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15 And the winner is

Life Guards by Marcia Straub

On behalf of the Illinois Office of Tourism, a huge thank you to everyone who participated in our summer photo contest! We received so many beautiful (and colorful!) images it was hard to pick a winner. We can’t thank you enough for sharing your unique perspective of Illinois with us. We are delighted to announce Marcia as the winner for her photo “Boat House Way.” Congratulations, Marcia!

If you weren’t able to participate in this contest, stay tuned for details about our next photo contest.

16 The Covered Bridge on Sugar Creek

Spanning Sugar Creek, just west of Glenarm, IL is the Sugar Creek Covered Bridge. Also known as the Glenarm, or Hedley bridge, this 60 foot span is listed on the National register of historic places and is one of 5 remaining 19th century covered bridges in Illinois. Rehabilitated by IDOT in 1965 to keep it intact, this wonderful old structure was placed on a modern under-deck and embankments to keep it preserved for many years to come. The historical society of Sangamon County established ‘Pioneer Park’ adjacent to the bridge in honor of Robert Pullian, who settled there around 1817. The original bridge was constructed around 1880 using the Burr Arch design and served as a passage across Sugar Creek for what must of been countless settlers, livestock and traders for many, many years. This site is wonderfully kept and is just a mile or so off of historic Route 66. For a nice diversion when traveling the ‘Mother Road’ or heading down I-55, exit at Glenarm (Exit 83) and take the frontage road up through and past Glenarm and follow the signs. It’s beautiful country and just a short hop off the main road. A hint…the last turn isn’t marked….turn right….happy motoring!

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Locate on the map

-Ed Baumgarten

17 And the list goes on

During the concert Photo courtesy of Eliza Warren

I contine my quest to check off items on my Bucket List.

#6. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Photography through Columbia College. I went on a rainy Saturday and was glad to have ventured into the drizzle. The small museum packs quite the punch for a venue of its size. The first exhibit, Sarah Pickering’s Incident Control, was fascinating. She documented explosive tests and training facilities for British firefighters, police and forensics teams. I really enjoyed the exhibit because her photographs provided a window into a world that I rarely think about – the world of training in near-real-life situations.

The second exhibit, Talkin’ Back: Chicago Youth Respond, was pretty powerful. Students were given the opportunity to explore their feelings about their living situations and to comment on their surroundings through the foundations of photography and poetry. This exhibition, in its 7th year, was a collaborative effort between the Center for Community Arts Partnerships and the Museum of Contemporary Photography. The photographs and poems provide a channel for these students to express themselves, and there were some powerful expressions indeed. My only complaint is that there were no prints (or postcards) for purchase…I enjoyed the exhibits so much I wanted to take some of them home! Although this exhibit just closed, I highly recommend checking out the museum.

#7. Attend a classical music concert (preferably indoors). This past Tuesday, a friend invited me to attend a concert through the Rush Hour Concerts series. Held in the St. James Cathedral located at 65 East Huron Street, it was short walk from work.  After some light refreshments, we wandered in and took a seat in a nearby pew. The Fulcrum Point New Music Project performed – a group comprised of a pianist, trombonist, trumpet player, and a French horn player.  The show, lasting a little over 30 minutes, provided a nice respite between the work environment and the hustle and bustle of rush hour traffic. I really enjoyed myself and plan to attend another in the future – they are offered every Tuesday and are free (though donations are always accepted)!

#8. Have a misadventure on the Metra. Intrigued to see what life was like outside of the city, I purchased a one-way ticket on the Union Pacific North line of the Metra. It was a pretty train ride, and I got to see Evanston, Lake Forest, and many other areas. I stopped in Kenosha, Wisconsin to have lunch with a friend, and intended to return that day. I had made the assumption that the Kenosha stop, because it was the end of the line, would have an ATM or a station where I could purchase a return ticket. Much to my surprise, there was neither. Terrified that I wouldn’t be able to get home, I began asking the other passengers if they knew of an ATM nearby, which is when I met Betsy and Laura, two sisters from northern Illinois. They graciously offered to help me pay for my return ticket – and in exchange, I learned quite a bit from the two teachers on the hour-long train ride back into Chicago. I was fortunate to meet them, but I would like to warn anyone unfamiliar with the Metra: don’t make the mistake I made. Carry cash or buy a round-trip ticket!

