Chicago Local Custom Tips by deecat Top 5 Page for this destination

Chicago Local Customs: 150 reviews and 190 photos

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Lombard Lamp - Chicago

Lombard Lamp

Lincoln Square's European Heritage History Review

Each time that I visit Lincoln Square, I learn something new about its history and heritage. I already knew that it was once a German enclave. Those German influences are still evident today.

I also knew that it was named after Abraham Lincoln

Just recently I found out about two other items, both located in Giddings Plaza, which is an adorable square right in the middle of Lincoln Square.

I was attracted to the beautiful large lamp at the far back of the plaza, nearest to Giddings Street.

It is called The Lombard Lamp because the city of Hamburg, Germany presented this lamp to the city of Chicago as a goodwill gesture. This took place in 1979 when Michael Bilandic was mayor of Chicago. He decided to place it in the Lincoln Square neighborhood since it was a German neighborhood. This Lamp is of Baroque style and is made of black cast iron and brass [similar to those on the Lombard Bridge in Hamburg]. The Lombard Lamp used to be located at Western and Lawrence [alongside the Lincoln Statue]. That is a much busier spot with lots of traffic; thus, it suffered from weather and auto emission damage. Thanks goodness, the Lincoln Square community restored the lamp. Then, in 1994, Mayor Daley and Mayor Voscherrat [Hamburg] signed a "sister cities agreement". The community of Lincoln Square celebrated this agreement by having the lamp moved to its present location in Giddings Plaza. [See Photos #1 & 2].

Also in Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square is a bronze tiered fountain whose design was inspired by the great Louis Sullivan and his building at 4811 N. Lincoln [now the Museum of Decorative Arts]. My granddaughter, Sabrina Dee, loves this fountain. She calls it a "waterfall" and can spend a half an hour at a time playing around it.

I hope to add to this tip as I discover more about this wonderful neighborhood called Lincoln Square.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 15, 2007
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Riverwalk Cafe & Bar - Chicago

Riverwalk Cafe & Bar

Very Popular Activities in Chicago in Summer

Chicago really comes alive in the summertime, and a multitude of people visit each year.
During August of 2007, Allan and I observed how "flocks of people" are attracted to key locations along the Magnificent Mile.

1. Riverwalk Cafe & Bar at 401 North Michigan Aveneue on the concourse level [312-229-8801] has recently received a liquor license and has expanded hours, and many tourist are really enjoying the river view, the new bar menu, and the spectacular location. You are also able to dine indoors, but in the summer it's the riverside patio that is "packed".

2. Just outside the Hancock Observatory Building [already a tourist attraction itself], hordes of people stand in line or sit in the patio area to enjoy the ambience and the famouse cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory at 875 North Michigan Avenu [312 337-1101]. I must say that the architecture of this restaurant is quite odd with all its curving surfaces and colorful light fixtures. Plus, I don't think that I have ever seen a larger, more diversified menu anywhere else.
Wow...the last page of the menu [and it's a large page] is devoted to their cheesecake list. Be warned, it will take time to make decisions about which of the many cheesecakes you wish to try.

3. On Saturday mornings, there is a huge Farmer's Market on Division Street north and west of the Magnificent Mile. The street is closed to traffic, and a large number of "booths" are set up that sell fresh produce. We purchased delicious corn-on-the-cob and tantalizing red peppers. If we had not had such a long walk back to our hotel, we would have purchased much more. They have pastries, breads, cheeses, meats, candles, perfumes, flowers, and assorted other items.


Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 14, 2007
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Jack Brickhouse Memorial - Chicago

Jack Brickhouse Memorial

Jack BrickHouse Memorial

While walking down Michigan Avenue, we observed a rather new memorial of Jack Brickhouse, broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs for 40 years and the Chicago White Sox for 24 years as well as the Chicago Bears for 24 years.

