Astor Street: Chicago’s Best Address

Mansion

Buildings on Astor Street own Chicago’s best addresses. This is true even though currently there is a two-bedroom condo for sale for only $315,000. Single-family townhouses will set you back $3 million to $6 million or more. And it is definitely a street that would not shame a billionaire. Astor Street is less than a half mile long […]

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Emmett Till’s Legacy: 60 Years After His Murder

Grave marker of Emmett Till

The murder of Emmett Louis Till 60 years ago, on August 28, 1955, was the spark that ignited the civil rights movement. Emmett Till was only 14 years old when he left Chicago to spend the summer at his uncle’s home in Money, Mississippi. One afternoon at a store there, Till spoke with a white woman, Carolyn Bryant; […]

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Prairie Avenue, aka Millionaires’ Row

Big House

In the late 1800s millionaires were nearly as scarce as billionaires are today. Prairie Avenue’s chief claim to fame dates from this era. The mansions of multimillionaires such as Marshall Field, Philip Armour and George Pullman lined both sides of Prairie Avenue near 20th Street. This trend started soon after the Great Fire of 1871 […]

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Streets of Chicago: Midway Plaisance

Midway Plasance Source: National Map

Chicago has its share of unusual street names. For example, nobody quite knows what Agatite Avenue means. The origins and history of the name Midway Plaisance are also more mysterious than commonly assumed. It is the name of both a street and the park contained within the street’s northern and southern branches. According to the […]

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Who’s That Google Doodle? Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells portrait

Any chance you noticed today’s Google Doodle? The technology company chose to mark the 153rd birthday of civil rights activist and Chicago resident Ida B. Wells. Wells began her career as a journalist in Memphis in the 1880s. There she tirelessly devoted her attention to segregation, women’s rights and suffrage, and launched an anti-lynching campaign. […]

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Lake Shore Drive

North Lake Shore Drive from Hancock Building, 2014. Photo credit: Romanbeod Flckr

Lake Shore Drive is a choice, if not particularly exclusive, street. According to the U.S. Census, more than 10,000 of the Near North Side’s 80,000 residents live within a block west of Lake Shore Drive. Another 774 live in Lake Point Tower at 505 N. Lake Shore Drive (the only odd numbered address and the […]

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Winneconna Parkway: Venice in Chicago

silohetted trees and houses, with reflections in the lagoon

No need to move to Italy or California to live on a Venetian canal. You can live on Chicago’s own Winneconna Parkway. The houses surrounding Auburn Park overlook the lagoon and its beautiful stone bridges. The name Winneconna is ...possibly derived from Ween-kan-ing, Algonquin for "place where marrow is obtained,” according to one authority, in […]

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Amusement Park Fun

Ferris wheel

This is the time of year when I start thinking about packing up the family and heading to an amusement park. The lure of funnel cakes, roller coasters and log flume rides beckons me. Amusement parks have been around for centuries, with the oldest one, Dyrehausbakken—Bakken for short—located near Copenhagen in Denmark. Bakken began in […]

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Everybody Loves State Street

Street Scene

State Street is celebrated in song—Frank Sinatra croons, “State Street, that great street” in the song "Chicago." Blues master Jimmy Yancey performed the "State Street Special." Although unnamed on the original plat map, State Street formed the eastern boundary of Chicago when the town was incorporated in 1833. The street originally was an Indian trail going […]

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