Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Moving on up?

The Albany Park Blog has officially moved over to the Windy Citizen. I will not be updating this blog any more. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Albany Park blog has a new home!

(First off, I apologize for the lapse in posts, I have been away on vacation roaming through Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. )

This blog will be moving over to in the next day or two. I am very excited, and hopefully I will get some help in covering this wonderfully diverse neighborhood!

Monday, October 5, 2009

swimming in Gompers Park

North River Commission meeting is tomorrow night

The NRC is having its bi-monthly meeting tomorrow night at the Harmony Healthcare and Rehab Center (3919 W Foster), starting at 7pm. The purpose of this meeting is to:

Share your neighborhood’s top successes from the summer and hear updates on NRC’s 2009 Priorities and activities
Come and help us identify and discuss trends and issues that are affecting our neighborhood as we begin setting priorities for 2010. What is your community’s biggest issue right now? We need your help to set strategic goals as we look toward next year!

Welcome Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer as she gives us an update on programs at the County level. Ms. Gainer replaced Mike Quigley when he was elected Congressman of the 5th District. We will also hear State and Federal level updates from Leah Pouw, Chief of Staff for 40th District Representative Deborah Mell, and Kimberly Walz, District Director for 5th District Congressman Mike Quigley.

Harmony Healthcare, our host for this meeting, offers a range of services for all ages and abilities. Learn more about this resource in our community. Tours of the facility are available before the meeting at 6:30pm.

Iron Cycles has moved!

Their new location is 3136 Montrose, off Kedzie and across the street from Basa Roja.

According to the owners, they moved because their prior location (2860 Montrose) was broken into 3 times. Matt (pictured right) says their new store has "a safer layout". The new store also has a lot more room, which they needed.

And here are the Yelp reviews (all stellar!) for Iron Cycles.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

NBC Chicago is lazy...

NBC Chicago included Albany Park in their "Food for Olympic Thought" article, and they say Albany Park has the best Korean food. Korean? That's old news. That is Albany Park 5 + years ago. How many great middle-eastern restaurants are there in this neighborhood? What about Dawali's falafel?

The Kimball Station Condo Building and more on gentrification

I am sure you noticed this 5 floor condo building go up a couple months ago, located right across the street from the Kimball brown line station. The space used to be a warehouse, and still has that "warehouse-y" look with its stainless steel accents. An estimated 14 million went into that building, and it has 59 units (full) of 1, 2 or 3 bedroom apartments and includes an elevator (really needed?) and a heated parking garage (again, really needed? It's freaking across the street from the train station). The building is still looking for a commercial tenant on the ground floor. Before you start booing, read this: the building is not all condos any more. Liz Griffiths, of the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce, informed me of the growing "luxury rental trend" where condo buildings now rent out their units. Such is the case with the Kimball Station building.

(random fact: the H&R Block guys off Kedzie are the realtors for the Kimball Station building)

According to Griffiths, the majority of new residents moving to Albany Park are people displaced by the high cost of living in Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Andersonville. Albany Park is a cheaper alternative. The APCC works with over 60 landlords and owners to keep rent affordable, but unfortunately, some buildings can't maintain their low rental prices in this economy. Griffiths related this story about the building on Spaulding and Lawrence: the owner tried to do everything in her power to prevent the apartment from being flipped to condos. This included laying off her cleaning lady and cleaning the apartment building herself. This went on for a while until the owner eventually and reluctantly (?) sold the apartment units to her residents for a "deal" before flipping the property. She sold 8 units to her former tenants.

My super explained to me the other day that my building is completely full, something that hasn't happened in years. "It's a little sad to see", as all the new people that moved in are victims of foreclosures or the economy. "Great time to be in the rental business", he adds.

Friday, October 2, 2009

empty Huddle House

Weekend Events


Art in my Backyard has a new exhibition opening today, in a newly renovated storefront at 4201 N Elston Ave. The opening reception is tonight from 6 - 9pm. The exhibition is titled "Buy Land" and
explores the American landscape through painting, drawing and video, and features ten artists who live and work on the northwest side of Chicago. The show title "Buy Land" draws attention to the current real estate crisis and borrows from a Mark Twain quote: "Buy land. They're not making it anymore."

Artists include Lorna Fillippini, Pamela Gibson, Liz Gresey, Fletcher Hayes, Jennifer Hines, Michael Kolasinski, Chris Novak, Garrett Reese, Neil Shapiro, and Cyd Smillie."
via 39th Ward newsletter

The space is only open on the weekends (check website for hours) and the show runs until October 30th. Admission is free.

Chicago Calling at Brown Rice.
The Chicago Phonography collective, which participated in the MCA's “Here/Not There” performance series this summer, plays recordings from the Ragdale artists' retreat in Lake Forest as part of the Chicago Calling Arts Festival. For more information, visit
from TimeOut Chicago
Visit the Brown Rice website to find out who the second set will be (includes video projections from 3 artists) .
When: 10- 11:30pm
Where: 4432 Kedzie
Free (suggested $5 donation)


North Park University's annual Homecoming Block Party. Look for music, games, BBQ food, and booths by local organizations.
Where: Off Kedzie and Carmen (if it rains, HBP will take place in Hamming Hall)
When: 10:30am- 1:30pm

Gomp-tober Fest Party in the Park! Featuring food, drink, live music, with an entrance fee of $5. Only for 21+
Where: Gomper's Park
When: 7:30pm- 10:30pm.

The Swimming Pool Project Space new exhibition "Badgerland" opens. The exhibition features various media produced by students visiting Prague.
Only for 21+ (free Grolsch beer)
Where: 2858 W Montrose
When: 6pm- 9pm


Albany Park's first mural will be complete and hung by Our Lady of Mercy. Go check it out!
(more info about the mural, including interviews, to come soon)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

food and parks

Tammy Green wrote another piece for, this one's about Tre Kronor.

There is such a thing as BaconFest now. Albany Park resident Seth Zurer is partially responisble. Dawn Reiss has the scoop here.

