WBEZ | History http://www.wbez.org/tags/history Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Schoenhofen Brewery: Of suds and (unfounded) suspicions http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/schoenhofen-brewery-suds-and-unfounded-suspicions-109530 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/3228849121_80a727e9d1_o[1].jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ted Land asked Curious City to clear up rumors about the old Schoenhofen Brewery in Chicago&rsquo;s Pilsen neighborhood.</p><p>Besides wanting to get a snapshot of the brewery in its heyday, Land also wanted someone to get to the bottom of persistent hearsay about the facility.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s his entire request, in his own words:</p><blockquote><p><em>My brother lives next door to the old Schoenhofen Brewery on W. 18th st. near Pilsen. I&#39;ve often wondered about the now-shuttered facility -- how busy it was and what they produced there. A quick internet search reveals some websites stating that Schoenhofen was once one of the largest brewers in the Midwest, which even had its own spring supplying fresh water to the operation. Another site mentions something about how federal agents seized the brewery during WWI because members of the Schoenhofen family were broadcasting radio messages to Germany from the brewery&#39;s tower. Any truth to this?</em></p></blockquote><p>My own investigation didn&rsquo;t get far; I found many anecdotes about the brewery, but no definitive source could end the confusion for good.</p><p>But then I found a relevant story in Mash Tun Journal. Paul Durica, a recent University of Chicago Ph.D. and frequent <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994">Curious City collaborator</a>, brought his immense research skills to bear on the Schoenhofen rumors &mdash; once and for all.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Durica shared his findings on an episode of the <a href="http://wbez.org/strangebrews">Strange Brews </a>podcast, joining Ted Land, me and my co-host, Alison Cuddy, for a taping in Pilsen, just a few blocks from the Schoenhofen Brewery. Among the points he took up:&nbsp;</div><ul><li class="image-insert-image ">Rumors of radio signals being broadcast to the German enemy during WWI.</li><li class="image-insert-image ">Claims about the brewery&#39;s water purity</li><li class="image-insert-image ">The brewery&#39;s appearance in the Blues Brother movie</li><li class="image-insert-image ">The brewery&#39;s creation of Green River soda pop</li></ul><p>After the conversation Land said, &ldquo;That&rsquo;s well more than I thought I&rsquo;d learn about this building. I still want to see the artesian springs, though.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Strange Brews is WBEZ&#39;s podcast covering craft beer and related culture. Hosted by Andrew Gill, Alison Cuddy and Tim Akimoff, episodes are recorded on location around the Midwest and include interesting guests including brewers, artists and craft beer lovers.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/andrewgill">Follow web producer Andrew Gill on Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 17:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/schoenhofen-brewery-suds-and-unfounded-suspicions-109530 Curious tales from Chicago's past http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/curious-tales-chicagos-past-109432 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/history books photo flickr inspector_81.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="350" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/7198832&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="620"></iframe></p><p>The Chicago Fire. Mrs. O&rsquo;Leary&rsquo;s Barn. Fort Dearborn. Al Capone. We&rsquo;re not going to talk about any of that here.</p><p>Instead, you&rsquo;ll find chapters of Chicago history missing from most textbooks. We bring you stories from Chicago&rsquo;s past that range from near-death pair-o-chute rides to rides on funeral train cars; forgotten zoos to abandoned hospitals; produce markets to telephone exchanges; asylums to sidewalks.</p><p>All of these stories started from <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/" target="_blank">questions </a>you&rsquo;ve asked and you&rsquo;ve helped us report. There are enough of them that it&rsquo;s worth recapping what we&rsquo;ve learned about Chicago&rsquo;s peculiar past &mdash; through the lens of residents&rsquo; own curiosity.</p><p>The audio playlist above begins with an hour-long special featuring questions that span from the 1800s to today. You&rsquo;ll hear about <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/should-we-use-l-word-jane-addams-108619" target="_blank">Victorian-era sexuality</a></strong>, <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/story-dunning-tomb-living-106892" target="_blank">forgotten graves</a></strong> near an insane asylum, <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/did-wwii-nuclear-experiment-make-u-c-radioactive-106681" target="_blank">radioactive secrets</a></strong>,&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-nike-missile-sites-around-chicago-105087" target="_blank">missiles</a></strong> that were a little too close to home, a long-gone&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/laugh-your-troubles-away-105619" target="_blank">amusement park</a></strong>, <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/neon-no-more-lincoln-avenues-motel-row-109050" target="_blank">seedy motels</a></strong> and &hellip; <strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-have-all-old-school-doughnut-shops-gone-108483" target="_blank">doughnuts</a></strong>, of all things. Below, we follow up with videos that tell what happened to Union Park&rsquo;s menagerie, what is was like to be a visitor at the 1893 World&rsquo;s Fair and why residents on the city&rsquo;s Northwest Side were afraid of Dunning Asylum for the Insane.</p><p>If you want to bring alive the history of Chicago, the region or its people <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/" target="_blank">ask your question right now</a>! Otherwise, enjoy tales of local history &mdash; Curious City style!</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Good reads:&nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/hosting-enemy-our-wwii-pow-camps-109344">Hosting the enemy: our WW II POW camps </a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/story-dunning-tomb-living-106892">The story of Dunning, a &lsquo;tomb for the living&rsquo;</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/311-chicagos-early-phone-numbers-109135">The 311 on Chicago&rsquo;s early phone numbers ... and letters </a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">Gulp! How Chicago gobbled its neighbors</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/should-we-use-l-word-jane-addams-108619">Would Jane Addams be considered a lesbian? </a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/bridges-span-river-and-decades-108903">History of downtown bridgehouses </a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/marina-city-ideals-concrete-108072">Marina City: Ideals in concrete</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/laugh-your-troubles-away-105619">Riverview: Laugh your troubles away</a></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-nike-missile-sites-around-chicago-105087">What happened to Nike missile sites around Chicago? </a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-has-chicago%E2%80%99s-coastline-changed-over-decades-104328">How has Chicago&rsquo;s Coastline changed? </a></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PL0LxICU6xOzOOOQCazHiJN9W9pvThPmjA" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em>Follow Curious City&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity">@WBEZCurious City</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 12:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/curious-tales-chicagos-past-109432 Hosting the enemy: Our WWII POW camps http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/hosting-enemy-our-wwii-pow-camps-109344 <p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="325" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/16853521&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Orland Park resident and curious CPA Bill Healy describes himself as a World War II history buff, but he recalls a moment not long ago when his enthusiasm for the subject outstripped his knowledge of it. He was out with some friends after a game of golf, he says, and one of them brought up German prisoner of war camps in the suburbs. Bill was shocked! He&#39;d never heard of these before, so he hit up Curious City with this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Where were German POW camps located around Chicago during World War II?</em></p><p>Bill&rsquo;s question screamed for a visual treatment, so we put together <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/life-chicagos-german-pow-camps-109344#POWmap">this annotated map</a> that shows the camps&rsquo; locations and a bit more about them. Below, we also provide some context to make sense of it.</p><p>But with Bill&rsquo;s enthusiasm as our guide, we kept a lookout for interesting stories about life in and around the camps. We turned up several: A few were sad, a few were uplifting and a few had even grabbed headlines in decades past. Each is a reminder that Chicago&rsquo;s connection to World War II didn&rsquo;t just involve sending young men and women abroad; political and personal dramas unfolded at home, too.</p><p><strong>German POW camp locations</strong></p><p>The main camp was Fort Sheridan, with 1,300 POWs housed there from 1944 to 1945. Fort Sheridan also served as a sort of processing center and distributor of some 15,000 POWs, with prisoners being sent to smaller &ldquo;branch camps&rdquo; throughout the Midwest, a handful dotting Chicagoland.</p><p>Although nearly 425,000 POWs came to the United States during World War II, 370,000 of them were German. Many were captured while fighting in German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel&#39;s Afrika Corps.</p><p>We brought them to the U.S. for several reasons: First, it was too expensive provide food for prisoners held overseas. Also, camps were overcrowded in Europe, and our ally Great Britain asked for our help. Lastly, POWs could help fill the labor shortage in vital industries such as farming.</p><p>In the Chicago area, another few hundred were based in the Sweet Woods Forest Preserve near south suburban Thornton. They stayed in military-style barracks constructed during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Thornton site later housed a Girl Scout camp and even a high school.