Tag: Classic Chicago Magazine

Illinois Spotlight: Cicero Throughout The Years



By Adrian Naves




“The land of Lincoln” and “The Prairie State” are some of the nicknames that describe the state of Illinois. Illinois is a midwestern state and a part of the rust belt. Illinois is famously known for the vast farmlands, forests, and wetlands. Aside from that, when folks think about Illinois they immediately think of Chicago and Springfield, but the land of Lincoln offers so much more. On Illinois Spotlight, we take a look around the Prairie State and highlight a city, town, suburb, or county to learn what makes each place in the state unique… giving the city of big shoulders a little rest from the spotlight. We kick things off first by making a stop to the town of Cicero.


Welcome to Cicero sign in the middle of Cermak Road.

Origin of Cicero

The town of Cicero is named after the Roman statesman and Orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero. The suburb of Cicero, about 8.5 miles west of Chicago, a town that was once manufacturing focal point and home to infamous mobster Al Capone. Around the 19th century, Cicero was originally a 36-square-mile tract that shadowed the city of Chicago in size. Cicero only retained about 6 miles of its original 36 miles.

This township was surrounded by what is today Western, North, and Harlem Avenues, and Pershing Road (Western Avenue was actually the western border of Chicago). In the late 1800s, a sequence of land annexations by the city of Chicago resulted in the town of Cicero being greatly reduced. In 1899, The Austin neighborhood was absorbed by the city. Berwyn and Oak Park each divided and became independent municipalities in 1901-1902.


The remnants of The Hawthorne Works building on Cermak Road and Cicero Ave.

Demographics of Cicero: Past and Present

In the mid-1800s, the railroad industry made the town of Cicero a regular stop, and the industry flourished in the community. Immigrants from parts of Eastern Europe came to the community in search of factory work, like finding work at Western Electric Company at Hawthorne Works. Several were from the Austro-Hungarian Empire (Bohemians and Slovaks), Poland, Lithuania, and Italy. Neighborhoods were somewhat bounded by ethnicity and not race, yet they remained socially segregated. According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, the company’s 25,000 employees “supplied roughly 90 percent of all the telephone equipment used in the United States, in the 1920s.”

Presently, the population of Cicero is about 81,919 as of 2022 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. During the 1980s, Cicero experienced a momentous influx of Hispanics/Latinos who have invigorated the town. Around the early 2000s, the community became largely Hispanic/Latino. The Hispanic/Latino makeup is about 87.9 percent of the population of Cicero as of 2022 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Al Capone and his associates in Hot Springs, Arkansas, via The Guardian.

Interesting Historical Facts of Cicero

The town of Cicero is synonymous with infamous mobster Al Capone. A son of Italian immigrants, Capone was born in New York. Capone got a scar on his cheek from a fight, earning him the nickname “Scarface.” When he met mob boss Johnny Torrio, he worked up through the ranks of Torrio’s gang. He followed Torrio to Chicago, eventually becoming leader of the Chicago outfit. When Chicago city officials began cracking down on crime, Capone moved his operation to Cicero. Capone and his brothers took over the local government, causing turmoil on local elections. During the 1924 local elections, Capone’s gang shot, kidnapped, and brutalized election workers and police officers. Capone was eventually convicted on tax evasion charges in 1931. He served part of his time at Alcatraz prison in San Francisco. He was released in 1939 and died in 1947.

The Hawthorne Works is the site of well-known industrial studies, due to its significance in industrial manufacturing in the United States. The Hawthorne effect is named for the works. North American Quality pioneer, Joseph Juran, referred the Hawthorne Works as “the seedbed of the Quality Revolution.” Paul Mattick, the Marxist theorist, worked here as a mechanic from 1928 until 1932.


Grab a slice of pizza at Freddy’s Pizza.

Things to Do/Points of Interest

Cicero has plenty to see and places to visit. The Hawthorne Works Museum, operated by Morton College, tells the story of the Hawthorne Works facility – its products and its employees. Some exhibits demonstrate Western Electric products such as telephones, communications. and electronics equipment, inventions by Bell Laboratories.

You can also visit Freddy’s Pizza, located at 1600 South 61st Ave, a local Pizza and local corner food mart. Freddy’s is well known for its thick-crust pizza and their delicious frozen Italian ice lemonade.

The suburb is connected to Chicago via the Cicero Pink Line stop, as well as the Metra.


