Chicago Classics: The Oz Books

Long before Lemony Snicket, Captain Underpants, Dr. Seuss, Henry Huggins, Ramona or Pippi Longstocking, there was Oz. Scraps, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, became a movie star before Raggedy Ann was even a twinkle in her parents’ eyes. In 1900, L. Frank Baum, while living on Chicago’s Humboldt Boulevard, published the The Wonderful Wizard of […]

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City of the Century, A Chicago History Classic

A history book that reads like a novel? Well, not quite, but when anybody asks for a readable history of Chicago, I recommend City of the Century. It has a plot. Chicago started the 19th century as a vague far western destination meaning perhaps wild onion, perhaps bad smell or perhaps something else.  It had one […]

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Andreas’ Histories of Chicago and Cook County, Two Chicago History Classics

Picture of 3 dollar bill

It is almost impossible to discuss Chicago history without mentioning A.T. Andreas' 1884 History of Chicago. The Municipal Reference desk keeps the three large volumes of the 1975 reprint close at hand and constantly uses them to answer questions. Andreas did not so much write history, as vacuum up information and print it. Thus, you can […]

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Chicago Negro Almanac and Reference Book, a Chicago History Classic

Chicago Negro Almanac Small

Did you know that Duke Slater became a Chicago attorney and judge after being one of the few African American professional football players of the 1920s? That in 1924, Fannie B. Williams became first female member of the Chicago Public Library's Board of Directors? That Jesse Binga's wife inherited a quarter million dollars in the 1890's? […]

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The Lakeside Classics Series


  Among my favorites is the Lakeside Classics series. Chicago publisher RR Donnelley & Sons Company's website perhaps best explains the series: "The Lakeside Classics series was started in 1903 by Thomas E. Donnelley, then president of RR Donnelley & Sons Company and son of the founder. T.E. believed that a simple book, dignified and […]

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Chicago History Classics

Shelf of books

I am starting a short series of posts on classic Chicago history books.  This is a quirky personal list of great Chicago books, many old and out of print. Emphasis is heavy on Chicago history. Other people will have different preferences. Many of these books would be good for a personal library. These Chicago classics […]

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In the News: Malheur National Wildlife Refuge


Currently making the news is the occupation of Oregon’s Mahleur National Wildlife Refuge by armed extremists. However, media descriptions of the land are generally limited to describing it as remote. Chicago Public Library has many government documents describing this subtly fascinating land. We also have laws, regulations, maps and studies of Western land use policy. […]

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North Michigan Avenue aka the Magnificent Mile

Picture of open bridge

Today people come from all over the world to shop on North Michigan Avenue. ZIP code 60611, which includes North Michigan Avenue, has more people employed in retail trade and “accommodations and food service” than any other Chicago ZIP code. In 1909 Chicago’s streets were renumbered, and technically all of Michigan Avenue north of Monroe […]

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