The Hilton Chicago

The Hilton Chicago has been home to much history over the span of 90 years. Designed in the Beaux-Arts architecture style, its doors opened in 1927 as the Stevens Hotel, run by James W. Stevens and his son Ernest. It was the largest hotel in the world at the time and was monikered a “City Within a City” for all the luxuries it afforded its patrons.

Though the Hilton Chicago has gone through many renovations since its opening, it still retains its original purpose set out by the hotels founder: to create an entirely self-sufficient city within a city environment, a place capable of offering the most extensive convention and conference facilities in a primary destination. The Hilton Chicago keeps James W. Stevens dream alive by maintaining the hotel’s classic integrity with all the luxury conveniences the modern traveler has come to expect.

DispatchAlmost as idyllic a scene as in a Hallmark movie was my first experience with Chicago’s ‘Grand Jewel’ Hotel. My Aunt had worked with the hotel for years and had arranged for our families Christmas Party to happen in one of its beautiful penthouse suites. I was very young when this became our annual holiday tradition, but I remember how magically it all presented itself to be.

In the weeks leading up to the party, my Mother would take me and my sister shopping at Van Maur (a store that I would always imagine being featured in an old black and white movie- it had such an old Hollywood glamour to it that it always awed me when we got to go to the department store) and we would get new Christmas dresses that always made me feel like a princess when I wore them (and I would feel even more so like a princess when we would get up to that elegant suite on Christmas Eve and I got the chance to overlook the entire city from above).

The Hilton Chicago played a part in my Christmas fantasies for a good many years. In that hotel are memories that I love so much from getting beautiful copies of The Night Before Christmas and A Country Christmas and making my Dad trek up 29 flights of stairs because of my unexplainable fear of elevators. The Hotel became a magical place from my childhood, a place where once a year I could be a Christmas princess and just enjoy time with my family.

It’s been almost 8 years since we stopped having those grand parties and I must admit I miss the enchantment the Hotel gave my childhood Christmases. Now as a freshman at Columbia College, I walk past the Hilton every day to and from to school. With the holidays drawing nearer I remember all those seemingly magical Christmas adventures and I feel a bittersweet happiness knowing that those times are over but will be a memory I will cherish until the day I die. (Gia Spalla/ City of Stories Student)


Mr. Chicago

Chicago saved me.

I noticed how important my story is, one that I thought was so dull before. In a mad dash of desperation, I saved my own life by coming here.

In my painting titled “Mr. Chicago” I created a human representation of the city of Chicago. Impressionistically, I guess the person/figure is supposed to be me. I used key elements and images that I associate with Chicago and stuck them all onto a human body. The Chicago skyline of course, being stalked by the immense height of the Willis Tower. A very calm human-friendly pigeon perched atop of a pipe; the pipe spewing a greenish liquid which is supposed to represent Lake Michigan. A muffler coughing up thick grey smoke, accompanied by a breathing mask on the face of the figure with the design of the Chicago flag. And lastly a mysterious hand painting onto Mr. Chicago. The paint brush is meant to visualize the art of Chicago not only literally but also figuratively. Also, I think the painting hand can be seen as my own hand. Painting, the main reason why I’m existing here in Chicago; to gain an education and create art.

Final Project:

Mr. Chicago (painting)

(Alex Matthews / CoS Student)

The Lake – short film adaptation

Once I read “The Lake” for our reading responses I knew I wanted to make it into a film.

I love making movies and visualizing books I read into a film in my head, this one was very easy to picture. I knew what I wanted everything to look like, but I also knew there would be complications and not everything would be perfect. I can say I am still very proud of what we all came up with. Our script written by Chris and Makala was wonderful, even though we ended up cutting out all dialogue in the end.

Final Project:

(Luke Wysoglad, Makala Scheel, and Chris Vickers-Rynecki / CoS Students)

Oh the Places You’ll Go

For my final, I took inspiration from the book Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.

