Off the interstate in the Windy City – Volume 1

“My kind of town, Chicago is my kind of town…” crooned Frank Sinatra in 1964.

AGMA’s always loved that song.

Chicago has been a part of my life since 1965 even though I lived in Pittsburgh growing up, Ft. Worth & Tucson in college, and Cincinnati & Atlanta as an adult.

My sister went off to Valparaiso University as a freshman in 1965. Valparaiso University (called Valpo) is quiet, small (in 1965) town of Valparaiso in Indiana. Valpo is 46 miles from Chicago.

So where do you think my sister and her friends went on the weekends for hijinks and shenanigans?

Yeah, they did!

As a wide-eyed 14 year old, the tales of her ‘big city’ adventures in the Windy City made quite an impression on AGMA.

After living in London for nearly 2 years after she graduated from Valpo, she returned to the US and settled in Chicago.

By that time, I was in college myself. And I was definately up for some shenanigans. Unfortunately, AGMA was a plane ride away from the Windy City, but I managed to visit her frequently.

She took me to a comedy club on one of my visits. I enjoyed it immensely. Maybe because it was The Second City comedy club. Yeah, THAT Second City. This was around 1972 or 73. I didn’t save the program from that night, but I feel certain that I saw a few Saturday Night Live original cast members pre-SNL.

My sister swears we did.

AGMA & Hubs settled in Cincinnati in 1976. Cincinnati is only a 6 hour drive from Chicago.

More visits ensued.

Then, in the early 90’s, she and my BIL moved to Atlanta. Then to Jacksonville. Then back to Atlanta.

WTF?

So for nearly 10 years, Chicago was off our radar.

Son #1 to the rescue…

He started at the University of Chicago in the fall of 2000. And he’s called Chicago home every since.

For the past 20 years, we have been traveling to Chicago to visit him on a regular basis. During that time, he’s added a wife and 3 children to the mix. He’s been a busy guy!

Our visits to him were always pretty cut and dried.

We’d drive up (on the interstate from Cincinnati) or fly up and take a taxi from the airport (on the interstate) to go to his apartment, condo or home. Go out to dinner a few times and see a few sights, then leave.

Once the kids came along, we barely left the house when we’d fly up from Atlanta for our 3 day weekend visits.

The last few years, when we’d be taking a taxi or Lyft to or from the airport, I would look at the interstate exits along the way. And wonder what the rest of Chicago looked like.

Off the interstate.

Since we’ve lived in Chicago for the past 2 months, AGMA’s been finding out…

And it’s been wonderful!

Chicago if full of interesting, diverse neighborhoods with interesting, diverse people.

Socially distanced with masks of course.

We’re living in an area called Logan Square. And it’s gorgeous!

Logan Square is part of the original Boulevard System of Chicago. Originally constructed in 1870, it was a series of boulevards containing narrow parks that ran around the entire city for 26 miles. It was given the nickname “Emerald Necklace” because it surrounded the city with green space (like a necklace – get it?) Unfortunately, only 2 1/2 miles remain along Logan Boulevard, Kedzie Boulevard, Palmers Boulevard and Humboldt Boulevard. This 2 1/2 mile area is now the Logan Square Boulevards Historic District and, in 2018, was listed (as part of the Chicago Park Boulevard System Historic District) on the National Register of Historic Places.

Our Hobbit Hole is 1/2 block off of Logan Boulevard. Logan Boulevard is lined with massive homes that were built mostly in the late 1880’s to early 1900’s by new money German & Scandinavian immigrants. It’s a beautiful part of the city.

Who knew?

I sure didn’t when I rented our HH long distance from Atlanta.

Don’t you love happy accidents?

The pictures of the architecture along Logan Boulevard above were taken by your’s truly. But I think this article from 2017 in LoganSquarist has better photos of the diversity of architecture.

As we discover more about our newly adopted city (and old friend), AGMA will add more volumes to this series.

In the meantime, I’ll be having pancakes at the Golden Nugget, eating an Italian beef sammy from Al’s and devouring a Pequod’s pizza.

Yum!

Chicago is Frank AND AGMA’s kind of town!

18 thoughts on “Off the interstate in the Windy City – Volume 1

  1. Oh AGMA,
    You know I love the Windy City….and I miss the place, for all it’s craziness and troubles.
    Give my love to the Bean, Navy Pier and the Water Tower, I’ll be back one day!
    Catch you soon,
    Dookes

    Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, chips….no fries!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We couldn’t even afford to rent a flat on one of the floors of any of those home (if they were divided up into apartments!) Still, it’s fun to dream! And yes – very interesting people. I just wish there wasn’t a pandemic going on (like the rest of the world!)

      Liked by 1 person

    • You just moved Andrew! Hang out there for a while and I’ll let you know if I notice any For Sale signs on any of the castles. Chicago is a great city to visit but maybe not right now… Like most places that are awesome when there’s not a deadly virus flying around!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What wonderful buildings. I wonder if they ever open them for tours? That happens in our area, especially around the holidays, or during the spring before covid changed the world.

    How long will you be in the Hobbit Hole? Are you looking for permanent quarters? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lease until 11/1 then we’re still not sure what we’re going to do. We’ve decided to postpone buying anything until after whatever happens on January 20th happens. There’s potential for real upheaval and we’d rather be “nimble”. So maybe a 6 month lease somewhere? Probably Chicago, but we’re not sure we want to be here in the winter. Like you, inquiring minds want to know! Ha!

      Like

    • Thanks Joyful! We’re as happy as you can be in a new city in a tiny basement apartment where we really can’t socialize with anybody (except family) because of the pandemic. But we do LOVE being so close to the grands and seeing them several times a week! it kind of makes the isolation and cramped quarters worthwhile (we moved from a 3400 soft townhouse!) And yes – I would love to hear the walls talk in some of those huge old homes! So many of them have been turned into condos or apartments. But the ones in my pictures look to be still single family homes. I would so very much like to see the inside of some of them!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I only see my grandkids by FaceChat once a week. Their mom keeps me in the loop and I catch their daddy every now and then. They live in the country so his wife works day shift and daddy works late afternoon to midnight. So I understand My first son and wife work ,9-5 jobs and FaceChat once a week. I have 4 friends I call and chat with on different days. It’s all good. Could be worse!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I saw a man dance with his wife…” You know how to get through a pandemic, AGMA. Just pull up stakes and move to a new and exciting place. Well done, I gotta hand it to you guys! My wife’s daughter lives in Chicago (Edgewood neighborhood), but I can’t really say I know the city that well yet. I will for sure explore Logan Square someday because I love old neighborhood and home walks. Looking forward to more of your adventures. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Are you sure that it’s Edgewood and not Edgewater? I’m not all that familiar with all the neighborhoods yet, but I know there is an Edgewater one… And I to believe that Chicago would be a VERY exciting place to be if it weren’t for COVID. Like everywhere else, so many places are closed and so many things have been cancelled. No music, theater, street festivals (Chicago is famous for these!), sporting events. Most museums are open, but you must have a timed ticket to get in. (We’re saving that for the cooler weather!) We do go out to eat several times a week – masks are mandatory and the restaurants are strictly regulated in how many diners can be inside. We’ve only been going to ones that have outdoor patios, but now the weather is getting cooler, we feel comfortable going inside (we go during the week when places are normally less crowded) And we visit the grands which is more fun than a barrel of wild chimps (and every bit as exhausting). I forget, ever so briefly, that all of our lives have been turned upside down by the incompetence of the Talking Yam Traitor and his enablers. And it’s a wonderful feeling to forget and lose yourself in a game of hide and go seek or super heros! And have a beautiful, but fierce, blue eyed blonde 3 year old girl jump into your arms and just want to hold and cuddle with you. So worth every bit of leaving a life you were comfortable in and the hassle, headache and exhaustion of the 3 months of cleaning out, house selling, packing, storing and moving! I know – I’m nuts!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Edgewater! Safari’s spelling correction strikes again! Yes, she lives specifically in the Edgewater Glen area. I’ve actually only been to see her once, so I’m hardly a maven about that neighborhood. Though it seems to have its charms.

        The talking yam is now on Bob Woodward’s tapes, and boy is he cornered like a rat at the moment. Couldn’t happen at a better time!

        Keep enjoying those cuddles you get, AGMA. It sounds every bit worth the headaches you endured to get there.

        Like

    • Real solid Jean! I would love to be able to stay in Logan Square by either renting something or finding something we can afford to buy, but not sure it’s going to happen. Hubs has mobility issues due to a neurological disorder and 90% of the places around us have lots of stairs to navigate. Having faith that something will come available that would work.

      Liked by 1 person

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