Year of Chicago Music: Historical Northside Music Makers

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events has declared 2020 the Year of Chicago Music!

At the Northside Neighborhood History Collection, as we look forward to the concerts, performances and festivals that the new year is sure to bring, we wanted to look back at just a few of the ways that music has played a role in Northsiders’ lives over the years. Social, cultural, religious and neighborhood groups have long provided a way for Chicagoans to express their musical talent.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Northside musical groups ranged from the drum corps sponsored by the Social Turners, a German-American organization, to local bands such as the Ravenswood Coronet Band and the Welles Park Community Band. Religious organizations such as churches were also an important venue for Chicagoans to play and enjoy music together. Today, the popular Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square is one of many outdoor music festivals on the Northside. In past years, the Razz-Ma-Tazz Festival was held in Lincoln Square’s Welles Park.

Indoor venues for enjoying music on the Northside ranged from the Aragon Ballroom in Uptown, which opened in 1926 and is still active, to the Paris Dance Club on Montrose Avenue, which is no longer in business. Of course, in the twentieth century, bands and music were an important part of the middle and high school experiences of many students, including the Lake View High School students who learned and performed under band director Louis D. Walz.

To learn more about music on the Northside, you can explore the Northside Neighborhood History’s digital collections, which include digitized images from the Louis D. Walz Collection and digitized images of the Social Turners as well as many more images related to “music” and “bands.”

How will you celebrate Chicago music in 2020?

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library