A Nice Blend of Old and New: The Newberry Library, Bughouse Square, and the Park Newberry at 55 W. Delaware!

As the political scene starts to ramp up as we approach 2012 we are seeing the full deployment of all the latest and greatest social networking tools and social media by the candidates.

But Chicago has a special place where people with a cause or a political position could go and stand up and be heard, whether by an audience of just a few passers-by or a throng of thousands. 

I am talking about Bughouse Square, a former cow pasture on the Northside between Clark and Dearborn to the West and East and Walton and Delaware to the North and South.  Its formal name is Washington Square Park.  Prior to 1900 you could go and hear the latest anarchists talking about the subjugation of the common man, and even into the Twenties and Thirties there was a surprising amount of attention being given to a number of theories that would be branded as outrageously radical by today’s standards.

All you needed to do was pull up a soapbox, literally, and state your case in the middle of the park that today lies between the beautiful Newberry Library and the elegant condo building at 55 W. Delaware, called Park Newberry.  The photo above shows the Newberry Library façade along Walton Street.

Public speaking in the Park continues to this day.  The picture above shows Studs Terkel speaking at Bughouse Square in 1989.  He was one of Chicago’s most famous spokesmen for the plight of working men and women.  He loved Bughouse Square so much he requested his ashes to be scattered there!

I love learning about Chicago’s special places.  I was familiar with Bughouse Square from my time of living at the Park Newberry, and I was recently reminded of the unique history when I took on a listing for Unit 612, a nice South-facing two bedroom condo unit.  The Park Newberry has a charming courtyard that looks out onto Bughouse Square, along with great amenities like a Dry Cleaner next to the 24 hour security guard desk, a large Workout Room with all the latest exercise machinery, a spacious community/party room, and a heated underground parking garage

The Newberry Library is world-famous for its collection of ancient maps.  Here is a map of the Old World and the then-current idea of the shape of the New World, drawn in 1571.

Here’s another map showing the same Old World and New World, drawn only 70 years later.  It is amazing how much more accurate the view became in only 70 years!

I try to give back to good causes whenever I can, and one of my clients, a family with roots going all the way back to the Mayflower, was clearing out an extensive library from one of their homes.  I told them about the Newberry, and I was so happy when they followed my suggestion to donate some of the more noteworthy and historically significant books from their library to the Newberry! 

I am grateful for the way the Real Estate profession can blend Chicago history, Chicago architecture, and grand Chicago families together!


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  • Excellent !!!!

  • I love your stories and the first time I landed on this site, I spent an hour going through your archives. Thank you.

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