Route 66 events reminder:  April 19th public art slideshow and lecture at Chicago Cultural Center


Just a reminder:  my 90-minute lecture and slideshow about public art along Route 66 in metropolitan Chicago is at 1pm next Tuesday over at the Chicago Cultural Center in the first-floor Renaissance Court.  It’s the best way to familiarize yourself with some of the sights along the route, starting right at the eastern terminus and Gateway to Route 66 at Jackson Drive and Michigan Avenue, next to the world famous Art Institute of Chicago.

Just as important, this is one way to let the city know how many people love and maintain an interest in historic Route 66. The city has long undervalued the historic and tourism value of the route, so show your solidarity with the route and show up, right?  Right!

If you come in by the Randolph Street entrance just west of Michigan Avenue, the lecture room is immediately to your right once you’re inside.  Get there early to ensure a seat.  See you there, roadies!

 
your own Route 66 tour guide,
Marie

Fountain of the Great Lakes, South Garden, Art Institute of Chicago  (photo copyright 2012 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

Fountain of the Great Lakes by sculptor Lorado Taft, located in the South Garden of the Art Institute of Chicago (photo copyright 2012 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

 

Route 66 events:  Chicago talk April 19th on public art along Route 66


We’re in the news again – well, yours truly is.  I’ll be giving a lecture and slide presentation on Tuesday, April 19th in downtown Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center on Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Washington Streets, right across from Millennium Park.  The topic will be “Public Art Along Route 66,” covering the route between its eastern terminus at Jackson Boulevard and Michigan (only a few blocks south of the lecture venue!) and downtown Joliet some 40 miles southwest.  The 90-minute presentation will begin at 1:00pm and will be held in the Renaissance Court, which is located in the northwest corner of the first (main) floor, right off the Randolph Street entrance.

Sponsored by the Geographic Society of Chicago, the free lecture is part of the society’s monthly travelogue series.  Registration is unnecessary, but show up at least 15-20 minutes in advance to get a good seat.  See you there, or be square!

 
Your own 66 roadiegal,
Marie

 

Yes, it's in the wrong place ... but you'll be in the right place if you come to my lecture!

Yes, it’s in the wrong place … but you’ll be in the right place if you come to my lecture!

Route 66 news:  Chicago’s Adams Street Bridge to be closed 13 months for repairs


As of Monday night, the Adams Street Bridge across the South Branch of the Chicago River is closed to car, truck and bike traffic for repairs for more than a year, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.  Pedestrians will still be able to use the bridge most of that time, but there will be two 30-day periods later this year when even they will have to cross the river elsewhere.  The closure will affect the two-block stretch from Wacker Drive on the east across the river to and including the Canal Street intersection near Union Station on the west.  Westbound motorists on Adams will be able to either 1) turn north on Wacker and cross over the river at Madison Street, then return to Adams via Clinton Street, or 2) turn south on Wacker, cross the river on Van Buren Street and return to Adams via Jefferson Street.

Route 66 roadies, this affects YOU, so keep the bridge repair in mind from now through February 2017 – and plan accordingly.

Adams Street Bridge in winter  (Photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

Adams Street Bridge in winter (Photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

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Route 66 side trips:  Canal Origins Park


Hello again, fellow roadies!  Yes, we know:  up here in Chicago, it certainly looks like the Dead Season is approaching post haste; but never fear – there are still plenty of things to do and see on or near Route 66 if you happen to be in or around Chicago.

And on that subject, our Twitter pal Max Grinnell has a recent post on the Choose Chicago blog, Chicago Like A Local, about Canal Origins Park in the Bridgeport neighborhood, which is right where the South Branch of the Chicago River ends and the Illinois & Michigan Canal (now replaced by the Sanitary & Ship Canal) begins.  Plus, about half a mile west is the Marquette monument that marks the place where intrepid French explorer and Jesuit missionary Father Jacques Marquette wintered in late 1674; he and his small party stayed there at the eastern end of the Chicago Portage until that spot (on the north bank of the Chicago River’s South Branch at what is now Damen Avenue) flooded and he was forced to move further down the portage through Mud Lake to higher ground at Summit, overlooking the Des Plaines River at the western end of the portage (Marquette and his companion, Louis Joliet, were the first whites to discover the portage, which they did a year earlier toward the end of the summer in 1673).  There’s also a monument to Marquette in Summit, and we’ll be writing about that shortly in one of our next posts.  But for now, do check out Max’s post.  We hope you enjoy it.

Until next time!
your Route 66 scribe,
Marie

 

Route 66 Song Of The Week:  Louis Armstrong’s “Gut Bucket Blues”


[Due to technical difficulties, this article didn’t post on Friday they way it should have, which means that Louis Armstrong’s birthday was last week.  Ooops; my bad.  Sincere apologies for the delay.]

