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Category Archives: Art

Uptown Chicago is getting a Facelift!

Uptown is one of Chicago, Illinois’ 77 community areas.  This is  a comprehensive look  about  all that is happening in Uptown!

Uptown’s boundaries are Foster Avenue on the north; Lake Michigan on the east; Montrose (Ravenswood to Clark), and Irving Park (Clark Street to Lake Michigan) on the south; Ravenswood (Foster to Montrose), and Clark (Montrose to Irving Park) on the west. To the north is Edgewater, to the west is Lincoln Square, and to the south is Lake View.

Inside  Uptown you will find mini neighborhoods;  Buena  park, Sheridan park, Margate park, Argyle Park and   Little Vietnam.

The historical, cultural, and commercial center of Uptown is Broadway, with Uptown Square at the center. In 1900, the Northwestern Elevated Railroad constructed its terminal at Wilson and Broadway (now part of the CTA Red Line). Uptown became a summer resort town for downtown dwellers, and derived its name from the Uptown Store, which was the commercial center for the community.

For a time, all northbound elevated trains from downtown ended in Uptown. Uptown became known as an entertainment destination. Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson and other early film stars produced films at the Essanay Studios on Argyle Street. The Aragon Ballroom, Riviera Theater, Uptown Theatre, and Green Mill Jazz Club are all located within a half block of Lawrence and Broadway. It has been said that there are underground tunnels  so that Al Capone could slip in and out of Green Mill! Uptown is also home to one of Chicago’s most celebrated final resting spots, Graceland Cemetery, An Oasis of Art, Architecture, and Landscape Design since 1860.

I have lived here  since 2003 and have seen a lot of small changes. It has always been a diverse melting pot of cultures and economic backgrounds. And I have always said, Uptown is the like the neglected red-headed step child, between  Lakeview and Andersonville!  But fasten your seat belts, because it is all about the change!

When Target  opened in Uptown around 2010  as part of the Wilson Yards redevelopment. people began to see hope and change for Uptown! In the last 3 years, I have witnessed a large number of LGBTQ people moving…which means,  change  is  coming!

The massive  renovation  of  the Wilson L  Stop in 2017-2018 put a huge exclamation point  on the area! All of a sudden,  numerous announcements  were  made  about  new  developments  around  Uptown! Several thousands of new apartments  plus many  gut-rehabs  are going on.

 

Perhaps the BIGGEST  NEWS  of the renovation  of the Wilson stop is the Chicago Market!  Chicago Market will be coming to the Wilson CTA Station in Uptown. The 13,000 square foot, immaculately restored historic Gerber Building will become the home of Chicago’s newest local, sustainable grocery store, and the home of one of the nation’s largest start-up food co-ops!

Starting with just a handful of people meeting in a living room, Chicago Market has grown to a community of more than 1000 Owners, all dedicated to the idea that grocery shopping can be awesome, delicious and fun.

Chicago Market will be a big, bright, beautiful community-owned grocery store featuring local, sustainably farmed, organic produce, meat and dairy products, as well as all of the other staples you’d expect from your market — dry goods, bulk foods, frozen foods, wine, beer and liquor. We’ll have a butcher shop, delicious prepared foods and fresh-baked goods. Chicago Market will be a community hub where shoppers can enjoy the juice and coffee bar while attending workshops, classes, meetings and performances.

Chicago Market will provide farm-to-table transparency about food, its origins and its processes. It will educate its community about nutrition, ingredient sourcing and methods of food production. The Market will support sustainability and integrity in all areas, including environmental stewardship, fair labor practices and cooperative principles. It will be devoted to the triple bottom line: People, Planet and Profit.

MORE APARTMENTS!

811 Uptown   will be the biggest  high-rise  in Uptown.  27 stories  with  373 Luxury Apartments plus  a  Treasure  Island  grocery store.

 

Stewart School Lofts  are inside  an old school  originally  built  in 1905.  These luxury apartments are extremely unique and no two are alike! While most apartments were formerly classrooms, some were home to the school principal’s office, gymnasium and 2-story auditorium, making every floor plan unique. Each unit has a different blend of restored original historic details such as wood trim, hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, chalkboards, and original doors.

975 West Wilson The 12-story development at the southeast corner of Wilson and Sheridan will feature 150 dwelling units, new ground floor retail space, and a 29-car parking lot.