</p><p>Estimates suggest that between 75 and 250 POWs worked at Arlington Fields, south of Arlington Heights. Prisoners there were assigned to work at the United States Naval Air Station at Glenview. Also in Glenview, nearly 400 POWs were based at U.S. Camp Skokie in 1943. They worked in nearby orchards and farms, as well as the Naval Air Station. The facility was built by the Civil Conservation Corps and became a military police post before housing the German POWs. After the war ended, most of the facility was demolished, but one was preserved and housed a Girl Scout camp in the 1960s.<a name="POWmap"></a></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="620" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="//www.thinglink.com/card/467079498500669440" type="text/html" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="620"></iframe></p><p>About 200 POWs were based in Camp Pine in Des Plaines at the corner of Euclid and River Road. Some of those POWS worked in the greenhouse of Pesche&rsquo;s Flowers, which is still open today. <a name="stories"></a></p><p><strong>The stories: Why Rudolf Velte returned 50 years later</strong><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Rudolf_Velte_German_POW_circa_19451946 for WEB.jpg" style="height: 221px; width: 170px; float: right;" title="This photo of Rudolf Velte in uniform was taken by a photographer sent by a church group that visited the POWs. Velte worked at Pesche’s Flowers. (Photo courtesy of the Des Plaines History Center)" /></p><p>Rudolf Velte was a German POW who was held at Camp Pine during the end of World War II, from 1945 to 1946.&nbsp;He had fought in German Field Marshal General Erwin Rommel&rsquo;s Afrika Corps before he was taken prisoner by the French. He escaped. Conditions were abysmal, he said: &ldquo;There was not much to eat and drink and very bad medical care, leading to bad illnesses.&rdquo; Velte ended up turning himself in to English soldiers. From there the American army took over and brought him to the states.</p><p>Curious City&rsquo;s Edie Rubinowitz went to Des Plaines learn more about this POW who picked carnations and made a special delivery more than fifty years later. She also discovered tapes that caught Velte recounting his story to (and being translated by) an American cousin, Art Bodenbender.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/16855476&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>The stories: Reinhold Pabel&rsquo;s escape to Uptown</strong></p><p><embed flashvars="host=picasaweb.google.com&amp;noautoplay=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;feat=flashalbum&amp;RGB=0x000000&amp;feed=https%3A%2F%2Fpicasaweb.google.com%2Fdata%2Ffeed%2Fapi%2Fuser%2F103395493521839527756%2Falbumid%2F5955883370124599073%3Falt%3Drss%26kind%3Dphoto%26authkey%3DGv1sRgCKfO2Imck8PCDQ%26hl%3Den_US" height="400" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" src="https://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/picasaweb.googleusercontent.com/slideshow.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="600"></embed></p><p><em>(Press play for slideshow. Press paper icon to see captions)&nbsp;</em></p><p>Not all German POWs had fond memories of their imprisonment in America. Reinhold Pabel&rsquo;s experience was not as idyllic as Velte&rsquo;s. Yes, Pabel did get to take courses he wanted to &mdash; he learned Persian, for example &mdash; but he said the Nazi and anti-Nazi tensions ran high in Camp Grant in Rockford, Ill. Prisoners were forced to pick sides and those who were anti-Nazi could face beatings by the Nazis.</p><p>Pabel was also not enamored with the U.S. government&rsquo;s efforts to &ldquo;de-Nazify&rdquo; prisoners. The audio piece below tells the surprising story of how Pabel learned about the American way of life on his own. (Vocal reenactments courtesy of Peter Spies)</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/124240519&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Edie Rubinowitz is a professor of journalism at Northeastern Illinois University and a former WBEZ news reporter. You can follow her on Twitter @<a href="https://twitter.com/edester" target="_blank">edester</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 16:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/hosting-enemy-our-wwii-pow-camps-109344 'Art and Appetite' looks at 250 years of American bellies and politics http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/art-and-appetite-looks-250-years-american-bellies-and-politics-109163 <p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Norman-Rockwell_Freedom-from-Want (2).jpg" style="float: left; height: 322px; width: 250px;" title="Norman Rockwell. Freedom from Want, 1942. Lent by the Norman Rockwell Museum, Norman Rockwell Art Collection Trust. " />Earlier this week the Art Institute of Chicago lifted the silver dome on its latest treat, an exhibit called &ldquo;Art and Appetite.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Featuring 100 paintings, sculptures and pieces of decorative arts, it offers a delicious romp through the victuals of 18th, 19th and 20th Century America. &nbsp;On a timely note, &ldquo;Art and Appetite&rdquo; kicks off with a &ldquo;Thanksgiving&rdquo; gallery featuring a pop art turkey by Roy Lichtenstein and Norman Rockwell&rsquo;s 1943 &nbsp;&ldquo;Freedom From Want,&rdquo; a painting that, for better or for worse, has come to define what the modern American Thanksgiving is supposed to look like.</p><p dir="ltr">And while sometimes a painted apple is just an apple, curator Judith Barter says food depictions are often served with a side of biting commentary on politics, social mores, national eating patterns and cultural decline.</p><p dir="ltr">Take, for instance, Francis Edmond&rsquo;s 1838 painting called &ldquo;The Epicure,&rdquo; depicting a gentleman eyeing a suckling pig for sale.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Francis-Edmonds_Epicure%20%281%29.jpg" title="Francis W. Edmonds. The Epicure, 1838. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT. The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund." /></div></div></div><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s loosely based on a previous Dutch picture from the 17th Century,&rdquo; Barter says. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s also a political cartoon. When Andrew Jackson is president there is a large debate over sectionalism in the country: Northern banking interests versus the Jeffersonian ideal of Southern small farmers. And so the wealthy gourmand here with his snuff box and big side of beef and Madeira represents the North. He has stopped at a country inn and he is being presented with a suckling pig, which represents the prevalent meat of the South, by a simple farmer and his wife. So there are political overtones to this as well.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The exhibit also features an entire gallery of still life paintings &mdash; mostly by 19th Century &nbsp;painter Raphaelle Peale &mdash; that can be appreciated as dazzling food porn or biting commentaries on the social, economic and agricultural issues of his era.</p><p dir="ltr">This one, Barter notes, illuminates the era&rsquo;s seasonal produce as well as the kinds of glass and porcelain goods that were being exported from China at the time.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Raphaelle-Peale_Still-Life-Strawberries-Nuts%20%281%29.jpg" title="Raphaelle Peale. Still Life - Strawberries, Nuts, &amp;c., 1822. Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Jamee J. and Marshall Field." />&nbsp;Another Peale painting from the 1820&rsquo;s depicts cabbage, squash, okra, &nbsp;squash blossoms and tomatoes, which Barter notes Americans considered &ldquo;nasty smelling&rdquo; and didn&rsquo;t generally eat raw. &nbsp;</div><p dir="ltr">But the painting also features a warty, cucumber-like fruit filled with red poisonous seeds and a pointed message. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s called a balsam pear,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;At this period of time in the 1820s there is already lots of discussion about Americans&rsquo; use of their land and preserving it. Former President James Madison, in 1819, is addressing Congress and other groups about how Americans need to plow under their spent crops and rotate their crops and better take care of their land. So, to me, this [poisonous fruit among late summer crops] is a little trouble introduced into the Garden of Eden.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Art and Appetite&rdquo; also features galleries devoted to trompe l&rsquo;oeil paintings of single ingredients, others devoted to restaurant (Edward Hopper&#39;s &ldquo;Nighthawks&rdquo;) and cocktail culture, and another to simple rustic, home recipes. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">While some folks may love &ldquo;Art and Appetite&rdquo; for its window into the bellies of 18th and 19th Americans (at least among a certain class of bellies), others may appreciate the more conceptual 20th Century pop art of Andy Warhol and sculptor Claes Oldenburg, whose works include a giant fried egg and pile of green beans.</p><p dir="ltr">And for those who want to take some of this back to their homes and kitchens, there is a lovely companion book ($30-$50) with fascinating analysis and historical recipes for things like &ldquo;sheepes tongue pie,&rdquo; potted pigeons and molasses cake. Some of these recipes and more contemporary American dishes from top Chicago chefs are also featured on the <a href="http://extras.artic.edu/artandappetite">exhibit&rsquo;s website</a>, which launched this week. Bon appetit!</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Monica Eng is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter @monicaeng.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 15 Nov 2013 12:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/art-and-appetite-looks-250-years-american-bellies-and-politics-109163 The 311 on Chicago's early phone numbers http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/311-chicagos-early-phone-numbers-109135 <p><p>Phone numbers weren&rsquo;t always just numbers.</p><p>Jeffrey Osman of Chicago&rsquo;s Bucktown neighborhood is sure of it. He remembers calling his friend Richie, a Humboldt Park resident, by dialing HUmboldt 6-5127. Translation on the telephone keypad: 486-5127.</p><p>Before 1977, Chicago phone numbers were often listed as Jeffrey remembers. The letters, which signified longer words, had once stood for exchanges &mdash; places where operators directed calls by plugging cords into switchboards with electric jacks that corresponded to individual telephone numbers.