This memorial is located in Pioneer Court at the Equitable Plaza just south of Tribune Tower. It is on the northeast corner of Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River. We noticed that the statue is gadjacent to JackBrickhouse Way sign. [see photo #3]

Jack's wife took his Baseball Hall of Fame ring to sculptor, Jerry McKenna, so that he could sculpt the ring on the Brickhouse statue's finger. It's a very authentic sculpture.

Jack was born in Peoria, Illinois in 1917, and at the age of 18 became the youngest sports announcer in the USA. He was the first voice on WGN-TV, and in 1979, he reached a personal milestone of 5,000 broadcast for WGN Radio and TV. Jack was also the 1st TV voice for the Chicago Bulls. He retired from the broadcasting book in 1981.

Jack Brickhouse was inducted into Media Wing of Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983 and in 13 other Halls of Fame throughout the country.

All this information about Jack Brickhouse is found engraved on the base of his sculpture. That is where I learned that he broadcast interviews with 6 Presidents. He had 4 Honorary Doctorates, and he wrote two Autobiographical best sellers called:"Thanks for Listening" and "A Man for All Seasons".

I was very fond of the man and remember his famous "Hey, Hey" when he broadcast Chicago Cub Baseball Games.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 14, 2007
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Famous Marshall Field Clock Was Saved - Chicago

Famous Marshall Field Clock Was Saved

Say Goodbye to Marshall Field Retail

One of the saddest days for many people in the Chicago area was the day we learned that New York's Macy's was to replace our beloved Marshall Field's.

Fields really began as "Field, Palmer, Leiter & Co but when Levi Lieter and Potter Palmer left the company, it became known simply as Marshall Field & Co..

As time passed, great additions such as the wonderful display windows, the famous tea room, and the huge Christmas Tree became legends. Fields remained an independent Chicago company until 1982. Since that time, it has been transfered to many companies, the last one being the May Company Thus, all the Marshall Field's have now been renamed Macy's.

Thank goodness, Macy's decided to keep the famous clock (which you see in my pictures) and keep the tradition of the Christmas windows.

I went into Macy's for the first time on Februay 9. It seemed brighter than it did the last time I visited Fields; however, I still felt sad. Even though Fields had slipped in the "service" department of late, it was still the place to go in Chicago. It will take a great deal of time for me to feel comfortable in Macy's, but at least the beautiful building was saved, and, for me, that's very important.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 10, 2007
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Margie's Famed Turtle Sundae - Chicago

Margie's Famed Turtle Sundae

80+ Years of Ice Cream and Candy Eating & Drinking Review

In a cramped space in Chicago's Bucktown area on North Western Avenue, we visited the famed Margie's Candies.

Although Margie has passed, her tradition lives on. Peter Poulos Jr., the current owner, is the third generation to own Margie's. Not much has changed in the decades of this family-owned business. In 1921 Greek immigrant Peter George Poulos opened Margies where classic ice cream was served & candy was made by hand by George's wife, Margie. 18% butterfat ice cream is still served here, & the hot fudge, butterscotch, & carmel are still made.

If you want spotless, fake retro, DON'T visit here. This place is the REAL deal. It's crowded, rather "musty" smelling, and jam-packed with Beatle mementos [from their visit in 1964], dolls, hundreds of boxes of candy, & lots of old newspaper clippings on the wall.

I've heard that the service is poor; however, we did not experience that. It was not speedy, but I am not enamored with speedy.

It's difficult to make decisions because of all the choices of ice cream treats. We all 3 had an ice cream sundae [we should have shared!] The sundae comes in a huge clam-shell dish, & the topping comes in a metal pouring dish. Jill & I each ordered The Turtle Sundae with 2 scoops of ice cream, carmel topping & hot fudge in the pouring dish. It has tons of whipped cream [which I scraped off & gave to Allan]. Each sundae comes with a vanilla waffer cookie.
Since Allan loves REAL butterscotch, which he can never find, he was thrilled when he found
a real homemade butterscotch sundae.

There are only booths for seating, & each booth has its own coin-operated jukebox.

We did not try any candy, but from what I've heard, it is really good, especially the chocolate-carmel pecan tarrapins.

