My Chicago Adventures: Pullman and Argus Brewery


Once again, I’ve let life get away from me, and this blog has remained largely forgotten. Or maybe not forgotten, since I’ve often thought “I should write on my blog again”. But, as I’m gearing up for another major adventure, I thought I would write a post to get back in the swing of things. And this is the one that I most wanted to finish.

The Pullman neighborhood is a hidden gem in Chicago; I’ve vaguely known about it for a while now, but the topic is timely because earlier this year President Obama stopped by to celebrate the new designation of the Pullman National Monument, under the National Parks System. Which presumably means even better preservation for the site, and greater recognition of its’ historical significance.

The historic district itself is smaller than the neighborhood of Pullman, between 111th and 115th streets, and Cottage Grove and Langley Avenues. This is considered the far South Side of Chicago, as even the red line trains don’t come this far. Take the red line to the end of the line, and you still have a 15 minute bus ride to get to the Pullman Historic District.

The district includes the Pullman State Historic Site, the Historic Pullman Foundation, and the Pullman National Monument NPS. The Historic Pullman Foundation is housed in a very unassuming looking building, and is a good place to start. While I have yet to visit the museum (the hours were rather limited), I had time enough to ask for the self-guided walking tour brochure, which led me around the neighborhood and gave simple explanations about the buildings and their use and architecture.

The very simple explanation is that Pullman was a company town for employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company. George Pullman wanted to uplift his lower-class employees, and built a town with some of the first worker housing with indoor plumbing, a hotel, market, church, and factory buildings, and attempted to provide for his employees in every forseeable way. However, it was not a true utopia. “The opportunities that Pullman provided went beyond social uplift—they amounted to social control. A Chicago Tribune editorial stated that, “none of the…advantages of the model city will compensate for the restrictions on the freedom of the workmen…” Limitations on freedom sowed the seeds of social unrest”, which resulted in strikes, boycotts, and bloody conflict between labor and employers (http://www.nps.gov/pull/upload/PullmanUniGrid.pdf). If you are at all interested in the industrial and labor history of America, then you’ll just have to come visit.

What brings me to the Argus Brewery were these “limitations on freedom”. Saloons and drinking establishments were forbidden, so many of these thirsty employees wandered over to the other side of the tracks to find what they were looking for. Argus Brewery is a new enterprise, but it is housed in an old horse stables that was the distribution center for the Joseph Schlitz brewing company – heard of it? You’ve probably at least seen the logo somewhere in Chicago, with the Schlitz banner over a globe. Schlitz was just one of several breweries along the same street, catering to the large population of German, Polish and Eastern European immigrants that worked for Pullman. On a tour of the Argus Brewery today, the guide will share a little bit of this Chicago history, along with the requisite explanation of how beer is made, and how Argus fits into the growing craft beer culture of Chicago.

Advertisements

My Chicago Adventures: Lincoln Square/Ravenswood


I love Lincoln Square! But seriously, the neighborhood of Lincoln Square seems to have a lot going for it. As per usual, my copy of the “Open House Chicago” sites was my guide to exploring the neighborhood, and I’ve made repeat visits back to the DANK-Haus German American Cultural Center. The museum there is free and worth a visit to learn about the German legacy in Chicago. After having just read the book Death in the Haymarket, and the Haymarket Affair and labor struggles in late nineteenth century Chicago, it was strange to see this poster below; the poster called for workers to meet and discuss recent events and labor strikes. Little did they know the firestorm that would start that night (http://www.history.com/topics/haymarket-riot).

IMG_1142

Inside the DANK Museum at the cultural center; historic political leaflets in English and German.

It’s true that Germans made up one of the largest portions of the immigrant population in Chicago, when they started arriving in the city in the nineteenth century. Imagine then that they arrive in Chicago, set up their trades to be bakers and beer brewers etc., and some teetotaling mayor decides it is illegal to drink on Sundays, their only day off of work! That Joseph Medill… Anyway, I liked the German cultural center so much that I came back for an art exhibit, German cinema night, and now I’m volunteering for their booth at the street festival “Maifest” at the end of the month. This is all in line with my next big adventure, which has yet to be announced. Something to do with German language and culture, that’s all I’ll say for now!

Below are a few more pictures of the place, complete with a view of Lincoln Square from the rooftop terrace of the building.

IMG_1484

The club room inside the DANK Haus is full of character!!

DSCN9350

International art exhibition and the opening event at the DANK Haus.

Dank Haus Panorama

View over Lincoln Square from the rooftop terrace.

And… I leave you with a few more favorites from the area:

A very German and international type of place :)

A very German and international type of place 🙂

The exterior of the old Krause Music Store on Lincoln Avenue.

The exterior of the old Krause Music Store on Lincoln Avenue.

Architectural Artifacts is a warehouse full of... architectural artifacts for sale.

Architectural Artifacts is a warehouse full of… architectural artifacts for sale.

Rosehill Cemetery, North Side Chicago


I am a fan of cemeteries. This may be strange to some but cemeteries can be peaceful, beautiful, and historic all at the same time. Rosehill Cemetery is supposedly Chicago’s largest cemetery, with many Civil War soldiers, and well-known Chicagoans buried here. I visited on a snowy weekend in February, so I suppose it’s about time I posted these pictures; I’m including just a few of my favorites.

DSCN9336

The cemetery entrance was designed by architect William W. Boyington, best remembered for his design of the Chicago Water Tower.

DSCN9339

A Civil War monument near the East side entrance, with names and battlesites running around the bottom. A flag is draped over the carving of a cannon.

