Happy Independence Day, America!
Happy Independence Day, America!
If you want to know about Chicago’s history, then there is no way to escape it without delving into its mob history, especially the mobster known as Al Capone.
Alphonse Capone (a.k.a Al Capone, a.k.a Scarface) was born in 1899 in Brooklyn, New York to poor Italian immigrants. He was originally one of nine children until one of his sisters died at about 12 months old. As Al was repeating 6th grade, he got in trouble for hitting a teacher and never went back to school after that.
The Capones moved to a better neighborhood where Al met his future wife, Mae, and Johnny Torrio, who was considered his mob mentor:
Al Capone was running errands for Torrio until he left for Chicago in 1909. That forced Al to work at various odd jobs, but he continued with a small amount of local gang activity.
It was in 1917 that Capone was introduced to another gangster, Frankie Yale, who hired him to be a bartender/bouncer in Coney Island. He made an insulting remark to a lady one night, and her brother hit Al Capone and slashed his face, earning the nickname “Scarface”. He hated that name and always hid the scars whenever his picture was taken.
Al married Mae when he was 19, the same month their son Albert Francis (nicknamed “Sonny”) was born. When Capone was 20, Johnny Torrio invited him to Chicago, after his father died, and he left Brooklyn. He started work as a brothel bouncer and it was there that he contracted syphilis, which he never sought a cure for. His wife and son, mother, and a few siblings all moved to Chicago where Al bought a house in a middle class neighborhood.
Torrio had been working for crime boss “Big Jim” Colosimo until his murder in 1920, allowing him to take over Colosimo’s crime empire. Although it was suspected that Capone was involved, he became Torrio’s right-hand. They moved their operation to Cicero, outside the city limits, to get away from a newly elected mayor who wanted to go after corruption in the city.
A Cicero mayoral election became threatening as well in 1924, and both Capone and Torrio orchestrated an intimidation effort so their candidate would be elected. Some of the voters were shot, some killed, including Capon’s brother, Frank, when the cops came and started shooting.
In 1925, Johnny Torrio was shot many times, but recovered and then resigned to give Capone full control. Al was 26 when he was made the new boss of an illegal brewery and transportation network that extended into Canada, having the protection of politicians and law-enforcement. This resulted in Capone being more violent to attain more profits, blowing up establishments if they didn’t order their liquor from him.
Up to 100 people died this way so Capone could raise his revenues.
“Scarface” lived in luxury, wearing fitted suits, smoking the best cigars, eating gourmet foods and drinking his favorite liquor, Templeton Rye. He wore expensive jewelry and had many female companions by his side, all while claiming to be a simple businessman.
Torrio had advised Capone to keep a low profile, but he ignored that and stayed at a plush hotel in downtown Chicago. It was estimated that his operation made $100 million a year, which is worth $1.3 billion today.
Capone had his run-ins with the North Side Gang, which was run by Hymie Weiss after the former head of the gang was murdered. Torrio is thought to have arranged the murder, so Weiss and his gang (including Bugs Moran, another well known gangster) wanted revenge. Capone’s driver was murdered after being tortured, and was followed by an attempt on Weiss’s life.
The North Siders then tried to lure Capone to the windows of the hotel he had his headquarters in, firing machine guns at the windows, but Capone was not hurt. A few months after that, Weiss was murdered at the North Sider’s headquarters, followed by Capone’s friend being kidnapped and murdered.
After all of that, Al Capone was suspicious of everyone and increased his security personnel and expressed a desire to leave Chicago in 1928. He would take his whole entourage on a train sleeper car to another state and stay for a week at a time in luxury hotels under different names. He always paid in cash so he could never be traced.
By 1929, after having dominated the illegal liquor trade, Capone realized that Bugs Moran was trying to take a piece of his business and was coming after Capone’s hit man, Jack McGurn (a.k.a “Machine Gun”).
In response, it is thought that they both decided to murder Moran and his men, in what has been known as the St Valentine’s Day Massacre. While Capone was in Miami, McGurn had his men dress as policemen to fake a police raid and lined Moran’s men up against the wall of their garage. They then started shooting them, some with machine guns, and some with shotguns. Moran had been alerted to what was about to happen and escaped before the massacre.