This story is one of the more dark and serious children’s book from Dr. Seuss. The concept of the book is leaving home and finding your way. It talks about how you will fall down and get left behind but it should never stop you. You should never get caught up in limbo or just constantly be waiting for opportunities. You have to take a risk and work for them. I feel as though that book is relevant to my life and story right now. I remember reading that book with my mother when I was little, but never truly grasped the concept. It is funny how that now, my college self, is revisiting a childhood story but better understand and relate to it now than when I was a kid. I chose to make the book into a film and use my little sister as an actress. She represents me in the story and everything that happens to her in the movie is based off of my life and inspired by Dr. Seuss. This film helped me to realize that I can never give up and get discouraged or stuck. Once you give up, it is all over. You can’t give up because that is the only time you will lose. Yes, you may fail, or make a fool of yourself but at least you tried. Dr. Seuss knew the importance of that lesson he put it in a children’s book. I now know that his story is deep and powerful and became my story too. His book is my life and I drew from that to create a film.

Final Project:

(Annalise Scafidi / CoS Student)

Number 9 // My Chicago

When I first moved to Chicago, I didn’t know what to expect.

Any glimpses I had of the city before living here, all seemed as magical as waking up in The Wizard of Oz. I got a lot of inspiration from thinking about Chicago as a fairytale world while also taking inspiration from realistic Chicago art. I found it in street performers, the outdoor art pieces, and the overall architecture of the city. Also, recreating shots from the great Chicago based movie, Ferris Bueller. Most of the world sees Chicago as nothing but violence, so I wanted to share my fairytale story.

Final Project:

(Natalie Young / CoS Student)

Slam Poem – final project

Slam Poem

I recorded a video of my suitemate shaving her head
the day after we moved in,
thirsty, thick locks
falling to the floor like feathers
in a pillow fight.

She said,
it’s a sleepover with your best friends
every night.

I don’t sleep much, though
Transfixed on how my bedroom window
casts back the glow of pink string lights
draping over the pictures and posters
I framed in old film reels.

I drift until i descend into dreaming
woken within dozy moments
by a barfight across the street
or a false fire alarm.

Here is,
second home cooking,
dilettante helix holes,
playing clean dish jenga
on the drying rack.

Its walking out to the concrete docks past dark,
letting my legs float over the lake,
naming the ducks,
swimming towards the skyline.

It’s the el,
how the city shifts around it
how it tilts
like a hyperbolic funnel coin
twirling towards a pit of penny donations

I kept stumbling on ice cream shops
while searching for something else
and sweating through hot october nights
as if cold would never never come.

Walks got longer when it did.
Always forgetting to bury my hands in my pockets,
I was mesmerized by maps.
Brittle fingers sliding up and down a blank screen
that mirrored the early sapphire sky.

So i stayed in,
Still shivering,
wishing i were wrapped in the blanket
my friends stole.

Spending leisure days leaning sick
over the side of my bed
into a garbage bag
starved of sleep
and Chewing on Zofran.

I wanted to be home and
be able to walk further than a few feet
and find new favorites
like ice cream shops on Saturday streets.

But weekends were watching my celing get dark.
Lost in cotton sheets,
rotting like I hadn’t breathed
since weeks before.

I’ve caught accidental sunrises
After hours of daydreaming half awake
And finding new ways
to be strangled by my own duvet.
Leaving me lifeless and tired for the rest of the day.

When your body self destructs
at 18
nobody believes it.
That small wrong calls are red buttons:
the ones on bombs in action movies,
the ones leaving me Benadryl busted and bed bound.

But buttons reboot
and i’ve been better
Although I lost so much of November
to being ill and winter weather
to laying still trying to remember
the reasons why I’m, happy here.

It’s actually easy when you’re constantly
making new favorite memories:

Diner days at Eleven City
waiting on one for an hour:
because of their “no joiners policy.”

Unexpectedly finding Belmont
walking back from a broken party
and going there every few days

to try on vintage bell bottoms that didn’t fit
And joke at Taboo Tabou with my friends
Gazing at the glass case of whips

Staring out onto the not Sears Tower from the 16th floor,
smoked up and mascara smudged
at the smoldering simmer of a party.

