WBEZ | Parks http://www.wbez.org/tags/parks Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's long-forgotten zoo http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-long-forgotten-zoo-108844 <p><p><a name="video"></a><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="340" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ELIFciqVEFs" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Our question comes from John Lillig, a resident of the West Ridge neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s far North Side. The location is important to this story in that he&rsquo;s intimately familiar with the nearby Indian Boundary Park. It&#39;s a place, he says, where he once could take his child to visit a tiny zoo that housed a llama, a bear, and other animals. In recent years, the zoo comprised a goat, a handful of chickens and some ducks.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/John_Lillig.JPG" style="float: right;" title="John Lillig’s interest in historical neighborhood zoos was sparked by the closure of a tiny zoo at Chicago’s Indian Boundary Park. " /></p><p>As the summer closed, the Chicago Park District shuttered the zoo and relocated the animals to the flagship Lincoln Park Zoo. But before all this came to pass, John&rsquo;s curiosity had been piqued, and he sent along this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>With the rumored closing of the Indian Boundary Park zoo, I was wondering about the history of that unusual neighborhood zoo and wondering what other zoos may have existed in Chicago other than Lincoln Park Zoo (or Brookfield Zoo). I have heard that Indian Boundary Zoo is the only remaining neighborhood zoo of what were once several neighborhood zoos. Is this true? What other zoos have existed in Chicago, where were they located, and what is there now?</em></p><p>As there had been a lot of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/west-ridge-residents-angry-over-zoo-plans-108180">coverage of Indian Boundary this year</a>, we took on the latter half of his question. It&rsquo;s a good thing, too, since the answer required some digging.</p><p>Thankfully, John was able to provide a solid lead. He once taught literature classes, he says, and would use the <em>AIA Guide to Chicago</em> as source material. He noticed that the entry on Indian Boundary Park mentioned that it was the only<em> remaining</em> neighborhood zoo, which suggested there had once been others.</p><p>Several experts we consulted &mdash; including some who contributed to the AIA guide &mdash; didn&rsquo;t know of of any other neighborhood zoos. But, it turns out, there had been one.</p><p><strong>The West Side&rsquo;s lost zoo</strong></p><p>Chicago Park District historian Julia Bachrach directed us to Union Park, located at 1501 W. Randolph St.</p><p><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/GarfieldParkZoo/GarfieldPark.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GParkThumb.jpg" style="float: left; height: 290px; width: 400px;" title="Click to see this design map, which shows that a zoo had also been planned for Chicago’s Garfield Park. According to Chicago Park District historian Julia Bachrach, park districts balked at the high cost of operating neighborhood zoos, especially after Lincoln Park Zoo proved so successful. (Courtesy of Chicago History Museum)" /></a>We met Bachrach there, against the backdrop of kids playing on the playground and people jogging. During a short tour, she explained what the park was like in the late 1800s, and how, like many American parks at that time, it had a zoo or, more accurately, a menagerie.</p><p>&ldquo;It really was looked at like a collection of animals, something to entertain the people who came to use the park,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;They weren&rsquo;t at all thinking about the needs of the animals or what it would take to take proper care of them.&rdquo;</p><p>So, with Bachrach&rsquo;s good graces, and help from the Chicago Park District, the Chicago History Museum and the ghost of an urban bear, we produced <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago%E2%80%99s-long-forgotten-zoo-108844#video">this video profile</a> of the West Side&rsquo;s long-forgotten zoo.</p><p><em>Image credits: Thanks to the Chicago Park District for permission to film at Union Park and for access to historical images posted in the facility&rsquo;s field house.</em></p><p><em>Scanned images courtesy of the Chicago History Museum. They include:</em></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><em>Visitors at the bear den at Union Park, Chicago, Illinois:&nbsp;ICHi-26321</em></li><li><em>Two men and a bear at the bear den at Union Park, Chicago, Illinois:&nbsp;ICHi-26322</em></li><li><em>Map of Union Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1912. From the book Maps of the Parks under the jurisdiction of West Chicago Park Commissioners:&nbsp;ICHi-68171</em></li><li><em>Map of Garfield Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1885. O. F. Dubuis, Landscape Architect:&nbsp;ICHi-68170</em></li></ul><p><em>Katie Kather is an arts and culture reporting intern at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/ktkather">@ktkather</a>.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/sallee-0" rel="author">Shawn Allee</a> edits Curious City, which you can follow <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity">@WBEZCuriousCity</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 14:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-long-forgotten-zoo-108844 On playground equity, Park District comes up short http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/playground-equity-park-district-comes-short-108668 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JaemeyBush1.JPG" style="height: 300px; width: 200px; margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; float: right;" title="Jaemey Bush and her girl play in Piotrowski Park, 4247 W. 31st St. The playground lost most of its swings in a 2010 renovation, a project that has Jaemey wondering what determines the location and quality of Chicago Park District playgrounds. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Jaemey Bush was excited when the bulldozers rumbled in to renovate the playground at Piotrowski Park, one of the few green spaces in Little Village, a densely populated Latino enclave of Chicago. The 2010 project replaced decaying wood chips with a poured-rubber surface accessible to wheelchairs. Crews tore out all the old play equipment and installed climbing ropes, slides, stepping stools and catwalks. Everything was brand new.</p><p>But something bothered Jaemey, a stay-at-home mom in the neighborhood. &ldquo;When they finally unveiled the playground, it was about a quarter the size of the old one,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Before the remodeling, we had 16 swings at least. Now there are just 6. Sometimes we have to wait in line for them.