Chicago’s Gold Coast

My early gold coast trips included the Old Water Tower built in 1869 finally transcending across the street to the new Water Tower Place built in 1975. Also, for me, days of dining took place in an elegant room for Sunday brunch and dinner at Kontiki Ports restaurant, provided by the Continental Hotel now Intercontinental.

But the Gold Coast is truly known for prominent luxury that began on the near north side of Chicago. Millionaire Potter Palmer built his mansion in 1882 while other wealthy residents followed to the Gold coast of Chicago situated along the shores of Lake Michigan.

The Gold Coast still offers an affluent haven for rare designer stores on the Magnificent Mile and the most popular restaurants in the country located on historic Rush street.  After shopping and eating,  the district highlights some of the most prestigious hotels that include the legendary Drake .

Old Water Tower

Located in the heart of the Gold Coast along the Magnificent Mile known for its shopping, the Chicago Water Tower is the second oldest in the United States built in 1869 and is worth a visit.  Skyscrapers,  such as the Hancock Building, dwarf the building that is just little over 150 Feet. It now holds a city gallery that present the resplendent work of artists and local photographers. An ensemble based theatre in Chicago that has won 42 Joseph Jefferson  is LookingGlass theatre whose home is this historic water pumping station  and offers internships to graduated college students in professional theatre.

Water Tower Place

Across the street from the Chicago Water Tower, is 758,000 square feet of shopping with 74 floors  at Water Tower Place, one of Chicago’s largest shopping malls with over 100 stores. All business are indoors at 825 North Michigan Avenue.  Water Tower features stores such as America Girl Place where you can shop for your favorite doll and treat you and your children to a special dining experience.  Other stores include Macy’s, Abercrombie and Fitch and full service restaurants like Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch; a great sports bar on the top floor of the plaza.

Broadway Play House

After spending a day of shopping and dining, on the North side of Water Tower Place is the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower, originally a Drury Lane Theater in the 1970’s. After a makeover in 2010, Broadway has hosted Love, Loss and What I wore as well as highly acclaimed Broadway hit Colin Quinn: Long Story Shorty.

Newberry Library

Situated in the vibrant Gold Coast neighborhood but off the beaten path of Michigan Ave and its restaurants and shops, Newberry library is free and open to the public. Researchers and scholars all over the world have visited the collections that include the brilliance of literature , rare books, maps, music and manuscripts that will detail six centuries of material. The Newberry was established in 1887 and also provides programs for teachers, adult education seminars and a variety of events on  the humanities.

Washington Square Park

Across the street from the Newberry, is the serenity of  Washington Square Park  founded in 1842. During the summer months the park is celebrated with a combination of trees, picket fencing, a Victorian fountain that was added in the 1890’s and a beautiful array of floral design; a great place to take a breath and relax during your busy trip to Gold Coast.  The park is heralded as an historic district in Chicago.

900 North Michigan Shops

For high end, luxury shopping featuring Gucci, Max Mara, J.Crew and a host of others, visit the 8th tallest skyscraper in the city on Gold Coast’s Magnificent Mile.  Exquisite boutiques include designers such as Kate Spade and Karen Millen. Celebrate happy hour at Frankie’s pizza.

Rush Street

Just a one way street traveling North, Rush is acclaimed for its wealth, nightlife, five star hotels and elite restaurants that include Tavern on Rush,  Hugo’s Frog Bar and Fish House, and Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse where you will find autographed photographs  of the rich and famous. If in the mood for Asian, Jellyfish restaurant has been voted as one of the 17 hottest Sushi Restaurants in the United States.  There is no telling what to expect on Rush street.

Driehaus Museum

Known as the Gilded Age, Driehaus offers collections of awe inspiring examples of furnishing and interiors the wealthy in America crafted during that era. Beautifully preserved architecture and design grace the museum from such acclaimed designers as Louis Comfort Tiffany.  You will be able to visit rooms in the Gallery that present the elegance of the front parlor, dining room and even the smoking room of the early 19th century.

Signature Lounge at the 96th and Signature Room at the 95th

Not only does the 96th floor of the John Hancock offer wonderful views of the city, but the  Signature Lounge offers a choice of over 700 wines and specialty cocktails along with appetizers that include caprese bruschetta and great chicken wings.  If in the mood for dinner, The Signature Room at the 95th floor has been named the most romantic and has been voted one of America’s Top Table by Gourmet Magazine. Fresh entrees include Australian rack of lamb and vegetable lasagna.

The Drake  Hotel

One of more than 250 hotels in America, the Drake Hotel is recognized by Historic Hotels of America. The Hotel opened on New Year’s Eve with a massive gala of over 2,000 Chicago Citizens in 1919.  The Drake provides the grandeur of the early 19th century  with over 500 luxury guest rooms and 74 magnificent suites . Enjoy afternoon tea in the elaborate Palm Court and choose from 17 different tea suggestions.

Hyde Park Chicago

For me as a child, we would pull into the parking lot of the Museum of Science and Industry to visit my favorite Yesteryear, the chickens hatching, Telephone Town and the coal mine. That was what Hyde Park was all about but over the decades I was curious to explore more beyond those museum walls in Hyde Park, Chicago.

Seven miles south of the Chicago Loop located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, the Hyde Park neighborhood hosts  the city’s most eclectic collection of antiquities, culture, historic landmarks including the college dwelling of U.S. President Barack Obama. Recognized as the established home for the University of Chicago and the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition, Hyde Park has been a focal point for prominent guests such as Mary Todd Lincoln, who lived during the summer of 1865.

Museum of Science and Industry

Known as the Palace of Fine Arts at the World Columbian Exposition, this building originally housed the Field Museum which moved to the south loop in the 1920s. Currently, The Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science museum. Well known throughout the United States, the museum hosts the Apollo 8 spacecraft, the Pioneer Zephyr which was the first diesel fueled passenger train, a 3,500 square foot model train, a trip to a replica coal mine and a German submarine captured in World

Midway Plaisance

Originally the midway point of the World Columbian Exposition  providing knowledge of other world cultures, refreshments and the exciting new Ferris Wheel, today it is a one mile long park that has remained a green area  supported by the University of Chicago. Boosting cross street bridges  with a  breaking taking view of the buildings along the Midway, the area  has been refurbished with an ice skating rink for winter and expansive gardens during the summer. The word plaisance is French and defines a pleasure ground of nature.

Jackson Park

An expanse of 542.89 acres, Jackson Park was designed after the close of the World’s Columbian Exposition featuring the first golf course in 1893. The Golden Lady sculpture and the French’s Statue of the Republic are remnants of the fair. The Osaka Garden, a 17th Century stroll garden was established in 1934 and beyond the entrance gate, a peaceful abundance of lush plants, exotic trees will exemplify peace for the weary traveler.  If you enjoy bird watching, Jackson Park is home to over 200 species. In recent years, Jackson Park provides a gymnasium, fitness center, and basket ball/tennis courts.

 

Promontory Point

Located in Chicago’s Burnham park,  Promontory Point offers spectacular views of the city’s skyline and a great place to relax. The point was constructed as a man-made peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan and can be accessed by the Lakefront Trail, a  tunnel which passes under Lake Shore Drive at the east end of 55th Street. Promontory Point also offers a variety of special events such as movies and guest performers. Designed by Alfred Caldwell, the point offers the beauty of harbor beaches and exquisite natural meadows.

 

Robie House

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Robie House in Hyde Park is a prairie style example of his contemporary work also located on the campus of the University of Chicago. Tours are available that even include private spaces not readily available to the public. The Frederick C. Robie House is a national historic landmark and was designed in 1908 for the assistant manager of the Excelsior Supply Company. Robie and his wife Lora had selected the property in order to remain close to the University since his wife was a graduate.

Obama’s Home and Favorites

Coming to Chicago as a community organizer after graduating Harvard Law, Barack Obama lived in apartment 1n at 5429  Harper in Hyde Park if you are interested in sharing  the legacy of the President of the United States. After viewing his apartment, you may want to see the Hyde Park Hair salon and the chair where he used to get haircuts.  Located at 57th and Kimbark, for those who love the written word, stroll through the57th Street Books, another Obama favorite.

Court Theatre

Looking for professional theater, the Court Theatre on the campus of the University of Chicago provides innovative productions and classic plays  that have included Waiting for Godot, Agamemnon, Wait Until Dark, and The Glass Menagerie. Attended by over 35,000 each year, the award winning Court puts on five plays per season. It has been named the most consistently excellent theatre company in America by the Wall Street Journal.