Outside the J. Sterling Morton East High School building on South Austin Blvd.


There’s no shortage of rich history to the town of Cicero. Cicero is a unique suburb with a rich cultural identity. Home to some famous stars like Joe Mantegna. The town of Cicero has also been featured in hit tv shows like HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and “Better Call Saul.” The town of Cicero is one of the oldest and largest municipalities in the state of Illinois, a town of growing in popularity.

Pork Souvlakia

Avli Taverna






As I walked out the door after two of the coldest days in Chicago history, I found myself craving the comfort food of my childhood summers in Greece. Although far away from its beautiful beaches and mountains, Mediterranean food and hospitality has come to Lincoln Park at Avli.

Avli Taverna (1335 W. Wrightwood) is a followup to the 10-year-old Avli restaurant in Winnetka, with the cuisine notched up to a higher level of sophistication. It is a partnership between Louie Alexakis (the chef and owner in Winnetka); William Glastris, Jr.; and sportscaster Lou Canellis. It’s Greek food reinvented—not the traditional cuisine of Greektown but a revisiting of the classics done with culinary creativity.

The menu has both small plates and mains, so you can choose to share many dishes with your table, as they do in Greece over late-night dinners, or order individually if you prefer. There were several standout items in the small plates. The spicy feta dip with warm pita was exceptional and packed a real kick. The saganaki is topped with peppered figs and drizzled with honey, adding a new twist to an old Greek favorite. The grilled octopus was served over a tasty fava spread.


Pork souvlakia.

For those of you craving meat during this cold Chicago winter, the pork and chicken shish kabobs were seasoned and marinated with the perfect warming combination of herbs and spices. The grass-fed lamb and the lamb gyro sandwich is better than any lamb I’ve had in Greektown.


Gyro sandwich.


Caramel baklava ice cream.

The dessert list has only three items and the caramel baklava ice cream dessert is the standout here, with housemade ice cream topped with shredded filo.

Avli also has a curated list of quality Greek wines that would definitely appeal to a more refined palate than the typical ones found in Greektown. There are many wines you will never have heard of and great fun for wine lovers seeking to try something new from boutique wineries that are not widely available.

The space is small and only seats about 50 people, so reservations are recommended. The noise level is moderate—if you prefer a quieter dining experience, you should request to sit in the back room.

Avli is a great addition to Lincoln Park dining with a more polished approach to Greek cuisine. This intimate restaurant is sure to become a local favorite. Opa!



Photo credit: Kailey Lindman


5 Apps That Make Your Life Easier





By Omar Vilchez



It seems as though everyone is tremendously busy nowadays, and as 2018 comes to an end, we want to help you be more productive this coming year. Here are 5 mobile apps that can save you time and make your digital life much easier to manage.

1. Pocket

Have you ever found an article that you thought was interesting but didn’t have time to read it, and then when you did find the time, you couldn’t find it? Well, Pocket is a handy app that ensures you never miss out again. When you find a particular article that catches your attention, simply save the article to Pocket and read it whenever you want. Pocket isn’t only an application you can install on your computer or smartphone, it’s also a browser extension that makes it easy to save articles when viewing them on desktop web browsers like Safari and Google Chrome.


Blue arrow: Pocket Safari extension. Red arrow: Article saved to Pocket library.

Say for example, you find an article on Classic Chicago that appeals to you, but you know you’re running short on time. If you’re on your computer and you have the Pocket extension, simply open the article and click on the Pocket icon. Now the article is saved to your Pocket library, and you can return to it at your leisure on your smartphone or tablet, assuming you have the app installed. (Hint: You definitely should.)


Reader view with the dark theme on Pocket mobile app.

Other perks of using Pocket include customizing your articles right from the application and subscribing to Pocket Hits. When reading an article within the app it defaults to a reading view that cuts out all ads to maximize your reading experience, and you can choose a dark mode to make it even easier to read from a mobile device. Pocket Hits also makes sure you never run out of news to read by suggesting top articles based on your interests if you decide to opt-in. The best part? It’s free!

2. 1Password

 If you think Pocket is guaranteed to save you time in the near future, the next app won’t only save you time, it will also save you several headaches. How many times have tried to log in to an account, but had to reset your password because you couldn’t remember it? It happens to all of us, and it can be frustrating. 1Password is a password manager that saves all your passwords in a secure vault, and to access them you only need to remember your master password. (One password, get it?) Like Pocket, you can also install 1Password as a mobile and desktop application, as well as a browser extension.


