Here are to be found articles about Chicago history and politics, about notable events and natural systems, much about its buildings, politics and urban planning, profiles, and reviews of books about the city as they were published in Chicago's Reader, Chicago Times, Chicago Enterprise, Inland Architect, Illinois Issues, and Illinois Times. 


I moved to the Chicago area (Oak Park) in 1988. I had gotten to know the area slightly in the late 1960s—a girl—but while the girl left, the city stayed behind, and I got to know it better.


Much better. I made new friends, my mind was exercised by new issues, and I discovered in Oak Park a new home, the sort of city Springfield might have turned into had it been populated by Oak Parkers.

I did a little business explaining Chicago to Downstate and vice versa, and continued my work for national magazines, but mainly I wrote about Chicago places and issues for Chicago readers. Some of my very best work was done there, a secret life that remained invisible to my Illinois Times readers, where I wrote about Springfield places and issues for Springfield readers.


The Chicago Reader was thriving by explaining the world to North Side cosmopolites—the big-city cousin to Illinois Times, which meant mainly that its larger reader base allowed it to pay its writers more.

In a few years I’d made a name for myself and was honored to be made contributing editor at two worthy magazines and a regular at two others. Specifically, my features articles, reviews, and commentaries were published in the Reader for twenty years beginning in 1978. I was a contributing editor of the bimonthly magazine Chicago Times from 1989 until 1990  and a regular contributor of features and reviews and essays (the last appearing in the column, "Politics and Policy") in Chicago Enterprise magazine, the  monthly of the Commercial Club of Chicago.


Architecture loomed large in every sense in Chicago. I was made contributing editor of Inland Architect magazine from 1992 until its sale in 1994, and was a frequent contributor in the 1990s to the "Cityscape" department of the Reader. In 2008 I edited and wrote introductory material for The Plan of Chicago @100, a collection of essays about the work of Daniel H, Burnham, published to commemorate the centennial of Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago.

I was overworked and loved it. I rented space above a drug store, a one-room office  with a frosted glass door and a sink in the corner where I would wash up after being worked over by editors. There was deli across the street, a copy and fax shop downstairs, and up the street an Ace Hardware and a Mobil station that sold chocolate long johns. I'd never been so productive or so happy and would never be again.

Note: Unlike most Chicagoans, I consider inner-ring suburbs to be a part of the city, which is why you will find here a few occasional pieces I about Oak Park and Oak Parkers. 

Click on the title for the full article.

To leave an article and return to this page, click on your browser's back button or on "Chicagolandia" in the Topics menu

The Man with the Plan

A lengthy reconsideration of the man and his plan

Reader  June 18, 1993

This Space Available
Public spaces in Chicago and cities around the world

Reader  January 29, 1993

Utopia in Pullman

A rail magnate's worker paradise in Chicago

Adventure Road  Undated

Chicago's Public Sculptor

How Lorado Taft carved a future for himself

Illinois Issues  January 1989

Chicago Resurrection

The city's late 20th century rebirth explained

Illinois Issues November 1995

Saving History from the Wrecking Ball

Richard Nickel and Louis Sullivan's legacy

Illinois Issues October 1986

How the Lakefront Was Won

Why private enterprise fought for public access 

Reader November 8, 1991

The Man with the Plan

Burnham explained, again

Illinois Issues  June 2009

Exterior Decoration
Books about public sculpture in Chicago

Reader  August 12, 1988

Chicago’s Classic Look

. . . owes to Graham, Anderson, Probst & White

Reader January 15, 1993

Remembering Harold
The life and career of Chicago's first black mayor

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  December 3, 1992

Green Streets

Chicago tries to learn to love trees

Reader  January 19, 1990

I Think Icon, I Think Icon, I Think Icon

Building iconography explained, sort of

Crain's Chicago Business  April 5, 1993 

Rookery a Rare Roost Indeed

Cheers for the 1990s restoration of Chicago’s Rookery

Crain’s Chicago Business August 3, 1992

Edifice Complex for Architecture

Designing buildings for fun and not much profit

Crain's Chicago Business  June 14, 1993

The High and the Flighty

A century of Chicago skyscrapers, reviewed

Reader  July 26, 1991

The Boys in the Pits

Bare-knuckled capitalism on LaSalle Street

Reader  July 5, 1985

Nature's Metropolis

Chicago's economic and environmental past, synthesized

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  December 11, 1991

Where Has All the Flora Gone?
Cataloging and protecting Illinois's endangered plants

Reader April 15, 1988

Merchandising Modern Art
Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art

