Welcome to Stuff You Missed in History Class: Logan Square Childhood Edition.
Logan Square is basically a grown-up’s playground with plenty of parks, toy shops, bars and restaurants.
But remember when we were younger and tinier (AKA “kids”), and had our favorite toys and children’s books? Well, it turns out Logan was a bit of a playground for some of those things, as well.
We recently combed through the web and rounded up a list of a people and toys we admired as kids that spent some time in the Logan Square/Humboldt Park area. Come along as we stroll through Logan Square’s history and connect with our younger, tinier selves.
Walt Disney’s Birth Home
Disneyland may be a magical place, but what if we told you the creator of the world’s favorite mouse was born right in our backyard? That’s right, Walt Disney was born in Hermosa in 1901. Disney lived at 2156 N. Tripp Ave. with his mom, dad and older brother until he was four years old. The home is currently being restored to be turned into a museum.
Shel Silverstein’s Birth Home
Shel Silverstein, the king of children’s books, also got his start in life in our neck of the woods. Silverstein’s family was living at 1458 N. Washtenaw Ave. in Humboldt Park when he was born in 1930. His father owned a bakery, which survived despite the impact of the Great Depression on the city. When Silverstein was four, his sister Peggy was born, and the family moved to Palmer Street in Logan Square.
Lincoln Logs Factory
If you played with Lincoln Logs as a kid, then congrats! You shopped local before it was even trendy. Lincoln Logs were produced at 1750 N. Lawndale Ave. in Humboldt Park from the 1940s to the 1960s. The location was ideal for the company, as it was located along an industrial corridor of sorts, and near a train route that helped transport the toys.
Where L. Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz
We have to admit, this was a pretty fun discovery. Have you ever tried to imagine how L. Frank Baum came up with the wonderful Dorothy, Toto, the Tin Man and the rest of the gang? You don’t have to stretch your imagination too far because Baum was living at 1667 N. Humboldt Blvd. when he wrote one of the most beloved books of all time. It’s believed that Baum took inspiration from strolls around the park as well as the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition when writing the book.
Ignaz Schwinn (founder of Schwinn) Home and Schwinn Manufacturing
Does the name “Schwinn” ring a (bike) bell? If so, you’ll be interested to know that the brand name has a varied history in these parks of the city. Ignaz Schwinn, the founder of the Schwinn Bicycle company, lived at 2157 N. Humboldt Blvd. in Palmer Square with his family for some time. His first business – Arnold, Schwinn and Company – with Adolph Arnold was located at 1856 N. Kostner Ave. in Palmer Square for most of the 1900s. Though the company remained at the location until 1986, Schwinn decided to break off to form his own company in 1908 and had that factory located just further down the block at 1718 N. Kildare Ave.
While these next two toy manufacturers aren’t quite in our neck of the woods, they deserve Honorable Mentions because it’s our childhood history article, and we’ll write about them if we want to.
Radio Flyer Offices
The iconic Radio Flyer wagons used to be manufactured just past Belmont Cragin at 6515 W. Grand Ave. This year marks the 100th anniversary for Radio Flyer. Founder Antonio Pasin came to Chicago from Italy as a teenager in 1914; his love for designing and building led to the creation of a wooden wagon named the Liberty Coaster in 1917. Radio Flyer offices and their giant wagon are just a bus ride west on Fullerton at their aforementioned location.
Cracker Jack boxes used to be the candy to eat. And part of the fun of eating Cracker Jacks was finding the tiny toys inside the box. TootsieToy made die cast cars and those toys we loved to find among our popcorn. Setting aside the choking hazards of these toys, here’s a fun fact: they were made on the west side of Chicago, right at 4537 W. Fulton St. in West Garfield Park.
Want to do a tour of the places mentioned in this article? Here is a handy map to guide you around the neighborhood: