Accordingly, All Things Considered interviewed James Green, author of the recently published Death in the Haymarket, about the events of May 4, 1886, and the NPR website offers additional commentary about the modern-day meaning of the affair, as well as an excerpt from Green's book.

Who Was First Policeman Killed in Line of Duty?

In case you missed it, the Chicago Tribune has a fascinating cover story today on the local debate over which Chicago police officer should be remembered as the first to be killed in the line of duty. Was it Casper Lauer or James Quinn? Former DEA officer Rick Barrett claims it was Quinn, as he told NPR's Melissa Block this afternoon. Further coverage from the Trib here.

April 14, 1865

Cocktails and Pain reminds us that on this day 141 years ago, also a Good Friday, Abraham Lincoln was shot. The sixteenth president of the United States died the next morning.

Royko at the Goat

The Week Behind digs up a 1982 video of legendary columnist Mike Royko hanging out at the Billy Goat Tavern, talking softball, his father's bar and more. (via)

The Big 175

As all of Naper-land gears up for Naperville's 175th birthday celebration this summer, the city is looking for help pulling it together. Take the brief survey and be a part of the gala. You can even buy a set of historic medallions as a keepsake.

What Ever Happened at Haymarket?

The true story of the "Haymarket Affair" is one we'll probably never know, but Caleb Crain does a good job chronicling the apparent facts and fiction surrounding it in his review of the historical literature. Crain's impetus is James Green's Death in Haymarket, a book that bears the pithy but evocative subtitle "A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and the Bombing That Divided Gilded Age America."

Hair For Sale

Are you that creep who keeps locks of your ex's hair in an envelope? Do you have a "thing" for famous people? If so, or even if you're normal, you might enjoy an upcoming event by an auction house in Willowbrook. They're auctioning off the hair of celebrities like Mickey Mantle and Elizabeth Taylor.

Skilling Factoid

Here's a wild tidbit from everyone's favorite Chicago meteorologist: fewer than 1% of all Chicago thunderstorms since 1970 have occurred in February.

Map of 1874 Fire

The "Ask the Librarian" column on Gapers Block this week discusses Chicago's Second Great Fire of 1874. As an addendum to the column, check out this illustration of the damage from the 1874 fire. Thanks to The Newberry Library Genealogy News for tracking it down.

McCarthy, RIP

Eugene J. McCarthy, the Minnesota senator and presidential candidate who was a central figure in the 1968 Democratic Convention and riots in Chicago, died this weekend. (NewsBusters points out an interesting error in the Tribune's profile of the senator.)

Lost City

Claire Zulkey interviews David Garrard Lowe, author of Lost Chicago, about the city's architecture and other related topics.

A Little History with Your Humor

Pete Lit excerpts a couple of anecdotes from Herbert Asbury's Gangs of Chicago.

Who Wants To Be A Chicagoan?

Test your knowledge of local history with this interactive quiz. You can even play against a friend. It's part of the detailed site for the PBS American Experience film, Chicago: City of the Century.

Sing a Song of Gangsters

Coudal's Fresh Signals points to this amazing 1931 map of "Chicago's Gangland." That Encyclopedia is something else, huh?

All Those Useless Letters

Ever wonder why the Sox aren't the Socks? Wonder no more. Slate's "Explainer" takes a look at the early 20th century's rather strange linguistic priorities.

October 18, 1931

Today in Chicago history, on October 18, 1931, Al Capone was convicted on several counts of tax evasion. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, fined $50,000, charged nearly $8,000 in court costs, and held responsible for more $200,000, plus interest, in back taxes. Capone spent time in the Cook County Jail while waiting for appeals, then was sent to the high security U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta in May 1932. In 1934, Capone was transferred to Alcatraz, where he served until his release in 1939. For more on Al Capone, visit the History Files from the Chicago Historical Society and the Famous Cases page from the FBI.

Jazz Age Chicago

Ever wondered what Chicagoans did for fun in 1913? Jazz Age Chicago is a highly detailed resource of information about leisure in Chicago in the first half of the 20th century. The site is chock full of historic information on the period's "bright light districts", department stores, theaters, dancehalls & cabarets, as well as essays about this new "modern life" of entertainment, leisure, and consumption.

Studs Stories

In honor of its namesake's efforts at documenting the lives of everyday Americans, the Chicago Historical Society has announced plans for the Studs Terkel Center for Oral History [PDF]. CHS has about 5000 hours of Terkel radio programming, as well as recordings related to other projects like the recent Teen Chicago exhibit, and all future oral history efforts will bear the Center's imprimatur. Terkel was a huge influence on the StoryCorps project, which recently visited Chicago and was featured in Detour. (And, speaking of sound, GB audio content is now available via podcast; details here.)

Something Rotten in Sanitation

Another municipal hiring scandal. (No worries for Daley, though -- this one took place in 1966.)

