Chicago As You’ve Never Seen It Before!

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Hi Everyone,

Thank you again for all of your kind wishes! It worked. I’ve been testing negative since Saturday (after two more tests)

So, today, we will continue with one more post about my son Cale’s and my midwestern tour taking me back to my roots.

We began in Evansville, Indiana, where I was raised from 18 months to 15. And now, we will drive up to Chicago, Illinois. I was born in Cook County Hospital on February 7, 1956.

 

Chicago and Milwaukee

Of course, I don’t remember those early months. But, I sure do remember the many trips back up from Evansville to Chicago to visit my grandparents.

Map Road Trip April 2022

They lived in a beautiful 1920s building on S. Cornell Avenue in the Hyde Park area of Chicago, just blocks from Lake Michigan.

My grandfather, Bert Bern, emigrated from Hungary shortly before World War I. Any Hungarians out there? Thanks to my dear grandpa, I can do a pretty mean Boci Boci Tarka, who bribed me with nickels and dimes to sing it for him. Awwww…

 

 

My grandma, Elsie Bern (I thought her name was Nonnie until I was 11.), was born in Chicago. She had flaming red hair and was the best cook the world has ever known. No, I don’t care what you say, she was the best. Her brisket was legendary. The only thing is, one never saw evidence of any cooking whatsoever in her kitchen. It was tiny and spotless as can be.

Did I mention that the kitchen had white cabinetry?

 

old-apartment 1920s white kitchenIt was very similar to this kitchen but a little less deep, and there were cabinets in the back.

 

It was more like the kitchen above, which you can see again here, but with the two glass cabinets like the kitchen above this one.

 

Grandpa Bern Nonnie (Elsie) Bern, Lawrence Lewis - My grandparents

My paternal grandparents, Bert Bern, and Nonnie (Elsie) Bern. Lawrence Lewis, my mother’s father is on the right. Sadly, my mother’s mother, Hannah, passed away in 1943 from brain cancer. However, this photo was taken some time shortly after her passing. In fact, it might’ve been my parents’ wedding in 1943. From left to right, my grandparents were born in 1892, 1901, and 1888!

 

After my grandmother died in 1970, I’ve only been back to Chicago a handful of times.

 

However, this time, I shared some of my memories with Cale. And sometimes, it happened without my trying to.

The drive up from Evansville is the most boring straight, straight, straight, and FLAT road ever.

 

However, despite the monotonous drive to Chicago from Evansville, Cale always has great music to play.

 

This was our favorite song by the Bee Gees. It’s not their most popular, but I think it might be their best.

Enjoy!

 

 

Back in the 1960s, when we drove to Chicago, it was for Thanksgiving every year until I was 11. It was the happiest day of the year, for I got to get out of school early. However, my father drove like he was at the Indianapolis Speed Track, slowing down just long enough to light another cigarette every ten minutes.* But, it was dark by the time we arrived in Chicago in late November.

*Too many trips in the car throwing up my guts in a shoebox definitely cured any notion of my ever lighting up one of those smoking sticks.

However, when we arrived in Chicago on Sunday, April 24th, at 6:00 PM, there was still plenty of light, albeit with atmospheric clouds. The sun wouldn’t set for another 100 minutes or so.

 

Breathtaking Chicago Skyline Lake Shore Drive

 

But, suddenly, out of nowhere, there it was.

 

The stunning Chicago skyline was taken through the windshield on Lake Shore Drive. And, oh my, has it changed from the 1960s!

 

Chicago Skyline April 2022

Fortunately, since it was Sunday, the beautiful Lake Shore Drive traffic was light.

We found our Airbnb at 63 E. Lake Street, close to the gorgeous Chicago River area.

 

Cale went to park his car, and I babysat our stuff in the lobby of the Airbnb.

 

Believe it or not, all of this is Cale’s stuff except for the black suitcase on the lower right. ;]

 

Loop_Map + 63 E. Lake Street - Chicago

via Wikimedia

Our Airbnb is marked with a red star.

I chose this location because I figured if we’re going to go to Chicago for two days, let’s do it right in the heart of the beautiful Chicago downtown area known as “The Loop.” (please see the map above showing the boundary)

 

Oh, how I remember my grandmother every visit talking about taking the L to the Loop and going to Fields.

 

Fields, of course, being the venerable old department store, Marshall Fields.

But, if she was going to Fields, it was almost definitely not to shop but instead, to dine at the Walnut Room. She didn’t have the stamina to shop in a store. However, that’s another story I’m trying not to repeat.

