WBEZ | Chicago Suburbs http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-suburbs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Don't believe the height! Why Chicago suburb names flat out lie about their elevation http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/dont-believe-height-why-chicago-suburb-names-flat-out-lie-about-their-elevation <p><p>Picture it. The majesty of Chicago suburbia.</p><p>The ridges of Park Ridge like waves of a tumultuous sea! The grandeur of Arlington Heights and the sweeping sublime of Palos Hills. And beyond, the bold peak of Mount Prospect rises in the distance like Olympus itself!</p><p>Name-wise, the Chicago suburbs sound like the most romantic landscape this side of the Mississippi.</p><p>But if you&rsquo;ve actually set foot in the place, like our questioner John Leahy, you know the terrain is hardly reminiscent of a <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=thomas+cole&amp;espv=2&amp;biw=1777&amp;bih=905&amp;source=lnms&amp;tbm=isch&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMI2pW5ge_CyAIVRZyACh21NgRr&amp;dpr=0.9" target="_blank">Thomas Cole painting</a>. Feeling the discrepancy between place names and actual geography, John sent us this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>In notoriously flat Chicago, why do so many suburb names imply elevation?</em></p><p>The irony runs deep.</p><p><a href="http://www.disruptivegeo.com/2015/08/the-flatness-of-u-s-states/" target="_blank">A recent nationwide flatness study</a> suggests Illinois is the second-flattest state in the country (number one being Florida, <a href="http://choices.climatecentral.org/#8/25.933/-80.681?compare=scenarios&amp;carbon-end-yr=2100&amp;scenario-a=unchecked&amp;scenario-b=extreme-cuts" target="_blank">which will be under water pretty soon anyway</a>), but you definitely don&rsquo;t get that impression from the names of Chicago suburbs.</p><p>For real:</p><blockquote><p>Highland Park, Park Ridge, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights, Palos Heights, Chicago Heights, Ford Heights, Barrington Hills, Palos Hills, Rolling Meadows</p></blockquote><p>And before you say: &ldquo;But wait! There is some elevation out in the &lsquo;burbs!&rdquo; Let&rsquo;s make something clear: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sweet-spot-top-chicago-107897" target="_blank">You&rsquo;re not wrong</a>. Chicago&rsquo;s Loop is at about 500 feet above sea level, and <a href="http://peakbagger.com/map/BigMap.aspx?cy=42.124567&amp;cx=-88.237406&amp;z=13&amp;l=CT&amp;t=P&amp;d=6431&amp;c=0&amp;a=0&amp;sx=-999&amp;sy=-999&amp;cyn=0" target="_blank">the high point of Cook County is in Barrington at 900 feet</a>. That height difference is about 400 feet, and that&rsquo;s spread over 40 miles. If we were talking about any other state in the country (besides Florida) you&rsquo;d barely notice the difference. In other words, in Illinois, the default standards are low for what&rsquo;s considered high.</p><p>Besides, getting muddled in the numbers takes some of the most interesting curiosities out of John&rsquo;s question. Because the answer to why suburbs&rsquo; names involve height involves a melding of a broad cultural trend and a specific psyche present in Chicago-area real-estate marketing. I&rsquo;ll move through three theories, each getting a little closer to sweet home Chicago.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Theory one: Flatness doesn&rsquo;t feel good</span></p><p>Picture the flattest place you can possibly imagine. Maybe it&rsquo;s miles of desert under a hot sun, or it&#39;s a view from a lone sailboat on a windless day. Or maybe it looks more like this:</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/Cumulus_Clouds_over_Yellow_Prairie2.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="(Wikimedia/Wing-Chi Poon)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><p>Whatever you&rsquo;re picturing, it&rsquo;s likely you&rsquo;re confusing flatness for expanse, according to geographer Josh Campbell, who&rsquo;s studied perceived flatness versus actual flatness.</p><p>&ldquo;I think people associate flatness with that sense of being able to look in 360 degrees and feel wide open,&rdquo; Campbell says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s that feeling of openness.&rdquo;</p><p>Flat is a feeling, he says, a perception that&rsquo;s triggered by the absence of features that would otherwise disrupt the sense of expanse. For disruptors, think: mountains, bluffs, a dense forest of trees or even a visible coastline.</p><p>Campbell believes he has convincing evidence for this cultural trend. When he surveyed people about <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140314-flattest-states-geography-topography-science/" target="_blank">what they thought the flattest state is</a>, a common answer was Kansas. The correct answer? Florida.<a href="http://isgs.illinois.edu/sites/isgs/files/maps/county-maps/cook-ga.pdf" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/elevation chart.png" style="height: 405px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="There is a bit of elevation in the south and northwest Chicago suburbs. But Illinois is the second-flattest state in the country. (Source: ISGS)" /></a></p><p>That&rsquo;s because Florida has the visual relief of a coastline, he says. Even though Florida is the flattest state in the country, its coastline disrupts the human feeling of endless, repetitive, boring landscape.</p><p>&ldquo;Somehow relief in the terrain seems to be more exciting,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>And that creates a special challenge for the part of the country people feel is the flattest: the prairie states.</p><p>&ldquo;Prairie landscapes don&rsquo;t seem to hold the attention of people like white sand beaches and rocky mountains do,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Campbell says if people feel prairie states are the most boring places on Earth, how do you convince people to move there, or travel there? Especially when it comes to Illinois, <a href="http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/illinois/state-nickname/prairie-state" target="_blank"><em>the </em>Prairie State</a>?