A new and expanded edition of Lost Chicago, the popular history of buildings and institutions that are gone from the Chicago scene, has just been released. The original edition was published in 2012 and has been such a popular book that the publisher, Pavilion Books from the United Kingdom, decided to release a new version with additional stories and more color images.
I wrote 10 new chapters to add to the existing sections about the Great Chicago Fire, the Columbian Exposition, and many stories detailing the famous, but lost, ballparks and train stations. The new book includes many lesser known but interesting stories such as the infamous Nymph Fountain at the Art Institute and the time when Chicago was the ice skate racing capital of the world.
The new book gave me a chance to include stories that even longtime Chicago residents might not know. I was especially happy to be able to write about legendary locations, such as the starting point of Route 66.
The new portions of the book were written before COVID began, but publication was stalled by the pandemic. It is in stores now.
I joke that my book is what you give your father when you aren’t certain of the right gift. An Amazon reviewer wrote, “I bought this for a friend that recently turned 100. He was in tears from memories of Chicago in his youth.” Beyond the Boat Tour.com wrote that Lost Chicago “is an immensely entertaining and beautifully illustrated book with great archival photography.”
Lost Chicago is a nostalgic look at the cherished places in the city that time, progress and fashion have swept aside. It looks back in loving detail at many of the things that have helped create a city’s unique identity and have since disappeared — the streetcars, the shops, the parks, the churches, the amusement parks, even the annual parades. It looks at the architectural gems that failed to be preserved, the hotels that could not be adapted and fell to the wrecking ball, and the novelty buildings.
I teach theology full time at DePaul College Prep in Chicago. The high school is on the site that once housed Riverview Amusement Park, which appears in Lost Chicago.
I was a resident of Oak Park for almost 15 years but recently moved to Skokie. While in Oak Park, I was often better known as the husband of the artist Sabina Ott. She was known for creating Terrain Exhibitions, now a worldwide movement still based in Oak Park.
This new edition of Lost Chicago has strong Oak Park roots. All the additional sections were written at Fairgrounds Coffee on Lake Street. I sat at a long common table and drank coffee as I wrote the stories. I don’t think I am the only writer who likes to be out of the office while writing.
I loved Oak Park and miss it now. Recently, I worked on the campaign of Village Trustee Ravi Parakkat and am especially proud of the work I did on that. I enjoyed being able to make an impact at a grass roots level.
Paulett holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University and an M.A. in Theology from Felician University. In addition to his writing, he co-hosts a daily political podcast, “Sibling Talk.” Before COVID, he collaborated on a Chicago theater blog, a project that is resuming now. He is currently working on a book in theology. He has published four other books, mostly on Chicago history. “Lost Chicago” is available locally at The Book Table, 1045 Lake St., Oak Park, booktable.net.