Mayor Harold Washington: Irish for a Day

Chicago's first modern downtown St. Patrick's Day parade was in 1956, when Richard J. Daley was mayor. The Chicago River was first dyed green in 1962. Since then, each year, the downtown parade and river dyeing have become important milestones in Chicago's late winter, with many people celebrating a communal party in the Loop. 1987 was no different. Mayor Harold […]

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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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The Ghost of Christmas Past, Shopping Edition

Christmas will be here in just a few days. Have you finished your shopping? These days, last-minute Christmas shopping usually involves a click on a screen and waiting for the items to arrive at your house. Not so long ago, though, Chicagoans got all dressed up and traveled downtown to do their holiday shopping. Take a break from your […]

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Happy 25th, Harold Washington Library Center!

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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From The Jungle to Jungle Gyms

I recently found myself across the street from one of the only remaining parts of Chicago's infamous Union Stockyards: the large stone entry gate. It was jarring to see this imposing, attractive feature on a sunny day with no trace of the stench and filth that accompany the grounds in my imagination. Like many people, when I […]

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What’s Pulaski Day All About?

For over 80 years, Chicagoans have been honoring Casimir Pulaski for his role in American history. And yet, it was just over thirty years ago that the City of Chicago declared it an official holiday. On February 26, 1986, Mayor Harold Washington introduced a resolution to designate the first Monday in March Casimir Pulaski Day, and the […]

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln

Few presidents are as respected as Abraham Lincoln. We all know some basic facts about the man who would have been 207 this year: he was tall, bearded, a lawyer and a politician; he famously debated Stephen A. Douglas, most notably about slavery; he was president during the Civil War and issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended legal slavery; […]

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The Season of Giving

I recently finished reading The Third Coast by Thomas Dyja, this year's One Book One Chicago selection. The OBOC program this year is framed by the theme, "Chicago: The City That Gives." This time of year, that message really resonates. To honor the theme and to continue my goal of highlighting connections between CPL's archives and Dyja's history, […]

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I’ll Have My Regular, Please

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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