Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Helen In The Headlines

Nearly four years after she stepped out of the alderman's office, former 46th Ward alderman Helen Shiller is still making headlines.

In sum:
  • One of Uptown's three aldermen, Ameya Pawar (47th Ward), is trying to kickstart a bit of reform in the City Council through the creation of an independent budget office to review the financial ramifications of proposed actions to be voted on by the City Council (two words: Parking Meters)
  • One of his constituents, Helen Shiller, applied for the job.
  • Ald. Pawar doesn't think Helen is the most qualified candidate.
  • Ald. Carrie Austin, who served on the Council for many years with then-Ald. Shiller, thinks Helen is very qualified.
  • Stalemate!
  • Now Ald. Pawar is pressing the mayor to make a decision and break the stalemate.  He posted on his Facebook page, "Reform takes endurance--so I'll keep plugging away on independent budget office."
Read more about it in the Sun-Times.  (Photo illustration from the defunct website, Helen's Money.)

Uptown Advances In Curbed Cup Competition For Best Neighborhood

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Uptown scored a victory over the West Loop in the first round of voting of the Curbed Cup.  We advance to the next round, which should be announced on Friday.  Practice your voting skills! (Consider this a warm-up for the city elections in February.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Storefronts Across From The Aragon Now Bank-Owned, For Sale


The storefronts at 1101-1113 W Lawrence, in the building across the street from the Aragon, are now bank-owned and are being marketed for sale, as is the parking lot behind the building.  The condominiums located above the storefronts remain unaffected and are individually owned.

Now empty except for anchor tenant Chase Bank, the storefronts and the parking lot are in a great location and we hope someone takes advantage.  The listing with Sperry Van Ness Commercial Real Estate can be seen here.

The building dates back to 1917, seen above in better days (for the building, not for the condition of the streets).  By the 1980s, it was dilapidated and home to Sharon's Hillbilly Heaven bar; a liquor store that opened at 7am; and Prologue School.  The building was purchased by James Gouskos and rehabbed in the early 2000s. Mr. Gouskos eventually opened the Kinetic Playground nightclub at 1113 W Lawrence.

But legal and criminal charges filed against Mr. Gouskos led to the closure of the nightclub around 2011, and the storefronts went under the management of a receiver in 2012. It's a very long and complicated story that ended up on the front page of the Sun-Times; you can read more about it here.  Let's just say that an awful lot of people lost their life savings to promises made in a tale that involves organized crime, bad loans made by Alexi Giannoulias' family bank, video poker and a gambling addiction. We hope the fortunes of the building take a new turn with a new owner.

CTA's Holiday Bus Coming To Uptown Friday & Saturday

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So the CTA Holiday Train ain't enough cheer for ya?  Here comes the Holiday Bus, a new CTA promotion this year.

The CTA says:  "The exterior wrap features 'Ralphie the Reindeer' leading the way with his crimson nose aglow and Santa’s sleigh in tow. Strings of lights outline the bus and its windows, while Ralphie is brought to life with 3-D antlers atop the bus and a ruby light affixed to the front of the bus.

The soft glow of multi-colored lights adds a warm touch to the interior of the bus as well as holiday-themed seating, candy-cane striping, artwork created by students from Mahalia Jackson Elementary and elves on board handing out candy canes to all the good boys and girls.

In the very back of the bus is Santa’s den, which serves as the perfect setting for the scheduled photo sessions with Santa -- featuring a cozy fireplace, Santa’s armchair flanked with toy soldiers, decorated trees and oversized presents."

It will be running through Uptown along Clark on Friday, December 19th, and Saturday, December 20th.  Here's the schedule:
  • 12/19 – Friday. #22 Clark. 10:35am from Clark/Foster; 11:45am from Clark/Harrison; 1:25pm from Howard Terminal; 3:20pm from Clark/Harrison.  Follow it on BusTracker for exact times.  Photo stop at Howard Terminal, 5pm - 6pm
  • 12/20 – Saturday. #22 Clark.  1:05pm from Clark/Foster; 2:20pm from Clark/Harrison; 4:30pm from Howard Terminal; 6:05pm from Clark/Harrison.  Follow it on BusTracker for exact times. 
Here's the CTA's page for the Holiday Bus.  And don't forget that the CTA's Holiday Train will be running through Uptown from now through next Monday.