</p><p>He&rsquo;s not too surprised to hear about all the height-inspired names of Chicago suburbs. He says names like Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect make sense, in a way.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s the best evidence I&rsquo;ve seen that people correlate flat with boring,&rdquo; he laughs. &ldquo;You&rsquo;d name these suburbs anything &mdash; you&rsquo;d tell a lie and call it a Mount &mdash; to differentiate it.&rdquo;</p><p>And a &ldquo;Mount&rdquo; just sounds like a more exciting place to be than a field full of cows, no?</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Theory two: Impact of historic scenic imagery</span></p><p>Just look at this painting.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" among="" class="image-original_image" nevada="" sierra="" source:="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/maxresdefault_0.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" the="" title="Albert Bierstadt's 1868 painting, " /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Does this look like flat to you? No.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In the mid-19th century, there&rsquo;s a broad, cultural awakening of romantic, dramatic landscape, says Chicago historian Ann Durkin Keating. Flatlands, she says, just didn&rsquo;t make the cut.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">For evidence, she points to countless paintings of settlers on horseback traversing mountain ranges, tourists gazing at waterfalls at sunset, or people standing before the bluffs of the Colorado River.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Keating says artists, poets, and writers from the East Coast or from Europe had decided what &ldquo;scenic&rdquo; meant. Midwestern farmers didn&rsquo;t play as much a part in defining the newfound cultural infatuation with scenery, much less creating art depicting it.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And be honest: The last time you took a road trip, wasn&rsquo;t Kansas the state you slept through?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Bringing this back to Chicago suburb names, flatness just wasn&rsquo;t fashionable in the 19th century media market. It was unlikely you&rsquo;d want to look &mdash; much less live &mdash; in a place that evoked flatlandia.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:24px;">Theory three: Local practicality</span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Keating says in 19th century, Chicago&rsquo;s city center was ridden with filth and contagious diseases like Cholera and Typhoid. Those diseases were often transmitted through contaminated water, and the more low-lying, still water there was around, the easier these diseases could spread.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In the 1870s, the northwest railroad&rsquo;s commuter line gained popularity and provided an easy, accessible route to the slightly more elevated suburbs. Many wealthy Chicagoans moved out of the city and into the highlands.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Simply put: Higher places meant healthier places, and they were marketed as such.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">There you have it, three theories that led to the oh-so-flat Chicago area having a plethora of names indicating elevation. To recap:</div><blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">1. Flatness is generally boring (people notice and like topographic features)</div><div class="image-insert-image ">2. Flatness isn&rsquo;t worth looking at (19th century prairies and grain fields weren&rsquo;t scenic, apparently)</div><div class="image-insert-image ">3. Flatness is where the diseases are (screw Typhoid, people, let&rsquo;s stay out of low-lying Chicago)</div></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">If you put these trends together, it makes sense that if a Chicago-area town could be anything other than flat, it would aspire to be that other thing. And when it came to marketing and selling land in the early Chicago suburbs, many residents and realtors took that to heart.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size: 24px;">A tale of two neighbors</span></div><p>Chicago suburbs end up with names that imply elevation in these two ways: crowd-sourced rebranding and straight-up marketing.</p><p>In the crowd-sourcing camp, we have Arlington Heights, one of the first &ldquo;successful&rdquo; suburbs that sat along the northwest railroad line out of Chicago. It didn&rsquo;t always have that namesake, however. About 20 miles out of the city, and mostly made up of German farmers and the occasional small business or trading post, the place was actually named Dunton, after founder William Dunton. (Go figure.)</p><p>When William Dunton died in the 1870s, residents saw an opportunity to rebrand.</p><p>&ldquo;The people who are living there are saying, &lsquo;Hey, we don&rsquo;t want to be known as Dunton for rest of time. We want a more progressive name,&rsquo;&rdquo; says Keating. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re looking out and saying &lsquo;What will look good to encourage people to come buy land here and settle here?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>After a bit of soul searching, they came up with (drumroll, please!) Arlington Heights.</p><p>Why the Arlington? Keating says no one knows for sure. But the Heights? It wasn&rsquo;t just inspired by the tiny bit of elevation.</p><p>According to Keating, the name switch allowed the community to change its image &mdash; and its reputation &mdash; &nbsp;from a place people associated with farmland to a place people associated with trade and commerce.</p><p>But what about so many other Chicago villages and towns, the ones that had elevation built into the name from the start?