Those of you around in the Windy City before the 1970s might remember the stylish yellow and black Chicago street signs, or the public bath houses scattered around the city for recent immigrants, the ubiquitous street vendors (now seldom found outside of small enclaves in traditionally immigrant neighborhoods), or the municipal device featured on most public buildings.

As a new wave of gentrification and urban renewal sweep through the City That Works, countless architectural treasures, bits and pieces of history, and oddities that made Chicago as unique as any East Coast town are again vanishing.

From the St. Ignatius graveyard to the Ukrainian stained glass addresses on the Near North Side, a new site, Forgotten Chicago ( has undertaken the task of preserving these little tidbits and stories via photographs, short essays and dated maps, from the old numbering scheme for telephone numbers (and where the original numbers are still in use) to hunting down the three confirmed yellow street signs left in Chicago.

For a relatively young native Chicagoan, the site offered an interesting history lesson – a trip to the days when the town was still, as my father used to put it, a more “rough and tumble” sort of place, with teeming ethnically divided neighborhoods, mom and pop diners, and, of course, the heyday of the old Expressway Parks.

My mother was understandably thrilled at the opportunity to look at Chicago, and how it changed, over the course of the past hundred years. It was a pleasant reminder of all the things about Chicago that have come and gone, and a nice, hidden treasury of that old Windy City flair that is increasingly lacking in M. Daley’s vision of a modern, urban Mecca.

The site is attractively laid out and easy to navigate, and though it is technically finished, there are numerous promises of much more to come. Darting around it was fun and interesting, albeit a tad bit heartbreaking. For the Chicago history buffs out there, however, it is a marvelous site that I would recommend visiting.

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