Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-12-07



Newberry Library hosts 'Bughouse Square: A History in Song and Story'
by Carrie Maxwell

This article shared 766 times since Sun Aug 28, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Newberry Library (the Newberry) hosted an interactive, family-friendly event, "Bughouse Square: A History in Song and Story," on Aug. 27 in Washington Square Park, located directly in front of the library.

The event featured actor Alma Washington portraying U.S. labor organizer and Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) co-founder Lucy Parsons; Chicago Gay Alliance Co-Founder and LGBTQ activist/icon Gary Chichester; and Chicago newspaper writer, After Hours radio host and author Rick Kogan recalling and re-enacting important milestones in Bughouse Square's history. Washington Square Park Advisory Council President Kit Barbaro also spoke. Newberry Library Public Engagement Director Karen Christianson emceed the event.

Washington Square Park is also famously known as Bughouse Square and was once a cow path. Over time, the square turned into a gathering place that featured soapboxers, poets, artists and activists. Since the late 1980s, the Newberry has hosted the Bughouse Square Debates in the park.

Last summer, the Newberry held an event, "Out of the Closets and Into the Streets," that was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That discussion focused on Chicago's Pride Parade origins and its connection to Bughouse Square and the history of LGBTQ+ culture in 1970s Chicago.

"In 2022, the Newberry was selected by the Pattis Family Foundation to begin a new book award: The Pattis Family Foundation Chicago Book Award, which is given to a book with a Chicago-centric theme," Newberry Library Public Programs Manager Emily Ponchelle told Windy City Times. "With this opportunity, the Newberry thought that it was the right moment to pivot away from debates and celebrate Chicago stories instead. On July 30, 'Chicago Storytelling in Bughouse Square' was the inaugural event, that gave attendees the chance to hear a diverse offering of stories from Chicagoans, and to create their own stories at storytelling circle activities in the park. The day of activities and performances culminated in the presentation of The Pattis Family Foundation Chicago Book Award to Dawn Turner, for Three Girls from Bronzeville.

"The Newberry had been given a grant from the Free for All Fund with the Chicago Community Trust, which enabled us to do this second summer program, 'Bughouse Square: A History in Song and Story.' Since 'Chicago Storytelling' gave us the opportunity to do something new, we thought that the next program should celebrate the past, specifically the activist history of the park."

Christianson welcomed the attendees and introduced Barbaro, who spoke about the work the all-volunteer Washington Square Park Advisory Council has done during its 10 years of existence. She also called on attendees to become volunteers for the council, which has four committees: programs, landscape, fundraising and communications..

Christianson said when Chicago was incorporated into a city in 1837, the park was just a grassy space with a well for farmers to bring their cows to graze and drink from while they traded gossip and other news. In 1842, three real-estate developers ceded the land to Chicago to become an official park; in the ensuing years, many affluent people, including the Ogden brothers (Mahlon and William—the latter who became Chicago's first mayor) began to move to the neighborhood. Christianson spoke about the changes that happened to the area after the 1871 Great Chicago Fire, including the Newberry moving across the street in 1893 and, a few years later, the park becoming known as Bughouse Square. This is when a variety of people started to come to the park to get up on a soapbox to speak about various topics. Christianson said one of the many notable Bughouse Square speakers was Parsons.

As Christianson finished her remarks, Washington came up to the podium as Parsons in 1905 fresh off her speech at the inaugural IWW convention.

Washington regaled the audience with part of Parsons IWW convention afternoon session speech: "I have taken the floor because no other woman has responded, and I feel that it would not be out of place for me to say in my poor way a few words about this movement. We, the women of this country, have no ballot even if we wished to use it, and the only way that we can be represented is to take a man to represent us. You men have made such a mess of it in representing us that we have not much confidence in asking you; and I for one feel very backward in asking the men to represent me. We have no ballot, but we have our labor … We are the slave of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly than men. Wherever wages are to be reduced the capitalist class use women to reduce them."

Additionally, Washington, as Parsons, spoke about voting rights and the Haymarket Riots.

Christianson continued telling the park's history including how the neighborhood began to decay in the 1950s and beyond. She added that, among other things, the soapbox speakers dwindled and the center fountain in the park was removed. Then on June 27, 1970, Christianson said, the Chicago Gay Liberation movement held a rally to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City, and about 150 people attended. The attendees heard speeches and then marched to what is now known as the Daley Center in the Loop. This event became Chicago's first Pride Parade.

Chichester took the attendees back to that first rally and march, where he and others that constituted "a group of rag-tag hippies and self-proclaimed freaking fag revolutionaries" gathered. He added that this first rally was a way to celebrate gay power and Washington Square Park was chosen because no permit was needed to give speeches there. Chichester said the rally and march was their way of "breaking out of the closets and getting into the streets" to Daley Center. He also spoke about the neighborhood's LGBTQ+ history that, at the time, was known as Towertown. Chichester also asked attendees to chant "Gay Power to Gay People." He also said that, next year, this first march might be replicated and to stay tuned for future announcements.

