Introducing Our New Look the Chicago Way

FRANCES: Margaret Hicks, Chicago Tour Guide Extraordinaire, I need help.
MARGARET: Sure, anything, as long as it don’t land me in trouble with the boys downtown.
FRANCES: Nothin’ like that. Just looking to launch my Chicago blog’s new look with a real bang.
MARGARET: Like I said, I don’t want no trouble.
FRANCES: No trouble at all. Just something fun for da readers of my Chicago blog, Me & My Shadow.
MARGARET: What, you still passing yourself off as a Chicagoan?
FRANCES: You don’t have to live in Chicago to write about it. Chicago is a state of mind. I spent 45 years livin’ dere and now I live in the ‘burbs, just 23 miles from State and Madison. Trust me, I know da city.
MARGARET: OK, Two-Flat Girl,* tell me this: How many city blocks were recorded in 1830?**
FRANCES: They didn’t teach us that at Peterson (Elementary School).
MARGARET: Well, given that disadvantage, you get a pass.
FRANCES: And help?
MARGARET: It’s the Chicago way!
FRANCES: I want to reward my readers for stopping by to visit the new blog and sayin’ hello. A little something for putting in a word.
MARGARET: You talkin’ bribes?
FRANCES: Let’s not use that word. Ya never know who’s listenin’. Stick with reward. Any ideas?
MARGARET: I’d be willin’ to take a couple of your people on one of my city tours.
FRANCES: Gee, that’s a great idea, Margaret, but my readers, they know da city. What could you show them that they haven’t seen already?
MARGARET: They can come with me on a walk through one of Chicago’s most distinctive neighborhoods. Boystown was the first officially recognized gay village in the country and believe me, it has a lot to show for it. We’ll taste some wine at Kafka and learn about “queer space.” We’ll talk about the pansy craze of the 1920’s and end at a bar that survived one of it’s own Chicago Fires, Scarlet. It’s a great tour, really fun and relaxed. Like hanging out with old friends.
FRANCES: OK. Let’s send two of them on a tour. But what I’m gonna do about folks who aren’t lucky enough to live in the city that works?
MARGARET: I see your point. You need another bribe, I mean reward, for the out-of-towners.
FRANCES: I know. The out-of-towners can read about Chicago. I’ve got just the book.

Frances whips out her cell phone and speed dials.

FRANCES: Elaine Soloway, Chicago Author Extraordinaire, I need help.
ELAINE: Sure, of course you can have an autographed copy of my Chicago memoir, The Division Street Princess, for your blog drawing.
FRANCES: Wait a minute, you been eavesdropping on me? Margaret, are you wired?
ELAINE AND MARGARET: It’s the Chicago Way!

*Not claiming any relationship to Mike Royko who was the original “Two-Flat Man.” He was also “Bungalow Baby,” “Basement Flat Child,” “Flat Above the Tavern Youth,” “Attic Flat Man.”
**There were 58 blocks in the city in 1830.

Enter the Me & My Shadow Drawing to Win  a Chicago Tour or Book

Help spread the word about my blog and its new web address at Between now and July 30, post a comment on any post on my blog. Chicago area residents simply type the word “Chicago” as your comment and if you feel like it, leave a longer message. Out-of-towners, type “Chicago is a state of mind.”

The local winner will receive a voucher for two people for an Elevated Chicago tour led by Margaret Hicks, good for one year. You can give the voucher as gift if you’re unable to take the tour. The out-of-town winner will receive by mail an autographed copy of Elaine Soloway’s book, The Division Street Princess.

Good luck! Leave a comment today! If you know someone who’s interested in Chicago history, send them over to the blog and tell them to enter the drawing. Thanks to Margaret Hicks and Elaine Soloway for sponsoring the Me &  My Shadow drawing:

Chicago Elevated is a new kind of tour company. (See the write-up of her tour in Gaper’s Block and in the Chicagoist.) Started by comedian and tour guide, Margaret Hicks, Chicago Elevated searches for humor and history with the same passion. Margaret was a docent at the Chicago Architecture Foundation before she got laid off her job, she took her passion – started a blog – and now gives tours of a different sort.

Chicago Elevated tours are not your grandmother’s tours! It’s the Fight Club of tours. We don’t point at buildings and spew out facts, we go into businesses, buildings and try to stay in the shade as much as possible! Margaret can also customize a private tour for you, got kids? We’ll set up a fun scavenger hunt for you? What about a company outing and you need something fun and different so your boss looks at you with respect? Call Chicago Elevated, we can set up anything that floats your boat, as long as you provide the boat.

