Real Chicago -- Got a beef with our expert picks?

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There aren't enough pages in the paper to talk about every place in town that has that Real Chicago feel.

Thank goodness for the internet.

If you disagree with our panel of experts — or want to share the places that are Real Chicago to you, post your thoughts here.

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Great column today on "Real Chicago." I've been to many of the places mentioned by your panelists, and the description of the places I haven't been makes me want to go see them.

I have a few Real Chicago picks to add. First up is the amazing lakeshore. Riding your bike down the lakefront path you see all walks of life, great views of the City and nature, and amazing architecture along the way. Nothing beats riding your bike from Promontory Point at 55th St., past the museum campus and Navy Pier, to North Avenue Beach to check out the people and play some volleyball. The ride gets enhanced during the weekend of the Air & Water Show--another great Chicago institution.

Second, Real Chicago is the experience of the Belmont & Broadway intersection. Bustling non-stop pedestrian and auto traffic, diverse people, boutique & family-owned shops & restaurants, all two blocks from the natural haven of Lake Michigan. The first time I drove through it just felt like Chicago, and it still does. It's an amazing little intersection.

Lastly is the area around Torrence Ave & 106th St., right where the old Wisconsin Steel plant used to be. With all of those factories around there, the little diners, and the very working class look and feel of the neighborhood, the place drips with Real Chicago!

To me "REAL CHICAGO" is really a memory of what one can remember as far back as one can. My fondest memory is walking the alleys on 47th st with my grandfather as he whistled for the horse drawn watermelon wagon in the middle of July. Then watching the watermelon man plug watermelon after watermelon until "Grandpop" found the right one, that was when I was about 3 years old (around 1957). Real Chicago is remembering the fantastic performances of the Motown Revue at the original "Regal Theater" in the 60's. Real Chicago is remembering when I was at original Arie Crown Theater the night the old black police cars with the "cherry" on top were replaced with the blue and whites. I don't remember what year but it was a sight to see the old car lowered below the stage and then to see the display of several new vehicles rise up from below in the darkened theater. Real Chicago is the Prudential Building being the tallest building in Chicago. Today Real Chicago is the parks, the museums, Lake Michigan, Buckingham Fountain and of course the elevated transit system. There is just too much and I could go on and on. Real Chicago is just living here and enjoying Chicago everyday.

Thank You

Vincent R Clarke

'Real Chicago' to me would have to include the 'Smells' of Chicago. As you go through different neigborhoods in and around Chicago, these smells from the neighborhoods can make a long-lasting impact on your senses. My favorite smells emanate from Blommer's Chocolate Factory, Hero's Sub Shop, Maurice Lennell Cookies, Smoked Sausages from Miara's Deli & Bakery, Gyros from the Athenian Room, Gonnella Bread, Superior Coffee, Garrett's Popcorn, John's Pizzeria (Bucktown), and Sam's Red Hots

Somebody missed a few more, Jimmy's Hot Dogs, Grand and Pulaski, Jay's Beef, Narraganset and Montrose and now North and Oakley, Eli's Cheesecake Factory Store, Montrose and Forest Preserve Drive, Gene and Jude's Hot Dogs, River Road and Grand. Also heard a rumor Maurice Lennell Cookies will be moving soon. Also try Honey One BBQ on Western north of Armitage or Calvin's BBQ on Armitage at Stave. Good eats, great smells. Jimmy's, Jay's, and Gene and Jude's have been around forever. Eli's has been in their new factory for several years. The others are newer but check 'em and see.

Thanks a million to Lee Bey for the Winneconna Parkway additon to the "Real Chicago." Back in the 40's this was the place to lace up the ice skates and tour the lagoons.

Real Chicago is when you are headed east before the haze and you first witness the Sears Tower in the distance above an underpass and through gaps of the "L" stops. And when you pay a grand for parking only to get hyped up walking through the cold wind or a summer hush sound of traffic on your way to another awesome show! When you're afraid to miss the last train home, and you're rushing through the empty commercial district of town, with everything closed but a Duncan Donuts - only getting a glimpse of all the cool places you wished you could've skated. Sox vs. Cub fans, Venicia nights and naps in Grant Park while experiencing a soupcon of mist from Buckingham fountain...


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Mark Konkol

Mark Konkol covers city neighborhoods for the Chicago Sun-Times. You can e-mail him or call (312) 321-2146.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Konkol published on February 22, 2008 3:30 AM.

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