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Chicago Like a Local Blog

Unique perspectives on the city from the people who live here.

Author: Liz Garibay

Wanting to combine a love for pubs, history & her native Chicago, Liz Garibay created History on Tap, a project that explores the city's past through its great saloons. She started History Pub Crawls for the Chicago History Museum, the organization's most popular offering.  Her work and expertise have been lauded by The Huffington Post, the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune, 190 North, University of Chicago, the Society of Pub Historians of the UK, & an assortment of other media, cultural organizations, & happy tavern & brewery owners.  Her iPhone/Android app Chicago Taverns & Tales was lauded as one of the top 10 travel apps for Chicago, and Liz was recently named one of thirteen women making an impact on Chicago's craft beer scene.

Like much of pre-19th Century Chicago, Ravenswood (once part of Lakeview Township) was inhabited by various Native American tribes. Modern day Clark street was once an important trail, named Green Bay Trail, that led to Green Bay, Wisconsin.  By the mid-1800s, Chicago was growing and the population was booming. Real estate planners sought ways to make a buck while offering residents an escape fro the hustle and bustle of the city.  Many of our city’s neighborhoods developed in this fashion, and Ravenswood—which was to become the home to Chicago brewery Band of Bohemia—was a first of its kind. 

In recent years, the West Loop has been one of the hottest tickets in town. Restaurateurs and real estate developers have transformed the area into a vibrant space where local and tourist foodies alike descend for a delectable bite. But the area has always had a rich culinary history. And while this particular community is new, the concept of community in the neighborhood is one that is strongly rooted in the past.

Drinking in the Vice

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 5:00 PM by Liz Garibay

In the late 1800s, all of Chicago was booming. The city was re-building and growing in ways that were unthinkable. No matter the industry, opportunity was available for any and all. And as much as the good was thriving, the bad did too. 

Vice districts flourished in all major urban centers, and Chicago had her fair share. The most infamous of them all, The Levee, was located in modern day South Loop. It was here that Chicago would come to gamble, drink, and visit an assortment of brothels. Aldermen Hinky Dink Kenna and Bathhouse John Coughlin ran the successful First Ward and advocated for its existence. Thanks to Karen Abbott’s insightful book, Sin In The Second City, you can read all about the unique cast of characters that once were. And if you want to throw back a few where some of this history sultry history happened, head on over to Vice District Brewing (1454 S Michigan Ave). 

As Chicagoans, we are often inspired by our city. The people and places of both the past and present seem to influence much of what we do. From fires to fairs, our history is varied, and complicated. And perhaps one tale from our rich past is the one that has affected us the most. The Great Chicago Fire was such a pivotal moment for us that we honor it with a star on our beloved flag. It was a time of tragedy, yet it was a time for a rebirth. When I first encountered Burnt City Brewing in Lincoln Park, I was singed with curiosity. And then I got it. And I appreciated it. Not just because of a fire, but because beer. And history.

Beer lovers, rejoice! It’s a great time to be alive!  This could have been a headline in 1890s Chicago when our town was one of the biggest producers of beer during the late 19th Century.  And lucky for us, history repeats itself.  Today we are in the midst of the greatest beer producing period in American history.  Walk in any direction and you’ll undoubtedly find a brewery within half a mile.  As a historian, it’s fun to think about how the past influences our present.  And as a beer historian, it’s pretty special to reflect on recent beer history.

In thinking about the modern era of Chicago beer, there are certain breweries that were true pioneers.  Piece Pizzeria & Brewery (1927 W. North Avenue) opened in Wicker Park in 2001, at a time when the city of Chicago had only one other brewery (waves at Goose Island).  A brewery in Wicker Park may have seemed novel 16 years ago, but 116 years ago, not so much.

Chicago Craft Beer Week 2017: May 18–25

Monday, May 15, 2017 12:00 AM by Liz Garibay

Chicago Craft Beer Week (May 18–25) always offers an array of delicious opportunities for thirsty Chicagoans, and this year's schedule is no different. Here is a little intro to the events celebrating local Chicago and Illinois breweries, and some of my top picks for the 2017 #CCBW line-up. See you there!

Drinking Up The Chicago Flag: Stripes

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 12:00 AM by Liz Garibay

Liz Flag Beer

This is the final piece in a five-part series about the history of the Chicago flag and its connections to Chicago drinking history.

If any element on our Chicago flag has caused more of a shake-up than any other, it has to be those pesky blue and white stripes. Fact: the white bands are meant to represent the three sides of the city: South, West, North.

But, wait. Ask anyone from Streeterville or the “East” side of the city, and you’‘ll get repeatedly squawked at about the unjust underrepresentation of their homeland. Fact: the two blue bands are clear insignia meant to pay tribute to the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Not so fast.

Drinking Up The Chicago Flag: Star 4

Monday, February 23, 2015 12:00 AM by Liz Garibay

Liz Flag Beer

This is the fourth piece in a five-part series about the history of the Chicago flag and its connections to Chicago drinking history.
 
Prohibition. It’s a topic that seems to fascinate every local as it does visiting tourists. There is an almost mysterious and romanticized image of Prohibition that has been fostered by the media and filmmakers. For historians, it’s an interesting point of discussion because many facts seem to be jaded by fiction. And in Chicago, this is particularly true.  
 

Drinking Up The Chicago Flag: Star 3

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 12:00 AM by Liz Garibay

Liz Flag Beer

This is the third piece in a five-part series about the history of the Chicago flag and its connections to Chicago drinking history.

If you tell someone that you haven't read "Devil In The White City," most people would tell you your Chicago card might get taken away. While the book is a fun read for history enthusiasts wanting a bit of drama, it did one incredibly important thing for Chicago history: it brought back the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition. While the Great Fire destroyed our young growing city, it was the World's Fair that allowed us to rise from the ashes and strive for greatness. 

Drinking Up the Chicago Flag: Star 2

Monday, February 9, 2015 12:00 AM by Liz Garibay

Liz Flag Beer

This is the second piece in a five-part series about the history of the Chicago flag and its connections to Chicago drinking history. Read Part 1 here.

It’s no secret that Chicago is quickly becoming a key player in the rapidly growing brewing industry. But this certainly isn’t our first time at the beer rodeo. As important as railroads and stockyards were to our city, so was beer. Chicago is, in fact, a city built on beer and it was a thriving beer town before the Great Fire of 1871 devastated both the city and the local brewing scene.

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