Research Librarians

The Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton, hosts a panel on "Researching Chicago's Local History," featuring our favorite librarian, Alice Maggio. It's free, and it's at 6pm; more details in Slowdown.

Feel the Magic

A new DVD about the Columbian Exposition comes out tomorrow. EXPO: Magic of the White City tells the story of the 1893 World's Fair, narrated by Gene Wilder.

Evanston artifacts wanted

The Evanston Historical Society is seeking donations that represent the past 50 years of city history. The list of items of particular interest tells something of a story by itself, but if you have objects associated with the city's repeal of alcohol bans, post-1960s immigration to Evanston, or local political issues such as gun control, zoning, and school integration, and you're interested in contributing to an upcoming exhibit that traces the city's history to the present day, you're encouraged to contact the Society to arrange a donation appointment. Curatorial staff can be reached at 847/475-3410.

Calling all stories

StoryCorps, a national project to record the stories and experiences of everyday Americans (stories that are heard occasionally on NPR's Morning Edition), is coming to the Field Museum in two weeks to add Chicago stories to its growing cache of interviews at the American Folklife Center. If you know someone who has a great story to tell, and want to record an interview for the project, keep an eye on the Chicago Public Radio site; they'll start accepting reservations this coming Friday, August 5th, for the recording of interviews.

Chicago Ephemera

Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library features over 90,000 high resolution images of rare books and photographs, all of them readily accessible online. Tapping "Chicago" into the search field yields fascinating images of the Union Stockyards, grain elevators along the Chicago River (Anyone care for a Schlitz?), views of the lakefront as it once was, a letter from photographer Alfred Stieglitz and many more interesting documents. A Chicago history buff could lose a lot of sleep exploring it all . . .


The Washington Post marks a nearly-passed era with its profile of Chicago's last abattoir, Chiappetti Lamb and Veal. Even as Chiappetti stands as the final bastion of its industry, times continue to change. Because of ongoing gentrification of the stockyards area, the company will be moving its facilities within the next two years. Nevertheless, it has embraced the future: like any 21st Century survivor, Chiappetti's products are available online.

The Heat Wave of 1995

On July 13, 1995, the temperature in Chicago was recorded at 106 degrees, setting the high mark in a week-long heat wave that ultimately claimed over 700 heat-related deaths. Ten years after the Chicago heat wave, the city has since mobilized 17,000 people in the city to check up on the elderly, a group of people that was most affected by the 1995 heat. And as author Eric Klinenberg (Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago) notes, Chicago is still learning from the 1995 experience and trying to improve its response to hot weather. Meanwhile, the high today will be around 83 degrees, so check out the city's tips for dealing with hot weather.

North by northwest

Curious about why Chicago's north/south streets don't quite pass muster on the compass? Just enquire at Ask MetaFilter; no doubt the folks there will be happy to debate the answer. As for the grid system, Alice has that covered in an archived Ask the Librarian.

Pamphlets of the French Revolution

Do you love printed ephemera? Then you'll enjoy this digitized collection of "Pamphlets and Periodicals of the French Revolution of 1848," from a collaboration of the Center for Research Libraries, the University of Chicago Libraries and the ARTFL Project. The archive is comprised of more than 100 digitized materials from 1848 to 1851, including this published letter from Louis Napoleon.

Atomic Aftermath

Writing for the Chicago Daily News (which ran for nearly a century before folding in the mid 1970's) George Weller was the first reporter to arrive in Nagasaki after the August 1945 atomic bombing. His reports of ruin and a mysterious disease afflicting survivors were banned by order of General Douglas MacArthur. Decades later, Weller's son discovered carbon copies of the original articles. Today, they've been made publicly available for the first time.

Everything you ever wanted to know about BBS

You already knew that, back in February 1978, Chicago saw the birth of the world's first BBS. Well, the CBBS is back in the news with the recent release of BBS: The Documentary. The DVD set features eight episodes running five and a half hours, but, honestly, the promotional site is a history lesson in and of itself.

A history of violence

Just as the FBI exhumes the body of Emmett Till, the Chicago Historical Society gets ready to show an exhibition that "documents brutal acts of terror from America's past"; Without Sanctuary, a pictorial history of lynching in America, opens Saturday, June 4. The display will be supplemented with drawn renderings of the trial of Till's killers, and it will be accompanied by various lectures, including one discussing his death, "the murder that changed America."

Fire-water at Fort Dearborn

As the latest entry in its Empire archive, Harper's Magazine has posted "The Massacre of Fort Dearborn at Chicago." Originally published in 1899, the piece was written by Simon Pokagon, former chief of the Pokagon band of Pattawapomie Indians and known in his day as the "Redskin Bard." In his essay, Pokagon gathers oral and written accounts of the original attack on Fort Dearborn, and he offers a remarkable picture of the sad and troubling contingencies of history.