Eugene Field Park is now tied for 1st place with Fosco Park, in Staples Dream Park challenge. This doesn't look good, folks. Go to Staples and pick up those little power vote cards (worth 10 votes, free). Please? There's a Staples at Lawrence and Pulaski!

Monday, September 28, 2009

a colorful doorway

Originally uploaded by hildagrahnat

(anyone know where this is located?)

Eugene Field Park needs your vote!

The Staples Dream Park contest will be running for another month, but you (yes you!) need to vote today. And tomorrow. And the day after. And every day until the contest is over.

Eugene Field Park is no longer winning with a 64% lead.... that lead has lessened to 36%. Don't you want to fix up Eugene Field's playground? And party with Matt Forte?

a minor annoyance- wrote a short article on whether or not now is the time to buy some real estate. Pretty mundane stuff, except for the first paragraph:
The month Jennifer Galdes moved into her condo in the Albany Park section of Chicago, the local paper suggested that the area was up and coming. Six years later, she's still waiting for a Whole Foods.
There is no need for a Whole Foods in this neighborhood. Absolutely none. Albany Park has Andy's Fruit Ranch, Aldi, HarvesTime (best grocery store in the city, hands down), Lindo, a Jewel-Osco, and more than 20 small little independent groceries of Middle-Eastern, Korean, Mexican, and European descent. I am proud we don't have the over-priced yuppie "organic" trash that is Whole Foods, because then I couldn't afford to live here. John Mackey and his right-wing BS can stay the hell out of my neighborhood.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Originally uploaded by Detroit Chris

Located on N Albany Ave, between Foster and Carmen

Montrose Water Main Construction Begins Tomorrow

From the 33rd ward Alderman Mell:

The George Kennedy Construction Company has informed us that they will initiate pipe work on Montrose between Pulaski and Central starting at the end of this week (9/25/09). The installation of the pipes will start on Monday (9/28/09).

Weather permitting, the scheduled completion date is for November 30, 2009.

Please try alternate routes until construction is completed.

Drake Garden is a winner-

Drake Garden was one of 4 winners in Chicago's Metropolitan Planning Council's "What Makes Your Place Great" contest. You can read more about it on the Daily Herald website.

(The Daily Herald says the contest ran from August 10th to September 14th, but the Metropolitan Planning Council has very different dates: June 3rd to July 27th. Hmmm.....)

So, what did Drake Garden win?
...the winning entries win a prize package that includes tickets to the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Architecture Foundation walking tour tickets, membership to the Active Transportation Alliance, restaurant gift certificates, "CO-OP Hotsauce" from NeighborSpace, and more!

Here is the video NeighborhoodSpace made of Drake Garden for the contest:

Drake Garden is located between Leland and Wilson, on Drake.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekend Events


Fiesta Latina at North Park University
It's Hispanic Heritage Month, so the Latin American Studies Association (LASO) is throwing a party, and all are welcome to attend. The fiesta will take place in Hamming Hall, located off Kedzie and Foster, and goes from 7pm- midnight. Price is TBA?


Property Tax Appeal Workshop
Alderman Mell is hosting a Property Tax Appeal workshop, for property owners that received a "notice of proposed assessed valuation of taxes payable in 2010." The aim of this workshop is to help property owners understand, answer questions and estimate their new proposed property taxes. The workshop will be held at Gordon Tech H.S., on 3633 N California, goes from 10am-3pm.

Project 24 Performance at North Park University
Project 24 is a theater festival where all the plays are written 24 hours in advance, by students, alumni and "Chicago theater professionals". The festival is free, and takes place at the Lecture Hall Auditorium , located between Carmen and Foster in the middle of NPU's campus. The event starts at 7pm.


Independence Park Farmer's market
Independence Park is located off Irving Park and Hamlin, just outside of the Albany Park boundary. Over 30 vendors will be participating on Sunday, and the event goes from 9am - 1pm.

CCN Health Fair
The Compassionate Care Network was created by the Albany Park Neighborhood Council in order to provide residents without health insurance access to a physician. The fair goes from 10am- 12pm, and takes place at the Immaculate Heart of Mary (also outside of boundary, at N Christiana & Grace)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Media Round-Up

ChicagoNOW mentions Great Sea Chinese Restaurant in their Chicago's Best Wings article. wrote an article about Pete and Patty Mueller, a family of 10 (adopted). The Mueller family attends Grace Evangelical Covenant Church here in Albany Park, despite being Rogers Park residents.

the Hispanic Community Health/ Study of Latinos Chicago Field Center Web Blog (this name isn't long enough?) has a list of clinics (in Spanish) that offer physical exams on a sliding scale.

found this yesterday-

Daley stencil sticker on a newspaper box, off Kedzie and Montrose
Original picture here

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Foremost Liquors, off W Eastwood and Kedzie

C.A.P.S meeting tonight

The CAPS meeting for beat 1712 is tonight. Go here to find out if you're in this beat and to view the flyer. If you're going, check out the Crime Blotter before you go (sorry, can't listen to scanner every night : / ) to get a feel for crime in the neighborhood. is a community action alert from the 19th of September. ("stranger DANGER")

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Media Round-Up informs us that the Fish Guy Market will now serve coffee...and the coffee comes from a plantation the Fish Guy's former wife inherited.

Andrew Grant-Thomas of Imagine2050, wrote a positive review of the Albany Park Theatre Project's past production "Amor de Lejos", and ties it in with current events. Very pro-immigrant.

...and, the CTA just got a federal grant to help them be more fuel efficient. This helps the bus terminal off Foster and Kedzie in particular. Read more about it at the Chicago Tribune.

Alley Adventures

Today, while I was scouring the alleyways for wood and glass I could paint on, I had the following encounters:

I saved some birds from being captured by a little girl. She had propped up a cardboard box with a pencil, and attached to that pencil was a very long string that extended into her house. I could see the little girl crouched in her doorway where she watched. She had sprinkled rice and crumbs all around and under the box and when I walked by, I startled the group of gathered sparrows. She cried out in Spanish as they flew away, and it was then that I understood what I had done.

