Sweet Home Chicago, Part Two: A Pyramid and Oz

Alhthough I’ve done a lot in the Windy City, there’s always more to do.  This trip I decided to spend the night so I could wander around downtown a bit more than usual.  The weather was beautiful so I took a nice walk up Chicago Water TowerMichigan Avenue and down the riverwalk. 

In the 800 block of North Michigan Street, you can see one of the few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire — the Chicago Water Tower.  You can’t miss the castle-like design of this 154-foot tower, which many city residents used as a directional to find the ruins of their homes following the disaster.

Jack Brickhouse StatueI stumbled on a statue of Jack Brickhouse, the legendary sportscaster of the Cubs and White Sox on WGN.   I enjoyed people watching and was almost lured down the steps to the Billy Goat Tavern, which I love, but wanted to preserve myself for going out later that night.  If you’re not familiar with the Billy Goat, it’s worth a visit.  Its address is Michigan Avenue, but it’s LOWER Michgan,  underneath the street.  Look for the stairs at the corner of Michgan and Hubbard across from the Chicago Tribune building.  Ignore the sign on the door that says “Enter at Your Own Risk” and go inside a legend.  The Billy Goat is famous for two reasons: 1) it is the inspiration for the “cheezborger” skit performed by Bill Murray and John Belushi in the early days of “Saturday Night Live”; and, 2) it is home to the “Cubs Curse.”  Visit the tavern’s Web site to learn more about that one! 

That night I finally had the chance to visit Buddy Guy’s Legends blues club at its original location before it moves in a couple months — great food, great music, reasonably priced.

Haymarket Riot MemorialThe next morning, my first stop was the Haymarket Square area of Chicago, where violence broke out in 1886 at a rally supporting striking workers.   The Haymarket Riot  resulted in several deaths of policemen and civilians, and is still a controversial subject today.  A bronze memorial marks the spot.   

The TinmanNot too far north in the Lincoln Park neighborhood is Oz Park, dedicated to Oz author Frank Baum, who settled in Chicago not too far from the park, located on Webster Avenue between Halstead and Larrabee.  “Dorothy’s Playlot” provides a place for children to play, while “Emerald Gardens” offers a quiet place for strolling and reading.  Throughout the park are statues of Dorothy and Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion.  

Jack Benny StatueNorth of Chicago on Lake Michigan is Waukegan, Ill., the birthplace of classic comedian Jack Benny.  I went there to see his statue at the corner of Genesee and Clayton streets, but there’s plenty more to see.

The last stop on this Chicago trip was an exotic one, to say the least.  Northwest of Waukegan is Wadsworth, Ill., Pyramid Houseand the site of a pyramid shaped house.  The private residence is six stories high, 17,000 square feet, and covered with 24-carat gold plate.  Several Egyptian statues, including  a 64-foot-high Ramses, and a replica of King Tut’s tomb are also located on the site.

The last stop this trip was a downtown Chicago restaurant tradition, but that turned out to be deserving of its own post  . . .

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