&rdquo;</p><p>Jaemey noticed bigger playgrounds in some wealthier neighborhoods. So she asked Curious City:</p><p><em>What factors determine the location and quality of Chicago Park District playgrounds?</em></p><p>As Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration tells it, the main factors are equity and community need. Park District officials, who report to a CEO and board of commissioners appointed by the mayor, point out that they manage 525 playgrounds &mdash; a big number even for a population the size of Chicago&rsquo;s.</p><p>They say more than 90 percent of Chicago children live within a half mile (10-minute walk) of at least one of these sites. They point to an Emanuel administration plan to renovate 300 of those playgrounds within five years. And they say they&rsquo;re doing their best to acquire land for new parks and playgrounds in the neighborhoods that need them the most.</p><p>To determine needs for amenities such as playgrounds, the Park District says it has beefed up its planning staff and embraced state-of-the-art data analysis. Gia Biagi, chief of staff for Park District CEO Michael Kelly, says those efforts include research projects with outside organizations including Northwestern University.</p><p>&ldquo;We said, &lsquo;Here&rsquo;s our data. Help comb through it. Are we hitting the markets that we want to hit? Are we serving people in the way that they want to be served?&rsquo; &rdquo; Biagi says. &ldquo;So we&rsquo;re doing a lot of the business-intelligence work that we see corporations do. We&rsquo;re trying to bring it to a Park District, which is pretty unusual.&rdquo;</p><p>Park District officials say they examine data at every level, from the entire city to block-by-block numbers. Biagi says her team considers population characteristics including race, ethnicity and income. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re good planners,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;So we look at everything and we look to serve communities that need us the most.&rdquo;</p><p>But looking isn&rsquo;t the same as doing. Sparked by Jaemey&rsquo;s question, a Curious City investigation shows that not all kids have easy access to quality playgrounds. Worst off are children of color.</p><p><strong>Kids but no monkey bars</strong></p><p>Chicago has playgrounds in its poorest neighborhoods, as we confirmed by mapping the city&rsquo;s playground locations with its 809 census tracts and then shading those tracts according to their child poverty (see Map 1).</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/PARKS/Poverty.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><strong>Map 1: Playground locations and child poverty (<a href="#DataNotes">notes</a>)</strong></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">% of kids in poverty</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(244, 204, 204); background-color: rgb(234, 209, 220); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;0.0&ndash;4.9</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(234, 153, 153); background-color: rgb(213, 166, 189); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;5.0&ndash;19.9</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(224, 102, 102); background-color: rgb(194, 123, 160); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;20.0&ndash;39.0</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(204, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(166, 77, 121); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;40.0&ndash;59.9</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(153, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(116, 27, 71); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;60.0&ndash;100</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 255); background-color: rgb(0, 0, 255); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;No children</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Playground surface</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(108, 125, 210); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Wood Chips</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(138, 240, 138); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Rubber </span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p dir="ltr">But our investigation went further. With help from demographer Rob Paral, we analyzed the playground locations in relation to the latest racial and ethnic data for each of the city&rsquo;s 46,000 census blocks.</p><p dir="ltr">We found something interesting. Chicago&rsquo;s Latino children are almost 35 percent more likely than the city&rsquo;s white kids to live more than a half mile from a Park District playground (see Chart 1). More than 23,000 Latino kids live at least 10 minutes, on foot, from the nearest playground.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/oimg?key=0AluraWM750W7dHppQlVGTmhMTFlEVGljWTY0dk1kNmc&amp;oid=11&amp;zx=finl7t3gdy3c" style="width: 600px; height: 371px;" /></p><p>Jaemey&rsquo;s neighborhood, Little Village, is not alone among Latino areas with a dearth of Park District playgrounds. A map that shows the playground locations and the census tracts, shaded this time by child density (see Map 2), reveals a shortage in Brighton Park, Gage Park and Chicago Lawn &mdash; a Southwest Side swath with lots of children, most with Mexican heritage.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/PARKS/Kids.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><strong>Map 2: Playground locations and child density (<a href="#DataNotes">notes</a>)</strong></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Child population</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(255, 229, 153); background-color: rgb(255, 229, 153); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;0&ndash;299</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(255, 217, 102); background-color: rgb(255, 217, 102); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;300&ndash;599</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(241, 194, 50); background-color: rgb(241, 194, 50); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;600&ndash;999</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(191, 144, 0); background-color: rgb(191, 144, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;1,000&ndash;1,499</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(127, 96, 0); background-color: rgb(127, 96, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;1,500 or more</span></span></p><br /><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Playground surface</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(108, 125, 210); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Wood Chips</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(138, 240, 138); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Rubber</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It makes me really sad that these kids don&rsquo;t have a chance to play on a playground,&rdquo; Jaemey says. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s such an important part of being a kid and growing up and being healthy. We also have a lot of gang violence and kids getting into trouble. I feel like more playgrounds could contribute to solving some of those problems.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Park District, presented with our data and findings, sent a statement that describes the city&rsquo;s playgrounds as &ldquo;well distributed in existing parks.&rdquo; Officials say they&rsquo;re also planning a new playground site in a 20-acre former industrial area between Little Village and the Cook County Jail.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We take seriously issues of equity and constantly examine the distribution of, and demand for, all of our resources, whether camps and programs or events and arts or natural resources and capital projects,&rdquo; the Park District statement says. &ldquo;As it should be in any major city and within any park system worth its salt, our work on equity, proximity, and improving the quality of life for all Chicagoans is deliberative and evolving.&rdquo;</p><p>A complication for many of Chicago&rsquo;s Latino neighborhoods is their relative lack of open space. They tend to be densely populated, so it&rsquo;s more expensive to clear space for a playground. Biagi, the Park District chief of staff, says Brighton Park just doesn&rsquo;t have many vacant lots.</p><p>The Park District also avoids putting parks on less than two acres because, Biagi says, the small scale would make them more expensive for maintenance crews to keep up.</p><p><strong>Not all jungle gyms are equal</strong></p><p>Turning to playground quality &mdash; the other part of Jaemey&rsquo;s question &mdash; we found a lot of evidence that Chicago&rsquo;s children of color are not getting their share.</p><p>First we looked at playground surfaces &mdash; the ground material that provides a cushion when kids fall from the equipment. The surface of almost every Park District playground once consisted of wood chips.</p><p>In 2000, however, the Park District started replacing wood chips with poured rubber, a smoother surface that is easier for disabled kids to navigate. Rubber can also be safer because, unlike wood chips, it doesn&rsquo;t require refilling or raking. And a rubber surface signals that the Park District has recently replaced the playground&rsquo;s equipment.</p><p>A big downside to playgrounds with the poured-rubber surfaces, officials say, is that they cost roughly five times more than wood-chip playgrounds with similar play equipment.</p><p>A Curious City spatial analysis using the census data shows that 53 percent of the city&rsquo;s 421,000&nbsp;Latino, African American and Asian kids live within a half mile of a rubber-surfaced Park District playground (see Chart 2). White children have a 24 percent greater likelihood than those kids of color to live within that distance of a rubber-surfaced playground.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/oimg?key=0AluraWM750W7dHppQlVGTmhMTFlEVGljWTY0dk1kNmc&amp;oid=10&amp;zx=yfcjv5ithid" style="width: 600px; height: 371px; margin: 5px;" /></p><p>Another measure of a playground&rsquo;s quality is its safety.</p><p>&ldquo;Kids are hurt on playgrounds by falling, but the way kids actually die on playgrounds is, somehow, a child is strangled or their airway gets blocked,&rdquo; says Amy Hill, who coordinates an injury-prevention center for the Ann &amp; Robert H. Lurie Children&rsquo;s Hospital of Chicago. &ldquo;Clothing gets entangled onto a bolt or something protruding somewhere, and the other way that their airway gets blocked is something called a head entrapment, which is any space that&rsquo;s bound on all four sides that&rsquo;s larger than 3&frac12; inches and less than 9 inches. And so we test all the openings for head entrapments.&rdquo;</p><p>Hill&rsquo;s center conducts a 21-point inspection of Park District playgrounds to find hazards ranging from those entrapment spaces to peeling paint and missing guardrails. Based on the inspections, the center assigns each playground a safety score. The latest inspection round, held last year, covered about 490 playgrounds. Of those, the 40 with the lowest safety scores were all south of Roosevelt Road (see Map 3).<a name="Map3"></a></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/PARKS/LowScoring.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><strong>Map 3: This year&rsquo;s playground renovations (<a href="#DataNotes">notes</a>)</strong></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1429-fc5a-732c-6f227eed17f1"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(138, 240, 138); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Renovated after receiving one of the lowest 40 safety scores.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(108, 125, 210); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">● </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Renovated after </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">not</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> receiving one of the lowest 40 safety scores.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(210, 40, 57); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(108, 125, 210); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Not </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">renovated after receiving one of the lowest 40 safety scores.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;That shows a neglect of playgrounds on the South Side,&rdquo; Jaemey says.</p><p dir="ltr">The Park District did not answer our questions about what led to that disparity. A spokeswoman for Kelly, the Park District chief, instead sent a statement criticizing the whole idea of assessing a playground&rsquo;s safety based on a single visit. &ldquo;The static-in-time inspection does not account for the routine site maintenance and work orders for repairs,&rdquo; the statement said.</p><p dir="ltr">Kelly&rsquo;s spokeswoman also touted Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s renovation program, dubbed Chicago Plays. Expected to cost $38 million over the next five years, the program aims to replace the play equipment at 300 sites and departs from the policy of installing the expensive poured rubber as part of every Park District renovation. Many of these playgrounds will have to stick with wood chips.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We have reduced a 20-year replacement cycle to 5 years by implementing a practical, cost-effective citywide construction program,&rdquo; the Park District statement said. &ldquo;We changed our strategy to do more with fewer resources, and reach more Chicagoans in the process.