Valois

After visiting the historical culture of Hyde Park, Valois cafeteria is one of the Obama family’s recommended eatery’s. After walking in the front, a sign indicates the President’s usual orders when in town. The restaurant provides comfort food with American specials such as  feta omelets for breakfast and a huge variety of beef.  In service for over a decade, Valois  greets customers with walls of murals that celebrates the Hyde Park neighborhood.  It has been said many times that if you live in Hyde Park, Valois is a family tradition.

Historic Pullman Chicago

It was in the early 1960’s that they planned on demolishing parts of Pullman to make way for industrial expansion especially between 111th and 115th. But Pullman residents including some of my own good friends, fought continuously to keep Pullman alive. They founded the Historic Pullman Foundation in 1973. Pullman was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971 and has received similar state and local designations. Through the years as I go travel back, I am amazed by the beauty of Pullmans original architecture.

The first planned industrial community for workers to work , live and worship with family  was the Pullman Historic District south of Chicago; a unique community established by George Pullman, founder of the Pullman Palace Car Company. In 1880, the project began with housing built as red brick row houses including indoor plumbing and spacious accommodations that workers had not been accustomed though workers did have to pay rent. However, the panic of 1893 devastated the railroad industry causing lowered wages and rents that were not decreased. It was just last two years ago that President Obama designated the historic neighborhood as a national monument.

Pullman Foundation Center

On the site of the Arcade Building, this is a great place to begin your tour of Pullman. The center provides a video of the history and exhibits that include antiques from the Pullman Mansion that was located on Prairie Avenue as well as historic rail service items. You can grab a walking tour brochure or plan a guided tour that is available the first Sunday of the month and lasts for about 90 minutes.

Hotel Florence

Known for its luxury and elegance, the Hotel Florence, named after George Pullman’s daughter, was opened in 1881 and cost around $100,000 including $ 30,000 in furniture that included maroon plush velvet upholstery and fine mahogany. A veranda 16 feet wide and 268 feet long extends around the front of the building. When opened, the hotel included a gentlemen’s reading room, a billiard room, lunch room and saloon. The hotel is currently being renovated and for the ghost hunter, many have said that the hotel is haunted.

Executive Row

Take a stroll on 111th street between St. Lawrence and Langley to view the Executive homes that were located near the Pullman company plant.  This row of homes was a showplace back in the day consisting of eight and nine rooms including several fireplaces and a basement in each. Even executives had to pay rent and the going rate was $28 to $50 a month.

Pullman and Arcade Parks

Designed by Pullman and hired architect, Solo S Berman, the Pullman Park was created for recreation and enjoying the green spaces  that are not interrupted by structures. Another Park in the Pullman community is Arcade Park donated by George Pullman once again. Formal carpeted gardens graced the park across  from the Arcade building that housed a post office, library and theatre but was demolished in 1926.

Pullman Factory Complex

Beside the administration building and clock tower, the factory building provided wonderful conditions for the working man. They were well lighted, ventilated with soft colors to provide a upbeat atmosphere, different from so many sweatshops of the era. The 1880 car manufacturing plant was a 700-foot long Queen Anne-influenced structure of brick with limestone accents. The Clock Tower and building was seriously damaged in 1998 by fire but was rebuilt in 2005 located at the northeast corner of 111th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.

Greenstone Church

The sanctuary is unchanged  being built  in cherry wood with the original pews. The first tenants of the church were Presbyterian in 1887 but sold to the Methodists in 1907. The distinguished  Steere and Turner organ is one of the very  few manual track organs remaining in the US, the organ has had little repair over the last 100 years with the exception of being powered originally by hand bellows.  The organ contains 1260 pipes with two manuals for the hands  and can be a physical challenge to play, though a treasure for experienced musicians.

Gateway Garden

On the corner of 111th and Langley, the Gateway Garden was the size of 5 city lots with weeds and trash until the Historic Pullman Garden Club  received a grant from Chicago Botanic Garden for development.  Trees and spring bulbs were planted and now the garden offers spectacular color of various annuals, perennials and breathtaking curved seats of shrubbery ; a peaceful place to observe such beauty. The Garden Club hosts special events and tours throughout the spring and summer months.

