Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Woman, 71, Missing From Clarendon Park Area

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The police are seeking assistance in their search for a missing person. YELENA SKRYPINA, age 71, was last seen April 2nd at her home in the 4500 block of North Clarendon. She is 5'6", 150 lbs., and has blue eyes and grey hair.

Her friends became concerned when they didn't hear from her and entered her apartment with the property manager. It was in good condition and showed no signs of a struggle or a burglary. Local hospitals have been checked, but there is no sign of her.

If you know anything about Ms. Skrypina or her whereabouts, please call 9-1-1 or call the Chicago Police Area North SVU at 312-744-8266.

Safety Walk On Argyle This Wednesday Evening

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From Ald. Osterman today:

"As part of our ongoing public safety initiatives in the 48th Ward, I would like to invite you to participate in a Community Safety Walk at 6:30 pm Wednesday (May 4) that will kick off at Argyle Street and Winthrop Avenue.

Please join 20th District Police Commander Sean Loughran, your neighbors and me as we walk around the Argyle area to identify safety issues and discuss strategies for making the community safe for all of our residents."

Date Announced For The End of an Era: Shake Rattle & Read Sets May 21st As Last Day

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We've known it was coming, but now there's an official closing date for Shake Rattle & Read. The legendary book and record store will close its doors on May 21st, and proprietor Ric Addy will move to happy retirement in Florida in June. So if you want to get your last fix on everything in the store, all of which is greatly discounted, get to 4812 North Broadway before he closes his doors forever.

There's one good thing, though. You can still say good-bye to Ric at the Green Mill, at a special farewell concert to all who have called Ric a friend over the past decades. On Facebook, he writes:
Goodbye Chicago! The day after Shake Rattle & Read closes, Dave Jemillo offered me his joint Sunday afternoon May 22 from 1-4pm. Cash Bar. Performances by Jazz Piano Genius Tommy Muellner, a quick acoustic set by the Pogo Ponies, some other surprise guests and Dave Jemilo said he will have the Mic turned on for anyone who wants to sing a song, say a few words or roast me! Moving to Florida in June - I will miss you all and the Green Mill! Please 'Share' with all our friends who are not on Facebook ( and with those who are! )

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sheridan Road Fixer-Upper: Mansion On The Market

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The mansion at 4512 North Sheridan, which has been home to the St. Augustine Center For American Indians since 1969, is for sale. According to the real estate listing (which has its address listed as 4516), the three-story home was built in 1905 by a doctor. (Other than that, we don't know much about its history.)

The listing says, "Most of the amazing Victorian details are still in place, and could be restored, including a grand staircase, stained glass windows, cast crown moldings, doors, fireplaces, etc."

It has 3850sf of space, 11 bedrooms (14 rooms total), one full bath, and four partial baths, with five parking spaces off the alley. There's a full basement, two fireplaces, and a large fenced yard. Prior to it becoming home to the non-profit St. Augustine Center -- an Episcopal church and social services provider -- it was student housing. At the very low price of $650K, it's a fixer-upper for the right buyer.

The real estate listing is aimed at non-traditional buyers (it mentions possible use as a B&B, student/elderly housing, an SRO, a consulate, a school, or a community center), and says that there's a possibility "to put the home on historic registry and receive tax credits and freeze real estate taxes." We'd love to see that happen.

Ominously, it also mentions that the building could be razed and the current zoning allows for up to seven new units to be built on the lot. We'd hate to see that happen.

If you know anyone who'd be interested in putting a Victorian mansion back together, please show them the current listing (no interior photos are included, just the outside).

Tickets Available for Annual "State of Uptown" Luncheon

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From Uptown United:

"The annual State of Uptown luncheon convenes the business, development and non-profit communities to hear from city officials about their work and how it impacts Uptown.

This year we are pleased to welcome 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman, 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar, 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman and a special guest  - Commissioner David Reifman from the Department of Planning and Development.

Ticket includes event admission and seated lunch from Pho Viet, a Vietnamese restaurant known for its modern take on traditional dishes and fresh ingredients.

