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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Halloween is almost here again, and as I wrote last year, the holiday’s parades, haunted houses, pumpkin carvings, fun runs, spooky mazes, and other events span more than a single day. Many of these events are cheap (or free), are geared towards children, and don’t involve the ingestion of mass amounts of candy. In others words, they make for good, wholesome family outings.

The Chicago Parks District has a list of all their Halloween offerings, and About.com has a good general summary of city-wide events (though many of the dates still read “TBD”).

For simplicity’s sake, I’ve once again created a Google map made up of all the North Side Halloween events. Use it to find the upcoming events near where you live. Blue markers are Parks District events, red markers are parades, and yellow markers are all other events.

Please click through to the website for each marker to get the most up-to-date information for each event.


View 2009 Chicago North Side Halloween Events in a larger map

If you know of any North Side events I missed, let me know with a comment or email and I’ll add them.

Chicago Air and Water ShowDon’t plan on any peaceful afternoon naps this weekend if you live anywhere near Chicago’s lakefront! High performance civilian and military aircraft will once again fill the skies over Lake Michigan for the nation’s biggest free air show, the 51st annual Chicago Air and Water Show.

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Canoeing
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 www.supportfwp.org to order tickets.

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It’s not every day you can see what $10 million will buy, but if you tuned into NBC 5 last Sunday morning, you had an opportunity to do just that!

I had the pleasure of showing my listing at 1524  N. Astor Street for LXTV’s new television series “OpenHouse Chicago.” You can view the three minute video piece here.

The one challenge with a show like this is that it’s merely a teaser. This one-of-a-kind Gold Coast home has been completely renovated throughout and offers exquisite Art Deco-inspired interior architecture. However, the segment does not afford enough time to cover all the cool details. For example, the koi pond with a running waterfall in the backyard didn’t make the cut!

Still, this home is one of my all-time favorites, and it’s located in an area that is near and dear to me. I lived as a child in a home just a few blocks away, and my grandparents lived two doors down from us.  Our family was friends of the prior owners of this home, and we enjoyed many a holiday party there. Still, it never looked this nice!

You can view our team’s full listing and brochure for 1524 Astor here.

Chicago may be best known for its Chicago-style hot dogs and deep dish pizza, but the Windy City can also brew an impressive cup of Joe as well.

In fact, the latest edition of the food and wine magazine Saveur highlights some of the best coffees in the world – and two of the top picks are Chicago-based brands (San Rafael Lot 1 from Metropolis Coffee Company and Hacienda La Esmeralda from Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea).

And if there’s anyone who appreciates good coffee it’s the Ames family. My own sister, fellow Realtor Nathalie Ames, founded her own coffee shop in Mesa, Colorado after finding the area to be nearly devoid of coffee venues. Now, in a place where the nearest Starbucks is 18 miles away, Mesa has a wonderful boutique coffee shop in Nathalie’s Blink Coffee.

Thankfully, here on Chicago’s North Side, one need not go to such extremes to get great coffee. In fact, even though Starbucks is still the most (in)famous name in town, there is still a rich offering of small chain and independent coffee shops here as well. Below are some that offer both the best ambience and the best coffee and tea.

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Update: This post is for 2008. For information on 2009 Halloween events on Chicago’s North Side, see here.

Halloween may be a one day event in some parts of the country, but here in Chicago, there’s nearly a month’s worth of parades, haunted houses, pumpkin carvings, fun runs, spooky mazes, and other events dedicated to the holiday. Many of these events are cheap (or free), are geared towards children, and don’t involve the ingestion of mass amounts of candy. In others words, they make for good, wholesome family outings.

The Chicago Parks District has a list of all their Halloween offerings, and About.com has a good general summary of city-wide events.

For simplicity’s sake, however, I had a Google map made up of all the North Side Halloween events. Use it to find the upcoming events near where you live. Blue markers are Parks District events, red markers are parades, and yellow markers are all other events.

Please click through to the website for each marker to get the most up-to-date information for each event.
View Larger Map

Did I miss any great Chicago Halloween events? Let me know with a comment!

Having young kids has definitely had an impact on my husband’s and my social life. (Social life? What social life?!) The energy we once spent planning elegant cocktail and multi-course dinner events has been redirected toward birthday parties for… well… babies and toddlers! Thankfully, there are some great venues for children’s birthday parties here in Chicago. Here are some of our favorites:

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Lincoln Park farmers market

This past week, I had the pleasure of attending an event where I heard Alice Waters speak. Alice is the founder of the Chez Panisse Foundation, a not-for-profit with the mission of promoting “edible education.” Specifically, the Foundation is seeking to change school lunch programs and improve the way we care for the health of our children, our communities and our environment.

The main point Alice raised was her concern over the poor diet that Americans – particularly our children – are adopting. Low quality, highly processed foods are increasingly dominating our meal plans and taking a toll on our health as well as the environment and local economies. Furthermore, the drive-thru dinner is steadily eroding the tradition of the family sit-down meal. Alice summed up this new lifestyle with a bumper sticker she had recently seen: “If we are what we eat, I’m fast, cheap, and easy.”

As a mother raising three children, I was struck by Alice’s presentation. Finding healthier food and the time to prepare “traditional” dinners is an ongoing challenge. Between our hectic work schedules, a desire to squeeze in some exercise, and spending quality time with our kids, my husband and I have minimal time to shop and prepare homemade meals. Dining out or “dialing for dinner” (aka ordering carryout) is a tempting option in a city like Chicago, but as a daily habit, it can be expensive and fattening.

The good news is that – fueled by the organic movement, a new emphasis on buying local, and an increasing desire to eat healthier – more “green” food options are sprouting up in Chicago. Some are more practical than others (raising chickens in backyards being on the ambitious side), but increasingly, there are many tempting options for those looking to buy healthy, local food.

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