In a vast and sprawling city like Chicago, local neighborhood history can get buried beneath the weight of heavier narratives like the Chicago Fire and Daniel Burnham’s plan. This 1994 Chicago Reader gem is a colorful exception, dispelling the notion that Chicago is “one huge city pretty much the same from end to end” and zooming in on the essence of what makes Avondale, Avondale. Set around Paul Pekin’s residence near the Avondale/Logan Square border, this nostalgic narrative takes snapshots of local businesses past (Ragin’ Cajun!) and present (Julio’s Auto Parts?) and homes which “are not likely to make anyone think of millionaires past, present, or future but instead of generations of owners hammering on siding and additions and dormer rooms.”
It’s like traveling through a time machine and trying to make sense of what happened. A New Orleans restaurant is now a private residence; a hot dog counter is now Rewster’s; J.J. Peppers still stands two decades later, but apparently had been an Amoco station not long before. Other passages recount the tragic fire at Milwaukee and Kimball, the author riding a bicycle down the Expressway before it opened, and the existence of a three story department store and bowling alley on Milwaukee Avenue past.
Read the whole story here!