As we were leaving, I noticed a sign announcing that for children who make an "a" on a report card, a free cone is given. I find that quite refreshing & oh so Real Retro!

Other Contact: 1960 N. Western Ave

Phone: 773-384-1035

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jan 16, 2007
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Robin Williams:  born in Chicago - Chicago

Robin Williams: born in Chicago

Home Grown Talent in Chicago People Review

It's amazing how many famous people were either born in Chicago or spent a good portion of his/her life here.

1. Joan Cusack, movie actress and on television.
2.Gary Sinise, actor.
3. John Belushi, comedian on "Saturday Night Live" and in the movie, "Animal House".
4. Jim Belushi (John's brother), movies and has his own TV Situation Comedy.
5. Ann Margaret, movie star.
6. Oprah Winfrey, a talk show hostess and in movies.
7. Michael Jordan, the all-time greatest basketball star.
8. David Schwimmer, Situation Comedy, "Friends".
9. Chris Farley, before his death, was a comedian on "Saturday Night Live".
10. Dennis Franz, "NYC Blue"
11. Joe Mantegna, movies such as "The Godfather"
12. Tom Bosley, father on the situation comedy, "Happy Days".
13. John Mahoney, father in the situation comedy, "Fraiser".
14. John Malkovich who is a movie star.
15. Jami Gertz , TV and movie star.
16. Laurie Metcalf movies and was the sister in situation comedy, "Roseanne"
17. Harrison Ford, born in Chicago.
18. Kevin Anderson,movies and TV.
"Sleeping With the Enemy" movie and drama on TV called, "Nothing's Sacred".
19. Walt Disney born in Chicago.
20. Robin Williamscomedian, born in Chicago
21. Ernest Hemingway, author
22. Gwendolyn Brooks, Pulitzer Price in poetry
23. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator
24. Marlee Matlin, Oscar for acting role
25. Shel Silvertstein, author of children's books.
26. Bill Murray, Sat. Night Life and movies.
There are many others.
I feel that Second City Comedy Troupe has much to do with so many successful people. It's a great training ground.

Other Contact: go to movies; watch TV

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Mar 2, 2006
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Chicago's Main Library on State Street - Chicago

Chicago's Main Library on State Street

Cheap Activities in Chicago

Enjoy bargains? Chicago, like other large metropolises, use free & inexpensive activities to lure locals & tourists.

Low-& no-cost options:

A wonderful no-cost place would be the CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER because of the elegant architecture, beautiful mosaics, free information, & knowledgeable personnel.

See the CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY, if for no other reason than for the architecture & art displayed inside

Lincoln Park Conservatory & Lincoln Park Zoo are both FREE. Closely located , they are compact, easy to maneuver, & visitor friendly.


During summer months, be sure to catch the Loop Tour Train which offers a 40-minute tour with Chicago Architecture Foundation docents who give interesting tidbits about the history of downtown Chicago. Get tour tickets in advance from the Chicago Visitor Information Center at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Or, be paired up with a Chicago Greeter [a Chicago resident] who will take you on a walking tour that usually has a theme such as ARCHITECTURE, A CERTAIN NEIGHBORHOOD, OR SHOPPING. Greeters also will teach you how to use public transportation.

For other FREE treats, note the day & time for the following:

Monday: Chicago Historical Society.

Tuesday: Adler Planetarium, Museum of Contemporary Art [5-8 pm], National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum, & the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sunday: DuSable Museum of African-American History.

You can always save a good deal if you remember to purchase a CITY PASS. With this pass, you will get activities at half the price of combined individual admissions.

Not free, but a real bargain:

Eli's Plant at ELI'S CHEESECAKE WORLD gives a tour for a mere $3.00, & you get to taste-test from a selection of cheesecake flavors.