Christianson continued telling the park's history including a committee that was formed in 1975 to re-open Bughouse Square and over the next ten years two other groups rejuvenated the park with a new fountain and other vintage design elements. She added that in 1986, the Newberry held an all-day Bughouse Square debate inspired by Studs Terkel, who was the unofficial mayor of the square. This event was so successful, said Christianson, that it was held in-person every summer until 2019 and then virtually in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kogan, the current mayor of Bughouse Square, entertained the audience with some of Terkel's poems and other writings, whom he said should never be forgotten. He also told the story of how Terkel's and his wife's ashes came to be buried in the park.

Following their remarks, the Newberry gave each speaker a blow-up pickle as an homage to the now-defunct, debate-related Dill Pickle Club Award.

Attendees were also treated to DJ Dan Maloney spinning Chicago music from different eras before each speaker came up to the podium; games such as Bubble Works, Baggo Bean Bag, Bocce Ball and Balloon Twister; and free popcorn and make-your-own cotton candy. Paletas Michoacana also sold frozen treats. There was also a historical photo-op set-up for attendees to take their pictures.

Sponsors included the Washington Park Advisory Council and the Free For All Fund at the Chicago Community Trust.

This article shared 766 times since Sun Aug 28, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Let's Talk presents "Let's Talk & Celebrate" foodie bash March 2
--From a press release - (CHICAGO) — Kick off Women's History Month with a "Let's Talk & Celebrate" Gold Glamour Gourmet bash by 35+ Chicagoland Let's Talk Womxn restaurateurs on Thursday, March 2, at Moe's Cantina in River North fr ...

Gay News

Oak Park Festival Theatre makes history with new artistic director
The Oak Park Festival Theatre (OPFT)—the oldest professional classical theater in the Midwest—announced that Peter G. Andersen will be joining the company as its new artistic director in January 2023. It is the first time that a person ...

Gay News

Washington skates by Blackhawks as Ovechkin makes history
At the United Center on Dec. 13, the Chicago Blackhawks (7-16-4) fell to the Washington Capitals (15-12-4) by a score of 7-3. Washington's Alex Ovechkin scored three times to become the third NHL player with 800 ...

Gay News

"A Secret I Can't Tell" book updated and reissued
-- From a press release - NEW YORK, NY — NOVEMBER 14, 2022 — In 2020 the United States Supreme Court ruled that 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. But now Florida's "Don't say gay" ...

Gay News

Blackhawks end losing streak; UChicago makes soccer history
On Dec. 3, the visiting Chicago Blackhawks (7-12-4) defeated the New York Rangers (11-10-4) 5-2, snapping an eight-game losing streak. With an assist on Taylor Raddysh's goal to put the team up 4-1 in the third period, ...

Gay News

Bulls, Blackhawks lose; Lightfoot-Fire FC link
The Chicago Bulls (9-12) fell to the Phoenix Suns (15-6) 132-113 in Arizona on Nov. 30, dropping the Bulls to 12th in the Eastern Conference. Phoenix now leads the Western Conference. Devin Booker scored 51 for ...

Gay News

Book censorship focus of public comments at Lincolnwood Public Library Board of Trustees meeting
During the closed door portion of the regularly scheduled Lincolnwood Public Library Board of Trustees meeting Nov. 28 at Lincolnwood Village Hall, Library Defense members hosted a Freadom Book Swap outside of the building. Library Defense ...

Gay News

Kris Mayes shatters lavender ceiling; first LGBTQ person elected Arizona Attorney General
-- From a press release - Washington, DC — Today LGBTQ Victory Fund candidate Kris Mayes won the election for Arizona Attorney General. With this historic win, she is now the first out LGBTQ Attorney General in Arizona history. Mayor Annise Parker, ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT What are the most banned books: take a guess
The Latin word for book is liber. It is also the Latin word for "free," as in not a slave but a person who enjoys freedom (liberty). The word library means a home for books, a place of liberation, a sacred ...

Gay News

Opinion: What are the most banned books? Take a guess.
The Latin word for book is liber. It is also the Latin word for "free," as in not a slave but a person who enjoys freedom (liberty). The word library means a home for books, a place of liberation, a sacred ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Political results, communicable-disease law, Urvashi Vaid
Sharice Davids won the election for Kansas' 3rd Congressional District. In 2018, she made history when she became the first out LGBTQ+ person elected to Congress from Kansas and one of the first two Native American women ever ...

Gay News

U.S. women's soccer makes history after loss to Germany
The United States women's soccer team lost again, falling 2-1 to Germany on Nov. 10 at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. According to The Guardian, it's the U.S. team's first three-game skid since 1993 ...

Gay News

Theater Review: Porchlight's Rent is a winner
By Jonathan Abarbanel - Title: Rent. Playwright: Jonathan Larson (book, music, lyrics) At: Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center. Tickets: 773-777-9884;; $25 and up. Runs through: Dec. 11 From its 1996 premiere ...

Gay News

Erick Russell shatters lavender ceiling; first Black LGBTQ person elected to statewide position in U.S. history
-- From a press release - Washington, DC — Today LGBTQ Victory Fund candidate Erick Russell won the election for Connecticut state Treasurer. With this victory, he is now the first Black out LGBTQ person ever elected to statewide office in U.S. ...

Gay News

HISTORY MADE: Oregon's Tina Kotek one of first lesbian governors in U.S history
-- From a press release - SALEM — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, hailed the victory of HRC-endorsed Tina Kotek in her bid to become the governo ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.