How does Glenview view Glenview?

October 21, 2008

Last Friday when Tony Arnold went to Glenview I hitched a ride up the Edens with him. While he was talking with 10th district voters about Seals and Kirk, I set off to downtown Glenview to try to get a sense of the town.

My colleague Carrie attempted a similar project in Joliet when Tony was reporting on the 11th district a few weeks ago so I asked her for some pointers. She said to ask what they would want people to know about Glenview if they knew nothing else about it. Oh, and ask about celebrities from Glenview- people love to talk about celebrities.

With a clear game plan in mind I set off for the nearby Metra station, the only place with a crowd of people at 9 a.m. on a Friday.

The first person I spoke with was Maryann Dadisman, a single woman with a 3-hour commute to Chicago who claimed she wasn't the average resident of Glenview. She said the one thing she would tell me about Glenview is that it's changing from a middle-class area into an annex of the North Shore, though in her mind Glenview is a little late to the party. She said there's a glut of "McMansions" ever since the Naval Air Station was redeveloped into The Glen.

As for celebrities, the best she could do was vaguely recall that a former weatherman from Channel 2 lives there (other residents cited him as well- I think his name is Harry Volkman).

This was the first of many references to The Glen I heard throughout the day, though also the most negative one. In fact, the next person I spoke with at the Metra station referenced it. Here's a short video of my conversation with Howard Kreiner. Of course I began by asking what's the one thing he'd tell people about Glenview, then he gives a basic explanation of what The Glen is:

Howard was pretty representative of the rest of the people I spoke with in Glenview- they live there because it's family friendly and has nice facilities. Michael was just down the platform from Howard and he echoed these sentiments:

After the train came I decided to venture further into downtown Glenview where I stumbled upon Ruth Solomon, a Business Reporter for the Pioneer Press. She told me that ever since The Glen opened in 1999, many businesses had left the downtown area. Among the demographic info she gave me (there aren't many synagogues in Glenview, almost a third of the school children are Korean and there is a strong Catholic and Greek Orthodox population) I took her up on one suggestion- going into one of the hair salons to talk with people.

That's where I found Roland Young waiting on his wife to get her hair done. He's from Northbrook, which is also in the 10th District so I asked him what he liked about the area.

His wife thought we should be talking about the Al Smith roast that was on television the previous night:

He told me I should vote early and often, and relayed his experience early voting the previous day:

He had nothing to say about celebrities, though. He even drew a blank when I asked him what the biggest happening in the area's history might be. It seemed he, like most of the other residents I spoke with, lived in the 10th District because it afforded the opportunity to raise a family in a peaceful, idyllic setting.

(UPDATE: I feel many of the people I spoke with fit the characterization of Patio Dads that David Brooks wrote about this week.)

The popularity of The Glen seems to be an effort by the younger generations to reclaim that sense of small town Americana. In fact, Luane Gabuzzi at the Glenview Dairy Bar cited The Glen when I asked about the source of the most civic pride for residents. She said people love to walk around the development as well as attend concerts in the park. Of course, she also pointed out the tradition of people camping out to be the first customers of the year when the Dairy Bar opens. Check out this photo of this year's winners:

By this time I needed to meet up with Tony to head back into the city, but on our way out I asked him to swing by The Glen so I could get some snapshots of it. It really felt different from downtown Glenview to me. There were less political signs, but also more flags and streets with names like "Patriot" and "Valor." Of course, that all fits with designing the mixed-use complex around the NAS airtower, but I wondered if it might reflect a different side of the village than I experienced.

So Glenview residents, is there a different sensibility between 10th District voters who live in downtown Glenview vs. The Glen? Is there anything about Glenview YOU want people to know?

BTW, I did a little research and found out that the lead singer of Fall Out Boy, Patrick Stump grew up in Glenview and might still own a house there. Also, the second contestant to be kicked of the first season of America's Next Top Model was from Glenview. Anyone else I missed?