Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shots Around the Sloop: Chicago Fire in the Sky

"Shot of the storm from a few nights ago moving in during sunset. the setting sun was shining THRU the storm making the city look like it was on fire."

(Hat tip: RT!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning - A Story Based in the Neighborhood

If you know anything about the Sloop's history, you probably know that Prairie Avenue was home to Chicago's elite class back around the turn of the century.  Walk down Prairie Avenue today and you can't help but be awestruck by some of the glamorous mansions.

With this in mind, Olivia Newport's new book, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, brings the neighborhood to life:
Marshall Field, Henry Studebaker, Pullman, Kimball, Glessner, Bissell, Armour and Rothschild—these names add up to business inventiveness and unbounded wealth in turn-of-the-century Chicago. But changing social classes are threatening the luxury of elite Prairie Avenue, the playground for the rich and powerful. Olivia Newport introduces readers to a world of luxurious mansions, secrets and forbidden love in the Windy City.

Set on the corner of Prairie Avenue and Eighteenth Street, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning gives an inside look at the rich and powerful on the eve of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Olivia Newport transports readers to a time of opulence in the first installment in the Avenue of Dreams series.
Pretty cool stuff if you ask us.  If you want to learn more and meet Newport, she will be signing copies of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning at the Glessner House Museum on June 5th at 6:30 p.m. as part of their celebration of 125 years of the house's history.

Monday, May 28, 2012

No Go for Grant Park Farmers Market? Maybe Wheeler Mansion Will Suffice

Remember when we were supposed to get a farmers market in Grant Park last year?  Remember when they said it wasn't going to work out in 2011 because of government bureaucracy?  Remember when they said it would happen in 2012?  A reader writes:
Last year a lot of talk of a farmers market to south end if grant park, but it never materialized. Is it dead? Or will 2012 be the year?
Well we haven't heard a peep about this since then, so is it safe to assume it's this farmers market is dead?  Our guess is yes, but has anyone else heard anything different?

While this may or may not be adequate consolation, if you're in search of a market a reader recently tipped us off to a story about this:
Calling all local artisan food producers. We want you! The Wheeler Mansion is ecstatic to announce our weekly, Wheeler Mansion Market; set to launch this June, on Wednesday nights. The Wheeler Mansion Market features the city’s top local food purveyors, as well as an artfully curated array of vendors featuring antique and repurposed furniture, clothing, jewelry, collectibles, and antiques. 
Two things.  First, looking forward to seeing what the market is about.  It sounds intriguing to us.  Second, how did we not know about the Wheeler Mansion (2020 S. Calumet Avenue)?  Shame on us:
Wheeler Mansion (via
Originally built in 1870, The Wheeler Mansion is one of the last remaining stately mansions that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The residence was among one of the earliest constructed in the South Prairie Avenue neighborhood, home to Chicago’s early mercantile and industrial barons and Chicago’s first “Gold Coast” during the last quarter of the 19th century. After the property’s meticulous restoration in 1999, the city recognized The Wheeler Mansion with the Preservation Excellence Award and the Friends of Downtown Award. The mansion is a Chicago Landmark as well as a National Landmark because of its architectural attributes and important historical significance.
Very intersante.  For those curious, the mansion is now a boutique bed and breakfast.  For more information check out their site.

(Hat tip:  JM & AJ!)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Most Think Many Businesses Will Open in the Sloop in 2012

For more information, click the "2012 Business Counter" tab on the toolbar at the top of Sloopin.  If you don't see that click here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Does Brown Paper Mean Retail Is Coming to 1200 Block of S Michigan?

On a recent walk up Michigan Avenue we noticed that some brown paper has been put on two of the retail spots on the East side of the 1200 Block.  To some this might not signal much, but to us it means something is cooking.

What?  We don't know.  Someone continues to float the rumor that Jamba Juice is coming to these spots, but to this date we're not sure.

Something has to give.  There are five retail spots in this building and only one is occupied now that Marble Slab Ice Creamery and House of Sole are closed.  Maybe rent needs to come down?

Anyone have any scoop on this building?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Ghost Sign Pays Homage to a 1950s Magazine

A little history thanks to this ghost sign at 1006 S. Michigan:
Both of the building sides exhibit old (1950s era?) ads for Hobbies Magazine, which, in the 40s and 50s featured a several page coin section every month. Frank C. Ross was the main contributor, though Thomas Elder and others also held forth. The publisher, Lightner, is still listed at this address.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What is the Gist of the 2012 NATO Summit?