</p><p>For that, consider the case of Mount Prospect, which, unlike Arlington Heights, got an elevated name the first time around, before it was incorporated.</p><p>According to Jean Murphy, vice president of the Mount Prospect Historical Society, realtor Ezra Carpenter Eggleston bought a hunk of land along the railroad between Arlington Heights and Park Ridge in 1871. Hoping to make some money, Eggleston anticipated the place would prosper if he could convince the railroad to build a stop there. He named the place Mount Prospect.</p><p>&ldquo;The &lsquo;Mount&rsquo; part was because of the elevation,&rdquo; Murphy says. &ldquo;And the &lsquo;Prospect&rsquo; was because he thought the town had high prospects for the future.&rdquo;</p><p>But, Eggleston&rsquo;s own high prospects fell flat, and quickly; Eggleston failed to convince the railroad company to build a railroad station in Mount Prospect and the realtor went bankrupt from all the unsold lots. Basically, he abandoned ship (er, Mount). There&rsquo;s little known about him after that.</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/mtprospecttrain.jpg" style="height: 440px; width: 620px;" title="Mount Prospect Railroad Crossing, circa 1925. Not a mount in sight. (Source: Illinois Digital Archives)" /></div><p>Mount Prospect eventually got its own railroad stop in 1886, but the place didn&rsquo;t boom until after WWII.</p><p>As for the name? Murphy suspects Eggleston was trying to &ldquo;one-up&rdquo; other towns with height-related names. And Mount Prospect does sound higher than, say, Arlington Heights. Still, Murphy says Eggleston deserves some credit.</p><p>&ldquo;Back in 1874 this might have seemed like the highest point. It was all just prairie,&rdquo; Murphy says. &ldquo;But Eggleston was obviously just trying to sell lots.&rdquo;</p><p>And today, the Mount Prospect Historical Society is doing its own bit of Eggleston-inspired marketing.</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/prospectshirt.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Embrace the irony with a Mount Prospect Historical Society T-shirt. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Funny, right? The Society&rsquo;s self-aware shirt is a popular high school graduation gift.</div><p><span style="font-size:24px;">&lsquo;A placeless society&rsquo;</span></p><p>By the 1930s, it was possible to live in a Chicago suburb named after another Chicago suburb &mdash; or, actually, two suburbs. Example: Prospect Heights, its name being the offspring of nearby Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights.</p><p>But we can&rsquo;t end this story without taking the example of Ford Heights, just south of the city. Because if you think the whole suburb-name-marketing thing is something of a historic relic, it&rsquo;s actually quite the opposite.</p><p>Ford Heights was originally named East Chicago Heights, a spinoff of its neighbor Chicago Heights. According to Edward Callary, author of <a href="http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/33nxw6km9780252033568.html" target="_blank">Place Names of Illinois</a>, Chicago Heights was named to evoke the association of modern, city lifestyle. (Surprise! Neither Chicago Heights nor Ford Heights are much higher than Chicago&rsquo;s low-lying Loop.)</p><p>Because in 1987, East Chicago Heights decided it needed to rebrand.</p><p>According to <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1987-03-27/news/8701230729_1_ford-heights-park-forest-south-east-chicago-heights" target="_blank">an account in the Chicago Tribune</a>, Village Clerk Edna Mason said: ``We just felt we needed a change in the image. It sounds better. I thought it would be a nice name.``</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The reason? Callary suspects the move was to publicly woo the Ford Motor Co. plant, which sat on an unincorporated piece of land outside of the village boundaries, into annexation. Speaking on the name change, a surprised Ford spokesperson said it was &ldquo;flattering,&rdquo; but that&rsquo;s all.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.dunakin.com/projects/suburb-generator/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/evergreen%20hills.PNG" style="height: 240px; width: 620px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid;" title="Think you know where Evergreen Hills is? It doesn't exist. Click to take the Chicago Suburbs Name Generator for a spin, though. " /></a></div></div><p>One-hundred years ago we named places very differently, Callary says. Places were named after a town founder, or family member, or after something that indicated the place&rsquo;s actual, physical presence in the world. Today, it&rsquo;s more common to name a place after what you want it to be, rather than what&rsquo;s actually there.</p><p>&ldquo;When we talk about community naming it&rsquo;s all image,&rdquo; Callary says. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s why developers spend time and money into playing into what our hopes and our dreams and our desires are.&rdquo;</p><p>If you buy his argument, here&rsquo;s a question for you: Is it okay to continue naming physical places after feelings?</p><p>Keating, our Chicago historian, says yes. But she also says there&rsquo;s a downside.</p><p>&ldquo;What I see is a loss of roots. We are a mobile society, and being able to move is a critical part of being American,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;These &nbsp;generic names have to do with our caution about real estate investment. &nbsp;And really, it&rsquo;s a middle class American caution. The names of these places can&rsquo;t be so specific that it will be a bar to selling property at the end of all this.&rdquo;</p><p>That lack of specificity, Callary says, suggests people care less and less about having a sense of place at all.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re a placeless society,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The place we live can be practically anywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>And while placemaking once depended on external realities &mdash; geography, landscape, history &mdash; today, placemaking is a bit more amorphous. It&rsquo;s a hologram of words, feelings and associations. A reality without roots.