Friday, May 20th at NOON
Pho Viet Restaurant (4941 N. Broadway)
Tickets: $25 for Chamber Members; $30 for General Admission

Conchas For Moms At Cantina 1910

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Cantina 1910 (5025 North Clark) is going to make brunch a little tastier for all moms: On Mother's Day (this Sunday, better get movin'), there will be two complimentary mini-conchas for all moms who brunch at Cantina that day.

Also known as pan de huevos, they are lovely little bread pastries topped with a sugar shell. The "mom minis" will be chocolate and cherry.

Brunch is served 8am to 3pm, and you can see the menu here.

Uplift High School Seniors Make Headlines With 62 College Acceptances, Scholarships

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You may have heard the news last week about Chicago twins Deprice and Shaprice Hunt, who were accepted into a combined 62 colleges (and counting). Their accomplishments were featured by the WGN Morning Show, Huffington Post, NBC national news, and even Teen Vogue. In addition to their college acceptances, they both had perfect attendance records and received scholarships totaling over $1.6million.

What we didn't realize -- until we saw it in Market Watch, of all places -- is that Deprice and Shaprice attend Uplift High School, right here in Uptown.

Congratulations to two young adults who are already making headlines. We look forward to hearing more about their future successes.

Positive Loitering Tonight @ Kenmore & Ainslie/Sheridan & Ainslie

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Building on the momentum of last week's major drug bust on Argyle, the 20th District has been saturating the area with police officers and holding community involvement events. Tonight there will be positive loitering at 8pm at Kenmore and Ainslie. Please go to show support for the officers and your neighbors. Ask the officers questions about public safety and learn what you can do to make Uptown a better place to live.

Update: Margate Park Block Club will be at Sheridan and Ainslie.

CAPS Beat 1913 Meets Tuesday, Followed By SPNA

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A reminder to those in the Sheridan Park area (Beat 1913) that your bimonthly CAPS meeting is Tuesday, May 3rd. It takes place at 6:30pm at Courtenay School, at Montrose and Beacon.

It will be followed by a meeting of Sheridan Park Neighbors Association, which is not affiliated with the CAPS program or the Chicago Police. Feel free to attend one or both meetings. The SPNA meeting agenda is below:

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Library Patrons, Take Note

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If you have books due or plan to do some work at any Chicago Public Library on Wednesday, May 4th, please note that all branches will be closed for "All-Staff Institute Day."

Howdy, Neighbor: Columnist Mark Brown Makes A Move

We've chided Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown in the past for living in Oak Park while being very critical about how things are done in Uptown.

We're pleased to learn that he has switched "Oak" to "Buena" in his address and moved to Uptown after 26 years in the 'burbs ("Downsizing to Uptown brings challenges and charms").

We're always happy to have new people make the move to our community. Welcome to our little section of Chicago, Mr. Brown. We hope you grow to love it as much as we do.

Discover Clarendon Avenue With A Free Walking Tour Next Saturday

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Looking south on Montrose from Clarendon, around the turn of the century (via Library of Congress)
On the first weekend on May, cities all over the world honor urban activist Jane Jacobs with a free series of walks, usually led by neighborhood volunteers. On Saturday, May 7th, learn about mile-long Clarendon Avenue on a Jane's Walk tour entitled "Still Waters Run Deep: Uptown's Hidden Coastline."

The two-hour tour will leave from the Disney Magnet School at 11am and proceed north, ending up at Weiss Hospital's rooftop garden at Leland. Along the way, you'll pass the Buena Park Historic District, learn about when Clarendon was the Lake Michigan shoreline, and see the former Cuneo Hospital. Melanie Eckner will be your guide.

For more details, and to sign up, click here.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Northbound Lanes Open On Broadway; Overnight Closures Monday thru Wednesday

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For the first time in many months, the northbound lanes on the 4600 block of Broadway are open to vehicular traffic. That's good news both for drivers and for the small business owners whose customers haven't had full access in quite a while. Leland at Broadway is still blocked off due to ComEd work, so the right turn lane on Broadway is inaccessible.

