Historic anchor adrift in Streeterville

(Published April 1, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Streeterville was undergoing a real estate boom in 2007 and developers were looking toward a bright future when a piece of the past surfaced for the first time in more than a century at the corner of Illinois Street and Grand Avenue.

It was an anchor, and it was 35 feet underground.

Realtor and neighborhood booster Gail Spreen believes it could be a relic from George “Cap” Streeter’s boat—a direct link to the eponymous founder of Streeterville.

“It’s the same style anchor that’s on Cap Streeter’s boats,” Spreen said.

Even if it’s not that exact anchor, it is an historic piece that represents a time when the McClurg and Grand Avenue area was underwater, well before it was under condominiums.

Above ground at last, the old anchor needs a home.

Spreen acquired the anchor in 2011 from the man who owned the property where it was uncovered. She’s hopeful someone will help find a permanent home for the artifact.

“Someday this anchor is going to go someplace where people appreciate it,” she said. “But until we have a location for it, it’s staying with me.”

The anchor is in two pieces and it came with a 35-foot chain attached, covered in rust and barnacles. Spreen said she’d like to see it near the eight-foot statue of Streeter, at the corner of McClurg and Grand near Yolk, where it was found.

“The best case would be where we wanted it, next to Cap Streeter,” she said. “However we’re open to other places that would appreciate it.”

This historic anchor might once have belonged to Cap Streeter. Photo courtesy Gail Spreen

Learning to cook; kids can hone their culinary skills at Sur La Table


(Published April 1, 2019)

By Angela Gagnon – Staff Writer

Kids can get busy in the kitchen at Sur La Table and experience some hands-on cooking fun this summer and learn to make delicious classic summer eats from scratch.

Sur La Table, located at 900 North Michigan Ave., offers three- and five-day cooking classes for kids 8-12 and teens 13-17. The classes start in July, last about two hours each and are limited to 16 students.

“All of our classes are taught by classically trained culinary professionals,” said Adam Leach, resident chef at Sur La Table.

Sur La Table will offer two camps this summer. One incorporates different themes each day like backyard BBQ or pizza parties and will include about four different recipes per day. The other camp will focus on teaching different techniques, like working with pasta and pizza dough, learning knife skills or grilling or BBQ techniques.

“There will also be a bakery and pastry component this year, which will take place one day as an all encompassing experience in the five day camp,” added Leach.

Kids get to eat what they make and even compete in a friendly mystery box competition at the end of each series similar to the TV show, Chopped wherein chefs must create a meal with a box of mystery ingredients.  

“Teams get a menu together, curated through the instructor, but created by the kids. They use what skills they’ve learned the previous days to put it all together for a final menu,” said Leach.

The chef picks a mystery ingredient to be used somewhere in the menu, and kids are encouraged to use a kitchen gadget they haven’t used before. “The winning team gets a prize,” said Leach.

“I look at my job here as inspiring people to cook more at home and build confidence in the kitchen,” said Leach. “I like people to leave the class wanting to cook more!”

In addition to gaining culinary skills, kids will take home a packet of recipes and a Sur La Table apron. Register for the classes at surlatable.com.

Sur La Table offers cooking classes for kids and teens. Photo courtesy Sur La Table

Sweetwater Tavern and Grill reopens after repairs

By Jesse Wright

(Published March 14)

After being closed for months for repairs, Sweetwater Tavern and Grill reopened its doors on March 8.

The popular New Eastside bar and grill, at 225 N. Michigan Ave., was packed by 5 p.m. that day and longtime fans said they were happy to have their favorite spot back.

“I had come here about a dozen times before it reopened,” customer Ken Goncharoff said.

In the two months since the restaurant closed, construction crews added stainless steel accents, more seating options, including more bar seats, and an updated ceiling.

But Goncharoff said he didn’t notice most of it because his favorite parts of the bar are unchanged.

“To be honest, it looks the same,” he said. “The bar looks different and the ceiling looks different, but I love the atmosphere here. That’s why I come here, and that hasn’t changed. I liked it before and I like it now.”

Sweetwater is gearing up for a massive St. Patrick’s Day patio party March 16.

The bar and grill will open at 9 a.m. and will offer green beer, bagpipes and Irish food, including corned beef Reuben, shepherd’s pie and corned beef poutine.

For more information, visit sweetwatertavernandgrille.com.