</p><p>Which leads Callary to conclude, that when it comes to making places &ldquo;it&rsquo;s all in our minds.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/leahy.jpg" style="float: left; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="Questioner John Leahy scales the heights of Mount Prospect with a newly-acquired mug that indicates otherwise. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /><span style="font-size:24px;">Questioner John &ldquo;It-started-as-a-joke&rdquo; Leahy</span></p><p>John Leahy grew up in Elk Grove Village (<a href="http://www.triblocal.com/elk-grove-village/2012/04/25/elk-herd-longtime-area-residents/" target="_blank">which does actually have an elk population,but one imported in the 1920s</a>). But, he says, whenever he&rsquo;d drive with his family through Chicago&rsquo;s northwest suburbs, it was always an excursion of height jokes.</p><p>&ldquo;My dad has a very dad-like sense of humor,&rdquo; Leahy says, &ldquo;And when we&rsquo;d be heading up north and coming back we&rsquo;d say things like &lsquo;Oh, yeah, just trekked up Mount Prospect, came down Arlington Heights.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But the joking led to a genuine curiosity about why the names didn&rsquo;t match up with the actual geography. And he suspected it wasn&rsquo;t just a coincidence.</p><p>What&rsquo;s he learned?</p><p>&ldquo;Its pretty clear at a certain point that elevation was a way to signal to people that these communities were out of the swamps, that they were healthy and they have good land,&rdquo; Leahy says. &ldquo;That people could move out there for a better life. And to some degree, it seemed like it worked.&rdquo;</p><p>But, Leahy says, knowing the answer isn&rsquo;t going to spoil the family joke: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s still really ridiculous, but it makes sense now.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Logan Jaffe is a Curious City producer. Follow her on Twitter for more of these kind of shenanigans <a href="http://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 16 Oct 2015 15:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/dont-believe-height-why-chicago-suburb-names-flat-out-lie-about-their-elevation Morning Shift: October 9, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-09/morning-shift-october-9-2015-113263 <p><p>If you&rsquo;re running the Chicago marathon this Sunday, you have a big decision to make: Will you listen to music? Or will you skip the earbuds? We have the arguments for and against a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-09/music-and-marathon-113260">race-day playlist</a>.</p><p>Also, the marathon will cause some traffic headaches this weekend, so we give you ideas for things to do in the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-09/trying-avoid-marathon-traffic-downtown-you-could-have-fun-burbs">suburbs</a>.</p><p>Plus, two WBEZ reporters join us to recap the conversations that are happening at Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-09/what-happens-city-council-budget-hearings-113261">city budget hearings</a>.</p><p>And the conversations that AREN&rsquo;T happening &hellip; thanks to our obsessions with iPhones, tablets, Twitter, and Facebook. The author of a new book called <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-09/reclaiming-conversation-new-book-examines-how-digital-age-impacts">Reclaiming Conversation</a>&nbsp;</em>explains why we need to get back to talking to each other.</p></p> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-09/morning-shift-october-9-2015-113263 CEO: High Legionella bacteria levels only in cooling systems http://www.wbez.org/news/ceo-high-legionella-bacteria-levels-only-cooling-systems-113046 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_272354943990_0.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 212px; width: 340px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="In this September 10, 2015 photo, contractors assemble pipes to flush out a fire hydrant beneath the water tower at the state veterans home in Quincy, Ill. The home’s drinking water system was disinfected with chlorine to help fight a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that has killed twelve residents so far and sickened at least 45 other people at the home, including five workers. (AP Photo/Alan Scher Zagier)" />ELGIN, Ill. &mdash; The CEO of a suburban&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;school district says elevated levels of Legionella bacteria discovered at three schools were limited to the buildings&#39; cooling systems.</p><div><p><a href="http://bit.ly/1FuR6T5" target="_blank">The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports</a> District U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said at a news briefing that none of the approximately 3,000 students evacuated from Eastview Middle School and Larkin and Gifford high schools in Elgin have reported becoming ill.</p><p>The schools and the district offices located at Gifford were evacuated and closed for the day Wednesday morning after the elevated levels were discovered during annual air quality testing.</p><p>Sanders said a decision would be made later Wednesday on whether the schools will remain closed.</p><p>The bacteria were found as western Illinois deals with a Legionnaires&#39; disease outbreak that has killed 13 people.</p><p>&mdash;<em> The Associated Press</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ceo-high-legionella-bacteria-levels-only-cooling-systems-113046 It’s not just CPS: suburban and Catholic schools are back, too http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-26/it%E2%80%99s-not-just-cps-suburban-and-catholic-schools-are-back-too <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/school supplies Nick Amoscato.