Black Sox Lore

Stephen Dubner, who co-authored Freakonomics with U of C economist Stephen Levitt, examines a bit of Chicago sports history in the Freakonomics Blog: did the 1919 White Sox get their nickname, the "Black Sox," due to their throwing of the World Series or for their notoriously dirty uniforms?

Two Tons of Fun

Dick "Two Ton" Baker was a local legend from the early days of broadcasting, but is largely forgotten by anyone younger than 40. This site catalogs a vast amount of information about Two Ton, including several mp3s of his humorous songs for kids and adults alike. [via MetaFilter]

The city's history, available online

An online version of the Encyclopedia of Chicago (published in book form last fall) goes live today. Over 1,400 entries, from the Chicago Fire to Millennium Park, plenty of maps, illustrations, glossaries and timelines of Chicago history. If your knowledge of city history is lacking, this is the place to go.

Photos from the Inside

Here's an interesting collection of photographs taken by prisoners at Joliet Prison between 1890 and 1930. (For a bit of background, here's a curatorial statement from a 1996 exhbition that included the collection.) You might also be interested in this site from about the prisons in Joliet.

Legend of New Repute

"There was a house in New Orleans/they call the Rising Sun" and nobody knows where it was. Local scholar Shannon Dawdy, an assistant professor in the anthropology department at the University of Chicago, and several of her students have completed an excavation of a parking garage which just may have been the site of the famous brothel from 1808 to 1822, when it burned down. Hopefully her findings help her with that book she's writing on French colonial New Orleans.

Pulaski Day

Oh yeah, the Sun-times reminds us it's Pulaski Day. Amazing how quickly you forget the holiday when you're out of grade school...

Chicago Historical Rehab

The Chicago Historical Society is going to be closed for most of next year so they can expand and revitalize the center. They expect twice as much space to be alloted so the center can have more 3-D displays about Chicago history. They're not planning to whitewash Chicago's history, though. An audio display will permit visitors to hear a history of how their neighborhood has changed. President Lonnie Bunch said, "On the one hand, neighborhoods are places of celebration, but they're also places that keep people out."

February 8, 2000

Today in Chicago History: It seems like only yesterday to long-time fans, but today marks the fifth anniversary of the untimely and tragic death of popular WGN-AM radio personality, Bob Collins. He died when the small plane he piloted collided with another plane near the Waukegan Regional Airport. Over a million listeners tuned into his morning show every day.

Renewed interest in Jack Johnson

After last week's PBS documentary "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson," there have been several calls to Graceland Cemetery, where Johnson is buried, from visitors who want to see Johnson's grave. If you go, don't pay your respects at the big headstone labelled "Johnson;" although it was his intended headstone, Jack Johnson is actually buried in an unmarked grave next to that of his first wife Etta. And if you missed the documentary when it aired last week, it'll be rebroadcast on WTTW's digital cable station, starting today. See here for a schedule.

More Theories About the 'Windy City'

I grew up believing Chicago had been dubbed "The Windy City" because of our long-winded politicians. Later I learned that historians claimed Charles A. Dana of the New York Sun gave Chicago its famous nickname during the competition to hold the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. But a New York parking ticket judge says that story is untrue. And Chicago really received its nickname from -- Cincinnati?

62 years of going nuclear

The Chicago blog farkleberries reminds us that today is a solemn day in Chicago history: on December 2, 1942, at the University of Chicago, physicist Enrico Fermi and scientists from his laboratory achieved the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction, which led to the creation of the atomic bomb and nuclear power plants. At the Library of Congress' Today In History page, they've got some related scanned documents and photographs, as well as a bunch of links guaranteed to help you kill the last hour of work.

The Oldest Bulletin Board

Did you know Chicago has the home of the world's first BBS? In 1978, a couple of computer programmers developed CBBS in about two weeks. It took off, and the rest is history. The whole story and more is at

November 24, 1884

On this day in Chicago history a judge directed the county clerk to produce the tally sheets, poll books and ballots of the Second Precinct, Eighteenth Ward, of the city in connection with allegations of tampering in the Leman (Republican) and Brand (Democrat) senatorial race. In March 1885, three men were convicted of falsifying returns to give Brand the edge over Leman. The race was closely scrutinized because the outcome determined which political party would have a majority in the state legislature.

A Christmas (Tree Ship) Story

The Weather Channel will feature Chicago in a holiday edition of its Storm Stories premiering this weekend. It's the story of the wreck of the Rouse Simmons, the "Christmas Tree ship" that brought trees across Lake Michigan to Chicago and was lost in a storm in 1912. (Incidentally, Storm Stories is produced in Chicago.) "The Christmas Tree Ship: A Holiday Storm Story" premieres Sunday at 8:00pm (CT).

Columbian Expo Eye Candy

The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 inspired the building of some amazing structures, some of which were captured in this beautiful portfolio of lithographs. You may also be interested in IIT's Digital History Collection, one of the most comprehensive online resources on the fair.

