Bright Lights, Big City, Great Books

Source: sfgamchick, Flickr

Neon signs—they put the bright lights in our big city. Garish and brassy, they beckon with color and light and martinis and stars. Subtle they are not. But still, I love them. Back in March, though, Preservation Chicago named neon signs one of the most endangered “architectural treasures” in Chicago. Since May is Preservation Month, it’s […]

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Wentworth Avenue 街決永

Building photo

Chicago’s Wentworth Avenue runs south from 16th Street all of the way to the far southern suburbs. It is one of several south side streets that do not continue to the Loop. Wentworth is mostly in line with Wells Street in the Loop, but Wells Street continues south, jogs a bit and runs parallel to […]

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What Do Memorial Day and Logan Square Have in Common?

General John A. Logan. Source: Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign by George N. Barnard

The first official Memorial Day in 1868 was held to honor fallen Civil War soldiers. The national day of remembrance, May 30, was declared by John A. Logan in his role as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a veterans' group for Union soldiers. John A. Logan was born in Jackson County in southern Illinois. […]

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26th Street: Not just a Street, but a Neighborhood

Picture of arch

Although 26th Street runs from Lake Michigan to Twenty-Sixth Street Woods in west suburban Broadview, a mention of 26th Street usually means the neighborhood around 26th Street between California Avenue and Chicago’s western city limit. This neighborhood is known as Little Village, or La Villita (the Spanish equivalent) by people who live there. Officially this […]

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Rush Street: The Place to be in 1950

Rush Street Sign

Rush Street is a narrow street stretching from the Chicago River (400 North) to Cedar Street (1138 North). Rush was named after Dr. Benjamin Rush, a famous Revolutionary War doctor. In the mid-twentieth century, Rush Street meant nightclubs. Chicago: Confidential! describes Rush Street in 1950: East of Clark Street is Rush Street. Clark gets the […]

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Harold Washington Plaque

Portrait of Harold Washington

Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African American Mayor, was born on April 15, 1922 at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. To mark his birthday, a plaque paying tribute to Harold Washington has just been placed at the library’s State Street entrance beneath the arch with his name carved in stone. A graduate of DuSable High School, Roosevelt College and Northwestern […]

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National Poetry Month: Poetry History

Postcard from Gwendolyn Brooks to Paul Breman. Source: Heritage Press Archives

April is National Poetry Month! Chicago Public Library's archival collections help you explore poetry history. The Hugh J. Schwartzberg Poetry Collection highlights famous poets and Chicago's role in 20th century poetry history. The Heritage Press Archives focus on poetry by writers of African descent in the second half of the 20th century. Hugh J. Schwartzberg, a poet […]

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Streets of Chicago: Western Avenue

Western Avenue is famous as Chicago’s longest street. It runs 24 miles between Howard Street, Chicago’s northern boundary and the southern city limits at 119th Street. Western continues south of the city, with a few gaps, another 26 miles to the Will/Kankakee County line where it ends at a corn field. Some Chicagoans will tell […]

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Remembering a Blues Legend: Muddy Waters’ “Mojo” at 100

Got My Mojo Working album cover

Nobody knew the blues like Muddy Waters. Although he was born in Mississippi on April 4, 1915, Waters spent a considerable amount of time right here in sweet home Chicago. It’s here that he electrified the blues with his slide guitar skills, making the blues sound like what it is today. He is widely regarded for making Chicago […]

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Extraordinary Local Women of History

Source: Chicago Public Library, Cleveland Hall Branch Archives

Despite a few snowy days, spring has officially arrived and March is almost over. Let's wrap up Women's History Month by highlighting the contributions of two Chicago women. Vivian G. Harsh The first African American branch head at the Chicago Public Library and an early leader in the movement to preserve African American history, Vivian Gordon Harsh was often described as […]

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