There has been so much news about NATO, it's hard to keep everything straight.  So in honor of the official kick-off today, we simply thought we would post something from the 2012 Chicago NATO Summit website:
In May 2012, the City of Chicago will serve as the host for a summit which will be among the most important diplomatic forums of the year. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit will be held from May 20th to 21st. In joining the ranks of other world-class cities that have hosted this event—Paris, Rome, and Brussels, to name a few—Chicago will mark several milestones:
  • The first city in the United States outside of Washington, D.C. to host a NATO summit. 
  • The largest city to host a NATO summit in nearly a decade. 
In all, several thousand dignitaries, along with an international press corps of thousands, will gather in Chicago. Attendees will include Heads of State and Government, cabinet ministers, other high-ranking government officials, and NATO’s Secretary General. In addition to the official meetings, the summit will bring a number of related events and conferences. 
More information is available on the official Chicago Summit page on the NATO website. 
While the summit itself will be closed to the public, the Chicago NATO Host Committee is working with various city groups on a variety of programs to inform our community about this historic event. For more information on programs that will be open to the public, see our events calendar
Learn about the heads of state expected to be in Chicago for the summit.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

NATO Summit Open Thread

There has been a lot of fuss about how the NATO Summit has affected life in Chicago and the South Loop.

Since we've been inundated with information from the media, we thought we wouldn't post anything and simply create an open thread for readers to share their thoughts.

Let us know what you think.  Is this it interesting that our neighborhood is hosting the most powerful people in the world?  Is it a pain?  Has anything changed for you?  See anything interesting in the neighborhood?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fences and Boards...Oh My!

NATO information continues to dominate the airwaves as the summit draw near and you can really feel the impact around the Sloop.  Besides parking bans taking affect and various protesters beginning to show up and linger in the neighborhood, we've had some readers send in shots of some of the precautions being taken:
Crews installing boards over the windows at 1400 S. Michigan
More boards on 14th street
Fences installed outside
the Field Museum
Fences outside Soldier Field
(Hat tip: DE & AA!)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Square One Shooting for Early June Opening; Will have Self-Service Wine Dispensers

There has been a lot of excitement surround Square One, a new wine and cocktail bar coming to the Southwest corner of Michigan and 14th.  Last we heard, things were going swimmingly and they were shooting for a late May opening.

Well you're going to have a wait a couple extra weeks, but intriguing information continues to come out about the concept (via Chicago Magazine):
SQ1 Tea Blossom
via Chicago Magazine
Buddies Alex Hernandez and Ron Vaisman are giving South Loopers the Choose Your Own Adventure treatment at SQUARE ONE, their wine and cocktail bar scheduled to open in early June. “The idea was for our neighbors to have a place to hang out where they could be comfortable for any occasion,” says Hernandez, who also owns a breakfast spot, Waffles, in the same building. 
Here’s the story: You want a drink. If you’re after wine, grab a glass and advance to the self-service dispenser, then pay by the ounce for what you imbibe. If you’re pining for a cocktail, let the bartender craft a drink to your tastes, or go with a classic like the trusty old fashioned. You’re looking for somewhere to take a load off. If you opt to sip alfresco, find a spot on the 30-person patio that runs the length of the building.

Self-service dispenser?  Sounds fun...kinda like Bull & Bear and Public House in River North, but with wine instead of beer and liquor.

Also glad to hear that they will have outside seating.  Good idea to put it on 14th street as Michigan can be a little hectic and noisy with cars flying by at 40+ MPHs.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Five Guys Sign Means Something Else is Coming to 1146 S. Wabash

Five Guys Sign Installed
We all knew that Five Guys was coming to 1146 S. Wabash a couple of weeks ago, so seeing this sign shouldn't come as a surprise to most.

However, this installation does create a new question.  The sign is to the right side of the entrance, which means that more space is available for the left side.  Judging by the buildings configuration and this new installation it seems that something else is going to be coming to this building as well. 

Could it be the diner we heard about?  Anyone have some more information?
What is coming to the dark area?
UPDATE:  A reader writes:
The other side of the building is a café by the same owners as Artist's Café. My friend, local South Loop resident is the chef. I haven't heard much other than that but it will be nice to have some new places close by. I will let you know if I hear anything else. 