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public School students are getting ready to get back to class after Labor Day, and the district is gearing up for a new year with a new CEO and some old budget problems. But there are more than 2 million kids enrolled statewide, and many districts have already started, including many suburban schools. Then there are Catholic schools and the changes, closures and consolidations brought on by the archdiocese. And, our neighbors in Northwest Indiana are dealing with a new state funding formula and a shortage of teachers. We&#39;re joined by Dr. Mary Kearney, interim Superintendent for the Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools, Michael A. Jacoby, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials and WBEZ Northwest Indiana reporter Michael Puente.</p></p> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-26/it%E2%80%99s-not-just-cps-suburban-and-catholic-schools-are-back-too Wherefore art thou Romeoville? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/wherefore-art-thou-romeoville-111302 <p><p>It&rsquo;s a feat of imagination to look beyond modern developments in your town, suburb or neighborhood and picture how the place looked as it was getting its start. Even if your neck of the woods has no historic district or a single century-old home, it&rsquo;s still got a history. And, often, its starting point is somehow tied up with its name.</p><p>Paul Kaiser is particularly interested in the starting point of his adopted home of Joliet, the largest city in Will County. His question for Curious City goes back decades, when he first encountered an odd, name-related fact about Joliet and its apparent relationship to a village just north, Romeoville:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>I believe that Joliet was once named Juliet, while nearby Romeoville was once named Romeo. What&#39;s the story?</em></p><p>To find an answer for Paul, we found historians (both past and present), a linguistics professor and a Shakespeare expert to consider the relationship between the original town names. As we looked at the towns&rsquo; broader history, we found we were able to fill in at least some blanks left by a lack of documents. But more importantly, we learned why origin stories can still be useful to our own identity, even if you can&rsquo;t nail these stories down so tightly.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What we know</span></p><p>Paul&rsquo;s onto something, at least when it comes to the two core details. Back in the 1830s, Joliet was founded as Juliet, and Romeoville was founded as Romeo. (Some sources also call the town Romeo Depot.) You can even see the names on old maps of the area &hellip; which is cute and all, considering they bear an obvious resemblance to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romeo_and_Juliet" target="_blank">William Shakespeare&rsquo;s star-crossed lovebirds, Romeo and Juliet</a>. There is, however, no solid documentation &mdash; no municipal meeting minutes nor history accounted for by town founders &mdash; that unequivocally lays out why these towns were named as they were.</p><p>But there are some worthy speculations. Your best bet is to head back 150 years or so before the towns were named by white settlers. In the 1670s, French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet were traversing parts of the Great Lakes region, in part to find out if the Mississippi River flowed to the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Ocean.</p><p>In May of 1673, just southwest of present-day Chicago, they stumbled upon a huge mound near the Des Plaines River. On their maps, Marquette and Jolliet christened the landmark Mont Jolliet, and the name stuck. The name later morphed to Mound Joliet.</p><p>About 150 years later, the area was drawn into an ambitious plan by the U.S. government, the newly-formed state of Illinois, and investors to build the Illinois and Michigan Canal, a waterway that would connect the Great Lakes to the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. When completed, materials could be transported quickly, compared to the era&rsquo;s cumbersome overland routes. The federal government ceded land surrounding proposed routes, and lots were sold to fund canal construction.</p><p>James Campbell, treasurer of canal commissioners, bought a bunch of land in the Mound Joliet area. Except, for one reason or another, the area at this time became known as Juliet &mdash; with a U. This is where history gets wonky.</p><p>Even historians from the late 1800s (including those writing just a generation or so after Campbell) can&rsquo;t offer much insight into Juliet&rsquo;s origins. In his 1878 book <em>History of Will County, Illinois</em>, George Woodruff throws his hands in the air:</p><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/various%20theories%20take%20your%20choice.png" title="An excerpt from the book History of Will County, Illinois, published in 1878, lays out our three theories. " /></div><blockquote><p><em>Campbell&rsquo;s town was recorded as &lsquo;Juliet,&rsquo; whether after Shakespeare&rsquo;s heroine, or his own daughter, or by mistake for Joliet, the writer cannot determine. There are various theories; take your choice.</em></p></blockquote><p>We encountered three theories that account for the original name of Juliet, as well as some kind of relationship with Romeo.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The typo theory</span></p><p>Our question-asker, Paul, is familiar with the explorers Marquette and Jolliet, and he speculates that the town was named Juliet on maps, due to &ldquo;possibly human error on some of the map making. Where things just morphed to what somebody wanted it to be.