Not Lost? Thank Edward Brennan

Street signs showing the intersection of State and Madison Streets.

We owe our cohesive street naming and numbering system to Edward P. Brennan. Brennan was the chairman of the City Club of Chicago's Committee on Street Names. His vision included three changes: The house and building numbering system should tell you where you are relative to the Loop. Streets should be named the same throughout […]

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From Chaos: Chicago’s Street System

Aerial view of Chicago's northside light by street lights at night

In this age of GPS, having a sense of direction is often a vestigial skill. In some parts of the world, wayfinding is often practiced with regard to mountains – landmarks that you can see and tell if you are going toward, away from or alongside of. Chicago has sometimes been said to be the […]

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Mavis Staples: She’ll Take You There

Mavis Staples

On the occasion of the publication of Greg Kot's I'll Take You There, I thought I'd showcase some Mavis Staples' and the Staples Singers' discography here at CPL. But first, the book: Kot is a journalist for the Chicago Tribune, and it shows in his short chapters and succinct writing. While focusing mostly on the […]

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Monsters of the Midway Redux

Monster of the Midway book cover

OK Bears fans, another Super Bowl, another no-show for our team. It's been a rough year (actually, a rough decade) for Bears fans. Every season we hope and pray for the best, only to be devastated yet again. At first it was Lovie Smith who was going to lead us to the Super Bowl—well, we […]

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Chicago Park District Records: Behind the Scenes

This 1917 drawing shows plans to fill in Lake Michigan to extend Grant Park.

If you are anything like me, you spent much of the summer outside, soaking up what warmth you could before it was, well, now. My family was outdoors as much as possible, running, biking, walking the dog, sampling playgrounds and swimming. New to Chicago, I was thrilled by all the green space within walking distance of my Southside […]

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Puppets in the Windy City

source: Antara365, flickr

Did you know that many believe the word "puppeteer," which describes a person who works with puppets, originated in Chicago?  Get ready for lots of puppeteers to visit our city this week for the first ever Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival!  The festival runs from January 14-25, with more than 50 performances happening at 13 […]

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Chicago: City of Big Data

Picture of the Chicago: City of Big Data exhibit at the Chicago Architecture Foundation

If you read my previous blog post and are looking for more, or if you're otherwise interested in Big Data, there's plenty for you to do in Chicago as both learner and participant. The Chicago Architecture Foundation is hosting an exciting exhibit on the use of Big Data in Chicago.  Through interactive displays and 3D models, […]

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Martin Luther King Day’s Chicago Roots

Mayor Harold Washington with Coretta Scott King

In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr.  was assassinated in Memphis while there to support sanitation workers striking for higher wages and better working conditions. Five years later, in 1973, Harold Washington, then an Illinois state representative, introduced a bill to make Martin Luther King's birthday a state holiday. The bill passed the Illinois House and Senate, and Washington […]

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Former Library Commissioner Donald Sager Passes

Portrait of Donald J. Sager

Donald J. Sager, Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library from 1978 to 1981, passed away on January 1, 2015. Sager had a long and distinguished career in public libraries. In addition to Chicago, he directed libraries in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Columbus, Ohio; and Kingston, New York, among other cities. As head of the Chicago Public Library, […]

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Make No Little Plans: The 1909 Plan of Chicago

Letter C superimposed over a map of Chicago

Chicago has long been at the center of city planning, municipal science, and engineering. In 1909, these converged in the lavishly illustrated Plan of Chicago. The Plan changed Chicago so much I would argue that it deserves to be the fifth star on the Chicago flag. Burnham and Bennett, authors of the Plan of Chicago, looked […]

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