I woke up today in Chicago. I have to say this is the best city in the U.S. Sure it's summer and I haven't had an extreme cold wind- but it's really amazing. Something about the clean streets and magical river view make me want to go explore stuff. I went today by myself to visit the old Marshall Fields Department store...it's been a landmark here forever. The MACY's is going to be taking it over this week officially. It's sort of sad, like a passing of Christmas windows long long ago. I couldn't believe the old signs and giant patina clocks that protrude from the building. The inside has art deco light fixtures and elaborate columns. The view down from the inside is breathtaking. My friend Brad opened a great "old style" diner on Eleventh and named a sandwich "the Marshall Fields " sandwich. He said he wanted to pay tribute to the ladies who lunched there back in the day. This week he was told the item had to be removed from his menu or risk legal action. I looked up this info on Wikopedia:
Marshall Field (1835-1906) was the wealthiest man in Chicago of his time, worth an estimated $100 million when he died. Originally working as a clerk for Potter Palmer, he saved half of his $400/year salary, and in 1865 with his partner Levi Leiter bought Palmer's dry-goods store. Field and Leiter eventually became "Marshall Field and Company".
Originally opened in Chicago in 1852 by Potter Palmer, eponymously named P. Palmer & Co.. Four years later, in 1856, 21-year-old Marshall Field moved to Chicago from Pittsfield Just prior to the Civil War.
That is old.
That is some history. This whole city is old and amazing- every corner something profound.
To top it all off- today was the opening day for the new LUSH soap store at the bottom of this building.
Last night we ended up at the Green Mill- WOW
talk about 99 years ago. We had the best time! Here is the low down--
Throughout its uproarious history, The Green Mill Jazz Club has played host to a number of famous - and often infamous - celebrities. Opened in 1907 as Pop Morse's Roadhouse, the "Mill" was a stopping place for mourners to celebrate the passing of a friend before proceeding to St. Boniface's Cemetery. By 1910, new owners had converted the roadhouse into the Green Mill Gardens, complete with lantern-lit outdoor dancing and drinking areas, and boasting such headliners as Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor and Sophie Tucker. Actors Wallace Beery and Bronco Billy Anderson also visited the Gardens, hitching their horses to the outdoor post and settling down for a drink after a days work filming westerns at nearby Spoor and Anderson Studios.
As the twenties roared, The Green Mill became mobster territory when Al Capone's henchman, "Machinegun" Jack McGurn, gained a 25% ownership of the club. Manager Danny Cohen had given McGurn the 25% stake to "persuade" comedian/singer Joe E. Lewis from moving his act south to the New Rendezvous Café at Clark and Diversey. McGurn managed to convince Lewis by slitting his throat and cutting off his tongue. Miraculously, Lewis recovered, but his songs never regained their lush sound. The incident was later immortalized in the movie The Joker is Wild, with Frank Sinatra as Joe E. Lewis and a Hollywood soundstage as The Green Mill. Of course, his interest piqued, Sinatra had to visit the club.
Throughout the 1930s, '40s, and 50s, The Green Mill continued to pack 'em in with a heady mix of swing, dance and jazz music. Uptown crowds from the Aragon Ballroom or Uptown and Riviera Theaters would "stop in for one" before or after shows. Business began to slip in the mid-seventies, and in 1986, present owner Dave Jemilo bought The Green Mill and restored it to its prohibition-era, speakeasy décor.
Ok with all that --in mind, let me say that this place is straight out of an old movie. There are old old old regular customers, a door man with a bear claw around his neck and handlebar mustache and young swing kids decked out in their big band gear. The bandstand was enormous and sounded like an old record your grandma always played.
Problem is that I have absolutely no rhythm. So when you tell the older men who invite you to dance that you really can't...they don't believe you til they feel your feet crushing theirs and you nearly tumble into the trombone player.
Tonight is the opening premiere of the movie -- I can't wait! Mr. P was on Chicago radio twice today- being funny on the loop.