 

A.Phillip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum

Celebrating 75 years of the national first Black Labor Union, Randolph and the Pullman Porters made real impact in African-American union history.  Pullman Porters were the best in railroad hospitality as they provided excellent service to passengers on Pullman’s luxury trains. In 1925, they established the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first labor union with Randolph as president. The museum provides a calendar of special events celebrating black history.

Pullman Cafe

Complete your tour with a cozy seat at the Pullman Cafe, with fresh fruit and homemade lemon bars or dreamy bread pudding.  The charming cafe also offers a Gotham Salad with toasted walnuts, a garlic sausage pizza, or just enjoy a cup of coffee with friendly staff and all the comforts of home.  The ambience of the Pullman Cafe provides a wonderful conclusions to your trip to historic Pullman. The Pullman cafe is open daily at 112th and Lawrence Ave but currently is closed for winter but will be opening on in March of 2018.

South Shore Chicago today

For me who began her life in Calumet Heights, South Shore was an exciting trip to 71st and South Shore Drive. Here we would visit Bramsons childrens store and Dr. Block, my orthodontist once a week.

Famous residents such as Kanya West and Michele Obama began their childhood journey in South Shore of Chicago just nine miles southeast of the loop.  Predominantly now an African American community, South Shore is located along Chicago’s lakefront and offers beautiful historic architecture that was once lived in by some of the most prominent Chicago residents. The South Shore Cultural Center was a place for the visiting famous to retreat and relax and the marriage of Michelle and Barack Obama

South Shore Cultural Center

Once known as the South Shore Country Club, this center that totals almost 65 acres features Paul Bobeso Theatres, Washburne Culinary Institute and the Parrot Cage Restaurant. Founded in 1905, the center is listed on the US national Register of Historic places. the exterior of the building was used in the famous Blues Brothers film. The club has a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, a bowling green, stables and a private beach on Lake Michigan

Jackson Park Highlands

Designated a Chicago Landmark, the district was built in 1905 housing some of the most elite collection of vintage homes that include stately architecture that were built for those who owned businesses on 71st such as an exclusive children’s store, Bramsons, several women’s and millinery boutiques along with doctors and dentists in the 1950s. Though not mansions, the homes reflect style, intrigue and beautiful surroundings.  Famous residents have included Jesse Jackson, Ramsey Lewis and Gale Sayers.

Parrot Cage Restaurant

Created by the Washburne Culinary Institute, highly acclaimed for being one of the best American cooking schools, Parrot is located in the South Shore Cultural center and an excellent suggestion for its Sunday brunch. Dinner service includes Thursday through Saturday and private rooms are available for events.  The menu includes blackened catfish as one culinary delight. However, the restaurant does not serve alcohol.

Mings Chop Suey

Though just carry out, the service is great and their crab ran-goons, egg roll or chicken fingers can be wrapped and add to your first picnic along the lakefront.  Located at 71st and Yates Blvd, you can watch your food being cooked and Mings offers an extensive lunch and dinner menu with very reasonable prices.

Avalon Regal Theatre

The Avalon opened in 1927 and conceived by John Eberson who always created exotic motif in design, the Avalon boosted a Moorish theme. The Avalon closed in the late 1970’s, used as a church until it becoming a venue for the performing arts in 1987 and became a Chicago landmark in 1992. Barack Obama’s acceptance speech for the presidential nomination was held in 2008 at the Avalon. Currently the Avalon is closed, but you may contact the Chicago Architecture Foundation for more information.

Eta Creative Arts Foundation

Recognized as Chicago’s leading African American cultural performing arts institutes, ETA offers a 200 seat theater, a library, and an art gallery. They are always looking for music and dance instructors to teach youth classes and ambitious summer interns in the areas of marketing, production and graphic design. Their current production Lines in the Dust presents the challenges of the Chicago Public School system and the play has received rave reviews.

Rainbow beach

Located on east 77th street, Rainbow Beach and Park offers a gymnasium, fitness center and a community garden along with a massive beach and comfort station. The beach’s history began as Rock Ledge Beach and finally expanded in 1918 becoming Rainbow; one of the city’s largest beaches One of the first beaches, I attended though some of my memories included the beach being closed because of oil slicks. Rainbow beach includes a large beach house with showers and a large pier with a boat ramp.