On Monday night through Wednesday night, May 2nd through 4th, CTA will close lanes in both directions while they put up steel for the second new set of tracks for the Wilson Red Line rehab. Work will begin no earlier than 9pm and will finish no later than 5am.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Entrepreneurs, Deadline Is Approaching To Be The Next FLATS Small Business

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If you want to be the next successful FLATS entrepreneur, the deadline for a space and business assistance in Lawrence House is just around the corner: May 20th. Follow in the footsteps of The Public Barber, which got its start as #FLATSProject winner last year.

As the project website says:
At FLATS® Chicago we believe that small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. They’re the local purveyors of meaningful goods and services, and the creators of jobs and opportunity. They’re the hardware stores that help build our community. They’re the cafĂ©’s that create a sense of place in our increasingly virtual world. They’re the dedicated business owners whose very presence makes just any neighborhood our neighborhood.

That’s why we’re so proud to host #FLATSproject, a Small Business and Community Accelerator Project designed to give these unique businesses and the people who devote their lives to them a chance to hit the ground running with a kick-start of more than $100,000 in benefits* to their business from day one. We’re looking for entrepreneurs who‘ve already poured their souls into their big idea, and are looking for an opportunity to make their business a part of a vibrant, diverse Chicago neighborhood.
Details and how to apply are here.

Sheridan Park Preservationist Dick Uyvari Remembered

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A tribute to Dick Uyvari will take place on May 14th in the form of a bowl-a-thon and fundraiser.

For those who don't recognize the name, Dick and his life partner Joe LaPat were hugely instrumental in preserving and restoring buildings in Sheridan Park, which led to its designation as the Sheridan Park National Register Historic District.

Dick passed away last September; you can read more about his and Joe's preservation/renovation efforts here.

4027 Broadway Ready For Occupancy

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The new mixed-use building at 4027 North Broadway is ready for occupancy, and looks relatively like the rendering that was presented to the community. Not quite two years ago, residents of Buena Park voted to approve the developer's plan. Now the 20 rental units and ground-floor retail are ready for tenants.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Emerald City Set To Bring Coffee House, Bakery, Community Space To Wilson Avenue

This is how the former Magnolia Cafe space might look in a few months
Last Sunday, we noticed signs of activity in the former Magnolia Cafe storefront. On Wednesday, a tipster put us in touch with the General Manager of Emerald City Coffee, the independently owned cafe next to the Sheridan Red Line stop. Brian Osborne confirmed that the lease has been signed and Emerald City will be opening a second location at 1224 West Wilson, hopefully as soon as early summer.

Not only that, he plans to move the cafe's baking operations into the Wilson location, which will supply both stores with food and pastries.

Emerald City has been around for more than 20 years, and Brian feels the time is ripe for expansion. Uptown, and Wilson Avenue, were appealing due to the full-service kitchen in the former restaurant, as well as a space that's practically turnkey-ready. (The storefronts on Wilson that housed Luna Cafe/Salon and Starbucks were also considered, but they would have required structural customization for the baking operation.) At 1224, he said all it needs is some paint on the walls, some bookcases, and new kitchen equipment, and it's ready to go.

Another appealing aspect of the location is commuter foot traffic to the Wilson Red Line stop, something with which Emerald City is very familiar, since its current location is right next to the Sheridan L. Brian is considering putting in a "commuter walk-up window," but hasn't made a final decision. The new store is projected to open at 6am for the convenience of Red Line commuters.

For those not familiar with Emerald City, it serves as a community hub as well as a coffee shop, with live mic nights, art displays, and cabaret acts. Brian envisions more of the same for the Uptown location, and hopes for it to be somewhere that people get their morning cuppa joe and feel comfortable hanging out after work. (He is considering applying for an "incidental" liquor license so that Emerald City can eventually serve beer and wine on-premises in the evening.) The extended storefront to the east of the main restaurant is projected to serve as a community room.

Brian would also like to see the Uptown store become a contributing part of the entertainment and music scene, a subject dear to his heart, since he hails from Austin, Texas. Truman College being right across the street was another factor in the decision to open a second location on Wilson Avenue. He has always wanted to have Emerald City located near a college campus, a la University of Texas at Austin, and sees students as "an energetic community."