Uptown Competing For Its Third "Curbed Cup"

Uptown is back in the running for the Curbed Cup, the annual end-of-the-year contest for the best neighborhood in Chicago sponsored by the website Curbed.  Uptown won the first two years, then was barred from competing for the next two.  Now we're in the running again.

Uptown's first "opponent" is the West Loop.  Voting goes for 24 hours, and then the winner goes on to battle another neighborhood in the next round.  No registration is required, just a click.

Here's what Curbed has to say:  "Uptown has long been a fan favorite, as the North Side neighborhood has previously won two Curbed Cup victories. And it makes sense — the neighborhood has a very active online presence and residents who take the extra effort to promote their 'hood. Uptown sports some of the city's most popular destinations for live music, but it will also soon become the first neighborhood in Chicago to have a shared street. More recently, the neighborhood played dress up for a cameo in the upcoming Batman vs Superman movie, and served as the fictional Gotham City."

You can vote here. <--- Link has been fixed.

Santa's Taking The L Through Uptown (Updated)

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It's that time! The CTA's Holiday Train will be making its way through Uptown starting today. It will run on the Red Line/Purple Line from Tuesday, December 16th through Monday, December 22nd. Here's the schedule as far as it's currently projected on the CTA's website. Keep checking back for updates:
  • Tuesday, December 16 -- one round-trip on the Red Line in the afternoon/evening.
    Southbound: Argyle 2:57, Lawrence 2:59, Wilson 3:00, Sheridan 3:02
    Northbound: Sheridan 5:13, Wilson 5:15, Lawrence 5:16, Argyle 5:18
  • Wednesday, December 17 -- one round-trip on the Purple Line (goes past Uptown, but does not stop)
    Southbound: Sometime between 4:07pm (Howard) and 4:30pm (Belmont)
    Northbound: Sometime between 5:10pm (Belmont) and 5:25pm (Howard)
  • Thursday, December 18 -- one round-trip on the Red Line in the afternoon/evening.
    Southbound: Argyle 3:27, Lawrence 3:29, Wilson 3:30, Sheridan 3:33
    Northbound: Sheridan 5:39, Wilson 5:42, Lawrence 5:43, Argyle 5:45
  • Friday, December 19 -- one round-trip on the Purple Line (goes past Uptown, but does not stop)
    Southbound: Sometime between 4:35pm (Howard) and 4:49pm (Belmont)
    Northbound: Sometime between 5:38pm (Belmont) and 5:53pm (Howard)
  • Saturday, December 20 -- Red and Purple Lines.  Two round-trips, including photos with Santa for a brief time at Howard, Linden and 95th.  See the entire schedule here.
    Southbound: Argyle 12:29, Lawrence 12:31, Wilson 12:32, Sheridan 12:34
    Northbound: Sheridan 3:53, Wilson 3:56, Lawrence 3:57, Argyle 3:59
    Southbound: Argyle 6:33, Lawrence 6:35, Wilson 6:36, Sheridan 6:38
    Northbound: Sheridan 8:43, Wilson 8:46, Lawrence 8:47, Argyle 8:49  
  • Sunday, December 21 -- not in service.
  • Monday, December 22 -- Red Line -- one round-trip on the Red Line in the afternoon/evening.
    Southbound: Argyle 3:27, Lawrence 3:29, Wilson 3:30, Sheridan 3:33
    Northbound: Sheridan 5:39, Wilson 5:42, Lawrence 5:43, Argyle 5:45 
CTA has put out these Travel Tips for the wildly popular Holiday Train:
"To ensure everyone has an opportunity to see and take part in this annual tradition, here are a few suggested tips to make the most of your Holiday Train experience:
  • Travel light: with many families making the Holiday Train a part of their holiday traditions, small collapsible strollers are encouraged so that you and others have an opportunity to board the train.
  • Boarding: the train will become more crowded as it travels down the rail line; therefore, we recommend customers consider the following:
  • Board at a station close to the beginning of the route. Unlike other in-service trains, many people who board the Holiday Train often stay on board until it reaches the terminal—and will take it back home if the train is scheduled to make a return trip.
  • Rail cars toward the front or back of the train will be less crowded compared to those immediately adjacent to Santa’s sleigh.
  • Taking photos: if you are planning to ride the Holiday Train and take photos from a station platform, don’t miss your opportunity to board the train! Board the train first and then plan to take photos of Santa or the train when exiting at your destination. The Holiday Train is an in-service train and has to maintain a service schedule; therefore it cannot dwell at stations for long periods of time."
Update:  The CTA's Holiday Bus will be in service along the #22 Clark route on Friday and Saturday.  Details are here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Can You Be A Santa For A Local Family? (Updated)