There's a large clear plastic table top in the alleyway by Ainslie and Sacramento. I contemplated taking it, but I don't have room in my apartment to utilize it properly.

I met "Loco", a local personality. He makes his own "chopper" bikes, and let me ride his. Why the "chopper"? "Why do you want to ride a bike like everyone else's?" says "Loco". Because the front half of the bike is so long, taking off was a problem. You have to gain enough speed on the first pedal so the bike doesn't wobble. "Loco" explained that it took a couple of minutes for him to learn how to start, and escorted me to the smooth asphalt of Ronan Park's sidewalk. I got the hang of it on my third try. "Loco"'s got all the tools necessary, including a "welder", so if I ever want to make my own chopper, all I have to do is ask around Whipple and Ainslie for "Loco" and someone will run and get him.

......lastly, I found this graffiti at the entrance to Ronan Park, off Ainslie.

- soluble

blue sky Bakery and Cafe

I stopped at the blue sky Bakery and Cafe on my way home from work today to find out if there were any spaces open for Thursday night's Vegan Extravaganza dinner party (there are 10 spots open). If you've never been to blue sky for coffee or breakfast, you should. Blue Sky is a "non-profit, tax-exempt organization" that employs troubled and homeless youth in order to give them job training- so if you've been a lazy citizen lately, you can give back to the community just by having a cup of coffee. Simple and instant karma!

blue sky Bakery began in 2000, with Lisa Thompson selling her baked goods at farmers markets. blue sky quickly gained a reputation for its freshly baked goods (some of the best scones in the city), and last year in May Thompson opened the cafe. Thompson's original idea was to open an inn (hence the name), a 5 - 8 bedroom bed-and-breakfast that would employ youth as the cooks, gardeners, cleaners, etc- but the investment was too great. (The inn is now a future goal-) Thompson knew she wanted something that would provide "more visibility to the program", so the cafe was born instead. The great thing about rehabilitating the youth in a cafe is that it provides job opportunities in an employment niche "that isn't concerned with criminal backgrounds" adds Thompson.

Blue Sky employs 2 youth in their program at a time, for 12 week intervals at 25 hours per week, with Tuesday and Sunday off. The youth get paid minimum wage, but they get a wage raise if they enroll in a GED program. If they have a high school diploma, they get paid $8.25 (that's about how much I made as a barista at Argo Tea!) . The last 2 youth just "graduated", with one moving on as a retail store manager at Truman College, and the other as a server at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Of the two newest youth in her program, both come from probation officers and Lisa Thompson says they're the best she's had so far, citing their motivation and drive as unparalleled.

In the past, Thompson would take on youth with learning disabilities, mental instabilities, and without case workers, and the trainees would simply vanish after a couple of weeks- youth she doesn't hire now. "They had the chance, and for some reason they just walked away from it" Thompson says. "If they end up in crisis mode, I don't want to be the only one they turn to... I don't want them to depend on me" she adds. Thompson wants to teach these youth all aspects of job training, including proper employer/employee relationships. Thompson estimates she's trained 25 kids in total, and gotten 4 to enroll in a GED program.

blue sky Inn takes youth mostly from The Broadway Youth Center and case workers Thompson has established a repertoire with. Thompson did take on a youth referred from the Albany Park Community Center, but the youth disappeared after a couple of weeks. blue sky Inn also conducts an art program for the homeless youth, called blue sky eXpressions.

.....and, because this is about a coffee shop, I would be amiss if I didn't mention it: the espresso served is one of the best I've had in the city. I'm a finicky Eastern European, so I was pleasantly suprised at how smoooooooth my latte was. blue sky Bakery serves fair trade coffee and Steve's Espresso, which isn't "as dark as a french or italian roast" says Thompson. Steve's Espresso comes from The Coffee and Tea Exchange, a real "mom and pop shop".

If you want to read more about Lisa Thompson and the blue sky Inn, here is an interview she did with the Chicagoist last year.


Monday, September 21, 2009

2 slain in Albany Park last night-

19 year old Angelina Escobar and her 24 year old boyfriend Alex Santiago were killed in their apartment last night, while their roommate slept. ABC covers the story here , and here is CBS Chicago's version.

The bit about the roommate is especially scary, as I live with roommates and like to think I am safer because of it. The roommate went back to sleep after hearing a "noise".

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lawrence and Pulaski

Food News

ABC 7 Chicago News included La Brasa Roja's marinaded rotisserie chicken in their "Latin-inspired snacks around town" article about cheap eats. La Brasa Roja serves Colombian cuisine and is located off Montrose and Troy. (And to continue on the conversation of no one knowing the boundaries of Albany Park, Yelp says La Brasa Roja is in Irving Park.)

Check Please TV did a review of the Peruvian seafood restaurant Ay Ay Picante, which you can watch here.

...and Blue Sky Inn's monthly dinner party is this upcoming Thursday (the 24th). This month's theme is "Vegan Extravaganza". The dinner starts from 7pm and goes until 9pm, and the $30 fee includes 3 courses, cocktail/ wine and dessert. RSVP with as space is limited and fills up fast.

The Swimming Pool was a splash-

I went to the SPPS GroupSOLO opening on Saturday night, and I had a blast. Granted, because of this cold/flu thing I have I couldn't stay for the whole show (Nyquil and Grolsch are fun together?) - the 2 hours I was there sold me in coming back for their next opening.

I arrived during Tom Long's exhibit, to watch Aza Quinn-Brauner and Daniel Baird putting together podiums for the next installation. Liz Nielson (the owner of the space) was around to greet guests and explain her concept: by showing the installations before the show, it would allow the attendee to view the more mundane and ordinary aspects of a gallery exhibition. The idea that the show is in progress also makes the viewer question if they should be at the gallery at that time- should they come back when installation is done? It's a play on the idea of how we view art in the museum setting- all pristine and perfect, ready for the viewer. Seeing the installation take place created this relaxed environment, and I admit, I couldn't wait to see the next artist- there was a "build-up" of anticipation.