November 16, 1944

Today in Chicago history 750 non-operating employees of the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee and the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Electric Railroads were laid off following a week of strikes by 500 operating employees of the railroads. The workers went on strike to demand a wage increase of nine cents an hour -- four cents more than they were initially offered. Outraged commuters sent telegrams to the White House, pleading for President Roosevelt to intervene and end the strike.

Preserve Maxwell Street

Preserve Maxwell Street is a site chock full of content with the goal of bringing back the now mostly-condoized Maxwell Street. There's updated news, too, but I loved this series of photographs the most.

Down Under The Loop

Here's a nifty site about the tunnels and rail operation that existed under the Loop until the 50s, and what a lot of the tunnels looked like in the 1980s. "Construction on Chicago's unique freight tunnel network began in 1899 in the basement of a tavern in the heart of the Loop near LaSalle and Madison Streets..."

Kiddie Kingdom

One of my earliest memories was a visit to Dispensa's Kiddie Kingdom out in Oak Brook. I remembered very little, but this simple fan page jogged my memory. The scariest thing is that the site now holds the state's tallest building outside of Chicago - Oakbrook Terrace Tower.

Attempted Nazi March Digitization Project

In 1978 the National Socialist Party of America (Nazis) attempted to hold a march in the Village of Skokie. The suburb at that time was home to a large Jewish community, including many Holocaust survivors. The event received national attention and was even turned into a made-for-TV movie, Skokie, in 1981. Now, the Skokie Public Library brings us the Attempted Nazi March Collection Digitization Project, a comprehensive archive of materials relating to the incident. Download and read the original newspaper articles relating to the march, listen to real audio recordings from the 1977 and 1978 Village of Skokie Board of Trustees meetings, and watch a documentary film about the proposed march. Highly recommended.

23 Skidoo!

Gothamist mentions an obscure slang term associated with the Flatiron Building (New York's, not the Wicker Park knock-off): "23 Skidoo," supposedly said by NYPD dispersing men hoping for a little upskirt action thanks to the breezes by that building. Turns out it may have originated in Chicago instead.

Second City . . . Again

According to the North American Vexillological Association (vexillology = the study of flags - who knew?) Chicago's city flag is the second most attractive city flag in the nation. Right behind Washington DC and their ugly clone of Chicago's clean blue lines and red stars. What were those vexillologists thinking?

The Encyclopedia of Chicago

After years of research, the University of Chicago Press has published the authoritative history of Chicago with the monumental Encyclopedia of Chicago. The website has a wealth of information including some gorgeous sample pages. To celebrate, the Encyclopedia will be publicly unveiled at a pro-am city-wide trivia contest on Wednesday at the Harold Washington Library (see more in slowdown). So here's the plan: Buy the book, memorize, win!!! What could be simpler?

Famous Court Cases

The Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court has a little-known section of its site devoted to Famous Cases. Browse through documents relating to the trial of John Wayne Gacy (note the Detour feature over there), Louis Armstrong's divorce and the Black Sox scandal of 1919, among others.

Women Come to the Front

Helen Kirkpatrick, Jane Meyer, Virginia Prewett and Sigrid Shultz are among the accredited female correspondants that worked for Chicago newspapers during World War II. Their stories and the profiles of eight other women are part of Women Come to the Front: Journalists, Photographers and Broadcasters During World War II, an online exhibition from the Library of Congress.


The Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project, hosted by Northern Illinois University, "presents historical materials from Abraham Lincoln's Illinois years (1830-1861)." These materials include Lincoln's own writings and other primary texts, images, videos and interpretive materials. Lincoln/Net is a rich archive of literature concerning Abraham Lincoln and the early statehood of Illinois.

What do you wanna be when you grow up?

Everybody loves firefighters. Little girls and boys turn a cardboard box and a stuffed toy into a firetruck. Some big girls and boys have different steamy thoughts when they pass a firehouse. And because of the history of large-scale fires in Chicago they deserve our reverence. But they also deserve a monument. A group made up of mostly firefighters is set to break ground for the monument before the end of the month and they could use a little support. They're only $49,000 short and all donations are tax-deductible.

Southeast Side Tour

A neat little site about the history of the industrial Southeast of Chicago. Did you know the Ford Taurus was made here in our town?

Slave Records Online

No, not a new label. Illinois now requires insurance companies to disclose the records on any insurance policies they or predecessor companies issued to cover slaves. The records are being compiled online at this online registry, which went live yesterday. The Tribune has a report on the site's immediate effects.

John Dillinger died for you

Today's the 70th anniversary of John Dillinger being shot in front of Chicago's Biograph theater, and if you feel like celebrating the death of 1934's Public Enemy #1, then you'll want to head on over to the Red Lion Pub at 2446 N. Lincoln (across the street from the Biograph), for tonight's celebration of Dillinger Day. They'll be screening movies and newsreels on Dillinger at 8:00, Michael Flores of the Psychotronic Film Society will give a talk on Dillinger, and then at 10:00 a procession of bagpipes will retrace Dillinger's final steps from the Biograph to the nearby alley where he died.

