A Walk Through Chinatown – Chicago

Last week my friend Suzette and I visited Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood. We had a wonderful time walking around and taking in the culture of the neighborhood. We explored beautiful artwork, stores and buildings and had a delicious lunch of Teriyaki Chicken at the Richland Center Food Court. Chinatown is easily accessible from Downtown Chicago. You take the CTA Red Line train to the Cermak/Chinatown stop.

Linda’s Flower Shop and Mi Casa Flower Store
Interior of the Richland Center Food Court building
Internet Cafe Restaurant at the Richland Center Food Court building
St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church
Courtyard at St. Therese Church
At Saint Therese Church
Chicago Public Library Chinatown Branch
Library Interior
Library Interior
Artwork in the Library
Sidewalk Tile

Chopin Theatre – Chicago

The Chopin Theatre is located at 1543 West Division Street in Chicago’s Polish Triangle in the Wicker Park neighborhood. It was built in 1918. It hosts hundreds of shows/presentations per year ranging from theatre to jazz and classical music, literature, film and social events. The main stage area seats over 200 and the black-box studio area seats approximately 175. It is currently showing Pinocchio through May 19th.

The terra cotta building was designed by architects Worthmann and Steinbach. It underwent some name changes over the years. It was first operated by Victor Bardonski and in 1923 it was renamed Harding Theatre. In 1931 it went back to Chopin, then to Pix Theatre and back to Chopin (which it remains today).

It has been owned by the Dyrkacz family since 1990. They bought it when it was largely vacant and have restored it to its present charm and it just celebrated its 100 year anniversary!

Some famous people that have presented there are: Gwendolyn Brooks, Studs Terkel, Kevin Koval, John Cusack, and Ed Pachke.

Find out more about the Chopin Theatre at http://www.chopintheatre.com

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Building – Aurora

The St. Joseph Mercy Hospital building was erected and dedicated in 1931. It was originally called Mercy Manor. It is located at 421 N. Lake Street in Aurora Illinois. It was designed by architect Wybe Jelles Van der Meer of Rockford in the Collegiate Gothic style. It is six stories high and has a seven and a half story tower. It is the current home of the Presence Fox Knoll Retirement Center. It overlooks Wilder Park and the Fox River.

The Flat Iron Arts Center

The Flat Iron Arts Center is located in the Flat Iron Building at the corner of Milwaukee, North Avenue and Damen in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. It has been an artists colony since the 1980s and houses studios for visual arts of any type, musicians, hair design, etc. The building is open 24 hours a day/ seven days a week for viewing the art in the hallways. And artists studios open houses are held on the first Friday of each month.

Wicker Park at the CTA Damen Stop

The heart of the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago is at the intersection of Damen, Milwaukee and North Avenue. The locations shown below are all at this intersection, which is just steps from the CTA Blue Line Damen stop. The Damen stop (and this vibrant community) is just minutes from Downtown Chicago. Hip Wicker Park has been a residential community since Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837.

The Blue Line Lounge and Grill
Lodge Hall
Stan’s Donuts
The Robey Restaurant in the Northwest Tower Building – Damen Avenue was previously called Robey Street
The Northwest Tower, aka the Coyote Building
Noel State Bank Building
Flatiron Arts Building – Holabird and Roche architects

Polish Triangle – Chicago

The Polish Triangle (or Polonia Triangle) is located in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago. It used to be referred to as the Polish Downtown area of Chicago. It is located at the intersection of Milwaukee, Division and Ashland Streets.

The Polish Downtown is the city’s oldest Polish settlement. It dates back to the 1800s in Chicago history. The area is still home to numerous Polish institutions such as the Polish Museum, Polish National Alliance and the Polish Daily News. It’s also home to the Chopin Theatre and Podhalanka Polish restaurant.

The area near the triangle has two beautiful Polish Catholic Cathedrals: St. Stanislaus Kostka and Holy Trinity Polish Mission. Pulaski Park is also nearby.

The triangle is conveniently located right at the CTA Blue Line Division stop. The actual triangle is a park around a fountain called the Nelson Algren fountain. It was named after the famous poet/writer because he lived in the area and wrote about the Poles.

I really enjoyed visiting the Polish Triangle, because to me it represents everything Chicago was in the past, is currently and will be in the future. I attribute this to the area’s architecture with buildings from the 1800s and tall futuristic looking buildings. What a special place!

James R. Thompson Center, a.k.a State of Illinois Building – Chicago

The Thompson Center (as it is mostly referred to) is located at 100 West Randolph Street in Downtown Chicago. It houses State of Illinois government offices. It was completed in May 1985 and was designed by architect Helmut Jahn in the postmodern style. The building has 17 stories and takes up an entire block in Chicago’s Loop. It is bounded by Randolph, Lake, Clark and LaSalle Streets. The sculpture in front of the building is called Monument With Standing Beast, by Jean Dubuffet.

The building hs been called both outrageous and wonderful in its open-plan design. All 17 floors can be seen from the building’s large skylit atrium. The open office plan was meant to convey the message of an open government.

In addition to the sculpture in front of the building, it also houses many specially commissioned artworks funded by the State. The Illinois Artisan’s shop is also housed in the building.

The spot was previously the location of the Sherman House Hotel until 1973.

Amid controversy, the building is expected to be sold, because the State says it is too expensive to do the needed renovation and maintenance. It is hoped that it will be sold to someone who will maintain it rather than destroy this beautiful “work of art” building!

Klaus Department Store – Chicago’s Past

Klaus Department store was located on Milwaukee Avenue near Diversey in the Avondale neighborhood. Today, the Kay Shoe store is in the location where Klaus once stood. Klaus was kind of an upscale store compared to the nearby Goldblatt’s. It was like a small Marshall Field’s or Macy’s. I remember there were a lot of stairs right away when you entered the store. When I was growing up we lived a few blocks from the store and my mother and I would always walk there and shop. Those were some great times!

Photo from the 1960s

Photo today