Tom Long's art piece was fantasic- his use of patterns, empty space, and intricate detail made me feel like I could look at it for hours and not take in everything. Diego Leclery was next, with a video installation. Three small TVs played video of him insulting the viewer, or himself. I had a detailed conversation with the last artist Jeffrey Grauel deconstructing the video installation. Grauel noted the computer monitor light, and how the video looks like it could be a youtube video. Leclery's insults focused on being "crazy" or a "baby"- and it made me wonder if his art piece was commentary on the comments people leave on the internet/youtube videos. From there, Grauel explained to me his art process- using a machine to burn pinpricks on wood. These pinpricks make a picture. Grauel says he is fascinated by the tension between machine and nature- and is specifically drawn to memories- furthering the idea of "burning".

As for the crowd: artists, writers (including Justin Natale of Newcity and freelancer Erik Wennermark), friends, students of Liz Nielson and .....a group of 16 year olds that grabbed a beer, checked out Long's painting for 5 minutes, then promptly left (hey, I would have done the same thing?). The space is small and intimate, and combined with the art and free beer is a perfect catalyst for thoughtful and friendly conversation.

The SPPS is open to the public only on Sundays, from 1pm- 5pm.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Help Eugene Field Park, just by clicking-

Eugene Field Park is one of 14 parks eligible in Staples Dream Park Challenge, meaning if Eugene gets enough votes, they'll receive $25,000 for park improvements. You can vote every day, or if you want to you can pick up a staples card (free) that counts for 10 votes. In order to vote you need to register (free) which means you enter some basic information about yourself like name and address. Eugene Field Park is currently winning by a large margin (64%) but that doesn't mean you shouldn't vote! Voting continues until November 16th.

Oh yeah, and if Eugene Field Park wins, Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears will throw a celebration party at the park.

...and here is a petition by the Friends of Eugene Field Park to get their playlot renovated.

Events in the neighborhood


The Swimming Pool Project Space is having a one-night only exhibition tonight, called the GroupSOLO project, a rotating gallery performance of 4 individual artists. The artists are Carol Jackson, Tom Long, Jeffrey Grauel and Diego Leclery, and each exhibit will be installed on the hour by Aza Quinn-Brauner and Daniel Baird. The installation will be visible, as that is the point:
The public performance exposes the behind-the-scenes gallery installation and prep work. The on-lookers will experience timely intervals of action allowing singular artists in a group show to be viewed more intimately and critically. Additionally, because of the truncated exhibition times, some guests may come and go with the intention of seeing a specific artist's work (just as one would come to see a band play their set within a night's line up) conveniently featuring more obvious social sub-groups within the art viewing and art making public.
The exhibit starts at 7pm, and goes until 11. The line up: T. Long @ 7- 8, D. Leclery @ 8 - 9, C. Jackson @ 9- 10, with J. Grauel going last from 10- 11pm.


Mi Lindo Pueblo restaurant is having a party, from 8pm - 3am. Admission is free, and so are margaritas for the ladies. It looks like there will be 5 different boy bands/mariachi bands at this event. Check out the flyer below.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

that impromtu Mexican Independence day celebration on the 15th-

So, I failed in covering that impromptu Mexican Independence day celebration off Lawrence on the 15th, but luckily, other bloggers stepped up to fill in the void.

Dawn Reiss did a nice piece on true/slant, and the photographer Andrew A. Nelles got some great shots, posted here.

33rd Ward Advisory Council Meeting tonight

Alderman Mell is holding a ward advisory meeting tonight, starting at 7pm, on the second floor of the Horner Park Field House (2741 W. Montrose).

The purpose of the meeting is to "set ward goals for the following year" and all are welcome to attend-

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The CAPS meeting for beat 1723 is tonight. Go here to read more about it, as well as crime in the area from September 1st- 9th.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Action! Adventure! Arrests!

At 10:00 PM tonight, at the corner of Ainslie and Albany, six police cars blocked the intersection to detain six Latino men. For about fifteen minutes the police had four handcuffed and were speaking to the other two. One man, obviously intoxicated, was screaming about how his handcuffs were too tight, the police were treating him like an animal, and his mother was very old and sick, to which an officer responded, "Well, how about you start acting like a human?"

Another officer had his flashlight out and was searching the surrounding ground. After a little bit, the previous officer let the screaming drunk man go and strongly advised him to go home and stay home. The two men who were not handcuffed dragged him away from the scene and proceeded to carry him South on Albany. A few minutes later, they walked back and went West on Ainslie. The cops warned them that if they got another call, they were going to "get locked up."

The remaining three were put into the back of a police car and taken away. The rest of the police slowly followed suit.


what say you on gentrification?

So, you know the building under construction at 3300 W Lawrence? The one that had a gas leak and exploded in September of 2007, with the explosion destroying half of the building? And then they had to level the rest of the building and start all over again? The one right across the street from the best thrift store in the neighborhood, Village Discount?

According to Liz Griffiths, the Executive Director of the Lawrence Avenue Development Corporation (LADCOR) and the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce, the building at 3300 W Lawrence will be a mixed- use condominium building, offering 24 condo units with 6 units of 5,000 square feet for retail use. The condo units will cost more than 300 K, with the lay-out being 3 bedrooms/2 baths. Each condo unit will include hardwood floors, granite countertops, 10' ceilings, fireplaces, and terraces. The building is being constructed in three parts, and the outside façade will "mimic the former buildings architectural elements".

So far, an estimated 10 million dollars (!!!) has been invested in that building, and there are 34 other developments/projects in Albany Park and Mayfair for 2008- 2009. Over 200 million dollars has been pumped into Albany Park (and Mayfair) in the last 2 years.