Al Capone was believed to be involved and the public called for something to be done, so the government went after him for income tax evasion. In 1931, Capone was brought up on 22 counts of tax evasion, and after a plea bargain deal failed, the case went to trial.
Al tried to use bribery and intimidate the jury, but the judge ordered a whole new jury at the last minute, who then found Capone guilty and sentenced him to 11 years. He had already finished a prison sentence at Eastern State Penitentiary of 9 months in 1929 before this trial happened.
In 1932, Capone was doing time in the Atlanta U.S. Penitentiary when he was 33, suffering from syphilis, gonorrhea, and cocaine addiction withdrawal.
He was eventually transferred to Alcatraz, where the syphilis spread to his brain (called neurosyphilis) and slowed his mental functions. He stayed in the prison hospital for the last year of his sentence and was a free man by November, 1939.
After his prison release, Capone was admitted to a hospital in Baltimore for treatment of late-stage syphilis. He left in 1940 to move to Florida, and in 1946, it was concluded by a doctor to have a 12 year old’s mentality.
He had a stroke in 1947 and recovered, but then contracted pneumonia and had cardiac arrest a day later. A few days after that, Capone died, surrounded by family in his home, and was buried in Illinois at the Mount Carmel Cemetery.
“Public Enemy No. 1” was 48 when he passed away, and to this day, he is what gangster movie characters are based on. He is mentioned in different books, like Uncle Al Capone: The Untold Story From Inside His Family, written by his grandniece. There was also a book by a man who claimed he was Capone’s bodyguard, called Carrying A Gun For Al Capone.
He’s appeared in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, as well as other pieces of literature. He has also been portrayed in various movies and tv shows, as well as in songs by Queen, Michael Jackson, and other bands.
Chicago is not just known for their deep dish pizza, but also for their Chicago Dog!
Th Chicago hot dogs are topped with chopped onions, mustard, relish, tomato slices, a dill pickle, peppers, and celery salt on a poppyseed bun. The vast majority of the population in Chicago frown upon putting ketchup on their hot dogs, so much so that they won’t even have it for you to use.
The origin of the Chicago dog (or Chicago style dog) dates back to 1929 when a fast food restaurant called Fluky’s started selling what was, at the time, called a “Depression Sandwich”. It had everything on it that the Chicago dog has today, just without the addition of lettuce. The Drexler Family (who owned Fluky’s) still runs a stand at a Wal-Mart, while the last real location changed their name to U Lucky Dawg and is run by someone else.
The Chicago dog has different variations today, but it is almost always made with hot dogs from two hot dog manufacturers in Chicago, Red Hot Chicago and Vienna Beef. Some places will add lettuce or cucumbers, not use the poppyseed buns or celery salt, or add fries in place of the dill pickle. But mostly, the dogs are boiled in water or steamed, although some stands will cook the dogs on a grill, known as “char-dogs”.
There are so many hot dog places in Chicago that they outnumber 3 other big fast food chains combined. However, we are only listing the five best Chicago dog locations.
Started as “The Dog House” in 1963 by Dick Portillo, this restaurant has a main location in Chicago that has branched out to Arizona, California, Florida and Wisconsin. Dick sold the company but is still somewhat involved in the business.
The restaurant serves a regular hot dog (which is the Chicago dog) and other kinds of dogs, as well as sandwiches, burgers, soups, salads, and more. They also have their famous chocolate cake shake where they put a slice of their chocolate cake right into your shake!
This hot dog stand opened in 1983 and is popular because of its Maxwell Street Polish (a Polish sausage with mainly mustard and grilled onions), cheese fries, and burgers. The char dog with “the works” is basically a Chicago dog but is grilled instead of steamed.
They are also known for shouting matches between customers and employees during late hours. Many drunken pedestrians eat here after their nights of partying at bars, and the language can get quite foul on some nights. Despite this, the employees receive nice tips, making it a desirable place to work. If you’re the right kind of person, that is.
Going to a game? Then you might as well get a Chicago dog while you’re at Wrigley Field, although they do have other great foods there as well. However, they’ve made this version easier to eat so you don’t have to deal with too much of a mess, as everything is nicely tucked in around the hot dog. Here, they are called “Wrigley Dogs”.
