John Drury, Ace Chicago Restaurant Reporter of the 1930s

April 30, 2011

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Cover of "Dining in Chicago," by John Drury. Courtesy of Michael Gebert.

At the beginning of the Depression, Chicago Daily News reporter John Drury wrote Dining in Chicago (1931), a remarkable collection of restaurant reviews. It was followed two years later by A Century of Progress: Authorized Guide to Chicago. These books provide fascinating insight into public dining in Depression-era Chicago—from chili parlors and sandwich counters to diverse ethnic choices and haute cuisine.

Peter Engler, a native of Buffalo, NY, has lived in Chicago for most of his life. He has a particular interest in the distinctive foods of Chicago's South Side and has spoken on this topic at the three previous Greater Midwest Foodways symposia. In the past few years he has spent many days at the Newberry Library reading their massive collection of John Drury's personal papers.

This event was recorded as part of the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance Fourth Annual Symposium “Midwest Eats! Foodways of the Great Depression,” which focuses on the Great Depression’s impact on our culinary traditions.  Other events from this symposium recorded by Chicago Amplified—listed in the order they were presented—are as follows:

Midwest Eats!  Foodways of the Great Depression
Nightclubs and Bread Lines: Depression Era Foodways On Film
Templeton Rye of Iowa: Its History During and Just After the Prohibition
This Land is Whose land?
John Drury, Ace Chicago Restaurant Reporter of the 1930s
Community Canning in the Depression: A Case Study
Co-Eds at the Co-op: Student Depression-Era Foodways at Old Normal
Greater Midwest Foodways Heirloom Recipe Competition
No Longer does the Holiday Table Groan Under the Weight of Food
Steaks and Shakes and the Great Depression
Beer Production after Prohibition: Setting the Stage for the Rise of the Mega-breweries
The American (Bad) Dream: Soup Kitchens and European Immigrants in Chicago in the 1930s
Chicago’s Maxwell Street

Recorded Saturday, April 30, 2011 at Kendall College.