Since the Columbian Exposition of 1893, Chicago has been known as a great arts town. No matter the medium, Chicago is well represented. To honor that, in the spirit of throwback Thursday, I give you the music video called Windy, by the band The Association. one of the most successful bands to come out of the sixties. Watch the whole video, but especially after 1:40. The scenes of Chicago truly are classic! Enjoy.
Change. Whether or not we like it, change happens. I noticed that change this past week while walking on North Clark Street, in Andersonville. As many of you know, I've lived in this community for the past 50 years. I have seen a lot of changes, especially regarding the old Swedish heritage. Sadly, the Swedish elements had dropped to 5 locations. That number went down to 4 last week.
Open in 1925, Erickson's Deli was one of the many great food outlets in Andersonville. It was run by the Erickson family until 1978, at which time a 35 year employee, Ann Marie Nilsson, took over the reigns. Along with her daughter, Ann-Britt, Ann Marie served up helpings of Swedish goodies to the hoards of customers who came through the door. She was also quick to share memories and story's of Andersonville past. Ann Marie suffered a stroke a number of years ago, and Ann-Britt continued to man the store. However, because of her Mom's health, and issues with city hall, Erickson's had its business license revoked in December 2014. Ann-Britt vowed to come back and preserve the business, and serve the loyal clients, her mother had worked so hard to build. Unfortunately, the battle came to a close last week, with a sign saying that after 90 years, Erickson's was closing. No more will my family be purchasing the Bond Ost, the Farlikorv, Potatis Korv, and various kinds of pickled herring and other goodies that made our Christmas a true Swedish Smorgasbord! So I bid a very fond farewell to Erickson's Deli, and say thank you to Ann Marie and Ann-Britt. You brought a bit of Sweden to a much wider community. You will be sorely missed.
But, how does the old saying go? Out with the old and in with the new!
Pastoral, an amazing cheese, wine and bread shop, is finally opening its doors in Andersonville!!! It will be their largest outlet yet, at 3,800 square feet! What I'm impressed with, however, is their sensitivity to their new location. It may just be coincidence, but Pastoral Andersonville will be selling a variety of SWEDISH products and deli items!!!! This is not just smart business sense, but being cognizant of your local community. Kudos, Pastoral, you have created a loyal customer!
So while change can be hard, change can also be good. I hope you come and explore that change, and the other many great offerings of Andersonville soon! Better yet, contact me and arrange a tour. Fall and Winter are great times to explore this very vibrant community.
Welcome to the future of tourism.
I have joined the virtual tour world.
Georama is the world's first real-time virtual travel platform. Our goal is to help you travel anywhere you want to go - even if you can't make it there in person due to logistical, financial, or physical reasons. With Georama's live, guided virtual tours, the places and experiences you thought to be so far are now completely within your reach.
I was recently featured on their "Meet Your Guide" segment of their blog.
It's been a long day. the kids were crazy at breakfast, which meant I was late getting out for an appointment. Then the Red Line is delayed, for what reason, I never learn. I finally get to the starting point for my tour, and everyone is a no show. ARGH!!!!
OK, i need to get away from it all and clear my head. I need a place of quiet solitude, someplace where the noise and confusion just disappear. A pipe dream, right? But alas, no! Just on the north end of the Lincoln Park Zoo sit just such an oasis. Don't know what I'm talking about? Then let me introduce you to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.
If you have grown up in Chicago, you may remember it by a different name: The Rookery. Either way, this space of roughly 3 acres is one of the best kept secrets in Chicago!
Although a lily pool existed here as far back as the 1880's, what you see in its current iteration begins in 1936, under the guidance of Alfred Caldwell.
Alfred Caldwell is considered the last Prairie style landscape architect of the twentieth century. He was mentored by Jens Jensen, one of the visionaries of landscape designs who himself was responsible for Columbus, Douglas, Garfield and Humboldt parks, in Chicago.
Hired by the Works Progress Administration, Caldwell saw an opportunity for his landscaping philosophy to flourish. Working under a tight budget, he took the decrepit Victorian era pool and transformed it into a magical garden, hidden in plain sight. Caldwell was so dedicated to the task that when some funds got cut off as he neared completion, he used his own money to buy the plants that would wring the pool!
In addition the Jensen, another great architects influence can be seen in the design of the two tranquil pavilions that Caldwell erected: Frank Lloyd Wright. Prairie style construction and the use of organic materials set not only the pavilions, but also the entrance way, clearly in the ranks of Wrights influence. By the 1980's however, things were once again looking grim. The lily pool seemed to have outlived its use. However, in 1998, major restoration work was undertaken, bringing new life for a new century. In 2002, it was declared a local landmark, and in 2006, it was made a Federal landmark.
So next time you need to get away from it all, remember that a hidden oasis exists right in our own back yard!
Who is Milton L. Olive? Do you even recognize his name? I hope you do. Because Milton Olive is someone you should know.
