Making a List: Historical Holiday Shopping

Long before Cyber Monday, folks who didn't live close enough to a city to visit shopping districts downtown would order their holiday gifts through the mail using paper catalogs. If they were ordering those presents between around 1870 and 1920, it's likely they were ordering from a Chicago company. In 1872, just after the Great Chicago Fire, A. Montgomery Ward's…
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How to Make a Grotesque Head

Can't decide what to dress up as for Halloween? Do you feel that a simple mask doesn't show enough dedication? Do you need a better costume idea? Look no further than the Chicago Park District Records: Drawings and Photographs. These collections, along with Grotesque Heads and Masks & Costumes, published by the Park District and the South…
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Happy 50th to the Chicago Picasso!

In the early 1960s, the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was working on designs for Daley Plaza. Architect William Hartmann helped convince Spanish artist Pablo Picasso to design a sculpture for the space. Picasso would not accept payment, making this artwork a gift to the people of Chicago. Constructed from the same Cor-Ten steel used in…
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Chicago’s Farming History

This year's One Book, One Chicago, Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, encourages readers to think about their relationships with the food they eat. Kingsolver and her family complete a yearlong challenge to grow, produce or buy locally all of their food. The book also criticizes the international food industry for compromising health in favor of efficient production, and for its environmental impact. While…
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