&rdquo;</p><p>Under the Chicago Plays banner, the Park District added 50 renovations to a list of 11 playgrounds otherwise slated for rehabilitation this year. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a paint job, it&rsquo;s a total redo of equipment,&rdquo; Emanuel said at a West Side playground this July. &ldquo;No other city is doing this.&rdquo;</p><p>But the renovation push, despite its scale, is not having a big impact in the South Side neighborhoods with those 40 low-scoring playgrounds. Just 8 of them are getting renovated this year (see <a href="#Map3">Map 3</a>).</p><p>&ldquo;The Park District is obviously not focusing on the worst playgrounds,&rdquo; Jaemey says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no justice in that.&rdquo;</p><p>At some of the playgrounds panned by the hospital but overlooked for renovation this year, officials have let the play equipment deteriorate. This week at Murray Park, 1743 W. 73rd St., some of the wooden rungs on the sole climbing structure were rotting. Others were loose or missing.</p><p>At another low-scoring South Side playground, the Park District has removed all the equipment except two swing sets, both decades-old. Drexel Playlot Park, 6931 S. Damen Ave., now looks like a vacant lot.</p><p><strong>Proving &lsquo;ownership&rsquo;</strong></p><p>If equity and safety don&rsquo;t solely determine the location and quality of Park District playgrounds, what other factors are in play?</p><p>One is funding. The Park District says it&rsquo;s spending about $125,000 per renovation in the Chicago Plays program. That&rsquo;s enough to replace all the equipment at the 300 playgrounds. &ldquo;It will be equitable across the city,&rdquo; says Rob Rejman, the district&rsquo;s planning and construction director.</p><p>But the Park District expects to attract a lot more funding for playground renovations during the program&rsquo;s five years, as it has in the past. Since 2007, Park District coffers have accounted for just 40 percent of playground funding, officials say. Another 35 percent has come from city sources ranging from tax increment-financing, to money leftover from last year&rsquo;s NATO summit, to a &ldquo;menu&rdquo; program in which each alderman controls funds for public-works projects in the ward.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MurrayPark.JPG" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 412px; width: 275px;" title="At Chicago’s Murray Park, 1743 W. 73rd St., some rungs of the sole climbing structure are rotting or loose. Others are missing. Murray is among dozens of South Side playgrounds the Park District did not renovate this year despite low marks from independent safety inspectors. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Another 18 percent of playground money has come from state of Illinois grants, the Park District says. The remaining 7 percent has come from private donors such as foundations, chambers of commerce and neighborhood groups.</p><p>&ldquo;We always welcome partnerships,&rdquo; Rejman says. &ldquo;The outside funding, though, comes where it comes. We don&rsquo;t have control over it.&rdquo;</p><p>That means it comes unevenly across the city. The aldermanic menu money for playgrounds, for example, tends to flow to the North Side, the Chicago Tribune has&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-05-16/news/ct-met-playground-disparity-0517--20100516_1_playgrounds-south-side-aldermen-renovations" target="_blank">reported</a>.</p><p>The funding imbalance played a role at the Piotrowski playground, where Jaemey takes her kids. Renovating that 1993 facility cost $314,000 but, according to the Park District, much of that sum went into a poured-rubber surface instead of play equipment. The Park District didn&rsquo;t manage to pin down any outside funding, a source involved with the project adds. Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22nd) confirms he didn&rsquo;t channel menu money to the project. So, as Jaemey observed, the renovation actually scaled the playground down.</p><p>Besides uneven funding, another factor helps determine playground locations and quality. &ldquo;You don&rsquo;t want to just helicopter in a playground,&rdquo; says Maria Dmyterko Stone, a program director of Friends of the Parks, a group that&rsquo;s working with the Park District on the Chicago Plays program. &ldquo;You want the community to want it, need it, desire it, claim it as theirs.&rdquo;</p><p>Stone says the community engagement helps protect playgrounds from litter bugs and vandals. The community also informs the Park District when a piece of play equipment breaks, she adds. Volunteers will even help rake wood chips to cover &ldquo;fall zones&rdquo; where the ground is bare.</p><p>Community members with a stake in a playground will also call police to sweep away people who don&rsquo;t belong there. &ldquo;It could be taken over by gangs,&rdquo; Stone says. &ldquo;It could be drug sales. People could be drinking in the park. And if you put a playground in there and the community hasn&rsquo;t taken ownership of it, you&rsquo;re not going to have kids playing there.&rdquo;</p><p>To demonstrate that &ldquo;ownership,&rdquo; the Chicago Plays program requires a community group &mdash; such as a park&rsquo;s advisory council or a block club &mdash; to apply for each renovation. The application includes a 50-signature petition, a letter of support from the local alderman, a community impact statement and a report on the playground&rsquo;s current condition. The application form also encourages visual evidence such as photos or video.</p><p>But many communities where high-quality playgrounds could make the greatest difference for kids also lack park advisory councils. Park District records show an advisory council at only a third of city parks. Without one, it&rsquo;s harder to apply for the renovation and raise funds to pay for a poured-rubber surface or extra equipment.</p><p>Chicago Plays thus embodies an old Chicago logic of investing in public infrastructure, first, where it has the greatest chance of &ldquo;success&rdquo; &mdash; and pushing areas that lack resources and clout to the back of the line. In this sense, Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s playground renovations look something like his <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893" target="_blank">bike sharing</a> docks and planned <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/bus-rapid-transit-%E2%80%98maximize-potential%E2%80%99-ashland-avenue-106738" target="_blank">bus rapid transit</a> routes.</p><p><a name="DataNotes"></a></p><p><a name="DataNotes"></a>Jaemey, our curious citizen, says it&rsquo;s not fair. &ldquo;Too many places where kids really need good playgrounds are not getting them,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;They keep getting left behind.