In Chicago's early years, city politics were a dull non-partisan affair. That changed in 1855, when a coalition of temperance advocates and anti-Catholic Know Nothings took advantage of low voter turnout to seize city hall.
Once elected, Mayor Levi Boone and the new council majority hiked liquor license fees while also shortening license terms from one year to three months. Expecting resistance, Mayor Boone “reformed” the city's police force: tripling its size, refusing to hire immigrants, requiring police to wear uniforms for the first time, and directing them to enforce an old, previously ignored ordinance requiring the Sunday closing of taverns and saloons. These were intentionally provocative acts aimed at Germans and Irish accustomed to spending their leisure hours in drinking establishments. [...] Prosecutions clogged the city courts and attorneys scheduled a test case for April 21. This, in effect, scheduled the riot.Today is the 160th anniversary of the Lager Beer Riot, Chicago's first civil disturbance. [more inside]
How do you destroy the aesthetic integrity of the world's fourteenth tallest building? All you need are five massive letters.
"Live comedy thrives off an audience, but what if the comics have no idea how the crowd is responding? At 7 Minutes in Purgatory, half a dozen local [Chicago] comics were tasked with doing a set alone in a soundproof room while the crowd watched via live stream elsewhere in the venue." [more inside]
When audio failed on the WGN Morning News today, the intrepid anchors persevered with pen and paper. [more inside]
"The Cubs occasionally had human mascots, but, aside from managers' children, their tenures were short-lived. (An exception was the Fat Boy, Paul Dominick, who was given credit for a 21-game winning streak in 1935 and then left for Hollywood.) Instead, they seemed to prefer animals—who, it should be noted, did not demand salaries. The 1908 world champions had Bud, a Boston bull terrier puppy with an adorable curved tail, and a grotesque-looking fake polar bear. The 1913 team had a homicidal gamecock, named Tampa after their spring training home. (Tampa's mascotting career seems to have ended when he murdered another rooster.) In 1915, they had another dog, a terrier named Toy. But mostly they had live cubs."
As part of a public-private partnership intended to defray badly-needed capital improvements, the Chicago Transit Authority will peddle predatory debit cards to its riders.
Scott Newman's Jazz Age Chicago is a guide to every major movie theater, department store, sporting arena, amusement park, grand hotel and dance hall that operated in the Windy City during the 1920s.
Hearing him discuss films one day in the Lake Street Screening Room used by Chicago critics, Ebert said, "I was struck by the depth and detail of his film knowledge, and by how articulate he was." After reading his work online, Ebert was sold.Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, 24, will co-host the revival of At the Movies with Christy Lemire. [previously] [more inside]
A cosmically selective process: you enter a white cab in Chicago. After the usual pleasantries, the driver asks you if you'd like to hear a song...
La Gioconda, Tristan und Isolde, The Pearl Fishers, Il Trovatore, and Rigoletto — enacted with 16-inch rod puppets. [more inside]
Last week, the Chicago Reader laid off four of its best journalists: John Conroy (previously), Harold Henderson, Tori Marlan, and Steve Bogira. The cuts almost certainly mark the beginning of the end of the paper's role in Chicago as an investigative force and a corruption watchdog. The New York Times responds with a salute to Conroy and a defense of muckraking's relevance. [more inside]