Staying up till sunrise for the first snowfall,
Liquor kisses and acoustic midnights,
Cuphead and cramps,
Ironic tattoos and laugh-cries
That probably woke someone up.

And I’ll pretend to feel bad
But I don’t give a fuck.

I’ve spent my life decaying
Well aware that chronic is
Knowing I’ll always live
halfway in a hospital
wherever I am.

now the other half is
my own.
I can finally
sip on the youth
I’d never tasted before.

(Anna Romano / CoS Student)

My Best, Baby

This song is an exploration of a conversation shared between my two grandparents as their relationship begins to build into a serious one that will eventually will lead to a 10-year marriage.

Their relationship surviving the 60s and the mid 70s, is very interesting because it was during the time of civil rights and hard- core drug addiction. It was a time where people wanted to love and be loved and they were fighting for their rights to do so.
Final Project:

(Armondo Bouie / CoS Student)


Droolin’ Delectable Delicacies

Before moving to Chicago, from word of mouth, I heard Chicago was all about the Cubs, deep-dish pizza, and hot dogs.

I wanted to make a comedic video to send to my brother back home, so I thought it would be interesting to encapsulate one of the stereotypes of Chicago and embellish it into a video. I wanted to chronicle the adventures of a guy reviewing hot dogs around Chicago; what better guy to do that than Guy Fieri. Guy Fieri is just such a wild guy with all of the weird, yet amazing lingo he makes up, and he never fails to make me laugh. If you don’t think Guy Fieri is funny, then you haven’t heard him say something like, “his seafood is so fresh, it’ll slap ya.”

Final Project:


(Holly Barras / CoS Student)

Chicago as Told by Online Reviews

When​​ I ​​was ​​deciding ​​on​​ what​​ college​​ to​​ go​​ to,​​ I decided​ to ​​look ​​at ​​the ​​online​​ reviews​​ for the ​​cities ​​they ​​were​​ in ​​as​​ a ​​joke.

​​Most​​ online​​ reviews ​​were​​ made ​​by ​​reviewers ​​being​​ paid​​ to comment​​ on​​ tourist​​ attractions ​​and​​ places​​ to​​ go ​​sightseeing, ​​but​​ I​​ was ​​thrown ​​off​​ by ​​the​​ many personal ​​reviews​​ on​​ the​​ entire​​ city​​ of ​​Chicago​​ made ​​by ​​everyday​​ people.​​ I ​​had ​​a​​ great​​ time scrolling ​​through ​​the​​ countless​​ back-and-forth ​​these​​ reviewers ​​seemed​​ to ​​have ​​with ​​Chicago, and​​ when ​​I​​ did ​​decide ​​to​​ attend​​ Columbia ​​I​​ couldn’t ​​help ​​but ​​think​​ back​​ and ​​laugh ​​at​​ the Chicago ​​reviews ​​I​​ read.

Final Project:


(Duncan Kastner / CoS Student)

Ghost World

In “Ghost World”, by Daniel Clowes, I was reminded about my time in high school.

In high school people were constantly judging one another based on their appearances and personalities. The main character and her friend seem to always judge people together, and I believe that is the only reason why they remain friends.

In high school, I remember people basically separating people into groups. For example, the jocks, the nerds, the emo kids, the band geeks, the preps, and so many more! So far in college, I have not experienced such a thing. People at Columbia are so nice, and accepting of each other. I always see such positive, uplifting characters everywhere I go in the Columbia buildings. I do understand that it is almost a human instinct to judge people, but no one here has called anyone out for being “different” in front of me.

People in the city of Chicago also seem to be that way. Although there are some rude
characters out in the streets of this wonderful city, it is also full of so much positivity. I see strangers complimenting each other on the streets almost everyday!

Even though in “Ghost World” the main characters were being very judgmental, at the
end of the day they got home and did some pretty weird stuff. The main character came home looking for a toy she received when she was in elementary school, and her friend went home and watched a weird show with her grandmother.

(Karla Gallegos / CoS Student)