Literary Tourist: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago's Modern Poetry Association
Chicago’s Modern Poetry Association makes planning your next vacation a breeze, bringing a directory of independent bookstores, literary destinations, and bookish activities & events from all around the world right to your fingertips.

The 1890s were rockin’ times for Chicago.  The World’s Fair in 1893, for example, changed the entire landscape of the city.  Four hundred temporary buildings were erected surrounded by a maze of fake Venetian canals, all lit up by Edison’s bright new bulbs. The event attracted millions of visitors from around the world.  You can read all about it in a great book entitled Devil in the White City.

Meanwhile really big, ‘Chicago style’ steel skyscrapers were soaring up downtown in the Loop, anchored by giant department stores and banks.

Attracted by cheap rents courtesy of housing built for the Fair, writers flocked to the city.  The famed Chap Book magazine began publishing, Theodore Dreiser wrote Sister Carrie, a novel about a young woman who sells her body to get ahead  here – the first episode of Sex in the City, you might say. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle recorded the harsh conditions in the city’s meat packing industry, which, as a result, changed food laws for the entire country. Richard Wright wrote Native Son here. Sherwin Anderson wrote Winesburg, Ohio. This is where it all began for Hemingway. And where Harriett Monroe launched Poetry Magazine.

Chicago was a rough, hard city that produced great, similarly styled literature. As such it’s a must-see destination for the literary tourist.

Here’s one possible day long itinerary here, and also the Literary Tourist listings map of Chicago for other places, events and attractions that might be of interest.

This entry was written by and posted on July 16, 2013 at 9:45 am, filed under Literary Tourist and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink

3 Responses to “Literary Tourist: Chicago, Illinois”

  1. James O'Brien

    You neglect to mention Edgar Rice Buroughs creator of “Tarzan of the Apes” and “John Carter of Mars.” He was born in Chicago on September 1, 1875, and lived in Oak Park when he created “Tarzan” and “John Carter.”

  2. Lucia Bartoli

    I am a native Chicagoan now living in Fallbrook, CA (north San Diego County). The Chicago library is one of the finest ANYHERE and EVERYWHERE. I will someday move back to my old hometown and be able to return my beloved Chicago Library and also another favorite The Evanston Library. I will say of all the regular county libraries here in southern Calif., our Fallbrook Library is quite the community hub of activities. We even boast a natural organic roof of native plants, etc. Do visit our library and see ALL the activities and services and books there. Thanks for a great review of my Chicago library.

  3. Kathy Shimata

    I love the idea of the Literary Tourist! Please do more cities.


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