Chicago History

Posted on May 19, 2011. Filed under: Nonfiction |

Chicago is a city full of interesting places and history. Why not check out some of these new books in Oakton’s Library about the Chicago’s entertainment scene, famous and historic locations, and diverse neighborhoods and suburbs, not to mention Mrs. O’Leary’s mythical cow.

The Chicago Music Scene : 1960s and 1970s
by Dean Milano

“This is the story of two decades of the Chicago music scene-the 1960s and 1970s, an incredibly vibrant period in urban and suburban music scenes across the country and throughout the world. Chicago was a major player throughout those decades. It was a time when jazz, rock and roll, country and western, folk, blues, and R & B flowed through the streets of Chicagoland. Much has been written about the national and international talent of that time, but not enough has been written regarding local music scenes. This story focuses on the city of Chicago (along with its suburban club scene) and the homegrown performers who made the 1960s and 1970s one of the most electrifying and memorable periods in music history. Some of those players went all the way to the big time, while others made their mark and disappeared. But they all made a difference in their own way, and for those who were there, it is a time they will never forget” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide
Edited by Ann Durkin Keating

““Which neighborhood?” It’s one of the first questions you’re asked when you move to Chicago. And the answer you give—be it Bucktown, Bronzeville, or Bridgeport—can give your inquisitor a good idea of who you are, especially in a metropolis with 230 very different neighborhoods and suburbs to choose from. Many of us, in fact, know little of the neighborhoods beyond those where we work, play, and live. This is especially true in Chicagoland, a region that spans over 4,400 square miles and is home to more than 9.5 million residents.

In Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs, historian Ann Durkin Keating sheds new light on twenty-first-century Chicago by providing a captivating yet compact guide to the Midwest’s largest city. Keating charts Chicago’s evolution with comprehensive, cross-referenced entries on all seventy-seven community areas, along with many suburbs and neighborhoods both extant and long forgotten, from Albany Park to Zion. Thoughtful interpretive essays by urban historians Michael Ebner, Henry Binford, Janice Reiff, Susan Hirsch, and Robert Bruegmann explore how the city’s communities have changed and grown throughout the years, and sixty historic and contemporary photographs and additional maps add depth to each entry.

From the South Side to the West Side to the North Side, just about every local knows how distinctive Chicago’s neighborhoods are. Few of us, however, know exactly how they came to be. Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs brings the city—its inimitable neighborhoods, industries, and individuals—to life, making it the perfect guidebook for anyone with an interest in Chicago and its history” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

Chicago Television
Edited by Daniel Berger and Steve Jajkowski

“The history of television in Chicago begins with the birth of the medium and is defined by the city’s pioneering stations. WBKB (now WLS-TV) was the principal innovator of the Chicago School of Television, an improvisational production style that combined small budgets, personable talent, and the creative use of scenery and props. WNBQ (now WMAQ-TV) expanded the innovative concept to a wider audience via the NBC network. WGN-TV scored with sports and kids. Strong personalities drove the success of WBBM-TV. A noncommercial educational station, WTTW, and the city’s first UHF station, WCIU, added diversity and ethnic programming.

The airwaves in Chicago have been home to a wealth of talented performers and iconic programs that have made the city one of the country’s greatest television towns. Chicago Television, featuring photographs from the archives of the Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC) and the collections of local stations and historians, gives readers a front-row seat on a journey through the fi rst 50 years of Chicago television, 1940-1990. Founded in 1982 by broadcaster Bruce DuMont, the MBC Web site offers over 10,000 digital assets” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

The Great Chicago Fire and the Myth of Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow
by Richard F. Bales

“The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 swallowed up more than three square miles in two days, leaving thousands homeless and 300 dead. Throughout history, the fire has been attributed to Mrs. O’Leary, an immigrant Irish milkmaid, and her cow. On one level, the tale of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow is merely the quintessential urban legend. But the story also represents a means by which the upper classes of Chicago could blame the fire’s chaos on a member of the working poor.

Although that fire destroyed the official county documents, some land tract records were saved. Using this and other primary source information, Richard F. Bales created a scale drawing that reconstructed the O’Leary neighborhood. Next he turned to the transcripts–more than 1,100 handwritten pages–from an investigation conducted by the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, which interviewed 50 people over the course of 12 days. The board’s final report, published in the Chicago newspapers on December 12, 1871, indicates that commissioners were unable to determine the cause of the fire. And yet, by analyzing the 50 witnesses’ testimonies, the author concludes that the commissioners could have determined the cause of the fire had they desired to do so. Being more concerned with saving their own reputation from post-fire reports of incompetence, drunkenness and bribery, the commissioners failed to press forward for an answer. The author has uncovered solid evidence as to what really caused the Great Chicago Fire” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

Walking Chicago: 31 Tours of the Windy City’s Classic Bars, Scandalous Sites, Historic Architecture, Dynamic Neighborhoods, and Famous Lakeshore
by Ryan Ver Berkmoes

“Drawing on years of living and working in Chicago, journalist and travel writer Ver Berkmoes presents a compact guide to 31 walking tours of the city he calls home. Ranging in distance from 1.5 to 6.5 miles, the walks span all parts of the city. Each entry includes a map; list of public transit serving the location; general description of the area and sites; step-by-step instructions for each stage of the walk, with detailed descriptions of what can be seen along the route; linking points to other walks found in the book; points of interest, with address, phone number, and website, where applicable; and a simplified route summary. The appendices include listings of the walks grouped into nine themes–such as architecture, classic Chicago neighborhoods, history, shopping–and points of interest, also thematically grouped. Illustrated with b&w photographs” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

-posted by Gretchen Schneider

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