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Best public space to read classic Chicago poetry and prose (North Side)

City Life No Comments »

Washington Square Park

It is Karmic Ground Zero for classic Chicago literature. Read Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago Poems,” Ben Hecht’s “1001 Afternoons in Chicago” and “The Front Page,” Nelson Algren’s “Chicago: City on the Make,” or Studs Terkel’s “Division Street: America” while sitting on a bench there across the street from both the Newberry Library and the site of the late lamented Dil Pickle Club. Today, you’ll see the same dynamic these writers explored between the hustlers and the squares, between the homeless camping out and the privileged walking their lapdogs, and between the clueless and the in-the-know. The spirits of Harriet Monroe’s Poetry and Margaret Anderson’s Little Review haunt this space as well, and keep your eye peeled for Sherwood Anderson.

901 N. Clark

Best of Chicago 2015

Best imaginary Twitter post by Studs Terkel

Audience Choice, Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Twitter is not the most corrupt social network. It’s the most theatrically corrupt.

Best audience choices:
“How do you change the ribbon on this thing?”; “Ran into Algren on Division, grabbed a whiskey and some tapas”; “And then when the former Mayor Daley, he was a corker wasn’t he?, was in office the folks there on the west side voted for him because he co (What? You thought he’d get it done in 140?)”; “Milk steak, and jelly beans.”

Best of Chicago 2009

Best Polish store

Goods & Services, Logan Square No Comments »

The Polish Store

The Polish Store is a four-store emporium of everything, you guessed it, Polish. Besides giant flags on the windows and the roof, the aisles of the Polish store are filled with hats, coats, clocks, sweatshirts, bags, key chains, watches, socks, t-shirts, shorts, towels and even a thong adorned with the Polish flag, a giant red eagle on a white background. Beyond flags, there is culture, as one of the four sections sells Polish-language DVDs, Polish rock, rap, folk and classical CDs, as well as books ranging from cookbooks to biographies of Hillary Clinton, Sylvia Plath and Pope John Paul II, translated into Polish. Another section of the store deals with Polish phone cards and gadgets for switching Polish electronics from the European high-voltage round plugs to the American squares receptacles. The Polish Store is also in the heart of Chicago’s Belmont and Milwaukee Avenue Polish enclave—within two blocks are The Red Apple, Stanley’s Sausage, Andy’s Deli, The Star Polska Restaurant and a red-and-white neon sign advertising The Podalskie Club, a bar that must have been frozen in time from the days of Nelson Algren.

3063 North Milwaukee
(773) 478-0752

Best of Chicago 2009

Best place to volunteer your time and have a good time while doing it

Culture & Nightlife, Wicker Park No Comments »


Studs Terkel, Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow—Chicago is a city of undeniable writing talent and 826CHI is on a mission to find the next great crop. Started by author Dave Eggers, 826CHI “is dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.” Volunteers are always needed to help run the after-school programs and assist in administrative tasks. And with such entertaining fundraisers as the moustache-a-thon, you know this volunteer opportunity would never be boring. 

1331 N. Milwaukee

Best of Chicago 2008

Best hotdog shack

Food & Drink, Portage Park No Comments »

Don’s Dog House

When you think of fast-food joints today, you think of shiny glass and brick on the outside, with Formica tables and stainless-steel counters on the inside, all advertised by a giant, lexon-plastic sign. But what about the days of the corner hotdog stand or the hotdog shack on the beach? Cobbled together out of plywood, tin or whatever materials were available, these were the places that populated Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row” and Algren’s “Neon Wilderness.” Don’s Dog House is one of a vanishing breed of urban hotdog shacks, and its story would make the late Studs Terkel proud. “The place started in the 1960s,” Nathan Hoffman, the weekend shift-worker at Don’s says as he peers through a small, wooden window to take an order. “It was run by Greeks, and I guess they had problems with fires. It kept burning down and they kept repairing it with whatever they had around. Finally, they took an old school bus, cut it in half, and made it into a hotdog stand. So far it has been holding up pretty well.”

5359 W. Addison

Best of Chicago 2008