As we’ve seen, city magazines have been around for a long time. Their modern era dates from 1968, when New York magazine was launched as an edgier alternative to The New Yorker.
Something similar happened in our city. By 1973 Chicago Guide had become established as the local city monthly. Jon and Abra Anderson, a columnist couple at the Daily News, felt there was room for another magazine. That October they launched a new monthly with an old name—The Chicagoan.
The first issue laid out a perspective. The staff of The Chicagoan liked Chicago, but didn’t like “baloney.” The magazine would be open to any stories that were truthful, interesting, and well-written. Phony boosterism was out. Still, as Jon Anderson noted, “we are not going to be nattering nabobs of negativity, either.”
Anderson also asked readers to be patient while the magazine found its way. He noted that the new Channel 2 news team of Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson had been launched with a huge wave of publicity, but were only now finding their style.
The Chicagoan quickly achieved its own style. Each issue began with an introduction from Jon Anderson, followed by a group of short, topical pieces gathered under the title “The Frontlines.” Then came a listing of the month’s special events and entertainment. Regular columns included Abra Anderson’s pieces about food and drink, as well as others devoted to music, movies, media, art and architecture, theater and dance, and books.
The feature stories were heavy on politics—after all, this was the era of Daley the First. Will Ralph Metcalfe run for Mayor? Will Dan Walker or Charles Percy run for President? Will Jim Thompson run for anything? And who will be the Machine Boss of the Future?
Like the political articles, the features capture the special flavor of their times. Oak Park is trying to stabilize as a multiracial village. The Near West Side is struggling to survive. Fast food joints have overrun Elmhurst Road. Circle Campus is killing its students with coldness. A new movie called The Sting is filming in town. The Bears are having a lousy season.
Then there were the light-hearted odds and ends. A Chicagoan board game. Various trivia quizzes. A survival guide to O’Hare. A dictionary of “Talkin’ Chicawgo.”
After nine wacky and wonderful issues, the Andersons sold the magazine. The new owners kept The Chicagoan going through October 1974, then closed up shop.