The official user's manual for sunshine

Black Whole: African-American history gets its days in the sun

User's Guide to Summer No Comments »

Chicago has been synonymous with landmark events in black history almost since Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable became the first non-American Indian permanent settler in 1772. Now the city’s most prominent museum of African-American history bears DuSable’s name; but black history also lives outside museum walls, in less-familiar spots throughout Chicago. This summer provides a chance to explore black history still in the making.

Jesse Owens outraced the field at the 1936 Olympic Games, giving a slap to Hitler in the process. But even Owens couldn’t outrun Father Time, and he now lies in a plot at Oak Woods Cemetery, Greenwood Avenue and 67th, (773)288-3800. Due south of Hyde Park, Oak Woods’ 280 acres of trees and lawns can seem more like a park than a cemetery to visitors coming to pay their respects to Owens, Ida B. Wells and other famous permanent residents (including Illinois Senator Charles Chew and physicist Enrico Fermi). Oak Woods is the final resting place of Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor; a free brochure offers directions to notable grave sites. Read the rest of this entry »

Picnic Paradises

Parks & the Great Outdoors, Picnics & BBQs No Comments »

For summer’s first al fresco meal you may have carefully chosen the thickest peanut butter, the sweetest jelly, the freshest bread and the coldest beer. But if you haven’t put as much thought into the site of your outing, you may find yourself left with little more than sticky fingers, a sore butt, and a headache from all that squinting. Luckily, as a public service for Chicago’s picnickers, the Newcity investigative team scoured the metropolis for the most appealing spots to roll out your red-and-white checks and pull up an Igloo. Read the rest of this entry »

People’s Park: If Grant Park is Chicago’s front yard, then neighborhood parks are its familiar and intimate backyards

Parks & the Great Outdoors, Swimming & Beaches No Comments »

By Dale Eastman

Javier Torres knew the sounds and smells of Harrison Park even before he’d arrived in Pilsen, on the city’s Southwest Side, just a month ago. Torres’ father was for years part of the regular summer migration of temporary workers between Mexico and Chicago. Since money was always tight, tales of summer ballgames and sweet mangos bought from street vendors were often the only offerings he’d bring home to his son.

Factory work was what brought Torres’ father to Chicago, and Torres, an engineering instructor in Coahuila, Mexico, who’s now on summer sabbatical, tried it for a while, too. But working six days a week, 10-12 hours a day, for only $4.25 an hour didn’t suit him as well as it had his father 30 years before, and the tall and wiry Torres often found his thoughts wandering back to the park. Read the rest of this entry »