50 Wards in 50 Weekdays: 44th Ward’s Yedida Soloff has seen Lakeview grow younger, for good or bad

June 29, 2012

(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Yedida Soloff, with her travel mug and book in hand, heads home from work.

Yedida Soloff grew up in Chicago’s Rogers Park. Then, via Philly and Manhattan, she wound up back in Chicago – this time in the Lakeview neighborhood. She’s been here more than a decade.

 

“It’s changed a lot since I moved to the ward,” Soloff says. “It’s gotten even safer, I think. When I walk around at night there are lots of people out in the streets usually, which feels pretty good.”

Soloff strikes me as a deep thinker. She tells me she wishes she'd known my questions ahead of time. But what's spontaneous about that? Next question.

What do you not like about your neighborhood?

"That’s a little harder to quantify," she says. “I think the neighborhood used to be a lot more quirky. And now it feels maybe a little more like Lincoln Park than it did when I moved to the ward.”

Take that, Lincoln Park. 

“I don’t want to cause any fights," says this diplomat of the North Side. 

Soloff says she feels like Lakeview has gotten younger, that she’s now “living in an immediately post-college neighborhood.”

This has its advantages – no shortage of “fun evening places" – and a downside.

Gone, she says, are a lot of the people who lived in Lakeview when it wasn’t so nice and so young. For most residents these days, she says Lakeview seems like a place to stop for a few years on their way to the suburbs.

“In terms of economics, in terms of social backgrounds...it seems a little bit more uniform now,” she says.

Soloff is a native Chicagoan. She works as an administration assistant to pay the rent. On the side, she does writing and editing, “because that’s what I love.”

Her neighborhood’s changes have brought a lot of decidedly un-quirky chain stores. She wants the local officials to make sure small businesses stay part of the scene.

“Although…I do all my shopping at Walgreens for example,” she chuckles. “I’m glad that Walgreens is there.”

No judgment here. Later in our talk, Soloff redeems her creds as a small business patron.

“When I go get my tea at the loose leaf tea lounge, I know I see people who work there walking around the neighborhood. I don’t know where they live but they seem to be local,” Soloff says.

“I appreciate feeling like the neighborhood is a neighborhood rather than some extension of the megalopolis.”

With that, let’s turn to the megalopolis’ mayor, Rahm Emanuel.

 

“He doesn’t sit on his hands and he doesn’t waste time, so I do like feeling that the mayor is working hard for the city.”

She says Emanuel seems serious about cost cutting, which she appreciates as a taxpayer, but hopes those savings find their way to address the “the crucial needs of the city.”

Soloff is on a roll, so I don’t stop her.

“I don’t like the demonization of the teachers union. I’m not putting that at [Emanuel’s] feet at all, but it's something that I see happening in the public discourse that I’m not happy about.”

With that, out time is running short. Those rain clouds look angry, and I don't know how we'd finish up this tour of Chicago's wards with a water-logged microphone.