&rdquo;</p><p><em><b>CONTRIBUTORS:&nbsp;</b>Reporting and data analysis by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a>. Geospatial analysis by <a href="http://www.robparal.com/" target="_blank">Rob Paral</a>. Maps, editing and additional reporting by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/sallee-0" target="_blank">Shawn Allee</a>. Follow Mitchell, WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>. </em></p><p><em><b>SOURCES:</b> Playground locations from the Chicago Park District and the Injury Prevention and Research Center of Ann &amp; Robert H. Lurie Children&rsquo;s Hospital of Chicago. Playground surfaces from IPRC, Friends of the Parks and Google Maps. Playground safety scores from IPRC. Age, race and ethnicity data from the 2010 Census of the U.S. Census Bureau. Poverty data from the bureau&rsquo;s 2007-2011 American Community Survey. </em></p><p><em><b>NOTES:</b> The terms &ldquo;children&rdquo; and &ldquo;kids&rdquo; refer to Chicago residents, ages 0-14. The racial and ethnic categories, as described by the Census Bureau, are &ldquo;One Race / Asian,&rdquo; &ldquo;One Race / Black or African American,&rdquo; &ldquo;Hispanic or Latino,&rdquo; &ldquo;Not Hispanic or Latino / White alone.&rdquo; An entire block is considered within a half mile of a playground if any portion of that block is within a half mile. The poverty data are subject to sampling variability that can lead to unexpected results for individual census tracts. Geospatial coding may plot playgrounds slightly off their exact locations; if you notice a significant error, please write Curious City Editor <a href="mailto:sallee@wbez.org">Shawn Allee</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 12 Sep 2013 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/playground-equity-park-district-comes-short-108668 Fisk site future sharpens, new park space ideas proposed http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/fisk-site-future-sharpens-new-park-space-ideas-proposed-107595 <p><p>Potential buyers for Midwest Generation&rsquo;s defunct coal plant sites on the city&rsquo;s southwest side could come before a Mayor-appointed task force soon.</p><p>At a meeting in Pilsen Wednesday, Jerry Mead-Lucero, who heads the <a href="http://www.pilsenperro.org">Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization</a> (PERRO), said the group&rsquo;s original plans for a park (pictured below) that would span South Throop and Halsted Streets with a riverwalk were beginning to seem unlikely.</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/PERROProposalGreenSpaceFisk.jpg" style="height: 296px; width: 610px;" title="PERRO's original plan for a riverwalk emanating out from a small park on the Fisk site. (PERRO)" /></div><p>The former parking lot, outlined in blue above, will be retained by the future owner. The new owner&rsquo;s identity is still up for grabs, but Mead-Lucero said to his knowledge it&rsquo;s down from dozens of interested buyers to just two developers.</p><p>Instead Midwest Generation offered a parcel behind Chitown Futbol on South Throop Street, which could foster a smaller riverwalk west of the Fisk site. ComEd would maintain high-tension power lines overhead, however, which could mar the image of a hard-won riverfront park.</p><p>The Fisk site&rsquo;s future is a hot topic in Pilsen, where activists struggled for years to close the polluting power plant. As Mead-Lucero noted, its smokestacks still visually identify the neighborhood from miles around.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re kind of at a crossroads,&rdquo; Mead-Lucero said. &ldquo;Do we keep trying to fight for the vision that we had, which is probably a lost cause at this point &hellip; or do we try to improve upon it?&rdquo;</p><p>The alternative park location could actually be bigger than PERRO&#39;s original ask, Mead-Lucero said, but that depends on how much land ComEd and Midwest Generation agree to give up.</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/MG-ComEd-Delta-City-GreenSpaceAtFiskProposal-ComEdMGLand.jpg" style="height: 263px; width: 610px;" title="The new green space idea proposed by Midwest Generation and ComEd. The yellow outline bounds Midwest Generation's land. ComEd has offered the red portion, where powerlines run overhead. (PERRO)" /></div><p>Located in a park-poor industrial corridor, the Latino neighborhoods of Pilsen and Little Village have pushed for both new jobs and public green space. Last year the Mayor&rsquo;s task force <a href="http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6258">investigated potential reuse options for the 132 acres that make up both sites</a>. The task force <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-emanuel-announces-plans-fisk-crawford-coal-plant-sites-102605">issued recommendations last fall</a>, calling for light industrial uses, retail development and public park space.</p><p>PERRO had hoped to tie in with an existing but little known riverwalk behind the Blue Cross Blue Shield building on W. Cermak Road. Patricia Saldaña Natke, principal &nbsp;of architecture and planning firm UrbanWorks, who <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/architect%E2%80%99s-pilsen-vision-green-and-fashion-friendly-107256">completed a master plan</a> for the neighborhood, <a href="http://youtu.be/54P8SlcYgzM?t=21m50s">called that riverwalk segment &ldquo;a hidden jewel.&rdquo;</a></p><p>In March EPA officials said tests for air quality and radiation around the Fisk and Crawford sites <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/fisk-and-crawford-pass-air-and-radiation-tests-lead-persists-nearby">showed no lingering pollution in the immediate area</a>.</p><p>But soil tests revealed lead contamination at troubling levels. The most affected areas were near copper smelter H. Kramer and Co., which&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/epa-lead-levels-too-high-pilsen-air-87913">was the subject of lead-emissions complaints in 2011</a>, and the old Lowenthal lead smelter site, where EPA tests in December found lead contamination 65 times the legal limit.</p><p>PERRO said EPA representatives <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130606/pilsen/contaminated-soil-near-community-garden-getting-cleaned-up-epa-says">could begin soil removal at the former Lowenthal site</a> by June 24.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment. Follow him on Twitter at @Cementley.</em></p><p>Read <a href="https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9_FvLqe8tUyVU9sU1lDbzBJakU/edit?usp=sharing" target="_blank">PERRO&#39;s remediation and redevelopment plan for the Fisk site here</a>. Watch a presentation on UrbanWorks&rsquo; Pilsen master plan here, courtesy <a href="http://www.architecture.org/">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="343" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/54P8SlcYgzM" width="610"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 15:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/fisk-site-future-sharpens-new-park-space-ideas-proposed-107595 A tale of two Kellys http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/tale-two-kellys-106691 <p><p>Politicians love to get their names on things. So when a politician passes on, it&#39;s natural that the living politicians try to find something public they can rename to honor a departed colleague. In Chicago, this process can become quite creative.