NFT Chicago Skokie

Skokie

General Information
www.skokie.org

Overview
When Skokie was first incorporated under the moniker Niles Centre in 1888, it was considered to be the rowdy neighbor of temperate Evanston due to the large number of taverns within its borders. By 1940, residents were clamoring for a name change and a PR facelift. In November of that year, the village was renamed Skokie after the nearby Skokie River and canals, which themselves were named after an old Native American word for "swampland." Personally, we'd be more attracted to a party town, but nonetheless, the facelift was a success. With the completion of the Edens Expressway in the 1950s, residential development in Skokie was booming.

A chunk of the growth comprised Eastern European refugees from World War II, many of whom were Jewish. It is estimated that between 1945 and 1955, 3,000 Jewish families resettled in Skokie. Synagogues and Jewish services followed, and the village soon developed a self-perpetuating reputation as a thriving Jewish enclave. Skokie made international headlines in 1977–78 when it contested plans by the National Socialist Party of America, a branch of the American Nazi Party, to march on the village square. The NSPA was defended by the ACLU in a divisive case that brought the contest between free expression and freedom against hate speech into the international fore. As far as the NSPA was concerned, the decision to march in Skokie was an act of political manipulation. Chicago had denied the Nazis' right to march in SW Chicago's Marquette Park, which was the NSPA's home turf. The group then threatened to relocate their planned assembly to Skokie. When the Village of Skokie lost their bid to ban the march, Chicago finally conceded, allowing the Nazis to gather at Marquette Park in June 1978. A handful of Nazis showed up, countered by thousands of anti-Nazi protesters.See more.

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As if being the head of a neo-Nazi movement and threatening to march on the front lawns of concentration camp survivors doesn't already make you the world's biggest jackass/creep, NSPA leader Frank Collin secured the title in 1979 when he was arrested and incarcerated on child molestation charges.

Culture & Events
In 1988, an urban renewal project to restore the North Shore's decrepit Chicago River waterfront resulted in the two-mile Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park (sculpturepark.org), an outdoor recreation area with walking paths, picnic areas, and featuring more than 60 sculptures by artists of local, national, and international renown. The park, sandwiched between McCormick Blvd and the north branch of the Chicago River, runs the two miles from Touhy to Dempster.

Time travel through history at the Skokie Heritage Museum (8031 Floral Ave, 847-674-1500), an assemblage of historical photos, papers, and artifacts painstakingly gathered by the Skokie Historical Society. The museum, housed in a restored 1887 firehouse, also features the history of Skokie's firefighters. Behind the museum, an authentic 1840s log cabin relocated to this location allows kids a glimpse into the town's pioneer past.

Skokie is the home of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center (9603 Woods Dr, 847-967-4800; www.ilholocaustmuseum.org or @ihmec). Opened in 2009, the facility is not only on a mission to educate future generations about the horrors of the Holocaust but also an attempt to close an upsetting chapter in Skokie's history. The two wings and their respective architecture are meant to evoke the hard edges of the historical record and the soft arches of a hopeful future. It's open to the public weekdays 10 am–5 pm and Thursday evening until 8 pm. Saturday and Sunday from 11 am-4pm. Museum closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and major Jewish holidays. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and students aged 12-22, $6 for children 5-12.

North Shore Center for the Performing Arts
Home to the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra, the Centre East Theater, and, most notably, the highly acclaimed Northlight Theater, the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts (9510 Skokie Blvd, 847-673-6300; www.northshorecenter.org or @NSCPAS) is a state-of-the-art performance venue. Touring artists perform here, world class theater (sometimes featuring ensemble members from Steppenwolf) is mounted here, and it's also a North Shore venue for exhibits and trade shows. Designed by architect Graham Gund in 1996, The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts has given Northeast Illinois culture seekers a reason to come to Skokie besides bagels and lox.

Where to Drink
Despite its alcohol-fueled history, Skokie is not really known as a place to imbibe socially. Young residents head to youthful watering holes in the vicinity of the Northwestern campus in formerly tee-totaling Evanston (will the ironies never end?). Meanwhile, local drunks hang out at anonymous corner taverns just like anywhere else. Retail workers, middle managers, and the secretarial set mingle and mate at the food and booze joints adjacent to Old Orchard.

Where to Eat
Old Orchard Shopping Center is filled with family-friendly chain options. Happily, Skokie still houses enough locally owned, independent restaurants to add interest and diversity to their dining scene. Folks travel from all over Chicagoland for local delis and kosher fare ever debating the superiority of Kaufman's v. New York Bagel and Bialy as THE place for a bagel and shmear.

How to Get There
By Car: Take the Edens Expressway (I-94), and exit at Dempster.

By L: The Skokie Swift Yellow Line runs non-stop between the Howard Street Red Line terminus and the Dempster-Skokie station at 5001 Dempster St. Trains run approximately every 10-15 minutes between 5 am and 11 pm.




         



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Tina Fakhrid-Deen
Photo:  Tina Fakhrid-Deen

Looking for a family outing or a fun, cheap date? The Sports Park offers the cutest miniature course in the Chicagoland area, batting cages, and a huge golf range (voted one of the top 100 ranges in America). The challenging, 18-hole Traveler’s Quest mini course features an around-the-world theme with giant African elephants, the Eiffel Tower and a soothing, man-made creek running through it. The 9-hole Kid’s Quest course is an easy, interactive treasure for the tots. If the little ones aren’t so keen on putt-putt, they can ride slides, dinosaurs, and jeeps. And while the batting cages are tiny, the adult golf course is more than impressive. Since it’s part of the Skokie Park District, the prices are quite reasonable for hours of fun in the sun. Bring your own snacks in case the bootleg trailer vendor isn’t open. On the southeast side of Skokie, bordering Evanston, there are plenty of local eateries and a mall within five minutes of the Sports Park. With limited shade, it’s best to go there in the morning or early evening to insure that you don’t pass out from the blazing summer heat.



Posted By:  Bathsheba Birman
Photo:  Bathsheba Birman

Still can’t shake your childhood fascination with the two cartoon provocateurs from Mad Magazine? Always longed to answer your shoe ala Maxwell Smart? Would-be international men of mystery take heart. From kitsch ($14.95 imitation security camera) to creepy ($1,500 voice scrambler), this store has the gadget for you. Worried that your sweetie’s got a cheatin’ heart? The “Original Check Mate 5-Minute Infidelity Test” lets you know yea or nay by detecting seminal fluids. Certain that your au pair is whacking Junior while you’re away? Bust her out with a life-sized teddy bear nanny cam. Looking to pass as a bounty hunter, weapons specialist, or ordained minister? U-Spy’s got ID cards at the ready. Other highlights: “Hot Lips” pepper spray disguised as a lipstick; “The Defibulator,” billed as the world’s first handheld lie detector; envelope x-ray spray; and the ultimate teenage wasteland accessory, the A and W soda can safe.



Posted By:  Bathsheba Birman
Photo:  Bathsheba Birman

More of an empire than a restaurant, the Pita Inn brand extends to two additional outposts, plus a grocery and soon to open gallery in the aptly named Pita Inn Plaza next door. The 25 year old flagship location is a bustling operation and despite being efficiently manned by a slew of employees, there’s an inevitable wait. The pros? An inexpensive menu, fresh ingredients and—particularly endearing in the suburbs—late night hours. Scarf hummus, stuffed grape leaves, falafel sandwiches, and other Mediterranean fare. Then head over to the Pita Inn Market for Middle Eastern specialties and bread hot from the bakery window.




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