Chicago Book Giveaway


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.

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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.

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21 Responses to Chicago Book Giveaway

  1. Harriet September 28, 2010 at 8:24 am #

    I’d love a chance at Historic Bars of Chicago, please.

  2. Ilene Ratcheson Ciccone September 28, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    As part of that close knight group of regulars that called Irish Eyes our living room (I had a tendency to loose keys and/or lock myself out–a set of the keys to my apartment lived in Irish Eye’s cash register for a while–how’s that for closeknit!), I went out for a short time with the man you are serving drinks to in that picture. But for the life of me I can’t remember his name. Was it Patrick? If I win, I obviously want the Historic Bars of Chicago book–I knew all the things that you listsed–and all the people!

  3. Ilene Ratcheson Ciccone September 28, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    And that’s Kenton and Noell (Sams) down the bar from him….

  4. Frances Archer September 28, 2010 at 8:59 am #


  5. Meryl Jaffe September 28, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    I am having a lot of trouble responding for some reason this site does not want my original comment. The comment above was for another site. Here goes my THIRD attempt to respond:

    My son just entered the University of Chicago and I am involved with the Development Office there. I visit frequently and would love both HISTORIC BARS OF CHICAGO and CAREFREE IN CHICAGO. My son would probably appreciate the first more, but I am not sure he should be frequenting the bars while in school! (Right try to enforce that.) THe Carefree in Chicago speaks to me too as I visit frequently and would love to learn about the native gems just waiting to be visited (and not have to deal with horrendous Chicago parking and traffic – and this is a New Yorker speaking).

    So, hopefully you get this comment through. (I will copy it just in case – like I did the other one but messed up). Thank you for the opportunity (and I do hope you visit my website – I am an educational psychologist and I have an advice blog for parents seeking to enrich and enhance their kids’ learning skills:

    Thank you again,
    Meryl Jaffe, PhD

  6. Merle Citrin Monroe September 28, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    You look great behind that bar! What a surprise…..I never would have guessed that you had that kind of job. Would love a copy of either book: Historic Bars or Carless. Thanks for all the great Chicago info you unearth.

  7. Marilyn Ratcheson September 28, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    I need to have that Historic Bars book. So, even if I don’t win your drawing, I will find it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Francis. Great pic!

  8. Chris Corrado September 28, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    I think I went to every bar mentioned in your story! What great memories. Me too Marilyn, if I don’t win I want to buy this book. Thanks so much Frances!

  9. Anastasia Dilberakis September 28, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    Thank you, thank you! So very special! A must have for all of us that “lived” and “played” on Lincoln Avenue. Quite the collection of characters, experiences and incredibly long nights. The conversation never seemed to end!

  10. Frances Archer September 28, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    Anastasia, you’ve got me teary-eyed.

  11. Frances Archer September 28, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

    Merle, I’ve had a lot of different jobs. Thanks for visiting. Always nice to hear from you.

  12. Marshall Rosenthal September 29, 2010 at 7:10 am #

    I’d like a copy of Historic Bars of Chicago and a martini, straight up. Thanks!

  13. Frances Archer September 29, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    Marshall, your name’s in the hat. Rain check on the martini.

  14. Sharon Woodhouse September 29, 2010 at 2:25 pm #


    Thanks for sharing the “Irish Eyes” story and photo! It adds the real Chicagoan touch. I wonder if any readers have been to each of the “Historic 100” bars in the book?? I’ve been to 69 that I can remember (!!), but that leaves at least 31 iconic Chicago taverns to explore. Yay.

  15. Frances Archer September 29, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Thanks, Sharon, for your comment and for helping me host the giveaway. I’m going to do a count so when I post the winners and I can mention how many of Historic 100 I’ve been to. Anyone else care to post their number?

  16. Marla October 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    Both of these books would be great to win, and would make an excellent addition to my coffee table reads.
    I’m interested in the drawing for the Historic Bars of Chicago and Carless in Chicago.

  17. Frances Archer October 1, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    Your name’s in the hat. Thanks for stopping by.

  18. Rosemary Blandford October 2, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    Frances – never would have put you behind the bar at Irish Eyes. I’ve seen a few evenings there though it has been a long time. As always, it is fun to read your blog and I always feel as though I’ve learned something new. Would love to read more in either of the books!

  19. Frances Archer October 2, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

    Hi, Rosemary. Good to hear from you. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Irish Eyes as well.

  20. anne mohl February 23, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    Frances, this was a great read. I have a history with Irish Eyes where I met my current husband but also have a much earlier connection to some notable Chicago bars. My first husband was an original owner and creator of Wise Fools and manager of John Barleycorn. I worked at those places and several more, notably the Oxford Pub, Four Farthings and occasionally Quiet Knight,Vieux Carre, Laugh In, etc. I’d love to have the Chicago Pub book.

  21. Frances Archer February 23, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Hi Anne, so good to hear from you. Unfortunately, this giveaway ended a while back. You can still order the book though from Lake Claremont Press and I do recommend it. But you’ve given me a great idea: I’d like to interview your for a blogpost about Lincoln Avenue Bar history. I’ll send you an email separately and see if we can get together soon. Vieux Carre was the only place to get a good muffaletta in Chicago!

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