4601 N. Broadway A couple of blocks to the west at the corner of Broadway and Wilson, a second mixed-use transit-oriented development is expected to begin construction in the first quarter of this year. Known by its address of 4601 N. Broadway, the nine-story project from Praedium Development Corporation and MX3 Architects will replace a single-story retail complex with 197 rental units, 11,500 square feet of retail space, and 41 parking stalls.

 

1050 W. Wilson  The alderman also revealed that a long-discussed but slow-moving development at 1050 W. Wilson is too targeting a 2018 start. Approved by the Chicago Plan Commission way back in May of 2015, the project from Cedar Street’s FLATS brand calls for a new seven-story, 110-unit building from architect Booth Hansen. According to Cappleman’s email, the developer is in the process securing financing for the project and “hopes” to be in the ground by the end of the year.

 

The delipidated 5050 Broadway  will  soon be new and improved! 700  apartments!  A long-discussed, block-long redevelopment in Uptown is ready to move forward, starting with the gut rehab and conversion of the former Combined Insurance Company office building into hundreds of rental apartments.

With density rivaling that of the under construction Eight Eleven Uptown high-rise, 5050 N. Broadway will be one Uptown’s largest new developments. Designed by Chicago architecture firm Booth Hansen and developed by Cedar Street Companies, the project has taken a little time to get going since it was approved by the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council in 2016.

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Uptown has always had a handful of  hidden gems, retail/food/bars,  and  with  more  than 2000 new apartments  being built, Uptown is sure to draw even more.

Some of my favorite  spots include;

Everybody’s Coffee 935 W. Wilson “We sell all Fair and Direct Trade coffee because we want to support the farmer and work with them on sponsoring local projects.” and now serving Baker Miller’s awesome baked goods, lunch, and brunch concepts. “filter coffee…not people!”

Spoil Me Salon 4668 N. Broadway  10 years in business,  7  years  at this Uptown location. Full Service Salon and Spa specializing in the latest trends and techniques for hair, skin, nails and massage therapy.

Sadly, we lost the most  innovative (and expensive) restaurant in Uptown last year. (One of the most expensive in the city!)  Located next door to Spoil Me Salon. 42 grams 4662 N Broadway. This High-end BYO eatery with New American tasting menus served at a communal table & a chef’s counter had won 2 Michelin Stars!  $390  per person  for the experience.

“A truly unique experience” awaits at this “impressive” Uptown New American where chef Jake Bickelhaupt’s “spectacularly creative” tasting menus feature “exciting”, “delectable” dishes that come “beautifully presented” and served “in the style of a friend’s dinner party (right down to the BYOB)”; co-owner/manager Alexa Welsh “makes you feel at home” in the “tiny” space, and while it’s not cheap, most maintain it’s “worth the splurge” for a “memorable” meal. 

HOWEVER,  a new tenant with Michelin-star history is taking over the kitchen at 4662 N. Broadway Street. Ex-Longman & Eagle chef Matt Kerney is assembling a team that will open a new restaurant in the space. Hoping to open July  or  August. 2018. Look  for news  from  BRASS  HEART!

 

Tweet Restaurant / Big Chicks  Bar 5020 N. Sheridan  Nestled within a vintage art deco building, Tweet serves you a wide range of both classic and non-traditional dishes made from fresh, organic-when-possible ingredients. The bar opened in 1986!

This welcoming gay bar regularly plays host to dance parties and other special events, but it remains a cozy neighborhood place first and foremost—there’s even a free buffet on Sunday evenings. Many people from the neighborhood  stop by  as well as  MANY people who come down after a  day at the gay beach.

Loving Heart Vegan Café  838 W. Montrose  Housed in a rather unassuming space, this efficient and friendly vegan cafe impresses with its fresh wraps, bowls, burgers and desserts. Roughly 80 percent of the cafe’s offerings are made with organic ingredients.

Green Mill Lounge 4802 N Broadway  It sits  on what was once the  site of a much bigger Green Mill Gardens complex, which was an outdoor music gardens fashioned after The Moulin Rouge Gardens in Paris. It was a sunken gardens area, surrounded by a wall and featured nightly entertainment during the summer months. It also featured a dining room which was later converted to the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge during construction of the Uptown Theatre on the former site of the outdoor music gardens.