</p><p>Take Kelly High School and Kelly Park. They&rsquo;re across California Avenue from one another, just south of Archer Avenue. But each is named for a different Kelly.</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/04-29--HS%20and%20Park.JPG" title="Kelly High School, as seen from Kelly Park" /></div><p>Thomas Kelly was born in 1843. He got into Democrat politics and was elected alderman in the 28th Ward. He later became a trustee of the Chicago Sanitary District. Kelly was serving on the Board of Education when he died in 1914.</p><p>In 1928 a new junior high school opened at 4136 South California Avenue. Thomas Kelly had been on the school board and lived in the neighborhood, so the building was named for him. In 1933 it became a four-year high school, which it remains today.</p><p>The school also owned a parcel of vacant land across the street, on the east side of California Avenue. In 1947 the Park District signed a lease for the property with the idea of building a park. A number of adjacent home owners were forced to sell by court order, and their houses leveled. In 1951, Kelly Park was dedicated.</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/Kelly%20with%20future%20voter.jpg" style="width: 270px; height: 252px; float: right;" title="Mayor Ed Kelly cultivates a future voter (author's collection)" /></div><p>Meanwhile, Edward J. Kelly had just died. This Kelly had been Mayor of Chicago from 1933 to 1947, the longest tenure in the city&rsquo;s history. Today the signs at the park read &ldquo;Edward J. Kelly Park, established 1951.&rdquo; However, it&rsquo;s not clear when Ed Kelly&rsquo;s name was actually put on the park.</p><p>I had an older friend who grew up nearby. He said the vacant land on the east side of California was informally called &ldquo;Kelly Park&rdquo; as early as the 1940s. It was considered to be part of Kelly High School.</p><p>Maybe the Ed Kelly dedication did take place in 1951. Maybe it took place in 1991, when the Board of Education transferred its portion of the property to the Park District. Maybe it happened some time in between. The end result is a sort of cut-rate commemoration, two politicians for the price of one.&nbsp;</p><p>In any event, Ed Kelly now has his own bit of immortality. And as much as any Chicago politician, he deserves to be remembered. After all, he&rsquo;s still the longest-serving mayor whose name is not Daley. &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 29 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/tale-two-kellys-106691 Chicago's Hispanic neighborhoods farther from nature, study shows http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/chicagos-hispanic-neighborhoods-farther-nature-study-shows-104838 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS4344_P1030210-scr.JPG" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="A man fishes in Humboldt Park lagoon in early fall. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" /></p><p>Moving to the city shouldn&rsquo;t mean giving up nature. <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100723161221.htm">Studies have shown</a> that people who spend more time in natural settings bounce back from stress faster and <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2001-03-23/health/nature.health_1_nature-howard-frumkin-view?_s=PM:HEALTH">might even be healthier</a> than those without access to parks and open spaces. In Chicago, however, some communities are closer to nature than others.</p><p>According to recent research out of the University of Illinois at Chicago, residents of Chicago&rsquo;s Hispanic neighborhoods live farther from nature than residents of other neighborhoods.</p><p>What is unique about the study, titled &ldquo;<a href="http://www.esajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1890/ES12-00126.1">Green infrastructure and bird diversity across an urban socioeconomic gradient</a>,&rdquo; is that it looked at multiple variables instead of just, say, average distance to greenspace. They measured proximity to open space and Lake Michigan, but also the presence of trees (canopy cover), and bird biodiversity in census tracts across the city.</p><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/Tree-canopy-cover,-bird-biodiversity-and-distance-to-the-lake.jpg" title="Left to right: tree canopy cover, distance to open space, and bird biodiversity. (Amélie Davis)" /></div></div><p>&ldquo;When you look at the patterns across all four variables,&rdquo; said <a href="https://sites.google.com/site/davisamelie/">Amélie Davis</a>, a postdoctoral research associate at UIC and lead author of the study, &ldquo;you can see the low- to mid-income Hispanic tracts are further from Lake Michigan, further from open space, they have lower bird biodiversity, and they have the lowest percent canopy cover.&rdquo;</p><p>That means they are also farther from the benefits those natural elements either indicate or provide directly &mdash; ecosystem services, to use the jargon. Canopy cover, for example, is more than aesthetic. Trees help regulate the local air quality, stormwater runoff and even noise pollution.</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/streetview%20comparison.png" style="height: 266px; width: 620px;" title="A Google Streetview comparison of two neighborhoods with different amounts of canopy cover. (Google)" /></div><p>That socioeconomic disparities influence Chicagoans&rsquo; access to nature is not entirely surprising, given the city&rsquo;s legacy of <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/10333485-417/segregation-drops-sharply-in-chicago.html">segregation</a>. What was unexpected, Davis said, was that the statistical analysis found low-income, Hispanic neighborhoods fared significantly worse than low-income, African-American areas.</p><p>&ldquo;We thought if there was an environmental injustice,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;it would be for all of the groups or none. Not the same group consistently underserved.&rdquo;</p><p>As <a href="http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/theskyline/2011/10/cramped-chicago-half-of-the-citys-27-million-people-live-in-park-poor-areas-lakefronts-parkland-disg.html">the <em>Tribune</em>&rsquo;s Blair Kamin pointed out</a>, Chicago&rsquo;s massive lakeside parks give the impression that the whole city enjoys easy access to open space along the shoreline <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-has-chicago%E2%80%99s-coastline-changed-over-decades-104328">(which is, after all, &ldquo;forever open, clear and free&rdquo;</a>). Inland it is a different story. Little Village, for example, has <a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/news-events/blog-post/6262">the least green space per capita</a> of any neighborhood in the city.