A look behind the dye

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

Dyeing the Chicago River green is a downtown tradition that spans decades.

Plumbers with the Plumbers Local 130 union began using dye for spotting water leaks and river pollution in 1962, after Mayor Richard M. Daley sought attractions to draw crowds downtown and to the river—which at the time wasn’t developed.

Pat McCarthy, a recording secretary with the Plumbers Local 130 union and the boat coordinator, said volunteers still prepare the dye and sift it by hand into the water.

“We use about 50 pounds of dye,” he said. “It’s a powder and it starts off [as] an orange color. We sprinkle that into a quarter mile stretch of the river.”

The group dyes the same stretch of the river every year—the section separating Streeterville and the New Eastside starting at either Wabash or State Street and following Wacker to the lake. The exact portions of the river that will be dyed are announced closer to the day of.

The dye—whose exact formula remains a mystery—is harmless to fish and other living organisms in the river, and McCarthy said it only lasts a day or a day and a half.

It’s a messy job that leaves volunteers covered in color.

“There’s a lot of cleanup on the boats afterward,” he said.

McCarthy works to coordinate the St. Patrick’s Day parade in addition to his river duties. It’s a busy, dirty and long day for him, but he doesn’t mind.

McCarthy said he’s proud to be involved in the events because he’s a first-generation American. His parents emigrated from Ireland, so being involved with an Irish holiday in the city that adopted his family is a special experience for him.

Area businesses lend a hand to help Girls Scouts sell cookies

By Angela Gagnon, Staff Writer

Girl Scouts are busy selling their famous cookies all over downtown Chicago while partnering with local businesses that provide warm spaces where scouts can sell extra boxes through the end of March.

Troop 20461, from South Loop Elementary, recently sold cookies at Pinstripes in Streeterville on a blustery Saturday morning. Troop co-leader Angelica Prado helped set up, and fourth grade troop members Mia Prado and Katie Boone sold to Pinstripes customers.

“My favorite part of selling Girl Scout cookies is asking people to buy our cookies,” Mia said. “Even if they say no, they know who we are and they can tell more people about the cookies.”

“I like selling Girl Scout cookies because it teaches me to set a goal and try to complete that goal,” Katie added.

“The girls decide on a cookie goal and work to reach that goal,” Katie’s mom and troop co-leader Aimee Boone, said. Troop 20461 set their goal for each girl to sell 100 boxes of cookies.

At the end of cookie season, the troop can decide what to do with their share of the profits, which is about 90 cents per box.

A portion goes to a charitable donation of the troop’s choice. Troop 20461 will be donating to Mercy Home for Boys and Girls this year. They also vote on something fun to do as a troop, as a reward for all the hard work they do during cookie sales.

Girl Scouts will set up booths at select locations until the end of March. Troop 20461 will be back at Pinstripes, 435 E Illinois St., March 24 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

On March 2, they will be selling cookies at Sod Room, 1454 S Michigan Ave., from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

“Inviting them to sell at Sod Room helps shift the ownership back to the child,” Sod Room owner Cynthia Valenciana said. “That’s hard in today’s climate, and there’s so much power in that.”

For a list of cookie booth locations, dates and times, visit the Girl Scouts’ website, girlscouts.org, and use the “cookie finder” to locate nearby booths.

Tough and hearty, the tradition of tulips along Michigan Avenue celebrate the city’s spirit, history

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

All along Michigan Avenue, flower boxes sit, topped with a layer of pine boughs and inches of snow, ice and street salt.

They are as gray as winter skies.

But, buried within the boxes are bulbs—thousands of tulips and hyacinth bulbs—ready to erupt into a riot of color just as soon as the mercury allows.

The seasonal routine began in the early 1990s, an initiative of Mayor Richard M. Daley and business leaders on Michigan Avenue as a way to spruce up the busy thoroughfare. In the decades since, the flowers have become nothing short of a national phenomenon.

In 2016, the American Society of Landscape Architects awarded the city and the Michigan Avenue Streetscape Association its Landmark Award for 20 years of Magnificent Mile blooms.

Chicago Department of Transportation spokesperson Mike Claffey said the flowers have found fans in cities far and wide. CDOT is now in charge of the planting program.