The club was once owned by “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, a right-hand man of Al Capone, who was a regular patron at The Green Mill. The 1957 movie The Joker Is Wild is based on the life of a regular performer at the Green Mill, Joe E. Lewis. Starring Frank Sinatra, the movie is the story about how Lewis tried to leave his gig at the Green Mill and was attacked and left for dead in his apartment. Lewis survived and continued his successful career in California. The Green Mill still hosts top jazz performers. Patricia Barber, internationally acclaimed jazz performer, plays there most Monday nights, as she has for the past 15 + years. In 2008, Kurt Elling was a regularly featured performer with his current band.

Uptown Underground  Descend the stairs below 4707 N Broadway to the speakeasy cabaret that specializes in Top Shelf Retrotainment!Featuring performances from Chicago’s best in cabaret, burlesque, magic and variety entertainers.

Sun Wah BBQ 5039 N. Broadway  Hong Kong style Chinese Barbecue!  One of Chicago’s favorite restaurants to feast on Beijing Duck (order in advance!), Sun Wah BBQ, has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation. Sun Wah, the popular Chinese restaurant in Uptown, is one of five recipients of the 2018 America’s Classic award. The honor recognizes restaurants “that have timeless appeal and are cherished for quality food that reflects the character of their community.” More than 100 restaurants have won the award since its inception in 1998.

The original Sun Wah opened in 1986 as owners Eric and Lynda Cheng brought Hong Kong-style barbecue to Argyle. Their children — Michael, Kelly, and Laura — took over the business and moved the restaurant into a larger space in 2008. – Plentiful portions! Sun Wah has lots great dishes  to share. If you have a big group  of 6 or more, get a table with a lazy susan!

Argyle Street Asian restaurants and shops
Argyle Street, from Sheridan to Broadway and spilling onto Broadway, features Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, French Vietnamese and Cambodian ethnic restaurants and bakeries. There are also many Asian groceries, shops and trading companies that sell unique Asian merchandise. This area is locally called by many different names, including New Chinatown, North Chinatown, Little Chinatown, Little Saigon, New Saigon, Little Cambodia, Vietnamese Town, Little Vietnam, or by many in the Asian community simply as “Argyle”. The surrounding neighborhood, which has attracted Asian immigrants and refugees for the past several decades, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the West Argyle Street Historic District. It is easily reached by the Argyle stop on the Red Line ‘L.’

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Entertainment  District-

BREAKING NEWS –  The Uptown Theatre has  secured  funding!!!

Uptown Theatre will be restored: $75 million plan unveiled for grand palace on North Side

After 35 years of stuttering starts, empty promises, a court-ordered sale and oft-reckless neglect, the 4,381-seat, 46,000-square-foot Uptown Theatre is finally to be restored to its 1925 glory!!!!  FINALLY!

Located at 4816 N. Broadway
The Uptown Theatre is a large, ornate movie palace with almost 4,500 seats. The largest in Chicago, this architectural gem is on several Landmark Registers. the largest theatre , by volume, in the country! The Theatre was designed by famous movie palace architects, Rapp and Rapp, who also designed the Chicago Theatre in the Chicago Loop. It was managed by the Balaban and Katz Company.

Historically a very popular tourist destination, the Uptown Entertainment District is home to various music venues, nightclubs, restaurants and shops. The Uptown Entertainment District is now experiencing a revival, with new restaurants and shops opening every year. Uptown Square, at the center of the Uptown Entertainment District, was designated as a National Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Uptown is also a stop for Chicago Gangster tours, with many locations tied to infamous gangsters such as John Dillinger, Al Capone, Machine Gun Jack McGurn, Roger Touhy (“Terrible Touhy”) and others.