Elaine Soloway’s book, The Division Street Princess, was named a Chicago Tribune 2006 “Best Book.” An excerpt appeared earlier in this blog.  Royko might have described Elaine as a “Flat Above a Grocery Store Child” — she grew up in a three-room flat above her family’s grocery store. In her tale of bookies, poolrooms, sidewalk playgrounds, and relatives who lived down the block, we learn about her loving but embattled parents, her adored older brother, and neighborhood kibitzers. Along with her recollections of a lively, unique community, she also shows the underside of childhood and urban life.  If you enjoy books about Chicago history, this book is a must!

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28 Responses to Introducing Our New Look the Chicago Way

  1. Matt M July 12, 2010 at 8:09 am #

    Chicago! What a fantastic contest.

  2. Frances Archer July 12, 2010 at 8:39 am #

    Thanks for visiting Matt. Your name is in the hat for the drawing.

  3. Diane McCarthy July 12, 2010 at 10:23 am #

    Chicago Chicago! Now I’m going to go wander around your blog!

  4. Israel Leichtman July 12, 2010 at 10:41 am #

    Chicago. Interesting how Devon avenue is changing from the Middle east to the far east.

  5. Frances Archer July 12, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    Welcome, Diane!

  6. Frances Archer July 12, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    I didn’t know that! Will check it out next visit back to the old neighborhood, just next door in Hollywood Park.

  7. Bonnie McGrath July 12, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    frances, you don’t live 39 miles from state and madison, do you??? is it that far??? i’m surprised….

  8. Frances Archer July 12, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    Thanks for asking. It is 23 miles. I misread Google Maps. That’s why I rely on tour guides.

  9. Chris Hancock July 13, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    Chicago. Great New Look Frances!! I just subscribed and look forward to reading your posts!

  10. Frances Archer July 13, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    Thanks Chris. See you soon.

  11. Merle Citrin Monroe July 13, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    Chicago (suburbs) just like you, Frances! The new look is fab! Looking forward to new posts.

  12. Weisun July 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    Looks nice! Is this tour affiliated with, which is free through July?

  13. Artemis Daglas July 13, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    Chicago is my kinda town!!

  14. Frances Archer July 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Not affiliated. Margaret Hicks researches and guides her own one-of-a-kind tours.

  15. Alan Spector July 13, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

  16. Frances Archer July 13, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    Thanks, Alan, for giving my blog its theme song.

  17. Tom Zentefis July 13, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    Chicago is most definitely a state of mind.I miss Chicago but not the traffic.I’M like 45 miles out.

  18. Frances Archer July 14, 2010 at 6:33 am #

    Tom, the parking is easier in the ‘burbs too. Thanks for visiting.

  19. Erica July 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    Chi-ca-go…I’ve been here for 3 years now but need to keep learning from those in the know like you, so much I haven’t seen/done, thanks!

  20. Linda July 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    Chicago, Chicago, Chicago…one of my favorite places! Thanks for the giveaway and your interesting blog. Fun reading!

  21. Frances Archer July 16, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    Thanks for visiting Erica. It will take a lifetime to see it all.

  22. Frances Archer July 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

    Linda, glad you stopped by. Your name is in the hat.

  23. Jean July 19, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    Best of luck with your Chicago website remake! Several key senior managers for govn’t have left jobs in Chicago and accepted job offers here in Vancouver.

    I attended some presentations over 6 months ago related to urban planning, rail /public transportation in Chicago. Interesting.

    (We have returned from Europe, as our recent blog posts indicate.)


    Jean @

  24. Frances Archer July 19, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    Jean, you realize that you are, or at least your post was, somewhat behind the whole remake idea. Will be in touch and hope the trip was wonderful.

  25. Brule Laker July 24, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    Chicago. Waiting for your post with one of my photos.

  26. Frances Archer July 24, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    The inspiration took a little longer than expected.

  27. Jean August 26, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    I like this new remake of your website because the design is “airier”, more white space for the mind to expand, ponder and think.

    I hope that Chicago readers will continue to provide you with their photo or 2 and stories. There’s many to be told .

    I’ve recently had a generous donation from a local reader for Vancouver area. Am overwhelmed..

    One good thing about a blog site is that a good photo with a good, researched story, is happily brought to light, with credits to the photographer, story-teller. Otherwise hidden or worse deleted from digital personal archives forever.

  28. Frances Archer August 26, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    Jean, I’m glad to hear you like the blog theme. There were so many choices, but I do think this one is easy to read and navigate. Congrats on the donation.

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