June 20, 2011


The Evolution of a People
and the Neighborhood
North Halsted (Boystown) is one of the four designate
neighborhoods within Lake View. 
The others are Wrigleyville, West Graceland, Southeast Ravenswood, and Lake View East
photo - Chicago Phoenix
2020 photo below - Boystown/Facebook
that's what I also planned to do with this blog post
much like I do with my other 70+ posts 
on the rich hitory of Lake View
photo - WBEZ Chicago
owners of Sidetrack
the mega bar on Halsted Street
‘The dance clubs and bars were the only place many gay people could be open about their sexuality without threat, he said. Some remained closeted in their public lives, "letting go" only inside the walls of Sam's or the Annex.
"And back then, frankly, the police and authorities didn't even want us to have that," Art Johnston said. "Anybody who worked at a gay bar in the '70s was at least once arrested at one time or another."
Bartenders were frequently arrested for delivering drinks across the bar in what was considered an illegal attempt between patrons to solicit sex. During elections, "we knew what was coming," Art Johnston said. To prove incumbents were "anti-pervert" and tough on crime, police would raid bars without warrants.’ - per DNAinfo 
photo via DNAinfo
the gang of four - promoters of a Boystown
photo via Chicago Go Pride
legally married
This couple changed a neigbhorhood, changed a movement on the northside and as of 2022 are spreading the historical message of secrecy, silence, grief and LBTQ+ progress through the late 20th century to the present day. 
I will begin this post with some general background, as I see it. 
View from the Gay Bars
by WBEZ + photos

Art Johnston and his partner Jose “Pepe” Peña opened Sidetrack, one of the country’s first music video bars. It was a wildly novel idea at the time, and during the HIV/AIDS crisis and the legislative fights for equality, Sidetrack became a locus for the community to gather, organize political action and fundraise for causes. The same year the bar opened Mayor Jane Byrne became the first Chicago mayor to become outspoken against bar raids. She issued an executive order banning discrimination in city hiring or the provision of services. “It's time we put it on the books “Mayor Byrne said. It would take another six years before legislation was actually passed. - WBEZ

“I had this incredible experience of coming to activism through the bar scene, [but] we did not set out to become an activist bar. It was just a chance to do things that mattered to us … Gay bars were the only places of refuge. Bars were all we had.” — Art Johnston

Art Johnston above to the far right
Where is Pepe??
and him below in 2019
*more on Sidtrack later in the post*

The Pretext 
to the Neighborhood 
of Boystown
'According to a publication called Out and Proud in Chicago, one of the well known meeting places for gay folk at the turn of the 20th century was the Palmer House. I have no doubt, its' stately and glamous to the eye. I am sure the 'gay' businessmen of the day needed to blend in referring the their domestic partner as 'she' even to each other and getting away it with the ruse with the so-called 'straight' crowd. The Palmer House Hotel was long the pinnacle of grandeur and luxury in Chicago and was for decades the hotel of choice for visiting presidents, dignitaries, and business people' -Chicago History Museum Blog
photo below via WBBM
a smaller venue where the gay folk would blend in but still maintaining a degree of that ruse as if the norm
text below from Wikipedia
The Dil Pickles was founded in 1914 by several groups of people who were convinced not that they, nor for that matter no other person or group, knew all there was to be known about art, literature, drama, music, science, social or political economy or any other problems confronting or bothering the human race. The Dil Pickle Club was almost hidden from the outside and was considered a "hole in the wall" in Tooker Alley. The entrance was marked by a "DANGER" sign that which pointed to the orange main door which was lit by a green light. On the door, it read: "Step High, Stoop Low and Leave Your Dignity Outside." Once inside, another sign read "Elevate Your Mind to a Lower Level of Thinking" before you entered the main part of the club. The interior was decorated with brightly painted chairs and partially surrounded by counters where drinks and sandwiches were sold. The rest of the club was decorated by its attendees and contained a tearoom and art exhibitions. Altogether, the club had reported standing capacity for 700 people.
(My Facebook Album)
probably from a police raid in a police known hang-out or tavern
It was common to photograh arrestees as the walked in.
And Then Stonewall Happened
The Stonewall Bar had a reputation for selling drugs, particularly acid and uppers. Raids at this Greenwich Village bar weren’t uncommon; police would often alert the owners that a raid was coming, usually early in the evening, so as not to drive away too many customers. Police would often just stroll through the bar without making any arrests. It was also widely known, if not in 1969, than certainly in the subsequent years that the New York Police, in this case the Sixth Precinct, were paid handsomely every week by the owners of this Mafia-owned establishment to keep the illicit activities of the Stonewall bar under tight wraps. 
What actually happened at the Stonewall that night, which triggered such a violent reaction from the bystanders lined outside of the bar, is a matter of conjecture with conflicting accounts and uncorroborated testimony.  But it seems reasonable to conclude (based on multiple newspaper accounts) is that many in the crowd that grew into a restless mob as the evening wore on, took issue with the violent treatment the police were inflicting on the gay patrons, drag queens and crossed-dressed lesbians- from reports of police slapping a patron with his night stick, to complaints that handcuffs were too right, resulting in some of the patrons swinging back at the police as they continued to be smacked, shoved, and thrust into the paddy wagons like a herd of cattle.
Whether there remains disagreement over which incident or which group of individuals first sparked the gay rights movement;  what cannot be disputed is that equality under the law is finally beginning to be realized in areas thought unattainable a decade ago;  first with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’’ , which barred gays from serving  openly in the U.S. military, and now with the passage of same-sex civil marriages in New York, joining Maryland and Rhode Island in recognizing same-sex marriages from other states. As Professor Gallo tells it, ``while I celebrate the passage of New York's gay marriage bill this past Friday, I also see efforts to secure these basic rights as only one part of a much larger agenda to insure equality for all people regardless of sexuality, gender expression, race, age, and economic status. - The Morning Delivery
Chicago's Brave Ones
in 1970
they looked like hippies
in Grant Park
photos from Sun-Times via Chicago History Museum
It probably started with this image from 
World War II
photo -  Gay Explained
watch video from link above

