Preview: Take a Walk on the Historic Side to See Logan Square’s History

Okay, it’s not quite Lou Reed but Logan Square is near where Nelson Algren wrote
A Walk on the Wild Side. The 34th Logan Square Preservation House Walk is on Saturday, September 9, and there is much to see.

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, some of which were small townships that were annexed to become part of the city. Logan Square was two townships called Jefferson and Maplewood when it was annexed in 1889. It was named Logan Square in honor of Union Civil War General John A. Logan.

I spoke with Logan Square Preservation’s president, Andrew Schneider, about the neighborhood’s early settlers and the efforts to preserve and restore the original beauty of the grand homes and churches. Schneider is a great resource on the history of Logan Square and the restoration efforts.

Logan Square Preservation is about education, beautifying, and preserving the rich history of Chicago’s early days. Logan Square is a part of the Parks and Boulevard system that shaped Chicago’s geography and neighborhoods. It is a signature feature of Chicago that there is a park attached to every neighborhood.

Andrew told me that the area was settled by Norwegians and that some features such as Viking carvings and architectural elements are featured on the house walk. As an aside, I saw an exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center that had a gallery display about Norwegian craftsmen whose work is seen in other areas including the Loop. Schneider mentioned a couple of highlights of the Preservation Walk.

Logan Square is home to the mansion owned by John Rustman who started Jefferson Ice. That blew my mind. I have seen the trucks forever but how cool is it (pun intended) to know that Rustman made a fortune from perfecting ice? There are some scandals attached to some homes and the Norske Klub, which was the meeting place for the Norwegian people in Chicago. Fundraising efforts are under way to restore the Viking features to Norske Klub by Logan Square Preservation.

Schneider directed me to look at the resource on the website where some of the ephemera is from the history of the neighborhood. Some will be on display at the House Walk but I suggest that you take a look at the archive online. It is a wealth of cookbooks, school pictures, church missals, and matchbooks from various drinking and eating establishments.

The walk will also include tours of some of the historic homes that current owners are graciously allowing people to tour. Some really cool classic cars are on display and of course, all of the wonderful establishments to shop and have a beverage of your choice.

Logan Square has long been known as a “hipster” destination. To be sure there will be dudes wearing some requisite soul patches and wool caps in the summertime but that adds to the cool factor. I love the history of Chicago when it was a city that worked. Stuff was made here and it was a self-sustaining economy for decades.

This will be an immersion in the history of a great neighborhood and I will be on one of those tours on Saturday, September 9; tours run from 10am to 5pm. History buffs and those looking to know some of the secrets of Chicago should have a great time.

The walk will start at the Minnekirken Church, 2614 N. Kedzie Ave. Tickets are $30 pre-event and $40 on the day of the walk. VIP tickets add a trolley to show you about the neighborhood. For more details, please visit

Kathy D. Hey
Kathy D. Hey

Kathy D. Hey writes creative non-fiction essays. A lifelong Chicagoan, she is enjoying life with her husband, daughter and three dogs in the wilds of Edgewater. When she isn’t at her computer, she is in her garden growing vegetables and herbs for kitchen witchery.