Reader  April 10, 1992

Come Home, Papa, All Is Forgiven

Oak Park tries hard to be proud of Ernest Hemingway

New York Times Book Review  July 8, 1990

Cultural Arts Major

    George Lucas wants to improve young Chicagoans
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  May 1, 2014


The nature of city living explored

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  January 12, 1991

Chicago's Women Take Charge of Change

The female new dawn has been breaking in Illinois for a century

Chicago Enterprise  May 1992

Homage to the Barons Who Built Chicago

Great buildings need great developers

Chicago Enterprise  November 1992

Daley's Trolley
Why the Loop circulator derailed

Reader  October 18, 1991

Who's Afraid of Paula Wolff?
The University of Illinois Chicago plays find the leader

Reader  May 17, 1991

How Chicago Became the Gateway to the West

A review of Cronon’s Nature's Metropolis

Chicago Enterprise  October 1991

Altered Visions

Walter Netsch’s brutalist Chicago campus is mugged

Inland Architect  March/April 1993

The Pleasures of Walking

Getting around in Chicago’s Loop

Chicago Enterprise  October 1989

How Mass Transit Can Serve the Masses

Chicago thinks new thoughts about running the CTA

Chicago Enterprise  January 1992

Local Boys Make Good
Why Sears became America’s corner store

Reader  November 13, 1987

Infidels at the Water's Edge

 How—gasp!—development might save Chicago's lakefront

Chicago Enterprise  March 1990

World Class

Can Chicago become a global city—again?

Illinois Issues  February 1997

House Hunting
Meditations on the suburban dream, Chicago-style

Reader March 29, 1991

Unbuilt Chicago

The perfect dreamed-of city

Inland Architect  May/June 1993

No Room for Writers
The writers' memorial in Chicago's newest library

Reader  September 25, 1992

How Chicago's Gentry Shaped the City

“How culture made itself manifest” in Chicago

Chicago Enterprise  April 1992

Flood of Memories
Reflections on Chicago’s Great Leak of 1992

Reader  April 9, 1993

The Plan of Chicago @100

Fifteen views of Burnham for a new century

Ely Chapter–Lambda Alpha International 2009

Politics of Necessity
Mayor Richard J. Daley reconsidered

Reader  January 16, 1998

13 Mayors of Chicago
What a show. What a cast.

Reader  July 17, 1987

History Lessons

The Iroquois Theatre fire of 1903, remembered

Illinois Issues  June 2004

Brick By Brick

Lake Michigan mugs the well-off, who complain

“Prejudices” Illinois Times  March 19, 1987

A Pedestrian Argument

Chicagoans should walk. Why don’t they?

Chicago Times  July/August 1989

Books Matter. People Care. Change Is Possible.
Richard Bray and “Chicago's most committed bookstore”

Reader  April 14, 1989

Cafe au Lait

Marshal Field’s fading glory

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  December 7, 1990

Feeling Like a Foreigner

Taking the anthropological view in Chicago

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  May 3, 1990

Managing the Glob

City-ness comes unbidden to DuPage County

Chicago Enterprise  January 1989

What Can We Do With Block 37?
Undeveloping Loop real estate: A case study 

Reader  April 19, 1991

The Young Man and the Suburb
Oak Park welcomes Hemingway back home, at last

Reader  March 30, 1990

Beyond Parochialism in Economic Planning

It's every town for itself in this fight

“Politics & Policy”  Chicago Enterprise  June 1991

A Global Welcome Mat

Chicago merges tourism with economic development

Chicago Enterprise  May 1990

Bunker Metropolis

Private government can deliver good service—for a price

Chicago Enterprise  September/October 1993

What Chicago Would Look Like

Union Station dresses up for company

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  September 23, 1993

Dismembering the Sullivan Legend

Louis Sullivan and modern architecture

Illinois Issues October 1986

Richard Nickel

Louis Sullivan, Chicago, and preservation

Unpublished, 1996

The Clout of the Irish

Review of The Irish in Chicago

Reader April 3, 1987

The Rise and Fall of Michigan Avenue

Too much of a good thing on Chicago's Miracle Mile

Reader  September 27, 1991

Singing True

Chicago, Mike Royko, and Henry Mencken

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  March 4, 1982

How High Can You Go?
The bidding is underway for Amazon’s new headquarters

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times November 16, 2017

Family feud: Chicago vs. Downstate

Pots and Kettles

Downstate-Chicago enmity explained

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  June 5, 1981

Chicagoland, Chicagoland 
The rise of the Chicago city-state
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  March 17, 2011

Making Noises in Civic Class
Splitting Cook County from Illinois is an old bad idea 
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  ​December 15, 2011

Kumabaya Around the Campfire

Jim Edgar tries to bridge the Chicago-Downstate divide

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times July 5, 2012

From Wau-Bun to Bellow

Chicago-area writers and writing 

See Illinois (unpublished)  2002

From Bungalow To Bauhaus

A survey of Chicago-area architecture

See Illinois (unpublished) 2002

Unmistakably of the Place

Chicagolandia’s contributions to the popular arts

See Illinois (unpublished)  2002

Click on the title for the full article.