We had to ask: With the presence of five other coffee shops within a half mile (Starbucks at Target, Starbucks at Lawrence/Broadway, and three on Wilson -- Everybody's Coffee, Heritage Outpost, and Baker & Nosh), can Emerald City survive in such a competitive environment?

Brian sees the independent coffee shops as complementary to one another, not as competition. He thinks each has something unique to offer, and sees them joining together to make Wilson "The Avenue of the Bean." He thinks all the indie coffee houses so close together can create a coffee destination spot not just for Uptowners, but has the potential to attract people from all over the area.

After all, he says, "We're selling an experience, not just a cup of coffee."

We look forward to meeting our new neighbors at Emerald City in a few months.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Property Tax Appeal Assistance Available Next Week

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Homeowners in Lake View Township (which includes all of the 46th and 48th Wards) may appeal their property tax assessment to the Cook County Assessor until May 6, 2016. Appealing your assessment is an opportunity to ensure your property tax bill is fair and accurate.

Staff from Commissioner Bridget Gainer’s Office will be available at Alderman Osterman’s 48th Ward Office to assist home in filing an appeal an answer any questions next Tuesday, May 3, 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

20th District Police/Community Events This Week

In the aftermath of Monday's drug bust on Argyle, in which 16 individuals were arrested and four businesses were closed, Ald. Osterman and the 20th District police are holding community participation events this week, starting tonight.

From the latest email blast from the 48th Ward Office:

"The 20th District will be hosting numerous outreach events on Argyle this week.  Please join us for the following:

Tuesday 4/26
  • 5pm-7pm — Outdoor Roll Call at CTA station at 5pm on Argyle and pass out 20th CAPS tote bags
Wednesday 4/27
  • 11am-1pm — Ice Cream social at Argyle and Winthrop starting at noon.
  • 5pm-7pm — Positive Loitering at Argyle and Kenmore at 6:00pm
Thursday 4/28
  • 5pm-7pm — 20th District Information table and pass out CAPS Totes at Argyle and Winthrop at 5pm
Friday 4/29
  • 11am-1pm — Outdoor Roll Call at Argyle and Winthrop at 11:00am
  • 5pm-7pm — Positive loitering at Argyle and Broadway at 6:00pm
Saturday 4/30
  • 11am-1pm — CAPS Appreciation Day and CAPS Flyers. McDonalds on Argyle and Winthrop at 11:30am"

Large-Scale Drug Bust On Argyle Monday

From Ald. Osterman in a special newsletter:

"Yesterday, the Chicago Police Department successfully completed a takedown mission that resulted in the arrests of 16 individuals who were involved in narcotics sales in the Argyle street area.  A number of these individuals were gang members who have been involved with the violence that has plagued this part of our community and were cited for selling narcotics within 1000 feet of Goudy and McCutcheon Schools.  4 businesses were also cited or closed as a result of this police operation.

This is the Quik Stop convenience store
at Argyle and Sheridan
(Photo courtesy of 48th Ward newsletter)
This police operation is an important step to improving the safety on and around Argyle street.  A safe Argyle area is important for the entire community.  I would like to specifically thank the vigilant residents that continued to call 911 and reported activity they witnessed, your efforts greatly assisted the police.

I would also like to thank Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Commander Sean Loughran of the 20th District, Commander Thomas Waldera from Narcotics, and Commander Ken Angarone from the Vice Division for their dedicated work in this operation. In addition I would like to extend my sincerest thank you to the Chicago Police officers on the street who have helped make this safety initiative a success.

The 20th District will have additional resources in the area over the next several weeks.  It is extremely important for all of us to play a role and get involved with the process going forward with these arrests.  Please continue to call 911 for any crimes you may witness in the area.  You may also reach out to the 20th Police District with any questions or comments.  They can be reached at caps.020district@chicagopolice.org or 312-742-8770.

