Historical Northside Music Makers: Photos of Bands, Venues and Events

At the Northside Neighborhood History Collection at Sulzer Regional Library, as we look forward to the concerts, performances and festivals the Year of Chicago Music is sure to bring, we wanted to look back at just a few of the ways 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 19th and early 20th 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 North Side. In past years, the Razz-Ma-Tazz Festival was held in Lincoln Square’s Welles Park.

Indoor venues for enjoying music on the North Side 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 20th 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 North Side, explore CPL's Digital Collections, which include images from the Louis D. Walz Collection and images of the Social Turners as well as many more images related to music and bands.

How will you celebrate Chicago music in 2020?