Edgewater | Gayborhood Watch

The beach isn’t the only thing gay about this lakefront ‘hood.
 (Photograph: Jason A. Heidemann)
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Photograph: Jason A. HeidemannGranville Anvil
 (Photograph: Jason A. Heidemann)
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Photograph: Jason A. HeidemannEdgewater Historical Society
 (Photo Courtesy: Nina's Bed and Breakfast)
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Photo Courtesy: Nina's Bed and BreakfastNina's Bed and Breakfast
 (Photograph: Jason A. Heidemann)
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Photograph: Jason A. HeidemannHollywood Beach
 (Photograph: Jason A. Heidemann)
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Photograph: Jason A. HeidemannTPAN
By Jason A. Heidemann |
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1. Anvil
(1137 W Granville Ave, 773-973-0006)

The fact that the bartender describes the noon hour as one of its busier times shows you the priorities of the clientele at this vintage gay taproom near the Granville El stop. The fresh coat of paint on the exterior aside, this low-key joint with a killer juke and cheap drinks has seen better days. Did we mention that’s why we love it?

2. Congregation Or Chadash
(5959 N Sheridan Rd, 773-271-2148; orchadash.org)

This little lakefront temple made headlines in October 2010 when Saudi intelligence discovered a package (full of explosives), addressed to the LGBT Jewish Reform congregation, on a U.S.-bound cargo plane from Yemen. That drama aside, this 36-year-old group enjoys Shabbat services every Friday at 8pm, monthly Torah services and special events and activities throughout the year.

3. Edgewater Historical Society
(5358 N Ashland Ave, 773-506-4849; edgewaterhistory.org)

Developer John L. Cochran began creating a small town here in 1880. More than 130 years later, this ’hood houses more than 62,000 residents including a large LGBT population whose community contributions are documented in the exhibition “Edgewater Pride, Oppression to Expression,” running through September 25.

4. Gerber/Hart Library
(1127 W Granville Ave, 773-381-8030; gerberhart.org)

Chicago’s LGBT library and archives takes its namesake from pioneering activists Henry Gerber and Pearl Hart and is the Midwest’s largest LGBT circulating library with more than 14,000 volumes, 800 periodicals and 100 archival collections documenting the queer experience in American society. The library celebrates 30 years this autumn with its “Making History: One Step at a Time” gala, featuring keynote speaker Brent Nicholson Earle, who ran 9,000 miles around the perimeter of the United States in 1986 to raise AIDS awareness.

5. Nina’s Bed and Breakfast
(1303 W Winona Ave, 773-878-1252; ninasbedndbreakfast.com)

Weary visiting lesbian, you may now rest your head in comfort at this shiny new B&B owned by women for women and located just a stone’s throw from both the Andersonville strip and the lakefront. Rates range from $175–$200 per night and include a cozy guest room and jaw-dropping master suite complete with vaulted ceilings, sunken jacuzzi tub and working fireplace. Scrumptious morning breakfasts and a quick walk to girl-friendly T’s are added bonuses.

6. Osterman Beach
(5800 N Lake Shore Dr, 312-742-7529; chicagoparkdistrict.com)

On a hot and humid August day when temperatures are swelling, so are the bulges in our bathing suits as we slather on the sunscreen, suck down a rice-milk Popsicle from a vendor and drink in the eye-popping throngs of burnt boys in bikinis frolicking in the surf at Osterman (a.k.a. Hollywood) Beach. This is the crown jewel of gay Edgewater, at least during the summertime, and there’s no better way to kill the Sabbath than spreading out a beach blanket, nipping from a thermos full of homemade cocktails and sharing it all with a group of friends.

7. TPAN
(5537 N Broadway, 773-989-9400; tpan.com)

We’re cuckoo for its annual striptease gala Chicago Takes Off, but there’s a whole lot more to this HIV/AIDS org than shedding clothing. TPAN offers heaps of services and resources to people impacted by the disease, including free testing, peer-led discussion groups, educational forums, referral services, counseling and more. And we’re happy to throw our bucks its way via top-notch events like Up on the Roof, an annual skyline barbecue happening August 25 at the MDA apartments downtown.

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