When I asked Rebecca Rico, the Project Coordinator of the North River Commission about gentrification, she said they view it more as a "positive", and that they do substantial work with local landlords to keep the rent affordable.

more from those interviews to come.....


Chicago Public Library, off Kimball and Foster

Saturday, September 12, 2009

more info on Hefner, the new artist at the SPPS

The Swimming Pool Project Space will be screening the short films of Chris Hefner on Saturday, September 12th. The screening will start at 8pm and will continue on a loop until late in the evening.

"Chris Hefner was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan and has been living and working in Chicago for the past 7 years. His work with film, sculpture, print, installation and sound has been shown in such venues as Chicago Underground Film Festival, And/Or Gallery Dallas, Lausanne Underground Film Festival, Flicker Film Fest, Underground filmmaker Fest San Francisco, and the Center for Book & Paper. His two multimedia solo exhibitions, “Birdcatcher” (2006) & “Expo” (2008) were held at Heaven and Finch Galleries, respectively. Hefner is currently in production of his first feature-length film called “The Pink Hotel”, slated for completion in early 2010."

Friday, September 11, 2009

neighborhood events this weekend


-The Chicago Park District is hosting a "Party in the Park" at Gross Park. The "Party" starts at 2pm and lasts until 8pm. At 6pm, there will be a concert. (TBA)

-The Swimming Pool Project Space is having a closing/opening exhibition party from 8pm- 11pm. The closing artist is Lisa Majer (oil), the opening artist is Chris Hefner (video). Grolsch beer sponsors all events, so if you don't like the art you'll at least get a free beer.


-Modelo Club House Restaurant is celebrating the Mexican holiday of the "Child Heroes", 6 teenagers that refused to retreat while defending the castle of Chapultepec against the American forces during the Mexican-American war. You can read more about them here. The party kicks off with some karaoke at 7pm, and from what I can gather off the flyer, there will be 3 different mariachi bands during the night? (The website they list on the flyer does not exist and I was too lazy to call.) See the sexed out flyer below.

Notice the Gil Elvgren illustration in the upper righthand corner!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

close up of the façade on the Interstate Blood Bank

Photo by TheeErin

Food News

Check Please TV thinks the restaurant Juliana is in Albany Park, even though it's off Peterson. You can watch their video reviewing Juliana here.
As for real Albany Park news, the highest ranked middle-eastern restaurant according to Check Please TV is Noon O Kabab.
You can't deny it, Albany Park has the best ethnic food in the city!
and in other food news...
Blue Sky Inn needs our help in getting cash and marketing assistance through NBC Universal and American Express' Shine A Light program. The deadline to nominate Blue Sky Inn is September 13th. Go here to nominate them!

...and Tammy Green wrote a nice piece on Tannourine Bakery  at

North Park Auto Service

5033 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL‎ - (773) 279-0700‎

This auto shop, located on Kedzie between Foster and Lawrence, is a catch. Not only is it clean, but as a woman, I did not feel intimidated-no cat calls, no remarks. Even in this down-turned economy, this shop has seen an increase in business, because of the shop's high quality work and good prices. People are leaving their normal Jiffy Lubes and Pep Boys to come here. The only form of advertisement for this place is word of mouth.
My friend Danny switched to North Park Auto Service from the garage that he personally used to manage. He has had his car serviced there multiple times and the one instance that something went wrong, it was fixed immediately. His car died a short while away from the garage and a mechanic came personally to his car and fixed it on the side of the road.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Albany Park Neighborhood Council Action Alert (Newsletter)

The APNC and Justice committee wants you to e-mail your county commissioners to "ensure that our community wins better access to care".
The Hospital Access Protection Initiative (HAPI) would ensure that anyone without insurance who enters a hospital in Cook County would be informed and assisted through the hospitals' financial assistance options.
Go here to read a short page about the HAPI Ordinance.

Go here to go to the Fair Care Coalition Website to show your support for the HAPI Ordinance. When filling out the form, the APNC asks that you include them in the "organization name" box.

The newsletter also asks you to call your senators.

Message for Durbin:

"My name is _____. I live at_____ (address), and I am a leader with the Albany Park Neighborhood Council. I am calling to let the Senator know that we need him to be a strong assistant majority leader and ensure that the Senate's health care bill includes a strong and affordable public option."

Phone: (202)224-2152

Message for Burris:

"My name is _____. I live at _____ (address), and I am a leader with the Albany Park Neighborhood Council. I am calling to let the Senator know that we need him to ensure that the Senate's health care bill includes a strong and affordable public option."

Phone: (202)224-2854

The APNC asks that you e-mail them at if you decide to call.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 did a nice piece on the dog park in River Park. Includes video.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Albany Park Crime Blotter

I acquired a police scanner today, and started a crime blotter for Albany Park here.


more images from Sundays CA parade

Sunday, September 6, 2009

the Central American Parade

Immigrants from Guatamala, El Salvadore, Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua gathered at noon today on Lawrence for the Central American Parade. Families milled on the street with their camping chairs, children and chihuahaus, swaying flags in time to the music. My attempts at a conversation in English were met with quizzical smiles and polite nods.

The parade itself had a couple floats, with each country having their own beauty queen waving to the crowd of 300. The first float had a little girl showering the crowd with sweets, but after the first handful a police officer put a stop to the free candy (t-shirts, pens, and candy were tossed later in the parade without the cops knowledge) . Each country had women in traditional garb carrying banners and dancing with maracas to their respective music. The amount of floats was limited, so motorcycles and cars decked out in flags, dolls and embroidered cloth and stuffed with proud patriots provided adequate filler. The newspaper La Raza had 2 trucks, so did various travel agencies, automotive care companies, the moving company Medrano, and a local soccer team. Alderman of the 4th Ward Toni Preckwinkle walked the street with her campaign staff, handing out flyers (with no spanish translation) highlighting her run for the Cook County Board President. Pollo Campero, Mr. Pollo, and the Mission Independent Baptist Church also handed out flyers (with spanish translations).

