Do I Hear a Waltz? Teens Dancing in Chicago

prom court

Weekends in May mean prom for many Chicago teens. After months of planning, the big night has arrived. Now it’s time to slip into formal dresses, rented tuxedos, corsages and boutonnieres. If you look under any flowering tree on Saturday night, you’ll probably see a group of teens posing for pictures to commemorate the evening. […]

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Chicago’s Long Love Affair with Bikes

As the weather finally warms up, many Chicagoans are tuning up their bikes for the season. While there's much talk of biking in the Windy City in recent years, Chicago has always been a biking city. The cycling craze of the late 1800s saw a rapid evolution from heavy bikes that were difficult to ride, […]

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Mother, My Dear: Historical Greeting Cards

In the United States, we've been celebrating mothers on the second Sunday in May for over a hundred years. Most everyone has made or purchased a Mother's Day card at some point for their mom or a special mother figure. In the past, cards received in and from Chicago might have been published by the P.F. […]

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Remembering Martha Lavey, Former Steppenwolf Artistic Director

Martha Lavey, the artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre Company from 1995 to 2015, and a member of the theater's acting ensemble since 1993, died Tuesday. Lavey left her mark on Chicago's theater community and on Chicago Public Library. A champion not only of Steppenwolf, but of theaters across the city, she spoke about the importance of the […]

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#TBT, Happy Birthday, Harold Washington!

Harold Washington button

Saturday marks the 95th anniversary of Mayor Harold Washington's birth. The beloved Mayor of Chicago served the city from 1983 until his death in 1987, and made his mark on Chicago in multiple ways. Take some time to celebrate Harold's birthday by reading up on his legacy, or with a visit to the Special Collections and […]

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Underground Chicago: Gas and other Utilities

featured image

A series of posts describing Chicago’s underground networks. Previous: Railroads Gas mains and pipes: About 4,500 miles--mainly small diameter. The system started in the 1840s and is being continually upgraded. People’s Gas was chartered in 1849 by the state and does not pay Chicago a franchise fee. The other utilities either pay a franchise fee […]

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Underground Chicago : CTA Subways, Freight Tunnels, Street Car Tunnels

Part of a series on underground Chicago. Previous: Sewers and Water Subway Tunnels: 11.4 miles CTA’s rapid transit system has two lines in tunnels underneath the central area. The Blue line is also underground between Logan Square and Belmont and at O’Hare. Small portions of the system are underground elsewhere.  One unique structure on the […]

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Underground Chicago: Sewers and Water

Big pipe in trench

Previous: Tunneling methods The next few posts will describe Chicago’s major underground networks. We will start with most important and least appreciated—sewers and water. Deep Tunnel: Planned 193 miles in Cook County. 300-350 feet down in limestone bedrock, up to 53 feet in diameter. Built late 20th century. Although largely unseen, the Deep Tunnel is […]

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Underground Chicago: Tunneling methods

Previous: Early Tunnels Tunneling is generally performed by either boring or the open cut method. Bored tunnels are cut entirely underground. Chicago’s early tunnels used this method. Workers chopped away the clay by hand. Deeper tunnels in the limestone bedrock were drilled and blasted with explosives. Modern tunnels also use boring machines. The open cut […]

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Underground Chicago: Early Tunnels

Ships sailing over wagons and pedrestrians

People rarely think much about what is under their feet, yet much of what makes a modern city livable is hidden underground. This impressive underground infrastructure includes water to drink and bathe in, sewers to take away smelly and unhealthy waste, gas to heat our houses, electricity to light and cool us, and telecommunications to keep […]

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