photo - Huffington Post
photo below - Clker Free Clip Board
A New More Inclusive Flag? 
The Evolution of the
 Neighborhood of Boystown/North Halsted
photo by Anthony Meade - 2012
Boystown  is a neighborhood within the Community of LakeView that once had the most concentration of LBGTQ folks in Chicago.  While the gay community has moved to other areas of the city like Lincoln Square, Buena Park, Edgewater and Rogers Park this Lake View neighborhood is still regarded as prominent hub of gay culture in the Midwest. Even today the community serves as a model for LBGTQ+ folks that wish to establish or sustain viable LGBTQ+ neighborhoods in other parts of the country if not the world.  
- International Maneo-Conference that was held in Berlin in 2011
photo from Ebay
In 1887 when Lake View was a township the area of Roscoe and Halsted look like this ...
1887 Rascher Atlas
the same area but in 1950
Enter the 'Gays'
30 years later
The 'Gay' Community's Strong Influence
A Perspective - Neoliberal by Euan Hague 

George Moore via Pictures of Chicago-Facebook
A New Energy in Lake View
by 1984

Before a Boystown 
there was NewTown 

New Town was this diverse uninhibited community that allowed all groups of folks to co-exist. The LGBTQ+ then simply called Gay Community would find its new home in Lake View from its humble beginnings to a pricey north-side neighborhood.
Business owners like Kathleen Thompson moved to Lake View and established a store called Pride & Prejudice the city's first feminist bookstore located at 3322 N. Halsted St. It later would became the Women's Center and in 1974 and was renamed the Lesbian Feminist Center. The Beckman House was a community center that opened in early 1974 at 3519 1/2 North Halsted Street. The Tavern Guild of Chicago began in the 1970's and created the Rodde Center in 1977.
It served as a model the city's next generation community centers once located at 3225 North Sheffield Avenue. The Rodde Center was the forerunner of Center on Halsted.
To continue to research and read about the history and the LBGTQ+ evolution in Chicago click on the following link (then the 'go' icon above) and begin listen to historical narratives beginning with this activist pioneer and dear friend, Tim Drake.
The Threat 
was Still not fully Understood 
in 1983
Getting the Word Out 
Though the Arts in 1993
Gay Activism 
in Chicago
Gay Bashing 
this particular attacked occurred in 1992
images - Out and Proud in Chicago
this organization still had a presence in the 1990's
The first Open 'Gay' Alderman
in 2003
image - East Lake View by Matt Nickerson
The Bars of Lake View
 in 2003
The LBGTQ+  
Community Center
in 2007
A Rendition 
of a Structure on Halsted
image - Out & Proud in Chicago
1973 - 2011
  photos - Lake View Patch
'Construction for the Center on Halsted building on Halsted and Waveland kicks off with a groundbreaking ceremony. Design grant for Green Building is awarded from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Center on Halsted is awarded grants from The Kresge Foundation of Troy, Michigan, totaling $950,000, including an $800,000 challenge grant. Career Development for Youth program is launched. Center on Halsted receives a $1 million capital campaign gift from philanthropist Miriam Hoover. 
U.S. Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) announced that $1.25 million has been secured for construction of Center on Halsted from the Fiscal Year 2006 HUD appropriations bill. Center on Halsted relocates its offices to 2855 N Lincoln Avenue following condemnation of the property at 961 W Montana.' 
Center on Halsted
In 2008 The Center on Halsted was awarded 
LEED Silver Certification that included  features that included a garden rooftop and rain water collection basin.
Senior Facility
located at the opposite end of the Center on Halsted

Communities are addressing the [LGBTQ+ senior housing] issue. With the opening of Town Hall [in Chicago], which had more than 400 applicants for 79 studio and one-bedroom apartments, Chicago became the third city in the USA since last year to open housing catering to low-income LGBT people. Similar housing developments in Minneapolis and Philadelphia, both of which opened late last year, also received far more applicants than they could accommodate. Two more LGBT-friendly projects for low-income seniors are in the pipeline for San Francisco and Los Angeles, which opened the first such development in 2007. – USA Today

photos below - Tom Tunney Albums
the management ...
photos - Winter City Times
With New Life 
for the Old Town Hall Building
photo & 2 renderings - Juan Latapi/Odalis Suarez
Once the Center 
of the Universe
for Lake View Township/City
*the building housed counsel room, post office, & jail*
The building survived the annexation of 1889 to be converted to a Chicago Police Station - 42nd Precinct until 1907 when a new building took its place - the Old Town Hall
Lake View Townhsip Hall
1884 History of Cook County 
by Alfred Theodore Andreas
photo - via Robert Zamora via Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
Township/City of Lake View
in maps
that year the governmental status
 changed from township to city 
The area ranged from Devon Avenue to the north, Fullerton Avenue to the sourth, Western Avenue to the west, 
and the existing lakefront to the east
1887 map below
zoomed view below
zoomed futher below
An example of a typical marker abovetext - their website
The pylons - Lake View Patch photos
a construction
 of one them
photo - Lake View Patch 
The Legacy Walk became is a veritable outdoor museum located on one-half mile of N Halsted Street in Lake View that originally featured 18 plaques bearing a laser-cast image of an inductee along with a 300-word biographical paragraph. By 2019 a traveling museum was added to the project
The Legacy Walk 
October 11, 2012  
photo - Lake View Patch
photo - Lake View Patch
photo - Lake View Patch
 photo - Lake View Patch
 photo - Lake View Patch
photo - Lake View Patch
photo - Lake View Patch
the initial blueprint
This one is located in front Town Hall Apartments
on opening day
This blogger volunteered to be a 'monitor' along side a structure that honored Nobel Prize recipient and co-founder of Hull House, Jane Addams. Ms. Hull had a partner-in-life named Ellen Gates Starr. My task,like many other volunteers, was to unveil her at exactly 4 pm to the sidewalk traffic on Halsted Street. - that's not me by the way!
I perfomed by tasks successfully.
Landmarks' Status in 2019
 photos - Block Club Chicago
Some of Many along Halsted Street