Chicago has a Galway Hooker

...and she's hanging out by the docks at Montrose Harbor. But Saint Barbara's namesake isn't what you'd expect—she's a replica of a wooden fishing sailboat native to the west coast of Ireland, and the first-ever Galway Hooker to be built in the United States. Until she makes her historic journey to Eire next summer, you can see this gorgeous hand-crafted boat at Montrose Harbor (docked on the north wall) and at the Milwaukee Irish Fest, August 19-22.

Disco Destruction

It wasn't exactly the proudest moment in Chicago's history, but it sure got plenty of attention focused on Chicago DJ Steve Dahl. On July 12, 1979, in the middle of a White Sox-Tigers double header, Dahl held his infamous Disco Demolition, in which a number of disco records were blown up in the outfield of Comiskey Park. The event triggered a riot in the park, and caused the Sox to forfeit the second game. Considered the worst on-field event in baseball history, Disco Demolition is remembered with a mixture of fondness and horror by Chicago residents. Tonight at 8pm, Channel 11 will present a one-hour special commmemorating the event, with never-before-seen footage of the evening. WCKG is also hosting an anniversary celebration at Harry Caray's, 33 W. Kinzie, from 8pm to 10pm, where you can meet the disco demolition man himself!

Homicide In Chicago 1870-1930

The Chicago Historical Homicide Project began with the discovery a handwritten log of more than 11,000 homicides "maintained consistently and without interruption by the Chicago Police Department over the course of 60 years, from 1870 to 1930." Now these handwritten documents have been transformed into a searchable database providing a unique view into the history of Chicago during this period. The website also hightlights some of the most well-known crimes of the period including the trial of Leopold and Leob, the race riots of 1919, and the Haymarket Affair. This is really an incredible resource so go check it out.

Remnants of the White City

The Chicago Tribune has a story today that leads you on a guided tour of some of the remains of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 that took place right here in Chicago. Visit Jackson Park, see the replica of the Statue of the Republic, and find the location of the infamous hotel built by serial killer H.H. Holmes.

Harlem Ave = Subcontinental Drainage Divide

So I was surfing the pages to find out how to report a problem with water in the city. Answer: Call the (no-joke) Leak Desk (312-744-7038). While visiting, I found some neat facts about sewage, including this really neat presentation about the history of sewage in Chicago. Not as boring as it sounds.

Story of the Oriental Institute

Tune in tonight to WTTW Channel 11 to see "Breaking Ground: The Story of the Oriental Institute." The hour-long program airs at 9pm and provides an in-depth look at the history of this unique Chicago institution. Then, tomorrow night, the Chicago Stories program on PBS presents "Pioneer to the Past: The Life and Times of James Henry Breasted," the founder of the Oriental Institute. For more information on both of these programs, see the official press release.

The Crash of Flight 191

Every time we drive down Touhy, my mother points out the grassy field near O'Hare Airport that marks the site of the crash of American Airlines Flight 191. Today marks the 25th anniversary of the tragedy that killed all 273 people aboard -- still the deadliest accident in U.S. aviation history.

The Perfect Crime...Almost

Eighty years ago, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks just to see if they could get away with it. They thought it would be a perfect crime, but instead were quickly arrested and tried. Their defense attorney was none other than Clarence Darrow, of Scopes Monkey Trial fame. Today the Chicago Historical Society opens an exhibit on the murder and trial; the show runs through September.

Find A Famous Dead Person Now!

After you've read everything you want to know about Mike Brady in Ask the Librarian, go visit his grave in Skokie. You can search for other famous Chicago celebs like Al Capone or John Belushi at Did you know that someone actually tried to steal John's remains, or that Clarence Darrow's grave is behind the Museum of Science and Industry?

Tour Bohemian National

Bohemian National is not a golf or tennis tournament. It's a huge graveyard at Foster and Pulaski and is worth a visit to check out some of Chicago's roots in Eastern Europe. A historian on the graveyard will be leading walking tours for $10 at 10am and 1:30pm. Plus, at 12:15, there will be a concert by the "Moravian Societies Singers" in folk constume. While Bohemian National doesn't have the celebrities that other graveyards do, it's still got some fascinating headstones, including pictures etched into metal of the people buried there.

Teen Chicago

A new exhibit opens tomorrow at the Chicago Historical Society tomorrow: Teen Chicago, a look at the influence of teenagers in Chicago's history. ABC 7 reports that the exhibit will include information from all though the 20th century (from child labor in the early 1900s to teens being drafted for Vietnam), as well as oral histories recorded by 15 teenagers.