This drive-in stand was opened in 1948, is still family operated and was featured on Food Network’s Unwrapped and Emeril Live. They have carhop service and is one of the last original drive-ins left in the U.S. Their “Superdawg” is an altered version of the Chicago dog, with mustard, Spanish onions, a hot pepper, dill pickle, and tangy piccalilli. They also have burgers, fries, sides, and shakes.
Gene & Jude’s was founded in 1946 by Gene Mormino, a city worker at the time, and has been operated by his son since 2004. This stand only makes hot dogs, tamales, and fries, and does not use nor have any ketchup. Its Depression Dog is like a Chicago dog but does not have tomatoes or a pickle, and instead has fries on top. It has been featured on “Every Day with Rachael Ray” and Serious Eats, a popular food blog, in which it was titled the best hot dog in America.
If you love kayaking, then Chicago is the ultimate place to try out your paddling desires! It is one of the best places in the world to enjoy kayaking despite your level of experience. It has a number of spots that range from lakes to calm drifts and rapids, where you can enjoy the fresh air and ensure your skills are refined and polished.
Kayaking in Chicago is more than a navigating exercise, giving you a wide range of activities like watching fireworks, going on themed tours and more, making the exercise worth the indulgence.
Let’s take a look at 5 famous Chicago lakes that are excellent for kayaking fun:
If you are an experienced paddler, this giant lake to the east of the city is perfect for you. It is the ultimate destination for stand-up paddle boarders and kayakers since it offers a ton of fun, ranking among the best paddling spots in the midwest. Kayaking on Lake Michigan gives you an opportunity to experience beautiful views of the city’s skyline and the presence of fireworks to spice up your boating excursion. It is the ideal spot for romantic kayakers and night owls who wish to enjoy the waters while drinking for fun.
However, before setting out, you should ensure that you are fully prepared and comfortable, since conditions on the lake can change unexpectedly. In a span of less than 15 minutes, the water can go from being calm to thrashing white caps. Although the waves on the lake can make kayaking a bit of a struggle, it’s so much fun when the weather is calm and the waters are flat.
Never attempt kayaking on this lake if you are a novice paddler. However, despite your level of experience, you should ensure that you receive some form of guidance and practice paddling before attempting this lake. If you don’t own a kayak, there is no need to worry. There are a number of outfitters around the city who rent them out and offer guided tours while teaching the rules and basics of safe kayaking.
Big Bend Lake is a true hidden gem for paddling. It is a great spot with a number of variations in the route (just as the name suggests), providing a great kayaking experience. The waters are clear and crisp, giving you an opportunity to see the vegetation and wildlife around the lake. In this spot, you will be guaranteed a lifetime experience with a perfect location for kayaking all year round.
This lake is ideal for any paddler who wants to enjoy a beautiful day on the water. The crystal clear and calm waters make paddling for a beginner or experienced kayaker very easy. Although it’s calm all year round, there is a gentle current near the southern end of the lake, which feeds into the Des Plaines River. If you choose to paddle on Big Bend Lake, always carry your kayak, as there are no tours or rentals available.
Do you enjoy viewing the panoramic beauty of wildlife and vegetation? If you do, Busse Woods is the perfect location to try kayaking this season. Being a little farther from the city, this place is perfect for a getaway with the people you hold close to your heart. Paddling through the island pockets and open waters gives one a great opportunity to have an intimate experience with wildlife such as egrets, blue herons and cormorants, among others. Since these animals are all over the area, paddlers on this lake can sweep around the area and get a feel for nature, away from their normal urban life.
However, you need to be careful of algae blooms during the hot months, since part of the lake can become shallow, making it difficult to paddle through. In addition, the winds can become strong at certain times of the year, although this shouldn’t worry you. The vegetation, wildlife and people, together with the calm flowing waters, make kayaking here safe. These waters are ideal for all paddlers because of its calm waters and little soft currents. Alternatively, if you are a beginner, you can seek guided kayak tour services, which are available everywhere around the lake.