I also ask neighbors to be court advocates to represent their community in these cases. Being an advocate sends a clear message to those arrested and to the courts that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in our community.  It is imperative that we all come together to strengthen our neighborhood for the better. If you are interested in becoming a court advocate please contact Marko Zaric from my office.  He can be reached at marko@48thward.org or 773-784-5277.

Please join us for positive loitering on Wednesday 4/27 on Argyle and Kenmore at 6:00pm and on Friday 4/29 on Argyle and Broadway at 6:00pm."

Update: Here's more, from the CPD:
click to enlarge
Update: Many have wondered about the businesses that were closed/cited. In his follow-up newsletter, Ald. Osterman says, "Four businesses also were closed or cited as a result of this police operation. The businesses closed were the QuickStop at 5000 N. Sheridan Rd., Mobile 2 Go at 1126 W. Argyle and the Granville Food Mart at 1158 W. Granville. The cited business was J&A Convenience Store at 1108 W. Argyle."

Magnolia Cafe Storefront Shows Signs Of Life


That didn't take long. A reader let us know that the "restaurant space available" signs that went up in the windows last January at the former Magnolia Cafe space (1224 West Wilson) are now gone. There is butcher paper in the windows, indicating activity within. We don't know what's going in there, but are happy to see that a prime location on Wilson Avenue will once again be occupied. Do you know what's going in there? Please post in the comments.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Apna Ghar's New Building Takes Shape

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One of Apna Ghar's founders, Prem Sharma, and Board Member Usha Wasan at the groundbreaking last month
(courtesy of Apna Ghar's Facebook page)

On March 15, Apna Ghar broke ground on its new "safe home" for women and children escaping domestic abuse. (Its previous building in the same location was demolished six years ago due to disrepair.) Just six weeks after groundbreaking, the new building is well on its way to completion. The interior spaces will be created by the wonderful pro bono organization Designs For Dignity.

Apna Ghar is one of Uptown's blue-ribbon social services, dedicated to ending gender violence. Its services are available to all (it has served women and children from over 50 different countries), and it is a place that ensures that its immigrant and refugee clientele are treated in a culturally-sensitive manner. Apna Ghar provides legal services, counseling, and an emergency shelter, among other services.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse and needs immediate assistance or information, Apha Ghar's 24/7 crisis number is 773-334-4663. Its website is here.

Ald. Cappleman: Homeless Living Under Lake Shore Viaducts To Be Placed In Permanent Housing

"Due to a coalition that I spearheaded, the Mayor just announced a major change in the City's approach to addressing homelessness. For years I have advocated for the City to make our homeless residents a priority by using a plan that shows long term results. In the past, our challenge has been the many barriers that chronically homeless individuals face within the shelter system. A pilot project that will permanently house people immediately and will include social services for each individual is now underway, starting with the homeless encampments in Uptown along Lake Shore Drive. I want to thank Doug Shenkelberg from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless for his organization's leadership in working with me to advance this proven model as a priority for the City of Chicago in helping the residents that live in encampments.

Two weeks ago, the Dept. of Family & Support Services assessed the specific needs of approximately 75 people living along Lake Shore Drive, and work is now underway to get them into housing within the next 90 days. The City will take what is learned from this effort and duplicate it in other parts of the City where there are other homeless encampments.

I don't expect this to be a one time fix. The long term solution for our city, is to make affordable housing a top priority. This is the only way we can reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness. For now, I will monitor this pilot project and assist in finding funding to make sure it is successful here and throughout Chicago."

Friday, April 22, 2016

Oops, I Did It Again


The hungry, greedy Lawrence viaduct needed a fix, so it grabbed a junk trunk for lunch.

It's just uncanny how often these things happen at this particular bridge. A vortex to the underworld, perhaps?

