I’m so excited about discovering Lake Claremont Press and its extensive list of books about Chicago, I’m giving away two books so you can discover this great resource for yourself.
The first book, and the subject of today’s post is Historic Bars of Chicago, a listing of the 100 most historic bars in Chicago. Best of all, author Sean Parnell dishes out history, trivia and anecdotes.
Like exploring the city, but not a barfly? I’m also giving away Carless in Chicago by Jason Rothstein. Besides telling you how to get around the city without a car, this book convincingly argues you’re better off without a car. These books would make a great set–if you’re a Historic Bars of Chicago regular, you might want to consider going Carless in Chicago.
How to enter the drawing
Just leave a comment on today’s post and mention which book you’re interested in winning. Name both books and you’ll be entered in both drawings, though you can only win one. Leave your comment by the end of day, Saturday, October 2. I’ll announce the winners Tuesday, October 5 . Winners will be notified by an email requesting a mailing address, so be sure to give a valid email address if you decide to enter the drawing.
* * * *
I can’t speak for other parts of the city but from a North Sider’s perspective, Historic Bars of Chicago author Sean Parnell gets it right about the top 100. There are few bars on this list I don’t know, but Parnell reminded me of things I had forgotten or never knew in the first place.
Bits like these convinced me Parnell did his research:
- Dave Ungeleider ran Wise Fools Pub as a showcase for Chicago Blues
- Four Farthing’s neighbor used to be Murray’s Used Books
- Harlan Stern was an original co-owner of Sterch’s
- The original production of Grease opened at Kingston Mines, when it was on Lincoln Avenue
- LeRoy Brown of “Bad, Bad LeRoy Brown” fame hung out at Burwood Tap (among other places in the area)
In addition to the historic 100, Parnell includes extras like a handful of historic suburban taverns and a “Bars We Miss Most” section that was much too short, though he does mention Lounge Ax, the famous bar co-owned by my childhood friend from Hollywood Park, Sue Miller Tweedy. Parnell acknowledges the book’s failure to list all the memorable bars this city has seen, but he directs the reader to a more thorough listing on his website, Chicago Bar Project.
While these historic bars have survived decades of change, in my mind some bars remain tied to specific eras. The histories of Nick’s and Glascott’s recall a time when the area around Halsted and Armitage was more famous for gangs than restaurants. I can’t picture Friar Tuck without seeing the whole post-hippie-era nightlife and shopping strip once known as “New Town.” And reading about the early days of Sterch’s, John Barleycorn and Wise Fools summons blurry images of a Lincoln Avenue that nightly presented live music, cheap eats, original artwork, and live theatre — all within about a four-block stretch.
It was a part of the city I used to know pretty well. That’s me in the early 1980s, behind the bar at Irish Eyes, 2519 N. Lincoln, serving two-for-one Happy Hour specials.
It isn’t listed in Parnell’s book and, frankly, the description of Irish Eyes on his website will scare off anyone looking for an authentic neighborhood bar experience. But from the late seventies into the nineties, Irish Eyes was home away from home for a large, closeknit group of regulars and that is, after all, what makes a Chicago bar historic.
To end, I’d like to mention Historic Bars of Chicago comes in a great-looking package. The glossy images on the cover capture the cozy feeling of neighborhood bars; the sturdy binding promises to wear well; and the size is just right for carrying along on pub crawls, of which, by the way, several examples are included in the book. It’s an enjoyable read for us natives and a unique gift for visitors.
Remember, leave a comment mentioning Historic Bars of Chicago, Carless in Chicago or both, and your name will be entered in a random drawing!
Read more Chicago Book Reviews.