Of course none of this could not have been possible if it was not the tireless efforts of a 25 year resident of Lake View Pearl M. Hart
She lived at 2821 North Pine Grove Avenue
image below - Out & Proud in Chicago
'Gay' Marriage Journey
 in Lake View
their facebook page
photo - Chicago Tribune
Without permission from his bosses this clergyman 
married a same sex couple
Days Later
this happened ...
The community was ready for this guy
1998 images - Out & Proud in Chicago
In March 1999, Dell was subjected to a nationally publicized church trial that resulted from charges filed against him within the United Methodist Church for conducting a Service of Holy Union for two gay men from his Broadway United Methodist Church congregation. The result of the trial was a yearlong suspension from his pastoral duties. He was able to return to his church shorlty after that. He died in in 2016. He is part of the Legacy Project as of 2008.
In 2013 the US Supreme Court stroke down the 
federal law that restricted marriage. A rally in Boystown was quickly organized that evening at the epic-center of Boystown 
at Halsted Street and Roscoe.
 photo - Lake View Patch
  photo - Lake View Patch
 photo - Lake View Patch 
  photo - Lake View Patch
photo - Lake View Patch
photo - Lake View Patch
  photo - Lake View Patch
 photo - Lake View Patch
 photos from Greg Baird
August 8, 2014
Is Boystown becoming a 'state of mind' as much as a 
geo-political location for LBGTQ+ folks to live and work? Is the community of Boystown in crisis? Can this community 
weather the storm of this crisis? Is there room in this nation for another Boystown? Can our community share with West Hollywood, California with the LGBTQ+ spiritual pride that is Boystown?  The community of Boystown in the neighborhood Lake View won a distinction for most 'walk-ability' ... among other attributes. 

The most dramatic demographic changes are occurring outside large cities. According to the 2010 American Community Survey, one per cent of all coupled households in the U.S. are gay, and, of these, twenty per cent report having kids. Consequently, many gay parents are moving from gayborhoods to nearby suburbs, while still others are congregating in conservative states like Mississippi and Idaho. “Many same-sex couples are raising children in states that have a legal environment that is at best not supportive and at worst openly hostile toward them and their families,” Ghaziani writes. Surprisingly, perhaps, the cities with the highest percentage of same-sex couples raising children include Salt Lake City and Bismarck, North Dakota.

It’s the sort of contradiction that Ghaziani argues lies at the heart of contemporary gay life. The fact that gay families live in both conservative and liberal areas across the country is evidence “that we are post-gay,” he writes. But the fact that gay families in conservative states tend to cluster in cities like Salt Lake suggests that many gay men and women still seek safety in numbers. Ghaziani predicts that, as gayborhoods thin out in large, coastal cities like New York and San Francisco, they will grow in smaller cities like Albuquerque and Richmond, Virginia, where acceptance is not yet as strong.

the 7-11 store on Halsted & Roscoe had always been the gathering place for rallies, protests, and Pride Parades

photos below - Jonathan Pizer
their congressperson speaks

 Supporting their Own
Orlando: one year later ...
 article & photos - DNAinfo
The vigil will run 6-7 p.m. Monday at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted. The June 12, 2016, shooting at the Orlando gay nightclub left 49 dead and more than 50 wounded. It remains the deadliest mass shooting and the deadliest single act against LGBTQ people in United States history. The mood in Boystown was somber after the shooting, but Chicagoans came together at several events to honor the victims and promote love, diversity and tolerance. "It's jarring — it really rocks the sense of complacency and safety a lot of us have come to expect, and it shows that the LGBT community's work is not done in this country," said a Center on Halsted spokesman after the shooting. Night clubs like Pulse "are there for the same reason LGBT centers like this exist: to bring people together and build a space for empowerment." A vigil hosted by the Center on Halsted last year drew about 500 people, according to a news release from the group, and even more are expected this year. - DNAinfo 2017
Honoring the Fallen
 below scenes inside 'The Center on Halsted' theater
'Just as they did last year, Chicago's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities gathered at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., to honor those who died and were wounded in the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. And this year, as wounds continue to heal, the vigil's goal was to honor them with action. "At a moment when some sought to meet fear with fear and hate with hate, we saw the community pull together across their differences, united in their commitment to challenge vitriol and hatred," Thompson said. The ceremony Monday evening was more brief than last year's, when the horrific massacre brought even Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the center to mourn with the LGBTQ community. Although a smaller crowd of about a hundred people gathered inside the center's theater, another hundred filled the lobby outside. Together, they shared thoughts of the victims and spoke on how the attack sent shock waves through the LGBTQ community.'

The Home of 
The Annual Pride Parade 
& Fest
(I have a separate post)
Pride Fest - Lake View Patch photos
The Largest Concentration 
of Gay Bars 
in the City:
but before there was the Boystown 
 there was Hubbard Street
At this period in time this section of the city was sorta 'seedy'.
Below is a list of gay bars as of 1974 
 of which of the 63 bars listed only 12 were in Lake View - on only remains - The Closet on Broadway while none on Halsted Street
image - Out & Proud in Chicago
zoomed view below
The Bars Moved North
These establishments moved into an environment in what was regarded as the most diverse community in Chicago from the late 1960's to the early 1980's. It was called NewTown. NewTown had its issues but this enclave of a community that is currently called Lake View East allowed the LGBTQ+ folks to find a less repressive area to call home. I remember when I moved to the area in 1992 the area near Halsted Street was regarded as the 'gay ghetto' due to the concentration of gay folk who felt safe among their own. 
1982 View
before Sidetrack and Roscoe Tavern
booklet - part of my collection
zoomed below

