“So you’re a hipster?” This is the most common response I receive when asked what Chicago neighborhood I live in. Referred to as a “city of neighborhoods, the distinct personalities of Chicago’s 200 neighborhoods (in 77 community areas) are integral to the city’s DNA. Between cultural and historical heritage, roots in industry and immigration, and contemporary reclamation the span of Chicago’s community associations is as great as the range of residents.
Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters highlights the ‘hood qualities on which we lovingly call our neighbors out. Each poster takes on Chicago stereotypes in stylish satire. More neighborhood posters are in the works, and will soon be available on Etsy, so whether you’re a Roscoe Village stroller-pusher, Lincoln Park frat boy, or Pilsen, you know, Mexican you’ll be able to rep your neighborhood pride in print.
“Would you ever move back to Cleveland?” I’m asked this fairly often by people wearing a half-smirk, half-scoff. Confusion and distrust appear as I always answer, “Absolutely.”
It isn’t always easy to convey the considerable merits of my much-maligned hometown to an outsider; but no matter, we’re not out to convert the masses. Yet, Cleveland native and Iron Chef, Michael Symon’s recently published Love Letter to Cleveland so ardently articulates the feeling so many of us have for the city, I’m moved to share it here.
“Where anything might happen – and usually does,” the narrator of this 1930′s newsreel describes Chicago, “a city of superlatives.” The forces of energy and movement, this sense of anticipation are what attracts so many people to city living. Whether or not you’re a nerd for history, any viewer enjoys seeing their city on the screen. It’s fascinating to compare the world you know to a past, fictionalized, or futuristic version.
This clip allows us to tour places we now take for granted through the lens of the extraordinary superlatives they were at the time. The skyline seems strangely stark behind the Wrigley Building and Water Tower. Rail yards line Michigan Avenue in what has only recently become Millennium Park. The Haymarket Police Statue is on public display in a park sometime between attempted bombing attacks. We dash from the Union Stockyards to the buildings of the 1893 and 1933 World’s Fairs, admire gypsy women at a market on Maxwell Street, and then bask in the State Street’s bright lights.
Thomas Edison shot Chicago’s second movie ever in 1897 at the corner of State and Madison (a police parade film preceded it by a year). Yet on a corner that is still one of Chicago’s busiest, we see no stolid sepia-faced citizens posing stiffly. Streetcars and horses pass through a sea of bowler and boater-capped heads, while picketers brandish indistinguishable signs in the thirty-second clip. The city is a measure in motion.
With shape-shifting neighborhoods and movements that come and go, our contemporary street corner will morph someday as well, sooner than we know. Compare Edison’s intersection with the State and Madison intersection of 2009.
Cities changes every day, it’s why we’re drawn to them. Step out on the
sidewalk, inhale the energy, and examine what’s in motion around you. After
all, anything can happen.
For Further Exploration
street scene: vintage outdoor ads in chicago
Posted in chicago, exploring, film, link love, magnificent mile, river north, south loop, street scene, the loop
Tagged chicago, chicago worlds fair, exploring, link love, magnificent mile, maxwell street, millenium park, newsreel, state and madison, street scene, the loop, thomas edison, union stock yards, vintage film
“Hundreds of thousands of buyers repeatedly receive up-to-the-minute information concerning products necessary to their daily living.” No, we are not talking tweets or Google+, the advertising medium in mind is billboards.
“To Market to Market,” by General Outdoor Advertising Co. offers a look at daily life in Chicago circa 1942. While we discover the scientific processes behind outdoor ad placement, Chicagoans are seen running errands in furs, hats, and heels or pulling up vintage automobiles to a filling station. A billboard reading, “Help Defense, Don’t Waste Antifreeze,” displays a sense of the times, yet ads for Sunkist, Coca-Cola, and Rice Krispies remind us that maybe nowadays are not so different.
[via How to be a Retronaut]
Posted in chicago, exploring, link love, street scene
Tagged ads, advertising, billboards, chicago, chicago history, link love, street scene, vintage
Posted in exploring, inspiring, link love, listening, preserving, traveling
Tagged 1989, aerial photos, chloe sevigny, exploring, inspiring, jewelry, link love, listening, malls, playlist, remembering, summer, traveling
Posted in exploring, inspiring, link love, preserving, traveling
Tagged brooklyn, chloe sevigny, david klein, exploring, inspiring, kempenaers, link love, london, nostalgia, nyc, preserving, sculpture, spring, symbolic, traveling, vintage travel poster, yugoslavia
“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.”
- William Wordsworth
Today I bring you a decidedly less urban form of exploration. Over the course of six months, hiker Kevin Gallagher traversed the 2,181 mile Appalachian Trail and captured it in his short, Green Tunnel. Gallagher took 24 sequential snapshots each day during his epic hike along the trail from Georgia to Maine. His collection of over 4,000 slides was converted into a four-and-a-half minute film winding through the seasons and across the country. Gallagher takes us up hills, through valleys, mists, and meadows. We squeeze between craggy stone crevices and pass under lush verdant archways. There is even a cow or two.
On his website Gallagher describes the film as, “…an effort to bridge the divide from a contemporary America’s pace and outlook to the natural world’s slow rhythms, the film stands as an antithetically fitful and bombastic document of a measured and tedious exercise in endurance.” Insert your favorite Wordsworth quote and enjoy the lovely Green Tunnel.
I knew there were some mobster hangouts in my neighborhood back in Prohibition days, but little did I guess that some notorious murders took place near my house in the 1980′s. Also, some Blues Brothers scenes were filmed nearby; I’ll be re-watching ASAP for a peek at my hood.
I have an incredible capacity for trivial tidbits, but I hadn’t encountered these points until playing with the new Chicago History Map by Domu. The Chicago apartment search website launched this interactive map earlier this week, presumably to highlight its map-based search approach to real estate.
About 500 Chicago locations of note are listed by category on a Google map. Interactive and colorful, the map is easy to use. There is a category to interest everybody, including Sports, Famous Residents, Notorious Crime Scenes, Oddities, Tragedies, Film Locations, and even the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Click on a marker to identify the historical event, with a link to access more information.
Within a few minutes of perusing I learned:
- The Oscar statuette, as well as awards for the Grammys, MTV, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are all manufactured in Jefferson Park.
- Sam Cooke and Stephen Douglas had nearby Bronzeville residences, just down the street from each other and about a century apart.
- While many Dark Knight movie locations are listed, it seems the entrance for Batman’s underground lair may be hidden after all.
- A Hilton Hotel in the Loop was the site of creation for some very special Jimi Hendrix memorabilia.
Each location marker links to a page with background on the noteworthy spot.
Domu’s Chicago History Map is a gold mine for Chicago explorers, amateur historians, or aspiring Trivial Pursuit champs. Find some noteworthy spots in your neighborhood, or give yourself an excuse to venture across town and check out an interesting place in Chicago’s history.
Please comment with your favorite facts or must-see destinations!