Beneath the Blue Line elevated tracks that parallel Milwaukee Avenue and just south of the quaintly anachronistic Damen Station Hut sits The Blue Line Lounge and Grill, a rather generic place. But until 1999, this space was a Polish diner with great historical significance to Wicker Park.
It was popular with cops, older Eastern Europeans on fixed budgets, and the ruffians who once populated the neighborhood, as captured in the stories of novelist Nelson Algren. Presided over by a kind, elderly Polish woman, it served the kind of cheap, filling food that is no longer available in the neighborhood.
In 1992, Hillary Clinton touched off a national furor at a campaign appearance at the Busy Bee, when she observed that she preferred political activism to having, “stayed home and baked cookies.” Some Chicagoans pointed to the irony of this comment being made while being served food in the domestic tranquility of the beloved eatery.