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Bayside, New York
July 8, 2003
For a bit of background on the Historical Society, it is the city's oldest cultural institution, and is considered to be Chicago's urban museum. It's a continuing chronicle of Chicago and the land that gave us Lincoln.
As you come in, you check yourself in at the bottom of the stairs, and make your way up about a flight to get to the main exhibit floor. I really didn't get to see too many of the exhibits because the entire place was filled with people, noise, food, laughter and the makings of a party in progress. I was thrilled to see and talk to people whom I have known for the past 25 years in the art industry.
The Society is open every day, including Sunday, and is very active in recruiting members; it is privately funded. It also has research facilities and exhibitions. There is now also a Museum Store where you can find all sorts of Windy City memorabilia; one of the Chicago's proud sons is Frank Lloyd Wright, and if you take the architectural river cruise, you'll hear his name often. They have lovely art glass, William Morris tapestry related items, leather bound journals, archival stationery, Van Cort clocks and much more -- all with "Made in America" labels.
For instance, if you want to look up what was happening in Chicago in the year 1910, you can do it at the Society; you'll most likely find the newspaper of the day with the appropriate pictures. You'll find out about the Chicago great fire of 1871 which devastated the city, cost about 300 lives and $200 million in property damage. You'll learn about the first skyscraper built in 1885; when Midway Airport first opened; when Mayor Daly was elected; all about the Sears Tower and its completion and its reign until recently as the world's tallest building.
Chicago doesn't like to be called a second city. The photographs are by far the most interesting. And it's quite proud of its public art as well, having started with a Picasso in 1967, and followed by the likes of Calder, Chagall, and Miro.
If you are into art, do visit the Chicago Institute of Art on Michigan Avenue.
From journal Chi-Chi Chicago (in progress)
Lake Forest, Illinois
July 29, 2002
From journal Chicago