It wasn’t long after Shirley Christensen opened Lost & Found on a desolate strip of Irving Park Road in Albany Park that the vice squad began turning up. Cross-dressing was illegal in pre-Stonewall 1965, and the bar, which catered to women who liked women, was required by law to check that the pants of female patrons zippered in the back rather than in the front, the way men’s pants did. Ava Allen, who partnered with Christensen in 1973 and operates the bar today, says butch gals would have to go into the alley to turn their pants around and wear them backward all night in order to comply.
A lot has changed since then, but the wood-paneled Lost & Found, the oldest lesbian bar in the city, feels like a throwback in a good way. Patrons have to knock on the door to be buzzed in, and regulars still cluster around the smoky bar—a beautiful mahogany-and-leaded-glass number—and entertain themselves with a dusty jukebox and a pool table. 3058 W. Irving Park, 773-463-7599 —Kathie Bergquist
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