Tim Samuelson, cultural historian for the City of Chicago

A friend of mine once asked for an introduction to Tim Samuelson. It wasn’t necessary. For the past quarter century, as Samuelson has moved from the Commission on Historical and Architectural Landmarks to what’s now the Chicago History Museum, and then to the Department of Cultural Affairs as Chicago’s first cultural historian, he’s remained accessible. I’ve sent students and friends to him for historical information and perspectives on buildings and neighborhoods, and they’ve all come back happy and charmed. Samuelson loves the city, loves especially the work of architect Louis Sullivan (he rereads Sullivan’s Autobiography of an Idea once a year), and he knows his stuff. He’s curated and cocurated exhibits at the Cultural Center on subjects including teddy bears, Ronco (of Veg-O-Matic fame), the cartoons of John T. McCutcheon, and, of course, Louis Sullivan. After all, Samuelson is a guy who enrolled in Roosevelt University because of the building—the great Auditorium Building designed by Sullivan and partner Dankmar Adler. This summer his third book, The Idea of Louis Sullivan, illustrated by cartoonist Chris Ware and based on their 2010 exhibit at the Cultural Center, is due out from City Files Press. —S.L. Wisenberg