 

The Aragon Ballroom  1106 W. Lawrence, is still a very popular music venue. During the 1920s and 1930s, most of the nation’s well-known jazz groups played the Aragon. Live radio broadcasts from the Aragon helped promote the Aragon’s entertainers throughout the Midwest and beyond. Hotels quickly sprang up in the Uptown area, and it became a mecca for young adults who visited Chicago to dance to the Big Bands of the 1940s and 1950s. Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Lawrence Welk, Guy Lombardo, Wayne King and other famous bandleaders often played there. In decades to follow, a very diverse selection of “big name” groups have performed, including The Rolling Stones, U2, The Smiths, The Doors, Snoop Dogg, Green Day, The Kinks, The Smashing Pumpkins, Dr. John, B.B. King, Uriah Heep, Metallica, Tommy Bolin, Black Sabbath, Queens of the Stone Age, The Clash, Tangerine Dream, Slayer, Motörhead, Nirvana, The Ramones and many others.

 

The Riviera Theater, 4746 Racine,  also a popular music venue, was once a Jazz Age movie palace which featured live jazz performances with the movies. In the 1980s, the seats were removed on the main floor and it was converted to a concert venue.

 

Green Mill Lounge 4802 N Broadway  It sits  on what was once the  site of a much bigger Green Mill Gardens complex, which was an outdoor music gardens fashioned after The Moulin Rouge Gardens in Paris. It was a sunken gardens area, surrounded by a wall and featured nightly entertainment during the summer months. It also featured a dining room which was later converted to the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge during construction of the Uptown Theatre on the former site of the outdoor music gardens.

The club was once owned by “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, a right-hand man of Al Capone, who was a regular patron at The Green Mill. The 1957 movie The Joker Is Wild is based on the life of a regular performer at the Green Mill, Joe E. Lewis. Starring Frank Sinatra, the movie is the story about how Lewis tried to leave his gig at the Green Mill and was attacked and left for dead in his apartment. Lewis survived and continued his successful career in California. The Green Mill still hosts top jazz performers. Patricia Barber, internationally acclaimed jazz performer, plays there most Monday nights, as she has for the past 15 + years. In 2008, Kurt Elling was a regularly featured performer with his current band.

Uptown Underground  Descend the stairs below 4707 N Broadway to the speakeasy cabaret that specializes in Top Shelf Retrotainment!Featuring performances from Chicago’s best in cabaret, burlesque, magic and variety entertainers.

Uptown is blossoming  into something  special!

It is sure to be the next hot neighborhood!

111 Places in Chicago Not to Miss!

Very cool book – for locals and tourists!  Amy Bizzarri is an extreme Chicago history buff, and a freelance writer. She lives with her two children in a vintage 1910 home in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. When she’s not writing, you’ll most likely find her swimming laps at Holstein Park pool, riding her bicycle around Humboldt Park or sharing an atomic sundae at Margie’s Candies.

  • The ultimate insider’s guide to Chicago, fully illustrated with 111 full-page color photographs
  • Features interesting and unusual places not found in traditional travel guides
  • Part of the international 111 Places/111 Shops series with over 170 titles and 1 million copies in print worldwide
  • Appeals to both the local market (9,5 million people call Chicago home) and the tourist market (over 60 million people visit Chicago every year!)

GREAT PHOTOS  get lots of LIKES! 

Digital photography has given millions of people the opportunity  to take pictures  like a pro! Never, has there been so many awesome amateur photos posted  from the globe!

 

 Chicago.Curbed ran this great article about HOT  PHOTO/ Instagram  LOCATIONS  from around the city. ….From the magical night lights of Wrigley Field to the patina-coated bronze lions guarding the Art Institute and the honeycomb archway in Lincoln Park—there are plenty of good ‘gramming spots in Chicago.

But which ones rank at the top? Locals and visitors favored big venues, well-known tourist spots, international icons and even one major music festival, according to a list of sites provided to Curbed by Instagram.

(Photo above from Sezyilmaz)

Best Holiday Light Displays in Chicago Area

 

The Logan Square home above might be the only seasonal wonder of the world. Every winter, dating back to 1983, owner Frank Lopez has put up a Christmas light display—complete with a miniature, moving Ferris wheel with stuffed animal riders—that casts a glow over the whole 2500 block of West Logan Boulevard.

“The reason I do it is because I see so many people, so many kids, they pass by over here… and I have music on, and I see all their smiles,” Lopez told Chicagoist. “I enjoy that.”

His home electric bill for a holiday season, he added, can reach a little over $1,000.    Read  More here. 