Autofill option for Twitter on smartphone app. Source: Android Police

When you forget a password, log in to 1Password with your master password to reveal the key you couldn’t remember. Did you forget that your Twitter password was your cat’s name again? Don’t worry, 1Password can autofill your passwords when you log in to websites or applications. Also, to avoid passwords anyone can hack like your birthday or “I love Mr. Mittens,” 1Password will let you know when your password is too weak and generate a stronger password for you. Usually, these automated passwords are very complex and impossible to remember, but you don’t have to worry about that if the app will fill them in for you. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that no one can guess your password. (Sorry Mr. Mittens, I’m sure you’re still loved.)

In terms of security, 1Password says everything you save is end-to-end encrypted, so no matter what service you use to sync your data, (i.e. Dropbox or iCloud) it’s impossible for anyone to intercept your data.

3. Google Photos 

Everyone uses some sort of cloud storage these days. Whether you went out of your way to set up a Dropbox account, or use built-in services like iCloud on Apple devices or Google Drive on Google’s services, chances are you are using some sort of cloud program without even realizing it. That’s probably the smart move because that way your data is backed up in case your device crashes. In terms of backing up your photos, however, Google Photos is hands down the best service you can use. 


Option to free-up space on the smartphone app.

What’s so great about it? Two key features: unlimited and free. You can save as many pictures as you want to Google Photos at absolutely no cost. Whether it be on iOS, Android, or online on the Google Photos website, you’ll be able to access your photos anywhere. Additionally, the app can automatically sync your pictures so that you never lose any of them. With free unlimited storage and automatic backups, what’s the catch? Google Photos offers free storage on photos because your pictures don’t save at full resolution, however, your pictures still save at high quality. In real-world usage though, photos and videos still look great, and the app is smart enough to back up all the photos on your smartphone to the cloud and delete them from your device to free up space.

4. Zelle 

Zelle is a digital payments network that powers money transfers for major U.S. banks like Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citibank. If you already have the mobile application for your respective bank on your phone, then all you need is the other person’s linked email address or phone number to transfer money to their account, regardless of what bank they have. When you send money to a friend, the funds are available in seconds. The next time you need to send money to a friend, don’t ask what service you need to send them money through, just ask for their email or pull up their phone number on your phone. If you do have the other person as a contact, the process is even easier as the service can show you your contacts list and enable you to send money with just a few taps.


Zelle service on Bank of America mobile app. Source: Bank of America

If you’re worried about security, the service requires authentication before sending money, so it will send you a code via email or text to verify it’s actually you trying to make the transfer. The idea here is that if you already trust your bank to do mobile banking, then you don’t have to worry about putting your trust in some third-party application or service, you can do all your money transfers directly from your bank.

5. Google Assistant / Siri 

How often do you use the digital assistant on your smartphone? I’m here to tell you that using a digital assistant is the best and easiest way to set reminders and calendar events. If you still prefer to use a traditional planner or calendar, I don’t blame you, they still work great. But when you’re on the go and don’t have a pen or marker on you, your assistant can help.

Simply activate your assistant and say “remind me to pick up milk on the way home.” Assistants are smart enough to recognize what time that would be based on your usage, and it will send you a notification when the time comes. If the assistant isn’t correct, you can customize the time and even set the reminder to activate the notification based on a specific location. That way, if you know you’re going to the grocery store, you can tell your assistant to remind you to get milk once you’re at the store. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your phone in public, you can now type your request as if you were texting your assistant.


Setting a reminder via Google Assistant on a smartphone.

Personally, I still find a physical planner and calendar much more effective and quite frankly, much more pleasing to use. Digital assistants seem like something futuristic that will still take some time to improve and for more people to adopt. But in situations when I was in a hurry and I needed to make sure I remembered something, my Google Assistant got the job done, and all I did was type in my request. When you look at it through that perspective, writing reminders on your hand with a Sharpie really does seem like a thing of the past.




We hope you enjoy these amazing utilities and that you find them helpful. If you have time over the holidays, it would probably be a good time to check these tools out while you have spare time and are in the company of others who might be able to help you out. Here’s to a wonderful season filled with tech, and a happy new year with fewer frustrations.