zoomed view below
gay & gay-friendly establishments
The Bars as of  1987
X marks the gay & gay-friendly bars
1990 View of Bars
includes Sidetrack/Roscoe Tavern 
and more
(click and zoom in on map)
shows most of the bars in the hood at that time 
map - Gay Chicago Magazine
Years later this bar would 'turn straight' with a country western theme. Little Jim's was one of the first bars in the neighborhood by the late 1970's. As of 2015, this bar still had the old fashion black glass windows that once symbolized social exclusion as well as sub-cultural privacy.  Other bars like the 'Odyssey Bar' opened at 3231 N Clark Street in  1973, 'Other Side' at 3153 N Broadway was in 1980; and the 'Orbit Room' at 3708 N Broadway in 1986. 
of the bars on the north side 
from Chicago Gay History 
By late 1970's the gay bars owners had discovered the 'promise land' from the diversity of the short-lived neighborhood of New Town in eastern Lake View along Broadway, Diversey, to Halsted Street with the establishment of their bars. 
One of the those transitional establishments was Paradise once located on the west side of 2848 Broadway
 photo - John Swiatek via Chicagopedia-Facebook
text below - Tim Devore via Chicagopedia-Facebook 
According to Tom Kelley via LakeView Historical "Paradise was quite the destination for in the early 80’s. Gay, New Wave, Punk, etc. it was an anything goes place and everything went. They had cages at the corners of the dance floor - for cage dancing, of course. The neighborhood, NewTown was never dull back then. The bar was probably 5 times the size of Berlin and actually had a different vibe."
photo - Lenny George Wilson-Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
"It was a giant bar/club on Broadway between Diversey & Surf. Where Marshall’s and all that is now. It was a deviously large building once you were indoors. It had bars that connected to other bars in endless rooms. And an even larger auditorium like room in the very back. They had different bands in different rooms." – David Zornig
"Phoenix was known as the Paradise Chicago after 1982, and was said to hold over 1500 dancers at 25,000 sq ft. Before the Phoenix closed, it was Country & Western for a while. It had opened in 1975. Before that, it was Ski’s Lounge, Thumbs Up, and Poppy’s, and after the Paradise it closed from 1985-87, became the Phoenix again (ironically enough), Paramore, Chaplin’s Comedy Club (a 600 seat comedy club for about a month in 1991), and Noa Noa. The big room was a converted garage. In 1996 it was all torn down for the large retail and parking garage on the site; initially 16 cinemas screens were in this plan, but neighborhood opposition killed it". 
- Broan
Down the Street
on Broadway & south of Belmont Avenue
Club Victoria 
at 3153 N Broadway in the 1980's
1985 photo - CWB Chicago
1983 image - Bitter Old Queen
Other bars included Si, Como No in 1975 located on Sheffield and Barry and a short-lived Latin bar when neighborhood was more diverse  and there was Siegelman's Allegro at 2828 N Clark located inside the Century Mall in 1979 according to a publication called Gay History: Chicago Whispers via Windy City Media Group
And Few More ....
The Showcase One was located at 959 W. Belmont Avenue as of 1985. The manager in the piano lounge was Todd Dayton, and the general manager in the dance bar was Scott Resch according to Chicago Pride.com. Another bar in the neighborhood was the Palace once located at 3401 N Sheffield in the early 80's. To be researched is Carr's Halsted Street Cabaret that apparently was located at 3320 N Halsted Street next to Scarlet.
Some Advertisements 
of Past Bars
via Owen Keehen 
Knight Out
2936 N Clark Street
Nino b's
2828 N Broadway
Broadway LImited
3132 N Broadway
Big Red's
642 W Diversey Parkway
The Steamworks
3131 N Lincoln Avenue
the original location??
The Frog Pond
2917 N Shefffield Avenue
1978 image - Gay Chicago Rewind 
936 W Diversey Parkway
Advertisements from the 'Bitter Old Queen'
via Chicago Now
AA Meat Market
2933 N Lincoln Avenue
3231 N Clark Street
3301 N Clark Street
The Cherry Tree Lounge
3714 N Clark Street

Crystal's Blinkers
3153 N Broadway
1979 image - Bitter Old Queen
Club Victoria' was also at 3153 N Broadway and before that ...
'The Other Side' then 'Crystal's Blinkers' 
all at the same location
Piggens Pub
674 W Diversey Parkway
1983 image - Chicago Gay Bars Past & Present
Club La' Ray
3150 N Halsted Street
Belmont & Halsted
northwest corner
1993 image - Gay Chicago Rewind
image below - David Ehrlicher
His n' Hers
944 W Addison Street
1976 image - Bitter Old Queen
Christopher Street
3458 N Halsted Street

1987 image - Bitter Old Queen 
1988 image below - Bitter Old Queen
674 N Diversey Parkway 
1981 image - Gay Chicago Rewind
3401 N Sheffield
image - Gay Chicago Rewind
3729 N Halsted Street
1993 image - Gay Chicago Rewind
Broadway Limtied
3132 N Broadway
image - Gay Chicago Rewind
3150 N Halsted Street
1986 image - Chicago Gay Bars Past & Present
Music Box
3735 N Southport Avenue
Apparently the Music Box once was a gay/lesbian bar 
in the early 80's
photo - Block Club Chicago
Hi-Tops Cafe
3551 N Sheffield Avenue
image - David Ehrlicher
Bulldog Road 
2916 N Broadway
image - Bitter Old Queen
3725 N Broadway
1979 image - Chicago Gay Bars Past & Present
3400 N Clark Street
1985 image - Chicago Gay Bars Past & Present
Big Red's 
3019 N Clark Street
1983 image - Chicago Gay Bars Past & Present
The Lady Bug
3445 N Halsted
1979 image - Chicago Gay Bars Past & Present 
Buddies Restaurant & Bar 
3301 N Clark
image - Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame
Ye Old Mill Lounge 
3407 N Paulina Avenue
image - Windy City Rewind
3320 N Halsted
1979 image - Gay Chicago Rewind
matchbook - Ebay
 New Windy City Bar 
3127 N Clark
1989 image - Gay Chicago Rewind
as of 2018
*not exclusively in Lake View*
Now for Memory Lane:
Past & Present
image - Michael Bedwell
According to Chicago Magazine both Little and Big Jim's is scheduled to close in mid-Summer 2019. 'The listing could signal yet another dramatic change for the eastern edge of Lake View, which has undergone a rapid transformation in the post-recession development boom. Despite housing Little Jim’s and its neighboring bar, Big Jim’s, the property, which spans 3501 to 3519 North Halsted Street and listed on April 29, is being marketed as vacant land.' with a 1980 ad image - 'Bitter Old Queen'
This Corner was to be an Armory
 in 1914
a Dry Goods Store
before the bar
page - East Lake View by Matt Nickerson
 photo - Bob Meyers
photos - Chicago Bar Project
There was a 
 New Look for the Bar in 2017
they expanded next door
 photos from their Facebook page
Little Jim's expanded in 2017 and called Big Jim's
photos - Yelp
The Replacement 
for 2020
the first rendering
This massive building will also replace a restaurant that was located off Halsted Street on Cornelia Avenue that had various names in the last 20 years, one of which was Cornelia's Restaurant. 
 the building that was replaced
 view from the corner 
and view southeast on Halsted
totally gone in August 2021
photos by Owen Keehnen
since 1978
the first 'gay' continous bar in Lake View
as of 2022
photo - their website

