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Wrigleyville Pub Crawl to Look at Cubs, Bar History

By Serena Dai | March 10, 2014 6:43am | Updated on March 10, 2014 10:50am
 Murphy's Bleachers was once called Ernie's Bleachers.
Murphy's Bleachers was once called Ernie's Bleachers.
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Murphy's Bleachers

WRIGLEYVILLE — One Wrigleyville bar crawl this spring will be a little different from the typical Clark Street bacchanals.

This one will be more of a history lesson.

The Chicago History Museum and historian Liz Garibay, who regularly leads pub crawls that incorporate local history, will host a walking tour of bars around Wrigley Field next month that celebrates the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field and the history of the surrounding taverns.

The tour on April 13 will cover four pubs in the area. Garibay will be dishing on both the history of the bars and the history of the Cubs and Wrigley Field, she said.

"We're going to go to more off-the-beaten-path places," Garibay said. "You probably would have heard of one or two, but the great thing is, you don't know the history."

 Murphy's Bleachers is one of many historic taverns in Wrigleyville, according to historian Liz Garibay.
Murphy's Bleachers is one of many historic taverns in Wrigleyville, according to historian Liz Garibay.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

She hasn't chosen which bars will be on the tour yet, but there's a myriad to choose from, she said.

Murphy's Bleachers, 3655 N. Sheffield Ave., for example, used to be called Ernie's Bleachers and was more of a drive-up hot dog stand than a bar. It was also known for selling beer by the bucket.

"No lids or anything," Garibay said. "It sloshed around."

Farther north, the early 1900s corner building for GMan Tavern, 3740 N. Clark St., used to be prime space for activities beyond pool and booze.

It used to have three entrances and housed a saloon, a tailor shop and a barber shop, Garibay said. Then it turned into a tavern, and later on, a mapmaker's office.

After that, the Remains Theatre Ensemble took over. Many of its performers went on to bigger stages, including Gary Cole, who's worked on "The Good Wife," "Office Space" and "Veep"; Ted Levine, who played Buffalo Bill in "The Silence of the Lambs"; and William Petersen, best known for his role on "CSI."

Gingerman Tavern, now GMan, didn't take over until the '70s.

"A lot of the bars are in old buildings, from the early 1900s," Garibay said. "It's definitely a historic neighborhood."

The crawl will also highlight Cubs and Wrigley Field history, too, she said. Most Cubs fans she's met have been shocked to hear that the team used to be called the Chicago White Stockings, she said.

And they're often surprised that Wrigley Field used to be called Weeghman Park and was home to the Chicago Whales, a team in a rogue baseball league called the Federal League, she said.

"They’re like, 'What are you talking about?'" she said with a laugh.

The tour costs $40, or $30 for history museum members, and lasts from 1:20-4:30 p.m. About 30 tickets are available, though another tour might be added if there's enough interest. Tickets can be bought online.

Special guests such as Stuart Shea, author of a new Wrigley Field history book, might show up as well.

Garibay, herself a Cubs fan, wants to keep it a secret for now which bars will actually be on the tour, she said. For her, choosing just four is "a challenge," she said.

"Every one has its own history," she said.