Celebrating Chicago: Northerly Island

Today’s 175 Days to Love Chicago brings us to Northerly Island, which the site tells us is ninety-one acre peninsula (I wish it was an isthmus — that word is just so much cooler), as a northern end cap to the lakefront area from Jackson Park on the south side. I love riding my bike through the area’s wildflowers, which were in bloom a couple of weeks ago. I’ve also been to a couple of concerts at the Charter One Pavilion and my biggest piece of advice for that is to have bug spray (we did).  Or to be wealthy enough to own a yacht from which you can hear all the concerts from Lake Michigan anyway.

One of the other events that Northerly Island has hosted over the years is the Century of Progress International Exposition, a World’s Fair held in 1933 and 1934.  Held in the midst of the Great Depression, my favorite story is one told by a friend of mine, whose father was a musician for various acts.  His most lucrative one was playing for one of the racier acts, just barely (if at all) hiding the privates of the female performer with her dextrous use of fans.  His mother hadn’t realized that this was where he had been playing until a few months into the gig, and demanded that he quit.  He explained to her that this gig was what was paying the mortgage and all of their food.  She sat quietly for nearly ten minutes, and then said something to the effect of, “Well, try not to look then.” So the things that we’ll do to keep food on the table, a roof over our heads, and peace and harmony in the family.  One other good outcome was that their family actually paid off that mortgage due to that gig! Very unusual for that time period when so many were losing their homes.

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