(Hat tip: DK, TK & LS!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Local Grocery Stores Prepare for NATO

CBS2 has a blurb about two of neighborhood grocery stores and what they're doing for the NATO summit:
Even local businesses are taking precautions, including a 24-hour Jewel grocery store at Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue, which will close at 10 p.m. on the days of the summit weekend. 
 The Whole Foods on Roosevelt Road is advising its shoppers to come in before or after the summit, as road closures could affect shipments or the ability of store employees to get to work.
We also heard that Jewel installed the plastic window reinforcement sheets to ensure windows aren't shattered.  This all seems like a little much to us, but hey what do we know.  Has anyone else heard of any other crazy things businesses are doing in preparation for the NATO summit?

(Hat tip: ND!)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bike Lane Proposed for Wabash Between Roosevelt and Harrison

Wabash Avenue continues to get upgrades.  This time a bike lane has been proposed for Wabash between Roosevelt and Harrison.  This is great news as it will connect to the bike lane that was created on Wabash in 2011.

In addition to the Roscoe Street buffered bike lane installed last week, and a segment on Wabash Avenue installed in 2011, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has proposed these locations for buffered bike lanes, a total of 4.50 miles:
  • Clark St from Walton to North 
  • Ellsworth Dr from Garfield (55th) to King (51st) 
  • Wabash Ave from Roosevelt to Harrison 
  • Wells St from Chicago to Van Buren (originally proposed in 2010)
Mayor Emanuel promised 25 miles of protected bike lanes per year of his term. His first year anniversary is May 16, seven days away. The City has currently installed 2 miles of protected bike lanes.
So what's a "Buffered Bike Lane"?  It's essentially what we have on Wabash South of Roosevelt.  It's a wide lane with clear markings identifying where bikes belong.

This is different than a "protected bike lane".  A protected bike lane is what was installed on 18th street between Clark and Clinton last year.  The protected bike lane's have plastic pylons that create a barrier between motorists and bikers.

"Buffered Bike Lane" on Wabash
From Grid Chicago
"Protected Bike Lane" on 18th street
Image from Let's Go Ride a Bike

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mary Sears Academy now JTA Schools?

A reader writes:

Hello Sloopin! 
A couple things I’ve noticed around the neighborhood lately: 
Mary Sears Academy changed their name (and maybe their ownership?) to JTA Schools. And there’s a sign in their southern most window that says that space is for lease. I don’t know if that means they’re downsizing that space or planning to completely leave it eventually. 
Also, a florist opened at 1335 S. State called Henry Hampton Floral. Here’s their website.


We posted about Mary Sears in the past (March) and at the time they were sticking around.  Maybe they decided to change?  Does anyone have the scoop?

In regard to the Henry Hampton Floral, we're not 100% sure, but we think they just relocated.  If memory serves correctly, they were the florist at 828 S. Wabash.

(Hat tip:  CR!)

Friday, May 11, 2012

NATO to Disrupt Mail Service in the Sloop

We imagine that we're going to be hearing more and more stories like this.  We probably won't be able to post them all, but we will try.  This one is from the Sun-Times about mail issues:
Residents and businesses in the South Loop received flyers Wednesday warning of possible delays in receiving mail and of encountering sealed or missing postal boxes starting Monday through May 22 because of the NATO Summit and the traffic tie-ups it is expected to cause. 
The flier warns of “some modest service impacts” for mail to the 606 zip codes, but doesn’t specify further.

People and businesses with post-office boxes at Postal Service sites may experience mail delays, too, and businesses are told to make sure their employees picking up mail at those facilities have valid ID and a document with the company’s letterhead authorizing the pickup. 
The height of any interruptions is expected May 18-22, and questions are referred to

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spanglish: Cinco de "No"-yo

We like hearing rumors about the South Loop.  Sometimes they become true and sometimes they don't.  Well it appears that the rumor about Spanglish (State and Harrison) opening up on May 5th didn't come to fruition.

We were skeptical when we heard this, but optimistic.

Anyway, realizing that this date came and went, we recently walked by the storefront and like a true stalker put our eye to the window to see if we could notice anything.  Since the last time we went by it appears that some progress has been made.  We noticed tools scattered around the place and even saw something that looked like blueprints.