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/osmun.jpg" style="height: 133px; width: 200px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Jeffrey Osman had a hunch that old Chicago phone numbers were somehow tied to geography. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" />Jeffrey&rsquo;s recollection was strong, but the backstory nagged him &mdash; enough that he sent Curious City this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;What is the history behind the old telephone exchanges? For example, how did they get names like HUmboldt 6?&rdquo;</em></p><p>What did we find after we dialed up the history of numbers and phone technology? Two big points. The first is that today&rsquo;s smartphone users &mdash; the most savvy of which rarely even use phone numbers &mdash; may not realize there was a time when dialing pals required a working list of phone numbers and perhaps letters. It was also best to have a mental map of where contacts were physically located!</p><p>The other takeaway is that Chicago&rsquo;s exchange names are more than interesting relics of an earlier time: They&rsquo;re part of the city&rsquo;s identity as a collection of neighborhoods.</p><p><strong>Operator, please</strong></p><p>Let&rsquo;s go back to the beginning. Chicago&rsquo;s first telephone exchange opened in 1878. Then, you actually told the operator the name and address you were trying to reach. Chicago&rsquo;s first switchboards were at the telephone company&rsquo;s central office downtown, and in two branches at Halsted Street and Canal Street.</p><p>Here&rsquo;re a few significant dates in the evolution of telephone numbers:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p>Until <strong>1923</strong>, a dialer would call an operator and ask for the person they wanted to reach by giving their exchange name or number. Phone numbers were just three or four digits, <a href="http://phone.net46.net/chicago/index.html" target="_blank">with an exchange name tacked onto the front</a>. Names were sometimes selected to be memorable or easily understood over the phone. &ldquo;CALUMET-555,&rdquo; for example, could be taken from local Chicago geography.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>From <strong>1921-1948</strong>, dialers used three letters and four numbers. Operator-free dialing had also become common (<a href="http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/strowger-switch-purple-reign-redux/" target="_blank">the unlikely origins of the first automatic, operator-free dialing is the subject of an episode of 99 Percent Invisible</a>). Exchanges were given three-digit numbers and names that could be signified by the letters located on phone dials. CALUMET, for example, was 225 (CAL).</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Area codes were introduced in <strong>1947</strong>.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>In <strong>1948 </strong>local exchange name codes shrunk to just two letters, making room for a fifth digit that would allow phone companies to meet growing demand for new numbers. When possible, the old exchange names were preserved &mdash; to continue the example above, Calumet became CAlumet 5. Some number combinations didn&rsquo;t spell much at all, let alone a name that happened to have local significance. AT&amp;T had national lists of recommended exchange names, so <a href="http://forgottenchicago.com/articles/old-telephone-numbers/" target="_blank">some of Chicago&rsquo;s old exchange prefixes have nothing to do with the region</a>.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>In <strong>1958 </strong>Wichita Falls, Texas, <a href="http://www.privateline.com/TelephoneHistory3A/numbers.html" target="_blank">became the first U.S. city to institute &quot;true number calling&quot;</a> &mdash; seven numerical digits without letters or names.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>But in Chicago, many subscribers were loath to give up their exchange names. It took until <strong>1977 </strong>to fully phase out the system, and exchange names showed up in some Chicago phonebooks into the 1980s.</p></li></ul><p><strong>Local calls only</strong></p><p>It&rsquo;s probably no surprise that history buffs are interested in anything having to do with changing technology, but you may not realize that some small groups are dedicated enough to maintain databases of the names. One group &mdash; <a href="http://rcrowe.brinkster.net/tensearch.aspx" target="_blank">The Telephone EXchange Name Project</a> &mdash; continues to accept new entries.</p><p><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/1959 Cover Chicago Exchange Names_0.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1959%20Cover%20Chicago%20Exchange%20Names.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 263px; width: 350px;" title="A Chicago phone book cover shows exchange names. Click for a larger size. " /></a>Exchange names are also of interest to pop culture mavens. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaCLxyvcKiU" target="_blank">Glenn Miller&#39;s 1940 hit &quot;Pennsylvania 6-5000&quot;</a> got its name from the phone number for The Hotel Pennsylvania in New York &mdash; 212-736-5000 &mdash; supposedly the city&rsquo;s longest continuously operational phone number. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/channel/HCIXOcLtgicWQ" target="_blank">Elizabeth Taylor won her first Oscar for the 1960 movie &quot;BUtterfield 8,&quot;</a> The film was named for the telephone exchange used by its main character.</p><p>But for our questioner, Jeffrey Osman, exchanges&rsquo; local relevance is paramount.</p><p>&ldquo;It created an awareness, I think, of where you were,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There are 77 distinct neighborhoods [in Chicago], and pretty much we&rsquo;re a very parochial people.&rdquo;</p><p>He still remembers several old numbers:&nbsp;&ldquo;I banked at Chicago Federal Savings, and that was&nbsp;Financial&nbsp;6-5000. We used to ride the Rock Island Railroad. The LaSalle Street station was&nbsp;Wabash&nbsp;2-3200.&rdquo;</p><p>So, in the sense that they were easy to remember, the geographical names worked.</p><p>The exchange names are gone, Jeffrey says, but Chicago&rsquo;s local pride endures.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s still that sense of neighborhood identity and awareness here.&rdquo;</p><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/183687346/Chicago-Telephone-Exchanges" name="scribd" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Chicago Telephone Exchanges on Scribd">Chicago Telephone Exchanges</a></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_18822" scrolling="no" src="//www.scribd.com/embeds/183687346/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 12 Nov 2013 13:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/311-chicagos-early-phone-numbers-109135 Where have all the old-school doughnut shops gone? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-have-all-old-school-doughnut-shops-gone-108483 <p><p><a name="doughnut crawl vid"></a></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="460" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/_GIrh8A2Mr4?rel=0" width="620"></iframe><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F106569327&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Whoever asked the question behind this Curious City story didn&rsquo;t leave a name or a working email address. But I begged to investigate this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Does Chicago have any more privately-owned doughnut shops, and which is the best?</em></p><p>I had two reasons:</p><p>1. &nbsp;To eat a lot of doughnuts.</p><p>2. &nbsp;To honor my old friend and roommate Howard Greenwich by investigating something that had always bugged him.</p><p>Howard left Chicago years ago, but I still remember his laments about the city&rsquo;s doughnut situation. &nbsp;</p><p>So does he. &ldquo;I came to Chicago in 1992, and the doughnut was my favorite guilty pleasure,&rdquo; he says, from Seattle, Wash. &ldquo;And I just remember, I traveled all over Chicago for my job, and everywhere I was, it was Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts, or pretty much nothing.&rdquo;</p><p>Which meant, as far as Howard was concerned, pretty much no donuts worth actually eating. &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re going to do that much damage to your body,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;it should be good.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>He was disappointed. And kind of mystified.</p><p>Howard grew up in Corning, Calif., which had a population of around 5,000 people &mdash; and a great local doughnut shop. He went to college in Grinnell, Iowa, which had fewer than 9,000 people at the time &mdash; and a great doughnut shop.</p><p>He had expected that a big city like Chicago would offer amazing doughnut possibilities. &nbsp;</p><p>So, this question is honor of Howard, because the question &mdash; <em>Are there any independent shops left?</em> &mdash; contains another question, a deeper mystery: <em>What happened to all of them?</em></p><p>The obvious answer is: Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts killed them all. &nbsp;</p><p>The real answer turns out to be more complicated &mdash; and more interesting. &nbsp;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/doughnut vault sign for WEB.jpg" style="height: 287px; width: 430px; float: right;" title="The aesthetics of Doughnut Vault in Chicago's Loop are telling of the city's doughnut history. While old-school doughnut shops still exist, they do so among the growing number of pricier and more artisanal shops. (Logan Jaffe/WBEZ)" /></p><p>I talked with the guy who brought Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts to Chicago: Bob Rosenberg. In 1963, at age 25, he took the company over from his dad, William Rosenberg, right after graduating from Harvard Business School. (He&rsquo;s like the George W. Bush of Donuts.)</p><p>And Bob had spent his last year at Harvard devising a strategy for what he would do with his dad&rsquo;s business. At the time, the company had around 80 doughnut shops all over the country, a hamburger chain in the Boston area, and a bunch of commissary trucks. (Fun fact: Bill Rosenberg invented the roach coach. That was his first business.)</p><p>So, Bob got rid of everything except for Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts, and he said:<em> Look, we&rsquo;re gonna only concentrate on five cities. And we&rsquo;re gonna</em> &mdash; he used this great term with me &mdash; <em>&quot;fortress&rdquo; those markets.