The Closet Bar was launched in 1978 by 2 lesbians, Rose and Judi. The lesbian-operated and owned establishment was originally introduced as a place where women could proudly drink and be themselves, but later became a popular option for gay men as well. Nonetheless, The Closet is still a women-dominated bar today.

This small gay bar features a full-size bar decorated with Christmas lights, black vinyl high back bar stools near the wall, and an open spot for karaoke or dancing, depending on the night. Some of the walls feature pictures reminiscent of the bar’s heydays. Recently, during an event dubbed, “cutest pet contest” one of the walls at The Closet Bar was covered with delightful black and white photos of patrons’ pets. While you might at one time or another lack something to do at the bar. - their website

3445 N Halsted
images - Ebay
3160 N Clark Street
Dan Neniskis
Delilah Kenney
Mr Stryker
Jared Wood
Rene VanHulle & Rhodesia
and their team players one year
954 W Belmont Avenue
photo - Bob Meyers
photo - Lake View Patch 
1985 photos - Chicago Pride
Men in Skirts Show 1993
image - via David Ehrlicher
1994 ad from New City Newspaper via David Ehrlicher
their Berlin Bomb
August 2023
For 40 Years
November 2023
from the Sun-Times
from the local Chamber of Commerce
Neighbors Say NO!
before the night club ...
Half the space was a shoe repair shop according to Dan Pappas while the other half was a hobby shop called Bentley's per David Syfcak, both persons were contributors to my sister site once called 
LakeView Historical-Facebook
3439 N Halsted
below 2017 photo - Mark Liberson
the beer garden view
before it was ... 
2013 photo of last day
3702 N Halsted
once an exclusive leather bar 
photo - Bob Meyers
postcard - Ebay
The Loading Dock before that
3726 N Broadway
for the cowboy/girl in you!
photos - Foursquare
where after a certain late hour the music changes 
from Country to whatever
before that the bar was
Founded as two separate bars, Augie's and C.K.'s merged, making its home at 3726 N. Broadway, where the bar Charlie's is now located. C.K.'s first opened at 1425 W. Diversey Avenue around August 1972, but moved to 2417 N. Milwaukee Avenue by January 1979. Augie's also opened in 1972 at 3729 N. Halsted Street [where Bobby Love’s is located].
3641 N Halsted
with a Latin Flare
photos - their Facebook page
3359 N Halsted
and the building's evolution
a short film production in 2019?
Not always for the faint at heart
text & photos - Colossal
Calgary-based artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett (previously) swung by Chicago this month and installed this amazing interactive lighting solution called Cloud Ceiling at Progress Bar. Constructed from hand-bent steel, reflective mylar, electronics, motion sensors, LEDs, and 15,000 re-appropriated incandescent light bulbs, the cloud is now a permanent fixture in the bar which opened earlier this week. Motion sensors embedded in the ceiling cause the cumulous surface of light bulbs to illuminate.
the precursor to Progress Bar was ...
photo below - Bob Meyers
and before that Men's Room apparently during the 1980's
photo below via Robert Zamora 1987
3700 N Halsted
with live performers while dining
This club has a professional photography
I only had to sharpen/focus a little for this post
3169 N Halsted 
 with their own unique vision of 'live entertainment'
and apparently before that the location for
Irene's Diamonds in the 1980's
3458 N Halsted
photos - their Facebook page and Yelp
listen to the sounds of this venue
if not all of Halsted Street
never shy here!!
the main bar below
and before that 
it was called ...
... and then before 
that until the early 90's
 images - Ebay
3452 N Halsted
with a joining door for the staff to Hydrate

At this shoebox of a cocktail bar, the drinks are skillfully prepared, the crowd is kept to a minimum by the doorman, and the music never gets so loud that it drowns out your insights on Jean Genet. The clientele is mixed in age but not in gender, and everyone is on their best behavior, which makes it an altogether more sophisticated and adult experience than Elixir’s next-door sister, Hydrate. - Time OUT Chicago

on Broadway
photos - their Facebook page
Mini Bar
3341 N Halsted
photos - Lake View Patch 
photos -Yelp
even the bathrooms were lush
photo below - Foursquare
Expansion Failure
This bar was to be part of a New York City develeper planned development in order to establish a hotel called the Out Chicago Hotel. The plan falled due to neighborhood association input and in my opinion a wierd and problematic design plan. This was what it was to look like - the developer had to present several renderings over a course of a year to get approval it never got.

BOYSTOWN — The developer of a proposed LGBT-focused boutique hotel still wants the project to happen despite months of silence regarding an updated design. Ian Reisner of Parkview Developers debuted his idea for The Out Hotel Chicago last April, and since Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) rejected the design in September, Reisner's stayed quiet on the project, leaving neighbors and business owners curious about whether the development will still happen.

The project even got a shout-out in an Out Traveler magazine write-up about why Boystown is the world's best gay neighborhood in 2013. Reisner, who already owns an Out hotel in New York, said he is still pursuing the $30 million Chicago project, but more details won't be available until at least February.

