Lieutenant Cushing, My Favorite Whacked-Out Hero


President Obama has Seal Team Six. President Lincoln had William Cushing. Although Cushing was expelled from the Naval Academy, he talked his way into a commission in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War. He was soon promoted to lieutenant. In all navies, the higher your rank, the bigger the ship you command. Commanders command […]

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A Look Back at Illinois Inaugural Addresses

Group Picture

Illinois governors have included heroes, crooks, bureaucrats, intellectuals and types in between.  Chicago Public Library has many governors' messages and inaugural addresses, allowing you to read how the governors perceived Illinois’ challenges in their own words. Often the speeches provide an unexpected look into history. The early governors, such as Thomas Carlin in 1840, were […]

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Technology that Changed Chicago: Artesian Wells

Large Building with pond

Have you ever wondered what a street named Artesian Avenue is doing tucked between the likes of Western and Campbell Avenues? In 1863 a clairvoyant convinced A.E. Swift and Thomas Whitehead that Chicago was the perfect place to drill for oil. Here is the story as told by materials in Special Collection’s West Town Community […]

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The Great Lakes Naval Arms Race

Sailing ships in battle

Two hundred years ago today, on December 24, 1814, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, officially ending of the War of 1812. The War of 1812 between the U.S. and Britain was a minor part of the worldwide Napoleonic Wars. Largely forgotten nowadays, fierce naval battles and a strange naval arms race took place on […]

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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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