</em></p><p>In other words, they would establish a big presence in these places to build up brand awareness, and to get efficiencies in distribution and support. Plus, all the stores would kick into a kitty so they could advertise. They would build up a fortress in the battle against their competitors.</p><p>But they were never competing with other doughnut shops to sell people doughnuts. They were competing with 7-11 and White Hen to sell people coffee. Convenience stores.</p><p>&ldquo;That&#39;s where people stop for &lsquo;coffee-and&rsquo; in the morning, so that&rsquo;s who our competitors were,&rdquo; says Rosenberg. &ldquo;And quite truthfully, I had no idea how many doughnut shops there might have been.&rdquo;</p><p>The doughnut business, he says, is a much tougher racket than the coffee business.</p><p>&ldquo;Doughnuts are consumed maybe on a special occasion by the consumer,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Maybe once every two or three weeks they go to a doughnut shop? Whereas, with coffee, your heavy users are buying it two or three times a day. It&#39;s a whole different business.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>These days, Dunkin&rsquo;s coffee-centricity is all out front. In the 1990s the company <a href="http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,289798,00.html">dumped the mascot it had been using in TV commercials for 15 years</a> &mdash; a droopy, early-rising guy called Fred the Baker.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="465" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/petqFm94osQ" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Later, the company adopted a slogan that reflects the company&rsquo;s role as a caffeine peddler: America runs on Dunkin. &nbsp;</p><p>But even back when Bob Rosenberg brought Dunkin&#39; Donuts to Chicago in 1965 &mdash; years before Fred the Baker went on TV &mdash; coffee already represented 60 percent of Dunkin&#39; Donuts sales in its home markets. &nbsp;</p><p>Which was no accident.</p><p>&ldquo;We were very fastidious about how we made our coffee,&rdquo; says Rosenberg. &ldquo;Where it was grown, how it was roasted, how much coffee per pot, the fact that we used real cream when nobody else could get it in the United States. Most dairies didn&rsquo;t make 18 percent light cream. I mean, we were slavish in the attention we paid to our beverages.&rdquo;</p><p>Also: They tossed out the coffee every 18 minutes, instead of letting it sit on the burner.</p><p>So, Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts was Starbucks &mdash; building a brand around meticulously-crafted coffee &mdash; before Starbucks was Starbucks.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/firecakes%20for%20web.jpg" style="height: 267px; width: 400px; float: left;" title="Firecakes on Hubbard Street offers both traditional and innovative doughnut options. While the doughnuts may be a bit pricier than those in older shops, their complexity shows a new trend in the doughnut business. (Logan Jaffe/WBEZ)" />Side note: Actually, Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts was Starbucks before it was even Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts.</p><p>Remember how Bob Rosenberg&rsquo;s dad, Bill Rosenberg, started out as the original roach coach guy?</p><p>His first big hit was coffee. And he charged twice as much for coffee as the next guy &mdash; a dime instead of a nickel.</p><p>But it was a much, much better cup of coffee. At the time, the only place to get a really good cup of coffee was a fancy hotel. Bill Rosenberg called the company that supplied the fancy hotels and said he wanted the same stuff. A <em>lot</em> of it. &nbsp;</p><p>He had his workers offer the coffee for free. If customers didn&rsquo;t think it was worth a dime, they didn&rsquo;t have to pay anything. But they did pay the dimes, and they came back the next day for more. &nbsp;</p><p>And Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts didn&rsquo;t take out other donut shops in head-to-head competition. Dunkin was actually in a different, more-profitable business: coffee. &nbsp;</p><p>But still, what happened to all of those doughnut shops? How many did there used to be?</p><p>To find out, I went to the Chicago Public Library&rsquo;s Special Collections room to look in the Yellow Pages &mdash; from 1963 &mdash; two years before Dunkin&#39; Donuts came to Chicago.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/photo%20%282%29.JPG" style="height: 440px; width: 330px; float: right;" title="One look in the Yellow Pages from 1963 shows a number of privately-owned doughnut shops that have since gone out of business.(Source: 1963 Yellow Pages)" />And you know how many there were? 20.</p><p>In a city the size of Chicago, there were only 20 doughnut shops. (There were also tons and tons of bakeries, but still.)</p><p>As a point of comparison, I looked at the 2013 Yellow Pages for Los Angeles. It lists like 150 donut shops. 150! &nbsp;</p><p>None of them is a Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts. Only one is a Krispy Kreme.</p><p>So, LA has more than seven times as many locally-owned doughnut shops today as Chicago had in 1963. &nbsp;</p><p>Why? Well, in 1963, when Bob Rosenberg took over Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts, he made a cross-country trip to scope out potential markets. And California looked terrifying.</p><p>&ldquo;There were thousands and thousands of existing competitors,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;There were coffee shops everywhere,&rdquo; plus an existing regional doughnut-and-coffee chain called Winchells. They were big at the time.</p><p>So when he picked five cities to &ldquo;fortress,&rdquo; LA and San Francisco were off the list. Fifty years later, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-dunkin-donuts-southern-california-20130725,0,5012811.story">Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts is making news in LA</a> with an attempt to crack that market. In 2013.</p><p>What is the deal? Why all the mom-and-pop donut action in LA?</p><p>I&rsquo;ve encountered a couple of theories. For instance, Paul Mullins, author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Glazed-America-A-History-Doughnut/dp/0813032385">Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut</a>, chalks it up to LA&rsquo;s &ldquo;car culture,&rdquo; which made doughnut stands a natural, since they&rsquo;d sell something you could eat behind the wheel. &nbsp;</p><p>&hellip; But we&rsquo;re getting far afield. What was our original question again?</p><p>Right: Does Chicago have independent doughnut shops anymore?</p><p>Answer: Yes.</p><p>In the city proper there are more than half a dozen, including <a href="https://www.google.com/maps?layer=c&amp;z=17&amp;sll=41.744338,-87.604851&amp;cid=6088900179239238883&amp;panoid=_piYUsaPuB2S4kK0HuOHdg&amp;cbp=13,3.891336577672689,,0,0&amp;q=dat+donut&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=7x8VUs3DNcq8yAGlo4HYDQ&amp;ved=0CLoBEKAfMAs">Dat Donut</a>, <a href="http://www.huckfinnrestaurant.com/">Huck Finn</a>, <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/preview/uv?hl=en&amp;pb=!1s0x880fcde67b9f5f35:0xe21f8b2f0edc0a4c!2m5!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i100!3m1!7e1!4shttps://plus.google.com/104622753463139059098/photos?hl%3Den%26socfid%3Dweb:lu:kp:placepageimage%26socpid%3D1!5sdonut+doctor+chicago+-+Google+Search&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=RiAVUqnHC-rJygGQooD4Dw&amp;ved=0COYBEKIqMAs">Donut Doctor</a>, and four artisan-style, two-bucks-and-up-a-pop, doughnuts-are-the-new-cupcakes type shops in and around the Loop: <a href="http://firecakesdonuts.com/">Firecakes</a>, <a href="http://thedoughnutvault.tumblr.com/">The Doughnut Vault</a>, <a href="http://doritedonuts.com/">Do-Rite Donuts</a>, and <a href="http://www.goglazed.com/">Glazed and Infused</a>. Plus a food truck called <a href="http://beaversdonuts.com/">Beavers Coffee + Donuts</a>.</p><p>(Really, Beavers does something that&rsquo;s halfway between a doughnut hole and a beignet, but they&rsquo;ve got Donut in the name.)</p><p>And then there&rsquo;s the best: Old Fashioned Donuts in Roseland, at 112th and Michigan. If you haven&rsquo;t already looked at Logan Jaffe&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GIrh8A2Mr4" target="_blank">video of our Epic Doughnut Quest</a>, you might want to scroll up and do that now.</p><p>But briefly, here&rsquo;s the deal: They are the best doughnuts &mdash; the platonic idea of a doughnut. And the shop itself (recall that the question was about the best shop, not just the best doughnut) is all charm.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 450px; float: left;" title="The Williams family picks out their favorite doughnuts at Dat Donut in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood. The Williams family joined Curious City on its first ever doughnut crawl to help decide which privately-owned doughnut shop is the best. (Logan Jaffe/WBEZ)" /></p><p>Big picture windows show off the fryer, the rolling pin, and the donuts being made by hand. &nbsp;Specifically, the hand of owner Buritt Bulloch, who opened the shop in 1972.</p><p>Bulloch sees the story of doughnuts in Chicago very much the way Bob Rosenberg does. He doesn&rsquo;t really know what happened to the other doughnut shops, but he does know that Dunkin isn&rsquo;t his competition. They&rsquo;re about sandwiches and coffee.</p><p>&ldquo;They keep a few doughnuts on the shelf, just to bear the name doughnut ,&rdquo; he says, laughing. &ldquo;But we move quite a bit of product here.&rdquo;</p><p>They do. There&rsquo;s always a line. &nbsp;</p><p>And Buritt Bulloch was artisan doughnuts before artisan doughnuts were artisan doughnuts. Here&rsquo;s his philosophy:</p><p>&ldquo;People ask me, &lsquo;Why don&rsquo;t you expand? Why don&rsquo;t you franchise?&rsquo; I really came here just to make a living,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I love the work, so I just kinda hung with this.</p><p>At 74 years old, he plans to keep hanging with it for another decade.</p><p>&ldquo;I can do it,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m in good shape. That rolling pin will keep me going.&rdquo;</p><p>So, you&rsquo;re on notice: If you want the best doughnut in Chicago, you&rsquo;ve got about ten years to get yourself to 112th and Michigan.