Chicago Relocation

Old Town – 2nd City and SO MUCH MORE (Part 1)

December 30, 2013

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Chicago neighborhoods
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John D’Ambrogio

Ah Old Town.  One of Chicago’s great neighborhoods. Separating the upscale high end Gold Coast with great residential “neighborhoody” neighborhoods (i.e. trees and small swatches of grass) lies Old Town.

Approximately between Division and North (OK go up a block or two) and from Clybourn/Larrabee to the park.  Many people do consider Old Town the south “sub neighborhood” of Lincoln Park – hey don’t kill the messenger. But truly, this is where the north side begins to become “residential” so to speak. Far fewer business beside those that cater to the community which is filled with young hipsters, dedicated urban cool people, and the spectrum in between.

Housing? With cool Victorians, lovely frame homes and, of course, a plethora of apartments Old Town is vibrant. It’s beautiful. It’s lovely. It ain’t cheap. But you can (arguably) walk downtown,  walk to Lincoln Park, beaches, zoo, etc. and super easy El access. Driving? Did you just pass an open parking spot?  You might want to grab it because you’ll never find parking here.

(My parking secret is LaSalle.  Something’s always open on LaSalle on the weekends. Hope I didn’t jinx myself)

In a city filled with great museums Old Town is home to the Chicago History Museum. A relatively small museum you’ll find such curiosities as the original walls of Fort Dearborn; the bed that Lincoln died in; as well as a myriad of Chicago-focused traveling exhibits.

Now some of my older friends and relatives remember Old Town from the hippie heyday.  Anyone remember the famous Bizarre Bazaar Headshop? (Am I allowed to talk about this?) Oh, how about Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum? OK I’m dating myself. If you have no idea what I am talking about you were born after The Beatles broke up. Maybe after Wings broke up….

And hey, you can always enjoy The bijou theater. I’ll let you Google that one.

This cool quirky neighborhood even spawned a little boutique furnishing company called Crate and Barrel! Now what Chicagoan didn’t register at for their wedding? Hands please?

A great Church (I don’t know what it’s like inside because I’m one of those people, but outside it’s lovely) is St. Mike’s. One of only 7 churches to survive the great fire. Lovely little community and they hold a great little beer festival each summer. Isn’t that ironic?


December State of the Real Estate Market 2013

December 23, 2013

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John D’Ambrogio

Chicago has had a lot of snow this December but John D’Ambrogio shares with you why the increase of flurries hasn’t halted Chicago’s consistent real estate recovery.


Pagan symbols on my after work run…..

December 16, 2013

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Chicago neighborhoods
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John D’Ambrogio

Last time we were together I was waxing poetic about the lovely bounty of pagan symbolism in our fair city. I took you through my morning run where I find truly stunning examples.  If I’m running after work I usually head north up the Mag Mile or the lakefront. No loss of classic representation on the north side, either.

So cross the river and head north up Michigan Ave. where the beautiful Hotel Intercontinental boasts reliefs reflecting Mesopotamia in the time of Xerxes (5th century BC).  Glance across the street to see Atlas holding up the world at the McGraw Hill building.

If you keep heading North to the entrance of the zoo you’ll see playful Pan the satyr. God of the forest, fields, and animals.  Pan surely belongs in this setting!

Head further north into Lincoln Park and visit Hebe (again? Two statues in our fair city?).  The Greek goddess of youth, adorns the Lincoln Park conservatory.

As for the rest of the city, if you want to get all “pagan wedding” you can tie the knot at a handful of locations.  Can’t speak from experience. There’s also always Pagan’s Liquors on West Division. Ah, maybe not.

But actually, if you’re out that way, head on over to one of Chicago’s GEMS – The Garfield Park Conservatory (Central Park and Lake). Visit their stunning outdoor garden and see our girl Ceres again (along with a Native American goddess of corn) in larger than life statues with bulls and bison.

