Maxwell Street: The Market of the Third Coast

Man leaning on stand with suit jackets and pants

Chicago may not have the oldest municipal public market in the country–Pike’s Place Market in Seattle claims that title. But Chicago's Maxwell Street Market may be the most colorful. Some may argue that Maxwell Street's heyday was between the 1930s and the 1960s, the same period discussed in the One Book One Chicago selection, Thomas […]

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Alice on the Stage

Alice in Wonderland program cover

Lewis Carroll's beloved fantasy story Alice in Wonderland has delighted children for 150 years. Alice is loved not only on paper, but also on the stage. In 1898, Burton Harrison brought Alice in Wonderland to life in three acts at the request of "kind ladies" caring for ailing children at a London hospital. By the […]

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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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Seven Degrees of Chicago, 1938

State Stree Subway

Although massive in scale, Chicago is a city with remarkably few degrees of separation. Just as the year's One Book, One Chicago selection connects diverse readers across the city to threads of history, the book, Thomas Dyja’s The Third Coast, opens its first chapter by stitching together the overlapping paths shared by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and future Illinois […]

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#TBT: 70th Anniversary of Ebony Magazine

Source: Harsh Research Collection, Ben Burns Papers, Photo 123.

This month Ebony celebrates its 70th anniversary. The pictorial news magazine was first published in November 1945 by Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company. John H. Johnson created the magazine to share stories of African American life, with the goal of refuting stereotypes and inspiring readers to overcome racial barriers. Today's Throwback Thursday post takes a look at Ebony's […]

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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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Newspapers, Old and New, Available at CPL

Busy corner newsstand

The first newspaper printed in the British colonies in America appeared on September 25, 1690—325 years ago this month. Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, which was supposed to come out monthly, was shut down by the government four days later, so only one issue was published. The Boston News-Letter had better luck when it started […]

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North Michigan Avenue aka the Magnificent Mile

Picture of open bridge

Today people come from all over the world to shop on North Michigan Avenue. ZIP code 60611, which includes North Michigan Avenue, has more people employed in retail trade and “accommodations and food service” than any other Chicago ZIP code. In 1909 Chicago’s streets were renumbered, and technically all of Michigan Avenue north of Monroe […]

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About Thomas Dyja, Author of The Third Coast

Thomas Dyja

Thomas Dyja was born and raised on the Northwest Side, a third generation Chicagoan. One of his grandfathers was a waiter at the Edgewater Beach Hotel; the other made pipes at Chicago Faucet. A graduate of Columbia University, he stayed in New York after college to go into publishing. After working as a bookseller and […]

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