Chinatown museum finds home

The Chinatown Museum Foundation, created in 2002, has found a home, the Sun-Times reports. The foundation, created to showcase the richness of the culture in Chinatown, acquired a building on West 23rd Street, and hopes to have its grand opening by the end of the year. Its first exhibition, scheduled to open in the summer of 2005, will compare and contrast the role of Chinese culture in the world expositions of 1893 and 1933, both held in Chicago.

This Old(est) House

The Clarke House, the city's oldest house, dating back to 1836, is getting a rehab. The home will be restored to approximate the look it had in the 1850s, including era-appropriate roofline, trim and color. Work is expected to be completed this spring. Tours of the house, located at 1827 S. Indiana, are offered every Wednesday afternoon by the Glessner House Museum.

My Chicago

The Chicago Historical Society has launched a new website aimed at kids aged 6-12 that "uses the symbols and design of the Chicago flag to explore the citys rich and diverse history." Although the site is designed for children, the rest of us can have fun here staving off boredom for a few minutes, too. My Chicago features several games including an interactive Chicago flag that lets you create your own flag and a Chicago Fire game in which you "match photographs of objects that were found after the fire and try to guess what the objects were before they were melted." You can also create your own poem about Chicago in the Chicago Refrigerator Poetry game. Yes!

Historical chalkboards

Recently workers at the Board of Trade building made a very interesting discovery: dozens of old chalkboards which were used to display the changing stock prices to traders on the floor. Some of the boards date back to 1930, and still have chalk streaks on them. Obviously, they're of great historical interest, and the building's vice president, Kevin Lennon, says that some of them will end up over at the Chicago Historical Society.

Chicago Fire: Comet-induced? re-states a claim made first in 1883 that the Chicago Fire may not have been started by Mrs. O'Leary's cow. The Great Chicago Fire claimed 300 lives and destroyed most of the downtown area in 1871. But does this cow deserve the blame? The Discovery Channel says no. Instead, Robert Wood, a retired physicist, claims it was a fragment from Biela's Comet which also induced blazes north of Chicago that burned millions of acres of farm and prairie lands. Wood speculates the main body of the comet crashed into Lake Michigan, with peripheral fragments causing the fires in Chicago, Wisconsin and Michigan.

167 years young!

Today is the 167th anniversary of Chicago being incorporated as a city. If you're not quite up on your city history, you can check out this timeline of events put together by the Chicago Public Library, as well as this Chicago-themed reading list put together for the WBEZ program "Eight Forty-Eight". For a more lively history lesson, try going over to Maxim's: the Nancy Goldberg International Center tonight at 6:00 for a discussion of Chicago and several of its more lively citizens, including Ann Landers and the Popeil family (yes, that Popeil family).

Tall, thin and full of history

Riddle me this: what's five stories tall and 20 feet wide? The forthcoming Michigan Avenue Bridgehouse Museum, which is soon to open in a river bridgehouse near the corner of Michigan and Wacker. The Sun-Times reports on the museum, which will contain historical information about the Chicago River and its value to the area.

The Till Murder

Black History Month has reached it's halfway point, and US Congressman Bobby Rush wants one defining moment of black history--the senseless murder of Chicagoan Emmett Till in Mississippi for allegdly whistling at a white woman--finally resolved by the US Justice Department. Congressman Rush wants the acquittals of the men who committed the murder--and later confessed to it--to be fully investigated. Till's murder is believed to be one of the sparks for the civil rights movement and it was certainly a mobilizing force for Chicago's South Side black community.

The gift that keeps on ... freaking me out

Still looking for a Valentine's Day gift for your sweetie? You could get him/her a brick from the garage that was the site of the Valentine's Day Massacre from 1929 (it's the 75th anniversary!). A mere $800 will get you a brick and a certificate of authenticity, stating that the brick is from the original garage building at 2122 N. Clark (the garage was torn down in 1967, and the bricks were bought by a forward-thinking fellow from Vancouver).

Old Cook County Hospital

Cook County Hospital is one of the busiest healthcare centers in the country. The old building, vacant since the completion of John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, is in danger of destruction. Preservationists want to keep this beautiful Beaux Arts building intact, but it's an uphill battle; the building came close to being razed, and isn't in the clear yet. Read about the building and the reuse plan (PDF) offered by the Landmarks Preservation Council.

Chicago Charlie

The Salt Lake Tribune tells the colorful story of Chicago Charlie, a Greek immigrant known for tall tales, eccentric stunts and prolific correspondence with soldiers during World War II. Hundreds of his letters were recently found in a buried time capsule in Copperton, Utah.

Making History

The History Makers is a South Loop-based nonprofit "undertaking the largest African-American oral history project since WPA anthropologists collected narratives of former slaves in the 1930s." The Chicago Journal has an article on the project that includes a brief profile of Regina Baiocchi, an African-American opera composer whose work has been performed by the CSO.

