Chicago December 13, 2017
12 Things You’ll Remember If You Grew Up In The 80s In Chicago
Think back to a time before smartphones and personal drones. Go back to the days of John Hughes movies, PAC-MAN, and pudding pops. If you grew up in Chicago during the 1980’s, then come aboard this nostalgic ride.
While the world was watching Ronald Reagan, Michael Jackson, and Mel Gibson, Chicago was focusing on a few other things, some great and some not so much. Read on for more information.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. The first Taste of Chicago (1980)
Set up along Michigan Avenue between Tribune Tower and the Wrigley Building, you may have been one of the 250,000 people to first enjoy this one-day event if you lived in Chicago in the 1980's. The festival took place on the Fourth of July that year, and it was moved to Grant Park the following year (where it is still hosted today) to meet the high demand of entrants.
2. The Blues Brothers film (1980)
Staring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, this comedy movie was filmed right here in Chicago. Based off a musical sketch the duo performed on Saturday Night Live, this film has become a cult classic. Nowadays, everyone recognizes the dark suits, hats, and sunglasses as costume for the "legends" of soul and blues.
3. "Spider Dan" climbs the Sears Tower and John Hancock buildings (1981)
Yes, a person actually climbed up the side of these buildings. At the time, the Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world with 110 floors. Climber Dan Goodwin used suction cups and sky hooks to climb the Sears and a self-made climbing device to climb the John Hancock. His reason was to prove that he could do it after seeing people trapped in a burning Las Vegas hotel in 1980. His plan was to use his climbing to save people, but fire marshals at the time dismissed him.
4. MTV airs in Chicago (1981)
While it aired other places too, this station likely had a big impact on your life if you grew up in the 1980's in Chicago. In addition to the radio, listeners could now watch their favorite vocalists dance around in front of a camera and give more artistic insight into their music.
5. Chicago Arms Race Protest (1982)
In an effort to unite against the United State's race with the Soviet Union to procure nuclear weapons, 20,000 Chicagoans took to the streets in protest. As educated citizens, we knew what nuclear war could do because it had been used before. In the city where the first nuclear chain reaction had occurred about 40 years prior, residents took a stand against this dangerous weapon.
6. Chicago Tylenol Murders (1982)
Seven people died from taking Tylenol that was laced with cyanide in Chicago in 1982. Though the perpetrator was never caught, you likely remember the scare around these pills if you grew up during this time. Because of this awful event, though, packaging for pharmaceutical products has been much improved.
7. Chicago's first black mayor (1983)
Previously serving as a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Harold Washington was the major of Chicago from 1983 until his death in 1987. If you were in Chicago during this time, you likely remember the buzz around both his amazing voter turn out and the rumors of his death being fowl play (though an autopsy concluded it was due to a heart attack).
8. The first cell phones (1983)
Experimental towers were raised in Chicagoland by AT&T in 1978 before permanent ones came into play in the '80s. Heavy and brick-like, the first Motorola DynaTAC 8000X cost nearly $4,000 to own. And we think paying $800 for a phone is bad now...
9. James R. Thompson building is completed (1985)
Originally named the "State of Illinois Center," this astounding structure is filled with artwork and other eye-catching attractions. The architecture is a bold use of glass and steal of which many in the 1980's were not fond. Now, it is one of the many iconic buildings we couldn't live without.
10. Bears win Superbowl XX (1986)
This was the last time the Bears won this game, and if you grew up anywhere near Chicago, you likely remember this momentous time in the city's history. It was a near perfect season that ended in the perfect way. There were celebrations all over the city, including a parade and many Bears-themed decorations.
11. Steve Dahl, et al
There's a good chance that if you grew up in Chicago during the 1980's, you listened to the radio and remember such personalities as Bob Sirott on WLS and Steve Dahl, whose niche was comedic commentary, on WLUP. Stations like WXRT and WXFM were also playing tunes and giving Chicagoans plenty to listen to.
12. Ferris Beuller's Day Off (1986)
This iconic movie, along with John Hughes's other classics, inspired a generation of kids to be themselves. Actually taking place in the Chicago suburbs, the infamous "Ferrari house" actually exists and, to this day, people journey to see it.
For more fun facts about the city’s past, check out
12 things you didn’t know about Chicago’s history.
Did you grow up in Chicago in the 1980’s? Share with us in the comments below what it was like for you to live here.