</p><p>Meanwhile, for more fun details on the growth of Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts, <a href="http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2010/08/dunkins-run-a-love-story/">Boston Magazine did an oral history of the company</a> that&rsquo;s packed with great facts and quotes. There&rsquo;s also founder William Rosenberg&rsquo;s autobiography, <a href="http://books.google.com/books/about/Time_to_make_the_donuts.html?id=RV5aAAAAYAAJ">Time to Make the Donuts</a>, in which he discusses his eventual disillusionment with his son Bob&rsquo;s approach to running the company.</p><p>Final footnote: You&rsquo;ll notice that most of the shops mentioned in this story use the spelling &ldquo;donut,&rdquo; where we&rsquo;ve used &ldquo;doughnut&rdquo; here. Thank the <a href="http://justedits.org/post/24198007477/doughnut-vs-donut">Associated Press Stylebook</a> for making us the odd one out.</p><p><em>Dan Weissmann is an independent producer in Chicago. See more of his stuff at <a href="http://danweissmann.com/">danweissmann.com</a> and follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/danweissmann">@danweissmann</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 21 Aug 2013 15:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/where-have-all-old-school-doughnut-shops-gone-108483 Sniffing for Chicago’s wild onion http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sniffing-chicago%E2%80%99s-wild-onion-108281 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/topper.jpg" title="Chicago is named after a wild and smelly onion, of which could be any of these varieties: From left, nodding onion, wild leek/ramp and field garlic. They all still grow in the region in prairie land or forested preserves. " /></div><p>What&rsquo;s wild, smelly and leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Chicago.</p><p>Now, before you go grabbing for the pitchforks and torches, know that it&rsquo;s a joke &hellip; about wild onions, that is.</p><p>Yes, Chicago is named after a wild, smelly onion, one that &mdash; more than three centuries ago &mdash; grew in abundance at the mouth of the Chicago River. There were so many that when the first French settlers asked the local Indians what the area was called, they said, &ldquo;Chicagoua,&rdquo; a word for the wild bulb plant, according to Bruce Kraig, president of the Culinary Historians of Chicago.</p><p>Now, cement sidewalks and paved roads cover up the marshlands that once served as home to these onions.</p><p>Like many area residents, Doug Morris of Hinsdale had heard this story before. What he didn&rsquo;t know, though, was whether this was actual history, and he certainly didn&rsquo;t have any idea of what happened since then. So he asked Curious City: &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Does the wild onion for which Chicago got its name still grow in the region? And does it smell bad?</em></p><p>We decided that the only way to get to the bottom of this story was to actually find the wild onion for which Chicago is named. Speculation and hearsay were unacceptable. We needed to see the bulb with our own eyes.</p><p><strong>The search</strong></p><p>Morris, his daughter Libby and I met Doug Taron, curator of biology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, at the Somme Prairie Nature Preserve in the center of Northbrook to look for wild onions.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/onion1.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Libby Morris, front, and her dad Doug Morris follow a trail through the Somme Prairie Nature Preserve in search of wild onions. Doug Morris sparked Curious City’s investigation by asking the question: Does the wild onion for which Chicago was named still grow in the region? (WBEZ/Chelsi Moy) " /></p><p>The thing we knew beforehand (and you should know now) is that onion are part of the allium family. There are many types of alliums, but through a process of elimination, historians and scientists can point to three kinds that grow in the region and which Chicago might be named. Narrowing it down further, however, poses a challenge. &nbsp;</p><p>The three kinds of onions in question include the nodding onion, the wild garlic and the wild leek. The latter is often referred to as the ramp. While it&rsquo;s debatable which onion is named after Chicago, many sources I spoke with for this story say it&rsquo;s the ramp.</p><p>During our excursion in the forest preserve, we were lucky enough to find all three species. The nodding onion was in bloom with it&rsquo;s pinkish-purple flowers beginning to open. The field garlic blooms in the spring and forms tiny bulblets on the tip of the blooming stalk.</p><p>The wild leek is also harvested in the spring.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/onion2.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Doug Taron with the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum leads a hunt for wild onions through a forest preserve in Northbrook. Chicago is named after a wild onion. Although, no one can say for sure which species of onion it is. (WBEZ/Chelsi Moy) " />On our recent outing, we found the wild leek in a shaded area surrounded by other dense vegetation. At the tip of the plant were starburst-shaped white flowers. These days, ramps are found in wooded areas and are one of the first &ldquo;greens&rdquo; to arrive come spring. It has wide green leaves and a garlic smell.</p><p><strong>The smell factor</strong></p><p>About that aroma. Is it fair to call the ramp stinky? Well, that&rsquo;s debatable.</p><p>&ldquo;It smells like green garlic,&rdquo; Kraig said. &ldquo;It smells pleasantly oniony or garlicky, but it&rsquo;s not overpowering. It smells like a green garlic field.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite the smell, ramps are a delicacy in many restaurants in and around Chicago. In fact, over the past five years the local green has become a culinary trend. Chefs such as John DuBois at Green Zebra &mdash; a contemporary vegetarian restaurant &mdash; look forward to their arrival each spring. It&rsquo;s one of the first &ldquo;greens&rdquo; that become available for harvest following the cold winter, he said. He describes it as having a part-garlic, part-oniony taste.</p><p>One way DuBois likes to use ramps is in making pesto. However, the chef and scientists I talked with say that ramps are tasty simply grilled on the BBQ.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Wild%20Onion02%20.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Chelsi Moy)" /></p><p><strong>Where can you find ramps?</strong></p><p>Green Zebra turns to urban forager Dave Odd, who says he harvests ramps sustainably from a private lot about 60 miles outside of Chicago.</p><p>It&rsquo;s important to note that while the forest preserves in Chicagoland are good places to locate ramps, you&rsquo;re not allowed to pick them &mdash; just as you&rsquo;re not allowed to pick anything there, in fact.</p><p>In the spring you can find ramps at some artisan or high-end grocery stores such as Whole Foods. Otherwise, Odd recommends you ask private property owners with land adjacent to forest preserves for permission to harvest. He says as far as harvesting goes, private property seems to be the only way to pick wild ramps consistently in the region.</p><p>However, Bill Burger, a curator emeritus of botany at the Field Museum, offers another suggestion: Don&rsquo;t pick at all.</p><p>&ldquo;The last thing we need to do is ask a couple million people to go out in the woods and add to their culinary delight,&rdquo; he said. &nbsp;&ldquo;Obviously if you pull them up to make a salad out of them then there won&#39;t be any flowers or fruits later on and that&#39;s a good way to send things bye-bye.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Wild%20Onion%20Recipes.jpg" title="" /></div><p><em>Chelsi Moy is a WBEZ intern for Curious City. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/chelsimoy">@chelsimoy</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 02 Aug 2013 19:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sniffing-chicago%E2%80%99s-wild-onion-108281 Maxim's: The restaurant that put Chicago on the haute cuisine map http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/maxims-restaurant-put-chicago-haute-cuisine-map-107864 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Maximsbrochure%20big-18.jpg" title="(Photo from City of Chicago brochure)" /></div><p>Restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff made news recently by announcing he purchased the old Maxim&rsquo;s space on Goethe Street from the City of Chicago. Sodikoff said he plans to restore the restaurant to its glory days of the &#39;60s and &#39;70s when it reigned supreme in Chicago&rsquo;s culinary landscape.</p><p>But even Rick Kogan, who hosted a live show in the Maxim&rsquo;s space in recent years, only has a few memories of its glory days: cocktails with co-workers after the <em>Chicago Daily News</em> folded and a New Year&#39;s Eve in his twenties. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure my father through his connections got me in,&quot; Kogan said. &quot;It was stylish beyond words. I remember having to rent a tuxedo.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s most of what Chicagoans know of Maxim&rsquo;s at this point (if this is not true of you, please share some stories in the comments). That and the fact that its interior is an exact replica of the legendary Parisian establishment. But shouldn&#39;t Chicago&#39;s food fans know a little more about the place that put the Midwest on the culinary map?</p><p>Maxim&#39;s opening made it was a fixture of the society pages in 1963. In 1982 there was an extensive history of Maxim&rsquo;s published by the <em>Chicago Reader</em>. That was around the time Nancy Goldberg sold the restaurant after a 19-year run, most of that as the indisputable pinnacle of Chicago&rsquo;s restaurant scene. Ironically, everything but the spiral staircase entryway was subterranean.</p><p>In the &#39;80s a few restaurantuers attempted new concepts in 24 East Goethe, but none lasted more than two years. Goldberg wound up using the space for special occassions and events before her death in 1996.</p><p>When Goldberg&#39;s children couldn&#39;t decide what to do with the space after her death, they gave it to the city. Under Lois Weisberg, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs published the <em>Reader</em> article as a brochure. The massive PDF file was available for download on the city&rsquo;s tourism website as well as the city-maintained maximschicago.org. Unfortunately consolidation of city departments (or the space&#39;s recent auction) seems to have let Maxim&rsquo;s website fall through the cracks.