Monthly Archives: March 2012

Solution to the Mini-Puzzler

Steve Goodman

Steve Goodman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several days ago I sent out an early-bird Mini-Puzzler. The question I asked referred to the familiar Chicago experssion, “The Hawk is flying today.” I wanted to know, Who or what is the Hawk?

Congratulations to all you veteran Chicagoans who answered that the Hawk is the Chicago wind, especially the winter wind. That morning I had been hit by the 30 mph wind and temperature in the low forties. After having enjoyed record breaking tropical weather for the previous 10 days I was quite impressed with the change. So I pulled out my old out-of-use Chicagoese and expressed myself to a neighbor, who enthusiastically approved.

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “Chicago’s wind is  often called ‘The Hawk’. This term has long been popular in African American Vernacular English. An early Chicago citation in the Chicago Defender, October 20, 1936: ‘And these cold mornings are on us – in other words ‘Hawkins’ has got us.’

The first line of Steve Goodman‘s song, ‘Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request’, is ‘By the shores of old Lake Michigan / Where the Hawk Wind blows so cold …'” 

Early Bird Mini-Puzzler

I think I speak for all Chicagoans when I say, “The Hawk is flying today.” So my question for the Mini-Puzzler is: Who or what is the Hawk?

Send in your answers right away. If  you wait until next week, your entry may be irrelevant!

Good luck.


Solution to the March Puzzler

The Magnificent Mile is generally considered t...

Remember the March Puzzler question?

Was North Michigan Avenue once named:

a. Streeter Boulevard?

b. Emerald Street?

c. McLean Avenue?

d. Pine Street?

e. First Avenue?

To all of you who said First Avenue, I’m sorry, even though a street once known as Fifth Avenue is five blocks west of  Michigan Avenue. And you who said or thought it could be Streeter Boulevard, too bad, even though it borders the Streeterville neighborhood. When you think about it, the City would never name a major street after Cap Steeter, whom it battled for 30 years over claims to the land.

No, folks. The correct answer to the Puzzler is . . . . . Pine Street. Congratulations to you who suggested it or even thought it.

As hard as I’ve tried, I can come up with no great, historical reason for naming the street Pine. The only thing I found is that there was once a small stand of pine trees around what is now North Michigan Avenue and Oak Street.

Have you got any good ideas for the Puzzler? Send in your suggestions! 


Underpasses. Who likes underpasses? They’re dark, damp, hot in summer and dank in winter and you hope you’ll never have to end up sleeping in one. All in all, underpasses are not on your list of pleasant places. Then about forty years ago a group calling itself the Chicago Mural Group began to use the many rail underpasses as a canvas to beautify the surroundings. They are now a non-profit organization named the Chicago Public Art Group whose mission remains true to its original cause. And now they construct mosaic murals, sculptures and landscape designs. The rail underpasses and entrance and exit ramps for Lake Shore Drive paralleling the Lakefront are spectacular and are attracting more and more attention of drivers, walkers and bikers. So my plan is to visit each one of them. Continue reading

The March Puzzler

North Michigan Avenue, north of the Chicago River, is one of the world’s renowned upscale shopping streets. But before the Michigan Avenue Bridge was built in 1920, it was known by a different name. Its name was changed to North Michigan when the bridge connected it with the part of Michigan Ave that lay to the south of the River.

The Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago Ri...

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to identify the street’s pre-1920 name.

Was North Michigan Avenue once named:

a. Streeter Boulevard?   b. Emerald Street?   c. McLean Avenue?   d. Pine Street?   e. First Avenue?

Enter your selection as a  Comment below. I’ll publish the solution in a couple of weeks.

Good Luck, Larry

Solution to the February Puzzler

The Puzzler question for February was: Who or what at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was the most popular attraction?

As you can see, it was the giant Ferris Wheel on the Midway of the Fair. Congratulations to all  of you who suggested that it was.

There was growing sentiment around 1890 that it would be great to build a structure that would outdo Paris’ Eiffel Tower. There was hope for “something novel, original, daring and unique to be designed and built so that American engineers would retain their prestige and standing.” A young, 32 year-old engineer, George Washington Gale Ferris was contracted to design and build the structure for the Fair. It was later found that he had designed just such a wheel five or six years before that, but it had never been built. So the Chicago wheel would be the first in history. And it was huge. According to the Hyde Park Historical Society, the axle weighed 89,320 pounds and was 45.5 feet long and 33 inches in diameter. The axle would sit on two towers, 140 feet high. The passenger cars were each 24 feet long, 13 feet wide and 10 feet high and weighed 26,000 pounds each. Each car would hold 38 pasengers seated and 60 total.

The day of the grand opening was clear and bright as Mrs. Ferris handed her husband “a golden whistle to signal the start of the Wheel.” The Hyde Park Historical Society’s newsletter states, “On a clear day, patrons could not  only see the Fairgrounds and the City, but miles out onto the lake and the surrounding states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan.”

The Wheel’s popularity was never challenged and had as many as 34,433 riders in a single day.