Uptown Chicago Resources

Books About Uptown Chicago (Non-Fiction)

Featured here are factual books written on Uptown-related topics. We also have a list of novels set in Uptown. If there’s a book we’ve missed, please let us know! E-mail us at editor@compassrose.org

Legends and Landmarks of Uptown

Back cover of Landmarks and Legends of Uptown, 1980, from the CRCC collection.

Landmarks and Legends of Uptown by Jacki Lyden and Chet Jakus (1980)

When Jacki Lyden, longtime NPR correspondent and alternate host of the popular radio program All Things Considered lived in Uptown, she and photographer Chet Jakus published a small book called Landmarks and Legends of Uptown. It features vintage photos of the Aragon Ballroom, Green Mill Jazz Club, Uptown and Riviera Theatres, Rainbo Rink, Essanay Studios, Edgewater Beach Hotel, Peoples Church, Kemper Insurance, Clarendon Beach, Alta Vista Terrace, Graceland Cemetery, and many, many more familiar Uptown locations. Landmarks and Legends of Uptown has been out of print for a number of years, but occasional used copies still surface and can sometimes be found here.

Broncho Billy and Essanay Studios

Broncho Billy Anderson co-founded Essanay Studios in Chicago.

Broncho Billy and the Essanay Film Company (2003)

Before Clint Eastwood, before John Wayne, before Gary Cooper, William S. Hart and Tom Mix, there was Gilbert M. Anderson.

In 1910 Anderson created and portrayed a screen cowboy named Broncho Billy, the prototypical good/badman with a strong sense of moral right and wrong. Billy was often an outlaw, but he could also be an honorable sheriff struggling to maintain law and order, a crafty gambler with a sympathetic heart, a poor rancher fighting the hardships of western life, or just a plain old cowboy roaming the range. Whatever his occupation, Anderson infused Broncho Billy with a winning personality, and it made him the first western movie star.

His Essanay stories of the old west were filmed in the real west, and set the pattern for western movies as we know them today. Anderson and a skilled troupe of technicians, actors and real cowboys visited Denver, Golden and Morrison, Colorado, El Paso, Texas, and the California towns of Santa Barbara, San Rafael, Redlands, Los Gatos, San Diego, Santa Monica, Lakeside, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Fairfax and Los Angeles before finally settling in Niles to take advantage of its scenic canyon. A state-of-the-art studio was built and they made over 300 westerns in four years, as well as many comedies with the likes of Ben Turpin and Charlie Chaplin.

Here is a rare, inside look at a silent-era movie company in action, told in an engaging manner. The book includes 270 photographs, personnel biographies, a complete filmography and index.

Charlie Chaplin at Keystone and Essanay

Charlie Chaplin lived in Uptown when he worked at Essanay Studios on Argyle in Chicago.

Charlie Chaplin at Keystone and Essanay: Dawn of the Tramp by Ted Okuda and David Maska (2005)

Charlie Chaplin is universally hailed as the greatest comedic talent in the history of motion pictures. And yet Chaplin’s early efforts—which account for more than half of his total output-are often overlooked in favor of his later films. In 1914 Chaplin appeared in a total of 35 films for the Keystone Film Company; the following year he signed with the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, where he wrote, directed and starred in more than a dozen short comedies. Though the resulting pictures were frequently crude and erratic, they reveal the emergence of a formidable comic genius. Charlie Chaplin at Keystone and Essanay: Dawn of the Trampis a film-by-film examination of this period in Chaplin’s career, tracing the birth of his beloved “Tramp” character and his evolution as an actor and filmmaker. Also discussed are how these movies have been re-edited, recopied, reissued and retitled over the years, with a special section that matches pseudonym titles to their original source film. Charlie Chaplin at Keystone and Essanay: Dawn of the Tramp is a fascinating look at the first celluloid steps taken by this legendary laughmaker, and is a must for all Chaplin fans, old and new.

Sacramental Cocoa

Sacramental Cocoa and Other Stories from the Parish of the Poor by Lynn E. Perry (1995)

There will always be those among us who are unable to fully provide for themselves. in Sacramental Cocoa, Lynn Perry writes of her experiences with the marginalized and disenfranchised, who, not unlike their more prosperous counterparts, long for connection with others and God.

Sacramental Cocoa is a love story. The vignettes affirm the connectedness of all peoples and our place in God’s world.

Author Lynn E. Perry is a wife, a mother, and an active layperson. She served at the Uptown Ministry, an advocacy group for the poor in Chicago, Illinois. The vignettes in Sacramental Cocoa were born of her experiences in her work with this ministry.

Beyond Segregation

Beyond Segregation by Michael T. Maly (2005)

At a time when cities appear to be fragmenting mosaics of ethnic enclaves, it is reassuring to know there are still stable multicultural neighborhoods. Beyond Segregation offers a tour of some of America’s best known multiethnic neighborhoods: Uptown in Chicago, Jackson Heights (Queens), and San Antonio-Fruitvale in Oakland. Readers will learn the history of the neighborhoods and develop an understanding of the people that reside in them, the reasons they stay, and the work it takes to maintain each neighborhood as an affordable, integrated place to live.

Reversing Urban Decline

Reversing Urban Decline: The Winthrop-Kenmore Corridor in the Edgewater and Uptown Communities of Chicago by Ed Marciniak (1981)

Reversing Urban Decline is the story of how one northside community worked together to improve the neighborhood and the quality of life for all who lived there. It is the second in a series of three books by Ed Marciniak: Reviving the Inner City Community: the Drama of Urban Change in Chicago’s East Humbolt Park and Reclaiming the Inner City, Chicago’s Near North Revitalization Confronts Cabrini Green are the other two books. Dr. Marciniak was the director of Loyola University’s Institute of Urban Life.

Angels of Hell and I

The Angels of Hell and I by Lilly Smith (2005)

Lilly Smith was raised in Floyd County, Kentucky, in a time when there were few outside opportunities for women. In 1960, to escape an abusive marriage, Lilly moved to Uptown, Chicago. She was 29. With little education but a lot of determination, she found work, sent for her children, and settled into a new life. At the moment, The Angels of Hell and I is only available through the author’s daughter, Theresa. Write pssyc54@cs.com for more information.

Urban Land Institute Book

Uptown Chicago, Illinois by Urban Land Institute (2002)

In 2002, the Urban Land Institute, a non-profit research and education organization, made a close examination of the area now referred to as the Uptown Square Historic District in order to make a recommendation for a development plan that would include retail, dining, and entertainment venues. The report is available directly from the Urban Land Institute.

Uptown: Poor Whites in Chicago by Todd Gitlin and Nanci Hollander (1970)

The victimization of Southern whites and their struggle to organize and resist, described in their own words and those of two New Left writers.

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