DSCN9340

And more Civil War soldiers. According to another blog, this is the Monument of Battery B. Dates of death were mostly around 1862.

DSCN9345

The obelisk monument for Mayor “Long John” Wentworth; he was an Illinois politician, and Mayor of Chicago during the Civil War. According to the monument, he had four children with his wife, all of which died in infancy. 

Below are some links to further info about the cemetery:

http://www.civilwar.org/civil-war-discovery-trail/sites/rosehill-cemetery-and-civil-war-museum.html

http://chicago-architecture-jyoti.blogspot.com/2011/03/rosehill-cemetery-soldiers-and-sailors.html

Triton Troupers Circus 2015


This year counted as my 5-year anniversary with the Triton Troupers Circus. Granted, that year when I was in England I didn’t get to participate, but I cheered them on from afar. This year I was happy to walk in the Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day parade to advertise for the circus, and to participate in 6 different acts for show week. The shows were dedicated to the group’s founder, Jeff Austin and his wife who died this past year; the 44th year and still going strong!

 

And a double trapeze video!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DikI_jUFm5A

My Chicago Adventures: Pilsen


My second neighborhood to visit was Pilsen. Now, I’m not claiming that I’ve thoroughly explored these neighborhoods; not even close! I just like getting out on a Saturday, with a short list of things to see. I get the feeling there is a lot in Pilsen that I still haven’t seen or don’t know about. My visit centered around the National Museum of Mexican Art, and a few points of interest from the “Open House Chicago” list.

A mural in the Pilsen neighborhood

A mural in the Pilsen neighborhood

Hector Duarte's studio and the Gulliver in Wonderland Mural

Hector Duarte’s studio and the Gulliver in Wonderland Mural (apparently represents the stuggling Mexican immigrant as Gulliver). 

The National Museum of Mexican Art is an interesting place, not too big but nice enough. I was sad that I’d missed the Day of the Dead exhibit. The current exhibit, “Nuestras Historias: Stories of Mexican Identity from the Permanent Collection” was neat, highlighting periods of strong nationalism vs. loss of culture, and place specific identities, like Mexicans in Chicago and the Midwest. Cool.

At the National Museum of Mexican Art

At the National Museum of Mexican Art

Make tacos, not war.

My Chicago Adventures: Edgewater/Andersonville


Since moving to Chicago I’ve started a few habits: there’s the independent coffee shops on Fridays, visiting a different museum most weekends, and walking around new neighborhoods. And does Chicago have the neighborhoods! I usually plan out my walks to include some historic spots, and interesting places, and take pictures along the way.

My first neighborhood visit to share is Edgewater and Andersonville. Edgewater is long on history and has many buildings and “apartment hotels” dating from the 1920’s. The most striking and recognizable is the pink stucco Edgewater Beach Apartments, once a celebrated hotel and celebrity hotspot. Of course, once the completion of Lakeshore Drive cut off easy access to the lakefront, the hotel became a little less popular. Today the place gives off a feeling of tarnished glamour. I visited the Edgewater Historical Society for an hour to learn a bit more about the Edgewater Beach Hotel, and about the development of the neighborhood.

Edgewater Beach Apartments

Edgewater Beach Apartments

Edgewater Historical Society

Edgewater Historical Society

A walk around the neighborhood also finds many historic homes and churches; the Lakewood-Balmoral Historic District is worth a look, but none of my pictures could really capture the cute and quaint single family homes around here. To end the day, I actually ended up in the historically Swedish neighborhood of Andersonville, walking along busy Clark St. That’s where you’ll find the Swedish-American Museum, which I have yet to visit! More neighborhoods coming in the future.

The frozen Chicago lakefront in January

The frozen Chicago lakefront in January

My Christmas Letter


Around this time of year it’s customary to send out a Christmas card and letter to your friends and family; I can’t manage to mail out Christmas cards this year, so I’m opting for the digital version. Not as personal but I hope it does the job!

And every year is another adventure. Early in the year, I made the decision (which seemed momentous at the time) to not return for the season at the travel agency, but to give the “museum thing” one more solid effort. I thought, ‘I’ll give it another year, and if it doesn’t pan out, then I give up!’ Since then I’ve volunteered at the Glen Ellyn Historical Society, worked with the Curator of the Elmhurst Art Museum, attended the American Alliance of Museums conference in Seattle, started working in the gift shop of the Art Institute of Chicago, and even presented a short session at the Illinois Association of Museums conference in Rockford. Wow! I wonder what 2015 will bring.

This year has also had it’s ups and downs. Dad’s near heart attack and subsequent quadruple bypass surgery made the summer seem to fly by. The first few weeks were full of hospital visits, and then came the long road to recovery. My part time work schedule was well suited to helping out. And while we never want to repeat those months, it made us count our blessings and remember to pray.

There have also been exciting and happy moments this year, of course! I participated in the Triton Troupers Circus again, performing in silks, web, and double stunts, and having a record number of people come see the show (my parents brought their whole bible study group!). I took a contortion class too, and learned many new things. And travel is always a part of my life; in October I went on vacation to Germany with Brian and Jessica. While I wished the trip were longer, we had fun seeing friends and visiting new places, and enjoying the beer and sausage!

All in all, 2014 has been a rather difficult but rewarding year. I learned a lot, and stretched myself in ways I didn’t think possible. I paid off my student loan, and traded it for rent. The biggest change has been working downtown, and moving into an apartment in Chicago. It all sounds very adult, but don’t worry: I still eat loads of macaroni and cheese.

Anyways, have a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and may God shower blessings on you.