&rdquo;</p><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/juliet%20joliet%20timeline.png" title="Historical maps of the Will County area show the changing name of modern-day Joliet over time. (Source: Chicago History Museum)" /></div><p>We can find no record of cartographers of yore owning up to such a careless error. But Edward Callary, a linguistics professor at Northern Illinois University who wrote a <a href="http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/33nxw6km9780252033568.html" target="_blank">book on Illinois place names</a>, entertains the idea from an oratory standpoint. He says it&rsquo;s possible that 19th-century map makers may have simply not known how to translate the French-sounding name Jolliet into English. So, when marking the spot of Mound Jolliet, it&rsquo;s possible they made spelling errors. And if that&rsquo;s the case, Callary says, it&rsquo;s also possible those spelling &ldquo;errors&rdquo; were more like willful oversights.</p><p>&ldquo;We sometimes make up things that are a little bit closer to words that we already know rather than ones we don&rsquo;t know,&rdquo; Callary says.</p><p>For example, ever hear of Illinois&rsquo; Embarrass River? Callary points out the name comes from Americans reappropriating the river&rsquo;s French-given name, Embarrasser, which meant &ldquo;obstruction&rdquo; at the time.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The daughter theory</span></p><p>However, Sandy Vasko, the Executive President of the Will County Historical Society, is a proponent of what we call the daughter theory.</p><p>Remember land-buyer and canal treasurer James Campbell? Several sources suggest that he may have had a daughter named Juliet, and that when forming a town, he named it after her.</p><p>Ironically, the earliest suggestion of this comes from the same 1878 Will County history book we got our three theories from. In any case, the author writes:</p><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/daughter%20theory%202.png" title="" /></div><blockquote><p><em>On the 13th day of May, the Surveyor&rsquo;s certificate was filed, and on the 10th of June, 1834, the plat was recorded and the town christened to &ldquo;Juliet,&rdquo; for Campbell&rsquo;s daughter, it is said &hellip;</em></p></blockquote><p>All of this is debatable, though, since we&rsquo;ve also encountered history books that claim Campbell had a <em>wife</em> named Juliet, not a daughter. But Callary says that&rsquo;s not possible.</p><p>&ldquo;Campbell&rsquo;s wife&rsquo;s name was Sarah Anne,&rdquo; Callary says. &ldquo;He had no females in the family that were named Juliet that I can find. Maybe he named it for a friend&rsquo;s wife or daughter, but he didn&rsquo;t name it for his wife.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Shakespeare theory</span></p><p>At face value, the Shakespeare theory is simple: The towns Romeo and Juliet were platted around the same time and named, perhaps puckishly (<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/861" target="_blank">as suggested by one our most prolific web commenters</a>), as a pair in honor of Shakespeare&rsquo;s star-crossed lovebirds. Some sources mention that either Romeo or Juliet were platted as a healthy competitor to the other.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a complex side to the Shakespeare theory, though. To understand why Shakespeare characters would even be appealing names for new towns, it&rsquo;s important to know that &mdash; at times &mdash; there&rsquo;s a lot at stake in a name.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/shakespeare marlboro.jpg" style="height: 386px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="A 1928 ad for Marlboro cigarettes. (Photo courtesy canadianshakespeares.ca)" />Recall that the I&amp;M Canal was meant to make Midwestern transportation cheap, but it was an expensive capital project. Vasko reminds us that &ldquo;people didn&rsquo;t want to buy land until there was a canal. And they couldn&rsquo;t build a canal until they sold the land. And so it was a vicious circle.&rdquo;</p><p>So any boost in land sales was forward momentum as far as the canal commission was concerned. This is where our recognizable Shakespeare characters, the towns named Romeo and Juliet, come in.</p><p>&ldquo;I truly believe that it was almost an advertising gimmick,&rdquo; Sandy Vasko says. She suspects &ldquo;somebody who was big into advertising said: &lsquo;Ya know, let&rsquo;s do this. Let&rsquo;s call this new land Romeo, it&rsquo;ll be a catch thing and maybe we can sell a few extra lots because of the Romeo and Juliet connection.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Sound like a far-fetched connection? Well, consider that, when we kicked the British out of the colonies, we let Shakespeare stay. And in 1800s America, the works of Shakespeare reached a new form of American kingdom.</p><p>&ldquo;Shakespeare is in the theaters, it&rsquo;s in peoples rhetoric books. They&rsquo;re being taught passages of Shakespeare and how to speak it in order to be eloquent,&rdquo; says Heather Nathans, chair of the Department of Drama and Dance at Tufts University. &ldquo;It had a kind of familiarity that I think maybe we don&rsquo;t have now.&rdquo;</p><p>With that level of popularity, it&rsquo;s hardly a surprise that Shakespeare was deployed, like today&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.target.com/bp/cake+boss" target="_blank">Cake Boss</a>, to entice people to buy stuff. Shakespeare became the Shakespeare brand.</p><p>&ldquo;Slap Shakespeare on [a product] and it instantly seems more elegant or elevated, or it&rsquo;s some clever tie-in that draws your attention to whatever it might be: little mints or cigarettes or playing cards.&rdquo; Nathans says.</p><p>If Shakespeare had become an important branding technique in 1800s America, was it used by I&amp;M Canal commissioners? Again, there are no surviving documents that lay this out, but the Bard as &ldquo;brand&rdquo; would have solved a problem the canal faced: Illinois sometimes seemed an uninviting place to prospective landbuyers.</p><p>&ldquo;People really didn&rsquo;t want to move here because they were worried: Are these Indians going to kill us?&rdquo; Vasko says. &ldquo;One of the things [the commissioners] had to do was be sure that people wanted to come here, and that the Indians were gone.