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From Friends of the 46th Ward Schools:

Brennemann Family in Need of Christmas Assistance.  Can You Help?

We've received a holiday request from Brennemann Elementary regarding one of their families. They have a single mother with two children, a six-year-old boy with autism and a seven-year-old girl. The family is homeless and the mother has no financial means to purchase gifts for her children.

We are looking for a donor (or multiple donors) to either purchase gifts for this family (including the mother) or donate money to Friends of the 46th Ward Schools (via Paypal) so we can purchase gifts for them.  Gifts for this family need to be dropped off at Brennemann School by this Friday, December 19 (the last day of school before the winter break.

If you are able and willing to help us give this family a nice Christmas, please e-mail us at ASAP for additional details.  We will coordinate if we have multiple donors interested in helping and we can also handle drop-off to the school if you are unable to drop-off during school hours this week.  Thank you!!  We know we will be able to make this happen for this family!

Update (Tuesday morning) from Friends of the 46th Ward Schools:

"We knew we would find people in our network to take care of the family at Brennemann. We just didn't know how many! At this time we have received more than enough donations to provide the family with a very wonderful Christmas. Thank you to all of our amazing donors. You have made a huge difference to this family!

We are still happy to accept monetary donations, of course, but anything we receive at this point will be used to support other needs at the schools in the 46th Ward. You can donate to Friends of the 46th Ward Schools through this Paypal link:

You may also donate directly to one of these homeless shelters in Uptown: Cornerstone Community Outreach (, The Salvation Army Evangeline Booth Lodge (, or Sarah's Circle ( These shelters support many children attending the schools in the 46th Ward.

We are sincerely overwhelmed and inspired by the outpouring of generosity from the members of our community over the last 12 hours. It has been amazing to watch and reminds us once again that most people are, in fact, good and kind. We are also reminded that one person truly can make a difference in the life of someone they don't even know.

Sending wishes to you all for a warm holiday season!"

Majestic Store Going, Going, Gone

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We knew it best as the "Majestic Store (Everything For Men)," but officially it was the H.W. Rubloff Building, located at 4701 N Broadway.  The little terra cotta gem was built in 1922, designed to fit right under the spanking new elevated train tracks that had just been built above it the year before.  It predated its flashier next-door neighbor, the Uptown Broadway Building, by about five years.

Time wasn't kind to the Rubloff Building.  The ceiling collapsed, the terra cotta started falling off, and the CTA didn't do any maintenance to prevent the building's decline.  Its long-time tenant, Majestic For Men, moved out a few years ago and the building has stood empty ever since.  Now it has been gutted, and the decrepit exterior pieces of the building have been numbered, and taken away.

What's next?  The building's footprint will eventually hold support pillars for the streamlined train tracks that will go across Broadway at Leland.  The CTA plans to reassemble the exterior walls of the Rubloff Building around the pillars.  Presumably the terra cotta will be restored before it's put back in place.

Gonna be an interesting next three years, watching the new Wilson L take shape, as well as the community around it.

Dense Fog Alert

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According to an alert from Weatherbug, there is a dense fog alert along all portions of the Lake Michigan shoreline this afternoon, persisting into evening.

Visibility is expected to be less than a quarter mile, and occasionally down to no visibility.

If you're driving, the National Weather Service says to
  • use extra caution
  • be prepared to encounter rapidly changing visibility
  • allow additional time to reach your destination
  • use your low beams
  • leave extra room between you and other vehicles
If you're a pedestrian, remember that vehicles can't necessarily see you crossing the street and may not be able to stop in time.

Be safe!

Happy Holidays From Uptown Update

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In December 1917, Uptowners gathered at the Wilson Avenue YMCA to donate goods and presents to the less fortunate, a tradition that endures today.  We wish all our readers the gifts of generosity and good cheer.  This image comes from the Chicago Daily News negatives collection, courtesy of the Chicago History Museum (DN-0069469).

Rique's Opening Delayed, Still Set For This Winter

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Several readers have asked about the opening date for Rique's, located at 5004 North Sheridan.
"I've been keeping a close eye on Rique's (on Sheridan) to see when it might re-open. At one time, the sign said '11-1-14,' but now the sign just says "Open 14." Do you know anything about his opening date? I will be so glad to have Rique back in the neighborhood, but am concerned whether this will really happen. I sure hope so."
According to Rique's Facebook page on December 1:
"As god is my witness (who said that?) (and with his license, too) We will be open this winter!!- thank you all for your patience."
In the meantime, take a look at the menu (so you'll know what to expect) and the Facebook page (so you'll know when to expect it) while you're waiting.

Spend New Year's Eve In Buena Park

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Community Alert

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Readers, please be alert.  We heard from a resident on Dover, who asked us to post this so neighbors can be aware.

The police point out that we are the ones who see things like this, that we are the ones who provide information to them about what is happening on our streets.  If you have any information on this criminal, please call 911 or the Bureau of Detectives (see number below).
"[Thursday] afternoon at approx 2:30 I was held up at gunpoint in the alley behind my house [on the] 4500 block of Dover between Dover and Clark by a young light-skinned black male approx 16 years old, 5'7" tall, I am guessing.

Please be on the lookout for yourselves and for this criminal who was wearing a maroon hoodie and a black scarf across the face. The officers think he will make another attempt in the area* as he was unsuccessful with me as I had nothing on me.

Luckily he did not shoot me although he pointed the gun at my head. My new neighbor was there, as was a worker on his property. We were just discussing the fence in the alley when this happened.

Please forward and advise other neighbors not on this email to be aware of their surroundings at all times. A police report has been filed. If you see anything suspicious, call 911."
*Police issued a release saying a similar assault took place in Lincoln Park on the 800 block of Fletcher the same evening, when an offender with a gun followed a woman into her garage and held her up.  The description was similar, but not identical, to the crime on Dover.

Here's what the police say to do:
  • Always be aware of your surroundings
  • Report suspicious activity immediately to 911 and provide a description
  • If you are confronted by an assailant remain calm
  • Remember any unique physical characteristics (ie., scars, limp, acne, tattoos)
  • Be aware of any suspicious vehicles standing in alleys
  • If approached by a witness to the incident, request contact information
  • Dial 911 immediately and remain on scene when possible
If you have any information, contact the Bureau of Detectives – Area North at (312) 744-8263, and say it's in relation to Pattern P14-N-222(CA)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Uptown Woman Continues To Search For Her Son: Another Victim of John Gacy

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Michael Marino, at age 14,
was one of Gacy's youngest victims
Even 20 years after his execution, the spectre of John Wayne Gacy continues to haunt Uptown.

In 2011, one of his victims was identified as as William George Bundy of Buena Park after DNA testing confirmed it.  Photographer Bob Rehak recently mentioned the subject of one of his portraits taken in the 1970s had an older brother who was killed by Gacy.  Victim John Mowery attended Truman College.  Rick Johnston was last seen after his family dropped him off for a concert at the Aragon.  Victims Billy Carroll, Jr. and Samuel Stapleton lived in Uptown.  Victim Randall Reffett had attended Stockton School.

Now an Uptown woman continues to search for positive identification of her son.

14-year-old Michael Marino has been long assumed to be Gacy's "Victim #14."  He and a friend, 16-year-old Kenneth Parker, were last seen alive at a hamburger restaurant near Clark and Diversey, in 1976. Michael never came home for Sunday supper with his mother and their regular movie night out.

Michael and Kenneth Parker's remains were identified among those found by police buried under Gacy's home in 1978.  After dental testing (DNA testing wasn't available then), Michael Marino's body was identified in 1980 and his family had him laid to rest at Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery in Hillside.

But his mother felt there were inconsistencies in the identification of her son's body.  In October 2012, Sherry Marino won her battle to have the remains buried there exhumed and DNA-tested.  It turned out that the grave she had been visiting for all those years didn't contain the remains of her son.

This past week, Mrs. Marino -- now age 70 and living in Uptown -- won another battle, to have Kenneth Parker's remains exhumed from Rosehill Cemetery in Edgewater to see if Michael Marino's body was misidentified as his friend's.  DNA testing will again be done.

It's a tragedy that Gacy's killing spree 40 years ago is still claiming victims.  We hope our neighbor finds answers as she continues to search for her son.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Heritage Outpost Coffee House Soft Open Saturday Morning

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Inside the lobby of 1325 W. Wilson (Instagram)
Heritage Bicycle fans can rejoice!

Heritage Outpost, "a little coffee house," will be having their soft opening Saturday morning, December 13, around 7AM at 1325 W. Wilson, a FLATS property.

A walk-up window is available on Wilson, or you can lounge with your coffee in the lobby which also serves as the seating area for patrons.

Heritage Bicycle's Instagram feed states they SHOULD be open by 7AM, so be patient and welcome them to the neighborhood!

Lights, Camera, Action?

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Does anyone know if they're filming on Sunday? There are signs in front of the Starbuck's at Broadway and Lawrence, as well as the Aragon.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Victim of Wilson Avenue Shooting Passes Away


We are extremely saddened to hear from the police that 21-year-old Leonardo Matias, the victim of the drive-by shooting that took place on Wilson Avenue Tuesday morning, passed away Wednesday. Mr. Matias was apparently performing his duties as a fire extinguisher inspector at a business across the street from Truman College when shots were fired from a four-door black sedan driving on Wilson.  Some media sources say that the gunfire was directed at another car in the area.

Ald. Cappleman sent out an email blast that included this information:
"Police believe shots were fired from a vehicle driving West on Wilson and are working with Truman College and local businesses in reviewing video footage of the incident to identify the vehicle. Thank you to our two foot patrol police officers on Wilson who were first on the scene and to witnesses who gave statements to police. The investigation of this shooting is ongoing.

As more information becomes available, I will keep you updated on this situation. As always, please call 911 for any emergency or to report a crime. If you have any questions or information for police, call the 19th District CAPS office at 312-744-0064."  
A tragedy for our community and Mr. Matias's loved ones.  We urge you to contact 911 or anonymously use TXT2TIP if you have any information about the people who committed this murder.

Shop To Support Courtenay School, Starting Today

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Groundbreaking Ceremony Today For New Wilson Red Line Station

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To echo Etta James, AT LAST.

Today was the ceremonical ground-breaking for the new sorely-needed Wilson L station. We've heard promises for improvements and renovations over and over for the past 20 or 30 years (from everyone from State Rep. Larry McKeon to then-CTA President Ron Huberman). It's finally happening.  No collapsed ceilings, no "Crust Station" awards, finally a station that can accommodate our community's elderly and handicapped because it will be ADA-compliant.

There was a press conference at 1:30 today inside the main (Gerber) building, featuring CTA Chairman Terry Peterson, CTA President Forrest Claypool, 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  You can see a video of the whole thing here, but here are some of the points made by each speaker:

CTA Chairman Terry Peterson:
  • The last station house was built in 1923 -- 91 years ago.
  • "Like the vibrant Uptown community, the Wilson station is in the middle of a Renaissance."
  • Most of the prep work is done.
  • 550 good-paying jobs will be created for new Wilson Station.
  • The "investment here is long overdue" -- not only will it help riders, but it will help commercial and residential development.
CTA President Forrest Claypool:
  • Wilson is one of the worst stations in the system.  If you need proof of that, go over to the Wilson entrance to see what people deal with every day.
  • $203 million project, will be a transfer station for both Red and Purple Lines.
  • Historic Gerber Building will be retained and refurbished.
  • "Bulky set of beams" that cast shadows over the commercial area on Broadway will be moved to off-Broadway and will let sun shine onto Broadway stores.  Safer for pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
  • This will ultimately be an economic anchor for Uptown that will lead to transit-oriented development (TOD) around the station.  Quite a few TODs are already on the drawing board, and CTA will work closely with Ald. Cappleman and the community on those TODs and the jobs and economic developments that come with them.
  • The Wilson rehab and the significant number of track and signal upgrades that will go with it will speed up the ride on the North Side.
46th Ward Ad. James Cappleman:
  • A campaign promise was to do everything possible to rehab the Wilson L. Particularly important since more than 50% of residents in 46th Ward don't own a car and rely on public transportation.
  • Wilson L was voted CTA's Crust Station three consecutive years.
  • When Rahm was elected, he asked him what he wanted for Uptown, and he said the Wilson L was his first priority.  He was hoping for a $50 million budget for the rehab, which was about double the amount of funding that had been promised ten years prior, but had never materialized.  Six months later, Rahm said, "I got you the money for the Wilson L rehab."
  • A lot of work went on behind the scenes to make this happen.  CTA, Forrest Claypool, he and Rahm Emanuel worked with the community to make sure it happened right.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel:
  • Chicago needs a 21st century transportation system for a 21st century economy, and a vibrant neighborhood economy.
  • Noted that right after the plans for the new Wilson L were announced, new economic activity has been happening around the station.
  • Mass Transit hubs are economic hubs in Chicago.  550 people will be going to work here.  Property values and economic activity will both go up with a new station, have already started with the anticipation of the new station.
  • Last Wilson Station was created in 1923.  Like a fine wine, it's ready to be corked and it's time start all over again.
  • The new station will have openness, no overhang, no darkness, it will be welcoming, the literal key to the commercial and residential development coming to Uptown.
  • Pillars moving off of street, and Broadway will have a whole new appearance.
  • Thanked Ald. Cappleman, Terry Peterson, Forrest Claypool, residents of Uptown, and workers on the project.
  • The "old way" was to make a pledge for $25 million that never showed up.  Now, nearly 10 times that amount has been obtained and this is the ground-breaking.
You can read the entire press release put out by the city, and see drawings of what the station will look like.  Some of what to expect:
The new Wilson Station will feature contemporary architecture, including steel-framed, translucent canopies and a historic restoration of the 1923 stationhouse. There will be three entrance/exits to the station, including the accessible main station entrance on the south side of Wilson Avenue, one auxiliary entry/exit on the north side of Wilson Avenue and an auxiliary entrance on Sunnyside Avenue, which will have ADA-compliant ramps.

The station will feature two island platforms to allow convenient cross-platform transfers between Red Line and Purple Line Express service – making Wilson the only transfer station between the Howard and Belmont stations.

Additional features and amenities of the station to enhance customer convenience and comfort will include numerous security cameras throughout the station and platforms, CTA Train Tracker displays, wider stairwells, new escalators, security cameras, additional bike parking and other improvements.

The track structure relocation and reconstruction will significantly improve the pedestrian environment on Broadway and Wilson by removing many of the unsightly and ‘L’ structure support columns on Wilson Avenue, Broadway Street and surrounding sidewalks, creating a more pleasant, open streetscape. The project is also expected to generate new transit-oriented business development.

Additionally, the new station will feature new public artwork from internationally acclaimed artist Cecil Balmond. The design will be created with input from the community surrounding the Wilson Station and installed once construction is complete.
To sum up, we are so happy to see long-promised improvements happen.  To quote the Mayor, "Let's get started, and let's get finished!"

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Another Rock Doc At The Bezazian, Next Wednesday

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Gunnison Firehouse Conversion Clears Another Hurdle

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Last month we posted about FLATS' proposed plan to convert the empty former firehouse located at 1217 West Gunnison into lofts.  That plan is a little closer to fruition now that North Uptown Neighbors Association, the local block club, has given thumbs up to the proposed reuse.  "There was little to no objection at all from neighbors," said Lindsay Huge, an officer of the block club in charge of zoning and redevelopment, in DNAinfo.  Read the whole story here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Skate With Santa At Margate Park On December 19th

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What kind of December would it be without Margate Park's annual roller skating gig with Saint Nick?  Luckily, we won't need to find out.

Margate Park (4921 N Marine) holds its annual "Skate With Santa" bash on Friday, December 19th, between 6:30pm and 8:30pm.  Admission is $5 and it includes popcorn, a hot dog and a drink.

Bring your own skates or rent them at the fieldhouse.  Good for everyone ages 5 and up!

Holiday Festivities Saturday Morning; Donations Requested

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From Ald. Cappleman's newsletter:

"Join me for a morning of festivities at the Ward Office as we kick off the upcoming holiday season. There will be coffee and refreshments as we celebrate this season of giving.

WHEN: Saturday, December 6 from 9am - Noon.  [Ward office is located at 4544 North Broadway, across the street from the bank drive-through lanes, in the McJunkin Building.]

Bring non-perishable food items, a new toy, or other new clothing. We are also accepting gently used coats and warm weather gear in conjunction with the Buena Park Neighbor's coat drive. For a comprehensive list of items to donate, visit the ward's website at

I want to thank so many of you who have been generous in the past. Anything you can do now would be greatly appreciated!"

Thai Buddhist Temple Holds Saturday Event

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A reader saw this flyer posted under the L at Leland and Broadway.  We don't know anything official, but readers in need of extra food, clothing or blankets might consider showing up.

Tree Lighting Concludes Walk On Wilson

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photo courtesy of Baker & Nosh Facebook page

There it is, the lit tree at Baker & Nosh (1303 West Wilson).  For the third year in a row, it brings its light to Uptown.

Still in the mood for some holiday cheer after Walk on Wilson?  Get over to Chase Park for the Holiday Open House, which is going until 9pm.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Chase Park Annual Holiday Open House On Friday

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Stop by Chase Park this Friday, December 5th, for the annual Holiday Open House & Showcase. This fun, FREE event features a showcase of Chase Park's programs starting at 6:30pm.

Come early or stay after the show for lots of other family-friendly activities, including arts & craft, face-painting, holiday-themed photos, and more! Be sure to stop by the Chase Park Advisory Council table to purchase some sweet treats at a bake sale benefiting improvements at Chase Park.

Chase Park is located at 4701 North Ashland.

Win WILCO Vinyl Boxed Set At Shake Rattle & Read

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Into Wilco?  Into vinyl?  Into winning free stuff?

Win Wilco's four-LP limited edition boxed set "Alpha Mike Foxtrot" in celebration of their six-night set at the Riviera, starting Friday night (December 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12th).  Stop by Shake Rattle & Read to enter (4812 Broadway) to enter.  The contest ends on Sunday, December 14th, and that's when a drawing will be held to select the winner.

Thanks to Ric Addy of SRR, Nonesuch Records, and Bob Callahan of WEA Records for making this happen.

See How Uptown's Public Schools Stack Up

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CPS has come out with a new "report card" for its schools, and a new way to rank them academically. According to the Sun-Times, it goes like this:

1+: Highest level
1: Second-highest level
2+: Third-highest level
2: Fourth-highest level
3: Lowest level

Here's how Uptown's schools rate:

2013-2014 rating
2014-2015 rating
+ / -
Brennemann Level 1 Level 1 no change
Courtenay* Level 1 Level 1 no change
Disney Level 1 Level 1+ up one level
Goudy Level 1 Level 1+ up one level
Greeley** Level 1 Level 1 no change
McCutcheon Level 2 Level 1 up two levels
Uplift Level 2 Level 2 no change
Decatur*** Level 1 Level 1+ up one level

You can read more about it in the Sun-Times and see ratings for all of CPS's 600-plus schools.

* Scores went down, but Barbara Byrd-Bennett used her discretion to keep its rating the same, based on the fact that it is a "welcoming school" with much of the student body new to the school.
** Not in Uptown, but attended by children who are Uptown residents
*** Rumored to be moving to the former Graeme Stewart campus in Uptown from its current location.