Above / Reminisce about Chicago’s past when Anderson’s Bookshop hosts a booksigning for Naperville resident Joni Hirsch Blackman and her new book, This Used to Be Chicago, at 7PM on Sept. 25. Anderson’s is located at 123 W. Jefferson Ave. in downtown Naperville.


Reedy Press recently announced the publication of its newest Chicago title, This Used to Be Chicago.

Written by Naperville resident Joni Hirsch Blackman, this book examines Chicago’s architectural past by
uncovering the history of 90 buildings in the Windy City. This book will captivate Chicago lovers, history buffs, and architecture admirers across the country.

This Used to Be Chicago became available this month at local book stores, including Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville where Blackman will have a booksigning at 7PM Mon., Sept. 25.

The press release from the publisher comes with a warning: “With This Used to Be Chicago as your guide, you may never look at Chicago the same again.”

Every building has a past — author Hirsch Blackman finds the stories behind more than 90 Chicago buildings that used to be something else: the liquor store that used to be a speakeasy during Prohibition; the yacht club that used to be a ferry boat; the countless condominiums that used to be cracker, shoe, postcard or piano factories and, perhaps the most incongruous, the circus school that used to be a church.

Imagine what your favorite buildings will house in another 100 years — that’s this book backwards.

“I would say that the book includes the stories behind dozens of buildings that some people adamantly believed were too old/damaged/insignificant to save, but that went on to be fabulously restored and are beautiful and useful today,” added Blackman. “The list includes public and private buildings and other places. Some are well known; others people may never have heard of.”

Joni Hirsch Blackman

Joni Hirsch Blackman

Joni Hirsch Blackman has been a wire service writer, newspaper reporter, copy editor, magazine stringer, newspaper and magazine columnist. She has written three books … and was the editor of her high school yearbook.

When not writing, she shows off the breathtaking Chicago River to tourists as a volunteer for the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

The third generation of her family to be born in a Chicago hospital, HIrsch Blackman grew up exploring the bustling city by walking as fast as she could to keep pace with her grandmother. Those memorable outings inspired her to research the stories behind the buildings that make up the city she was born to love.

Story submitted by Lanna Demers for Reedy Press. Photos courtesy Joni Hirsch Blackman.

RELATED POSTS / Booksignings at Anderson’s Bookshop


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