WBEZ | 1930s http://www.wbez.org/tags/1930s Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The 1930s project that nearly brought Riverview to an earlier end http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-08/1930s-project-nearly-brought-riverview-earlier-end-108533 <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/IMG00243-20130826-2130.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 479px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Chicagoans of a certain age still lament the demolition of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/laugh-your-troubles-away-105619" target="_blank">Riverview</a>, the famed North Side amusement park that was razed in 1967.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But the park would have been demolished much earlier&mdash;during the Great Depression, in fact&mdash;and replaced by a modernist housing development called Riverview Gardens, had a real estate planners of the time had their way.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The now-forgotten plans are contained in a trio of original leather-bound 1935 presentation documents I bought about 10 years ago. I ran across it yesterday while searching through a box of old stuff.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Riverview Gardens would have been 1600 units on a sprawling campus roughly bounded by Belmont, Western, Addison and the Chicago River. Surrounding the then-new Lane Tech high school, the complex would have been composed of streamlined brick buildings trimmed in Bedford limestone laid out over gridless streets. Burnham Brothers &amp; Hammond teamed with Holabird &amp; Root as the architects.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The project was planned by Independent Realty Trust, based at 221 N. LaSalle, which created the presentation documents I purchased. The material was addressed to the Federal Housing Administration.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In look and plan, Riverview Gardens was similar to the Chicago Housing Authority&#39;s Lathrop Homes built in 1937 at Diversey and Clybourn along the Chicago River. But while Lathrop was planned and built for the poor and working-class, Riverview Gardens was created &quot;for the benefit of the much forgotten class of people, namely, the white collared class,&quot; according to a project description. The project would have had garages, stores, rooftop gardens and recreational areas.</div><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/IMG00240-20130826-2126%20%282%29.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 450px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">But why consider demolishing Riverview then, especially since the park was only 30 years old and &quot;The Bobs,&quot; Riverview&#39;s popular 11-car roller coaster with the 85-foot drop, had been built just a decade earlier? There are two possible reasons. The Depression ate into Riverview&#39;s revenues a bit&mdash;and fire in the early 1930s claimed a funhouse and one other attraction. In addition, the park sat on 74 prime riverfront acres at a time when federal housing funding was becoming available.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><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/IMG00242-20130826-2130.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 419px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">And what happened to Riverview Gardens? For me, the trail turned cold. The project died and Riverview itself lived another 32 years. Riverview Plaza shopping center, the Belmont District police station and courthouse, DeVry University and more occupy the site now.</div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 28 Aug 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-08/1930s-project-nearly-brought-riverview-earlier-end-108533 Exposing the world’s most famous burlesque dancer http://www.wbez.org/story/1930s/exposing-world%E2%80%99s-most-famous-burlesque-dancer <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/gypsy photo 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Burlesque dancers from around the region converge in Minneapolis this weekend for the <a href="http://midwestburlesk.com/midwestburlesk.com/Home.html">Best of Midwest Burlesk Festival</a>. Chicago performers Ray Gunn, Rhonda Vous and Siren Jinx are among those shaking, shimmy-ing, twirling and teasing their way to glory.</p> <div>In honor of the event we&rsquo;re taking a look back at the woman who was once saluted by Eleanor Roosevelt with a bawdy, &ldquo;May your bare ass always be shining!&rdquo; This would be the world&rsquo;s most famous burlesque dancer, the one who pioneered the art form back in its early days - Gypsy Rose Lee.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Lee made a name for herself during the Depression, but she isn&rsquo;t just a dusty historical figure to the men and women gathering this weekend. Local burlesque expert Franky Vivid said in an email that Gypsy Rose Lee is &ldquo;pretty much universally adored by the modern dancers.&nbsp;In fact, she's regarded as probably the top star in our community. Until Gypsy, there really had not been a mainstream burlesque star.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Vivid runs Chicago-based <a href="http://studiolamour.com/">Studio L&rsquo;amour</a> with wife <a href="http://michellelamour.com/">Michelle L&rsquo;amour</a>, a renowned dancer who won burlesque&rsquo;s top prize in 2005. In addition to running <a href="http://chicagostarlets.com/">their own troupe</a> the couple offers classes and has taught thousands of women and many men the art of the striptease. &nbsp;He argues that you can still see Lee&rsquo;s influence in the work of contemporary burlesque dancers like his wife. &ldquo;A good thing that Gypsy left us is that intelligence and cleverness are transcendently sexy,&rdquo; says Vivid. &ldquo;Another world famous performer, Trixie Little, said recently in an interview that Michelle had the ability to perform the dirtiest stripper moves and make you feel smart for watching.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On the other hand, Vivid argues, Lee helped spark the notion that each dancer must have some trick or gimmick to distinguish her from the stripping masses. This idea was <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFRSawe33sA">put into song</a> in the musical <em>Gypsy</em>, a fictionalized adaptation of Lee&rsquo;s 1957 memoir. The 1962 film version starred Natalie Wood as ingénue Louise whose infamously aggressive stage mother &ldquo;Mama Rose,&rdquo; played by Bette Midler in the 1993 version, pushes her to become burlesque dancer Gypsy despite her shyness and hesitation. As Louise is nudged into her first routine, a gaggle of dancers backstage rattle off their own gimmicks, which include playing a bugle, wearing Christmas tree lights and flapping butterfly wings. &ldquo;I often find myself saying, &lsquo;Here's a gimmick - be talented!&rsquo; Vivid recounts, explaining why he hates this mentality. &ldquo;There's got to be some cake under the icing.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In real life &ldquo;Mama Rose&rdquo; was an abusive, calculating figure who blackmailed her daughter more than once, and Lee was a one-time prostitute who ran with the mob. &ldquo;A lot of the girls today think that the old burlesque was all glamorous and cheeky,&rdquo; says Vivid. &ldquo;But the truth is that much of it was dodgy, talentless and often criminal.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That secret history is chronicled in Karen Abbott&rsquo;s new biography of Lee, <em>American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare</em>. Abbott is also known for <em>Sin in the Second City</em>, her historical exploration of an infamous Chicago brothel. She spoke to an audience at <a href="http://www.newberry.org/">The Newberry Library</a> just after what would have been Lee&rsquo;s 100th birthday, and shared some delicious tidbits from Lee&rsquo;s life story. Check out the audio excerpt of Abbott&rsquo;s talk above, and if you can&rsquo;t make it to Minneapolis this weekend, you can check out Michelle L&rsquo;amour&rsquo;s <a href="http://frankyvivid.bluedomino.com/ML3/ML3-shows.html">upcoming Valentine&rsquo;s Day performances</a> or the <a href="http://www.windycityburlesquefest.com/">Windy City Burlesque Festival</a> in March.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="../../../../../../series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range</em></a><em> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Karen Abbott spoke to an audience at </em><a href="http://www.newberry.org/"><em>The Newberry Library</em></a><em> earlier this month. Click </em><a href="../../../../../../story/culture/books/american-rose-nation-laid-bare-life-and-times-gypsy-rose"><em>here</em></a><em> to hear her talk in its entirety, and click </em><a target="_blank" href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wbez/id364380278"><em>here</em></a><em> to subscribe to the Dynamic Range podcast.</em></div></p> Fri, 28 Jan 2011 22:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/1930s/exposing-world%E2%80%99s-most-famous-burlesque-dancer