WBEZ | Wicker Park http://www.wbez.org/tags/wicker-park Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The J. Schmidt Building http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/j-schmidt-building-106312 <p><p>I was ten years old when I discovered that I had my own Chicago landmark.</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/J.%20Schmidt%20Building%20%28North%20Ave.%29.JPG" style="width: 250px; height: 372px; float: right;" title="J. Schmidt Building, 1975" /></div><p>We were driving my Grandma to visit one of her relatives in the old neighborhood, when I happened to glance up at the cornice of the building at 2007 West North Avenue. Carved in stone was the inscription &ldquo;1884&mdash;J. Schmidt&rdquo;.</p><p>I was excited as only a 10-year-old could be. I knew that Detroit had a downtown street called John R. Street. But here was a building with my name on it, right in my own home town. Maybe someday I could buy the building and live in it!</p><p>With time and growing up, my fascination with the J. Schmidt Building faded. Years later, I took the trouble to look up the building in one of the old city directories at the Historical Society. The original address had been 466 West North Avenue, and was a meat market. The proprietor was named John Schmidt&mdash;no relation, but a nice coincidence. On my way home that day, I stopped and took a picture of &ldquo;my&rdquo; building.</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/J.%20Schmidt%20Building%202013-a.JPG" style="width: 275px; height: 412px; float: left;" title="J. Schmidt Building, 2013" /></div><p>Decades pass. I&rsquo;m digitalizing some old slides, and run across my photo of the J. Schmidt Building. The next time I&rsquo;m in Wicker Park, I decide to see what my favorite Chicago building looks like today, now that the area is booming.</p><p>The building is still there. Only trouble, the top two floors are gone. And with them, the &ldquo;J. Schmidt&rdquo; inscription.</p><p>Yes, what&rsquo;s left is a remnant of the original structure. It&rsquo;s not a new, one-floor building. For whatever reason, the owner founded it necessary to remove the upper floors. I doubt the cornice was preserved.</p><p>So here&rsquo;s your assignment. If anyone finds another building with an inscription that has a suitable variation on my name, take a picture of it and send it to me. I&rsquo;ll post it on this blog, giving you proper credit.</p><p>And this time around, I&rsquo;ll know better what to do. I&rsquo;ll apply for Historic Preservation.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/J.%20Schmidt%20Building%202.JPG" title="Have you seen this architectural remnant?" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 02 Apr 2013 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/j-schmidt-building-106312 The short, unhappy life of Algren Street http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/short-unhappy-life-algren-street-103434 <p><p>Nelson Algren&mdash;one of America&rsquo;s great writers and a charter member of the Chicago Hall of Fame&mdash;died in 1981. Columnist Mike Royko had been one of his friends. Royko came up with what seemed like an appropriate way to honor Algren.</p><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/11-14--Algren%20%28LofC%29.jpg" style="float: left; height: 318px; width: 250px;" title="Nelson Algren (Library of Congress)" /></div></div><p>For many years Algren had lived in a three-story walkup at 1958 West Evergreen Avenue. &ldquo;It would be a nice gesture for [the city] to rename one of the little streets around Wicker Park after him,&rdquo; Royko wrote. &ldquo;Algren Court or Algren Place. Nothing big. He wouldn&rsquo;t expect it.&rdquo;</p><p>That was in May. Early the next year, Royko received word that Mayor Jane Byrne had taken up his suggestion. Evergreen Avenue, between Milwaukee and Damen, would be renamed Algren Street. The mayor even sent Royko one of the new street signs.</p><p>The trouble started when city crews began putting up those signs.</p><p>Algren had never been popular with the city&rsquo;s Polish community, who thought his writings slandered them. There were still a lot of Poles living in Wicker Park in 1982. They didn&rsquo;t like the new street name.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/11-14--Algren's Home.JPG" style="float: right; height: 326px; width: 217px;" title="Algren's walkup on Evergreen Avenue" /></div><p>Neither did some of the people who lived on Evergreen. Handbills began circulating in the neighborhood. They warned of all the problems and expense the name change would cause.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Residents would have to spend a small fortune revising their driver&rsquo;s licenses and other official documents. Delivery men and visitors would get lost. Someone might even die if an ambulance couldn&rsquo;t locate an address.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Pressure was put on the alderman to change the name back. In the meantime, activists began hanging cardboard signs reading &ldquo;EVERGREEN&rdquo; over the Algren Street signs.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">After a few weeks of guerilla war, the city gave in. It turned out that the crews had put up the &ldquo;Algren&rdquo; signs before the City Council had officially voted on the mayor&rsquo;s proposal. The local alderman asked his colleagues reject the name change, and they did. Evergreen remained Evergreen.