Welcome to WendyCity!

0 Posted by - April 23, 2014 - WendyCity

Hi and welcome!  As is possibly obvious, my name is Wendy and my city is Chicago.   Here’s a little about how WendyCity came to be:

I hail from Milwaukee, but I actually spent the very first year of my life in Chicago.  My grandfather was developing properties near O’Hare when it was still a young airport and my parents and I lived in one of his buildings for that year (no wonder I love the sight of jets in the sky).  We returned to Milwaukee where I grew up and then raised my children, but Chicago was always a regular part of our experience: visiting family and friends here, museum field trips, shopping at Christmas, flying out of O’Hare…

It’s the State Street Pedestrian Mall c 1990! With my son and daughter.

I think my love affair with Chicago began with an early 1970s trip down to see the new John Hancock tower.  I’ll never forget the view from the top.  Did I perhaps know that I would one day return to live and make Chicago my forever home?

Some years ago, a series of life events gave me that opportunity.  I had completed my MA in Art History, but had discovered along the way that my real passion was architectural history.  For years, I had been a volunteer tour guide in Milwaukee, but on one trip to Europe, realized that I wanted to make my living as a tour guide.   I was originally aiming to be a tour guide in Europe, but my ultimate calling would be closer to home.

Me (center) with my sisters - early 1970s

Me (center) with my sisters – early 1970s

While in grad school at the University of Kentucky, I had the great privilege of working at Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate in Lexington, a National Historic Landmark.  I was a Weekend Manager and then the museum’s first Director of Operations – and it was there that I fully discovered my vocation.  Not only did I love giving tours of the mansion (and gave many hundreds of them), but I was also doing research, writing, training, presenting, working with photography, working with lots of people.  Friends told me that I really should get my PhD in Public History, but I realized I was already doing the work of public history – interpreting history for the public – and finding it incredibly fulfilling.

But personal life events called for relocation – and I saw my opportunity to move to my favorite city in the whole world: Chicago.  After all, my collection of Chicago history and architecture books was growing to unwieldy proportions…and clearly pointing me in the right direction.

I began doing the research that everyone does when relocating to a new place: where should I live?  where will I work?  I looked at apartments, I lined up job interviews.  But most importantly, I began looking into the world of Chicago’s history and architecture.   My work in public history was going to have a new urban home.  Who was doing what?

But – wow – the world of Chicago history and architecture is huge and complex!  I was able to find the historic house museums – okay, good first step!   (I later landed at the Glessner and Clarke House Museums as a docent.)

But when it came to: who was writing about Chicago’s built environment? who was giving tours?  who was reporting the news?  who was analyzing/critiquing?  who was photographing?  WELL, I was overwhelmed !

But I dug in and believe I now have a handle on this dizzying, dazzling world.

I further wanted to know: who is GOOD?  Who is worth listening to, looking at, following?   I found hidden gems (e.g., excellent historians and writers with no presence on social media) and I also found some hyped things that weren’t actually so great, after all.   But mostly I discovered a lot of high-quality content: great voices, great eyes, great interpreters.

And long story, short, that is how WendyCity came about.

WendyCity has two parts.  One part is this blog – an aggregate blog, a curated blog, if you will.  I want to share with you  – all in one handy place! – the GOOD stuff about Chicago history and architecture – and make it clear and concise.  I will be featuring bloggers, tour guides, historians, photographers.  I will offer up the best resources – websites, archives, books.  I will give you the scoop on who’s doing what – and how to find them.

The second part of WendyCity is my own tours!  I’ve been giving tours in Chicago for some years and for other people – and I’ve taken oodles of tours – but I am so excited to now be able to offer my own tours – and show off my beautiful city!  I believe in serious history …and retro fun.

So, again, welcome to WendyCity!

8 Comments

  • designslinger April 25, 2014 - 8:02 am Reply

    Wendy, Congratulations on your new & very beautiful website. We’re looking forward to your posts!

    designslinger

    • Wendy April 25, 2014 - 8:10 am Reply

      Thank you, designslinger!

  • Todd Protzman Davis April 26, 2014 - 9:31 am Reply

    I have no doubt that WendyCity will be an extraordinary success. Congratulations!

    • Wendy April 27, 2014 - 12:22 pm Reply

      Thank you, Todd!

  • Lori D April 26, 2014 - 11:53 am Reply

    I look forward to learning about the (sometimes forgotten) history of the buildings, the neighborhoods & the people that impacted Chicago! I worked in the Loop in the early 1980’s & I wish I would have known then what I know now about the fantastic & rich history of Chicago & it’s architecture. Thanks in advance!

    • Wendy April 27, 2014 - 12:23 pm Reply

      Thank you, Lori. Look forward to having you join me!

  • Dawn Balistreri April 26, 2014 - 7:37 pm Reply

    Congratulations, Wendy! I look forward to following your blog and taking one of your tours.

    • Wendy April 27, 2014 - 12:23 pm Reply

      Thank you so much, Dawn!

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