Politics aside, I find it truly fascinating that a country that struggles so much with its identity in terms of religion and politics, secularism and fundamentalism, never seems to notice that the majority of statuary (beside ex-presidents and politicians, of course) are actually someone else’s religious symbols. Symbols of religion that carried as much weight (if not more) with as large a percent of the populace (if not more).

But that’s ancient history, now isn’t it?







Chicago – One of the most tolerant cities in America

December 3, 2013

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John D’Ambrogio

Just a quick note to readers – Please check out this article DNA Chicago –  As a civic institution, it is always a challenge encompassing various ethnic, cultural and religeous groups.  At “The Holidays” it is particularly challenging.  Usually what we see is a Christmas Tree and a Menorah.  Props to Chicago for allowing Atheists and Pagans (an unlikely alliance, if you ask me) to have their day in celebrating important events that, in fact, do shape this season.  Here is the article.



Pagan symbols on my morning run…..

December 2, 2013

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Chicago neighborhoods
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John D’Ambrogio

Many of you gentle readers know my fondness for a quiet morning run to make up for all the Aurelio’s and wine I enjoy in my off hours. One thing I completely love about our city is the wonder architecture, the statues, the nature, the lake….okay that’s four things.  But it’s just such a great city!

Today let’s focus on a particular type of public art that I adore. Pagan statues. Statues that connect this most modern of American cities deep into the past. Obviously these 19th, 20th and 21st century builders and architects had some incredible respect for days gone by. But of course, the ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians well, they could build! Here are some of the statues I pass most mornings. You might too – look up…look around!

Let’s start just north of The Loop on LaSalle.  Take a look up at 120 N. LaSalle and see the mosaic of Daedalus and Icarus. You know these two, the guys who escaped the Labyrinth after ditching the nasty Minotaur. But don’t worry,  here Icarus isn’t too close to the sun (you may want to look up that reference). While we’re on Greek mythology, jet over to Michigan Avenue and visit the old Illinois Athletic Association building to see the big guy himself, Zues, presiding over an Olympic game, nonetheless!

Head back to LaSalle to see truly one of the most iconic views of the city – the building my kids call the Ceres Tower.”  Perched atop the Chicago Board of Trade, the goddess of grain (holding her wheat and corn) looks down on the classical buildings below on LaSalle, the center of Chicago’s finance and commerce district. The always prudent traders apparently decided not to spend the extra money to actually create a face on Ceres! Maybe they figured that hundreds of feet up no one would be able to notice? Below Ceres’ gaze more statues grace the open courtyard.  These interpretations of the goddesses of industry and agriculture have full faces (they’re at ground level, after all).

131 S. Dearborn building has simply a stunning replica of the Winged Victory of Samothrace in shining gold. The original residing in The Lourvre.

From there, I often jog east to Grant Park to the small “spirit of music” garden on Michigan Ave. at Balbo featuring the goddess of music holding a lyre. They’ve moved that statue to three different locations since 1930, or maybe she gets bored with certain parts of the park. Anyway, she is a stunning, half draped beauty in a wonderful garden. In the summer, they hold free dance lessons with a full band on Sunday nights! Thousands walk and drive past her each day. Take a look next time.

Then keep walking (or jogging) south to 11th – There’s Hebe, goddesss of youth. It was sponsored by a Joseph Rosenberg, who grew up as a newsboy in Chicago and could never get a drink of water from local merchants. He vowed that someday he would create a public water fountain for those newsboys. He did, and and Hebe stands over it with a lovely chalice.

Now go east to the lake and hang a ralph. I like to continue a bit south, past the planetarium and it’s mini stonehenge collection of rocks (just off the lake, just south of the building), not to mention the depictions of the 12 signs of the zodiac gracing the outside.

Keep going (there’s a drinking fountain on the way) – Northerly island hosts a section featuring the lovely Daphne garden.  She was a beautiful nymph (in this incarnation made of old automobile parts!) who attracted the eye of Apollo. A truly striking figure. This is a 21st century sculpture – Nice to know that we STILL remember the old ways.

Well, that’s a baker’s dozen (plus), all right in the downtown area…..wonder what I’ll find in my afternoon run?