The Chicago Municipal Code: How to Find and Research Historical Codes

Spoiler alert: This post is boring (but may be useful to some people). The Chicago Municipal Code is a one to three volume book that provides a subject arrangement of Chicago ordinances of a general and permanent nature. It is essentially an encyclopedia of Chicago law. People are interested in the historic codes for reasons legal, […]

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Quiz: How Well Do You Know the CTA?

Man stands with Red Line train in the background at Grand and State

Are you a transit maven? Find out with our quiz from bloggers Chicago in 4D and Municipal Reference Guy, who are librarians in the Municipal Reference Collection at Harold Washington Library Center.

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1948’s “Health King” of Chicago

Boy eating hotdog sandwich and drinking milk

In 1948, Henry Pittner was selected from 13,000 members of the Chicago Boys' Club as the healthiest boy in Chicago. A team of doctors reviewed eight finalists from the club and named Pittner the "Health King." Aside from a cavity in his last baby tooth, the Chicago Daily Tribune reported, the 12-year-old had a perfect physical record. […]

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Chicago’s South Loop Before the Library

400 block of South State Street at Van Buren, circa 1910

It's hard work to keep State Street "that great street," as the lyrics to Frank Sinatra's "Chicago" go. Before Sinatra's 1956 hit song, Chicago's South Loop was dark at night, colorful by day, and its southern edges vexed the best intentions of developers, urban planners and local organizations. As the Harold Washington Library Center celebrates […]

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History of Polish Americans in Chicago

Street view of Polish Chicago, 1981

Most Chicagoans have heard the trope that Chicago has the largest concentration of Polish people outside of Warsaw. (Although here's an article from WBEZ that states this might not be true any more.) But how did Chicago's Polonia come to be? This Polish American Heritage Month, learn the history of how Polish people came to […]

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Hit a Home Run with Chicago Open Archives

Cast of Bleacher Bums, 1989

It’s almost October. The leaves are starting to turn, temperatures are dipping and Chicago has a baseball team headed to the playoffs. In 1977, a different Chicago team, the Organic Theater Company, was looking for a new play. Ensemble member Joe Mantegna had been attending his fair share of Cubs games and pitched the idea […]

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Happy 25th, Harold Washington Library Center!

Source: Chicago Public Library Archives. Harold Washington Library Center Construction Photographs. Peter Fish Studio, Chicago. Elevation of south side of building, 1990 April 26.

The first couple weeks of October boast a number of important anniversaries in Chicago and Chicago Public Library history. Following the Great Chicago Fire on October 8, 1871, the Chicago Public Library was founded. It bounced around among different locations for many years until October 11, 1897, when the Central Library (now the Chicago Cultural Center) […]

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