These waters that are strategically located in Winnetka, Northfield and in Glencoe (north of Skokie), a great opportunity for every everyone to enjoy nature-filled kayaking on the open waters. This spot is a great destination to bring your family and friends to relax the mind and enjoy the sights.
With a number of pools along the water system, this lagoon stands as one of the easiest spots to go kayaking in Chicago. However, since the lagoon is well known for being buggy, it’s advisable to always carry a bug repellent which can be in the form of spray, jelly or lotion.
This spot has numerous launching points that are ideal for kayakers. In addition, it is ideal for any paddler because the waters are flat, open and calm all year round. If you don’t own a kayak, you need not worry, since private boats are available for hire all around the lagoon.
This is an easily accessible paddling destination that is ideal for family and friends. It is divided into three sections that start from the Busse Lake in Elk Grove Village. Every section has its unique attributes, giving the paddler a beautiful experience while paddling through. This creek is easily accessed through the nicest section at the nature sanctuary that is located on the south side of Canterbury Lane. All throughout, this creek is filled with numerous amenities for picnicking, making for a great family getaway.
As you can see, there are a number of lakes you can try kayaking this season. These Chicago lakes are amazing for all types of family fun. If you need to pick up a kayak, try Killer Kayaks and you can find a kayak for under $200. All you need to do is get your supplies ready, practice paddling, and get out there with your family and friends. Make sure to take a first aid kit if you’re making a day trip out of it, and adequate water and snacks, as well as a life jacket. Have fun and enjoy!
A Chicago gang member, a teenager, shoots and kills 4 men at a South Side restaurant to avenge his father’s death. Catch the full story in video format, thanks to the Chicago Tribune:
Following is a short video by the Chicago Tribune that shows the key points of the evolution of Wrigley Field.
Today, we are going to explore the lovely topic of the deep dish pizza and how and why it originated in Chicago, lovably termed, the Chicago deep dish pizza! We will also cover the BEST deep dish pizza in Chicago in another minute. Hold on to your bibs, Kids!
The pizza craze started in the U.S. back in the 19th century. It was marked by the arrival of the Neapolitans from Europe, who had an understanding and love for good old Italian pizza. They arrived in the U.S. in search of the many industrial jobs that the U.S. had to offer.
Since Chicago was a budding hub of industrial development, the need arose to create food that was well suited for the hard working society. This resulted in the creation of the now much loved deep dish pizza. Straying away from the thin crust pizzas that were up for display in the rest of the country, the deep dish created quite a niche for itself. Instead of a thin curst, it had a thick crust coupled with an inverted layer of cheese, meat, and tomatoes.
Chicago is now as much known for its deep-dish pizza as it is for being the Windy City and the home of Wrigley Field.
As mentioned before, the 19th century symbolized the arrival of Europeans looking for factory jobs in the U.S. Since most of them were poor, the pizza was their main source of nutrition. This led to the creation of the deep-dish by two entrepreneurs, Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo, and that led them to open the first deep-dish pizzeria, “Pizzeria Uno”, in the year 1943. This is Ike Sewell:
The Chicago deep dish pizza was a far cry from the thin crust that the Italians were so used to. It was a good mix of thick crust pizza filled with an inverted layer of tomatoes, mozzarella, and meat for the ones who could afford it. It was well suited to the economic situation of the World War era, since most of the basic amenities were in short supply.
The rations for wheat flour, oil, salt, and yeast were more readily available. This, in turn, led to the extreme popularity of the deep-dish pizza.
Most of the critics called this take on pizza an “abomination”, something that brought ruin to the name of the original pizza they dearly loved. These very critics are the ones who push away almost anything that is beyond their one track way of thinking. Comics also joined them, going against the pizza for its “oh-so-inferior” quality.
But contrary to such criticism, deep dish pizza has found semblance amongst the populace of Chicago, and it isn’t just restricted to the Windy City. Pizzeria Uno has over 200 branches today, serving as far and wide as South Korea! This is quite telling of the popularity that the deep dish has garnered over the years, having been unique in its approach and taste.
There is another storyline that runs parallel to the one mentioned above, which could make for a great suspense novel! According to some, the pizza wasn’t devised by Ike and Ric as they had been claiming over the years, but by their head chef, Rudy Malnati. The Malnati family is a name to reckon with in the pizzeria business, and as per the claims made by them, they were the real progenitors of the recipe.