 

Although traditional shopping may have eluded my Nonnie, she had a clever workaround. Here’s how my savvy grandma Elsie Bern shopped:

 

She picked up the phone and dialed…

Hello, This is the Marshall Fields Operator; how may I direct your call?

EB: Yes, please ring the women’s dress department; thank you.

Hello, Women’s dresses, Irene, speaking, how may I help you.

EB: Oh, hello, Irene; I’m so glad you picked up the phone this time. It’s Elsie Bern. I am looking for a blue, or better yet, turquoise cocktail dress for a reunion, size 14. Could you please be so kind as to send over whatever you have, simple, off the shoulder, semi-formal, below the knee, not too revealing or form-fitting, and no polyester, please…

***

Yes, Mrs. Bern, we have all of your sizing information on record. We’ll have those dresses brought over to you tomorrow. I think we have your address and credit information on file here. Please allow me to double-check… Is that still 5480 South Cornell Avenue, Apt. 71?

EB: Yes, thank you so much, Irene. I very much appreciate your help. Have a good day. Goodbye.

You’re welcome, Mrs. Bern. Have a good day, as well.

Nonnie would try on the nine dresses upon delivery, then send them all back.

hahaha

That’s how my adorable grandmother shopped.

***

Cale and I brought up the trolley with our things up to the 22nd floor of 63 E. Lake Street. It was a spacious two-bedroom apartment touted to be a corner penthouse. True, it was on the top floor, but there was no outdoor space except above us on the roof deck, open to all guests.

The rates for this place vary quite a bit, but we got a great price considering where we were.

We each gravitated towards different bedrooms. (There were two bedrooms and a living room!) I plopped my stuff down in my room.

 

And then, I looked out the window at the breathtaking Chicago skyline.

 

View out my window April Chicago north loop

Here is what I saw.  This is looking north over East Lake Street.

The exquisite building on the left is the Jewelers Building at 35 E. Wacker Drive. You can read more about it here.

In the distance on the right is the Mather Tower at 75 E. Wacker Drive and completed in 1928.

Then, I ran into the living room and looked out of the window facing west.

 

Below, as the sun was setting, you can see the aforementioned “L” train, which loops around downtown Chicago adjacent to the Chicago River. During my childhood, we indeed spent time in this part of town. It was my first taste of a BIG CITY, and I always loved coming to Chicago.

 

However, I never saw Chicago like this, and I bet most of you haven’t either. If you look closely, you can see a train barreling down the tracks. Now that I’ve said that, someone will tell me they live in one of these places with a killer view. haha

 

Looking West over the L Chicago

I believe the interesting-looking building that looks like a giant telescope is a government building. If you know, I’m relying on you lovely locals to help me fill in the blanks!

I love staying at Airbnbs because we always get one with a kitchen, and we each had our own room. Therefore, we needed to get some groceries. It took a little doing, but we finally found a small convenience-type store a few blocks away.

 

However, on the way to and from, I began taking pics every time I went ohhhhh, how beautiful!!!

 

The Chicago River at Night April 2022

One of numerous Chicago River bridges open to pedestrians and cars alike. This is looking west.

 

Looking east the Chicago River and Wrigley building

And, looking east, a fantastic shot, including the iconic Wrigley Building. Yes, as in chewing gum. That Wrigley. My grandfather adored this building on Michigan Ave, the main shopping drag in the loop in downtown Chicago, known as “The Magnificent Mile.”

 

Chicago magnificent mile + loop
This map will repeat near the end of the post, so you don’t have to break your finger scrolling back up. haha

Beyond the Wrigley Building is another landmark that you can barely make out– The Tribune Tower. Initially built for the Chicago Tribune. Today it is a luxury apartment building. I don’t know if they are for rent or sale or anything else. However, if interested, they have created a beautiful website.

 

In the summer of 1969, when I was 13, my father was in a VA hospital in Chicago because he had a lengthy, rare, and incapacitating auto-immune illness.

 

When school let out, I spent about a week in Chicago, sharing a room with my 23-year-old sister, Holly. My mom let me take the L by myself, and then I wandered up and down Michigan Ave, where I bought myself a couple of new dresses for school. I felt so grown-up and sophisticated.

My sister was reading Portnoy’s Complaint, and this song was playing on the radio.

 

 

Chicago_River_via Wikimedia Commons

Chicago_River_via Wikimedia Commons

 

The image above gives a better view of the Chicago River and its bridges.

