WBEZ | Gage Park http://www.wbez.org/tags/gage-park Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Confronting community problems through architecture and design http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/confronting-community-problems-through-architecture-and-design-113169 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/JuanMoreno1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Anyone who drives on the Kennedy has likely seen Juan Moreno&rsquo;s work. The Northeastern Illinois University El Centro building is mostly glass, with vertical dividers turning it from yellow to blue to yellow, depending on the direction on the expressway.</p><p>Moreno&rsquo;s office building on Wabash Avenue is a frenetic space under the &lsquo;L&rsquo; tracks, surrounded by the noise of nearby road repairs. The lively business district gets constant care and attention, unlike Gage Park on the city&rsquo;s Southwest Side.</p><p>&ldquo;In the corporate world, there isn&rsquo;t this kind of desire to go into our communities of need,&rdquo; said Moreno. &ldquo;And give our gifts as architects, our ideas, our vision &mdash; to try to uplift the community.&rdquo;</p><p>And an area like Gage Park could use the help. It has different kinds of infrastructure problems: Its streets are punctuated by potholes, bridges crumbled to where the rebar steel peeks out from the concrete. Weeds grow tall and wide through sidewalk cracks in front of a multitude of empty buildings.</p><p>Moreno noted the differences between the rapid repairs happening near his office that might inconvenience commuters downtown, and the visible neglect in this mostly working-class Latino community. He believes that lack of attention can affect a resident&rsquo;s psyche.</p><p>&ldquo;Because they walk by it and those buildings talk to them. And it makes them feel like people don&rsquo;t care about them,&rdquo; said Moreno. &ldquo;That they (problems from neglect) are in communities of color. And it&rsquo;s a constant reminder when they look at that.&rdquo;</p><p>Rows and rows of one and two-story brick, pre-war homes line the streets of Gage Park: Brick homes and vacant lots. But a gleaming structure pierces the horizon &mdash; a giant, modern, glass-and-metal building &mdash; and in its shadow, kids played at its feet on the artificial turf.</p><p>The UNO charter Soccer Academy Elementary School could easily be mistaken for a museum or airport terminal. Moreno said he&rsquo;s happy his design gets that kind of reaction.</p><p>&ldquo;They don&rsquo;t always have to be the same prototype. We can think about their role in the community, the way learning is approached,&rdquo; said Moreno. &ldquo;And I think this school does a great job in doing that.&rdquo;</p><p>Punctuating the past with designs for the future isn&rsquo;t for everyone. Just north, in Pilsen, there&rsquo;s been lots of talk about gentrification in recent years. The Mexican neighborhood is known for its European-styled buildings dating back to the 1800s.</p><p>Crystal Quintero was peering into a soon-to-opened Giordano&#39;s restaurant on 18th Street, across from a Subway restaurant. The new pizza place is going into an old building that once housed a youth art studio. Some residents might see the chain going in and think, &lsquo;there goes the neighborhood.&#39; But Quintero didn&rsquo;t see it that way.</p><p>&ldquo;I was going to fill out an application,&rdquo; said Quintero. &ldquo;I want to work here so I&rsquo;m going to fill out an application online.&rdquo;</p><p>And that&rsquo;s one of the fundamental challenges for today&rsquo;s architect &mdash; how to transform space for the future while preserving the integrity of its past.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter </em><em><a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a></em></p></p> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 08:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/confronting-community-problems-through-architecture-and-design-113169 In Gage Park, a midcentury bank and piece of Chicago history vanish http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-11/gage-park-midcentury-bank-and-piece-chicago-history-vanish-109238 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10592307763_ef9d84ee4c_c.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 399px;" title="" /></p>The former Talman Federal Savings building, a Southwest Side midcentury modernist structure designed by Skidmore Owings &amp; Merrill, has been demolished.<p>Its expected replacement? An LA Fitness health club.</p><p>It&#39;s a sad end to a neighborhood building that not only stood on the corner of 55th and Kedzie, but also occupied the intersection of Chicago architecture and history.</p><p>Talman Federal began in 1922 at the kitchen table of 29-year-old Ben Bohac, living at&nbsp;51st and Talman. By 1955, Bohac&#39;s enterprise was one of the state&#39;s most successful savings and loan associations, with enough money and clout to hire a blue-chip architecture firm like&nbsp;Skidmore Owings &amp; Merrill to design the new building. The design won a certificate of merit award from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1957.</p><p>The building is gone now, along with an addition and parking and banking annex across Kedzie. Photographer Martin Gonzalez documented Talman&#39;s demise last month.&nbsp;His photo above looks northwest, across the ruins to the former entry lobby in the background. Below is a photograph I took of the vacant, but still standing, Talman earlier this year.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P3199043_0.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Another view from Gonzalez. Bohac&#39;s name was still on the building as the demo equipment rolled:<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10995418936_c7fa2f3107_z.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" title="" /></div><p>Again, here&#39;s Talman when I visited the building in April:</p></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P3198995_0.jpg" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">This is an image from Gonzalez showing the 55th Street frontage under demolition and with graffiti:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10345669655_5d57379180_c.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 902px;" title="" /></div></div><p>Talman merged with LaSalle Bank, a&nbsp;subsidiary of&nbsp;Dutch banking giant&nbsp;ABN AMRO Bank N.V., in the 1990s, ending the empire Ben Bohac created.