Skip to main content

Posts

Postcard Spotlight: Most Chicagoans Know This Corner

The intersection in front of the Art Institute in Chicago. Photo taken by Paul Wierum, Chicago Camera Club.  The blurry image on this postcard brings about clear and cherished memories for me. I had many great days visiting the Art Institute, especially during my college years in the mid to late 1990s. Like so many other Chicagoans, I stood at this same crosswalk shown on the postcard in front of the museum at Michigan Avenue and Adams Street, usually heading to catch the train home after a wonderful day. The entire intersection looks the same today as it does on this 1920s-era postcard, excluding the old cars. I even remember the doorway behind the lamppost across the street as the entrance to Bennigan’s restaurant. Friends and I ate there many times mostly to enjoy a great laugh. I was overjoyed winning this postcard in an online auction. Others were trying hard to win it too, as the price kept rising. They probably saw it and had similar feelings about it. This postcard is title
Recent posts

Haymarket Square: A Clash Between Police & Workers for an Eight-Hour Workday

  A mounted Chicago police parade.  Postcard publication details are unknown.  Protests that turned violent at Haymarket Square near Des Plaines and Randolph Streets in 1886 helped make Chicago the center of the eight-hour workday movement.  On May 1, about 35,000 workers walked off their jobs to join a protest in downtown Chicago for a shorter work day. Government and police officials, however, began harassing protesters, who they referred to as unionists, reformers, socialists and anarchists.  It’s no surprise that on May 3, a long-lasting strike at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company erupted into violence, leading to police clashes and a shooting by police that left two protesters dead. Some workers called for “revenge.” The following day would go down in history as the day of the Haymarket Riot. During the evening hours of May 4, someone hurled a bomb at police, which is likely the cause that prompted police to begin shooting wildly at protestors. Sixty police officers wer

The Most Haunted Hotel in Chicago

  The Congress Hotel at 520 S. Michigan is "one of the most beautiful hotels in the middle west," according to this postcard. Published by the Aero Distributing Co., Chicago. The Congress Plaza Hotel at 520 S. Michigan Avenue is one of Chicago’s oldest and largest hotels. It was also one of the tallest buildings in Chicago for a time. With over 800 hotel rooms and so many people coming and going over the years, the Congress Plaza has seen its share of accidents, drug overdoses, murders, and suicides, earning it the distinction of being the most haunted hotel in the city. The Congress Plaza Hotel was built in 1893 to house visitors to the World’s Columbian Exhibition. In the 1920s, mobster Al Capone was known to play cards on Friday nights in a meeting room at the hotel. According to the Choose Chicago website, Capone also had a private suite on the hotel’s eighth floor. Some say that ghosts of the victims of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, which was believed to be or

Chicago's Chop Suey Controversy

A Chinese-American restaurant in Chinatown. This postcard is provided by the Chicago History in Postcards website.  In the early 1900s, Chinese restaurants in Chicago became the target of various attempted restrictions. “Chop suey houses,” as they were often called, were seen as problematic for several reasons: they were usually owned by non-citizens, they were thought to lower property values, and some even thought that they corrupted America’s youth. This effort to limit the operation of Chinese restaurants was also part of the larger anti-immigrant sentiment of the time.  A crowd at the King Joy Lo restaurant on Randolph Street. This postcard is provided by the Chicago History in Postcards website. The first wave of Chinese immigrants came to the U.S. in the mid-1800s during the Gold Rush. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act barred all Chinese immigrants from entering the U.S. except for students, teachers, diplomats, and merchants. When the federal court decided that restauranteurs

Killer "Tsunami-Like Waves" on Lake Michigan

High waves at the Jackson Park shoreline. Published by V.O. Hammon Publishing Co., Chicago. What started out as a nice day to go fishing turned deadly for eight people on the lakefront on June 26, 1954. Suddenly and without warning, an eight-foot swell of water pulled seven fishermen into the lake at Montrose Harbor. The other fisherman was pulled into the water at North Avenue beach.  The bodies of the eight fishermen were found within a few days. A large group of fishermen on a pier. Published by V.O. Hammon Publishing Co., Chicago. The incident was called an “act of God” by some media agencies at the time. Experts, however, believed it was a seiche wave (pronounced “sayshe” or “seech”), which can occur when a storm squall line creates high winds and driving water across the lake and then back to the Chicago shoreline. The wave can range from a swell of just a few inches to a large wall of water so big that it can smash onto Lake Shore Drive. Seiche waves can occur on smaller lak

The "L" Train's First Day

The "L" Train at Wabash Ave. & Van Buren St. Postcard published by V. O. Hammon Publishing Co., Chicago. During the morning hours on June 6, 1892,  just 12 people boarded the first elevated train to run in Chicago, departing from the 39 th Street station en route to the Congress Street stop. The first train, which left at 7 a.m., had four wooden cars that were pulled by a steam locomotive. The 14-minute trip cost a nickel and was twice as fast as riding a cable car. There were no brass band performances, ribbon cuttings or other celebrations for the new line, according to an article published on the following day in the Chicago Daily Tribune . However, more passengers started taking the train on the afternoon of its inaugural day, some probably out of curiosity. Other people watched the trains from below. “Servants, cooks and chambermaids left their work to watch from back porches the fast-flying trains as they went by,” the article states. Other people were

The Evolution of the Chicago-Style Hot Dog

The back of this postcard reads "Chicago's most famous hot dog." Postcard published by Sunburst Souvenirs, Evanston, IL.  The Chicago-style hot dog is a perfect example of how many different ethnic and historical influences can come together to create something uniquely Chicago.   The Chicago-style hot dog consists of an all-beef wiener on a steamed poppy-seed bun topped with what is known as the “Magnificent Seven”: mustard, relish, chopped onions, two tomato wedges, a pickle spear, two sport peppers, and a sprinkling of celery salt. The frankfurter aficionados behind the Hot Dog Chicago Style website ( www.hotdogchicagostyle.com ) state that adding these toppings in the order listed here is crucial to ensuring that you can taste all the ingredients in every bite. The Chicago dog was not invented by a single person but rather evolved during the 1920s through the 1950s, according to Bruce Kraig, author of Hot Dog: A Global History (as told to WBEZ in 2017).