Milton L. Olive was born in Chicago, in 1946. In 1964, at age 18, he joined the U.S. Army, went through boot camp, and then shipped out to the Republic of South Vietnam. He was a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, a fact of which he was immensely proud.
On October 22, 1965, Olive was out on patrol, his unit was pursuing a group of retreating Viet Cong . While in close pursuit, the enemy hurled a grenade back at Olive and four other men of his unit. Olive yelled out, "I've got it!", scooped up the grenade, tucked it into his midsection, fell on it, and absorbed the entire blast. He was less than one month away from his 19th birthday. For his actions that day, Milton L. Olive became the first African-American to win the Medal of Honor, posthumously.
In order to commemorate Olives selfless act, the City of Chicago dedicated Milton L. Olive Park, in June of 1966. It is located just West of Navy Pier, next door to the Jardine Water Filtration Plant
In the center of the park stands the monument to this proud and brave young man, who will forever be 18.
Have you been to Olive Park. Many probably have. But if you haven't, you should. Sacrifice is not trumpeted as much as it once was. This park serves as a reminder that sacrifice is a noble thing, and reminds us that the freedoms we cherish are maintained, often at a terrible cost. So go, pay tribute to this young man. I would like to think that the view from his namesake park would have brought a smile to young Milton Olives face! I hope it brings one to yours, as well.
Ah, Summer! The time when thoughts turn towards excursions and adventures. This certainly was the case for the employees of the Western Electric Company, located just outside the city limits, in Cicero. WEC was an early manufacturer of telephone equipment, and was a gateway company for the many immigrants arriving into the area, in the early 20th Century. It was not just a place to work, however. It was a company that fostered social interactions for its employees, as a means of building a better and happier workforce. To that end, the company hosted an annual picnic, to which all employee's, and their families, were encouraged to attend.
On the 24th of July, 1915, thousands of WEC employees gathered at the river wharf between the Clark Street and LaSalle Street bridges, waiting to board the S.S. Eastland. The companies picnic was to be held in Michigan City, Indiana, and the Eastland would transport them there.
Despite rainy weather, anticipation ran high, and the crowds were large. Despite there being other boats chartered for the event, many were anxious to board the Eastland. The boat quickly filled up, and the Captain ordered the gates closed. The boat had been rolling back and forth during boarding, but around 7:27am, it listed heavily towards the river side, and by 7:30am, it had rolled completely onto its side.
PANIC ensued! People fell into the river. Others were trapped inside. Death by drowning or being crushed quickly ensued. Many survived, but 844 men, women and children did not. Rescuers, official and not so official, made valiant efforts, but far too often, it was about recovery.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, the grim task of identifying the body's began. Family members formed long lines outside of the 2nd Regimental Armory, on the city's West Side.
Inside, it was a charnel house, filled with the smell of wet and death. Heart wrenching cries go out, at the identification of a loved one. Police contend with ghouls who try to rob the dead. for many, this scene would be remembered forever.
Or would it? For those directly involved, it would get passed down through the generations. But what of the official commemorations? There were NONE! For over 80 years, it was like the disaster never happened. 844 people die, in what is often referred to, although somewhat disputed, as the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history. How could this be? Many reasons are put forward, including the reticence of survivors to talk about it publicly.
For my part, I began sharing the Eastland story back in 2004, as a part of my regular city tour. Many people, visitor and local alike, were amazed that they had never heard of it before. That is the part of sharing about Chicago that invigorates me the most: telling the untold story. Speaking for those who cannot.
As part of the 100th Anniversary of the Eastland disaster, I will be offering two special River Walk tours, both timed to end at the actual site of the disaster. There, we will participate in the events sponsored by the Eastland Historical Society. This promises to be a very insightful and moving experience. To get more details and to book your tickets, click on the TOURS section now!
What do you think of when you hear "Lincoln Park"? Does your mind conjure up fancy homes, great dining, pub crawls, or boutique shopping? Those things are all true. However, when I hear "Lincoln Park", nature is one of the things that immediately comes to mind. It is the largest of Chicago's many parks, at 1,208 acres and truly helps to define Chicago as a city in a garden!
Its best known asset is the wonderful Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the last free zoo's in America. But one of my favorite places is the Lincoln Park Conservatory. Built between 1890-1895, it was designed by renowned architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee. Here, year round, you can experience amazing flora and fauna, in a setting that takes you back to a different era. This, however, is just the beginning! There is the hidden gem called the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. The formal gardens and promenades. North Pond. South Pond.
South Pond. The board walk surrounding this beautiful body of water is not to be missed! Added just a few years ago, it offers breath taking views, as seen above, that provide an amazing synthesis between nature and architecture. This is one of the key elements that make Chicago such a thrilling destination. Nature and Architecture combine to create an experience like no other. It's all just a short hop from downtown. Amazing!
Have you thought about Lincoln Park in these terms? Have you ever really taken the time to explore the natural element that is so vital to Lincoln Park's identity? Whether your answer is yes or no, why don't you come and explore this space, and so much more, on a Wild Onion Walk today? I promise, you'll be blown away!!!