Masks required in Abakanowicz Research Center; optional for rest of Museum MORE

Zum Wohl or “Zoom” Wohl?

In a nonpandemic world, thousands of revelers in Germany and around the world would be enjoying Oktoberfest around this time. While you may be saying “Pröst!” virtually these days, we hope you still feel the Gemächlichkeit with your loved ones.

A view of the Red Star Inn (left) and Germania Club (right) on Clark Street at Germania Place, Chicago, October 26, 1960. HB-23829-F, CHM, Hedrich-Blessing Collection

Chicago’s first substantial German community took shape in the 1850s when immigrants from Bavaria and Württemberg settled around what is now the Near North Side. From the mid-nineteenth century, when Germans constituted one-sixth of Chicago’s population, until the turn of the century, people of German descent constituted the largest ethnic group in the city, followed by Irish, Poles, and Swedes. Immigrants from the East Elbian provinces established a newer, working-class neighborhood between Chicago and Fullerton Avenues on both sides of the river, with North Avenue often referred to as the “German Broadway.” By 1900, 470,000 Chicagoans—one out of every four residents—had either been born in Germany or had a parent born there. Around what is now Old Town, traces of the early German community can still be found, such as the Glunz Tavern (1888), the Germania Club Building (1889), which was home to the city’s oldest German American organization, and St. Michael’s parish, which was established in 1852 to serve a German Catholic congregation.

Menu for the Red Star Inn, August 6, 1959. CHM, ICHi-050812_a

The Red Star Inn was a prominent institution in Chicago’s German community and a popular North Side tavern for more than seventy years. Located at 1528 North Clark Street, just across from the street from the Germania Club, it was opened by German immigrant Carl “Papa” Gallauer in 1899 and originally called Zum Roten Stern (“To the Red Star”). This menu from 1959 lists traditional German dishes such as apple pancakes, Hoppel-Poppel (scrambled eggs, frankfurters, mushrooms, and onions), Hasenpfeffer (rabbit stew), Königsberger Klopse (meatballs in a white sauce with capers), and Wiener Schnitzel à la Holstein (breaded veal served with a sunny-side-up egg and anchovies), along with traditional American dishes like roast beef, baked ham, and steak. The restaurant closed in 1970 when developers purchased and razed the property for use as part of the Sandberg Village complex.

Menu for the Red Star Inn, August 6, 1959. CHM, ICHi-050812_b

Trace the city’s evolution from meatpacking capital to foodie paradise through our Google Arts & Culture exhibit Touring Chicago’s Culinary History. See more menus.

Studs Terkel Radio Archive

In his forty-five years on WFMT radio, Studs Terkel talked to the twentieth century’s most fascinating people. In 1968, Terkel toured Germany in an effort to understand the country’s role in the twentieth century. He met with journalists, political activists, and theater artists and visited jazz clubs and other urban locales in Hamburg and Munich to experience the many facets of German culture. Terkel recorded interviews with leading German artists such as Dieter Fischer-Dieskau, Gunter Grass, and Lotte Lenya. Listen now.

Virtual Oktoberfest 

Wednesday, October 14, 6:00 p.m. 

CHM members are invited to grab ein Bier and say “Pröst” with us! Discover the history of Chicago’s German community and see items from our research collection, such as historical menus, with CHM librarian Gretchen Neidhardt. Hear from Dovetail Brewery staff about the continental European styles and techniques they use to produce their beers. Not yet a member? It’s easy to join! Learn more.


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