Home > Chi Town Views > A Chicago Stroll Art, History & the Birthplace of Organized Crime

A Chicago Stroll Art, History & the Birthplace of Organized Crime

This past Saturday was a magnificent day here in Chicago. I got up early and wanted to get out as there was a long list of places I wanted to visit and share on my ChiTownView YouTube station. So I caught the Blue line and headed downtown then caught the red line down to the double duce. Cermak Avenue or 22nd St. where you can find Chicago’s version of Chinatown. Our sights today were set a little further east.
My first stop was the birthplace of Chicago’s organized crime a ten block area of sin and debauchery known as The Levee. Of course that was at the start of the last century right now the whole area is occupied by a senior citizen highrise development. I then went a couple of blocks over to Wabash where Big Jim Colosimo and Johnny Torrio had their respective headquarters. Replaced now by vacant lots and a roaring 20’s dinner theater.
I then headed over to Michigan Ave. and began heading north into the area that in the late 50’s and early 60’s was known as Chicago’s record row. Where all the major and minor labels had their offices. At 2126 there is the Chess Records Museum and Willie Dixon Garden.  Chess recorded most of the seminal blues artists of the 50’s was also Chuck Berry’s label. A little further north we came across the former locations of Vee Jay and Capitol records. The former was another seminal blues company and the other of course a worldwide operation.
By then I was at Roosevelt Rd. at the southern end of Grant Park where I found the 106 piece “Agora” sculpture installation and the Greek revival  Rosenberg fountain.  From there I walked north up to the Art Institute where a took a break in the little grotto just off Michigan Ave. that contains the lovely Spirit of the Great Lakes fountain. That’s the great thing about Grant Park is that it contains over a hundred and twenty years of public art. From there I was going to walk through the loop and catch a Brown line train north.

It was a fairly uneventful walk until I got to the Daley Plaza. There under the watchful eye of the Picasso statute I found that Chicago was (at least this part) being transformed into Metropolis for filming of the new Superman movie. I didn’t see any major stars but did get some footage before being shagged off. From there I walked over to the Clark St. station and caught the Brown line up to North ave.
Up there I was looking for the former home of Siebens Brewery  which in the 1920’s served as the starting point for a gang war that culminated in The St. Valentines Day massacre. Like most of Chicago’s more “colorful” past it has been replaced by something else. From there we headed southwest  across Goose Island to our final stop. But by then I was as might well imagine mighty thirsty. As luck would have it I came across an establishment called The Frontier where I has a well deserved drink (gin & tonic).
Thus fortified I continued my trek down Milwaukee Rd. to 805 north. This is of course the former home of the bowling alley where “Machine-Gun” Jack McGurn was killed. Jack was a suspect in the St. Valentines Day massacre and he was killed almost exactly on the seventh anniversary of that day. By then my “dogs were barking” and it was time to ride the Blue line back to Forest Park.

It had been a great day.

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