Growing Up In Lincolnwood

well today jess is hosting a 'see my city' linkup where you talk about 5 things about your hometown.  as you know, i live in chicago.  which i talk about fairly often.  and the 5 things i'd have to say and show off about it would probably be on every 'must see in chicago' list.  plus, it's my throwback thursday day and i do so hate to get off schedule.  but i still wanted to participate so instead, i'm going to tell you about my 5 favorite things about growing up where i did - the very tiny, first suburb north of chicago: lincolnwood.

lincolnwood is it's own quirky, weird little world.  population 12,600, 2.7 square miles.  which is small for the chicago area, trust me.  most people don't know it exists despite it's proximity to chicago because it's so, so small and surrounded by much larger suburbs.  but we do have a mall, a library, schools (pre-k through 8th grade at least), a grocery store, a community park and pool, and our own fire and police departments.  and our own starbucks.  before it became all that, it was long known as a place for gambling and getting drunk.  fun history, right?

i liked growing up in lincolnwood.  my parents still live there, in our same house.  with the same 5 surrounding neighbors.  it feels very much like a small town but it's so near everything else chicago has to offer.  

so my top 5 things i would have bragged about from my childhood and actually still do:


the purple hotel.  this place is literally the stuff of legend.  it wasn't even always called this, it used to be a radisson.  but it's always been that color so everyone has always called it the purple hotel.  eventually the owner just embraced it.  it's closed down now because it's an asbestos and hooker filled dirty craphole.  and it kind of always was.  (read the part about it on the wikipedia.)  even my mom admits it was a totally dirty place when i was a kid but i (and everyone else) had so many birthday parties there at the indoor pool.  i don't know why.  it wasn't exactly a lack of options, there was the outdoor pool and a chuck e cheese.  us kids just loved the damn purple hotel, in all it's sketchy glory.

the original lou malnatis.  indeed.  the famous chicago style deep dish pizza place started in good old lincolnwood.  i don't think a lincolnwood kid could even count how many times they've eaten lou's pizza.  and no one will ever convince me another deep dish place is better.  it's not.  lou's for life.


the house with the christmas tree through the roof.  really, that's what people call it.  you can even check in there on foursquare, look it up.  trust me, this family (i guess i could use their names cause you can google it but oh well) has a lot of kids so if you were even remotely around my age, you could say 'yeah my friend lives there' and feel really cool.  the towers, as that area of homes is called, is actually visited by out of towners all christmas season long so the traffic stinks.  but it's the place to drive around and look at lights, these people go all out.  my personal favorite house as a merry go round on the lawn.

the pool.  and i suppose that goes hand in hand with the safety, but i could ride my bike anywhere as a kid.  back in the day before cell phones existed, we could walk or ride our bikes anywhere inside the town borders without my mom worrying about us.  lincolnwood is really safe.  mostly this meant going to the pool (which i continued to do after my friends got jobs there and started driving.)  meredith and i had a babysitter when we were little, actually.  a teenager who suntanned while mere and i played in the water or took the quizzes in teenbeat magazine.  it was safe, my mom just didn't trust us not to drown and spend all our money on ring pops and airheads, i guess.

the mall.  ok, i don't brag about this one so much anymore.  except for the olive garden.  it is definitely not as nice as it was when i was a kid.  but when i was young, it was glorious.  it also seemed much bigger.  i mean, they had a limited too, what more could you ask for?!  they also had whatever that kids clothes store is that has a slide inside and a spencer's gifts.  and a huge candy store with the giant bulk bins and color coded candy which i loved so much.  my friends and i used to play mall hide and seek.  which is an awesome game - you split into pairs and one pair seeks while everyone else hides in their selected store.  but you can't leave the store once you're in it, until you're found.  i always picked the disney store.  you could sit and watch movies and they couldn't see your head if they peeked in from the windows, duh.

lincolnwood is pretty resistant to change.  all of these things are still there, though the hotel is abandoned.  it's pretty comforting to return home and realize the town is just the way you left it.

oh right, obligatory adorable throwback thursday photo of stephanie.  we probably drove around looking at christmas lights after my mom snapped this photo of me casually reading to my dog in front of the fireplace. (actually, this is a professionally done photo shoot.  i wish i was kidding.  parents.  but it is our house and that is my real dog, crystal.  why we weren't a paid modelling duo, i'll never know.)