</p><p>But Davis cautioned against assuming any ill-intent on the part of City Hall.</p><p><em>&ldquo;</em>It might be a concurrence of circumstance, and not pernicious,&rdquo; she said. Industry squeezed out most of the natural spaces in Pilsen and Little Village before those neighborhoods became an important Hispanic enclave. When their notorious coal-fired power plants shut down last year, however, <a href="http://www.archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6258">residents of the southwest side left no doubt</a> about their aspirations for more green space.</p><p>And the study does not tell the whole story. Proximity to open space is not a perfect stand-in for access, to say nothing of the quality of that open space.</p><p>Davis&rsquo; research is funded by an Urban Long Term Research Area Exploratory grant from the National Science Foundation. &nbsp;The study was published in Ecosphere, a journal of the Ecological Society of America.</p><p><em>Follow Chris on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley">@cementley</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Jan 2013 07:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/chicagos-hispanic-neighborhoods-farther-nature-study-shows-104838 Ill. license fee for state parks goes to governor http://www.wbez.org/news/ill-license-fee-state-parks-goes-governor-104073 <p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill.&nbsp; &mdash; The Illinois Senate has approved a $2 license plate fee to improve crumbling state parks.</p><p>The plan to cut into a $750 million backlog in park maintenance and repairs now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn. He&#39;s indicated he approves of the proposal.</p><p>It was the second go for the Senate. The measure failed in June but received a 39-11 vote in favor on Wednesday.</p><p>The money would be used by the Department of Natural Resources. It was suggested as an alternative to charging an entrance fee.</p><p>A basic annual license plate costs $99.</p></p> Wed, 28 Nov 2012 12:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ill-license-fee-state-parks-goes-governor-104073 How do they clean the Bean in Millennium Park? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-do-they-clean-bean-millennium-park-102660 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickrbean_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="750" src="http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0An_OJm0YASWadGpCS3VUVklpZGJVZ1IzODdjZmpnU2c&amp;font=Bevan-PotanoSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;width=620&amp;height=750" width="620"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/about-curious-city-98756">Curious City</a>&nbsp;is a news-gathering experiment designed to satisfy the public&#39;s curiosity.&nbsp;People&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">submit questions</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">vote&nbsp;</a>for their favorites, and WBEZ reports out the winning questions in real time, on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#!/WBEZCuriousCity">Twitter&nbsp;</a>and the timeline above. &nbsp;</p><p>This round&#39;s winner is Tim Garibay from Chicago&#39;s Logan Square neighborhood. His question is:&nbsp;&quot;How do they clean the Bean in Millennium Park?&quot; We&#39;ve got our reporter Maham Khan on the trail and, as always, we&#39;ll keep you posted.&nbsp;</p><p>P.S. Who is &quot;they&quot; anyway? That&#39;s going to be front and center in our investigation.&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 25 Sep 2012 16:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-do-they-clean-bean-millennium-park-102660 December 21, 1910: Open, clear, and free http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-12-21/december-21-1910-open-clear-and-free-94806 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-21/12-21--Lakeshore s from Randolph.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When Chicagoans want to show off the beauty of our town, we take visitors to the lakefront. Most cities don't have such a spectacular front yard. That makes December 21st an important date.</p><p>Back in 1836 Chicago was still a village. The commissioners who were building the nearby Illinois &amp; Michigan Canal used their authority to make the lakefront public land. They ruled that it would be "a common to remain forever open, clear, and free of any buildings, or other obstruction whatever."</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-12/12-21--Lakeshore s from Randolph.jpg" title="Lakefront at Randolph, 1903 (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" height="316" width="490"></p><p>The lake came almost up to Michigan Avenue then. The order applied to the area east of the avenue, between Randolph and 12th Street (Roosevelt Road). In 1856 the Illinois Central Railroad built a trestle over the open water to a terminal at Randolph and Michigan.</p><p>After the 1871 fire, the city started dumping debris into the space between Michigan Avenue and the railroad trestle. This created a landfill known as Lake Park. Squatters' shacks sprang up, while the garbage mounds kept growing. For a few years the city's National League baseball team played their games on a corner the site.</p><p>By 1890 Lake Park was an eyesore. Mail-order tycoon Montgomery Ward had his office directly across from the park. Citing the 1836 decree, he brought suit to have the area cleared and kept open.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-12/12-21--Ward.jpg" title="Montgomery Ward" height="310" width="211"></p><p>Ward's action was not popular. He was standing in the way of progress! Surely an ancient law enacted by a bunch of dead commissioners did not apply to modern conditions, and should be discarded! The case worked its way to the Illinois Supreme Court. The court ruled in Ward's favor.</p><p>Over the next twenty years, politicians and their allies tried various ways to evade the law. Ward beat them in two more lawsuits. Meanwhile, the park was renamed Grant Park and spruced up. Except for the Art Institute, there were no new buildings.</p><p>In 1910 the trustees of the proposed Field Museum of Natural History wanted to build at Congress Plaza. Ward sued again. On December 21 he was upheld again--finally, and definitively. The museum was later built on new landfill south of 12th Street.</p><p>Montgomery Ward died in 1913. Today he's looked on as a visionary, who saved the lakefront for the people of Chicago. So why isn't there a statue of him in Grant Park?