A “fairy door” installed low to the ground on an outside wall near Clark and Foster. Credit: Tony Peregrin

According to legend, fairy doors are portals to the world of fairies—but I’d argue they’re also gateways to the imagination. I came across one located in an alley near Clark and Foster this summer and I was immediately charmed by this diminutive doorway. At first, my journalist’s instinct kicked in: who made this and why? While I’m still searching for answers, one thing I know for sure is that this fairy door continues to inspire me to take in my surroundings. I try to remember to look down, look up, look sideways for anything extraordinary, for any magical relief from the pandemic-induced stress and anxiety that seems so pervasive right now. 

Fairy doors are not new. They’ve appeared across the U.S. for decades, in forests and parks (at the base of trees typically) or in some little-used alleyways. In fact, last summer, the Chicago Park District installed 20 “fairy houses” at various natural areas across the city specifically to engage people’s interest in the wonder of nature. 

Craft stores sell materials to make fairy doors, but what you can’t find in any store is much more elusive—that wondrous feeling of finding something magical where you least expect it.

Best of Chicago 2021 is
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sponsored in part by

Goethe Institut
Chicago History Museum

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