"Chicago" by Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders

-excerpt from the poem "Chicago" by Carl Sandburg (1916)

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline
The Chicago Skyline from a Near West Side highrise

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2012: The Year in Review

For Big Shoulders Atlas, 2012 began on the South Side and it ended back on the South Side.  With lots of transition occurring, including a move back to the City after spending the first half of the year in the suburbs, getting to neighborhoods wasn’t as easy as back in 2011.  Still, we had some incredible experiences in neighborhoods both familiar and foreign.

All in all, 2012 reinforced why we love this city and why we do the blog.  Some of the best meals we’ve ever had were consumed in this past year’s neighborhoods.  There were several cultural surprises, and some “new favorites” that will have us going back to re-live our incredible first experiences.

So here’s looking back to what Chicago offered us in 2012, before we look forward to exciting things in 2013…

Monday, December 3, 2012


The Breakdown
Classic South Side bungalows.
An overview: OK, so we have some potentially startling news that will come to the surprise of even the most die-hard baseball fans.  No, the White Sox DO NOT (and never have) played in Bridgeport.  Sorry friends, but geographically speaking they play in neighboring Armour Square (also home to Chicago’s Chinatown).  So without the Sox, there’s nothing else to see in Bridgeport, right?  Actually, quite the contrary.  Bridgeport has emerged as one of Chicago’s next truly hot neighborhoods.  It has a tremendous Asian influence spilling over from neighboring Chinatown.  It has one of the best (if not THE best) art scenes in the entire city.  Trendy bars, restaurants, and shops are not only sprouting up, they’re flourishing.

Bridgeport is a neighborhood AND a community area.  Besides the Sox (which still act as a major influence despite calling Armour Square home), Bridgeport is probably most recognized as the home of the Daley family.  The original Mayor Daley, Richard J., called Bridgeport home while occupying Chi-town’s most prestigious office.  Naturally his future-Mayor son, Richard M., grew up in the neighborhood, as did another no-less-notable Daley son, Bill.

But setting aside past history, Bridgeport today is on the cusp of truly exceptional things.  While several storefronts remain empty, and while the rumble of the L doesn’t deliver people to the heart of the neighborhood, several anchors have established themselves to help make Bridgeport a destination for anyone looking for a truly classic and unique Chicago experience.