25 comments

  1. Hubby and I drove past where the "purple" hotel was on Saturday in the snow. Kind of sad to see that it is gone. Grew up going past it and now now longer a landmark --hopefully something good will go up in it's place. But it was very seedy and well not the place I wanted to go. Just always knew that it was there not too far from Psistaria Restaurant.

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  2. The house with the Christmas tree through the roof is awesome!

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  3. I love that picture. How in the hell did you get the dog to actually look like she was paying attention?

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  4. Awh that looks like such a nice place. I would love to live somewhere like that!

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  5. Oh my goodness... that picture of you... I feel like it needs to be in a damn children's magazine, or hanging above my fireplace (that I don't have by the way). "it's an asbestos and hooker filled dirty craphole" Bahahah!

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  6. I love the bit about the purple hotel and it's sketchy glory + YES TO THE DISNEY STORE. ALWAYS.

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  7. Ahh such a cute picture of you! A Limited Too and Spencers, what more could you need in a mall. Sounds exactly like the mall in my hometown, when Target came it was a huge deal.

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    1. Thank you :) Right?! Limited Too was the greatest place in all the land. So many sparkle shirts and furry things. A Target moved into the neighboring town a few years ago, but Lincolnwood is still holding strong against the giant chain stores haha

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  8. That picture! All that hair! I love it. I'm sad I'll never get to experience the Purple Hotel. Sounds like it was glorious! Remember the back of the Disney Store had that giant, up to the ceiling display of stuffed animals? LOVE

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  9. That pic of you and the pup is too cute!! My friends and i used to love the pool and the mall when we were little. We now recognize the absolute crap hole it was and the drugs we didn't see. Yes, my hometown was ghetto. The purple hotel part was hilarious and sad!

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  10. That photo is great! You could have been in a catalog!

    And the slide store is The Children's Place, which still exists, but no more cool slides. I have a memory of getting a totally awesome denim jumper there.

    And with all the deep dish happening in Chicago, it was hard to know what ti try. I did have Lou Malnati's - glad it has your vote as the best!

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  11. Thats so cool you know where the pizza first started. and the house with a tree through its roof.. cmon.. insanity! Thanks for linking up!

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  12. I love the story of the purple hotel…and how you described it! If it wasn't so trashy I'd almost want to visit, just to see/view your description of the asbestos and hooker filled place. Glad I found you through the See My City linkup!

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  13. That Christmas tree is the most amazing thing I have ever seen!

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  14. That Christmas tree house is SO COOL!! I wish I lived there so I could visit it every year!!

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  15. Oooh Lincolnwood...I always wondered what the story was with that purple hotel. The Boy grew up in Niles so he always drags me to this damn pet store in Lincolnwood to look at all manner of weird things

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  16. I think the Purple Hooker filled hotel is awesome, especially since you had birthday parties there!

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  17. OMG too cute!!! I'd never be able to get Westley to sit that still and cute for a pic.

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  18. the purple hotel, i like how it was dirty and hooker filled yet you still had b-day parties there. and that house with the tree looks awesome. what a fun link up idea!

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  19. I'm going to look for that Christmas tree house next Christmas!!

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  20. That photo is awesome.

    And a hooker hotel that doubles as a spot for kid parties, YES.

    Thanks for the glimpse into your hometown.

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  21. I've only been in Chicago's airport so I have never heard of Lincolnwood but I'm in love with that house with the Christmas tree through the roof. So cool!

    Also, the mall.... Ohhhh, sweet, glorious mall. Well, not anymore but I used to love a good mall! Now when I go to one I feel like I'm 12 again and not like the mature adult that I am. ;)

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  22. Sooo first of all can I tell you how much I hate you that your hair was so fabulous even back in the day? You suck.

    Second of all, I am loving the Christmas tree through the roof and the fact that your little town never changes! What a way to always feel at home! I am just sad that I cant make reservations at the Purple Hotel when I come visit. Hookers and pool parties sound like a good time.

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  23. The name of the Purple Hotel cracks me up.
    And the throwback photo, so cute! I love it, so much!

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  24. I grew up in St. Charles, but I've been around Lincolnwood... eaten at Lou's and seen the lights!

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