Plant and Garden Sale Today and Saturday

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Want to boost your garden for spring? The Peterson Garden Project is having a two-day Plant, Seed and Bake Sale Friday and Saturday. Appropriately, this is the "Cool Crops Sale."
  • "APRIL 22: 12PM – 4PM
  • APRIL 23: 10AM- 4PM
It can still get quite cool in Chicago in late April and early May so we’re focusing on those seedlings that can handle a little spring chill. Since the April sale coincides with opening day of the gardens on April 23rd, we’ll have everything you need to get your first garden going before weekend’s end. From soil and fertilizer to tools and seedlings, we’re turning the parking lot at 5035 N. Broadway into a pop up greenhouse. The Purple Cow Organics Soil Mobile will be parked and offering educational opportunities for gardeners."

It's all happening at 5035 North Broadway, next to Sun Wah and steps from the Vintage Garage.

Another "Warm Crops Sale" will take place May 6th through 8th. For more information on the sales, and exactly what will be sold, click here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

CAPS Beat 2024 Meets Tonight

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A reminder that tonight is the CAPS meeting for Beat 2024, which encompasses the area between Lawrence and Foster, the lake and Winthrop.  The meeting takes place at the Margate Park Fieldhouse (4921 North Marine Drive) at 7pm. Meet your neighbors and your beat cops. Learn what is going on with the investigation of previous crimes and what you can do to help prevent future crimes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

One Empty Lot Prepares For Construction, Another For Use As A Staging Area


Yesterday the long-empty adjoining lots on the 4600 block of Malden were fenced off with green tarp. It is a sign of progress, but not at that site.

A reader sent in this photo and says, "Before everyone gets too excited about a new development coming to the large vacant lot in the 4600 block of Malden, this is simply being used as a staging area for the upcoming 4627 Beacon development. Both lots are owned by the same developer. You can see how both lots line up perfectly, allowing easy access for construction equipment."

4627 Beacon has sat empty since Christmas Eve of 2005, when developer Chris Byrne demolished the oldest house in Sheridan Park, an 1892 orange-coded Queen Anne-style home. (You can read more about it in the Tribune.) The lot is now owned by Steve Sgouras, who will be building a seven-unit condo building on the Beacon site. With the Malden lots being set up to be a staging area, we are guessing that construction on the new building will get underway very soon.

With the same developer owning the Malden lots, dare we hope they will be developed sometime in our lifetimes? They've been empty since at least the mid-1970s.

Lawrence House Rehab Taking It To The Street

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The new sidewalks outside 1020 W. Lawrence
Progress abounds outside FLATS Chicago's upcoming flagship "Lawrence House" property. New sidewalks have been poured and tree grates have been installed, which will green up this area for the first time in many, many years. Workers were hard at work sanding and restoring the beautiful ironwork that surrounds the street level retail windows. If you are quick, you might be able to spot one of the vintage gold leaf retail signs near the westernmost part of the building which reads "SHOES." A real piece of Uptown history is making a big comeback.

Off The Beaten Track

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The CTA workers have removed the old tracks on the northermost point of the Wilson L station. That area is getting sunlight for the first time in over a century.

This is how that same spot looked in March 2009, courtesy of Google Streetview.

Uptown Historical Society Launches With Reception, Bus Tour Of Uptown

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For Immediate Release:

Uptown Historical Society to Launch on June 4th with Kick-Off Reception and Exclusive Tour of Uptown

Uptown Historical Society will be launching on Saturday, June 4th, 2016 at the historic Sheridan Plaza Apartments at 4607 North Sheridan in the heart of Uptown. At 1:30 p.m., there will be a brief reception to formally launch UHS, and to learn more about the storied history of Sheridan Plaza. At 2:30 p.m., Uptown Historian Martin Tangora will lead an exclusive guided bus tour, and will provide guests with his deep knowledge and entertaining stories of Uptown landmarks. The reception is free. The bus tour is $20 per person to cover the cost of transportation. Purchase your tickets for the tour at UHStour.eventbrite.com.

Uptown Historical Society is a group of volunteers who are interested in preserving and sharing the fascinating history of the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. UHS is a subcommittee of the Uptown Chicago Commission, which is also celebrating its 60th anniversary. Founded in 1955, UCC's mission is to improve the quality of life for all Uptown residents. UCC's primary areas of focus are public safety, community development, and zoning and land use. Membership includes block clubs, property owners, developers, renters and businesses.