On The Morning Shift today, while discussing Mayor Emanuel’s ambitious plan to massively expand high speed internet connectivity throughout the city, Chicago’s Chief Technology Officer John Tolva called alleys “the unsung hero in Chicago.” He was making reference to the city’s ability to string fiber optic cables aerially, rather than underground, but it got me thinking about the part that alleyways play in Chicago’s unique personality. How has the city been shaped by the small, nameless veins that connect its major arteries?
That imagery may seem a little florid, but it’s important to understand that Chicago is, at its heart, a city of alleys. They predate almost every identifiable landmark, stretching out over 1,900 miles, helping to ease congestion throughout the city. While the lakeshore and the el are embedded in the city’s consciousness, alleys touch something deeper.
Last week’s sale of Hyde Park Bank & Trust. Co’s parent company is the latest example of community banks losing ground in a market dominated by multinationals with ATMs on every street corner and online banking. But as Crain's reported, what's interesting about the Hyde Park Bank sale is that they actually weren't suffering too much financially.
What drove the sale then? The bank wasn't sure they could continue to lend to community members. “The environment for banks like ours is just incredibly difficult,” said CEO Timothy Goodsell. “And we don't see things getting better anytime soon . . . We could certainly continue to make money and move forward. We just felt our shareholders, employees and customers probably would be better off paired with a larger bank.”
As you can see from the map below, Chicago actually has a bevy of community banks.
Author Michael Chabon has written novels about many cities, like New York, Alaska, Pittsburgh, but his new book Telegraph Avenue is the first to tackle his own Berkeley, California.
Described as "a world grounded in pop culture—Kung Fu, ’70s Blaxploitation films, vinyl LPs, jazz and soul music" by his publisher, the book does what Chabon does best and dives into the close relationships between a few characters in a web of a larger historical and cultural context.
Chabon spoke candidly with Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia about the themes of Telegraph Avenue last week; here's a preview of some of his comments on music, race and fatherhood.
As an essayist and columnist Christopher Hitchens was omnivorous. He wrote on anything and everything that piqued his curiosity. He commented, critiqued and satirized poetry, politics, politicians, popular culture, media personalities and religion. Nothing was safe from his scrutiny.
And so, of course, when he was suddenly faced with the great “mystery of mysteries,” his own pending death from esophageal cancer, he dealt with is the way he dealt with all of life — he wrote about it. The result of his efforts is recently-released Mortality, a slim volume of seven essays that chronicle his 18-month end-of-life journey through “Tumorville.” (There is an eighth chapter, but it is made up of fragments and notes that he jotted down in his last days.)
There’s an old military saying: “There are no atheists in foxholes.” That's when the bullets and bombs start to fly, and saying goes, and everybody believes in God.