Oldest Chicago

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Overview

Dozens of the oldest local treasures in Chicago and its suburban and exurban areas are highlighted in this guide, which includes icons such as the city's oldest business, Peacock Jewelers; Merz Apothecary; tavern Schaller’s Pump; the Biograph Theater; and drive-in, Superdawg. Remarkable for having survived demolition and extinction for decades, these beloved landmarks have also helped define the city’s landscape, offering continuity and civic identity across generations. With Chicago having lost ...
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Overview

Dozens of the oldest local treasures in Chicago and its suburban and exurban areas are highlighted in this guide, which includes icons such as the city's oldest business, Peacock Jewelers; Merz Apothecary; tavern Schaller’s Pump; the Biograph Theater; and drive-in, Superdawg. Remarkable for having survived demolition and extinction for decades, these beloved landmarks have also helped define the city’s landscape, offering continuity and civic identity across generations. With Chicago having lost Marshall Field’s, Carson Pirie Scott, and many more historic gems in recent years, this book is also a reminder of the value of these familiar faces and a call to preserve them for a future sense of place.

Oldest Chicago is about the places that have survived the passage of time.
Oldest business: Peacock Jewelers (1838); oldest apothecary: Merz Apothecary (1875); oldest tavern: Schaller's Pump (1889); oldest theater: the Biograph Theater (1914); and oldest drive-in restaurant: Superdawg (1948). In Oldest Chicago, journalist David Witter highlights dozens of the oldest local treasures in Chicago and its suburban and exurban areas. Remarkable for having survived demolition and extinction for decades, these beloved landmarks have also helped define our city's landscape, offering continuity and civic identity across generations. Rather than celebrate the past, many of Chicago's business and political leaders have risen to power by tearing it down. Chicago has lost, and continues to lose, many great civic, architectural, and cultural landmarks. In recent years, Marshall Field's and Carson Pirie Scott have vanished from the city's landscape. Other structures like the Uptown and Ramova Theaters are also in danger of being permanently lost. Oldest Chicago is a reminder of the value of these familiar places and a call to preserve them for a future sense of place.

But Oldest Chicago isn't only a history book--it's a guide.

Everyone tries the newest...why not try the oldest? Visit the oldest house. Worship at the oldest church. Get on your soapbox at the oldest park. Party at the oldest nightclub. Taste the foods that generations of Chicagoans have savored at the oldest hot dog stand, pizzeria, soda pop maker, ice cream parlor, diner, chili vendor, liquor distributor, soul food restaurant, and bakery.

Don't just read about Chicago's history--experience it!

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“You don’t have to be a history buff to love David Witter's Oldest Chicago. You don’t even have to love Chicago, but surely you will after reading the author's exultant but informative paean and guide to the city’s most enduring places.”  —New City

"More than a guidebook, Oldest Chicago presents a new way of looking at the city. It offers a 'lost treasure' map to the city. The next time you explore Chicago—ideally with Oldest Chicago in hand—you will wonder, 'Is that building old?' 'Is this store special?' 'Who sculpted that statue?' 'How many generations of the same family have run this restaurant?' Oldest Chicago will add immeasurably to your enjoyment of the city. It will bring to life many important and delightful places you might have taken for granted . . . and make you aware of others that you never noticed before.”  —Greg Borzo, author, The Chicago "L"

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781893121447
  • Publisher: Lake Claremont Press
  • Publication date: 3/15/2011
  • Pages: 257
  • Sales rank: 401,694
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

David Anthony Witter is an English and special education teacher at Kelly High School in Chicago, a freelance writer and photographer, and a regular contributor to New City and Fra Noi. His work has appeared in Bay Area Music Magazine, the Chicago Blues Annual, the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post. He lives in Chicago.
Native Chicagoan David Anthony Witter grew up in Lincoln Park in the 1970s and watched as the community around him changed completely in less than a decade. He attended Alcott Grammar School, Lane Technical High School, Columbia College (B.A. in writing), and Northeastern Illinois University (B.A. in education). A teacher of Special Education and English, David has worked for the Chicago Public Schools for over 16 years. He currently teaches at Chicago's Kelly High School. Also a freelance writer and photographer, he is a regular contributor to New City and Fra Noi. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago ReaderLiving Blues, the Chicago Blues Annual, the Bay Area Music Magazine, and the Copley News Syndicate.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A new type of travel book

    Oldest Chicago is at first blush a sightseeing handbook for the city of Chicago. It takes the format of giving the oldest existent example of structures that were important to the city. Choices range from the oldest business (jewelers) to the oldest tamale shop (La Guadalupana). This would be a book that a year or two ago I would have recommended only for a local resident or someone planning a visit.

    However, technology gives a different way to enjoy the book. The author has taken good care to include the exact street address of almost all the locations that are discussed. This enables the use of Google maps and street view to remotely view (if you will) the building in question. I found that this really added another dimension to the book.

    This volume combines historic information with a lively writing style. Overall, I found it to be an excellent book that perhaps opens a new way to view travel literature. I would recommend it to anyone interested in history or the city of Chicago.

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