 

The next day,  the only full day in Chicago, Cale and I woke up, and between the drive and all of the shlepping of our stuff, we were both sore and tired.

 

I know it might seem strange, but I decided that we should get a professional therapeutic massage. And so we booked two back-to-back massages for later that afternoon.

 

The Carolan Today April 2022

But first, we took a commuter train down to 5480 S. Cornell Avenue in the Hyde Park section of Chicago. That is the address of the Carolan Apartments, where my grandparents lived in the 1950s and 60s. Their apartment is on the top floor on the left side of the image.

 

We need the perfect song!

 

 

The building still looks pretty much the same on the outside.

 

However, the inside had some remuddling that, while not hideous, totally negated the 1920s charm the building still retained in the 1960s. Sadly, all of that was gone.

 

That is faux wood grain. Yes, it is. It was absolutely, definitely painted back in the 1960s.

 

Carolan 1920s residence hotel

However, in the lobby is this mural of how the Carolan looked in the 1920s.

 Apartments - My Grandparents floor plan
Above is the exact floorplan of my grandparent’s apartment. It amazes me how much it looked like my old apartment in Bronxville. It was even the same size!

 

Thanksgiving circa 1964 5480 S. Cornell AveAbove, the whole mishpocha (various spellings, but pronounced mish-pooka) at Thanksgiving circa 1964. (I’m sorry about the poor quality.) The cast of characters beginning at 5:00 and going clockwise.
My dad- Seymour, My mom- Lee, Sis- Holly, cuz- Cherie, bro Donald, cuz- Dawn, Nonnie, Grandpa, moi, Uncle Mark, and Aunt Francine my dad’s sis.

 

A smiling selfie outside the Carolan. I’ve included this shot because this is the exact spot where my grandparents would stand to bid us farewell every year– tears streaming down my dear Nonnie’s pale cheeks. I never understood it until I felt the gut-wrenching pain when my children are about to leave me for a protracted period.

 

Lovely Hyde Park Chicago apartm

Across the street from the Carolan, we saw this gorgeous building at 5421 S. Cornell Ave.

 

5480 S. Cornell Ave - 63 E Lake Street - Chicago, IL

 

To give some reference, the entire city of Chicago, plus its suburbs. Above is the distance from my grandparents to our Airbnb, which is actually eight miles.

After our visit to my grandparent’s building, Cale and I went for a stroll and had a coffee and shared a slice of carrot cake (no judging, we were on vacation!) at a nearby cafe.

And then, we went back uptown (from Hyde Park) for our massages.

I went first because I’m the mama, haha, and Cale went for a walk. Of course, when it was his turn, I HAD to take myself over to “Fields.” AKA Marshall Fields, the Chicago flagship store at State and Randolph.

Alas, many of you know that Marshall Fields no longer exists as it was bought out by Macy’s.

 

The iconic Marshall Field and Company, now Macy

 

I love more than I can say that they still kept the Marshall Fields & Co. placard.

 

I went inside.

 

Mind you, I didn’t just walk in to look around. Nosiree. I needed a new jacket. While it was still reasonably mild when we arrived, it was getting colder and colder.

It took a while, as they’re mainly selling spring and summer clothing. Fortunately, I found a blazer that looks nice on. I paid for it and then took the elevator to the Oak Room.

 

What about the interior, Laurel?

Oh yeah. Well… it’s not hideous, but it could be better, especially the lighting.

 

MacyThe brass rail above reminded me of my new staircase railing design.

 

Macy

As you can see, they did retain much of the original fittings and character from the original. But, it just doesn’t have the same elegance it once did.

 

First, here’s a nostalgic look at the old Marshall Fields from a postcard created about a hundred years ago.

 

marshall fields store early 20th c.
See what I mean? This is exactly how I remember it. I can practically smell all of the delicious perfumes.

Every year the day after Thanksgiving, my aunt and uncle drove my two cousins, me and maybe my brother, I’m not sure. Holly might’ve been too grown up by that time. However, we were each given five whole dollars, which was a fortune. With that money, we bought ourselves a gift. But, before that happened, we stood in a huge crowd to get a glimpse of the beautiful Christmas holiday windows.

 

After our shopping spree, we’d head up to the Walnut Room for a sweet.

 

However, this always meant standing in a line for a minimum of one hour. Make no mistake; we weren’t leaving until we had our treat in the Walnut Room!

 

The Walnut Room former Marsh

Above is my photo of how the Walnut Room Looks today. Of course, the room was decked out for Christmas, but this is pretty much how I remembered it.