“Many cities have reached out to CDOT for background on how to launch a similar planting program—including New York City and San Francisco,” Claffey said in an email. “When Gavin Newsom (now governor of California) was mayor of San Francisco, he asked for and was given a tour of Chicago’s tulips on Michigan Avenue and he asked a number of detailed questions about the program.”

Maintaining the 2.3 miles of Michigan Avenue included in the program is a big job.

Claffey said each November the city plants 110,000 bulbs on Michigan from Roosevelt Road to Oak and the southern section where the planters are bigger, from Roosevelt to the river, includes 78,000 grape hyacinth.

Over eight days in November, a 10-person crew of A Safe Haven workers plant the bulbs. A Safe Haven Foundation employs at-risk youth, veterans and people recovering from substance abuse. This year’s tulip varieties are show winner, margarita, orange emperor, double negrita, apricot impression and pretty princess. Later, the beds are covered with pine boughs to protect the bulbs from extreme cold.

The flowers must be chosen carefully, as not too much can survive Chicago’s winters which can be downright arctic, even without polar vortices. But, Claffey said, when the bulbs bloom, usually in early April, it’s a treat for Chicagoans.

“They represent the spirit of Chicago,” Claffey said, adding that the city’s motto is urbs in horto, Latin for city in a garden.

“It’s a way to celebrate another winter is over in Chicago and the toughness of the city,” he said.

By May, however, it is over and the city replants the planters with summer selections. But the bulbs live on.  

“They’re transported to the Garfield Park Conservatory where each year the public is invited to pick up a bag of tulip bulbs in late May for the low, low price of zero dollars,” Claffey said.

A look at One Bennett Park

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

With work wrapping up, developers of One Bennett Park said residents of the upper floor condominiums will begin moving into the property in March.

Floors one through 39 opened in November.

The 70-story project gives Streeterville one of the tallest buildings in the city and will add hundreds of residents to the 451 East Grand Ave. location.

Tricia Van Horn, vice president of marketing and communications for Related Midwest, said her company is no stranger to the Streeterville area.

Related Midwest has developed highly successful apartment and condominium buildings in Streeterville for more than two decades, including 500 Lake Shore Drive, and we know it’s a terrific place to call home,” she said in an email.

Van Horn cited the neighborhood’s history and proximity to retail, transportation and cultural institutions as attractive features for developers. She said she expects the One Bennett Park development will be a good fit.

The building was designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects (RAMSA), and Van Horn said the exterior reflects a classic, historic style.

“One Bennett Park, Related Midwest and RAMSA have created an all-residential, heirloom building whose design pays homage to the city’s beloved pre-war architectural heritage. A limestone podium, formal motor courts, ornamental metalwork, vertical setbacks and a lantern ‘crown’ distinguish the building from most new construction towers,” she said.

The exterior might look old-school, but the inside amenities are modern. Apartments and condominiums range from $3,700 to $18,500 per month, with floor plans from 905 to 3,323 square feet.

Residents will have access to fitness and wellness facilities located on the third and fourth floors. These include training studios, a club-level gym with cardiovascular and strength equipment, a 60-foot indoor pool and a 10,000-square-foot deck overlooking Bennett Park with an outdoor pool, fire pits and grilling stations, Van Horn said.

The third and fourth floor amenities include a children’s play area, prep and catering kitchens, and a “tween room” with games, televisions and modular lounge seating.

Additionally, the two-acre Bennett Park is expected to open in summer 2019. Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh, the creator of Maggie Daley Park, the park will lie adjacent to the property and include a playground, dog runs and meandering pathways, Van Horn said.

The park will be closed certain days each year for One Bennett Park residents to hold private events.

As of February, units were still available. Contact a Related representative at www.onebennettpark.com for information.



Police warn Streeterville residents of cell phone thefts

Police are warning residents of a string of cellphone thefts from people in the Streeterville area.

In each of the six robberies, a group of one to four male teens and young adults approach the victims and forcibly grab cellphones from their hands, Chicago police said in a community alert.

They either run away or leave in a black four-door car, police said.

The robberies happened in the evening hours of:

  • Jan. 28 in the first block of East Ohio Street;
  • Jan. 21 in the 600 block of North Wells Street;
  • Jan. 9 and 10 in the 300 block of East Illinois Street;
  • Jan. 9 in the first block of East Huron Street; and
  • Jan. 5 in the 500 block of North Rush Street.

Anyone with information was asked to call detectives at (312) 747-8380.

