Inside the unassuming storefront housing Infiniteus Rocks and Juice (1644 W. North, 773-661-1418), a five-foot-tall slab of amethyst named Helena guards the entrance. The business, which opened last summer, embraces a philosophy that views organic juicing and minerals as powerful tools in helping humans become mindful of a collective consciousness also known as “infiniteus."
Asado Coffee began roasting beans and serving up potent espresso last fall at its third location, 22 E. Jackson, thought to be the site of one of the Loop’s oldest and tiniest buildings. Tucked away at the end of a nine-foot-wide private alley known as Pickwick Place, the 19-by-19-foot structure was built, according to city historian Tim Samuelson, a few years after the Great Fire of 1871 destroyed a stable on the site owned by Henry Horner, the grandfather of the Illinois governor of the same name. The building was originally two floors, but a third was added in 1892 as a residence for William and Fannie Abson, who ran Abson’s Chop House at the location until 1900. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, several restaurants operated out of 22 E. Jackson, including Red Path Inn, Robinson’s, and the Pickwick. More recently, a variety of small businesses had offices in the space.
In the spring of 1989, at the invitation of a local teacher named Irving Zucker, artist Keith Haring came to Chicago to paint a 500-foot-long mural in Grant Park with the help of more than 400 CPS high school students. The project was a PR sensation. WTTW made a short documentary narrated by Dennis Hopper. Rolling Stone came to town to cover the project. Haring, who'd been diagnosed with AIDS in '87, would die of complications from the disease just nine months later.
In a lonely gravel lot on the 6200 block of North Pulaski Road, a billboard poses a question in plain black text to all who pass: “Who is John Galt?” It seems a rather cryptic query, unless of course you’re one of Ayn Rand’s devotees, a group whose membership has included everyone from the late Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey to the Catholic churchgoing congressman Paul Ryan. But even casual Rand readers will immediately recognize this as the opening line of the author’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged.
In his new book Good Old Neon: Signs You’re in Chicago (Lake Claremont Press), photographer Nick Freeman partly celebrates the city’s neon signs and partly eulogizes what he considers a dying art form. “The Chicago area was once ablaze with colorful neon signs vying for attention,” he writes in his foreword.
“Today these vibrant, unique artifacts have been largely replaced by charmless, rear-lit Lexan panel signs and the channel lettering of national chains.”
The 300 South Wacker building has never been what anyone would call a sexy skyscraper. Its most conspicuously dull feature has always been the khaki-colored concrete elevator shaft in the center third of its riverside facade.
On Chicago’s once bustling Motor Row in the South Loop, few hints of the area’s automotive past remain. The cavernous buildings that used to house dealerships and mechanics’ garages are now mostly storefronts and residential properties. For the past three years Suzanne Weaver has operated a U-Haul rental outpost on this stretch of South Michigan Avenue, and over the summer she reorganized the interior to make space for her new venture, Motor Gallery. Its inaugural group show, featuring nine Chicago artists, is up through December 7.
In 2007, 16-year-old Julian High School student Blair Holt was shot and killed on a CTA bus; a gang member fired a shot at another gang member at the back of the bus and Holt, the son of a police officer and a firefighter, was caught in the crossfire. Holt's death shook the community—it was reported that thousands of people attended the teen's funeral—but local activist (and grandmother) Diane Latiker wasn't convinced that everyone had gotten the message about the tragic effect of Chicago's out-of-control violence.