</div><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/11-14--Algren Tribute.JPG" style="float: left; height: 320px; width: 240px;" title="Algren 'Chicago Tribute' marker" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The whole business made an impression on the politicians. Shortly after the Algren Street debacle, Chicago began issuing honorary street names&mdash;those brown and white signs you see hung under the real street signs at hundreds of places around town. That way, some worthy person can be memorialized without arousing the voters&rsquo; wrath.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">I&#39;d thought the city had settled on making the few blocks of Evergreen an honorary Algren Street. But when I visited there recently, I didn&rsquo;t see one brown sign. And in front of Algren&rsquo;s old home, the Chicago Tribute marker is tilting badly to one side. It looks like it was hit by a truck.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Some people have long memories. &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 12 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/short-unhappy-life-algren-street-103434 Stevie Baka: Wicker Park's coffee maven http://www.wbez.org/series/kitchen-close-ups/stevie-baka-wicker-parks-coffee-maven-103004 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/KCU_05_SBaka_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="407" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/51068047" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="610"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: left; "><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px; "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/kitchen-close-ups" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px; font: inherit; ">Kitchen Close-ups</a>&nbsp;offers an intimate introduction to characters in Chicago&rsquo;s food and dining scene. The series runs weekly at wbez.org.</em></p></p> Wed, 10 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/kitchen-close-ups/stevie-baka-wicker-parks-coffee-maven-103004 Rental market in hip neighborhoods tightens up, causing potential tenants to scramble http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/rental-market-hip-neighborhoods-tightens-causing-potential-tenants-scramble-101487 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Zol87 apartrment.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px; " title="Chicago Apartment Finders on Belmont is a common service used by needy renters. (Flickr/Zol87)" /></div><p>The end of summer is always one of the busiest times for the Chicago rental market.&nbsp;Tenants looking to move in September 1st usually start their apartment search around now. But as WBEZ found out, this year those renters might be too late.</p><p>A recent apartment showing in Ukranian Village is a prime example. There wasn&#39;t much to see in the two bedroom apartment; it was basically empty, except for some boxes and an old dust-covered stove that stood in the to-be living room. There weren&#39;t any light fixtures, countertops or cabinets, either.&nbsp;</p><p>And yet the property manager showing the unit &mdash; Mike Shenouda&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;seems totally confident that this unit will go, and fast.</p><p>&quot;People usually, we usually post an apartment, give it a day, show up that night and usually someone rents it,&quot; he said. And that goes for unfinished apartments like this one.&nbsp;<br /><br />In just under an hour, Shenouda shows a dozen people around the 1100-square-foot apartment. He says business has really picked up over the last year, and monthly rents have skyrocketed. This unit, for example, would have gone for a grand five years ago. Now Shenouda&rsquo;s asking $1500. Fewer people are buying houses, he says, and that means more renters.<br /><br />Which is exactly what Megan Russell, one of the potential tenants, is afraid of.<br /><br />&quot;I&rsquo;ve been looking for September first and I&rsquo;ve been looking for two to three weeks. I&rsquo;ve been on Craigslist non-stop, walking on the streets and calling, and places have been going faster than I could even see them,&quot; Russell said.&nbsp;<br /><br />Russell has lived in Chicago for four years. This time she&rsquo;s moving in with her boyfriend.<br /><br />&quot;A couple years ago you could see a place and think about it; now it&rsquo;s like, if you don&rsquo;t sign the lease when you see it, you&rsquo;re screwed,&quot; she said.<br /><br />And Russell&rsquo;s not alone &mdash;&nbsp;other renters WBEZ talked to said the apartment search has consumed their lives.&nbsp;They&rsquo;re constantly checking Craigslist at work, working all the angles, and even when they rush over to see a place, someone else got there moments before and it&rsquo;s already gone.<br /><br />And they all say the same thing: Renting in neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village or Bucktown is so much harder than then thought it would be. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>According to <em>Chicago</em> Magazine real estate expert Dennis Rodkin, the boost in renters has a lot to do with the decline in young home buyers.