Studs Terkel's Chicago
Chicago was home to the country’s first skyscraper (a ten-story building built in 1884) and marks the start of the famed "Route 66." It is also the birthplace of the remote control (Zenith), the car radio (Motorola) and the first major American city to elect a woman (Jane Byrne) and then an African American man (Harold Washington) as mayor. Its literary and journalistic history is just as dazzling, and includes Nelson Algren, Mike Royko and Sara Paretsky. From Al Capone to the street riots during the Democratic National Convention in 1968, Chicago, in the words of Terkel himself, “has—as they used to whisper of the town’s fast woman—a reputation.”
Chicago was of course also home to the Pulitzer Prize–winning oral historian Studs Terkel, who moved to Chicago in 1922 as an eight-year-old and who would make it his home until his death in 2008 at the age of 96. This book is a splendid evocation of Studs’ hometown in all its glory—and all its imperfection.
it comes to art on the walls of Chicago streets, the work of William Walker springs to mind. This black man of indeterminate age is the master. He’s the one the others point to. Walker’s masterwork, Wall of Respect, is no longer on the corner of Langley and 43rd. Started in 1967 and finished in ’69, it set off the wildest, most exciting street wall art movement in the country. Right here, on Chicago’s South Side. Walker asked the neighborhood people to choose the heroes of his work. So they
Sammy Glick run much of the turf because of another kind of corruption: the one Verne Jarrett observed. Powerlessness corrupts and absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely. You see, Lord A knew nothing of Cabrini-Green. Or—memento mori—47th and South Parkway, with exquisite irony renamed Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive. Mine eyes haven’t seen much glory lately. However—there’s always a however in the city Janus watches over . . . Somethin’s happenin’ out there not covered by the six-o’clock
Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, LC-USW3-038151-E Page 13 Bob Thall, Crown Hall, Main Entrance (1997) � Bob Thall Page 16 Tom Bell [on left], real estate dealer, captured with Capone’s brother, Ralph [in middle], waiting for “Al” at Joliet; Chief Corcoran [on right] searches Ralph Capone for weapons after the strategic arrest of the gangsters (December 16, 1927; Chicago Evening American) � Chicago Tribune Company Page 21 Mel Larsen, Squad Car Set Afire in Disorder (1966, Chicago
asked him. Chicago does that to strangers as well as natives. “Your Mayor Daley vas bwutal to those young pwotesters, vasn’t he?” Again I nod. Vat could I say? But it isn’t Daley whose name is the Chicago hallmark. Nor Darrow. Nor Wright. Nor is it either of the Janes, Addams or Byrne. It’s Al Capone, of course. In a Brescian trattoria, to Italy’s north, a wisp of an old woman, black shawl and all, hears where I’m from. Though she has some difficulty with English (far less than I have with
Workers of America-CIO. Tom Girdler, the company’s head man, was among the last holdouts; defying John L. Lewis, defying the Wagner Act, defying the long-repressed dream of the celebrants. He was more defiant than Canute. Suddenly the Chicago police, on the orders of a Captain Mooney, charged onto the picnic grounds, billy clubs wildly swinging. Guns were drawn. Baskets of fried chicken, pierogi, potato salad, and coleslaw were the picnickers’ weapons in a free-fire zone. Nobody knows how many