v25-2 Chicago History Book Discussion Group Opens New Chapter in Edgewater

Vol. XXV No. 2 - SUMMER 2014

By: Robert Remer

On March 22, an enthusiastic crowd of almost 50 people met at the new Edgewater Library to launch the Chicago History Book Discussion Group. The maiden meeting tackled a very Edgewater specific title, Reversing Urban Decline by the late Ed Marciniak, one of EHS’s founding members; his book examined Edgewater’s successful efforts in the 1970s to fight urban decay and promote redevelopment, symbolized by Edgewater getting official designation as Community Area 77. Several attendees had witnessed or participated in many of the activities documented in the book. Our wonderful new Library branch manager, Joanna Hazelden did a great job launching the discussion and immersing herself in the great flow of ideas and recollections. The discussion went well beyond the scheduled time as the group reminisced about some very important local history.

The Chicago history book group was organized by Ed Remus, Adult Librarian, and Bob Remer, of EHS, to explore books about Chicago history that could also include Edgewater or have special relevance to Chicago’s north side. The group’s membership is open to anyone who wants to attend; attendees don’t have to have read the subject book if they, nevertheless, have an interest in the topic. Meetings will be held about every two months and the group picks its own titles and the library staff will try to secure extra copies for the Edgewater Branch. EHS and Bob Remer are also obtaining and donating extra copies of the titles to the library for the group.

The second session, on April 5th, tackled the momentous tome Nature’s Metropolis by William Cronon, which extensively documented the underlying history of Chicago through the infrastructure growth of the railroads, shipping, lumber, grain, and livestock. At that session, the group decided upon the next three sessions and topics.

On June 14th at 1 p.m., the group will consider The Mayor Who Cleaned Up Chicago: A Political Biography of William E. Dever by John R. Schmidt. Mayor Dever was Edgewater’s first mayor, serving from 1923-27 in between terms of the infamous William Hale Thompson. Dever lived on North Kenmore and was credited with forcing Al Capone to move his headquarters out of Chicago.

In August (first or second Saturday), the group will consider Forever Open, Clear, and Free by Lois Wille, a fabulous history of Chicago’s lakefront, a topic near and dear to Edgewater.

On October 11 (time to be finalized) the group will consider various titles around the subject of the Chicago Fire. A reading list is being prepared and participants can choose none, any, or all of the titles. . The date, by the way, follows by one day the anniversary of the last day of the fire 143 years ago.

If you would like to join us, feel free to attend. It will be a very open and democratic group. If you would like to be placed on an email list, please contact Ed. Remus at eremus1@chipublib.org.

You can also check the EHS website for future times and meetings. Be sure to visit Edgewater’s great new library and staff.