Another Ferris Wheel Made in Chicago

Ferris wheel and old Vienna village

Navy Pier turns 100 this year. Celebrations kick off this weekend, and the new Centennial Wheel will make its maiden voyage. The Ferris wheel is no stranger to Chicago. The first Ferris wheel was built especially for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. was tasked with creating something so stunning and special that it would […]

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Technology That Changed Chicago: Gaslight

Street scene

A long forgotten social revolution began on September 4, 1850 with the lighting of Chicago's first hundred-odd gaslights. 75 Years of Gas Service in Chicago quotes the Tribune: "Wednesday marked an era in Chicago. At about 2 o'clock P. M. the gas pipes were filled and brilliant torches flamed on both sides of Lake Street […]

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The Social Evil in Chicago, A Chicago History Classic

Picture of a dance hall

On April 5, 1911, the Chicago Vice Commission released The Social Evil in Chicago. The unusually diverse Commission included religious leaders, doctors and representatives of social service agencies. Members included a rabbi, an African--American and two women. Unlike most 400-page government reports, the report became an instant best seller. The second edition came out April […]

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CPL Welcomes the Chicago Film Archive of Performance


Chicago Public Library is proud to become the new home for recordings created by the Chicago Film Archive of Performance (C-FAP). Founded by Drew Blau in 2013, C-FAP is committed to filming live performance in order to document and preserve Chicago's rich theater community. C-FAP has preserved 18 productions already, and plans to film a total of […]

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The Jungle Comes to CPL

production image from the Jungle

Upton Sinclair published The Jungle 110 years ago. This famous expose of working conditions in Chicago's stockyards and packing houses led President Theodore Roosevelt and Congress to enact the Meat Inspection and Pure Food and Drug Acts of 1906. The Jungle is available in other formats. Sinclair's story is as much about working conditions as […]

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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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#TBT: Charlie Parker’s First Recording


For today's Throwback Thursday, let's remember jazz musician Charlie Parker (1920-1955), who first recorded 75 years ago on April 30, 1941. Charlie Parker was a legendary Grammy-winning jazz alto and tenor saxophonist who, with Dizzy Gillespie, created the musical style called bop or bebop. Celebrate the musical talent of Charlie Parker with these library materials. Archives Charles Walton Papers are an […]

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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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Poetry and the Heritage Press Archives

Heritage Press Archives, box 2.

Poetry should treat, Of lofty things, Soaring thoughts, And birds with wings.—Langston Hughes April is National Poetry Month. Let's celebrate by taking a look at the history of an important publishing company, Heritage Press. Heritage Press, founded by Paul Breman and operated out of London from 1962 to 1975, was one of the most important publishers of black […]

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Celebrate Shakespeare 400 Chicago Day

As You Like It

April 23, 2016 has been proclaimed by Mayor Emanuel as Shakespeare 400 Chicago Day. This day celebrates both the birth and death anniversaries of the playwright, and encourages all Chicagoans to enjoy his lasting influence. Happily, Mother Nature seems to be celebrating too. With warmer weather and daffodils in bloom, has Chicago's typical winter of discontent finally made way for […]

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