Happy birthday, Louis Armstrong!  This is the birthday week of one of the greatest figures in jazz, if not the greatest.  Born August 4, 1901, Armstrong would have been 114 years old this week.  Louis had always claimed his birth date to be July 4, 1900 and proudly celebrated his natals on the nation’s birthday, but recent research into New Orleans baptismal records indicates that he was really born 13 months later; in fact, he may not have known the correct date himself.  Jazz, on the other hand, may have been born in New Orleans among the whorehouses and saloons of Storyville, but it grew up in Chicago – during the Roaring Twenties – and the young Louis Armstrong was its greatest co-creator, performer and exponent.  He did that here, right in the middle of the Prohibition years, even as Route 66 was being born.

Known in his youth as ‘Dippermouth’ or ‘Satchelmouth’ for his big embouchure (the way a trumpeter’s or trombonist’s lips and facial muscles wrap around the stem of a brass instrument) and his even bigger smile, later as just ‘Satchmo’ or ‘Pops,’ or just plain Louie, Armstrong was a seminal figure in both Chicago and New York in the mid-to-late part of the decade.  The conscious evolution of his own playing style set the direction and shaped the development of jazz during its formative years and heavily affected other jazz musicians for decades to come.  Even now, Armstrong’s music remains strongly influential: nobody becomes a jazz musician or jazz vocalist of any worth without knowing and being influenced by the music of Louis Armstrong, even if indirectly.  The innovations he brought to jazz make it impossible to do otherwise.

What we have for you today is a recording that helped launch that big change in the direction of jazz:  a classic 12-bar blues that Armstrong improvised on the spot during a recording session for Okeh Records in Chicago on November 12, 1925, almost a year to the day before Route 66 came into existence in November 1926:  “Gut Bucket Blues.”  Banjoist Johnny St. Cyr described it as “a low down blues.”  In fact, we have two takes of the same song, recorded 32 years apart, for comparison – the original 1925 recording with a 24-year-old Armstrong and his newly formed Hot Five, and a 1957 version with his All Stars, made for the vinyl LP album set Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography on Decca Records (the latter has been remastered and reissued on CD within the last decade).

Louis Armstrong in 1953

Louis Armstrong in 1953  (Photo via of Wikimedia Commons)

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Route 66 news:  events calendar update & Lollapalooza in Chicago this weekend


Hello again, fellow roadies!  Instead of the ghastly Chicago summer humidity of the last two weeks, we had a nice, dry sunny day on Friday.  Excellent weather for starting a weekend road trip!  But there is one good thing about warm weather, even with a bit of humidity:  eating and listening to music al fresco, whether it’s at your favorite grill or tavern, neighborhood street fest/art fair, or a downtown extravaganza like the gargantuan music fest descending upon Chicago this weekend.

I mean Lolla, of course – short for Lollapalooza, the event that will be monopolizing a good chunk of Grant Park, starting immediately south of Jackson Drive/Route 66 and centering on Congress Plaza and Buckingham Fountain (with all the stages, scaffolding and speakers, you’ll be lucky if you get so much as a teensy glimpse of that fountain before next Monday or Tuesday).

We recommend that route-roadies heading for Chicago this weekend bunk down north of the river or perhaps further down the route (like on Jackson or Adams in the financial district, or in the West Loop/IMD – there’s a Marriott on the medical campus, for example), or even in suburban Countryside or Willowbrook (it might be worth it just this once to sleep outside the Loop, if you want to get any sleep at all: those Lolla folks party hearty, no matter where they’re staying).  On the other hand, if you don’t intend to sleep, by all means: hang around.  But expect to pay for the privilege – all too many hotels, restaurants and bars downtown will be capitalizing on the event and charging up the wazoo for whatever.  Don’t even dream about street parking.

Buckingham Fountain:  get a good look at it now, because you won’t see much of it behind all the stages, steel lighting scaffolds and thousands of sweaty, overindulging bodies surrounding it for three days.  (Photo courtesy of Alanscottwalker via Wikimedia Commons)

Buckingham Fountain:  Get a good look at it now, because you won’t see much of it during the 3-day Lollapalooza bash behind the stages, steel lighting scaffolds and thousands of sweaty, overindulging bodies surrounding it.  (Photo by Alanscottwalker via Wikimedia Commons)

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Route 66 Song Of The Week:  Natalie Cole


Howdy, road music lovers!  We’re overdue for an installment of our favorite road anthem, and this week it’s Natalie Cole’s turn.  Given that her dad, Nat ‘King’ Cole, made this tune a big hit only a few weeks after Bobby Troup and his first wife Cynthia wrote it while driving down said route on the way to L.A. (Cynthia suggested the title), it seems only appropriate to feature the lovely Ms. Natalie right before the July 4th holiday.  Nat and his King Cole Trio were playing in L.A. at the time (yes, now you know how he got his nickname); before that, he and the trio spent a while making music in Chicago, a city to which Nat and his family had moved when he was four years old and to which he often returned.

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