Rudolph, the Most Famous Chicagoan of All

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

President Obama and Nancy Reagan are very famous Chicagoans. However, the most famous Chicagoan of all is a youth who overcame adversity to become an international leader. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer's story was first told by Robert Lewis May in 1939. The Montgomery Ward Company commissioned May to do a children’s storybook. The book was […]

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History of Grant Park 1931 to 1970

Bandshell with crowd in front

By 1931, Chicago was deep in the Great Depression and the South Park Commissioners were unable to build on the scale of the 1920s. According to the Historical Register of the Twenty-two Superseded Park Districts a band shell was constructed at 9th and Columbus in the early 1930s, starting a long tradition of free concerts in […]

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History of Grant Park 1991-2014

Aerial view

Previous: Grant Park 1971-1990 In the 1990s, major physical changes happened at both the north and south ends of Grant Park. When first completed, the north- and south-bound lanes of Lake Shore Drive had wrapped around the Field Museum’s front door. With increased and faster automobile traffic on Lake Shore Drive, this became unsightly and […]

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History of Grant Park 1971 to 1990

aerial photo of Grant Park

Previous: Grant Park 1931 to 1970 The largest of Grant Park’s garages, the 3800-space Monroe Street Garage, opened in stages in 1976 and 1977. It replaced the 2700-space parking lot built on the old military reservation. It also cut across a corner of the Illinois Central freight yard. Above it were built landscaped gardens, tennis […]

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History of Grant Park 1915-1930

ship with Navy Pier in background

Previous Post: Grant Park 1913 During the teens and 1920s, the South Park Commissioners built a number of ornamental viaducts across the Illinois Central tracks and extended roads into the new parkland. They also engaged in landscaping and accepted the gift of Buckingham Fountain. The wide open grassy spaces proved ideal for landing airplanes. Grant […]

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Mapmakers Lie! Grant Park in 1913

Map showing features described

Previous Post: Grant Park 1909-1914 To show that illustrators and mapmakers can lead you seriously astray, here is an enlargement from Birds Eye View of the Elevated Railroads, Parks and Boulevards of Chicago published in 1913. The unwary sightseer who took “Lincoln Park Boulevard” over the bridge through beautifully landscaped Grant Park to “Fields Museum” […]

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History of Grant Park 1909-14

Biplane over Art Institute

Previous Post: Grant Park 1900-1908 In 1909 Montgomery Ward won his long legal battle to keep Grant Park “Forever Open, Clear, and Free.” Buildings could not be built in the original Lake Front Park without the unanimous consent of the building owners across Michigan Avenue.  Ironically the open grassy area proved ideal as an airfield--to […]

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Remembering Jane Byrne

Jane Byrne

Chicago's first, and so far only, female mayor, Jane Byrne (1933-2014), died Friday at 81. Learn more about Byrne's term as mayor (1979-1983) with the Jane Byrne biography in our Chicago Mayors chronology. (You can also read her inaugural address.) Nearly every CPL location has a copy of My Chicago, her autobiography. We also have two books written about […]

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History of Grant Park 1900-1908

Park, railroad and lake

 Previous Post: Grant Park 1872-1899 In 1901, the City Council changed the name of Lake Park to Grant Park.  The Naval Reserve berthed the USS Dorthea at the foot of Randolph Street, occupying a sliver of the military reservation.     The Plan of Chicago was heavily promoted with speeches such as Chicago Can Get Fifty […]

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History of Grant Park 1872-1899

Map showing harbor

Previous: 1830-1871 The lagoon between Michigan Avenue and the railroad tracks provided a convenient dumping place for demolition debris after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The 1879 map shows Lake Front Park extending south to 12th Street. The lagoon had been filled in and an Exposition Building built south of Madison. It also appeared that the Illinois Central […]

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