The fact that there is no evidence to prove that Ric and Ike were any good in the kitchen only adds fuel to such a claim. According to Rudy Malnati, Ike and Ric were the brains behind the business, but he was the man in the kitchen. They had one simple job: to stand on the street corners and get passersbys into giving the pizza a taste.
Going by the Malnati story, it is also believed that after the death of Riccardo, Rudy Malnati Sr and his son, Lou Malnati, stayed to look after the business. But after the death of Rudy Malnati, his son was at odds with the new management, having been told that he was just a nominal employee. This digression led to him opening his own business, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, in 1971 on the north shore suburb of Lincolnwood.
Since the creation of the deep dish pizza, it has made quite a name for itself. Having been named the “Chicago deep dish pizza”, it was bound to bring prosperity to the city of its origin. Not a single mention of pizza is done without calling out the deep dish, which is among the few thick crust offerings that the U.S. now presents to the nation.
Due to the uniqueness of the deep-dish, coupled with its tangy taste based on the bounteous usage of tomatoes, it has propelled Chicago into the limelight.
Now, time for the fun part! If you live in Chicago, no doubt you already known the best hotspots to serve your needs for a Chicago deep dish! However, if you’re a tourist, you want to know where to experience the best deep dish pizzas in Chicago.
There is no way that anyone should not experience this classic beauty while in Chicago… so without further ado, following are the restaurants where you can get the best deep dish pizza in Chicago:
Straying away from Pizzeria Uno had worked wonders for Lou Malnati. He has created a variant of the Chicago deep dish pizza that resembles the original method of creation, albeit tangier with a larger helping of tomatoes, lighter cheese and a unique layer of “butter crust”. The butter crust is created after leaving some space in the dish to accommodate a good helping of butter.
The Malnati Chicago Classic, their trademark dish, is one that should be sought after. It strays away from the olive oil-made dough of the traditional deep-dish, to create a perfect blend of buttery crust, sausage, and extra cheese!
This restaurant was founded 23 years after Pizzeria Uno, the second such pizzeria catering to the admirers of the deep dish pizza. The owners, Sam Levine and Fred Balotelli, hired former Uno cooks (sisters Alice May Redmond and Ruth Hadley) to retain the flavor of the original. The joint still stands today, with the insides contoured with hand-made graffiti created along the years.
Their most famous pizza is the deep dish crafted using cornmeal-tinted crust with huge helpings of marinara sauce.
This still remains a great place to visit if you are looking forward to tasting the “original” deep dish pizza that started it all. “Uno Chicago Grill”, still remains the one with the most visitors. It is dimly lit, with wooden tables, checkered walls adorned with graffiti, and a long line of visitors waiting for their turn.
Make sure that you reserve a spot prior to visiting!
Did we leave anything out? Agree or Disagree with us? Let us know in the comments, Chicagoans and others who have tasted some incredible Chicago deep dish pizzas!
Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, is the second oldest ballpark in baseball, close behind Fenway Park in Boston (home to the Red Sox). Nicknamed ‘Friendly Confines,’ it still retains the authenticity of the old days. When fans come to cheer the Cubs, they don’t miss out on spotting a few highlights, like the marquee located outside their home plate entrance, ivy covered outfield walls, their classic hand-operated scoreboard, and more.
The existence of Wrigley Field dates back to before the beginning of World War I, when Charles Weeghman acquired the Chicago Whales. He formed a new team in the ballpark, which was then located in an undeveloped side of Chicago. He hired Zachary Taylor Davis to plan the development of Wrigley Field, and it was thereafter named ‘North Side Park.’ It was later named after Charles as the ‘Weeghman Field.’
The construction of the ballpark started on March 14, 1914, and ended on April 23, 1914, which also marked the first game played by the Whales. It turned into a 14,000 seat ballpark, with one exclusive V-shaped Grandstand and wooden bleachers all around. The original dimension of Weeghman Field was 310 ft. to the left, 356 ft to the right, and 440 ft in the middle. It was also the first ever ballpark to have fixed concession stands. The Chicago Whales would only play for two years because the Federal League soon went bankrupt.