</p><p>Scores of 1950s and 1960s commercial buildings and churches are scattered among the pre-war Chicago bungalows and two-flats on the Southwest Side. If any good (other than the prospect of firm abs) can come of Talman&#39;s demolition, let&#39;s hope that it brings more attention&nbsp; to these neighborhoods and buildings.</p><p>Meanwhile, check out more of Martin Gonzalez&#39; work <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/25165196@N08/">here on flickr.</a></p><p><em>Lee Bey writes about Chicago architecture for WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter @LeeBey.</em></p></p> Tue, 26 Nov 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-11/gage-park-midcentury-bank-and-piece-chicago-history-vanish-109238 Dingbat's funeral http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/dingbats-funeral-105974 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/03-11--Dingbat.jpg" style="width: 270px; height: 282px; float: left;" title="The departed Dingbat (author's collection)" />On this March 11 in 1930, the big story in Washington was the funeral of William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States. In Chicago, the big story was also a funeral. The city was saying good-bye to the Dingbat.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Dingbat was John Oberta, his nickname derived from a comic strip. He was 29 at the time of his death. Like Taft he was a Republican politician, the 13th Ward Committeeman. Unlike Taft, he was a gangster.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Oberta was a protégé of Big Tim Murphy, bootlegger and labor racketeer in the Back-of-the-Yards neighborhood. One morning Big Tim opened his front door and had his head blown off by a shotgun blast. A few months later, Dingbat married Big Tim&rsquo;s widow.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Now Dingbat was gone, too. He had been found shot dead in his car, along with his chauffeur, on a deserted road near Willow Springs.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">By 1930 the gangster funeral had become a familiar Chicago custom. Dingbat&rsquo;s friends would not scrimp. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m giving him the same I gave Tim,&rdquo; Mrs. Murphy Oberta told reporters.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Dingbat was waked in his home on South Richmond Avenue. He lay in a $15,000 mahogany coffin with silver handles, under a blanket of orchids. Joe Saltis, Bugs Moran, Spike O&rsquo;Donnell, and all of Dingbat&rsquo;s pals were present. So were assorted politicians.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Two priests of the Polish National Catholic Church conducted a brief service. Then the pall bearers prepared to carry the coffin to the waiting hearse. Out on the street, a crowd of 20,000 people had gathered. (In Washington, half as many were reported at Taft&rsquo;s funeral.)</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3-11--Dingbat's Funeral02.jpg" title="The scene on Richmond Avenue ('Chicago Tribune'--March 12, 1930)" /></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Carry my Johnny out the back way,&quot; Dingbat&rsquo;s mother wailed. &quot;Don&rsquo;t let them see him! They didn&rsquo;t care about him!&quot; The pall bearers ignored her and brought Dingbat out the front door.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The coffin was loaded, then the hearse moved away. Following it were four carloads of flowers and a procession two miles long. When the funeral cortege arrived at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, hundreds more curiosity seekers were there to greet it.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Dingbat was laid to rest a few feet from Big Tim Murphy. There was just enough space between them for another grave. Presumably that spot was reserved for their mutual wife.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The&nbsp;killing of Dingbat Oberta was never officially solved. And with the Great Depression fast descending on the country, the gaudy gangland funeral went out of fashion.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 11 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/dingbats-funeral-105974 Chicago Democrats clash over Illinois House seat http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-democrats-clash-over-illinois-house-seat-87408 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-03/MendozaCityHallcrop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A top Chicago official is criticizing the way her party is filling her former Illinois House seat.<br> <br> Susana Mendoza resigned as District 1 representative last month to become city clerk. To replace her, the district’s Democratic ward committeemen chose Chicago police Sgt. Dena Carli.<br> <br> Party insiders say the plan is for Carli to exit the seat this summer, once a long-term replacement establishes residency in the district, which spans parts of several Southwest Side neighborhoods, including Little Village, Brighton Park and Gage Park.<br> <br> The sources say Carli’s replacement will be Silvana Tabares, a former editor of the bilingual weekly newspaper Extra. Tabares graduated last year from the leadership academy of the United Neighborhood Organization, a clout-heavy Latino group.<br> <br> UNO chief Juan Rangel says he doesn’t know anything about the plan but praises Tabares. “She would be, by far, the best candidate to fill the seat,” Rangel says.<br> <br> Mendoza doesn’t think so. She pushed for her replacement to be Evelyn Rodríguez, an aide to U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Illinois.<br> <br> “Neither Carli nor Tabares is qualified,” Mendoza says. “The citizens and the residents of the First District were completely shortchanged in this process.”<br> <br> The Illinois constitution requires state lawmakers to live in their district for two years before their election or appointment.<br> <br> Tabares, listed at 4335 S. Spaulding Ave., says she’s lived in the district for “about two years” but claims she can’t remember the month she moved in.<br> <br> Tabares says she’s eager to serve in the seat but says she knows nothing about the plan for her to take it. She referred WBEZ questions about the plan to two of the committeemen: Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, Ward 14, and State Sen. Tony Muñoz, District 1.<br> <br> Burke and Muñoz didn’t return the station’s calls about the seat. Neither did Carli.</p></p> Fri, 03 Jun 2011 21:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-democrats-clash-over-illinois-house-seat-87408