Urban Beachcombing

beachcombing in chicagoChristine Solorio is a beachcomber from Chicago, Illinois, who beachcombs along the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan. She started beachcombing during a visit to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, and says she had no idea Lake Michigan even had beach treasures until someone in Mexico told her. When she returned home, she decided to check it out and was pleasantly surprised.

Now, she goes three to five times every week all year round, though she especially loves fall and winter. She usually goes alone, but sometimes with her husband, Tom. She adores going out with her fellow beach sisters she has met on Instagram and cherishes in-person meetups with new and old friends.

“My husband, Tom, is my biggest fan and supporter of my hobby,’ Christine says. “Everyone else in my life doesn’t seem too impressed. I do love all the new friends I have made through this hobby via social media and have met several in person and hunted together. The Beach Sisterhood is one of the best things about this hobby!”

sea glass found on lake michigan in chicago

Christine says there are other beachcombers in Chicago, but she rarely sees them because she’s searching on the beach as early as 4:30 am. Christine says many of the items she finds on the beach and lakefront are from significant historical events: The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and The Century of Progress World’s Fair in both 1933 and 1934.

historical finds beachcombing in chicago

Lake Michigan was used as a dump after for several years after the fire of 1871 and after the World’s Fair. The entire Chicago Lakefront is, in fact, a manmade shoreline built on landfill. Today, famous landmarks such as Grant Park, Millennium Park, and Museum Campus are all built atop landfills.

beach glass from lake michigan

Normally, Christine’s favorite things to find on the lakefront are marbles, but recently she’s been finding treasures from the World’s Fair while digging. She’s found a George Washington pin, a Herman Walker miniature Sample Bottle, a 1910 Edward Pinard Perfume/Toxic Bottle, many beautiful stoppers of different sizes, coins, glass buttons, and beads. Christine has found quite a bit of beach treasure on the Chicago Lakefront, but she has given most of it away since she doesn’t have enough space. She loves to display her finds in Vintage glass platters.

bottles and stoppers beach glass lake michigan

Christine considers the beach her “church,” where she can gather her thoughts, block out daily worries, and relieve stress. She also gets great exercise, using her bike to explore the Chicago Lakefront. When she’s not collecting, Christine works as the Office Manager for WGN Radio/TV.

urban beachcomber in chicago

She loves showing off her home city of Chicago. “Chicago is an amazing city!" Christine says. “So much to do, and the Lakefront is the center of it all, with 18 miles of Lakefront bike trails to explore, great restaurants, well-kept parks, museums, and more!” She recommends two hidden gems: taking in a concert at St. James Chapel, modeled after the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, and a visit to The Dreihaus Museum, which has some of the best Tiffany Glass in the world. Afterwards, head to the Matchbox for their famous Vodka Gimlet and Lou Malnati’s for delicious deep dish pizza.

“My best advice is to rent a bike and explore the Lakefront—there are treasures to be found at all the beaches!” exclaims Christine. “Each piece is unique and has a story. No two pieces are the same and I love the uniqueness of the glass and treasures I find.”

best beaches for beachcombers

Learn more about the best beaches and destinations for sea and beach glass, seashells, fossils, rocks, and more beach finds around the world. Articles ›

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2021 issue.

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