50 Wards in 50 Weekdays: 23rd Ward’s Daniel Salazar notices neighborhood’s unwelcome visitors, but not its jet noise

July 9, 2012

(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Daniel Salazar (right) with his friend, Silvestre Alferez.

When he moved here from Mexico seven years ago, Daniel Salazar noticed the jet noise from Midway Airport, about a mile south of his house.

“Now I got used to it. It doesn’t bother me no more,” Salazar says. He says no longer even notices the planes enough to look up for them.

Salazar is 26 years old, and works at the Pepe’s Mexican restaurant in the city’s Chatham neighborhood. He’s a cook there. When I ask Salazar if he’s a good cook outside of work, his friend — Silvestre Alferez — smiles and shakes his head.

 

“I almost never cook at home,” Salazar admits.

Home is in the city’s Vittum Park neighborhood.

 

“Quiet neighborhood,” Salazar says. “In this neighborhood, most of the people that live here is…old people and they barely come out through their houses.”

“They’re nice. At least they say, ‘Hi’ to you. They say, ‘Good morning.’ At least they do it. Yeah, but I love to live here.”

 

“I have one thing I have to complain about my neighborhood right now,” Salazar says. During the summer, guys “stay on the corners and they start throwing gang signs to the people and throwing bottles to the cars.”

“We call the police right away and they come right away. But they still doing it every summer. It is the same thing.”

These are not the only unwanted visitors to the neighborhood.

“At night, there’s a lot of prostitutes here,” Salazar says. “Yeah, on this street, walking on this street and on Cicero Avenue, too.”

The police come by, Salazar says, but only for a chat.

“When I get here after work, I get here like at 1 o’clock at night… and I’ve seen [the police] talking to them. And they don’t take them to jail. They don’t do nothing,” Salazar says. “Sometimes they even smoke cigarettes together. I don’t know why.”

Salazar would like the city to send more police to deal with the visitors. Mayor Rahm Emanuel claims to have put hundreds more beat cops on the street. I ask Salazar if — in general — he likes what Emanuel’s been up to.

 

“You know what? I don’t see any difference yet,” Salazar says. “I think almost everybody expect [Emanuel] to be a little bit better than [Mayor Richard Daley], but I don’t see any difference. Not in this neighborhood.”