Logan Square, Chicago Insider: University of Chicago Administrator Thea Stranger-Najjar

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Thea Stranger-Najjar is a Los Angeles native who loves Chicago because of the snow, great shops and because the bands want to be here. She might be Chicago's only resident who doesn't enjoy the summer as much as she does the winter.

Name, Age, Occupation: Thea Stranger-Najjar, 27, administrator for Pediatric Residency at the University of Chicago

Neighborhood: Logan Square, Northwest side of Chicago, Ill.

Abode: One-bedroom apartment, with a husband and two dogs. It's a little crowded, but it works.

How long have you lived in Logan Square? A little over three years. And before that I lived in Humboldt Park, the same area but a little south. Everything is a neighborhood here in Chicago so you move a couple of blocks and you are in a totally different neighborhood.

What do you love most about your neighborhood?

For me I like it because it's a little quieter and I can walk around with my dogs and it's neighborhood-y. It's still walking or biking distance or a fast 'L' ride to my favorite spots for eating and drinking.

It's also cheaper. I like the fact that it's a little run-down and there's history in the neighborhood, but not the kind of history that has been revamped and upscaled. There are other neighborhoods that have everything you want, but I'm much happier finding what I want going to a bunch of different bodegas. I think it's nice.

Do you talk to your neighbors?
In my building I actually do. My building has six apartments in it and I know almost everyone by name -- there are some new people. When I first moved in there were people of other ages, now it's all [people in their] 20s and 30s. Most are students at the Art Institute and there's a cartoonist. It's a small hallway and so when someone's having a party you bring a bottle of wine over and hang out.

Best kept secret in Logan Square?
The main part of Logan Square is around the Main Square and it has a large stone sculpture that was the first statue commissioned by the City of Chicago to be done by a woman. I think that's a great bit of history. There are also some great stores in the square like Wolfbait. It's owned by two women and they only sell things by Chicago residents and everything is handmade.

I would also say the stretch of California Avenue between Fullerton and Logan. It has three or four really great restaurants. I love this little wine store called Provenance. They sell cheese and jams and oils that you won't find in a regular grocery store. I'm not a wine connoisseur, but they will point you out two or three great wines for whatever you are cooking and your price.

Favorite Saturday night in your neighborhood?
If I'm not checking out my husband's band, Gorilla Press, play, it's probably grabbing a friend and going to a bar called Whirlaway. It's a tiny little dive bar owned by a woman named Maria and she knows you after the first time you are in there. She got me a birthday cake when I came in with a bunch of friends. If you go in early she will bring you food from her home. There's a great jukebox and if you want to play 'Boggle' Maria will probably play with you.

Are you aware that you might be the only person that doesn't love the Chicago summer?
(Laughing.) It's because of the humidity. I'm [so used to] the heat of California so it makes me cranky. I prefer to walk in the snow than in the humidity. If I took the 'L' to work it would take me an hour-and-a-half to two hours each way with transfers and driving it takes me 25 minutes so I don't have to deal with the heat all that much.


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