The economic downturn has seen many American families relocate after losing their homes amid financial difficulties. Here in Chicago, however, there are those who have left their previous homes under much harsher circumstances – warfare or persecution.

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Chicago theater
Increasingly, Chicago is known for a different kind of theater.

Hollywood may be known as the movie capital of the world, but thanks to Chicago’s unique character (and some Illinois tax credits), our city is playing an increasing role in major film productions.

Recently, The Windy City stood in for the fictional Gotham City in Christopher Nolan’s new Batman film series. While I was not able to catch the latest installment, The Dark Knight, in theaters, it was hard to miss the crew as they were filming around town in the summer of 2007.  According to the Chicago Tribune, The Dark Knight crew shot for a total of 65 days in 35 different Chicago area locations.

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Bagpipes on the march

It is almost St. Patrick’s Day, that time of year when Chicago’s Irish heritage is put on display in dazzling, emerald green fashion. If you’re looking to get out and enjoy some of the festivities, consider these options. Note that some of these events are held in advance of March 17th, the official holiday.

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Chicago-Style Birthday Cake

Happy birthday, Chicago! On today, March 4, it has been exactly 172 years since Chicago was granted its charter, having been founded on a short, swampy portage near the Chicago River and named after a wild onion (humble beginnings, yes).

Since then, Chicago has been the hog butcher for the world, the birthplace of the skyscraper, and the home of more cultural contributions than can be listed.

This year, times are tough (though the city has seen tougher), but there are also many exciting potential opportunities on the horizon (such as this and this). As a Chicagoan from a long line of Chicagoans, today is a proud milestone.

If you’re up early reading this and have an open schedule today, you can celebrate Chicago’s birthday with your kids at the Chicago History Museum where they’re throwing a party with music, crafts and cake from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Museum admission will be free from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Sheryl Crow
The famed statue of Abraham Lincoln in Chicago’s Lincoln Park (photo by Jeremy Burgin)

Even to the casual observer, it’s easy to see how proud we are in Chicago of the late Illinois rail-splitter-turned-president, Abraham Lincoln. There are Chicago streets, parks, statues, entire neighborhoods (Lincoln Park and Lincoln Square), and countless business establishments that have been built or named in Lincoln’s honor.

Now, in a year when another lanky statesman from Illinois has been sworn in as the nation’s Commander-in-Chief, it just so happens that Honest Abe‘s 200th birthday is about to roll around. The exact date falls on February 12, and to no one’s surprise, Chicago is not about to let this bicentennial pass without a fuss. Below are some of the many ways you can celebrate the legacy of the Great Emancipator while taking in some important Illinois history at the same time.

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Canoeing? No. Kayaking? Yes – at summer camp in Chicago

You read correctly. We may be in the dead of winter, but if you have children, it’s not too soon to start thinking about summer camp registration. In fact, slots for some programs fill up fast over the winter, and if you don’t act quickly, your kids could miss out on some great summer opportunities (and you on some summer peace and quiet!)

Below are some great Chicago summer camp offerings. All programs are day camps unless otherwise noted.

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Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow, who will appear at an upcoming private concert in Lincoln Park (photo by Anirudh Koul)

Say good-bye to school bake sale fundraisers! This economy is pushing Chicago area not-for-profit organizations to be more creative as they pursue a diminished pool of charitable dollars.

Below are three upcoming fundraisers where you can not only have a great time but support causes that make Chicago the world-class city it is.

Sheryl Crow at Francis W. Park School

Chicago’s prestigious Francis W. Parker School is aiming to raise $1 million for their endowment through a private concert featuring 9-time Grammy award winning singer/song writer Sheryl Crow. The concert will be held in the school’s new Diane and David B. Heller Auditorium.

The show will take place on Saturday, March 7 at 7:00 p.m. and is not being advertised outside of the school community. At $500 to $5,000 a seat, tickets are not cheap. Still, the cause is a good one and the chance to see this popular performer in an intimate venue like a school auditorium is sure to be amazing. Visit to order tickets.

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Art Galleries in Chicago's River North Neighborhood
Galleries in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. (Photo by chicago boulevardier)

I really do love living in Chicago. There is so much good stuff here to stimulate your mind! In addition to world-class museums, Chicago has many outstanding art and antiques galleries. We are best known for the many galleries found in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. A former warehouse district just across the river from the Loop, River North is home to trendy residential condos and lofts, as well as the largest concentration of art galleries outside of Manhattan, Chicago’s Gallery District.

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After a long interlude, I now have another guest post to share from one of my Team members. This post comes from John Costa, our team’s Director of Marketing. While John spends his days spearheading the print and online marketing of our client’s properties, today, he’s offering up some advice on how to make the most of Christmas in Chicago.

The Holidays in Chicago

Lights on palmetto trees. Playing a quick nine holes of golf. Wearing shorts in December. While this was Christmas as usual for me when I lived in Charleston, South Carolina, it didn’t feel truly like the holiday season to a New Jersey native such as me. So, when I moved to Chicago two years ago, I looked forward to enjoying “Northern” Christmases once again.

With so many holiday offerings in the city, I thought it would be helpful to provide a short list of some of the best ways to take in the season in Chicago. Here’s my picks:

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These past few days, Chicago has enjoyed an “Indian Summer,” a period of unseasonably warm weather in autumn. In short order, we’ve gone from 50 degree weather last week to 60 and 70 degree temperatures these past few days. It’s heavenly!

This fair weather brings to mind the old “Injun Summer” cartoon from the famed Chicago Tribune cartoonist John T. McCutcheon. While McCutcheon’s verbiage is unfortunately politically incorrect in hindsight, his wonderfully drawn cartoon is a good reminder of just how long beautiful autumn weather like this has been appreciated.

One thing that isn’t politically incorrect, however, is voting, and today’s Election Day weather is ideal for that. Reports from the polls tell of long lines out the doors at some polling stations, but that’s almost a blessing on a day like this. Of course, many polling stations are moving much smoother. I voted myself today and made it in and out in ten minutes.

The rally in Grant Park tonight for Chicago’s native son, Barack Obama, had obtained permits to sell hot chocolate, but there may be little demand for that tonight. Back when it was chilly, Mayor Daley predicted a million attendees for the event. Who knows how big the crowds will be now?

Whatever your plans for these next couple days, be sure you get out and make the most of this Chicago Indian Summer.

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