</p><p>That&rsquo;s a shame because Don Rose paints an exhaustive and exquisite picture of Maxim&rsquo;s in the <em>Reader</em> piece. Many of the details and anecdotes about Maxim&#39;s only exist in Rose&#39;s story. For instance the discoteque that opened in a side room in Maxim&rsquo;s in 1965 was Chicago&rsquo;s first. Yet searching for &ldquo;Disc de Maxim&rsquo;s&rdquo; only returns one Google result. Rose, however, shares juicy details like the 200 records handpicked by a Parisian discotheque queen named Regine and the rules under which the 1,000 exclusive members were governed.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/currententrance.jpg" style="height: 227px; width: 299px; float: left;" title="The exterior of Maxim's today. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>More important for modern Chicago diners wondering what Sodikoff might have up his sleeve, Rose describes Maxim&rsquo;s food in great detail. And though the restaurant was considered haute cuisine, many of the dishes sound like the spiritual ancestors to current offerings from Longman and Eagle or Girl and the Goat. Bone marrow, foie gras, sweetbreads and kidneys were all commonly found on Maxim&rsquo;s menu.</p><p>Maxim&rsquo;s is inextricably linked to Chicago&rsquo;s culinary landscape. Most French restaurants in the area were either founded by a Maxim&rsquo;s chef or had one pass through at some point. Kiki of Kiki&#39;s Bistro moved to the country to work as Maxim&#39;s first sommelier.</p><p>If anyone is a fitting champion of Maxim&#39;s legacy, it&#39;s Brendan Sodikoff. His restaurants focus on French cuisine served in opulent settings with an element of wistful nostalgia.</p><p>Perhaps it was the success of his first restaurant, Gilt Bar, that gave Sodikoff the idea to recreate Maxim&#39;s. Gilt Bar&#39;s location, 230 West Kinzie, saw restaurant after restaurant fail following a fire in 1986 that shut down a popular place called George&#39;s. That fire also brought an end to another effort of restauranteur (George Badonsky) to revive Maxim&#39;s.</p><p>Perhaps Sodikoff can make Maxim&rsquo;s stick as well.</p><p><em>Andrew Gill is a web producer for WBEZ. Follow him on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/andrewgill">Twitter</a> or <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/108371235914028306960/?rel=author">Google</a>+.</em></p></p> Tue, 02 Jul 2013 02:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/maxims-restaurant-put-chicago-haute-cuisine-map-107864 The history and mystery behind Chicago’s produce market http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/history-and-mystery-behind-chicago%E2%80%99s-produce-market-107918 <p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Topper Produce 2_0.jpg" title="The Chicago International Produce Market on a rainy summer morning. (Flickr/Elena Hadjimichael)" /></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/99288385&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><a name="Audio"></a>Before we jump into this story &ndash; a quick note. The &ldquo;we&rdquo; you&rsquo;ll be hearing from are the four of us: Elena Hadjimichael, Teddy Kent, Dexter O&rsquo;Connell and Ann Wood. We&rsquo;re all University of Chicago students (though some of us just graduated) and as part of a class we took called &ldquo;Buildings as Evidence,&rdquo; we came up with questions for Curious City and found our own answers (with an assist from WBEZ&rsquo;s Jennifer Brandel). Here&rsquo;s the one we tackled from classmate Teddy Kent:</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Teddy%20kent_1.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 175px; float: right;" title="Teddy Kent recently graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Public Policy." /></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>How does all of Chicago&rsquo;s produce come into the city? What&rsquo;s the history of Chicago&rsquo;s wholesale produce markets?</em></p><p>Teddy said he was interested in this question &ldquo;Because where our food comes from is something I totally take for granted. I can only imagine that Chicago has a very complicated system of storage and transportation for foodstuff from across America and the world, but what that looks like on the ground is a mystery to me.&rdquo;</p><p>It was a mystery to all of us, and we&rsquo;re guessing to many Chicagoans, too. So allow us to peel back the history and take you to some corners of the city rarely seen. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>How to split a banana</strong></p><p>We started with the routes fruits and veggies take in traveling from far-flung soils to the city&rsquo;s market shelves and farmer&rsquo;s market stalls. To break us into the business, we spoke with Tim Fleming Sr. Not only has he been involved in the Chicago produce business since 1965 and worked at the local, state, national, and international levels, he helped develop the Chicago International Produce Market in the late 1990s.</p><p>Fleming said the Midwest&rsquo;s prime growing season is only three months long, so in order to keep the peaches and pears and popular produce on the shelves year-round, we import from around the world.</p><p>We couldn&rsquo;t pinpoint exact figures on modes of transit, unfortunately. Fleming said that&rsquo;s because the business is decentralized and operators use so many different modes of transit. For example, trucks oftentimes pick up produce shipments from trains for a short ride. But he estimates produce enters Chicago like so:<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Produce transit chart_edited-1.jpg" style="height: 249px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="" /></p><p>So once the planes, trains and trucks have entered Chicago, there are a few ways the produce gets divvied up. For this we spoke with Peter Testa of <a href="http://www.testaproduce.com/index.cfm">Testa Produce</a>, a major wholesale distributor who mostly supplies restaurants, hotels, hospitals and corporate dining (e.g., big companies with cafeterias and university dining halls).</p><p>Testa says after arriving in the city, produce usually then heads to one of these spots: &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><ul><li>The <a href="http://www.chicagoproducemarket.com/">Chicago International Produce Market</a></li><li>Warehouses for big grocery chains (Jewel, Dominick&rsquo;s, etc.)</li><li>Food service operators (en route to hotels, restaurants, etc.)</li><li>Small wholesalers that distribute to a few stores</li><li>Farmers markets</li></ul><p>As for for the produce&rsquo;s final destination, here&rsquo;s Tim Fleming&rsquo;s breakdown:<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/REVISED%20pie%20chart.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 620px;" title="" /></p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>The early markets and their assault on the senses</strong></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Today, Chicago&rsquo;s Loop would seem an odd place to stick a giant, dirty, noisy produce market, but in the city&rsquo;s early days, that&rsquo;s where people expected fresh produce to be. But, as with much of the architecture and layout of Chicago, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 changed the course of history &ndash; including the location of produce in the city. Following the conflagration, the city&rsquo;s business district move southward and away from the river. The new location along South Water Street (today&rsquo;s Wacker Drive) attracted wholesalers with their horse-drawn carts, as well as peddlers with smaller handcarts. &nbsp;</div></div></div></div></div><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/south%20market%20old.jpg" style="height: 270px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Looking west on South Water Street, Chicago, crowded with horse-drawn wagons and motor trucks filled with produce for market, April 1915. (Courtesy of the National Archives)" /></p><p>The idea of this jam-packed and bustling area in central Chicago &ndash;&ndash; full of horses, pears, and Polish produce peddlers &ndash;&ndash; made us imagine the sounds, sights (and yes, smells) that would have assaulted shoppers&rsquo; senses. Around the turn of the last century, city planners and adherents to the <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/61.html">City Beautiful Movement</a> felt the market setup was offensive, disorganized, and outdated.</p><p>A key part of these reformers&rsquo; plans to transform the &ldquo;Old City&rdquo; was to move the smelly, loud produce market out of downtown Chicago. So in 1925 the market migrated to a large facility at the corner of South Racine Avenue and 14th Place (retaining its South Water name), a spot distant from the Loop but still fairly accessible to Chicago&rsquo;s railways &mdash; an important consideration, given that rail was the most common way of moving produce.</p><p>Eventually, even the new South Water market was deemed disorganized and outdated. We learned this first-hand from the folks at the current Chicago International Produce Market. Several people we spoke with described the chaotic situation of the old South Water market, which involved storing and transporting produce in four stories of warehouses, loading and unloading trucks on docks that had been built for horses and carts, dodging rivers of rats, and contending with cramped and chaotic traffic. Although produce was shipped to Chicago by rail, it was rarely unloaded at the South Water Market directly from trains. Instead, small trucks moved the produce into the market from off-site warehouses where it would be resold when the market opened. Also, many larger trucks were forced to offload produce onto smaller trucks before getting anything into the market.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/old%20and%20new.jpg" style="height: 422px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="The old produce market, above, and the condos that have replaced it, below." /></p><p>Produce companies continued to use that Racine facility until 2001, when the market moved once again. The upgraded facility was named <a href="http://www.chicagoproducemarket.com/">The Chicago International Produce Market</a>, and opened at the corner of Blue Island and Damen, just a mile and a half from its previous location.</p><p><strong>A million cubic feet of refrigerated space</strong></p><p>The CIPM is the largest market in the city (and third largest in the country, according to Fleming), splaying across 33 acres that sit between Chicago&rsquo;s Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods. The 450,000 square foot warehouse facility is a few city blocks&rsquo; worth of utilitarian, non-descript, loading, unloading and storage space. And before the sun rises over Lake Michigan each morning, rainbow streams of bright, fresh fruits and vegetables are sorted and sold, then loaded into boxes, placed onto trucks and hauled to grocery stores across the city and to stores hundreds of miles beyond.