Digital History

Digital History is a collaborative effort between the University of Houston, the Chicago Historical Society and other institutions to support the teaching of American history in at the elementary, high school and college levels. This beautiful and well-designed site includes an online textbook, encyclopedia, an interactive timeline, online exhibitions, and much more. The site also features a searchable database of over 1,500 annotated links to additional American history resources, audio archives (Real audio), and an image archive. Really fantastic stuff.

Iroquois Theatre fire anniversary

Today the city dedicates a new plaque commemorating the Iroquois Theatre fire, which happened 100 years ago today. One of the worst disasters in city history, the fire claimed the lives of 600 men, women and children -- twice the number that died in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The plaque will be located in the Loop's Oriental Theatre, a block from the Cook County Administration Building where six people died in a fire last October. [Trib. login: gapers/gapers]

Great Lakes Shipwrecks

Divers flock to the Great Lakes to explore shipwrecks, calling the Great Lakes one of the best places in the world to see them because the freshwater preserves wrecks better than saltwater. According to the story, "the Great Lakes hold an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 sunken ships. About 1,000 Great Lakes shipwrecks have been identified, and about 10 new ships are discovered annually."

Chicago Leads New Excavations in Egypt

A team of archaeologists from the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute recently discovered three new buildings in Abydos, "a rich and important archaeological site near Egypts last royal pyramid." Now a team being led by Egyptologist Stephen Harvey is returning to the area to begin excavation. Read more about the project in the U. of C. Chronicle.

Historic Cook County, Etc.

The National Register of Historic Places has a listing of all the protected buildings, districts and other special places in Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry and Will counties. Plan your own tour!

That Big Pink Building

You know that big pink building up at Bryn Mawr and Sheridan? It's called the Edgewater Beach Apartments. It looks like it's been there forever (and it has, sort of -- built in 1926) but it's actually a replica of one of two buildings that made up the 1,000 room Edgewater Beach Hotel. The hotel was extremely popular in the '20s, '30s and '40s, but began to fail after the construction of Lake Shore Drive. The original building was closed in 1967. Read the recollections of people connected to the Edgewater back in its hey-day.

Bronzeville: Black Chicago

A photography exhibit chronicling life in the African-American community of Bronzeville in the early 1940s opened yesterday at the DuSable Museum of African American History. The exhibit features more than 120 photographs of from one of the most vibrant eras of the neighborhood. Can't make it to the museum? Buy the book.

City and Suburban Expansion

The National Museum of American History's "America on the Move" exhibit includes a chapter on the expansion of Chicago and its suburbs, including a hefty bit about Park Forest, one of the first planned communities. Very interesting read.

Lincoln never said that!

Apparently, quoting Abraham Lincoln is a popular pastime. So popular, in fact, that the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency put together a page of quotations attributed to Lincoln, letting you know whether he actually said such things as "To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men" (he didn't). Also available: examples of facsimiles of Lincoln documents, so you can compare them to the copy of the Gettysbug Address that you've got lying in your junk drawer, to see if it's real or not.

Baby Face Nelson

Lester M. Gillis, aka "Baby Face Nelson," was one of Chicago's most famous gangsters. Few people realize, however, that he was killed not in the city but actually just outside Barrington, at what is now the intersection of Routes 14 and 22 in Fox River Grove.

City Timeline

Did you know Chicago's history goes back to 1673? The Chicago Public Library offers a Timeline that takes you from the "discovery" of the area by French missionaries all the way up to 1998's asian longhorn beetle invasion, with plenty of stops in between.

Black Chicago Memories

Timuel Black's upcoming book, "Bridges of Memory: Chicago's First Wave of Great Migration," narrates the history of African-Americans in the city from the 1920s to present. The Sun-Times has an interview and review of Black and the book.

The thing with feathers

Studs Terkel has a new volume of oral history, "Hope Dies Last." Here's a fantastic Onion interview: "Hope is very personal. What's the alternative to hope? Despair. Well, if you despair, then put your head in the oven. What's the point? Am I sanguine about the future? Hell, no, I'm worried stiff. But I think the American people basically are decent. This I know."

Old Chicago Funpark

Lots of people know about Riverview, but much less talked about is Old Chicago was the "world's first completely enclosed amusement park and shopping center." Opened in 1975 in Bolingbrook, it survived a scant five years before shutting down.

Jane Adams

I've been intrigued with Jane Adams since I was a wee lass. I'm impressed that one woman could create such great change in a city full of people who needed her. The Hull-House Museum helped sponsor the creation of Urban Experience in Chicago, a great website that has a reference book's worth of information in its pages. And, it has teacher's resources that seem well done.

Palatine Police

Village Confidential: Palatine Police chronicles "a tale of deception, conspiracies, murder, bombings, low-level blackmail, organized crime operations, and behind-the-scenes politicking in Palatine, Illinois and surrounding areas." Painstakingly research, the sit takes you from 1954 all the way up to the capture of the Brown's Chicken Massacre suspects in 2002.

