Author Archive

Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre: 125 Years of Entertainment for All

Posted on: December 9th, 2014 by David Weible

 

In total, the Auditorium Theatre held more than 4,000 seats. Adler designed the theatre’s acoustics to allow the seats farthest from the stage to hear each performance cleary.
In total, the Auditorium Theatre held more than 4,000 seats. Adler designed the theatre’s acoustics to allow the seats farthest from the stage to hear each performance clearly.

By 8:00 p.m. on May 4, 1886, Chicago’s Haymarket Square was bustling with as many as 3,000 people. They had gathered to support the city’s labor movement and hear its leaders speak.

The day before, policemen had killed union workers outside of the city’s McCormick Reaper Works as a crowd jeered the scabs who replaced them. Two days before that, tens of thousands had walked out on their jobs and paraded down Michigan Avenue, demonstrating for an eight-hour workday.

By 10:30 on the night of the 4th, the speeches in Haymarket were nearing their end. As the crowd thinned, nearly 200 policemen stormed the square. A dynamite bomb was thrown into their lines. The police responded with a confused volley through the spectators and their own ranks. Eight officers and an unknown number of bystanders were killed.

Before its completion in 1890, the Auditorium Theatre hosted the 1888 Republican National Convention. A massive tarp was drawn across the roofless building to accommodate the event.
Before its completion in 1890, the Auditorium Theatre hosted the 1888 Republican National Convention. A massive tarp was drawn across the roofless building to accommodate the event.

Just a small town in 1830, Chicago would grow into America’s second-largest city in 60 years. By 1850, half its residents had been born abroad. Those immigrants lucky enough to find jobs often worked long, dangerous hours in the city’s factories and mills. Many came home to squalid living conditions in the tenements of ethnic enclaves. Strikes and violence were commonplace.

Social and political division permeated the city. Even theater and entertainment were battlegrounds between the city’s capitalist, natural-born elite and its socialist working class. Workingmen’s orchestras, theater groups, and lectures were organized as politically motivated alternatives to their capitalist counterparts.

The brainchild of prominent Chicagoan Ferdinand Peck, the Auditorium Theatre was intended as an entertainment venue not only for the city’s elite, but for its working class masses.
The brainchild of prominent Chicagoan Ferdinand Peck, the Auditorium Theatre was intended as an entertainment venue not only for the city’s elite, but for its working class masses.

But from the smoldering social tension of the time, plans emerged for a building that would be the catalyst for Chicago’s ascension to one of world’s great cities. Just four weeks after the Haymarket Affair, Ferdinand Peck, one of the city’s richest and most prominent figures, announced his plans for Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

David Weible

David Weible

David Weible is a content specialist for the National Trust, previously with Preservation magazine. He came to D.C. from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.

[Historic Bars] The Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale

Posted on: December 4th, 2014 by David Weible

 

Aloha, historic bar lovers! It's time to escape chilly winter temps and enjoy warmer climes inside historic tiki bars, those Polynesian-inspired spots known for their island flair and exotic cocktails. First up: Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Mai Kai was designed by the Fort Lauderdale architect Charles McKirahan and was restored to its original look after Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
The Mai Kai was designed by the Fort Lauderdale architect Charles McKirahan and was restored to its original look after Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

It all makes too much sense: A Texas kid leaves home, becomes a bootlegger, and then falls even further from mainstream society. He floats around the Caribbean for a spell before he washes up on a Pacific island no one from Texas has probably ever heard of. When he moves back stateside, he turns his booze-sodden adventures into a business empire and nationwide sensation.

It’s the story of Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, a.k.a. Don the Beachcomber, who opened his eponymous Pacific-island themed café in Hollywood in 1934 and eventually set off a national obsession with hula skirts, heavy rum pours, and all things Polynesian.

In honor of this obsession, our next round of historic bars serves up a mixture of the best historic tiki spots America has to offer -- native girls not included.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

David Weible

David Weible

David Weible is a content specialist for the National Trust, previously with Preservation magazine. He came to D.C. from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.

Cincinnati’s Union Terminal Now Saved for Future Generations

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by David Weible 19 Comments

 

Built in 1933, Union Terminal is one of the most iconic Art Deco masterpieces in the United States. It now houses the Cincinnati Museum Center, the largest cultural institution in the region.
Built in 1933, Union Terminal is one of the most iconic Art Deco masterpieces in the United States. It now houses the Cincinnati Museum Center, the largest cultural institution in the region.

Since it opened in 1933, Union Terminal has served as both a cultural hub for the city of Cincinnati and one of the most iconic Art Deco structures in the nation. Now, thanks to local citizens who voted "yes" on Issue 8, it will continue to fill both roles for generations to come.

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

David Weible

David Weible

David Weible is a content specialist for the National Trust, previously with Preservation magazine. He came to D.C. from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.

[Historic Bars] The Backroom Bar in New York City

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by David Weible

 

Fans of the giggle water get to celebrate hooch in a big way this month as Preservation Nation covers blind pigs and juice joints – a.k.a. speakeasies -- as part of our historic bars series. Next up: The Backroom Bar in New York City.

The Backroom’s ‘fake front’ as the Lower East Side Toy Company is a nod to old New York City speakeasies that often used supposed apothecaries or blacksmith shops to conceal their true identity. Ironically, the Backroom’s Prohibition predecessor never needed a fake front, as Ratner’s kosher restaurant concealed the speakeasy with a legitimate and profitable business.
The Backroom’s ‘fake front’ as the Lower East Side Toy Company is a nod to old New York City speakeasies that often used supposed apothecaries or blacksmith shops to conceal their true identity. Ironically, the Backroom’s Prohibition predecessor never needed a fake front, as Ratner’s kosher restaurant concealed the speakeasy with a legitimate and profitable business.

There are few places on earth, if any, that I enjoy sipping a few cocktails and drinking in the atmosphere more than modern-day New York City. But if I were given the chance to hit the town in the Roaring Twenties, I sure as hell wouldn’t pass it up. Lucky for me, I know a place I can do a little of both: the Lower East Side Toy Company, on Norfolk Street, between Delancey and Rivington.

That’s not the actual name, of course. It’s just the ‘fake front’ for the Backroom Bar, a contemporary speakeasy with roots that date back to Prohibition.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

David Weible

David Weible

David Weible is a content specialist for the National Trust, previously with Preservation magazine. He came to D.C. from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.

[Book Review] Visions and Voices: Montana’s One-Room Schoolhouses

Posted on: September 16th, 2014 by David Weible

 

Visions and Voices: Montana’s One-Room Schoolhouses was originally published in 2012.
"Visions and Voices: Montana’s One-Room Schoolhouses" was originally published in 2012.

One-room schoolhouses are more than physical relics of Montana’s past. They are enduring symbols of what was, and continues to be, the soul of the people that surround them; a soul built on self-reliance, the pioneer spirit, and above all, a sense of community.

Through stunning photography and telling interviews with the people that taught and learned in these stolid structures, Visions and Voices: Montana's One-Room Schoolhouses by author and photographer Charlotte Caldwell documents more than 120 of Montana’s one-room and rural schoolhouses (some of which appear in “Small Wonders” from Preservation magazine’s current Fall Issue) from the restored and repurposed, to the neglected and crumbling.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

David Weible

David Weible

David Weible is a content specialist for the National Trust, previously with Preservation magazine. He came to D.C. from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.