Please go here for many great images of the old Marshall Fields, particularly at holiday time. There are also many other forgotten photos of old Chicago.

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I often went with my cousins or brother to the Museum of Science and Industry, only a ten-minute walk away from my grandparent’s building.

 

Oh, what incredible memories.

 

Incidentally, Cale and I enjoyed our massages, and we felt so much better.

Please contact Nedra at Meticulous Massage on Michigan Ave. You can also book a massage online.

So, we cleaned up and headed out to a restaurant on Michigan Ave @ Ontario Street for dinner at Nedra’s recommendation. Please don’t ask me the name of the restaurant. haha. It wasn’t bad, but it was freezing at our table by the window. And for that, I have to take away some points.

However, in an eery moment, I looked out the window overlooking Michigan Ave and there it was…

 

The Allerton Hotel Tip Top Tap April 2022
ALLERTON TIP TOP TAP

It was the most bizarre experience because I remember this sign, having seen it dozens of times but not for decades. Please also notice, without meaning to, a partially obstructed what was once known as The 100-story John Hancock Building.

When the JH building was sold in 2018, the name had to change, and it is now known as 875 North Michigan Avenue.

For more wonderful images and information on the Allerton Hotel and this section of Chicago, please look at this fantastic compilation.

 

After dinner, Cale and I went up to the roof deck for more Chicago shots at night. There’s a reason I booked this place. I wanted to SEE Chicago from high up. In all the years of visiting, I never had the chance.

 

night view over E. Lake Street, Chicago

Above is a similar view as our apartment is just below.

However, yes, I realize it looks like I’m hanging over the edge of the building. haha. Believe me when I say that the edge of the building is at least ten feet away, and there is a high fence all the way around.

Some shots were taken on top of a built-in concrete planter. Along with my phone’s zoom feature, that is how this illusion was created.

 

The L all lit up from above!

 

Chicago Skyline Trump Tower

A commanding view of the Trump Tower Hotel at 401 N. Wabash Ave.

 

hadows building on E. Lake Street

Some crazy, wild lighting on the art deco building across the street. I couldn’t find information about it.

 

Gold leaf topped Carbide and Carbon B

Right before we left for our journey to Wisconsin in the morning, I went back up to the roof for a few more shots. This is one of my favorites from the trip. Above is the exquisite gold leaf topped Carbide and Carbon Building reflected in a modern glass building.

 

Millennium Park and bean Chicago Illinois - April 2022 photo LBI

A shot of Millenium Park with “The Bean.” Alas, our time was so short, and I had other urgent matters to attend to, like getting my hair done. lol

 

So, we schlepped all of our stuff back to the car four blocks away.

 

I don’t know how we did it. Oh, wait. I do remember how we did. I groaned and whined the entire time, but I have to say, it was a great workout!

After that, we walked to the nearest Drybar on Wells Ave, where I had an appointment to get my hair professionally washed and blown dry. Maintenance does not cease when I’m on vacation!

 

Neoclassical elements Chicago Loop Beaux arts building

On our way, I had to stop and take some pics of this gorgeous Beaux-Arts Building. If anyone knows what this building is, please shout it out!

 

The Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)

Almost directly opposite the Drybar just happens to be the second tallest building in North America, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower).

Cale was a great son and got me my essential morning coffee and returned at the appointed time.

 

Old against new Chicago Loop April 2022

We walked back to the car when I noticed this interesting juxtaposition of a classical building (I think it’s City Hall?) with the huge “lens” modern building we saw earlier in the image of the L taken from our Airbnb living room.

 

I’m closing our Chicago visit with a couple of gorgeous old images.

 

1931 chicago skyline Wrigley Building - Jewelers Building

via chicagology

 

The image above is my favorite of the Chicago skyline in 1931. I especially love it because we can see the same buildings I was able to see from our AirBnb and walks, looking as they did over 90 years ago.

 

oak street beach 1924 - Chicago

This is the Oak Street Beach in 1924 Chicago, right when my father turned two. On the right is the exquisite Drake Hotel.

Now, I know why Frank Sinatra sang “My Kind of Town, Chicago Is…” It was a beautiful, elegant city back in the early 20th century.

 

Chicago magnificent mile + loop

Above is a map I made combining maps to show the places pictured or visited. The red star is where we stayed.

 

Theatre District downtown Chicago

One last image I snapped outside the Chicago Theatre, just around the corner from our Airbnb. I’m astonished that Carol Burnett is still performing. She just turned 89! God bless!