</p><p>You can spot brown road signs pointing the way to the CIPM if you&rsquo;re in the neighborhood, but you should know those directions are for truck drivers and licensed buyers, not regular folks; this market is wholesale-only and not open to the general public.</p><p>When we visited CIPM, we asked about the latest digs. Smiling from behind his counter, Jim Kohout &nbsp;explained, &ldquo;When we moved over here, everybody&rsquo;s faces lit up &mdash; the truckers, the hustlers, everybody &hellip; it&rsquo;s a more efficient situation.&rdquo;</p><p>The new setup rests on a single floor, but includes more space overall. It was also built to accommodate trucks and truck traffic. Inside, the businesses have similar layouts, with counters and displays in front, temperature-controlled coolers in the back, and then loading docks.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F99288385" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>That Chicago <em>still</em> has a centralized produce market with dozens of vendors may come as a surprise to some, considering the widespread changes to transportation and the way that people shop. The facilities may be newer, the truck traffic a little less crowded, and the scale a little smaller, but most of the elements &mdash; especially the way that wholesale vendors do business &mdash; remain the same as when the market operated fifty or even a hundred years ago.</p><p>Prices are negotiated by growers and shippers and wholesale buyers, and eventually also by the customers of the market, too. Kohout says the produce business has always operated on trust: trust that you&rsquo;re getting a good product from the grower and trust from the end buyer that you&rsquo;re giving them a fair price.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/atom%20banana.jpg" style="height: 360px; width: 270px; float: right;" title="Although most produce vendors at the market have temperature-controlled ripening rooms, Atom Banana has some of the most advanced, state-of-the-art banana ripening technology in the industry.(Flickr/Elena Hadjimichael)" /></p><p>Produce that arrives in Chicago encounters the market&rsquo;s simple setup. Two warehouse buildings that stretch for nearly three blocks house twenty merchants who own wider or narrower sections of the warehouse in an arrangement that&rsquo;s similar to a condo association. Trucks pull up to the back of a wholesale unit, where pallets topped with crates of fruits and vegetables are unloaded with small, fast electric forklifts called power jacks.</p><p>Produce is organized into designated warehouse rooms calibrated to different temperatures for specific fruits or vegetables. This is necessary because different fruits emit different amounts of ethylene gas, which accelerates the ripening process. In fact, there&rsquo;s a good chance that the yellow bananas and green bananas at the grocery store arrived in Chicago at the same time. Companies like Atom Banana use ripening rooms to control temperature, humidity, gassing, and ventilation, which all affect the ripeness of a banana. Even less exotic fruit, such as apples and pears, are subject to these ripening tactics. On the other side of the market, when the fruit is ready for delivery, trucks pull up and are loaded up with power jacks. The loading dock turns into a fruit-lined highway, with power jacks honking and zooming by.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/scallion truck.jpg" style="height: 435px; width: 290px; float: left;" title="Happy scallions on a truck -- what's not to love? (Flickr/Elena Hadjimichael)" /></p><p>The trucks at <a href="http://www.chicagoproducemarket.com/">the Chicago International Produce Market</a> will head to smaller produce distributors that sell to restaurants, or to independent produce markets; Jewel and Dominick&rsquo;s, like most larger market chains, have their own supply warehouses. Most produce brought in is not pre-ordered, so wholesalers basically gamble on what to order, how much to order, and how much to charge for it.</p><p>While the system of produce coming into the city is frenzied &mdash; beeping power jacks speeding along the loading dock ducking in and out of warehouse units, sellers and hustlers yelling above the noise &mdash; there is some order to the chaos. The amount of produce coming into the city is &ldquo;immense,&rdquo; as one of Randolph Street produce seller put it, because Chicago handles produce that goes to three other states as well. Tim Fleming, who helped design and start the CIPM, estimates produce in Chicago is a &ldquo;billion dollar business.&rdquo;</p><p>In spite of droughts, traffic jams, and competitive business, a diverse group of wholesale vendors provides the city with its fruits and vegetables. It&rsquo;s a much-needed hub for food, vitamins and minerals for a city whose produce hustlers wake up as early as 12:30 or 1:00 am, so that they have the time to deliver for Chicago.</p></p> Mon, 01 Jul 2013 18:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/history-and-mystery-behind-chicago%E2%80%99s-produce-market-107918 Will Pullman ever be revitalized? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/will-pullman-ever-be-revitalized-107758 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F97763213&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>We have a lot of shorthand ways to talk about Chicago.</p><p>Boosters call it the &ldquo;city that works&rdquo; (a phrase coined by the late Arlington Heights writer <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1991/01/01/obituaries/frank-maier-57-dies-ex-newsweek-reporter.html">Frank Maier</a>, or maybe his <a href="http://chicago.straightdope.com/sdc20090903.php">editor</a>). Detractors gave the city perhaps its most famous &mdash; and its most vexing &mdash; identity as the <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/why-they-call-it-the-second-city/Content?oid=882456">&ldquo;second city.&rdquo;</a></p><p>For longtime residents though, I&rsquo;d wager Chicago is most a &ldquo;city of neighborhoods,&rdquo; an <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-are-chicago-neighborhoods-formed-103831">identity Curious City has looked into</a>.</p><p>But not every neighborhood gets the same love or foot traffic, and that fact got Hannah Loftus thinking.</p><p>Loftus grew up in Glen Ellyn and is, as of this writing, a newly-minted graduate of the University of Chicago. (Congrats, Hannah!) While earning her anthropology degree, Loftus made field trips to Pullman, a historic neighborhood that hugs the Bishop Ford Expressway south of 95th Street.</p><p>Those visits prompted her to ask Curious City:</p><p><em>Will Pullman ever be revitalized?</em></p><p>Loftus&rsquo; question came from a big discrepancy she observed, one that&rsquo;s dogged Pullman residents for decades: Pullman&rsquo;s history is vast and rich, but today it struggles from a lack of jobs and amenities.</p><p><strong>Visible history</strong></p><p>If you&rsquo;re not familiar with the history Loftus caught on to, here&rsquo;s a brief sketch.</p><p>Starting in 1880, industrialist George Pullman had a whole town built from scratch, to house workers at his Pullman Palace Car Company, which was churning out a new mode of rail travel: luxury sleeping cars. His town of Pullman was an early example of a planned community, one so striking it was voted the most perfect town in the world, at the Prague International Hygienic and Pharmaceutical Exposition of 1896.</p><p>But Pullman&rsquo;s town didn&rsquo;t draw attention just because of its layout and industry &mdash; the workers were notable, too. The nation&rsquo;s first black labor union has its roots here, and a strike started by Pullman workers became one of history&rsquo;s most violent labor contests.</p><p><a name="gallery"></a></p><div align="center" id="PictoBrowser130619183510"><a name="gallery">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</a></div><p><a name="gallery"><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "500", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Curious City: Pullman"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157634199298807"); so.addVariable("titles", "off"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "72"); so.write("PictoBrowser130619183510"); </script></a></p><p>Today, some of this past is still visible.</p><p>Ninety-eight percent of the town&rsquo;s original housing stock, which ranges from practical row houses to stately mansions, still stands. If you combine that with what&rsquo;s left of a factory complex as well as the historic Hotel Florence, a walk through Pullman can feel like wandering into a 19th century town.</p><p>Still, Pullman is not on everybody&rsquo;s radar.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s good to have this history,&rdquo; says Loftus. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s not quite something you think about when you consider the overall history of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>In addition to its low profile, Loftus notes that Pullman also lacks basic resources, like grocery stores and jobs.</p><p>Now some residents I talked to questioned whether Pullman needs to be revitalized at all (they gave variations of &ldquo;What&rsquo;s wrong with our community the way it is?&rdquo;). But for many years community groups and aldermen have worked hard to develop the neighborhood.</p><p>For them the debate&rsquo;s been more about how &mdash; and not whether &mdash; to revitalize.</p><p><strong>History as resource?</strong></p><p>As ironic as this may sound, some are convinced Pullman&rsquo;s past is the big money maker.</p><p>Take Michael Shymanski. Officially, he&rsquo;s an architect and the President of the <a href="http://www.pullmanil.org/">Historic Pullman Foundation</a>. Unofficially, many call him the mayor of Pullman.</p><p>To get a better idea of Shymanski&rsquo;s vision, I tour the neighborhood with him. Turns out that vision draws from the design elements of the original town.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1%20%282%29.jpg" style="height: 180px; width: 270px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Jesse Jennings Sr. says lack of investment endangers the viability of Pullman and its racial diversity. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee) " />Pullman wanted a worker&rsquo;s utopia that he &mdash; the big boss &mdash; would control. He hired Solon Spencer Beman to design the community and factory complex (other still-existing Chicago structures by Beman include the Blackstone Library and the Fine Arts Building). Nathan F. Barrett developed the town&rsquo;s landscapes.