Michelle Obama’s Home

A final drive through the South Shore neighborhood will take you to Michelle Obama’s family home, a great example of the Chicago bungalow at 7436 South Euclid. Her parents rented an apartment  upstairs from her great aunt who lived downstairs. The house was built in the 1920’s in a respectable neighborhood with  a garden , stone bench and shaded by a large elm.

Holidays in Chicago: Remembering Marshall Field and the Walnut Room

The first clock went up in 1897 at State and Washington while the second was added in 1907 at State and Randolph. It did receive a new paint job in 2015 according to ABC news.  and still keeps time.

Being a lifetime resident for many years, Chicago has magnificently celebrated the winter holidays with amazing, timeless displays at the building behind the clock that have become well-known throughout the country.

I continue to meet people today who talk of the same tradition that they had experienced as children, parents, grandparents and even great grandparents. The Marshall Fields store on State Street that began in 1870 and renamed Macy’s in 2009 have kicked off the most treasured memories for family and friends.

During the 1960’s, it began for me in a car driven by Mom accompanied by my best friend and her Mother. Of course, we were dressed in our finest, sometimes with hats and matching gloves, but always in dresses. We parked in what was known as the Underground Parking Lot on Michigan Avenue though many took the Illinois Central to walk a short distance to Marshall Fields Department Store. And there it began before we even entered the massive 8 story building.

The store had designed animated windows that told a story and so we would begin our trip around the building to see each breathtaking display. In 1946, Marshall Field’s created Uncle Mistletoe that became so popular, it was a local television show for awhile and we would watch his adventures in one window after another. Finally, generally cold and hungry, we made our way to the 7th floor to the beloved Walnut Room established in 1907 with beautiful paneling, seating 600 guests around a phenomenal Christmas Tree always stretching our necks to see if Uncle Mistletoe graced the top of the tree.

In the early 1990’s, I took my little ones to the Walnut Room as well but they seemed more impressed in the pagers signaling when a table was available.

The Walnut Room at Macy’s can still be enjoyed for the holidays. Macy’s on State Street still offers holiday windows and lunches around their Christmas tree though weekdays are the best for wait times. Holiday shoppers will receive a pager so they can still shop while waiting for a table. A breakfast buffet is also served through the holiday season. Relive your childhood or start a new tradition with your children and after lunch, visit Santa on the fifth floor. See if Uncle Mistletoe is still on top of the Great Tree.

Two of Chicagoland’s haunted restaurants: Red Lion Pub and Country House

The Red Lion Pub has an excellent Shepard’s pie and its decor is one of my favorites……an English manor library with bookshelves filled with books even above the glassware and liqueur at the bar. Walls are complimented with WWI and WWI pictures especially in the Great War room dedicated to his grandfather. Current owner Colin Cordwell has paid homage to his family. The second floor balcony honors his mother who was an expert on African art.

The Red Lion used to be Dirty Dan’s Western Saloon originally built in 1882 and it was a horrible place owned by a gambling, unmanageable alcoholic. John Dillinger saw his last movie at the Biograph Theatre located across the street. But it was John Cordwell who saw the saloon as an opportunity and was remodeled/ opened in 1984.

The Red Lion Pub is on the north side of Chicago at 2446 North Lincoln Avenue. Now a more upscale neighborhood, according to Haunted Houses people have died in the building including a woman who died from an epileptic seizure, a mentally challenged woman, a young cowboy, and another male entity according to ghost experts. These spirits walk the floors of the restaurant to name just a few.

John Cordwell had built a beautiful stained glass window over a stairway and added a plaque to commemorate his dad who died in England. He was buried without a tombstone there. Guests who pass the window actually feel a presence, or are overcome by dizziness which was a condition his father had.

According to Haunted Places, regulars at the pub have heard footsteps and voices, and objects crashing, among other pranks. The phenomena are said to occur when the pub is not very crowded, such as late evenings or Sunday. Nightly spirits offers a ghost tour of the most haunted pubs, and alleys actually leaving from the Red Lion and walking the same path that Dillinger did before he died. Drinks are not included in the ticket price.

One of my favorite burgers on dark rye while enjoying a rustic atmosphere and a beautiful fireplace in the bar area is served at the Country House in Clarendon Hills; a family friendly restaurant I have frequented for over 30 years and even their website talk about the famous ghost. The Country House is a two story building erected in 1922 as a place for locals to congregate for drinks, food, and good conversation.