***

The drive to Milwaukee is surprisingly short. If you ever fly between the two cities, you reach cruising altitude and immediately descend into O’Hare Field. However, the drive is easy, and we found our Airbnb, this time just a smidge north of Milwaukee, in the quaint town of Cedarburg.

 

airbnb Cedarburg, WI

I chose this country setting because I knew we’d love it after our more intense city experience.

Above is the outside of our charming Airbnb in Cedarburg, WI. And it was super nice inside, too! Unfortunately, by now, it was beyond freeeeeezing. The weather was HORRIBLE and made me extra happy that we didn’t make this trip in February!

This leg of the trip was about reuniting with family and my mom’s BFF.

 

The next day, we went to the beach on the way to the airport.

 

By the time we got there, I felt slightly queasy, and the cold air was too much. Little did I know that this was probably an early symptom of my covid. However, I did feel good at the airport and on the trip home.

However, when we got to the beach, the cold air was too much, so I stayed in the car and took this lovely picture of Cale beachcombing with my sister, Holly.

 

Holly and Cale Shores Lake Michigan - Milwaukee, WI April 28, 2022

 

And, this concludes the midwestern trip with my darling son, Cale.

 

I hope you enjoyed learning more about the city of Chicago and parts of my past.

If you missed the news, I am all over my covid and have been testing negative since Saturday.

xo,

 

PS: The HOT SALES are newly updated, so please check them out here. And there are so many wonderful new things to see and new sales. There’s also a link to a brand new Father’s Day shopping widget and fabulous women’s clothing for spring and summer.

 

  • Mrs LJ - May 15, 2022 - 7:04 PM

    Thank you, currently live in Chicago and enjoyed seeing our city through a tourist’s eyes!
    I thought of you this week when that escaped prisoner and his prison guard lover went on the lam. The police caught them around Evansville, Indiana!ReplyCancel

  • Dana - May 15, 2022 - 4:18 PM

    Laurel,
    Glad you are feeling better. I really enjoyed reading about your trip with Cale. My paternal grandpa was an iron worker on the Sears tower. He also went West to help build the Golden Gate at age 14! My mom has told me how wonderful Marshall Fields was during Christmas. Always wish I could go back in time and live in the early part of last century to see it for myself. Your blog is my favorite! I never cease to learn something.ReplyCancel

  • Paula - May 14, 2022 - 11:12 AM

    As a Midwestern born and raised, I thank you for these gorgeous photos and trip down memory lane. Still have good friends and family in Chicago. I lived on the edge of Wrigleyville close to the lake and worked on North Wacker Drive. I miss the parks, lake, small bookstores and the kindness compared to the NE. Though someone did once rather kindly yell at me for almost fainting on a crowded bus – I overheated in my heavy parka for my very cold and windy walk to my office.ReplyCancel

  • Julie S - May 14, 2022 - 12:30 AM

    I’ve visited Chicago a handful of times (rather long ago) since it was not terribly far from m home in Michigan growing up/through college, and you are right, it is a particularly beautiful city. Negative points for wind and weather though… still, after 15 years in the low, sprawling, rather limited cities of southern California I respect the solid grandeur of the midwestern cities on a whole new level. As we are on the verge of a move to the midwest region of the country I’m getting all the nostalgia and nervousness you would expect when I cross paths with posts like this one. Wish us luck!ReplyCancel

  • SUSAN J. SIMS - May 13, 2022 - 10:26 AM

    Great pics! I have never been to Chicago, and have been dying to go! I’m definitely saving this information to my board for inspiration!

    P.S. Your photos are great. I’m a horrible photographer!

    P.P.S. Love the color of the WI Air B&B.ReplyCancel

  • Miller - May 12, 2022 - 10:41 PM

    Laurel, thank you for such an interesting and picturesque trip through Chicago, spiced with the loving memories of your family! Now Chicago has moved to the top of my list of cities to visit.
    So glad you’re feeling better!ReplyCancel

  • Jill Jackson - May 12, 2022 - 9:35 PM

    Thank you as always for your amazing candor, humor and expertise.ReplyCancel

  • Jill Jackson - May 12, 2022 - 5:01 PM

    I can’t help wondering why you are continuing to test for Covid. It is my understanding that you can test positive for months afterwards.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 12, 2022 - 7:48 PM

      Yes, I wrote you privately. I’ve heard that too. There’s a compelling reason why I tested a few times, but I can’t share that information on the blog.ReplyCancel

  • Loya - May 12, 2022 - 3:33 PM

    This is a wonderful tribute to your Chicago, your Nonnie, your beautiful memories. It makes me want to visit Chicago and follow your trail.ReplyCancel

