Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chicago Book Expo: Why Uptown?

A reminder that Chicago Book Expo is coming up next weekend, which will include the reopening of Borders for two days, a "speakeasy" in the basement of the Uptown Broadway Building, historical architectural tours, reading events during the preceding week, and the screening of a Charlie Chaplin silent movie that was filmed at Essanay Studios on Argyle.  A reader sent us this interview with John Rich, one of the people behind it, which includes why the decision was made to choose Uptown:
How did you decide to situate it in Uptown?

If we wanted to use a Borders in Chicago, there were a few options. When we began researching the project, the Borders downtown was still operating, but all of the neighborhood stores were closing shop.  Of those, the building in Uptown was center stage to a historical narrative with creative intersections of cinema, music, and architecture, and for us it was an easy decision.

But while people might think of Uptown in terms of Chaplin and Al Capone, it has a rich literary history, too.  Carl Sandburg was a resident, for example, and Poetry Slam started at the Green Mill.  These days, plenty of writers call Uptown home, and the neighborhood has been attracting young publishing ventures.  All of this makes for a great setting to celebrate Chicago books.

When we started, we didn’t know we’d have use of the Uptown Borders, but we worked on the Book Expo as a destination event to Uptown regardless, and now we have two amazing locations.  Uptown’s really one of the great Chicago neighborhoods for all its history and people, and it’s incredibly accessible to the rest of the city.

What will people be able to do at the Expo?

The core experience will be book browsing, and guests can float between the Uptown Broadway Building and the former Borders Books to shop for books.  At each site, we will have programs of author readings throughout the weekend, and panels on Chicago publishing and Uptown. Special projects include a “speakeasy" coffee bar in the basement of the Uptown Broadway Building, a literary organization fair, architectural tours with Chicago Architecture Foundation, children’s activities, and mini workshops for adults.

The week prior to the Expo is the Preface Reading Series, which includes well-known Chicago reading series at various Uptown locations.  On Saturday night Chicago’s Joan of Arc will perform a musical score to accompany a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s first Chicago-made film, His New Job.
You can read the rest of the interview and information here.


  1. Also, Chicago author Nelson Algren spent some time in Uptown during the 1940s/50s, although the exact location of his home/favorite haunts has been lost to history. It is known that he was part of a "floating poker party" whose clientele included some local cops and met around Broadway/Montrose.

    BTW the 60th anniversary edition of "City on the Make" has just been released; one of the best observations of local history ever written, and still relevant today.

  2. Going a little further back, Eugene Field- famous for poem Wynkyn Blynkyn and Nod and considered to be the first children's poet- had a house on Clarendon by Hutchinson.