Rostenkowski died last week.
"They had videos, wonderful pictures of videos of different times of his life, when he met all the presidents," said Dee Pinski, whose father managed several of Rostenkowski's campaigns.
Known as Mr. Chairman, the Chicago Democrat served 18 terms in Congress before scandal cost him his seat. He went to federal prison for mail fraud for 15 months before President Clinton pardoned him in 2000.
"If you look back in history at the way Chicago was and much of the country, the old-school politics, he epitomized it. He epitomized that rough and tumble way of Chicago trying to work its way through politics," said Ald. Scott Waguespack, (D) 32nd Ward
Friends say Rostenkowski should be remembered for his lasting imprint on Chicago.
"You look at Navy Pier, O'Hare, and The Kennedy Expressway right here. It's all because of him. He did so many wonderful things for the city," said Pinski.
Hundreds of people attended the public wake at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church at Noble Street and Evergreen Avenue on Chicago's North Side. Rostenkowski grew up in the neighborhood and attended Stanislaus Kostka. The wake began at 1 p.m. and will continue until 9 p.m.
His funeral will be held Tuesday morning at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. Mayor Richard Daley is expected to speak.