Does anyone have additional information on the restaurant?

The "Coming Soon" signs were displayed on the windows in July of 2011, but they probably should have said "Coming Eventually".  Regardless, hopefully Spanglish will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Redeye Profiles Kendal Duque and His City Tavern Concept

The Redeye profiles Kendal Duque and his City Tavern concept:
Image from Redeye
Duque says the concept is “a fresh take on taverns of old,” a warm, comfortable neighborhood place with a seasonally driven menu and a wide selection of craft beer, wine and cocktails. While Duque’s food at Chicago Firehouse is geared toward the restaurant’s upscale steakhouse ambiance, he said City Tavern will be more of a reflection of his personality and skills – “the kind of place that I would want to go myself.” 
In addition to a handful of specials each day, expect seasonal dishes inspired by what’s at the markets. Duque is particularly excited about his walleye pike with wild mushrooms, pea tendrils, artichokes and a cashew vinaigrette, as well as his simply grilled Berkshire pork chop served in a sauce of its own juices with a green apple and wild arugula salad. No dish will exceed $20.
Again, the more we read the more we get excited about this addition.  The article also goes on to say that they're still planning on opening later this month.  Can't wait!

(Hat tip: MT!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Testing Out New Comment Policy

First off, we want to pause and take a second to say thanks to everyone who has ever interacted with us in anyway.  We get a ton of emails, comments, pictures, videos, compliments and criticisms and it's truly amazing!  Without this support Sloopin wouldn't be what it thank you!

Second, here at Sloopin our intentions are simple.  We want to do the best we can to provide information we think people would find interesting about the South Loop.  With this we intend to cover a wide range of topics, but all specific to the South Loop in some capacity.  Beyond that we want our readers to help create a healthy discourse that can be beneficial to the neighborhood.

Through the years, sometimes this discussion has stayed true to this intention and sometimes it has not.  Recently there has been much consternation in regard to some of our comment threads.  With that said, we are going to be testing out a new policy on comments.

For the next week or so, we will be requiring people to either have a Google account or an OpenID account to comment on Sloopin.  The goal of this is to weed out some of the unnecessary comments while also trying to generate more accountability in the comment threads.

With that said, an OpenID account is pretty wide ranging and you probably have one whether or not you know it (for more information click here).

Thanks again to everyone for making Sloopin what it is and please continue to comment!

Sloopin Crew

Movie Filming in the Sloop on Wednesday, May 9th?

A reader writes:
Hi Sloopy, 
This morning (Monday), there were signs posted on Indiana saying that the street would be closed on May 9 from 11am-8pm for "movie filming". Any idea what is going on? And how large is the film location? Just Indiana btwn 16th-18th or much larger? 
According to the City of Chicago "What's Filming Now" page on their website, there are only two films currently filming in the city:

  • Boss for STARZ Entertainment (through July 2012)
  • Underemployed for MTV (through July 2012)
Based on old posts that we've done, our guess would be that Underemployed will be filming in the South Loop on Wednesday.  Does anyone have any additional information about this filming?

For more information on Underemployed click here.

(Hat tip:  AA!)

Monday, May 7, 2012

How to Make Motor Row an Instantaneous Destination? Add Three Floyd's Chicago Brew Pub

We've spent many hours pondering what it would take to really jump start development in the Motor Row district (area on Michigan South of Cermak).  Big plans are in place, but to this date nothing is really grabbing attention from a broader city standpoint.

The Green Line stop at Cermak will help and yes, Broad Shoulder Brewery is a nice start, but if Alderman Fioretti and others associated with making this happen truly want to make Motor Row a destination, they should head on over to Munster, Indiana and try to lure the boys at Three Floyds to open a Chicago brew pub in Motor Row (via Chicago Tribune):
The most revelatory news is that owner Nick Floyd is scouting locations to open a Three Floyds brewpub in Chicago. He has been looking at spaces during the last couple of weeks, and though coy about the where ("anywhere but the Loop") and when ("the near future"), he sounded resolute about it happening.
While it seems like a long shot, would it hurt to try?  As the Chicago Tribune article states the guys at Three Floyds can draw 6,000 fanatics to their brewery in Munster...yes Munster!

It would be a "unique" destination that would help put Motor Row on the map.