He has "not abandoned" the proposed location, 3343 N. Halsted St., he said in an email. Local business owners supported the hotel with hopes that it would revive Boystown as an LGBT-destination. But many neighbors opposed the 79-foot, eight-story hotel for its size, saying the bulk didn't fit the character of the neighborhood. After months of community meetings and several redesigns, Tunney agreed and asked Reisner for a "more cohesive" design or to look at other locations. Reisner would not comment on whether he's focused on redesigning for 3343 N. Halsted St. or on finding a new location. - DNAinfo

before that it was called
(a precursor to Mini Bar)
photo - Bob Meyers
3352 N Halsted
Tacos, Burgers, Mimosas
photos - Yelp & their Facebook page
the mimosa girl on the go
 for the food & drink
from their Chamber of Commece
same owners for some other venues along Halsted
3733 N Halsted
the gay sports bar
photo below - Bob Meyers
4 storefronts long
photos below - their Facebook page
3729 N Halsted
all about Karaoke
once known as Big Red's 
photos - their Facebook page
The Game 
of Rotating Chairs/Bars
800 W Belmont Avenue
The two bars before Spin 
were Eon’s and then Foxy's

photo above - DNAinfo
photo - Yelp

Spin offers a variety of activities to keep its patrons busy all night long. There are pool tables for those who want to get their game on, big screen TVs for the anti social, a retro lounge for socializing and a dance floor for the bump and grinders. There’s definitely something to keep everyone occupied. Plus, there’s three full-service bars to help facilitate drink orders on busy nights.Spin has a very diverse crowd. It doesn’t give off a “LGBTQ+ only” vibe. There’s a mix of gay, straight, white, black, etc… I have many times brought my straight friends and they practically begged me to take them back to Spin. I wouldn’t categorize Spin as a bar with a certain age level. Depending on the night there could be a crowd of 40-year-old men or a crowd of twenty-somethings crowding the dance floor. Everyone in the club is friendly including the hardworking staff, as you never have to linger at the bar too long before you are served a drink. Better yet, everyone working there actually seemed to be enjoying themselves and looking like they wanted to be there. -Chicago Bar Project unknown date

photo - Ebay

CHICAGO — Spin, a longtime staple of Chicago's gay scene, is "officially closed." The club, at 800 W. Belmont Ave., said goodbye on its Facebook page Monday. "SPIN is officially closed," the post reads. "We would like to thank all of our customers for their support these many years and wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day! Stay tuned for what happens next ..."

Spin, which has been owned by local businessman David Gassman for more than 15 years, went up for sale in February. The 9,000-square-foot club at the high-traffic corner of Belmont Avenue and Halsted Street was known for its big dance floor, amateur drag shows and Friday night shower contests. - DNAinfo 2014

interior of the former Spin

Spin's not returning to Boystown, but clubbers hunting for the latest incarnation of Manhole are in luck. The club, along with a new companion concept, The Den Cocktail Bar, is set to open next week inside the site at Belmont Avenue and Halsted Street that recently became a revolving door for establishments. They'll open on Thursday, May 14. Management's describing The Den as having a 1920s men's social club lounge vibe with cocktails curated by Elixir's Vlad Novikov, with recipes from the Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book. There's not many details about the third incarnation of the Manhole except there's going to be a shop for those interested in sport, leather and rubber fetish offerings. That will be run by Full Kit Gear, which operates a storefront in Boystown. There's a bit of a complicated history for this site, so here's a primer. Boystown landmark Spin closed in May 2014, and new ownership came in and opened two neighboring joints: Chloe's and Whiskey Trust. After a few financially-trying months, Chloe's went away to make room in September for the second coming of the Manhole. The first Manhole closed in 2002 where Hydrate Night Club now stands down the street on Halsted. Still with us? Manhole and Whiskey Trust closed in December, as Spin's former owner, Dave Gassman once again gained control of the space. Gassman declined comment, only pointing out that LKH Management, which also runs Hydrate and Elixir, will run the new Manhole and The Den. The former owners of Chloe's and Whisky Trust brought in LKH last year to help when those establishments floundered. – Eatery 2015

by Windy City Times
"We used to go to Berlin a lot, and Roscoe's, and Foxy's. Originally there was a bar there called Eons, where Spin is at now. I think there was a straight restaurant there at some point. Eons opened in early '92 and it was open for about a year and then it became Foxy's. I went to Eons all the time. It was a cross between Berlin and Roscoe's, they had a dancefloor and it was funky but it wasn't as Goth ... for lack of a better term ... than Berlin was. It also had the little ritzy bit of Roscoe's. A lot of Black guys hung out there, so I liked that!!" - Read more from the link in the title.
photos -  joannesellschicago
BOYSTOWN — Two trendy food chains will replace a trio of shuttered clubs in Boystown, marking a big chance for the corner of Belmont and Halsted that has long been home to a series of gay bars. Furious Spoon, a popular Chicago ramen chain that began in Wicker Park in 2015, will open its first Lakeview location in the summer at 3200 N. Halsted St. The Tokyo-style restaurant will share the space with FireFin Poké Shop, which announced its plans for Lakeview last week. The two eateries will replace SEVEN NightclubThe Den and Manhole, three bars catering to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities that opened at the corner in 2015. But the venue is likely best remembered as Spin Nightclub, which ran for more than 15 years before owner David Gassman put it up for sale in 2014. "Spin was our Cheers, our Lobo, Chubbie's Famous and The Max all rolled into one," one longtime fan said in a Facebook farewell to the bar. 
The New Look 
photos below - their Facebook page
and before that
The Video Bar
3349 N Halsted
if you do not see a video everywhere, anywhere
your're in the wrong place
Most photos - their Facebook page
photo below - Lake View Patch 
text above - Chicago Now via Bitter Old Queen
mid-1980's photo above - Chicago Podcast/Facebook
the original space 
it was long and narrow space 
with beer box crates as seats so to watch the videos
Sidetrack celebrated 30 years in 2012
their timeline
video of their evolution
photo - by Sukie De La Croix 
Sidetracks owners Art & Peppie - 1984
2016 photo - Windy City Times
Honored at the Chicago Historical Society's 22nd Annual 
Making History Awards for the contribution to their community
Business & Domestic Partners
Conquering Boystown??
The Location on Maps
X's marks the spot 
a 1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map view
the bars largest expansion was an Irish store 
south of the original store front - the middle X
with a view of the area below in 1887
when Lake View was a city
2004 article
Sidetrack in Photos
everyone first stop is the Roof Deck
during the Spring
the roof deck one had a sliding glass canopy 
unitl a horrendous storm damaged it
This mega-bar have theme nights 
that begins with Sunday Funday
photos - Choose Chicago
tossing napkins in the air 
is a video watching tradition
The Many Fans
to many to Count