&rdquo;</p><p>Mainly, the commissioners encouraged Illinois to act on the federal Indian Removal Act signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/shakespeare coca cola.jpg" style="float: right; height: 393px; width: 280px;" title="A 1928 Coca-Cola advertisement featuring William Shakespeare, published in Life Magazine. (Photo courtesy Coca-Cola) " />Tensions between Native Americans and white settlers came to a head during the timeframe of when Juliet and Romeo were founded. In the spring of 1832, <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/141.html" target="_blank">the Black Hawk War</a> broke out. Afterword, Native Americans, mostly Potawatomi in that area, were forced to leave Illinois for good. They gathered in Kankakee, then walked to reservations in Kansas and Nebraska, according to Vasko. &ldquo;A lot of old people died on the way, of course. A lot of young people were never born, died stillbirth, things like that,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It was a very sad, sad time for Illinois, and it&rsquo;s why we have no Native American reservations at all here in Illinois.&rdquo;</p><p>After the exodus, land sales to white settlers increased. &ldquo;Now they felt safe,&rdquo; Vasko says.</p><p>Heather Nathans adds: &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t think of a better way to declare that that is the past and this is the future, by putting on some nice, recognizable Shakespeare names.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to prove, but perhaps the new Shakespearean town names signalled safety to prospective settlers and investors back East. Regardless, the town names of Romeo and Juliet only stuck around for about 15 years, until 1845.</p><p>The change came about after former President Martin Van Buren passed through Juliet while touring western states. Van Buren noticed the town name of Juliet was similar to the name of Mound Joliet. He encouraged the citizens to reconsider having a town named Juliet after a<em> girl</em>, (again, supposedly Campbell&rsquo;s daughter) and instead call it Joliet, in honor of the renowned explorer.</p><p>&ldquo;And they took [that] under consideration,&rdquo; Vasko says. &ldquo;In 1845 they indeed changed the name from Juliet to Joliet. But, they did refuse to add any extra t&rsquo;s or e&rsquo;s. So the word was Joliet, very plain and simple J-o-l-i-e-t.&rdquo;</p><p>We don&rsquo;t know whether they gave Romeo a heads up, or even if they bothered to send a postcard. And we don&rsquo;t know how Romeo felt about it. But we know what they did: That same year, Romeo added -ville to its name, becoming Romeoville.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The myth lives on</span></p><p>Even without official records or documentation that answers why each place was originally named as it was, hints of Romeo and Juliet persist within their modern incarnations.</p><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/romeo%20cafe%20juliet%20tavern.png" title="Romeo Cafe in Romeoville and Juliet's Tavern in Joliet are hints into the area's past lives. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe and Katie Klocksin)" /></div><p>As you drive through Romeoville you&rsquo;ll pass Juliet Ave. and Romeo Road, Romeo Cafe and Romeo Plaza. In Joliet, you&rsquo;ll find Juliet&rsquo;s Tavern &mdash; a nod to the city&rsquo;s former name.</p><p>But where the Shakespeare theory resonates most is perhaps at the Romeoville Area Historical Society. We take Paul, our question-asker, and his wife, Kathy there to meet Nancy Hackett, president of the society and a Romeoville resident.</p><p>Hackett shows us around the place, and we eyeball some items that hint at the area&rsquo;s slight hangup on its past self.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="416" mozallowfullscreen="true" src="https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1PjwID6dIP5O75xdRfnY6TmoCR5BnjaugI4LIscbUvck/embed?start=false&amp;loop=false&amp;delayms=3000" webkitallowfullscreen="true" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Hackett says, even outside of the historical society, she lets the Shakespeare connection play out in her everyday life. Among other demonstrations, she shows off a bumper sticker that reads &ldquo;Wherefore art thou, Romeoville?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;For so long Romeoville was that tiny little place,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;When people ask me where it is I say &lsquo;It&rsquo;s north of Juliet&rsquo; &hellip; and then I correct it.&rdquo;</p><p>Hackett may correct herself on the town names, but there&rsquo;s one thing she won&rsquo;t budge on: Shakespeare is the reason for them. She says she knows this because it&rsquo;s in a book written by a woman named Mabel Hrpsha in 1967. Hrpsha was a member of the historical society and part of a long line of Romeoville residents who lived in the unincorporated part of town.</p><p>Hackett finds the specific page of Hrpsha&rsquo;s book, and reads:</p><blockquote><p><em>Romeo was one town proposed by the canal commissioners along the proposed canal. It was named after the Shakespearean hero and planned as a romantic twin sister and rival for Juliet, later Joliet.</em></p></blockquote><p>And even when she learns about the other two theories laid out in history books that predate Hrpsha&rsquo;s, Hackett says: &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll stick with Romeo and Juliet.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What&rsquo;s in a name?</span></p><p>Without the evidence to confirm any single theory, it&rsquo;s hard to disabuse people like Hackett who have chosen to take one theory or another as gospel. But maybe the tendency to perpetuate origin stories &mdash; and the many ways they manifest &mdash; can sometimes be more interesting than a verifiably true story.</p><p>At least that&rsquo;s Callary&rsquo;s take on our answer to Paul Kaiser&rsquo;s question.</p><p>We learn that, through names, people make statements about their heritage. And if a tiny, tiny town like Romeo &mdash; almost written out of history books &mdash; has anything at stake, it is identity.