Walking up to Twin Anchors restaurant, you get the feeling that you’re walking in any small town in the United States—the family owned restaurant is located on a tree lined street in Chicago. Surrounding the restaurant, are dozens of brick homes and a few small apartment buildings. A grade school and its playground lie across the street and a small, warm neighborhood pub is just up the road. At the intersection of the 2 main streets is a coffee house and a small, family owned Italian restaurant. And one street over is an old Catholic Church built by German immigrants in the late 1800’s. While this may feel and appear like any other small town across the United States, it’s actually a quaint, quiet neighborhood less than 2 miles from the heart of a major American city. The major metropolis is Chicago and the quaint town is actually just a close-in neighborhood called Old Town. The relationship between this neighborhood and the center of the city speaks to what’s captivating about Chicago. The enormity of Chicago stands in almost stark contrast to Old Town’s Midwestern small town feel, and yet the two work quite well together. In fact, one couldn’t live without the other, really.
Chicago’s 2.9 million people make it the 3rd largest of the US & 26th largest if the world. And Old Town’s few thousand inhabitants are a mere 10 minute “L” (Chicago’s subway system, nicknamed the “L” after ‘elevated train’, since about ½ of the system rides elevated above the streets, not below) ride from heart of Chicago’s downtown district, the Loop. (Named after the “loop”, the subway or “L” makes into and around downtown Chicago.) Albeit tiny, the neighborhood is very fun, comfortable, affordable, and well…livable. The Twin Anchors Restaurant derived its name after the two true anchors of Chicago- the Hancock Building on the north side of the city and the Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower, but real Chicagoans refuse to use such a ghastly name in local conversation) on the South side. Together, these two skyscrapers, some of the tallest in the world, “anchor” the city.
As is the case in literally hundreds of other locally owned restaurants all over the city, Twin Anchors became famous for serving outstanding food in Chicago. They’re known for serving up some of the country’s finest ribs- all day, 7 days a week. But this nearly 100 year old neighborhood place did such an incredible job dishing up plates and plates of ribs, it became it’s own anchor to it’s own neighborhood, and was good enough to garner national attention from celebrities from all over the country. In fact, it became a frequent stop for one rather popular visitor- Frank Sinatra. Black and White photographs of Frank and Chicago’s skyline don the restaurant old wooden walls. The restaurant has even hosted a famous scene in the most recent Batman movie- The Dark Knight.
But every neighborhood close to Chicago has its famous restaurant and stops.
The early planners of Chicago were wise enough to know that close-in neighborhoods had to be easily linked to the center of the city. Over 100 + years ago, the city built several independent trains which eventually became one system. The “L” trains, as it’s currently known as, wind their way through all the close-in neighborhoods to keep the city center thriving. So, even today, the trains still wind their way through virtually all of Chicago’s neighborhoods- Old Town, Lincoln Park, Wrigleyville, Gold Coast, River North, Bucktown, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, Andersonville, Uptown, Chinatown, Little Italy (University of Chicago), Greek Town. And all of them have their own unique feel, yet somehow add to the flavor of Chicago.
While all of these close-in neighborhoods are instrumental to Chicago’s success, it’s only one factor to what many who live and visit here believe: this is one of the best cities in the world.
CHICAGO’S ART SCENE.
It’s not only known for it’s great food and neighborhoods, but also for its art. World class art is housed in the city’s Art Institute and the MCA, Modern Contemporary Art. Both of these museums are considered world class institutions. The Art Institute completed a modern art wing in May, 2009.
The neighborhoods even get in on the art scene. Every neighborhood has its own art museum or studio. In fact, Old Town hosts one of the country’s oldest outdoor arts fair. Every June in Chicago, for over the past 100 years, artists from all of the US and Canada come into the heart of Old Town and display their works. Streets are closed, vendors display their wares, and art is temporarily housed unde white display tents for easy access to patrons.