My favorite sights from the parade included parade participants dressed as bird women, monkeys, cats and comical old folk, who danced with hand-held instruments. At one point during the parade people wore petite mannequins on their heads, which made eerie 10 foot tall figures with real feet and small plastic heads. From a distance I thought they were people on stilts, but the reality was still more unsettling. Men and women rode skittish horses and I held my breath each time one of the animals jerked to the side. The constant loud music, honking cars, fake sirens and intentionally set off car alarms was a visible stress on the horses and each rider was attentive and careful. There were some DIY costumes: one group of people wore cardboard box-tents decorated with streamers, with the breathing hole covered with an ornate (wooden?) bull head. The Pollo Campero mascot (a yellow chicken with an orange hat) made an appearance on top of a jeep wrangler and I saw an over-sized hood ornament in the shape of a donkey on a turquoise jeep.

The parade began on California, traveled west 12 blocks to Kimball and lasted an hour.

Photos courtesy of fauxtank. You can see more photos here.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Events in the neighborhood this weekend-

Taste of Polonia (all weekend including Monday), by the Copernicus Foundation. At 5216 W Lawrence. Polish music and food galore! $6 for adults, free for children under 12.

Central American Parade on Sunday, starting at noon. The parade begins at Montrose and California. Free.

Lisa Majer exhibit at the Swimming Pool Project Space, Sunday, from 1-5pm. Free

W Montrose

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bird Watching....

There are at least 3 yellow finches with black wings flying around the empty lot next to Ronan Park. They look like American Goldfinches, but I couldn't get close enough to be sure. I'm positive they are not free parakeets, as I see blue and green ones occasionally.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tannourin Bakery
4806 N Kedzie Ave
Chicago, IL 60625-5207

D.A.C monthly meeting tonight

where: 17th District Community room, 4650 N Pulaski

when: 7pm- 9pm

call the CAPS office at 312-742-4588 for more information.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

a rabbit dinner

My boyfriend and I cooked a whole rabbit the other day for dinner. As an Eastern European, I've eaten rabbit plenty of times (when visiting back home), but my boyfriend had not. We got the rabbit from Aden Live Poultry, which is across the river, technically not "Albany Park", but close enough.

Aden's is a butcher shop that slaughters live animals, something surprising to see in Chicago. The shop has been open for 3 months, and the owner Abbas Aldafri says business has been very good. Aldafri says he opened his own butcher shop after working at the one a couple doors down. On the window of the shop are three images of cute bunnies, pictures he clearly got from the internet. Aldafri says his most popular item is chicken (about 70% of his sales) and he was kind enough to explain the taste and cooking difference in the white and brown chicken he offers. You can read more about our experience at Aden's (including picking out the rabbit) here.

As for the rabbit, it took two hours to cook and was delicious. I ate dinner slowly, thinking about the taste and any similarities or differences with chicken. After having seen the animal I wanted to take my time with it's meat. We made potatoes and stuffing to compliment. We still have the back legs for sandwiches and all the organs- which we will make pate with, or feed to the cats. Recipe and instructions courtesy of Google.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

CAPS meeting

CAPS meeting tonight, for district 17, beat 1713. The meeting goes from 7 pm- 8pm, at 5000 N Spaulding, North Park University.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I went to the Greekfest and all I got were…

The Greek fries. But, before I even got myself to the Greek Fest, there was much to be said about it – by others, not me.

“If you’ve been to one Greek fest, you’ve been to them all,” a friend said. She told me to expect 2 rides—a Tilt-a-whirl and a swing ride. Sure enough, both were there.

“Greek food is the best! The Greeks really know how to cook,” said another. This also proved to be true.

It was a perfect weekend for the event, even though Saturday was a bit chilly. I wandered over on Sunday afternoon, to find the event in full swing! Tents with freshly baked baklava and spanakopita were ready to go. As was the food tent with a wide selection of Greek foods, including gyros, authentic pistachio plates, and Greek fries, which is what I settled on. Of course, I could not pass up the baklava and some Greek coffee.

The church staff said all the food was freshly prepared by the church elders. There was no doubt in my mind as the baklava could not have tasted more fresh. The Greek coffee, even on a warm day was a perfect accompaniment.

What made this festival stand out from the 60 thousand other Chicago festivals was not only the fresh food, but the vendors. Inside the church, the vendors were unlike any other festival vendors. Local businesses and home business dominated the room. Of course, I did my part to supported the current economy and any local business that I could by buying gifts—for myself and others. The most notable vendors were the guy who made signs hand-carved in oak and the lady selling the blown glass jewelry from Italy.

Overall, Albany Park is lucky to host such a fun, little festival!


abandoned building on Montrose, between Monticello and Lawndale.

Courtesy of Mr. Montrose

"Movies in the Park" event tonight

"Ghostbusters" is playing at 8:30pm tonight at River Park.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Garage Sale

Where: 2613 W. Lawrence.

Time: Saturday; 9am- 3pm, Sunday; 9am - 12pm

Friday, August 21, 2009

Free things to do in the neighborhood this weekend:

St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church is having their annual Greek fest. The festival goes all weekend, starting at 5pm on Friday and Saturday, and noon on Sunday. The Northside Chicago Rock n Roll band is playing on Friday night, and the John Linardakis Band will be performing on Saturday and Sunday. Expect clowns, games and rides. St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church is located at 2727 W Winona and free parking is available at Swedish Covenant.

Rokko & The Hat is performing at 7pm on Sunday night, at Horner Park (just south of Montrose).

The Swimming Pool Project Space has a new exhibit by Lisa Majer. The space is only open on Sundays, from 1pm - 5pm.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And the winner is.....

Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen has the honored distinction of serving the best falafel in Chicago, courtesy of Metromix.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

33rd Ward 2016 Olympic Bid Community Forum Tomorrow

Medill Reports: The Armory Chicago Mini Doc. from Armory Chicago on Vimeo.

Luncheon with Congressman Quigley

US Representative Mike Quigley, of the 5th Congressional District of Illinois, is having a luncheon tommorrow at La Villa Restaurant, located at 3632 N. Pulaski Road. The Lunch costs $25 for non-members of the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce, and goes from 11:30pm to 1pm.

Call Liz at (773) 478- 0202 x 12 to reserve your seat.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

3 Albany Park spots in the running......

Vote for your favorite falafel place on Metromix (Chicago Tribune) here. Voting closes Wednesday.

(so far, it looks like Dawali is winning with 57% of the vote!!!)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Register for classes at your local park today!

Registration for Fall Chicago Park District classes opened today- with prices for classes ranging from free, to $120 depending on the type of class. All parks are offering some sort of soccer, basketball and arts and crafts for youngsters, and go from September 21st to December 6th. Some highlights:

Eugene Field Park has a Step Aerobics, Drawing and Painting, and Stained Glass class for adults.

Gomper's Park is offering a Badminton and Walking Club for adults.

Horner Park has a Handbuilding, Piano, Mosaics, Woodcraft, and Sign Language class for adults.

Jensen Park is offering a Table Tennis class for adults,

(and the best for last),

River Park is offering an Oil Painting class for adults for $25.

To register or browse all classes go here.

Online registration ends September 7th, but if you're interested in a class, register now rather than later as the classes tend to fill up quickly.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Art Exhibit

Albany Park's sole gallery, the Swimming Pool Project Space, has a new art exhibit opening tomorrow featuring Lisa Majer's paintings. You can read all about Majer's work on the Swimming Pool Project Space website. (The gallery is only open on Sundays from 1- 5pm.)

Family Block Party Picnic TODAY

Time: 10am - 6pm

Where: River Park, enter at 4900 N Whipple St

Who: West River Park Association, Evelyn G Zaar

Free Lunch: BBQ ribs, chicken and hot dogs, and pink lemonade and free bottled water for the elderly. (Other drinks are 50 cents.) Watermelon will be served for dessert, free, and attendees are encouraged to bring side dishes to share.

Games for children include organized football, soccer, and a pinata.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Last night, a hundred people lugged food, blankets and lawn chairs to Ronan Park to hear the free concert, the last in the summer concert in the park series. Picante, originally scheduled to play on a rainy July 23rd, entertained families, couples, children, and dogs. Picante is described as a world-latin-jazz ensemble, with rhythms taken from Africa, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Jamaica among others, a fitting choice for the denizens of Albany Park. The quiet murmer in the crowd between songs spoke of Arabic, African, Spanish, Korean and Eastern European.

Picante's finale involved a conga line through the park. Emiliya Angelova, 29, and her 15 month old baby were among those swept up by dancing. Angelova became hooked after her first concert this summer and plans on coming back next year. Recently from Bulgaria, Angelova says "The music is nice." Brad, who lives in Uptown, discovered the weekly concert when he came here last week with a friend to drink by the river. Says Brad, "These guys were good, they're all skilled musicians, but the guys last week were playing Veracruz. I've always liked that type of music, and I had forgotten about it, and when I heard it last week it just clicked in my brain"

August 13th was the last night of the summer concert series in Ronan Park, courtesy of the North River Comission and the Chicago Park District. You can watch videos of this summers events here.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Here are some sites that moniter crime and upcoming events in Albany Park.

...and the Chicago Tribune published a story on the expansion of Ronan Park here.


Now that the chain link fence is down, cars park in the newest addition to Ronan Park for brief periods of time.

Besides the ice cream cart-vendors, there is an ice cream truck that frequents this area. This ice cream truck plays "Do your ears hang low?" and makes his last round of the neighborhood between 9:30pm and 10:00pm. The song is creeping into my dreams.


Monday, August 10, 2009

new albany park pizza-

Combining Noli's and Dawali leftovers makes a fantastic pizza.

Take a Noli's pepporoni pizza, and pour Lamb Galaya (a tomato based skillet) on top, put it in the oven for a couple minutes and voila! Albany Park pizza. Delicious.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Love has no age.

To the pretty young Muslim girl being hit on by the balding, overweight pale man,

You should not lift your skirt when talking to people on the street. Even when your mother is not looking.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I called it!

That empty lot off Lawrence and Sacramento was purchased by the city last Friday, and will be used to expand Ronan Park.

According to an article on Chi-Town Daily News from last year, Ronan park could see some new park entrances and a rerouted walking path.


Monday, August 3, 2009

A fellow named Ian Sklarsky had his tires slashed, windows smashed, and ipod stolen while he was away on vacation. You can watch him talk about it here, as well as some unrelated Albany Park topics.

There have been improvements-

The documentary "The Heart Broken in Half" features Albany Park. You can watch the first part here. The documentary was originally released in 1990 on vhs, and the DVD release was just last year.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

who knows....

The chain link fence around the empty lot on Sacramento and Lawrence has been removed. Are they finally going to start construction on that planned apartment building?

They should really use the land to expand Ronan Park, as buildings close to the river seem to be slanted or sinking (but this could also be because they are old... ), and the river stinks more often than not.

Some history on the park here.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Photos from the free concert in Ronan Park

Unfortunately it began to rain around 7:30, so these photos are during Cocinando's set. Courtesy of fauxtank.

Free concert tonight at Ronan Park

Cocinando and The Uptown Strings will be playing tonight, from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Cocinando's sound is described as Afro-Latin Jazz with a twist of Folk, and The Uptown Strings is "bistro meets swing meets jazz".

The concert will be held in that concrete circular entrance off Lawrence, and bring your own chair.

If you enjoy yourself, be sure to thank 33rd Ward Alderman Richard Mell; 5th District Congressman Mike Quigley; 20th District Senator Iris Martinez; 40th District Rep. Deb Mell and sponsers Pollo Campero, The Joyce Foundation, LISC Chicago, and the Old Town School of Folk Music.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Albany Park has been in the news lately-

Nancy Collins won 14 grand yesterday, courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times. She's finally going to buy a computer. Read about it here.