#9. Buy flowers at a farmer’s market.  I took a stroll (well, about a 2.5 mile walk) to the Lincoln Park Farmers Market.  Smaller than I expected, it still had a nice range of fruits, vegetables, herbs, cheeses and breads for purchase.  They had beautiful sunflowers for sale, but I couldn’t for the life of me picture a vase in my apartment tall enough to accommodate them!  Any suggestions for displaying sunflowers?  I ended up with zucchini instead (at 3 for $1, how could I resist?), but I’m hoping to return for a fresh bouquet for my bedroom. 

Cupcake update! I ventured to my third Chicago cupcake venue, Phoebe’s Cupcakes, this past Sunday. Intrigued by the flavors listed on their web site (including Blood Orange Curd!), I took the opportunity to stroll down Clark Street to the little shop. Unfortunately, they no longer have the blood orange cupcake, but I tried a Salted Caramel instead. It was great – affordable (at less than $3, it is one of the cheapest I have come by), moist, and just the right size. They rotate flavors every few weeks, so look for their upcoming specialty flavors!

I luckily stumbled upon an incredible deal while reading Time Out ChicagoMore Cupcakes, located on 1 E. Delaware, had free cupcake Mondays throughout June!  Discovering this fact, I was able to take advantage of this incredible offer before it expired.  The store is quite small, but the cupcakes are beautifully decorated, not to mention delicious!  I tried the s’mores cupcake and definitely plan to return for a savory cupcake like the bacon maple or the blt (I’m not kidding!!).

Hannah Karns

18 The Original Stone Arch Bridge

Just to the west of Marshall, hidden away under modern day Rt-40, is one of the few remaining, original stone arch bridges used by the National Historic Road. This piece of early American transportation history is had to see when traveling through the area, because you drive right over the top of it. There is a historical marker sign right next to the guard rail on the bridge with an arrow pointing to a turn off where one can view the arch. Being of the non-mortar, stacked stone construction typical of the day, the entire arch is still supported by the ‘keystone’ placed at the center when it was constructed in 1834. In fact, this bridge could be the oldest remaining bridge in Illinois. The next time you’re in the Marshall area, take a little detour, stop, walk over to and put your hands on what was surely a road traveled by most every early visitor to Illinois…….

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Find on map

-Ed Baumgarten

The Keystone holding history together

19 Chicagos Festa Italiana

Chicago is well known for its ethnic neighborhoods and each community has plenty to offer in the way of restaurants, shops, and history lessons.  Summertime in Chicago means festival season, and many of those same ethnic neighborhoods play host to their very own summer festivals.  The one I dutifully attend each year is Taylor Street Festa Italiana in Little Italy, my old neighborhood.

The festival started a few years ago with the tagline of “Come Back to Taylor Street”.  The aim was to bring back the residents and families that once lived in the neighborhood but had moved away.  The fest was a success and now it has become an annual event.  I am one of those residents that moved away and I look forward to meeting up with old friends and distant family members at the fest every year.

The Little Italy neighborhood is anchored by the stretch of Taylor Street between Morgan Street and Ashland Avenue.  Gentrification and the expansion of the University of Illinois-Chicago caused many long-time residents to move to other parts of the city, so the neighborhood isn’t quite as “Italian” as it used to be.  Former residents like me fondly remember “the old neighborhood”, and we look forward to getting back there as often as we can.   This year, we’ll be there for Festa Italiana from Thursday, August 5th, until Sunday, August 8th, to reconnect and celebrate our Italian heritage.  Come join us and enjoy some of the best Italian food in the city, as well as live entertainment including authentic Italian folk dancers.  Details for the fest are as follows:

Where:  Taylor Street at Ashland Avenue, Chicago

When:  Thursday, August 5, 5 pm – 11 pm; Friday, August 6, 11:30 am – 11 pm; Saturday, August 7, Noon – 11 pm; Sunday, August 8, Noon – 10 pm

How much:  Suggested donation $3-$7 (not mandatory)