To leave an article and return to this page, click on your browser's back button or on "Chicagolandia" in the Topics menu



John Hallwas

Essential for anyone interested in Illinois history and literature. Hallwas deservedly won the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society.

Lee Sandlin Author

One of Illinois’s best, and least-known, writers of his generation. Take note in particular of The Distancers and Road to Nowhere.

Chicago Architecture Center

See Home Page/Learn/

Resources for a marvelous building database, architecture dictionary, even a city planning graphic novel. Handsome, useful—every Illinois culture website should be so good.

The Encyclopedia of Chicago


The online version of The Encyclopedia of Chicago. Crammed with thousands of topic entries, biographical sketches, maps and images, it is a reference work unmatched in Illinois.

Illinois Great Places

The Illinois chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2018 selected 200 Great Places in Illinois that illustrate our  shared architectural culture across the entire period of human settlement in Illinois.

McLean County Museum

of History

A nationally accredited, award-winning project of the McLean County Historical Society whose holdings include more than 20,000 objects, more than 15,000 books on local history and genealogy, and boxes and boxes of historical papers and images.

Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, and Other Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois


Every Illinois town ought to have a chronicler like D. Leigh Henson, Ph.D. Not only Lincoln and the Mother road—the author’s curiosity ranges from cattle baron John Dean Gillett to novelist William Maxwell. An Illinois State Historical Society "Best Web Site of the Year."

Illinois Digital Archives


Created in 2000, the IDA is a repository for the digital collections of the Illinois State Library and other Illinois libraries and cultural institutions. The holdings include photographs, slides, and glass negatives, oral histories, newspapers, maps, and documents from manuscripts and letters to postcards,  posters, and videos.

The Illinois State Museum


The people's museum is a treasure house of science and the arts. A research institution of national reputation, the museum maintains four facilities across the state. Their collections in anthropology, fine and decorative arts, botany, zoology, geology, and  history are described here. A few museum publications can be obtained here.

Chronicling Illinois

“Chronicling Illinois” showcases some of the collections—mostly some 6,000 photographs—from the Illinois history holdings of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.




Southern Illinois University Press 2017

A work of

solid history, entertainingly told.

Michael Burlingame,

author of Abraham 

Lincoln: A Life 

One of the ten best books on Illinois history I have read in a decade.

Superior Achievement Award citation, ISHS Awards, 2018

A lively and engaging study . . .  an enthralling narrative.

James Edstrom

The Annals of Iowa

A book that merits the attention of all Illinois historians

as well as local historians generally.

John Hoffman

Journal of Illinois HIstory

A model for the kind of detailed and honest history other states and regions could use.

Harold Henderson 

Midwestern Microhistory

A fine example of a resurgence of Midwest historical scholarship.

Greg Hall

Journal of the Illinois

State Historical Society

Click  here 

to read about

the book 

Southern Illinois University Press

SIU Press is one of the four major university publishing houses in Illinois. Its catalog offers much of local interest, including biographies of Illinois political figures, the history (human and natural) and folklore of southern Illinois, the Civil War and Lincoln, and quality reprints in the Shawnee Classics series.

University of

Illinois Press

The U of I Press was founded in 1918. A search of the online catalog  (Books/Browse by subject/Illinois) will reveal more than 150 Illinois titles, books on history mostly but also butteflies, nature , painting, poetry and fiction, and more.  Of particular note are its Prairie State Books,  quality new paperback editions of worthy titles about all parts of Illinois, augmented with scholarly introductions.

University of

Chicago Press

The U of C publishing operation is the oldest (1891) and largest university press in Illinois. Its reach is international, but it has not neglected its own neighborhood. Any good Illinois library will include dozens of titles about Chicago and Illinois from Fort Dearborn to

Vivian Maier.

Click  here 

to buy the book 

Contact James Krohe Jr. at

All material Copyright © by James Krohe Jr. unless otherwise indicated