`The Wonderful Wizard of Oz`: Emerald City born in Chicago - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

`The Wonderful Wizard of Oz`: Emerald City born in The Windy City

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

As the Academy gears up to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the cinematic gem "The Wizard of Oz" at the Oscars, it's time for Chicago to celebrate too. The Emerald City was born right here in The Windy City.

L. Frank Baum wrote the original novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" right here in town. If you look close enough, you can see how our great city influenced his work.

Baum was the man behind the curtain. He had the courage of a dreamer, the brain of a visionary and the heart of a legend. He's a man who knew the power of a good pair of shoes, the ease of a well paved road and most importantly, that there's no place like home.

For L. Frank Baum, home was the city of Chicago.

The year was 1891. Following a continuous string of professional failures in South Dakota, Lyman Frank Baum found the courage to start over and move his family to Humboldt Park.

That's where Tim Samuelson said the yellow brick road began. The Chicago Cultural Center said the city's connection to the wizard can be seen through a window.

"The real Chicago connection that made ‘The Wizard of Oz' one people talk about is interest in how to decorate a shop window," Samuelson told Good Day Chicago's Jake Hamilton. "His day job was editing and supervising amazing spectacle showrooms. It's hard to imagine how you take that one step further to the Tin Man. The amazing Emerald City is all about shop windows here in Chicago."

So he began to write. At 1667 North Humboldt Boulevard, a twister began to form in Baum's imagination, taking us all to a world we'd never seen before. Or had we?

"One of the things he would have considered soon after coming to Chicago was The Great World's Fair in 1893," Samuelson said. "It was pure fantasy. That's something that's probably would be a factor. He couldn't have not been impressed when he saw it."

Nine years after arriving into Chicago, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was born in 1900. So began a journey to see the wizard that would never end. A musical adaptation emerged in Chicago two years later and the novel even inspired three silent films.

But in 1939, young actress named Judy Garland clicked her heels together and forever changed the course of Baum's history.

While it's easy to see Chicago within Oz, it's a bit harder to find Oz in Chicago. The original home that he wrote the novel in has been razed and replaced with townhomes, with nothing more than a small, graffiti covered marker to remind us of the history that arose there.

But we can always visit our old friends with a trip to Oz Park - from the Tin Man to the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow to Dorothy and Toto - they'll always be waiting to remind us that there's no place like home.

Chicago will forever stand as the Oz of Baum's imagination. The true man behind the curtain, Baum cranked the gears and projected the emerald tinted dreams of our fantasies - and he never forgot where that yellow brick road began.

Within the dusty pages of the "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," he wrote:

"If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with."

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