If you think Chicago is expensive, think again. With a little planning & the information on this page, you can see lots for just a little money.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 11, 2006
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Kristi [Dabs] eating a cheeseburger at Billy Goats - Chicago

Kristi [Dabs] eating a cheeseburger at Billy Goats

First 2006 VT Meeting in Chicago Eating & Drinking Review

Second Photo: Erik [Erik707]
Third Photo: Ron [RonDace] and wife Kathy
Fourth Photo: Martin [MJB123]
Fifth Photo: Roy [Imaniac]

Because Roy [Imaniac] from the Netherlands was visiting Chicago before flying to Springfield, Missouri, to attend school for a few months, we set up a VT Lunch date at the famous Bill Goat Tavern and Grill.

Ron Dace [RonDace] and his wife, Kathy from Wadsworth; Kristi [Dabs] from Hammond, Indiana; Erik [Erik707]' Martin [MJB123]; and I [deecat] attended the meeting to meet Roy.
It was Martin who did the organizing.

Although I personally am not crazy about Billy Goat's as a great place to eat, it is a Chicago happening and was a fun [but difficult to find] place to meet. We all had either cheeseburger or double cheeseburger plus some chips with our Cokes. We moved tables together, making it easy to hear everyone. It was quite an interesting conversation with travel dominating the subject at hand [naturally!]

Afterwards, Martin gave Roy, Erik, and I a tour to the north of the Tribune Building. We walked as far north as the Water Tower and west to Old Town. Along the way, we were able to see some great residential areas [some of the wealthiest in the city]. We stopped for a Starbuck's coffee and talked for at least an hour before we walked to the Elevated red line station at Clark/Division so that I could hop on to return to Andersonville where I had parked my car.

All-in-all, it was a wonderful afternoon with great VT members, and we were all fortunate enough to meet Roy [Imaniac}.

Other Contact: 430 N. Michigan [lower]

Phone: (312) 222-1525

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 7, 2006
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John Belushi Started Career at Second City - Chicago

John Belushi Started Career at Second City

Chicagoans Love Live Theatre: We Have Many Theater & Music Review

"I adore Chicago. It is the pulse of America."
Sarah Bernhardt, theatre actress

Here is a list of great "Live" Theatre in Chicago:

1. Apollo Theatre
2540 N. Lincoln (312)935-6100

2. Auditorium Theatre
2936 N. Southport (312)525-0195

3. Body Politic Theater
Players Workshop Children's Theatre
2261 N. Lincoln

4. Briar Street Theater
3133 N. Halsted

5. Famous Door Theatre Co.
3212 N. Broadway

6. Goodman Theatre
200 S. Columbus Dr.

7. Pegasus Players
1145 W. Wilson

8. The Second City
1616 N. Wells St.
Note: THE SECOND CITY since 1959 has been entertaining with its signature brand of socio-political satire.
It has been the starting point for many famous actors. Second City should not be missed!

There are several others plus suburban theatres.

Other Contact: See Individual #'s of Theatres

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 17, 2004
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Old Town School of Folk Music - Chicago

Old Town School of Folk Music

A Friendly, Low-Keyed Music School Theater & Music Review

Since 1957, the Old Town School of Folk Music has been a place of refuge for music lovers. In the 50s and 60s, the folk music scene was kind of a subversive culture, and all those who just wanted to "hang out" or play music or simply discuss social issues (usually liberal causes) were welcome at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Today, it is no longer considered a "beatnik organization"; rather, it is a well respected institute known for embracing diversity, for helping the Chicago community express music, and for entertaining those who love music.
Until 1998, the school was located at 909 West Armitage Avenue. In 1998, they moved to Lincoln Square and into the old library which is an art-deco building. Before the move, the closed-stack library area was gutted, and a concert hall was built in its place. The stage was installed where the old circulation desk stood. Supposedly, the acoustics in this concert hall are some of the best in Chicago.
There is a cafe in the building, a store, a basement with thick walls for individual studios, and a dance room with "sprung-wood flooring. In addition, there are numerous classrooms.
The school offers a wide variety of music & dance classes for all levels of expertise.
We've been there several times and can vouch that it is low-keyed and quite friendly.

Phone: (773) 728-6000

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Oct 17, 2004
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