</p><p>Shymanski says everything was oriented toward the railroad and making a grand impression upon train passengers. The main administrative building with its large clock tower was situated directly across from the train station. It was set back and preceded by a curvilinear drive and Lake Vista, a large reflecting pond that happened to fed by condensation collected from the huge Corliss engine that powered the Pullman machinery.</p><p>George Pullman constructed other facilities, too, including a church, a central market, and an arcade that housed a 500-seat theatre, a library, a post office and small shops for tailors and dentists.</p><p>&ldquo;Even today it&rsquo;s a model for pedestrian-scale development,&rdquo; says Shymanski. &ldquo;People could walk to all their normal activities within 10 minutes or so. They could get produce at Market Hall. There were all kinds of recreation activities along the edge of Lake Calumet. They could walk to work and were just a few steps from a train station that would take them downtown.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>The decline</strong></p><p>There&rsquo;s not as much to walk to today.</p><p>Pullman&rsquo;s dream of a model community evaporated, thanks to a crippling recession and the resulting workers strike (Pullman cut the workforce and wages, but kept charging the same rents). In 1898, Pullman was ordered to sell off non-factory property, including all the residential buildings (Chicago had annexed Pullman previously, in 1889). Though the factory <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1028.html">kept manufacturing cars until the late 1970&rsquo;s</a>, the area went through some major changes.</p><p>Through destruction or decay, some of the key infrastructure is gone. The Arcade Building was torn down in 1927, rendered obsolete by newer shopping areas. After multiple fires and a 1930s makeover, Market Hall is mainly a shell of brick and girders, though the original apartment buildings that form the square around the hall remain.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/arcade2.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; height: 242px; width: 270px;" title="The Pullman Arcade Building, as photographed in the late 1880s.(Photo courtesy of Historic Pullman Foundation)" /></p><p>The main administration building and clock tower, damaged by arson in 1998, have undergone some restoration and stabilization, but they&rsquo;re cordoned off behind a chain link fence.</p><p>What&rsquo;s left? In addition to the residences, the Greenstone Church remains sturdy, and there&rsquo;s the Hotel Florence, which is currently <a href="http://www.pullman-museum.org/misc/construction.html">being restored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency</a>.</p><p>That any of this remains has much to do with the various historic designations Pullman has earned over the years.</p><p>In the 1960s there was an effort to raze Pullman and turn it into an industrial park. A civic group formed to fight this move, and since then the neighborhood has been granted local, state and federal landmark status.</p><p><strong>The drive for a park</strong></p><p>Despite its historic designations, Pullman hasn&rsquo;t yet figured out how to cash in on its past.</p><p>The Pullman Historic Foundation runs a visitors center, conducts tours and hosts events. The state offers regular tours and some interpretation of the (largely empty) factory building.</p><p>In the northern part of the district you can also visit the <a href="http://www.aphiliprandolphmuseum.com/">A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum</a>, which tells the story of how Pullman porters, who were all African American, became <a href="http://publications.newberry.org/pullman/">the first black union</a> in the United States. &nbsp;</p><p>But most of this history isn&rsquo;t tied together, and when visitors do come, they don&rsquo;t find much in the way of permanent programming, or even a dedicated gift shop to buy historic Pullman souvenirs.</p><p>So to draw more tourists and help revive Pullman&rsquo;s local economy, many Pullman boosters are trying to turn the area into a national historical park.</p><p>The idea was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2012-01-31/could-citys-pullman-community-become-home-chicagos-first-national-park-95974">proposed in early 2012 </a>by former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. who <a href="http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3894">asked the Secretary of the Interior</a> to undertake a &ldquo;reconnaissance study&rdquo; of Pullman.</p><p>The National Park Service agreed. And according to Lynn McClure of the National Parks Conservation Association, the report &mdash; which, they say, should be out any day &mdash; is a &ldquo;high five&rdquo; for making Pullman a national park.</p><p>Now all that&rsquo;s required is congressional approval. Though Congress isn&rsquo;t known for acting swiftly, McClure is confident.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no reason we can&rsquo;t get it done by the end of 2014,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>What would park status bring?</p><p>Pullman currently has some tourism traffic, but not a lot.</p><p>Mike Wagenbach of the State Historic Site says the neighborhood draws between 25,000 and 35,000 visitors each year. That&rsquo;s a drop in the bucket when you consider Chicago saw <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/chi-chicago-draws-near-record-46m-tourists-in-2012-20130610,0,4660651.story">46.2 million visitors last year.</a></p><p>No doubt Pullman&rsquo;s low turnout has something to do with its location; though the neighborhood is just off a major freeway to its east, it&rsquo;s still 10 miles from the Loop. And that means it&rsquo;s far off the tourism industry&rsquo;s beaten path.</p><p>Lynn McClure says &ldquo;nobody is naive enough to think that [a park] would significantly increase tourism,&rdquo; but her office recently undertook an economic study to determine what effect such a designation might have on the area.</p><p>It turns out the idea of using a national park to generate economic activity has precedent.</p><p>In 1978, Lowell Massachusetts, once a significant player in America&rsquo;s historic textile industry, was turned into a park. Thirty years later, a study assessing its impact said the park acted as a catalyst, attracting and even speeding up investment.</p><p>Mike Shymanski says if Pullman were a national park, with lots of interpretation and tourism infrastructure, it <em>would </em>draw more people <em>and </em>give them somewhere to spend their money.</p><p>And that cash &mdash; the theory goes &mdash; could help revitalize Pullman.</p><p>&ldquo;The current purchasing power in the neighborhood can&rsquo;t sustain redevelopment,&rdquo; says Shymanski, &ldquo;But if we had 100,000 or 200,000 visitors coming a year, we could.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Pullman 2.0</strong></p><p>Still, not everyone is banking on Pullman&rsquo;s past.</p><p>&ldquo;Certainly the historic parts are important and we want to be sensitive to that,&rdquo; says David Doig, president of the non-profit Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives. &ldquo;But unless it&rsquo;s a desirable community with all the amenities that people expect, you know people aren&rsquo;t going to want to live there.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1%20%281%29.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; width: 200px; height: 300px;" title="David Doig, left, says development in Pullman should prioritize improvement in people's everyday living conditions. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" />To make a point about Pullman&rsquo;s future, Doig takes me up to the 11th floor of the U.S. Bank Building, his base of operations. There, we have a birds-eye view of a 180-acre construction site and the future home of a development called <a href="http://www.cnigroup.org/economic.html">Pullman Park</a>.</p><p>CNI is doing a lot to revitalize Pullman &mdash; everything from backing <a href="http://community.suntimes.com/swchicago/2012/12/06/pullman-to-become-thriving-art-neighborhood/">an artists space</a> to <a href="http://hpherald.com/2013/03/01/chicago-neighborhood-initiatives-impacting-pullman/">rehabbing historic homes</a> &mdash; but Pullman Park is their biggest and maybe most ambitious effort.</p><p>The mixed-use development underway at 111th Street and the Bishop Ford Freeway will sport a Walmart store (slated to open this fall), as well 1,000 units of housing, a recreation facility and park areas. There are also plans for pedestrian-scale retail.</p><p>Put all this together, and you see Doig&rsquo;s creating a Pullman 2.0.</p><p>It may be a scaled-down version of George Pullman&rsquo;s all-encompassing community, but it&rsquo;s one that would provide what locals say the neighborhood now lacks: retail spaces, jobs, affordable housing and community facilities. Fittingly, this new community would sit atop part of Pullman&rsquo;s former factory complex (Ryerson Steel Processing Inc., <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1987-02-16/business/8701120766_1_george-pullman-metals-industrial">bought part of the plant </a>in the late 1980s, but shut it down in 2006.)</p><p>Doig says his development and other efforts to revitalize historic Pullman are &ldquo;not competing but complementary.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We really view this as kind of a catalyst for what we hope will be other forms of private investment and revitalization in the broader community,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>So what are the prospects for Pullman?</p><p>Mike Shymanski thinks things bode well for a true revitalization, despite all the years of investment that haven&rsquo;t yet made a difference.</p><p>&ldquo;Eventually, good ideas have their celestial order that makes them happen,&rdquo; says Shymanski. &ldquo;And I think we&rsquo;re very close to that.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter. Follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport">Instagram.</a>&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Special thanks to the Historic Pullman Foundation, which gave Alison Cuddy permission to use several images posted here. You can find more at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/historicpullman/photos_albums">the organization&#39;s Facebook page</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://www.pullmanil.org/">website</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 18 Jun 2013 16:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/will-pullman-ever-be-revitalized-107758