Friday, May 15, 2009

From North to South Side: Vogue Fabrics, Roosevelt Road

When you live on the North side of Chicago, it takes considerable effort to get downtown. Considerable. As in "It's going to take me at least an hour to get downtown," said with a sigh and a vision of a Starbucks coffee in your hand while you're mired in highway traffic. Of course, then you have to go to the bathroom badly, and you're lucky if you can get off the Kennedy quick enough to answer nature's call.

So that's why it's so fantastic, so wonderful that I have a Metra train stop a block away. I'm always bragging, "I can get downtown in 20 minutes flat!" Naturally when I needed to visit Vogue Fabrics' Chicago store, I turned to Metra. I mean there's no way I'm going to sit through all 20 stops (an exaggeration) on the Red line to get my destination. No way. None! So here's what I did, clever me. I took the Metra into Ogilvy Transportation Center. From there I boarded a westbound Madison No. 20 bus, which took me to Halsted St.

Here I boarded the no. 8 Halsted bus, which took me and my body to Roosevelt Road, the outer limits of the University of Illinois Chicago campus. From there I walked east to Vogue Fabrics, crossing the on ramp for the Dan Ryan expressway (a little scary with all those cars).

After making it across the intersection intact, this is what I found. I've lived in Chicago a long time, but this is my first visit to Vogue's southern outpost! First. What struck me about the store's appearance? How locked into the 1950s it looks. The black awnings with Vogue Fabrics written in white cursive struck me as quaint, the backlit signs in an Art Deco slate blue font, a throwback to another time when women wore dresses, high heels, carried black leather purses to shop.

I did go inside to explore, recognizing a lot of fabric from the Evanston store, but everything I know and call familiar is in a different spot, so I did feel a bit discombobulated. Isn't this normal for a sewers among textiles? I'm still digesting and weighing in my mind what I like about this store vs. the other near my 'hood. It's kind of the Cubs vs. White Sox, North Side vs. South Siders argument (and there is friendly rivalry. People really do identify themselves as North Siders or South Siders. Bizarre but true. It's like we live in two countries in the same city). I'll write more about Vogue Fabrics south tomorrow. Before I go...I'll leave you with a picture of Manny's (most famous for a certain President-Elect's visit in November). Across the street from Vogue Fabrics. (you people used to crossing a two-lane Main Street in Evanston with well-mannered drivers - try doing the same across Roosevelt Road with the wacko motorists intent on getting on the highway.) Anyhow, to reward yourself from your roadway bravery, here's the Manny's menu. Now, I don't care for a corned beef sandwich. It's not my thing. Wait, wait, wait! I don't see any juicy hamburgers. Never mind. I'll find something I like. Now tell me wouldn't eating at this deli be a great way to unwind after teaching women how to sew underwear for 3.5 hours (which is what I'll be doing this summer)? I'll need to chase my fries with a Guinness, for sure. What do you like to eat after shopping for fabric?

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