It never gets to cold to go
their signature slushies
oh ya, their float on Pride Parade in June 
3356 N Halsted
since 1988
all about after hour dance
and the sidewalk cafe
their Facebook page
alongside former alternative clothing store called Bad Boys
1990's photos - Bob Meyers
2017 Pride Month photo - Wayne Johnson
photo via Jeffrey Nayman, Forgotten Chicago-Facebook
probably late 80's early 90's
membership card - owner Jon-David
Roscoe in Photos
Yelp & their Facebook page
the entrance to the dance floor
if not dancing 
there're dragging
They have a outside cafe
and beer garden
3320 N Halsted
once this quiet little piano bar
on a ground floor

Chicago, IL - An extra-alarm fire in the Lakeview neighborhood has severely damaged the three-story building that houses Scarlet Bar on the North Halsted strip of Boystown. At one point over 100 firefighters battled the 2-11 alarm blaze that erupted at about 7:15 a.m. on Friday in the commercial and residential building at 3320 N. Halsted. Chicago Fire Department spokesman Quention Curtis said there were heavy flames throughout the building. Paul D. Cannella, Scarlet co-owner, tells ChicagoPride.com that the fire appears to have started on the second floor and spread to the third floor. "While there was little or no fire damage to Scarlet, the water damage was quite extensive," explained Cannella. Go Pride

Scarlet 2.0

the precursor to Scarlet
 Gentry-Lake View
The other bar was located 440 N. State 
currently called the Downtown Bar & Lounge
photo - Bob Meyers
1996 article on it

image below - Chicago Pride Rewind

The Private Gentlemen's
With its membership gym on the third floor
originally called 
Unicorn Club
Long before it was Steamworks the building was the home of another former bathhouse called the Unicorn Club with a third-floor gym called the Body Shop. The building was purchased in 1991 by Rick Stokes, who famously ran for district supervisor for the City of San Francisco against Harvey Milk in 1977. - TimeOut Chicago
The Ram Bookstore
known for its private rooms
image - Wisconsin's Escape Magazine
Gay Day 
at Wrigley Field
*wait for about 40 seconds*
and the honorary gay friendly one!
2013 photo - Lake View Patch
 2013 photo - Lake View Patch
 2013 photo - Lake View Patch
2013 photo - Lake View Patch
Laura Ricketts - Lake View Patch 2013 photo
  2013 photo - Lake View Patch
 2013 photos - Lake View Patch
The 'Gay' Press 
of Chicago
image - Out & Proud in Chicago
along with some sample pages ...
photos - Chicago Go Pride
image - Gay Chicago Rewind
image - Gay Chicago Rewind
This magazine informed bar-goers of what was, what and when and respectfully called "the gay bar rag"was The Gay Chicago Magazine 1976-2011. The other vintage publication is the Windy City Times since 1985 and the Grab Magazine since 2009.
Gay Chicago Magazine 
In 2001 this magazine celebrated its 25th year in publication. 
I bought this issue from Ebay in 2016. 
another Ebay purchased 
1991 edition
The Only 'Straight Bar' 
on the Strip
The Town Hall Pub
This old school bar (retail in front bar in back) has become an oddity in the middle of NorthHalsted Street scene. This bar on the strip goes way back in 1971 - before the gay bars on Halsted ever arrived. The Town Hall closed when the owner died of Covid-19
photo - TimeOut Chicago
photo above - Lake View Patch 
photos below - Yelp
walking torwads the back bar through the retail area
From a former Cop Bar 
to Weed Dispensory

SWAY, the first Black and LGBTQ-owned dispensary in the state, is now open at 3340 N Halsted, the former site of Town Hall Pub. This is an expansion of the footprint of local community leaders Art Johnston and Jose Pepé Peña in our neighborhood, across the street from Sidetrack, which they founded in 1982 per the 44th Chicago ward newsletter.

Carol's Speakeasy 1978-1992
photo - Chicago Crime Stories via Flickr
 still vacant as of 2016
 1981 advertisement
I entered this bar in 1986 and met who I would referred to as my 'gay parents' who taught me the 'safe culture' of sexual interaction with others in my community. They saved my life!
Thanks Jim & Tim!
Book Store

