New Archive Presents The Chicagoan, Chicago’s Jazz-Age Answer to The New Yorker (1926 to 1935)

Chicagoan April 12

Copy­right The Quigley Pub­lish­ing Com­pa­ny, a Divi­sion of QP Media, Inc.

Chicago’s famed “sec­ond city com­plex” did­n’t spring from organ­ic feel­ings of infe­ri­or­i­ty, but rather from the poi­so­nous pen of vis­it­ing New Yorker writer, A.J. Liebling:

Seen from the taxi, on the long ride in from the air­port, the place looked slow­er, shab­bier, and, in defi­ance of all chronol­o­gy, old­er than New York… the low build­ings, the indus­tri­al plants, and the rail­road cross­ings at grade pro­duced less the feel­ing of being in a great city than of rid­ing through an end­less suc­ces­sion of fac­to­ry-town main streets. 

- A.J. Liebling, Chica­go: The Sec­ond City, 1952

The Man­hat­tan born jour­nal­ist’s obser­va­tions about the tod­dlin’ town are plain­ly those formed by an out­sider, albeit one who har­bored no designs on becom­ing an insid­er.

The Chicagoan, a home­grown pub­li­ca­tion that inten­tion­al­ly mim­ic­ked The New York­er in both design and con­tent, offers a dif­fer­ent take. From 1926 to 1935, it strove to coun­ter­act the city’s thug­gish rep­u­ta­tion (Al Capone, any­one?) by draw­ing atten­tion to its cul­tur­al offer­ings and high soci­ety doings.

Out­side of Chica­go, no one cared much. Hav­ing failed to repli­cate The New Yorker’s nation­al suc­cess, it fold­ed, leav­ing behind very few sur­viv­ing copies.

Neil Har­ris, a Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus of His­to­ry, has right­ed that wrong by arrang­ing for the uni­ver­si­ty library’s near com­plete col­lec­tion of Chicagoans to be uploaded to a search­able online data­base.

The cov­ers have a Jazz Age vibran­cy, as do arti­cles, adver­tise­ments, and car­toons aimed at Chicago’s smart set. There’s even a Helen Hokin­son car­toon, in the form of a Bor­den cheese ad.

A search for Lieblings yield­ed but two:

Chicagoan December

Copy­right The Quigley Pub­lish­ing Com­pa­ny, a Divi­sion of QP Media, Inc.

One from Decem­ber 1, 1934, above, name checks pianist Emil Liebling in an arti­cle revis­it­ing the 1897 Christ­mas issue of anoth­er bygone Chica­go paper, the Sat­ur­day Evening Her­ald.

Chicagoan April 26

Copy­right The Quigley Pub­lish­ing Com­pa­ny, a Divi­sion of QP Media, Inc.

Four years ear­li­er, in Vol. 9, No. 3, Robert Pollack’s Musi­cal Notes col­umn made men­tion of Leonard Liebling, a crit­ic for the New York Amer­i­can… (I can hear A.J. beyond-the-grave snick­er­ing even now).

You can browse the pages of The Chicagoan here. For fur­ther read­ing, see Pro­fes­sor Har­ris’ book, The Chicagoan: A Lost Mag­a­zine of the Jazz Age.

via Messy N Chic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Par­ti­san Review Now Free Online: Read All 70 Years of the Pre­em­i­nent Lit­er­ary Jour­nal (1934–2003)

The Pulp Fic­tion Archive: The Cheap, Thrilling Sto­ries That Enter­tained a Gen­er­a­tion of Read­ers (1896–1946)

The Best Mag­a­zine Arti­cles Ever, Curat­ed by Kevin Kel­ly

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Her lat­est script, Fawn­book, is avail­able in a dig­i­tal edi­tion from Indie The­ater Now.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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