In 1974 during a meeting with a contractor to renovate the restaurant the men were sitting in the bar and shutters on the windows opened without human contact displaying shafts of light. Other workers have seen dishes move and have heard moaning in the walls. Others have actually seen a woman who they call the lady in blue.

The Country House has gone through a number of ownership changes over the years and is currently owned by two local residents who purchased it in 1974 according to the Clarendon Hills Historical Society.  It’s the late 1950s, and the story begins like so many others – with a bartender and a pretty blonde. On this particular evening, the woman visited her regular establishment. After a few choice words with her lover, a fight erupted that greatly upset her. The woman was so hurt by the exchange and the actions of her lover that she left in huff. Unfortunately, the roads were as uncaring she collided with a tree or a telephone poled a short distance from The Country House. While she might have perished in the accident on that fateful night, she lives on through her daughter and the legend of The Country House.” Some say she had a daughter with her And the lover went after her.

Richard Crowe, Chicago’s famous ghosthunter, was asked to come in for a consultation. He brought in two self-professed mediums who claimed to “feel” the presence of a young woman looking for something or someone she had lost. They went on to describe the woman as blonde, good looking, in her late twenties, and someone who died in the late fifties of abdominal injuries and this is discussed on the Country House Restaurant website.

Favorite Chicago land clubs, taverns and suburban bars: Gone but not forgotten

After exploring extinct restaurant favorites in one article, I decided to check out the bar scene; the gone but not forgotten taverns/clubs in the Chicago land area. Though I don’t drink today, my most frequented places were generally lounges attached to restaurants. I visited my first vodka gimlet and last vodka gimlet at Cavalinni’s in Dolton on Sibley and Chicago Rd. My first was wonderful but after visiting again years later, my last vodka gimlet took everything out of me. I was celebrating a South Suburban College dedication which was once known as Thornton Community College; not knowing I had a serious case of mono. That drink lead me to a doctors visit and was confined to bed for three weeks.

Balducci’s in Willowbrook when my children were little was another lounge/restaurant I liked to frequent with my husband. However, during a Halloween party after trick or treating with my little ones covered in trash bags due to the rain, my stamina was not there. One shot sent me home shivering. Maybe that is why I don’t drink!

After my research, two that I enjoyed during my hayday or whatever it was called was Lassens in Homewood and  Blarneys Island where you traveled by boat to the wild island in Fox Lake. Still open today, Lassens has not changed. Blarney’s Island, located in Grass Lake ,was and still is, the place you wore your swimsuit, danced to local bands , drank alot of beer, always got picked up: catching a ride in a boat. Today, when Blarneys Island is mentioned, I get the usual wide eye looks like you went to that place. Yes, I, too had my moments.

The following gone but not forgotten bars and clubs may bring that smile of oh no, (or oh yes) to your face too!

Nicks Sports Page  was filled with autographed sports stars and pennants because this truly was the American sports bar and only appreciated by the oldtimers from Dolton, Riverdale and South Holland.  For me, Nicks was the best place for a beer and they had excellent hamburgers if you were hungry.

Jukebox Saturday Night had three locations; one on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago, Oak Forest and Lisle. Lisle is where I went for a casual return to the 50’s with a girlfriend that always said this was the place she could release all tension and get crazy. It was here that we danced are problems away with contests that included the twist and you could show off your expertise with a hula hoop.

Studebakers owned by Walter Payton was located in Schaumburg/Woodfield Commons and was quite a success. People really had fun with an active dance floor, crazy bar attendants and not potentially dangerous in anyway. They closed but opened to another venture-Thirty Fours. All of this between the late 80’s and early 90’s.

PJ Flaretys in Evergreen Park hosted many rock legends that included Three Dog Night, Edgar Winter,Leon Russell,  Rare Earth and the list goes on since they really tried to pack in new local and national talent. They had a capacity for over a 1,000. Blue Oyster Cult played there on Feb 8th, 1992 with a set list till available on line. You had to buy tickets in advance which were only about 10 dollars and 12 dollars at the door.  Today, that would be the cost of your drink.

Poor Richards Pub in Gurnee was a northside landmark finally torn down and located on Grand Avenue. I remember the bar back in the late 70’s and they actually held one of the largest Miller beer accounts. Halloween parties were always fun while always hosting special events.  It was a comfortable place to wind down and meet people.

Last Chance Saloon was a Grayslake institution for nearly 20 years owned by father and son. Again, known for some fun parties that took place surrounding a Western decor. I actually remember making my first toga and toga party at the Last Chance with a date. It is now Emil’s Tavern on Center street.

Finally, Fiddlesticks in Lincolnshire was a place I enjoyed with a square bar where you could sit on one one side and flirt with others, not too far away, but far enough if you decided it wasn’t the right move. A small, crowded dance floor existed behind one end of the bar.  People always talk of the bars that they met their significant other and I, too, met the man I married and had two children in this bar on Olde Half Day Road. He was quiet…not your average flirt who liked to read books on bar stools rather than assume the normal pick up role. And I loved to read.

(Picture:  a Chicago Speakeasy 1920)

Fond memories of fine dining: Restaurants now extinct

Fine dining was a special favorite for my Dad and we went to a new place frequently. He was a business owner and that was the way he felt he could thank those that purchased his product. That was the way he thought he could teach his only child manners and grace. Though, I loved to explore new places , it was always the same as far as my food choice, a kiddie cocktail and a steak sandwich/medium rare without the bread. After he passed away, my Mother continued the tradition with me through the decades. Though long gone and my list could go on and on, I just included places that I had visited in the outlining suburbs/towns of Chicago back in the day.

Green Shingle in Harvey had exemplified true love from the early 60’s. It with my first date with my Dad in my best dress, shoes and gloves. It was my first steak sandwich medium rare but would not be last.After my Dad passed away, it was my second date with my college professor who helped to celebrate my birthday with fellow students;  that same college professor who passed away from cancer a few years ago. And finally, a date with my first boyfriend as we first held hands at the candlelit tabkle; killed in a car accident shortly after.

Dunlaps started as a concession but moved in 1937 to its Palos Heights location on 123rd lasting for 60 years. My father owned a business in decorative and auto glass. One of his clients was Dunlaps in which he created the smoked glass that enhanced visitors behind the long, bar still in exquisite condition when the restaurant closed. Even as a child and adult, I remember staring at my self, proud of my family contributing some part to an institution for great food including real relish trays with pickled beets.

Yesteryear in Kankakee,IL was a restaurant situated in the Frank Lloyd Wright home the B. Harley Bradley House located on Harrison Avenue. In the early 1940’s, my Mother lived in Kempton, IL and wanted to go to college. She rented a room from the Gates family who lived in the 400 block of Harrison Avenue  and attended Kankakee’s Business College.  The Gates, George, Ruth  and son Les became her adopted  family until they passed away in the late 1970’s. Les, who is 94, is still alive today. As a very young child, we would walk to Yesteryear which had opened in 1953. As a young adult, I attended a 50th anniversary of a family member from Cullom, IL.

Phil Schmidts, on the border of Illinois in Indiana, had been opened for 97 years . It was a place of many memories that included the celebration of events such as graduation parties. Known for their seafood, their most popular was frog legs and perch. Beginning in 1910 and closing in 2007, also made their own amazing tartar sauce.

The Tivoli on Glenwood Rd in Chicago Heights was also a favorite establishment especially for weddings or other family events. Though older when I visited the Tivoli, I had graduated from a steak sandwich to a wonderful porterhouse they served there and a broiled filet mignon topped with blue cheese.

The Old Barn in Burbank was a beautiful, elegant adventure for me as a child and adult dating back to the 1920’s when it originally was a speakeasy during Prohibition. Another great choice for wedding receptions and family dinners which had closed in 2008 and was 87 years. The Old Barn was especially beautiful during the holidays with leather chairs in the dining area and beautiful sofas and fireplace in the lounge.

Country Squire in Grayslake, IL was originally built in 1938 as the residence of a Sears family member and it was a mansion that became the Country Squire Restaurant in 1954. A breathtaking estate that I enjoyed often as an adult, experiencing on a date and also enjoying a wonderful wedding of a dear friend. I remember celebrating Mother’s Day with my own Mom  as she cried for its beauty and wonderful food.

The Flame, finally, in Countryside became another family favorite celebrating the same Mom’s  65th birthday there with her grandchildren. The restaurant was a classic with another dress me up atmosphere and the best in seafood and steak.  My love still was always steak or a Chateaubriand for two and for Mom, the best orange roughy she had ever tasted!