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 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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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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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 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.

on-targetAs one of Chicago’s top ten residential real estate agents (and #77 in the nation according to The Wall Street Journal), I am a frequent source for the media. I always enjoy the opportunity to share my “in-the-trenches” perspectives on Chicago’s residential market, as I believe that what is happening locally is more relevant to Chicago homeowners than generalized national reports.

Unfortunately, as with any interaction with the media, there’s the risk of having one’s comments taken out of context, and that is precisely what happened in my July 2009 interview with Stephane Fitch for his Forbes magazine story entitled “America’s Most Troubled Luxury Neighborhoods.” Fitch distilled our 30 minute interview into two quotes that, out of context, contradict the key points I made in our interview. Having my name associated with misleading information about Chicago’s real estate market, and especially about the Lincoln Park neighborhood where I was the #1 selling agent in 2008, is troublesome.

So, I’d like to set the record straight: Chicago’s Lincoln Park is not a “troubled” neighborhood. While I cannot comment on the other neighborhoods mentioned in his story, I disagree with his assertion that home prices in Lincoln Park are on the verge of “collapse.”

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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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Chicago's Big Five

When I think about Africa, my mind goes straight to the “Big Five.” These are the “trophy” animals that visitors often hope to see while on safari. They include the rhinoceros, elephant, leopard, buffalo and lion.

Here in Chicago’s urban “jungle” we may not have thousand pound mammals roaming our streets, but we do have what I call my own “Big Five.” Many of my favorite childhood memories tie back to the time I spent in each of these places. Whether you are a lifelong resident or a tourist in our fair city, be sure to explore these world-class institutions when you have the chance.

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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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If you believe everything you hear on the news, you would think that hardly a single home sold in all of 2008, but that is simply not the case. Not only were there sales, but there were some pretty significant ones at that.

The highest price paid in Chicago in 2008 was for a single-family home on a double lot on historic Astor Street, 1425 N. Astor, which closed on December 30th for $13 million.

In two of Chicago’s most prestigious neighborhoods, the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park, 12 properties closed in 2008 with a sale price in excess of $5 million. Six were condos located near Michigan Avenue, and the other six were single-family homes, including three in the Gold Coast and three in Lincoln Park.

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