about Boystown
"One of the most diverse and lively neighborhoods in the country, Chicago's Boystown has something for everyone. So it's wonder that Jesse Morgan and Cole O'Brien chose to live there upon graduating from college. Ready to begin the next phase of their lives in an exciting new city, Jesse and Cole quickly find themselves at the center of a new group of friends. Joyelle and Derek Mancini have been happily married for years, but Derek is harboring a secret that could tear them apart. Derek's brother Emmett is about to discover that his boyfriend Keith Colgan has a past that will haunt them both. Long time couple Logan Pryce and Max Taylor must face a crisis that neither of them expected. And, before they realize it, Jesse and Cole find themselves at the center of it all in the adult playground known as Boystown." 
"The book became an international hit, with fans all over the globe clamoring for more. Boystown Season 2 was published in July of 2014. Season 3 was released on May 1, 2015, Season 4 was released on November 13, 2015, Season 5 was released on June 1, 2016, and Season 6 was released on December 16, 2016. Because of the popularity of the book series, fans have suggested that Boystown be turned into a television series. Biondi recently completed the TV scripts for the first season of Boystown and hopes to bring the series to television in the very near future." - from a seller on Ebay
Synopsis 2015
"From neighborhoods as large as Chelsea or the Castro, to locales limited to a single club, like The Shamrock in Madison or Sidewinders in Albuquerque, gay areas are becoming normal. Straight people flood in. Gay people flee out. Scholars call this transformation assimilation and some argue that we gay and straight alike are becoming post gay. Jason Orne argues that rather than post gay, America is becoming post queer, losing the radical lessons of sex. In "Boystown," Orne takes readers on a detailed, lively journey through Chicago s Boystown, which serves as a model for gayborhoods around the country. The neighborhood, he argues, has become an entertainment district a gay Disneyland where people get lost in the magic of the night and where straight white women can go on safari. In their original form, though, gayborhoods like this one don t celebrate differences; they "create" them. By fostering a space outside the mainstream, gay spaces allow people to develop an alternative culture a queer culture that celebrates sex. Orne spent three years doing fieldwork in Boystown, searching for ways to ask new questions about the connective power of sex and about what it means to be not just gay, but "queer." The result is the striking "Boystown," illustrated throughout with street photography by Dylan Stuckey. In the dark backrooms of raunchy clubs where bachelorettes wouldn t dare tread, people are hooking up and forging naked intimacy. Orne is your tour guide to the "real" Boystown, then, where sex functions as a vital center and an antidote to assimilation." - from the seller on Ebay
The History of 
Lake View's Boystown 
hosted by the 
Ravenswood-Lake View Historical Association
in 2017
and reported by our local newspaper
The 50th Anniversary 
of Pride & Protest
in 2019

 the photo gallery
 leaders of the community
 Aldermen James Cappleman 46th, Tom Tunney 44th, and Raymond Lopez of the 13th ward 
owners of Roscoe Tavern and Sidetrack
and a few happy folks
Construction Photos
Gregg Moreland via Pictures of Chicago-Facebook
and below .... 
Ron Erday's smartphone via Chicagopedia-Facebook
Racial Overtones
 in 2019
the year of the 50th anniversary of Chicago Pride Parades
'DJ's are no longer welcome to play rap songs at Boystown’s Progress Bar — and the new policy is being called racist by critics according to a local online neighborhood news source Block Club Chicago. The bar is located at 3359 N Halsted is a gay nightclub that frequently hosts DJ's and dance parties known for its diversity of music. But on Wednesday night an email from the bar leaked, showing Progress Bar was now banning DJ's from playing rap music. “This is f-ing racist as f-ck,” one person wrote on Twitter. “Progress is frequented by [people of color] and banning rap is basically saying ‘f- you’ to these patrons"' 
‘Some [members of the LGBTQ community] are calling for a boycott of vintage clothing and costume store Beatnix,[located on Roscoe & Halsted,] after its owner called the police on two customers who found a Confederate flag vest for sale among its merchandise and complained to the owner. “Being an African American, especially having grown up in the Deep South, this vest was jarring to me,” Byrd said. “We’ve been in Beatnix many times and always thought it was a place that’s comfortable and safe for all people.”’
'The activists started organizing against racism in Boystown shortly after a tumultuous Memorial Day weekend highlighting racism in the neighborhood. In one incident, owner of the popular vintage and costume store Beatnix called the police on a black customer who found it was selling a Confederate flag vest. Later that week, Progress Bar came under fire for attempting to implement a ban on rap music. Progress’ rap music ban was quickly reversed, and bar owner Justin Romme agreed to a series of demands issued by the activists. According to a July 1 Windy City Times Report, the demands include anti-racist trainings, anti-racist security policies, a sign declaring the business’ commitment to racial justice, direct investment in the black LGBTQ community, and a public statement accounting for the incident.' - Block Club Chicago

Pandemic 2020

 a WTTW Report

On a typical Thursday night, businesses in the East Lakeview strip of Halsted Street would be full of people checking out the dozens of restaurants, bars and clubs. These establishments are more than just places of entertainment, they’re community anchors in a neighborhood that sees itself as a place of acceptance for people who might have not been accepted elsewhere. So the shutdown has not only hurt the local economy, but the sense of community.

“We definitely need to keep our street vibrant and healthy, because it tells people who we are,” said Ramesh Aryanayakam, president of the Northaslted Business Alliance. “It says we’re where people come as a place of refuge.”

Aryanayakam also owns the popular Kit Kat Lounge, which regularly stages drag shows and other performances. He says the neighborhood residents who work in the performance industry have been devastated by the shutdown.

“Boystown is known as a place for great entertainment,” he said. “We have our divas at the Kit Kat Lounge, most places have drag shows, entertainment, DJs. They’re all out of work,” he said.

Aryanayakam says small businesses in the neighborhood have lost anywhere between 70% and 80% of their normal income. The Chicago Diner, a local staple that is celebrating its 37th anniversary this week, has been able to keep on most of its staff members that have expressed a desire to keep working. Partner Michael Hornick says he has applied for the federal Paycheck Protection Program, a forgivable loan fund offered by the federal stimulus to encourage businesses to keep workers employed. But he says that can only carry his business so far. - WTTW 2020

 Mayor Lori Lightfoot tried to keep her citizens safe
while adding some comic relief via gif's & photoshop's
 GIF's above and a photoshop below
and by the way the Pride Parade this year has been canceled due to the virus
Name Change?
in 2020
marketing it with a different name
for inclusiveness
photo - Enjoy Chicago 
article - Chicago Tribune

and then on June 1st
the name change to  
Neighborhood of NorthHalsted:
Chicago's Proudist Neiborhood

but need the vac card to enter
June 1, 2021
More Inclusion 
is Wanted/Needed
June 2021

June 2021

Post Notes: 
historical list of Chicago bars as of 2022
and book about the history of a movement in Chicago

Please follow me to my next post called

Important Note:
These posts are exclusively used for educational purposes. I do not wish to gain monetary profit from this blog nor should anyone else without permission for the original source - thanks!

No comments: