Howard Van Doren ShawOne of Chicago’s many strengths is its amazing architecture. The style and craftsmanship found in this city is like no other. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, architects from all over the world came to Chicago to help rebuild, laying the foundation for the eclectic skyline that we enjoy today.

But not all of the city’s architects came from afar. Case in point: the celebrated architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. Born in Chicago on May 7, 1869 to prominent parents, Shaw grew up in the fashionable Prairie Avenue neighborhood, which was popular before the development of the Gold Coast in the 1890s. He went on to attend Yale University and then MIT.

After finishing school, Shaw went to work for William Le Baron Jenney at the Chicago firm of Jenney & Mundie. Known as the builder of the world’s first skyscraper, Jenney became Shaw’s mentor. Shaw worked with him for several years, eventually leaving the firm to establish his own. After designing the Lakeside Press Building, one of his more famous structures, Shaw found himself taking on more and more prominent clients.

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sheffield-garden-walkI just love Chicago in the summer. There are so many great events in the neighborhoods, not least of which is Chicago’s 2010 Sheffield Garden Walk. I’ve written here before about the joy of gardening in the city, so it should come as no surprise that this weekend-long event ranks high on my list of recommended things to do.

Located in the heart of Lincoln Park, the walk includes gardens within the Sheffield neighborhood, which extends from Halsted west to the Chicago River and from Armitage north to Fullerton.

Taking place on July 17th and 18th, this year’s garden walk offers the chance to visit more than 100 exquisite residential gardens on a self-guided tour. Other activities include guided garden tours given by a landscape professional; live music from national/regional headline groups; a kids’ corner with a petting zoo, pony rides, hands-on activities and food service; and several wonderful dining options.

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Salute! Farm and VineyardSoon, I’ll again be making my annual pilgrimage to the garden supply store. For as long as I can remember, I’ve spent Memorial Day, rain or shine, up to my elbows in dirt planting flowers and vegetables. As I’ve mentioned before, I spent my childhood summers on my father’s farm, and the tradition of growing our own produce is something I’ve made a point of continuing both for my sake and for that of my children.

While our city home has limited us largely to container gardening, for those who are more ambitious and want a true taste of what it’s like to work the land and turn a crop, hobby farms are one option.

As a residential agent specializing mostly in Chicago’s North Side, I never thought I would have a chance to list such a property. So, imagine my delight when I was approached to represent Salute! Farm and Vineyard in Woodstock, Illinois.

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It’s almost March 13, the deceptively early date for many of Chicago’s 2010 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. If you’re looking to get out and enjoy some of the festivities, here are some options to consider.

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FlowersValentine’s Day is almost here, and the City of Big Shoulders shows even bigger heart when it comes to offering up ways to make your February 14th a memorable one. Here are some romantic ideas to consider as you plan your Chicago Valentine’s Day date with your special someone.

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Live & Play Chicago MagazineThe following article originally appeared in our Chicago real estate magazine, Live & Play Chicago.

We all know that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to selling your home, buyers will definitely be judging your property on its presentation.

With that in mind, taking some time to ensure that your home shows well before putting it on the market can really pay off – both in terms of a better price and a quicker sale. Best of all, you can see these benefits without the need to remodel bathrooms or pursue major renovations.

Here are a few of the simple, inexpensive tips our Team gives clients when preparing their homes for sale:

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Summer Camp ChicagoWhile winter in Chicago doesn’t inspire thoughts of summer camp for most people, if you want to get your child signed up for some of the city’s many exciting camp programs this coming summer, now is the time to act. Whether you’re looking for a multi-day diversion or a month-long experience, there is something for everyone available. Registration is or soon will be open for most camp programs, and if past years are any indication, most of them will fill up fast. Below is an outline of some of Chicago’s most popular summer camps (though as always, consult the included links for the most up-to-date information).

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Live & Play Chicago MagazineThe launch of our Live & Play Chicago magazine was a huge success. 10,000 copies were delivered to Chicago area homeowners as well as business and community leaders. In an effort to make the magazine more widely available, it is now available in an online digital format here.

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Christkindlmarket ChicagoI am a big fan of winter in Chicago. The city is rich with tradition for young and old alike, especially over the holidays. My favorite childhood memories include viewing the animated holiday displays in the store windows along State Street, getting my picture taken with Santa Claus at Macy’s (then Marshall Field’s), seeing the Nutcracker Ballet with my grandmother, and visiting the Museum of Science and Industry’s spectacular Christmas around the World and Holiday Lights exhibit. Nowadays, there are even more opportunities to enjoy, like ice skating at Millennium Park or Wrigley Field, perusing Christkindlmarket with a cup of hot spiced wine in hand, and snuggling up in the back of a horse-drawn carriage for a ride along Michigan Avenue.

While you’re enjoying winter in the city, though, don’t forget some of these practical seasonal considerations.

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