"Greetings from Edgewater" Exhibit (Past)

The Edgewater Historical Society is proud to announce their new exhibit: Greetings from Edgewater: Vacation and Leisure Spots of the Past and Present, which runs through September 30, 2012. Featured in the exhibit are early photos of the Edgewater shoreline, including the Edgewater Beach Hotel and Saddle and Cycle Club; postcards that Edgewater vacationers would have shared with friends and family; and memorabilia from neighborhood motels that used to attract thousands of tourists each summer.

Edgewater was once Chicago’s lakeside oasis, with yacht races, clam bakes, bicycle tours, equestrian riding, cotillions and social balls, trap shooting, card playing, golf, tennis and every aquatic sport under the sun. Edgewater of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a popular vacation and leisure destination where one could get away from city life. It was a tranquil spot to take in the fresh lakeside air and enjoy recreational activities that would ease the mind, relax the body and replenish the soul.

The exclusive Saddle and Cycle Club, which opened in 1895, was a summer hot spot for well-to-do Chicagoans and their special guests. The club featured an open veranda, pool, horse stables, boat house and a 3-hole golf course. “Greetings from Edgewater” features a photo of the Club’s most famous 1920s clambake, attended by would-be King Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales. As the story goes, during that event he had a dangerous liaison with a married woman.

The opening of the glamorous Edgewater Beach Hotel in 1916 ushered in a new era of fun and entertainment. Chicago residents, both young and old, came to dine and dance to the sounds of America’s most popular bands and orchestras. Guests could enjoy a lively and elaborate outdoor floor show, take a romantic promenade along the Beach Walk or stroll about indoors, brushing shoulders with movie stars, presidents and royalty.

Post WWII enthusiasm for travel and adventure gave birth to the family motoring vacation and a new phenomenon – the motel. The 1950s saw a boom in small independent motels and hotels along Sheridan Road and Ridge Avenue. Middle-class Americans could aspire to both comfort and luxury at motor courts, such as the Sands and the Tides, which offered outdoor pools and proximity to the lake. The Sovereign Hotel boasted the city’s only indoor pool. An exhibit photo taken at poolside offers a glimpse into this piece of Edgewater history.

Our exhibit is a unique historical perspective on the luxurious resort lifestyle of a bygone era. Yet, even today, Edgewater, with its many beautiful beaches, is still considered a lakeside oasis by many of its residents. “Greetings from Edgewater” runs through September 30, 2012. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. The Edgewater Historical Society Museum is located at 5358 N. Ashland Ave., on the corner of Ashland and Balmoral in Chicago.