Chicago Grit

Noir Bean

If you like noir and novels about Chicago, there's a new favorite out for you. The Governor's Wife by Michael Harvey is the latest in the Michael Kelly series, which starts with The Chicago Way. Harvey's books are atmospheric, and pretty much all the places he mentions actually exist, or have existed. Harvey's specialty is conspiracies, but they all seem […]

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Outsider Artist: Chicago’s Henry Darger

smaller image of Henry Darger Head stone

Anyone can become overwhelmed by the desire to express what is inside them in a creative way. Most often the best examples are highlighted in museums and art history courses and classes, but sometimes there are diamonds in the rough, or great works found in unlikely places. Whenever someone without a formal art education or […]

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The 606 Revitalizes Bloomingdale Trail

The 606 trail

So The 606 opens on 06/06. What is The 606? Excellent question! Essentially, The 606 is a public space project, akin to Manhattan's High Line, centered around the Bloomingdale Trail. What is the Bloomingdale Trail? Again, a most excellent question! The Bloomingdale Trail is an elevated pedestrian and cyclist thoroughfare that runs along West Bloomingdale Avenue […]

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4 New Books Featuring Chicago

Cloud gate

I've discovered four new books that have either come out in May or will come out in May that feature Chicago prominently. One is nonfiction, but the others are flights of imagination. You do not want to miss any of them. Aleksandar Hemon has written his first comedic novel: The Making of Zombie Wars. Joshua seems […]

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Dogs Can Get the Flu Too!

Dog with ice bag on head

A couple of weeks ago we were all set to spend a Saturday in Michigan and decided to board the dog overnight at his usual doggie day care. But the Monday before the trip we received an urgent email from the day care warning us about a recent outbreak of so-called “kennel cough” at the […]

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The Chicago Artists’ Archive: Documenting Local Artists

Windy City by Rudolph Weisenborn

The Chicago Artists’ Archive is a great way to research well-known Chicago artists as well as those who may not be in books or well-represented on the Internet. Since the early 20th century CPL has kept artist files. These fascinating files include a variety of materials, including but not limited to articles, photographs, slides, gallery invitations, […]

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Studs Terkel: A Chicago Hero

Source: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

"Why are we born? We’re born eventually to die, of course. But what happens between the time we’re born and we die? We’re born to live." —Studs Terkel, 2003 I didn't know much about Chicago's history before I moved here in 1996. Someone told me I should read Division Street and I'd know everything. While that […]

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Chicago: City of Big Data

Picture of the Chicago: City of Big Data exhibit at the Chicago Architecture Foundation

If you read my previous blog post and are looking for more, or if you're otherwise interested in Big Data, there's plenty for you to do in Chicago as both learner and participant. The Chicago Architecture Foundation is hosting an exciting exhibit on the use of Big Data in Chicago.  Through interactive displays and 3D models, […]

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Top 10 Things to Do at Harold Washington Library Center

Winter Garden glass ceiling

Lifelong Chicagoans and first-time visitors alike can always find something great to do at HWLC. Experience the outdoors, indoors: The breathtaking Winter Garden on the 9th floor is perfect for quiet contemplation, thoughtful conversation and a moment's peace in the bustling heart of downtown. Learn about the man whose name graces the building: The Special Collections […]

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The Great Chicago Fire Knocked the Loop for a Loop

Field, Leiter & Co. (later Marshall Field & Co.) before the 1871 Fire

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 burned the heart of Chicago, starting on DeKoven Street on the Near West Side (558 West, 1100 South) and going north to Fullerton Avenue. The Loop was destroyed, as can be seen in these maps. City Hall, Palmer House, Field, Leiter & Co.—all gone. But, with the rubble still […]

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