Route 66 updates:  Chicago’s looking better, Lagunitas-Chi brewpub opens and more

Who knew that Chicago would be getting so much attention lately?  First TripAdvisor’s consumer reviewers’ poll judges Chicago #2 among best destinations in the U.S. and #18 among world destinations.  Then we score again on three other TripAdvisor rankings!  The bean-shaped CloudGate sculpture by Anish Kapoor in Millennium Park ranked #6 among the Top 10 U.S. Landmarks, whereas Millennium Park itself ranked #3 among the Top 10 U.S. Parks and a surprising (and gratifying) #4 among Top 10 World Parks, ahead of places like the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris (which only ranked 10th)!  Whoa — and how timely:  this summer’s special activities in Millennium Park, many of which are free, honor the park’s 10th anniversary.

Anish Kapoor's scupture CloudGate reflects the city's skyline at dusk in Millennium Park.  (Photo courtesy of the City of Chicago)

Anish Kapoor’s sculpture CloudGate reflects the city’s skyline at dusk in Millennium Park; and in a pinch, it can also shelter people from a storm.  (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago dept. of tourism)

Now the business magazine Fast Company tells us that a British real estate management and investment research group analyzed 50 cities around the globe to determine the 10 Most Resilient Cities in the World — and Chicago ranked #4 behind three Canadian cities, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary (i.e., we’re the most resilient of all U.S. cities, and New York didn’t even make the list!).  Mind boggling.  But we’re glad somebody finally noticed us (maybe the park(s) had something to do with it, you think?).

BTW, for those of you who are unfamiliar with downtown Chicago, Millennium Park is actually a subset of Grant Park on the lakefront.  Its creation (mostly its cost and financing) at the northern end of Grant Park was controversial at the time; but by now, pretty much everyone agrees that the resulting parkland is a big hit.

Hooray for craft brewer Lagunitas!  Their Chicago installation began bottling beer less than two months ago and held a Beer Circus last month to introduce the new plant to the public and inaugurate the brewhouse.  The long-awaited taproom/brewpub in their Douglas Park brewery opened last week.  CEO Tony Magee, a Chicago homeboy, was there hosting the opening ceremony, which was attended by Gov. Pat Quinn and Deputy Mayor Steven Koch (no relation to that smiling loud guy from Noo Yawk).  Magee had a chain-cutting ceremony because the only tape big enough that he could find to substitute for a ribbon was crime-scene tape (no smart remarks, please!).

Tony Magee shaking w Gov Quinn at Lag-Chi taproom opening - large

Lagunitas Brewing Co. CEO Tony Magee (L) shakes hands with IL Gov. Pat Quinn at the opening of Lagunitas-Chicago’s brewpub at the new brewery in Douglas Park  (Photo courtesy of Tony Magee)

We can hardly wait to visit the new tap room & beer sanctuary — it’s up on a mezzanine overlooking the brewery, so you can see the beer being made (!).  And there’s a stage in the corner for live music.  SO cool.  Even better, there are brewery tours.  More details on that as we receive them.  Meanwhile, on its second night, the brewpub is already drawing a big crowd.  Excellent!  By next year, the new brewhouse will have doubled the company’s production.  A second brewhouse will be installed later this year in the remaining space of the former warehouse, and that will bring the company’s total production to about 1.5 billion barrels of beer a year — more than enough to supply the East Coast from Chicago and probably ship some abroad, too.  Meanwhile, there are beer tours at the brewhouse!  You go, Tony!

Inside of the tap room & beer sanctuary at Lagunitas-Chicago (photo courtesy of Tony Magee)

Inside of the tap room & beer sanctuary at Lagunitas-Chicago  (Photo courtesy of Tony Magee)

Also:  there’s a new Route 66 book out from Arcadia Publishing, and its authors were in Pontiac Saturday at a book signing in the Old City Hall Shoppes, from 10 am to noon and again at 2-4 pm.  Cheryl Eichar Jett of Edwardsville and Joe Sonderman of St. Louis began their book tour last week in Edwardsville and are traveling north.  The 128-page book features 200 black and white historical photographs that the authors collected over the last year.  Eichar Jett has lived in several places along Route 66 in downstate Illinois — including Springfield, Litchfield and Edwardsville — so she certainly knows some of the sights on the route.  She is also a former history teacher who had already written an Arcadia book on Alton, IL.

For Sonderman, however, who is a life-long resident of St. Louis and has been amassing his own collection of Route 66 memorabilia for 20 years, the trip was revelatory.  He told the Edwardsville Intelligencer that “To me, most of the route outside of Springfield seemed to be Interstate 55 frontage road surrounded by prairie.  Boy, was I wrong!  Cheryl and I discovered some of the best-kept secrets of the road.”  And no doubt the authors shared some of those surprises in the book, which is available through Amazon.  Of course, we always knew there was more to the route here than just prairie, didn’t we, fellow Illinoisans?  You just have to start at Michigan and Jackson by the Art Institute of Chicago, then pay attention …  ;D

Hope you had a lovely summer solstice on Saturday (as in, the longest day of the year), especially if you were anywhere that the Make Music Chicago musicians were serenading people in public places all over Chicago, for free. And as usual, if you enjoy our posts, please rate them with a Like at the end of the posts and the star-rating system on the home page, which is right under the headline for each individual post. Don’t forget to share your faves using Press This, Pinterest, Facebook or any other social media you use – and to keep up with us on Twitter. We appreciate the readership! And we thank you for your support.

Until next time,
Your Route 66 scrivener, Marie



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