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Butch McGuire’s

Each year, this Division Street bar gets COMPLETELY  decked out in holiday decor. Complete with model trains and thousands of shiny LED lights, Butch McGuire’s is a great spot to pop in for a festive drink. Even when it gets packed with the typical Division Street crowd, this Irish pub has an old soul. Antique beer paraphernalia and model ships hang from the ceiling, framed paintings of Chicagoans past dot the walls and beers are served in frosted glass mugs. Well worth a stop by and have a drink!

Winter WonderFest

Navy Pier’s annual indoor winter carnival returns with activities that include a toboggan tunnel, winter mini golf and a 15-foot “snow tubing” hill. Returning attractions include the Blackhawks ice-skating rink and various carnival rides. Bring your family for a nice and toasty winter wonderland. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo: Free light display nightly plus festive activities like photos with Santa, 3D displays, holiday gift shopping, live ice-sculpture carving and free crafts for kids on certain nights at the Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St. Presented by ComEd and PowerShares QQQ By Invesco. Hours: 4:30 to 9 p.m. every night through Saturday, Dec. 23, and again from Dec. 26 to Jan. 7. Check the website for a full list of ZooLights events.

Elsewhere  from Aurora to Naperville to Wheaton – all have light displays worth checking out!

 

Barn Angels and Dog Poop

The first time I was driving thru Ukrainian Village,  I was headed  East on Augusta, and this caged Angel caught my eye on Wolcott!  WHAT THE HECK???

 

I did some research  and  TIME OUT  said, ” The building belongs to well-known Polish-born wood sculpturist Jerzy Kenar, who runs the Wooden Gallery (1007 N Wolcott Ave, 773-342-2550), located a few doors down.

In the mid-’90s, Kenar rehabbed the premises with the intention of making Angels Barn a sort of cabaret—part bar, part performance and exhibition space. “The idea was that the bar would finance the art,” Kenar says.

During the construction, the Sun-Times called Kenar’s idea “a mixed vision of the sacred and profane: An ornate pulpit will serve as a roost for a DJ; the bathroom stalls have peep-show holes with nude photos.”

Using his wife, Dorota, as a model, Kenar took three weeks to carve the angel (pictured) out of a hunk of linden wood and installed it in a fenced grotto at the front of the building. But all his work was for naught; Kenar was denied a liquor license, due, in part, to protests from the East Village Association, which didn’t want to attract potentially raucous nightlife to the densely residential area. Deeply disappointed, Kenar hosted several private parties in the space before converting it into apartments in 2001.”

 

Also on Wolcott  nearby the Angel is a unique fountain.

It’s a water fountain with a blue-tiled base surrounded by bright, leafy trees and is meant for all the community … to remember to pick up after their dogs.

Atop that tiled base is a bronze coil of dog doo-doo, spouting a gentle stream of water, and displays the straightforward, “S— Fountain” name on all four sides.

The fountain was created and installed in 2005 by famous Polish Chicago artist Jerzy S. Kenar, who also created the neighboring angel statue at the corner of Wolcott and Augusta Avenues.

It’s since become famous among locals, and appears on travel blogs for visitors.

Kenar’s other works can be found throughout O’Hare Airport and the Harold Washington Library, as well as churches and galleries around the city and world.

Cartoon Bear Art Around Chicago

People  are always  asking  WHAT IS  THIS?   WHAT’S  UP  WITH THAT?

If you live in Chicago, I’m sure you have passed by a mural at some point that involves a bear eating pizza or  wearing boxing gloves. If you haven’t, then you most likely never leave your neighborhood (and in that case you might as well live in LA). Regardless of where you reside or what you see in your ‘hood, we can all learn a little something from the Bear Champ today.

Chicago-based artist JC Riverais behind them. What I found the most fascinating about JC is that he’s not trying to hide his identity (unlike many street artists) as all of his work is commissioned. No illegal wall tagging for this guy!

Few images in Chicago’s street art scene are as instantly recognizable as JC Rivera’s “Bear Champ.” This enormous bright yellow bear appears in a variety of street murals throughout the city.

 

The bear seems cute and cuddly at first, but also projects a bit of a rugged, streetwise vibe — the perfect representation for life in Chicago.  Rivera has been painting in and around Chicago for a decade. His work is most known for its bright, colorful and uncluttered look.

JC says, “The character is about the everyday struggle. Keep rolling with the punches. Fight for what you believe in.”