  • Charlene S - May 12, 2022 - 2:35 PM

    Thank you, Laurel, for this wonderful post filled with beautiful photos and history of my hometown, Chicago. I too, have a very special memory in particular of the Marshall Fields (by then it was Macy’s) windows at Christmas.
    Back in December of 2007, my then-boyfriend, now husband, had somehow secretly arranged with store management to allow him to place a large vase of red roses, an engagement ring, and a sign reading “Charlene, will you marry me?” in the very last window. It was a snowy Saturday afternoon and as we approached that last window and I looked inside, my boyfriend turned to me and popped the question. He had our families waiting inside as well and we celebrated with lunch in the Walnut Room.
    Thanks again, Laurel, for all of your wonderful posts. I’ve been following for years now and have learned so much from you.ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - May 12, 2022 - 1:07 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    Thank you for sharing your trip with us. I don’t get into the city much anymore. But you made me aware of how different things are now. I was surprised when you mentioned shopping by yourself at 13. Now it wouldn’t be safe.
    I’ve been to Cedarburg. It’s a great place to go shopping right before Christmas. It’s a beautiful little town.
    Glad to know you’re feeling better.ReplyCancel

  • Frederick Miller - May 12, 2022 - 12:19 PM

    Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing, Laurel! The 208 LaSalle building you asked about was built in the early 1900s – completed 1914 I believe – and was originally a bank. It now houses a hotel and various office tenants. Just one of the many beautiful pieces of architecture (IMHO) that grace Chicago. If you ever have an opportunity, check out the book “Chicago Apartments: A Century of Lakeside Luxury” by Neil Harris. The plans and photos of these incredible buildings are something I think you’ll really enjoy!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn C - May 12, 2022 - 10:03 AM

    Great post! I especially enjoyed your many high rise views of the city. We visited Chicago by boat several years ago, docked for a week at DuSable Harbor, just down the hill from New Eastside on your map. We biked all over downtown, both sides of the river, and took the Architectural Boat Tour (highly recommend).

    But the highlight of our trip was cruising down the river on our own boat, under all 63 bridges between Lake Michigan and Joliet IL, our first stop south of Chicago. I’ve linked to our blog post above.

    Wish you had found Mariano’s for groceries – an awesome upscale full-service grocery that would have been a short walk from your Airbnb.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie S - May 12, 2022 - 10:01 AM

    I have never been to Chicago….but I’m ready to go!!
    PS I love the Bee Gees so I found their greatest hits on Youtube and I am listening to it now -I think “How Deep is your Love” is my favorite!!ReplyCancel

  • Linda - May 12, 2022 - 9:58 AM

    Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, I thoroughly enjoyed this post!

    I still remember Marshall Fields looking like it did in the post card. It was elegant, and the soaring ceilings with the decorative columns gave it a sense of grandeur. At Christmas time the inside of the store was beautifully decked out in decorations. I still also remember the impressive animated Christmas window displays. We used to walk a few blocks down State Street to check out the window displays at the Carson Pirie Scott department store as well. We never ate in the Walnut Room – we ate in Fields’ cafeteria instead. My sister and I each got a piece of apple pie and a carton of chocolate milk. Marshall Fields’ apple pie was amazing!

    I remember taking the Illinois Central commuter train and getting off at the Randolf Street Station. The station was large and underground. We would walk up the steps to Randolf Street and there was the Prudential Building. It was Chicago’s first “skyscraper”. Today it has been dwarfed by newer buildings.

    Chicago has some beautiful, old architecture. When I worked in public accounting in the city, I had the opportunity to go inside some of those beautiful buildings. The floors and staircases were made of marble or granite. They had heavy custom-made metal staircase railings topped by solid brass handrails. They had tall ceilings with impressive brass light fixtures. There was a lot of craftsmanship that went into the construction of those old buildings. They just don’t build buildings like that any more.

    North Michigan Avenue – the Magnificent Mile – is the Rodeo Drive of Chicago. Just North of the Magnificent Mile is the “Gold Coast”, an area of gorgeous mansions and more fantastic architecture.

