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As days go by… it’s the bigger love of the family…

July 21, 2010, 11:27 PM

So today, while still in Chicago, we visited the Family Matters house. I have never gone out and photographed a famous TV house before, and so this was a new experience. We did the research ahead of time, and determined that the house was at 1516 W. Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago. I found the address and verified it as the correct location on Google Earth, and then Sis determined how we were going to get there.

From our hotel near Jarvis station, we took the Red Line to Fullerton station. Then we took the 77 bus to Greenview Street. Then we just walked up to Wrightwood Avenue, and there it was:

The Family Matters house

Pretty cool, if you ask me. Notice, however, that the house to the left of the Winslows’ house is different than it was on the show. If you look at the Family Matters opening credits, you will see that the house next to the Winslows’ was a one-story house. Now it appears to have been replaced with this giant multi-story house. Seriously, the thing is huge, and it dwarfs the Winslows’ house. I believe that this replaced what was likely the Urkels’ house. Assuming the show’s universe, perhaps the family that moved in after Steve Urkel’s parents moved to Russia after the seventh season decided to tear the house down and build a new, giant one.

Aside from the obvious change of the neighboring house, the Family Matters house looks almost exactly like it did on the show. About the only change is the addition of one of those little satellite dishes that so many people have nowadays.

In photographing the house, I took great steps to ensure that I wasn’t intruding on anyone’s privacy, even inadvertently. After all, this is someone’s real house, and not a tourist attraction or museum. First of all, Mom, Sis, and I all stayed across Wrightwood Avenue from the house. I took all my pictures from across the street. Likewise, I was careful in my zooming, being careful not to zoom in on windows. I’m sure the owner realizes that they own a famous TV house, and if it’s not the same owner as the 1980s, they probably knew going in that they had the Family Matters house. But regardless, they deserve their privacy, and I was determined to respect it, while still being able to be a nerd.

One of the things that I enjoyed doing was watching for some traffic to come by, and then start filming. I got my own Family Matters exterior shots, so to speak. After all, the house shots always showed a few cars going by. So I got about three or four cars and a bicyclist. I’ll post it on YouTube when I get home.

I also struck up a conversation with a passerby coming out of the park. Turns out that the woman had been going to the park across the street for years, and never realized that the Family Matters house was right there. They’ll never look at the house the same way again, I’d say.

Otherwise, we met up with Sis’s friend Vickey, and then Mom, Sis, Chris, Vickey, and I all went to the Lincoln Park Zoo. We saw just about everything, except the African house, mainly because we ran out of time. But let me tell you, it was pretty cool. The ape house in particular was fun, watching the chimpanzees take a nap, then get up, move their bed, and go back to sleep, and then watching the other one pee off the top of one of the structures in their enclosure. Then outside, we got to watch a silverback gorilla do its thing. More when I get back and download all the pictures off the card.

And then while Chris headed off to a rehearsal, Mom, Sis, Vickey, and I headed over to Simply It, a Vietnamese restaurant next to the theater where Sis works, and where we would see a magic show later. The service was awesome, and the food was to die for. I had the curry chicken, which was pretty good. Not super spicy like the Ethiopian food I had the day before, but it certainly had some kick. It had two jalapeño slices in it as well, and that got me in trouble. Bite into one of those suckers, and YIIIIIIIII! I think I heard Wheelock horns going off in my mouth, and witnesses saw strobes flashing in there as well. Let me tell you, my mouth was on fire. After half a glass of water didn’t kill it, I took a scoop out of the shared bowl of rice, accidentally eating it right off the service spoon (oops). But that took care of it. The rice got rid of the spicy flavor. Then afterwards, we had coffee. Specifically, Vietnamese iced coffee. WOW! That stuff was potent. Really good, too. If only all coffee could be that good.

After dinner, we headed over to the Greenhouse Theater and saw The Magic Cabaret. This was a stage magic performance – not a play – and it was pretty fun. They pulled people out of the audience for some of their tricks, and who knows how to explain some of them. The most inexplicable one involved the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. The performers pulled Vickey out of the audience for this one. They had one person pull a puzzle piece out of a bag (Iowa). Then another person pulled a slip of paper out of the bag (elevator). Then at the end, they opened a locked box that had an envelope that said “evidence” on it. It had a postcard on it. It was signed, “Vickey”, and mentioned Iowa and the elevator. How did they do it, getting an audience member’s name on it and all the elements that people pulled out of the bag on it? Especially so since the box was already on stage and locked before we ever entered the room. Weeeeeird…

Then going back, we discovered that the area where the Greenhouse Theater is located is in an area that kind of reminds me of Adams Morgan in DC. Big bar district, with lots of younger people out having a blast.

And then tomorrow, we’re attending a taping of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!. The fun continues…

Web site: Urkel fans visit 'Family Matters' house, blow our minds

Song: Family Matters theme, of course!

Quote: Meanwhile, I'm just about completely fed up with the Lappy, since it's starting to show its age and not work too well. Anyone want to recommend a good netbook?

Categories: Chicago, Family, Television