</p></p> Wed, 21 Dec 2011 13:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-12-21/december-21-1910-open-clear-and-free-94806 Mural restoration heartens Puerto Ricans http://www.wbez.org/story/mural-restoration-heartens-puerto-ricans-92248 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/mural-2_WBEZ_Chip-Mitchell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>One of the country’s oldest outdoor murals covers a storefront on Chicago’s Northwest Side. People who care about the 40-year-old painting are finishing a facelift. The mural restoration is doing more than brightening up a gritty stretch of North Avenue. It’s got Puerto Ricans in the Humboldt Park neighborhood talking about their heritage.</p><p>MITCHELL: A celebration of the restoration included music with roots in Puerto Rican slave plantations.&nbsp;José López of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center recalled the artists who painted the mural in 1971.</p><p>LOPEZ: Young Puerto Ricans from the street — people who were marginalized — decided to give us a legacy for our historical memory.</p><p>MITCHELL: The mural covers the side of 2423 W. North Ave. and includes portraits of nine Puerto Ricans who struggled for abolition and the island’s independence from Spain and, later, the United States. Three of them are on crosses. Those three all served long U.S. prison terms in the mid-20th century. The artists, led by Mario Galán, named the mural “La Crucifixión de Don Pedro Albizu Campos” after a Puerto Rican Nationalist Party founder. They put him on the biggest cross. López said the mural has special meaning in a part of Chicago where many Puerto Ricans can no longer afford to live.</p><p>LOPEZ: Gentrification means, many times, the writing away of people’s history.</p><p>MITCHELL: Restoring the mural took a decade. Neighborhood leader Eduardo Arocho attributes that to a developer who owned a vacant lot in front of the work.</p><p>AROCHO: His plans were to develop a three-story condo unit. We tried negotiating with him for several months, even at one point offering him several lots in exchange. And he refused and he just started to build the wall, covering the mural intentionally. And so that’s when we grabbed our picket signs and started to protest.</p><p>MITCHELL: The city finally won control of the lot and helped turn it into a small park to keep the mural visible.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: It’s remarkable that this mural has survived.</p><p>MITCHELL: John Pitman Weber is a professor at Elmhurst College in DuPage County. He has studied and created public art for more than four decades. And he provided consulting for this mural’s restoration, carried out by Humboldt Park artist John Vergara.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: Its content is unique, not only in Chicago but nationally.</p><p>MITCHELL: And aesthetics? Pitman Weber calls the mural formal and stark.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: Kind of Byzantine, in a way, quasi-naïve -- executed by some very, very young artists. The style possibly even adds clarity.</p><p>MITCHELL: Not all Puerto Ricans appreciate the artwork or the idea of the island breaking from the U.S. But when I ask the ones who walk by, most have strong attachments to the mural.</p><p>WOMAN 1: My mom used to go to St. Aloysius. My parents did and so...</p><p>MITCHELL: That’s a church right here.</p><p>WOMAN 1: It’s a church down the street. I used to go there when I was a little girl. And my mom would drive us to church and that’s how I knew we were getting close is when I’d see the mural almost every Sunday.</p><p>MAN 1: I see Don Pedro on the cross being crucified for what he believed in. Crucified the same way as Jesus!</p><p>WOMAN 2: I used to get up every morning and look at this mural.</p><p>MAN 2: I went to prison. I was 17 years old and I went to prison for 20 years. And, during those 20 years, when I used to think about home and I used to think about Humboldt Park, it was this mural that I used to think about.</p><p>MITCHELL: Why is that?</p><p>MAN 2: I remember when I was first looking at it, I think I was maybe 9 or 10 when I first noticed it, I didn’t know anything about Puerto Rican history. To me it was just a painting that was up there. I didn’t understand who was up there, what it was about. But when I went to prison I learned about my culture, I learned about who I was. I even got this guy on my arm. Two of these guys are on my arm.</p><p>MITCHELL: Tattoos.</p><p>MAN 2: Yeah, Pedro Albizu Campos on my right arm and I got Ramón Emeterio Betances on my left arm. And I think I can attribute that to this mural, man.</p><p>MITCHELL: The mural restoration will be complete with the addition of calligraphy this fall.</p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/mural-restoration-heartens-puerto-ricans-92248 Garfield Park Conservatory still reeling from hail damage http://www.wbez.org/story/garfield-park-conservatory-still-reeling-hail-damage-92005 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-15/garfieldpark.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Garfield Park Conservatory on Chicago’s West Side is continuing cleanup efforts and unveiling a fundraising campaign Wednesday night following severe hail damage.</p><p>The June 30 hailstorm pounded the conservatory and damaged about 40,000 panes of glass.</p><p>Eunita Rushing, president of the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, said they've cleared glass from the plant beds and ceilings in the Show House and Fern Room. She said they’re nearly done putting in a temporary roof to protect the ferns from the looming cold. Ferns require warm, humid temperatures to survive.</p><p>Rushing says visitors Wednesday can see that roof, an open sky in the Show House, and shards of glass still hanging in the production houses.</p><p>“They'll see the commitment of the people who work here and care for this collection, that we really are interested in restoring every bit of it, every inch, every greenhouse, every production house and replacing every plant,” she said.</p><p>Some sections of the conservatory suffered little damage because they’d been recently renovated with double-pane glass, and they’ve remained open to the public.</p><p>But glass in the other sections, including the Fern Room, dated back to the 1940s, and as much as 85 percent of that glass was damaged, said Zvezdana Kubat, a Chicago Park District spokeswoman. Those rooms are still closed.</p><p>The conservatory is raising money for repairs with a campaign called One Pane at a Time. Donors can sponsor a pane of glass for $250 and up.</p><p>Cleanup costs are about $2 million, and there’s no estimate yet for repair costs, which are expected to go into the millions.</p></p> Wed, 14 Sep 2011 22:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/garfield-park-conservatory-still-reeling-hail-damage-92005