&nbsp;<br /><br />&quot;A lot of people were buying who now realize it&rsquo;s not quite the best idea,&quot; Rodkin said. &quot;It used to be great if you were a young adult, it was easy to buy so people moved into the home ownership market sooner. Fewer of them are doing it. And there&rsquo;s also an inflow of people who were owners, who can&rsquo;t afford to own anymore, they&rsquo;ve been foreclosed, sold at a huge loss, and they&rsquo;ve converted to renting.&quot;<br /><br />And it&#39;s not just the hip, northwest neighborhoods that are experiencing the squeeze. According to Appraisal Research Counselors,&nbsp;95 percent of apartments downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods were occupied for the first quarter of 2012.&nbsp;Ten years ago, that number was under 90 percent.<br /><br />According to Rodkin, the competitive rental market in these &ldquo;zones of hipness&rdquo; as he calls them, will eventually iron itself out. He says the real problem is the city is short more than 100,000 affordable rental units in low-income areas.</p><p>&quot;One thing to keep in mind you&rsquo;re talking about problems in middle and upper income North Side neighborhoods,&quot; Rodkin said. &quot;More apartments are being built for upper middle income and wealthy people all the time. And that&rsquo;s going to lead to a problem &mdash;&nbsp;we have a surplus but we have an enormous deficit, a massive deficit of rental apartments for people who have low income.&quot;<br /><br />But for those who still want to move to neighborhoods like Ukranian Village, Rodkin says move fast.&nbsp;Remember that unit Shenouda is showing? That little two bedroom under construction?<br /><br />It rented just two days after he posted it.<br /><br />He showed another apartment that night just a couple blocks down the street&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;a two bedroom, two bathroom unit going for $1600 a month.<br /><br />It became available last minute because the original renter didn&rsquo;t have good enough credit. That&rsquo;s great news for Stephanie Sybrandt and Matt Wintz, who are the first to see it.<br /><br />The couple is getting married soon and nailing down their first apartment hasn&rsquo;t been much fun. &nbsp;<br /><br />&quot;It&rsquo;s a little frustrating because you get used to picturing yourself inside a place and it used to, a couple years ago, be a lot easier,&quot; Wintz said.&nbsp;<br /><br />As they walk around this place, there&rsquo;s barely a discussion.&nbsp;In the past, they might have slept on it for a few days. Instead they signed an application just minutes later.<br /><br />But of course, there&rsquo;s no guarantee.&nbsp;As they walk out the door, there are four more potential tenants waiting to see the place, too.</p></p> Mon, 06 Aug 2012 07:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/rental-market-hip-neighborhoods-tightens-causing-potential-tenants-scramble-101487 DJ Series: Eric Williams invites music-lovers to a block party http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-15/dj-series-eric-williams-invites-music-lovers-block-party-89200 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-15/2059700653_b51b4ee50e_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If the<a href="http://pitchforkmusicfestival.com/" target="_blank"> Pitchfork Music Fest</a> is not in the cards for this weekend, a block party might be just the ticket. The annual<a href="http://www.thesilverroom.com/" target="_blank"> Sound System Block Party</a> is now in its ninth year. It takes place Saturday from noon -10:00 p.m. at Milwaukee and Evergreen avenues in Chicago’s Wicker Park. There will be DJs, bands, dancers and more. It’s the brainchild of Eric Williams – owner of <a href="http://www.thesilverroom.com/" target="_blank">The Silver Room</a>, a jewelry and more store on Milwaukee Ave. But before Williams hosts his annual event he stopped by to spin for <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>'<em>s</em> <a href="http://tp://www.wbez.org/DJ" target="_blank"><em>DJ Series.</em></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 15 Jul 2011 13:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-15/dj-series-eric-williams-invites-music-lovers-block-party-89200 The sight, sound and feel of analog recordings make up a new art exhibition http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-14/sight-sound-and-feel-analog-recordings-make-new-art-exhibition-87825 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-14/Reel to reel_Flickr_Rik Ruff.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In this ever-increasing digital age, there are those who long for a simpler time, or at least a more tactile one. Case in point: a new art exhibition deeply attached to the sight and sound of analog recordings. <em>Eight Forty-Eight’s</em> Joe DeCeault has all the details.<br> <br> The exhibition <em>Wow and Flutter: Dynamic Range in Analog Art</em> runs through June 21 at <a href="http://johallaprojects.com/" target="_blank">Johalla Projects</a> in Wicker Park. They’ll have a second showing this Thursday, but appointments are required.</p></p> Tue, 14 Jun 2011 14:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-14/sight-sound-and-feel-analog-recordings-make-new-art-exhibition-87825