Evanston Myths

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If there is one thing everyone knows about Evanston, it's the fact that there is no shortage of myths regarding the city. Below you will find a list of Evanston's most common myths and answers to said myths.. 

Bowling is illegal.

MYTH. Bowling is legal and Evanston's history includes bowling lanes and billiards. The City Code requires that a business owner obtain a license prior to operating a bowling alley. See City Code 3-8-1.

Trick-or-Treating is illegal.

MYTH. Trick-or-Treating is not illegal and never has been. However, the City has official trick-or-treating hours from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. for safety reasons. 

Evanston was dry because of Francis Willard and the Women's Christian Temperance Union.

MYTH. Amendments to Northwestern University's charter, granted by the State of Illinois General Assembly in 1855, established that the City of Evanston was to be dry. The trustees of the City later adopted an ordinance prohibiting spirits, which is what drew Frances Willard and her family to move here.

When Francis Willard became the second president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union in 1879, Evanston became the national center of temperance activity. 

Evanston was dry because it disapproved of alcohol.

MYTH. Evanston had an ordinance in place that reflected a fear surrounding proliferation of bars in the city from 1855 to 1972. In 1972, the City Council voted to allow restaurants and hotels to service liquor on premises. The Council later approved the sale of alcohol at retail liquor outlets in 1984. Visit the City's code online for updated regulations on alcohol service, sales and consumption.

Happy hours are illegal in Evanston.

MYTH. Hosting happy hours is legal. However, the Happy Hour Law is regulated by the Illinois Liquor Commission.  Law details

Northwestern doesn't pay real estate taxes.

FACT, SORT OF. In 1855, the Illinois legislature amended the University's 1851 charter to provide "all property of whatever kind or description, belonging to or owned by said corporation, shall be forever free from taxation for any and all purposes."  Nevertheless, the University pays real estate taxes for portions of its property that generates leasehold income.  

Former Mayor Tisdahl forced The Keg out of business.

MYTH. Former Mayor Tisdahl, as Liquor Commissioner, revoked only The Keg's liquor license due to repeat violations for underage alcohol service. The Keg's property owner and landlord at 810 Grove Street declined to renew The Keg's lease, which expired on its own terms. 

Northwestern wasn't affected by the student protests in 1960s.

MYTH. The National Guard parked at James Park in 1970 due to student protests about race relations, which shut down the entire campus.

Skipping is illegal in Evanston.

MYTH. The City Code does not address skipping.

Pinball machines are illegal. 

MYTH. According to City Code 3-7-10-1, pinball machines are legal in Evanston, but regulated.  It is unlawful to have more than six machines in a single location. Additionally, locations with the pinball machines must be at least 500 ft. away from elementary and secondary schools and must have at least one employee who is 21 or older. 

If you have a horse, you must pay to park it in a metered spot. 

MYTH. According to City Code 9-4-5, citizens cannot keep horses or allow horses to be raised within city limits. 

Spitting is illegal.

FACT. According to City Code 9-5-22, it is unlawful for any person to spit upon any public walk, upon the floor of any public conveyance or upon the floor or wall of any theater, hall, assembly room or public building. 

Whistling is forbidden at certain hours.

FACT.  Yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing on the public streets of the City is unlawful, particularly between the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., according to City Code 9-5-20. It's illegal at any time or place to take actions which annoy or disturb the peace, quiet, comfort or repose of person. Train whistles and vehicle noises are also regulated.  

Northwestern students party too hard.

MYTH. Northwestern University does not make the list of top ten party schools in the U.S., according to the Princeton Review. 
See the schools that did make the list >>>

Street sweeping is a revenue-generating tactic.

MYTH. Street sweeping clears debris from the streets so that it does not collect in storm sewer catch basins and require additional personnel and equipment to clear.  Street sweeping also promotes the community standard for clean streets.

A preamble is required when speaking in a public forum.

MYTH. There are no requirements for public speaking in Evanston, especially one that requires the speaker to disclose the number of years one has lived in the city. The "I've lived in Evanston ___ years" preamble is a local convention, not a requirement. 

Jaywalking is illegal in Evanston. 

MYTH. According to the Illinois Vehicle Code, pedestrians are to adhere to traffic control devices and traffic regulations. 625 ILCS (5/11-1001) etseq. More information

Northwestern students don't have a history of participating in protests.

MYTH. Northwestern students shut down the University's business office in May 1968 in protest over racial discrimination in student housing.  In May 1970, student striked, rallied, barricaded Sheridan Road, and protested against U.S. action in Cambodia and the Kent State shootings. These strikes closed Northwestern's campus and Illinois National Guard troops encamped at James Park in anticipation of policing the students'  occupation of Dyche Stadium.