clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

CornerSpotted: 'Bughouse Square' on the 900 Block of N Clark

New, 2 comments

Yeah, this was an easy one. But site's story was too rich to resist. Officially Washington Square Park, many know it as "Bughouse Square" owing to all the "bugs" or soap-boxers that inhabited the three-acre green space on nice days many decades ago. Whether or not anyone would call free speech enthusiasts "bugs" today, the name stuck. The learned and outspoken population and their admirers were drawn there by the park's proximity to the Newberry Library and its ripe intellectual aura. That influence helped keep the park stable and enjoyable as the surrounding neighborhood descended into vagrancy in the early 1900s. The congregation of "bugs" spun off to create another storied landmark— the Dil Pickle, where "hobohemians" gathered for banter, plays, poetry, and speeches. The club was eventually overrun by Depression-Age mobsters and closed in 1935. The old fountain at the center of the park and this CornerSpot was removed in the 1970s and reconstructed in the late 1990s. Thanks for playing!
·A Forgotten Culture in a Familiar Place [Gapers Block]
·Hint: Anchoring a Small Park in an Outpost of Early Chicago [Curbed Chicago]