The Cubs used to play on the West Side Grounds from 1893, but by 1915 they were struggling for an audience. Charles Weeghman acquired them later that year and shifted the team to his field for the following season. Their first game was on April 20, 1916, and the ballpark was renamed ‘Cubs Park’ after Weeghman sold his acquisition to William Wrigley Jr.
During the early months of 1923, the park went through renovations. The Grandstand moved 60 ft back and there were new installations of wooden bleachers. This increased the capacity of the park to 20,000. It was further renovated in 1926, and the park was finally named ‘Wrigley Field’. There was then a double deck for the Grandstand, bleachers were moved from the left field, the playing area was lowered and the capacity reached 38,396.
There were more implementations by 1937, and bleachers were constructed in the outfield. This was also when their renowned 27 by 75 ft hand-operated scoreboard was planted right behind the centerfield seating. The other highlight of ivy was also incorporated at this time. The lights were installed before the season of 1942, but were donated to the government for World War II.
After the 1940s, there was little change in the field to keep a note of. In 1981, the Cubs were acquired by the Tribune Company and in 1982, there was an electronic board installed under the old scoreboard:
After many disapprovals and threats, the Cubs were allowed to install lights on the field. The first night game took place on August 8, 1988. There were private boxes constructed in 1989, on a mezzanine level which was initially used for broadcasting and the press. There was another one constructed in the upper deck right behind home plate.
There were 200 seats added right behind home plate after the 2003 season which brought the audience closer to the field. There was a further addition of 1,800 seats in 2005, increasing the capacity to about 41,000 people.
Wrigley Field was previously known to have a bad grass field because the infield crown extended 40 ft towards the outfield. Players ran up and down a hill during their games! This problem was resolved in 2007, with the help of a reformed drainage system. The playing field was then replaced with artificial grass.
Wrigley Field is now the only existing Federal League ballpark. However, with all the lights and video board, it retains that old fashioned feel. One amusing fact about the field is that they don’t allow advertisements. However, many can be found on the sides of buildings in the neighborhood.
Wrigleyville, the vicinity around Wrigley Field, bustles with ballhawks on game days. They wait at Waveland Avenue to catch home run balls. Lots of people sit on top of the building located behind the field to watch the game action. The ivy still overshadows the brick walls, while the scoreboard is manually operated. The neighborhood usually makes parking difficult for the games. Fans often opt to ride the CTA red line train to the Addison stop and then get to the field.
Wrigley Field is the home of the Cubs, but it was also home to the Chicago Bears from 1921-1970 before they moved to Soldier Field. This historic area is currently undergoing a massive change, which is likely to revamp it like never before.
After the renovations of 1937, the next big transformation is to overhaul all the facilities. It started after the 2014 season and is called the ‘1060 Project’. With a requirement of $575 million, it is all set to be complete in 2019.
Every section of Wrigley Field will be upgraded, and it has already started with the outfield. The Cubs moved the exterior walls into Waveland and Sheffield Avenues to expand bleachers, which will add 300 more seats, and add concessions. One of the most striking additions is the HD video board of 95 x 42 ft to the left. There will also be another 2,250 square feet video board to the right.
The Chicago Cubs took part in 11 World Series so far. In 1906, they lost to the White Sox 4 games to 2, but made it back to the World Series in 1907 and 1908, being the first team to play 3 straight years back to back. They were also the first team to win twice, but after that they went 108 years without a World Series win. It was the longest occurrence in all of the American sports.
The Chicago Cubs were termed ‘Lovable Losers’ with multiple losing seasons. With superstars like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, the team accomplished their first World Series Championship since 1908, in 2016, after winning against the Cleveland Indians. Certain players on the Cubs were inducted into the Hall of Fame. They include Ernie Banks, Greg Maddux, Ryne Sandberg, Ron Santo, and others.
Welcome to our website, Chicago-HQ, where we plan on sharing EVERYTHING about the city of Chicago, favorably known as the Windy City. The following video shows you everything you can do in Chicago in just a day: it showcases iconic spots and showcases the city in a beautiful way.
Welcome to Chicago!