Things You Should Know (Chicago Tribune, 5 September 2003)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Mon Sep 8 00:50:04 UTC 2003

  Yes, the CHICAGO TRIBUNE got it wrong again...At least this article mentioned Bruce Kraig, also an editor on the OXFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN FOOD AND DRINK (2004).
  What to do?  Write a letter to the editor?  Done that several times.  They won't publish it.  Write to the ombudsman?  Done that several times.  he doesn't respond.  Write to the Organization of News Ombudsmen (ONO)?  Done that. Attack the CHICAGO TRIBUNE with guns until they tell the truth?  No, I haven't done that.
   Andy Smith (the overall editor of the ENCYCLOPEDIA) earlier this year, translated every bad outcome of mine into something that I did "wrong."  And I'd sort of make fun of that to myself.  My father was dying for twenty years--my first "mistake."  And then my mother was dying--second "mistake."  And then I gave my research to the Chicago Historical Society for free--third "mistake."  And so on--all my "mistakes."
   And the dead cow that got an apology from the Chicago city council--it made all the right moves?  A dead cow?
   Here's another "mistake," just a few weeks ago.  I joined my sister (in Scarsdale, NY) to go swimming.  We talked as she was cleaning cream cheese from her son's CDs.  (He's autistic.)  While she was doing this, he grabbed scissors and was stabbing at his screen window.  "He wants to go out," she told me.  So then we let him out, and HE WALKS INTO OTHER PEOPLE'S HOMES.  "He's looking for more CDS," my sister says.  And I asked if this happens all the time now, and she says yes.
   Just kill me.

Things you should know (but don't):[RedEye Edition]
Chris Malcolm, RedEye. Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Ill.: Sep 5, 2003.  pg. 24
Copyright 2003 by the Chicago Tribune)


If you've entertained friends and relatives from out of town, you've experienced what is called "the big blank."

That's when a visitor asks you a simple question about something local and you have no idea how to answer. You can fake it ("I think that's left over from the World's Fair.") or divert their attention ("Hey look! Horse carriages!"), and more than a few of us have picked this awkward moment as a fine time to stop for lunch.

But the best thing to do is brush up on your hometown trivia and look like the smart urban host that you've always wanted to be.

Chicago is rich in history, and the stories the city can tell stretch well beyond the Water Tower on Michigan Avenue (built in 1869) or Frank Sinatra's "My Kind of Town" (written by two New Yorkers).

So here begins your journey to become the Chicago trivia expert you've always wanted to be.

Regional cuisine

You should know: Just take a New Yorker out for dinner at a Chicago pizza place or go to Los Angeles and ask for a "stuffed pie" and you know this town's deep-dish pizza is different.

But did you know? Why is a Chicago-style hot dog loaded with everything (pickle, tomatoes, etc.)? "It comes from competition back around World War I," said Bruce Kraig, a history professor emeritus at Roosevelt University who has completed a book on the culture of hot dog stands.

Kraig said his research shows that Italian and Greek hot dog stand vendors competed for business by loading up a dog with more stuff back around 1920. This explains why a Chicago-style hot dog has traditional German elements (mustard, celery salt and sour pickles) in addition to Mediterranean add-ons (tomatoes, hot peppers, relish).

And don't forget: In Chicago, you don't use ketchup.

Running with Al Capone

You should know: Al Capone, Chicago's most notorious gangster, ruled the city in the 1920s before he was convicted on tax evasion charges and sent to prison in 1931, first to Atlanta and then to Alcatraz in San Francisco. He is widely acknowledged as having ordered the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929 when seven men were gunned down at a garage at 2122 N. Clark St. The garage is long gone.

But did you know? Capone had headquarters at the Four Deuces at 2222 S. Wabash Ave., the Metropole Hotel at 2300 S. Michigan Ave., and the Lexington Hotel at 2135 S. Michigan Ave. Perhaps a man ahead of his time, he had suburban outposts in Forest View and Cicero.

City of Candy

You should know: Candymakers have made Chicago home over the years, and the first Fannie May candy shop opened in 1920 at 11 N. LaSalle St.

But did you know? At night the city smells like chocolate, thanks to a factory at Blommer Chocolate Company at 600 West Kinzie St. Their small retail store sells 10-pound chocolate bars and discounted bags of broken ones in little bags.

It's easy to get around and yet . . .

You should know: The street numbering system was set in stone in 1910 when planners decided it starts at State Street running north and south and at Madison Street running east and west. Each mile counts as 800, making 100 equal to one-eighth of a mile (or for every Starbucks, whichever comes first). Even numbers are for buildings on the north or west side of a street; odd numbers are on the south and east.

But did you know? Chicago has about 3,900 miles of roads, and while some are known streets, avenues, drives, ways and courts, there's only one difference. Boulevards do not allow trucks or commercial vehicles, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation. Lake Shore Drive is the exception. A city ordinance prohibits commercial trucks and pickup trucks carrying cargo from the city's busy portion of that federal route.

One more thing: Chicago doesn't add many new streets, but when it does, they try to continue a street and carry the name over to preserve the grid. This explains why a street can skip over a few blocks and continue with the same name.

Why 'Windy City' and 'City of Big Shoulders'?

You should know: It's big shoulders because Carl Sandburg's poem "Chicago" says so. Bears linebacker Dick Butkus helped keep the name alive.

But did you know? It's the "windy city," because Chicago and New York were competing for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. A New York Sun editorial bashed the "nonsensical claims of that windy city. Its people could not hold a world's fair even if they won it."

One World's Fair or Two?

You should know: Despite the New York Sun's name-calling, Chicago hosted the 1893 event, which left what is now the Museum of Science and Industry. Chicago also hosted the 1933 World's Fair in 1933 ("A Century of Progress"), and it drew millions of people to the city.

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