    I think your photos of the city are absolutely beautiful. I love that you took photos both during the day and at night. You were so smart to stay at the Airbnb that allowed you to see views above ground level. Gorgeous! I am so glad that you had the opportunity to go back to your roots and share some of your history with Cale. And with us.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - May 12, 2022 - 9:40 AM

    Thank you, Laurel, for this wonderful post. I can tell you put tons of effort and love into it. I used to serve on a board of directors that met in Chicago twice a year, and I came to love, love, love that city. The group was based in downtown so I could walk and walk. The food, the art, and the shopping were the BEST! Your post brought back wonderful memories. Thank you! eReplyCancel

  • Ivis - May 12, 2022 - 8:53 AM

    I loved this!! One of my favorites ever and now I’m ready for a trip to Chicago. Thank you so much for taking us with you and Cale. Will save this post. You’re a wonderful storyteller and photographer. Glad you’re over covid and since you’ve recovered so well–a small price to pay for this wonderful trip.ReplyCancel

  • Diana - May 12, 2022 - 8:32 AM

    You are so blessed to take this wonderful trip with your son, Cale. You have raised your children RIGHT.
    Love Love Love Chicago.
    Thank you for taking us down memory lane. Also, thank you for the fantastic photos.
    You put your heart into this blog.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 12, 2022 - 7:46 PM

      Thank you, Diana, however, the younger son with special needs hasn’t spoken to me since the summer of 2017. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. Yes, I feel horrible about it, but try not to dwell on it, because there’s nothing I can do, but wait and hope that one day, he’ll change of his own accord.

      Alas, he’s stubbornly made up his mind that I’m the reason he’s the way he is. I don’t think so. I talk to myself all of the time. Once a year I reach out to him– on his birthday, but he never responds.ReplyCancel

  • Jeanine Muir - May 12, 2022 - 7:14 AM

    Great story line. Beautiful pictures, both historical and new. I especially liked the picture of Cale and Holly. You captured them beautifully.

    Thank you for continuing good reads!
    Stay well.

    Oh how cool was it to snap that brass rail that mimics your new railing!ReplyCancel

  • Kim H - May 12, 2022 - 5:32 AM

    Laurel, what a wonderful trip down memory lane. Your photos really brought Chicago to life for me again. I enjoyed some wonderful editorial visits to Chicago in my youth as a cub (UK-based) futures and options reporter. The local banks and exchanges were always keen to show us a good time, so there were trips to watch the White Sox and soft-shelled crabs at Shaw’s Crab house, a stay at the Union League Club just after it opened its doors to women (still with very strange rules about who was allowed where), blues bars and lakeside walks. I got lost once on my way back to the Loop from a thrift-store shopping trip near the university and ended up in a place where the pavements were broken and men lurked on all the street corners. They seemed to stare at me and I couldn’t figure out why. I learned later that I’d been at the poverty-stricken housing project Cabrini Green, and that the men were probably looking at me suspiciously because I was white in a poor black area in one of the most segregated cities on earth. As a Londoner that kind of segregation was weird. I believe Cabrini Green has all been torn down now. Chicago will keep changing but it’ll always be my kind of town. Thanks for the memories.ReplyCancel

  • Sharri - May 12, 2022 - 3:30 AM

    What a lovely trip Laurel and thank you for the scrapbook of memories! You certainly resemble your father…I’m always amazed at how our grandmother’s put on huge elegant spreads with tiny kitchens…my Swedish grandmother did the same. Now it’s most about BIG! Maybe I just have loads of unnecessary stuff! Glad you are on the mend.ReplyCancel

  • Sue Connaughton - May 12, 2022 - 1:07 AM

    Glad you enjoyed your trip to Chicago. I live in a condo seen in your second picture, overlooking Millennium Park. That area is Lake Shore East and is one of the newer neighborhoods built on a prior golf course!

    The building that looks like a giant telescope is the State of Illinois, Thompson Center. The architect was Helmut John. The building has been plagued by heat and a/c problems, leaky windows etc. It is slated to be remodeled.

    The two round buildings in your 5th pictures are Marina City. Architect= Bertrand Goldberg.

    Behind the Bean you will see the Modern Wing of the Art Institute.

    One of your later pics shows City Hall and the State of Illinois building (again).

