From The Jungle to Jungle Gyms

South Park District Showing Parks and Boulevards, 1908. Source: Chicago Park District Records, Item 1852. Red parks are "new," and represent the neighborhood park plan.

I recently found myself across the street from one of the only remaining parts of Chicago's infamous Union Stockyards: the large stone entry gate. It was jarring to see this imposing, attractive feature on a sunny day with no trace of the stench and filth that accompany the grounds in my imagination. Like many people, when I […]

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Pulaski Day Turns 30

Mayor Harold Washington and Bishop Alfred L. Abramowicz at the first official City of Chicago celebration of Pulaski Day, 1986 March 2. Source: Harold Washington Archives & Collections Photographs. Photographer: Antonio Dickey

For over 80 years, Chicagoans have been honoring Casimir Pulaski for his role in American history. And yet, 2016 marks only the 30th anniversary of the City of Chicago declaring it an official holiday. On February 26, 1986, Mayor Harold Washington introduced a resolution to designate the first Monday in March Casimir Pulaski Day, and the City Council […]

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, 1861 March 6. Matthew Brady, photographer. Source: CPL, Grand Army of the Republic Collection, 72.341

Few presidents are as respected as Abraham Lincoln. We all know some basic facts about the man who would have been 207 this year: he was tall, bearded, a lawyer and a politician; he famously debated Stephen A. Douglas, most notably about slavery; he was president during the Civil War and issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended legal slavery; […]

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The Season of Giving

Child tending garden. Source: Chicago Outdoor Art League Records. Photograph 1.28

I recently finished reading The Third Coast by Thomas Dyja, this year's One Book One Chicago selection. The OBOC program this year is framed by the theme, "Chicago: The City That Gives." This time of year, that message really resonates. To honor the theme and to continue my goal of highlighting connections between CPL's archives and Dyja's history, […]

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I’ll Have My Regular, Please

State St. Days, 1956. Source: Chicago Loop Alliance Collection, Special Collections. Box 4, Folder 5.

A theme running throughout this year's One Book One Chicago selection, Thomas Dyja's The Third Coast, is the value Chicagoans placed on being "regular." In the preface, Dyja states, Towering success mattered less to the vast majority of Chicagoans than just being "regular".... "Beyond being regular," wrote novelist Nelson Algren, "there was nothing expected of a man. […]

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#OBOC Part 2: Want to Know More About Nelson Algren?

Nelson Algren

Part 2 of The Third Coast by Thomas Dyja, this year's One Book, One Chicago selection, covers the years 1945 to 1949. Dyja's sweeping history pays particular attention to the development of art and culture in Chicago, focusing on architecture, music, television and literature. One person he highlights in this section is Nelson Algren, a novelist whose work examines the gritty underworld […]

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#OBOC Part 1: What Else Was Happening?

Special Collections, Chicago Park District Records, Drawing 3571. This drawing, traced by the WPA, shows Washington Square Park, discussed by Dyja as "Bughouse Square" near Towertown.

Part 1 of Thomas Dyja's The Third Coast, this year's One Book One Chicago selection, focuses on the late 1930s in Chicago. Dyja crams a lot that's fascinating into those first four chapters, but even such a big book can't possibly cover it all. What else was happening in Chicago in the late 1930s? Here's one answer […]

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What Do Memorial Day and Logan Square Have in Common?

General John A. Logan. Source: Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign by George N. Barnard

The first official Memorial Day in 1868 was held to honor fallen Civil War soldiers. The national day of remembrance, May 30, was declared by John A. Logan in his role as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a veterans' group for Union soldiers. John A. Logan was born in Jackson County in southern Illinois. […]

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National Poetry Month: Poetry History

Postcard from Gwendolyn Brooks to Paul Breman. Source: Heritage Press Archives

April is National Poetry Month! Chicago Public Library's archival collections help you explore poetry history. The Hugh J. Schwartzberg Poetry Collection highlights famous poets and Chicago's role in 20th century poetry history. The Heritage Press Archives focus on poetry by writers of African descent in the second half of the 20th century. Hugh J. Schwartzberg, a poet […]

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