Just an idea...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Roosevelt University's New Tower Adds "Sizzle to Chicago's Skyline"

Will students be gazing at the views instead of the lecturer?
 (photo from Chicago Tribune)
One of our favorite drives in all of Chicago is heading North on Lake Shore Drive from the South Side.  A couple of weeks ago we were making this drive after being out of town for a long weekend.

As you pass under the sky-bridge connecting McCormick Place to the Crown Arie Theater the image of the skyline hits you in the face and leaves you speachless.

However, this most recent trip was different.  It was a sunny day and the new Roosevelt University tower was shimmering.  It caught our eye and thought about the statement the new building made on this beautiful picture.  We loved it.

A couple of days ago, Blair Kamin, the acclaimed Chicago Tribune architecture critic, reviewed the building and offered some nice perspective:

From Chicago Tribune
Savvy architecture buffs tend to view look-at-me buildings with a wary glance. All too often, these designs are slick packages, not real places that ennoble our daily routines. Anybody who's witnessed the cacophony of shrieking skyscrapers in Dubai knows that. 
Still, there is reason to think that Roosevelt University's striking new $123 million tower in downtown Chicago (left) will amount to something more than an eye-grabbing envelope.

The 32-story tower, which flaunts a zig-zagging silhouette and an equally arresting skin of blue and green glass, represents Chicago's latest innovation in skyscraper design. It is a vertical campus, stacking everything from a student union to lecture halls to dorm suites within a single, all-encompassing structure.

The gist of the piece was that it's a beautiful building that on paper seems to be functional as well.  However, questions still remain whether or not Roosevelt University can attract more and more students to fill the tower.  The Chicago Reader had a good piece about the risk the university took by constructing the building (see Sloopin post here).  Only time will tell.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Columbia's Manifest Hits the Sloop Tomorrow, May 4th

Columbia's annual Manifest festival hits the neighborhood tomorrow, May 4th.  If you're new to the Sloop or just haven't paid much attention to Columbia, here is a brief summary of the event:
On May 4, Columbia College Chicago celebrates the work of its more than 2,000 graduating students with its annual urban arts festival. From art exhibitions to readings, from original designs to singer showcases, the talent will spill out from Columbia’s South Loop Campus and onto the streets, with main stage performances from student bands creating the musical backdrop to the Manifest 2012 showcase.
If you're out and about on Friday you will probably notice the festival.  It's always entertaining and if you have some free time checkout one of the performances (schedules here).

Here is a video from last years:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Apartment Building Discussed for 9th and State

Image from Chicago Journal
Seems like we've been reading a lot about South Loop real estate lately.  Yesterday it was rennovations at Park Michigan (1212 S. Michigan), Saturday it was Roosevelt Collection and today it's a new apartment building at a vacant lot on State (9th and State).

In last weeks Chicago Journal, they had a post about a shiny glass building:
A developer planning a 39-story apartment tower in the South Loop at the intersection of 9th and State Streets presented its plans to a community group last week.  
Golub & Company, owner of the site that’s now a parking lot abutting the CTA Green and Orange line tracks, showed off the tower at a meeting of South Loop Neighbors. 
The building will have a four-story base that’ll stretch from 9th south to the existing Hilti parking garage. From the middle of that will spring the full 400-foot, 39-story tower.
While the building doesn't knock our socks off, we will label this as something is better than nothing.  And by nothing we mean an eye sore of a parking lot.  We would assume this means more retail space for South State street.  Which we're always in favor of.

The article doesn't give an indication of when this could come to market, but we imagine it's still got some hurdles to jump over.  Regardless, good to see investors continuing to show interest in the Sloop!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Apartment Building at 1212 S. Michigan get Renovation; Becomes Park Michigan

New Lobby at Park Michigan (formerly 1212 S. Michigan)
About a year ago we read that the apartment building at 1212 South Michigan was up for sale.  Fast forward to today and it appears that Crescent Heights, the new owner, is renovating parts of the building (see above and below).  Also of interest is that the building is being re-branded Park Michigan.

While we don't claim to be real estate experts, this seems like a smart move.  While this building isn't state of the art like some of the newer towers to go up, it sits at a very very very prominent location (Roosevelt and Michigan) and must have amazing views.  Good to see that the new owners are investing and upgrading in the building and the neighborhood!
New amenities room at Park Michigan