    Next time you visit, take the Architectural Tour on the Chicago River. You’d love it.ReplyCancel

  • Sharon - May 12, 2022 - 12:53 AM

    Thank you Laurel for this nostalgic post! I grew up in Chicago and came back to Chicago when my husband was transferred to the area. We raised our two girls on the North Shore and then as empty nesters owned a coop on East Lake Shore Dr. for a while before moving to CA. I loved the Allerton Hotel where my aunt had her wedding reception. The Christmas tradition with our daughters every year was to take them to Marshall Field’s for a Christmas Santa visit and then lunch in the Walnut Room. They still talk about it to this day….remember how tall the Christmas tree was in the rotunda? Such happy memories and thank you for stirring them up for me!ReplyCancel

  • Sara Frazier Ross - May 11, 2022 - 11:34 PM

    Laurel, thank you for all the pictures and comments of Chicago. I feel like I was just there. I hope to visit one day. I’m assuming the area you stayed in was super safe. It’s hard to know where to stay when you visit another city. I will keep your notes and hope to use them someday.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 12, 2022 - 12:48 AM

      Hi Sara,

      The area we were in is super-safe, very well-lit and busy, but not nearly as intense as mid-town, in New York City, and not as mellow as Boston. It’s somewhere in between. I also found everywhere we went to be very clean and well-maintained.ReplyCancel

  • Michele Burchfiel - May 11, 2022 - 11:16 PM

    Thank you, Laurel. After six + years of reading your blog, you still amaze and entertain me. You are the quintessential story teller and oh how I love a good story.
    The last time I was in Chicago was nearly 45 years ago. Thank you for the return trip.
    MicheleReplyCancel

  • Ramona - May 11, 2022 - 11:07 PM

    A wonderful story with glorious pictures both old and new. I am very glad you had a great time.

    Never travel in spring without a heavy coat. One nevers knows what is going to happen, especially in the MidWest.

    And, by the way, I am half Hungarian. We should compare recipes for sure.

    My grandparents came to this country long before WW1.

    I lost my grandmother’s Kifli recipe in the computer. So stupid of me.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 12, 2022 - 12:42 AM

      Hi Ramona,

      Ack, of course, you’re right. What I forgot to mention is, I was wearing a down jacket when I left Boston, but accidentally left it on the back of a kitchen chair in Nashville! It was 84 when we left there for Evansville, and I was wearing shorts. Of course, if it had been cool, I wouldn’t have forgotten it.

      It’s a balancing act, with the huge variations of temperature and flying. So, I brought a lot of sweaters and would’ve been fine with layers, a headband, hat, scarf, gloves tights, and thick socks. I’ve lived in frigid climates all but three winters of my life. And, I’ve experienced sudden drops in temperature as much as 40 degrees in a matter of an hour.ReplyCancel

  • debra phillips - May 11, 2022 - 10:26 PM

    oh how I loved this post Laurel.
    I am a Chicagoan & adore my city. thank you for bringing me along on memory lane.
    I too was born at cook county, one month before you!

    my treasured memories were the ones with my grandmother meeting under the clock of Marshall Fields and the day after Thanksgiving going to the Walnut room, and that line!

    my parents were engaged at the Allerton and my husband and I married in Cedarburg, you hit it all.
    cheers
    DebraReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 11, 2022 - 11:27 PM

      Oh wow! That’s crazy, Debra, especially that you topped it off with getting married in Cedarburg! Did you ever go to the Conrad Hilton, and have dinner just before the ice skating show? What fun! I had to draw the line, but my grandparents celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary there. I was mesmerized by the skaters and couldn’t believe they could do their routines on such a small “stage,” but they did, and it was an evening I’ll never forget.ReplyCancel

  • JUDY LATCHA - May 11, 2022 - 10:09 PM

    Your photos are absolutely stunning!!! HOW do you do it from phone? You captured my favorite parts of Chicago. I loved taking the architectural boat ride when visiting in summers. Old Detroit, where I still live nearby, was much like Chicago. Beautiful buildings. Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 11, 2022 - 11:22 PM

      Hi Judy,

      Well, I take a LOT of photos. I mean, hundreds. And then I begin to eliminate as many as possible that are redundant or no good.

      But, how do I make them look like this with my phone? Editing. That’s why posts like this take 4ever! There are also other images that were edited but didn’t make it into the post. But, on average, one image takes at least 20 minutes to edit. One of my cheats, however, is to use the vivid filter, but never at 100%. Most commonly at about 50%. From there, I can tweak the colors, saturation, brightness, shadows, sharpness, etc.

      So, my goal is to enhance without going too far into something that’s absurdly over-saturated. I see that a lot on some Instagram feeds.ReplyCancel

  • Alison - May 11, 2022 - 9:55 PM

    I have seen a lot of America and Canada but none of my trips have taken me to Chicago so thank you Laurel. So glad you got to return to places of old and reminisce with Cale. So important to keep the memories alive.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 11, 2022 - 11:08 PM

      Hi Alison,

      It was a wonderful trip and I’m grateful to have been able to go on it.ReplyCancel

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