A drunk driver injured two cops yesterday and 3 people unsuccessfully tried to rob a currency exchange.

The refugee kids in Albany Park beat the Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center High school soccer team (the Von Steuben team is supposedly one of the best in the region). These refugee kids come from Iraq, Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, and Uganda among others. Says the Chicago Tribune:

"They're survivors," said Greg Wangerin, executive director of the nonprofit Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Ministries in Uptown, which partnered with Von Steuben as a way to help traumatized refugee children from Iraq, Bhutan and other countries build toward stability. "They've gone through thick and thin to get here." In other words, he said, "They're not an easy group to defeat."

They finally removed that downed tree branch on Ainslie between Albany and Troy yesterday.


Thursday, July 23, 2009


It is mighty strange to say that I have seen nothing exceptionally interesting since Sunday (read all about garbage in soluble's Sunday post).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cigarettes and Safety

I try not to go out much after 9pm alone but, as a dirty smoker, sometimes you have to run to the corner store to pick up something. I went to Jerusalem Liquors, as I have made myself a regular face, and find it a safe place to be (when five men are working in a store that can be measured with a tape measure, there's a certain sense of security). The man working the cash register reprimanded me, a 22 year old, for being out alone at 10:30 at night.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

something big went down last night?

Last night, a plastic garbage bin was burned in the intersection of Albany and Ainslie. Its melted carcass, full of aluminum cans, has been lying there all day. There is another garbage bin in the same condition in the alley off Ainslie, and further west, a massive tree branch sits on the sidewalk.


Along Montrose-

In my walk down Montrose (from Sacramento to Elston), I noticed Marie's Golden Cue's marquee. The marquee reads "We have smooth shafts and clean balls".

Off Lawndale and Montrose, every single window front is boarded up with plywood. It's a ghost block, with no evidence of fire. Very eerie.

If you're ever by Elston and Montrose, be sure to check out Afghan Kabob. The food is surprisingly delicious (even cops stop here to eat!), the owner is a real treat, and hanging on a wall by the TV is an Afghan battle rug, depicting the Soviet invasion.

(this is not the rug hanging in Afghan Kabob, just the most similar one I could find)


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Car in lot, off Sacramento and Lawrence

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"About 30 people gathered outside Representative Deb Mell's office in the 40th District at 3657 N. Kedzie Ave. in Albany Park today, chanting and circling her office in an effort to get her to support House Bill 174. "

Read more at Gaper's Block.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Fruit Truck is back-

The best place to buy fresh fruit and vegetables is, hands down, this truck. Maria has been selling produce off Ainslie and Kedzie (right next to the brand new traffic lights) for 15 years. Maria and her daughter drive down from a local farm in Michigan every morning, but from what farm, she won't say. Maria is shy, refuses to answer any of my questions, and has her daughter do all the talking for her english-speaking customers. The prices border on cheap- but the fruit is anything but. Today I purchased some cherries and rasperries, and both are so soft, juicy and sweet. Much better than Jewel, HarvesTime, and Andy's Fruit Ranch.

Maria also sells large sunflowers.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Max Grinnell, out doing interviews to promote his new book "24 Great Walks in Chicago" had this to say about Albany Park:

"Anything you learned while writing this book -- a fact, a place, etc. -- that astounded you? Or, at least, surprised you?

In two words: Albany Park. I've taken my students from the University of Chicago there for years, but this neighborhood is truly a microcosm of the future of cities in the United States. There's no majority ethnic group in the community, and it's such an interesting blend of Central American, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Korean culture. I didn't really know it well enough until I started working on this book, and it is a place that all Chicagoans and visitors should visit."

- Gaper's Block

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Baby doll on roof, in alley between Gunnison and Ainslie.

Courtesy of Fauxtank

Albany Park is out to get cops

A couple of days ago, there was that car crash that injured 3 people and a police dog..... and this morning, a state trooper is in critical condition after his vehicle collided into a pole and burst into flames.


Grates and Babies

I am just wondering what the group of men were doing on the corner of Albany and Ainslie. I often people watch, where normally uneventful things happen. Children and moms buy ice cream from the bicycle ice cream man, tricked out vans park on the corner and blare Ranchero music to impress all the sweet honeys walking by, and groups of young people walk and shout (not talk) about who gave head to whom.

Today was a unique scene. A group of four men had a grate pulled off the parkway, a grate I am assuming covers the incredibly sanitary water system we all love smelling while taking a romantic stroll with our boos, and were standing around this open hole. A group of middle aged women stood across the street and watched as these men stared down into the hole (oh, the rugged manliness of 'working 'men), until the men seemed satisfied they had seen everything in the bottom of this unexplained hole, pulled the cover back on, and dispersed.
What could they have been doing? My only thought was there was a baby down there, but they seemed a little too relaxed for that. And if there is a baby, I'm just hoping that it died on the fall down.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009


So, it's that time of year again. We're a couple weeks til the 4th of July, and the neighborhood residents are testing, making sure they know how to fire off their rockets. I understand the appeal. Really.

I am used to hearing a burst of gun shots one or two or three times a month. But I rarely see them documented any where. Am I the only one in this neighborhood that calls the cops? Do I need to start calling every time?

Hurry on up, the Fourth of July! Firecrackers are not fun for me.


Monday, June 22, 2009

The "water cleaning facility" under the bridge on Lawrence, between California and Sacramento. Located in Ronan Park.


Welcome to the Albany Park blog!

The overlooked, but one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago. We've got copious amounts of crime, garbage, and ethnic and religious diversity. This neighborhood is ripe with possibilities for citizen activists. Blagojevich lived here.

Also, I can't find a writing job, so I am making my own.

This blog will have various writers commenting on various topics. If you have something to say, or you too, want to write/rant about Albany Park, e-mail me at