Nuclear Missiles on South Side

From 1955 to 1971 several Chicago parks hosted radar towers and nuclear missiles so powerful the Chicago Tribune called Chicago the best defended city in the Middle West against enemy air-to-ground attacks." This website has pictures and a wealth of information about the little-known history of Jackson Park and Promontory Point.

The Ragtime Ephemeralist

For those of you with a soft spot for ragtime music, The Ragtime Ephemeralist may be of keen interest. The publication digs deep into the history of the genre, and the site offers additional resources, including some sample recordings. First rate!


A replica of the schooner Amistad, the slave ship taken over by its captives and made famous by the movie of the same name, will arrive at Navy Pier this Saturday for a two-and-a-half-week stint. Explore the ship and learn about the history of the slave trade and the rebellion on Amistad's decks. Sponsored by the DuSable Museum of African-American History.

Rosehill Cemetary

Did you know that Rosehill Cemetery, at 5800 N. Ravenswood Avenue, was named Roe's Hill in 1859 when it opened? It was named after tavernkeeper Hiram Roe. A mapmaker erred and changed the name, and then a signmaker used that spelling, and the name stuck.
Did you also know that the Rosehill Cemetery is home to the largest secular collection of Tiffany art glass windows anywhere in the world? John G. Shedd (yes, that Shedd) commissioned Tiffany to design a skylight for his memorial chapel and made Louis Tiffany sign a waiver saying the design would never be duplicated. It takes about an hour and a half to tour all the windows. But, if you'd rather take an organized tour, the Chicago Architecture Foundation has one to offer.

Neil Armstrong

Did you know that Neil Armstrong, of "One small step for man . . ." fame, graduated from Chicago's own Lane Tech High School?

DuSable Park

Jean Baptiste Point DuSable is credited as the founder of Chicago, being the first non-native settler to the area. As such, the city is planning a park in his honor, not far from where his cabin once stood. Beyond that, not much is clear, the New York Times reports.

Lost Indiana

Lost Indiana is a thoughtful, well-researched and documented website that pays tribute to some of the abandoned industries and history of our midwestern neighbor. Created and maintained by a local historian, the stories and photographs have a personal touch. Highlights include photo documentation of the abandoned Gary Union Station and the Crown Hill Cemetery, the third largest public cemetery in the United States and final resting place of two presidents and John "Johnny Appleseed" Chapman. Worth checking out.

Chicago's Tunnel System

"This website tells the story about a 60-mile, two-foot gauge electric railroad that operated 149 locomotives and over 3000 freight cars in small tunnels forty feet below the streets of downtown Chicago." And it's not the CTA. Amazing photos, backstory and more about these tiny tunnels beneath us. Makes me want to go down there...

Gold Dust Twins Revealed

There was a time when advertisements were less PC-clean than they are today. Gold Dust washing powder is as defunct as the twin black children that graced its packaging, but a recent tear-down on Irving Park has revealed some old advertising for the brand. The Church of the Bad News has photos.

Native American Burial Sites

Workers digging for a new garage foundation in Dundee Township discovered a Native American burial ground that could be 1,000 years old, the Daily Herald reports. Archeologists from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency are investigating. The IHPA now offers HAARGIS, an interactive map of historic places (buildings, gravesites, etc.) around the state.

Outlaws Motorcycle Club

In 1935, the Outlaws Motorcycle Club was formed in McCook, Illinois. It's now one of the oldest motorcycle clubs in the country, with chapters all over the world. Learn about the club's history and see a progression of its logo design here.

Denny Hastert, Historian

Illinois' favorite Speaker of the House, Denny Hastert holding forth on the importance of the restoration of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington: "The values and principles that Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln worked so hard for in the 1880's are the same values and principles that we are fighting for as a Republican Party today."

The quote is corrected on his official news item, but if you listened to his remarks on NPR today, you too know that Lincoln lingered on at least sixteen years after his dramatic night at Ford's Theatre.

Baha'i Temple

The Baha'i Temple, that intricate white building on Sheridan Road in Wilmette, is 50 years old this year. An afternoon exploring the beautiful temple and its well-tended grounds is time well spent.

Casey's Locomotive @ ILM

The Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL recently acquired Illinois Central No, 201 - the last surviving locomotive operated by legendary railroad engineer John Luther "Casey" Jones. Jones drove the Illinois Central trains during the summer of 1893, shuttling passengers to Chicago's World's Columbian Exposition. The Illinois Railway Museum, with a collection of almost 400 pieces, is the largest railroad museum in the country and is operated entirely by volunteers without government or corporate funding.

Chicago's 100 year old ban

Chicago's 100 year old ban on public swearing has been dropped. As of April 2003, Police officers will no longer uphold the the ordinance which is now seen as a violation of the First Amendment. Go out and celebrate by pretending to be a sailor on shore leave!

Lost Treasures of Iraq

University of Chicago's Lost Treasures of Iraq website is live. It's pretty much the only way to see just how devastating the looting of the Iraq Museum really is.



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