North Michigan Avenue Dental Group offers expert care and a friendly environment

By Elizabeth Czapski with North Michigan Avenue Dental Group

North Michigan Avenue Dental Group’s motto is simple: “We change lives by creating beautiful smiles.” The practice, run by Dr. Sanya Kirovski and Dr. Maryann Kelly, offers preventative, restorative, implant and cosmetic dental procedures in an office with large windows overlooking Michigan Avenue and the historic Water Tower.

The dental group’s core values are clinical excellence, outstanding customer service, and a pleasant patient experience. This has been the case since it was founded in the 1950s, Dr. Kirovski said. “When I took over the practice, I wanted to preserve the style of dentistry we had as well as implement new technologies and move forward,” she said. “We are highly talented and stay current with our knowledge about materials, techniques and technologies that help us diagnose and deliver the highest quality of care possible.”

The dentists at North Michigan Avenue Dental Group take a team approach to care, especially when it comes to restorative procedures. They work together with highly-skilled specialists to change the lives of patients for the better. “Restorative treatment in conjunction with orthodontics, periodontics and endodontics is a life-changing patient experience. The physical and emotional benefits of the restorative procedures dramatically improve patient’s self-confidence, which has a positive emotional impact on their lives,” Kirovski said.

When working with patients, Kirovski said, the goal is to evaluate the patient’s needs and use conservative treatments to preserve his or her own teeth as long as possible. From basic cleanings to full mouth restoration, “we want our patients to know that we are clinically excellent and provide quality materials, techniques and esthetic and functional results that will last. Also, we would like our patients to know we care for them, they trust us and know that we will help them make right decisions for long-term health,” she said.

Everyone who works in the practice ensures the office’s atmosphere is positive and friendly. “We have designed our dental space with an anxiety-free dental experience in mind.
The office is intimate, our team is friendly and the vibe is fun. We treat every one of our patients like friends and family and take time to explain treatment options and cost and to answer all questions,” Kirovski said.

“We spend a good part of our morning reviewing our entire day and discussing patients’ needs and desires,” said patient coordinator Katherine. “We strive to make patients’ visits as personable as they want.  In order to achieve that, from the moment they walk in, we are prepared to see them. I think it’s a very warm feeling to be part of our practice and makes the experience for our patients better. Not a lot of offices do that.”

Dental hygienist Kasia agreed. “My favorite part is making lasting relationships with my wonderful patients that come back for their dental visits,” she said. “It’s really exciting to them to see that you remembered, and it’s very personal—it’s not just another number, another patient. It’s a whole relationship.”

North Michigan Avenue Dental Group “Your smile is our inspiration”

845 N Michigan Ave, Suite #953W 312-337-3543
info@nmadental.com bestcosmeticdentistchicagoil.com


Doctors Sanya Kirovski and Maryann Kelly sit on the expansive plate windows of their North Michigan Avenue Dental offices. Photo credit Nakai Photography]

Snow superstars clear the way at the Aon Center

By Stephanie Racine | Staff Writer

It’s a big building, in a big city, so it’s no surprise that when winter comes, it’s a big job keeping the Aon Center’s perimeter free of snow and ice.

How do they do it? With people and preparation.

Every winter, the Aon Center employs Harvard Maintenance to keep the property dry and safe during even the worst weather. It starts with a plan. Each shift leader decides who and what is needed for the job, depending on the weather.

“Lakeside buildings generally receive more snow than properties inland, so we communicate forecasts and keep our response dynamic in case additional resources or manpower are needed if a storm worsens beyond what was estimated,” said Harvard Maintenance senior director Karen Camerano.

Project manager Kate Krolicki said security at the Aon Center reaches out when the snow begins to fall downtown and a crew is assembled to salt, scoop and dry off the paths using a squeegee.

It’s no easy feat to keep feet dry, and it takes a toll on even the most experienced workers. “Our employees have to be in the cold for long periods of time, so we educate them on frostbite, exhaustion and other potential health concerns,” Camerano said.

Pro-tips:

For those who like a walkway as immaculate as the Aon Center’s—but can’t afford employees to do it for them—Camerano emphasizes readiness. She recommends putting down salt immediately and shoveling before the end of a snowfall. “We aim to never let the snow accumulate to a level where shoveling or lifting the snow becomes too arduous,” Camerano said.  


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