</p><p>&ldquo;Very few [people] have heard of Romeoville&rdquo; Callary says. &ldquo;Joliet is large enough to have an identity on its own but Romeo &mdash; or, Romeoville &mdash; might need a little bit of help.&rdquo;</p><p>So people fill in the gaps because, well, that&rsquo;s just what people do.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s satisfying to have an answer,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And when we don&rsquo;t &hellip; by golly, we make one up.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/paul%20and%20kathy.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="Paul Kaiser and his wife, Kathy, after visiting the Romeoville Area Historical Society. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Who asked the question?</span></p><p>Paul Kaiser, a retired math and computer science professor, moved to Joliet from Cleveland, Ohio, in 1973. As a curious new resident to the area, Paul got interested in the history of the I&amp;M Canal. It was while he was learning about the canal that he first came across old maps bearing the town names Romeo and Juliet.</p><p>&ldquo;For me this has been a trip around in a big, long historical circle,&rdquo; Paul says. &ldquo;It seems like we&rsquo;re always coming back to the canal, its importance back in the 1800s for opening up commerce and developing communities.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Luckily, Paul is comfortable with a bit of ambiguity in this Curious City investigation.</p><p>&ldquo;I do like the theory of Juliet being the original name because of Campbell&rsquo;s daughter,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But as the author says, we don&rsquo;t have any records to really say with 100 percent accuracy. So it&rsquo;s a good guess. I like the story. I&rsquo;m comfortable with the story. But it still leaves some freedom to play with it if you want. I mean, it leaves mystery in your life.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Katie Klocksin is an independent radio producer. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@katieklocksin</a>. Logan Jaffe is Curious City&#39;s multimedia producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 29 Dec 2014 15:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/wherefore-art-thou-romeoville-111302 How Blue Island fought off Chicago's annexation attempt http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-blue-island-fought-chicagos-annexation-attempt-109763 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/136868066&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>If Blue Island, a Southwestern suburb of just four square miles, once beat back Chicago&rsquo;s attempt to annex it, we shouldn&rsquo;t be surprised that they trounced other suburbs in a Curious City face-off.</p><p>Recall that curious citizen Jim Padden asked Curious City how Chicago grew over time by annexing its neighbors. (The answer? It&rsquo;s in an <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">animated map</a>).</p><p>But then, we asked you: Which Chicago suburb&rsquo;s story of resisting annexation do you want to hear more about?</p><p>Blue Island prevailed against Oak Park, which is on the city&#39;s western border, and Evanston to the north. I want to thank the&nbsp;<a href="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/forms/d/1hZ7pRixGl5BicB0a6JZQ7Iz94ZRrx9cTcgxD3Wn8GQQ/viewanalytics#start=publishanalytics" target="_blank">thousands of you who voted</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>If you&rsquo;re not familiar with the place, Blue Island is a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/echo-past-help-blue-island%E2%80%99s-future-105883" target="_blank">diverse, proudly working class suburb</a> of about 24,000 people. It&rsquo;s about 16 miles southwest of Chicago&rsquo;s loop, as the crow flies.</p><p>To get to the heart of why this suburb said &lsquo;No thanks&rsquo; when Chicago came knocking, we need to go back in time.</p><p><strong>Which is the city, which is the suburb?</strong></p><p>In the 1830s, Blue Island and Chicago were just whispers of their future selves among Illinois wilderness.</p><p>&ldquo;Blue Island is just two years younger than Chicago,&rdquo; said chair of the Blue Island Historical Society Mike Kaliski. &ldquo;So Blue Island was a stopping point for travelers going on to Chicago. It was still a day&rsquo;s travel from here to Chicago. So between Chicago and Joliet, Blue Island was it. There was nothing else and this was a big town. So Blue Islanders always felt maybe Chicago should be the suburb, not Blue Island. &rdquo;</p><p>But Blue Island remained a modest four square miles while Chicago grew, annexing its neighbors one at a time. By 1914, Chicago had sidled up to Blue Island&rsquo;s doorstep.</p><p>&ldquo;Morgan Park had voted for [annexation by Chicago in 1914],&rdquo; Kaliski said. &ldquo;So now, oh boy, it&rsquo;s getting closer. Now what are we going to do? So there was probably a little more urgency to the Blue Islanders&rsquo; frame of mind at that time.&rdquo;</p><p>Blue Islanders got to see what happened to their neighbors in Morgan Park after Chicago gobbled them up in 1914. For one thing, Morgan Park lost half its street names in the transition; its east-west streets took on numbers (e.g., West 111th Street), following Chicago&rsquo;s convention.</p><p>We dug out some old newspapers to give a sense of how the arguments for and against annexation played out. Here&rsquo;s an excerpt from the Blue Island Standard on February 2, 1915.</p><p>&ldquo;Who is Annexation Society? The writer afraid or ashamed to disclose his identity...The first gun in the annexation campaign was fired last Saturday when hundreds of circulars called Volume 1 Annexation filled the mails and found their way into nearly every home in the city.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>The anonymous &lsquo;Annexation Society&rsquo; flyers touted Chicago&rsquo;s public schools and other city services. But they didn&rsquo;t convince many Blue Islanders. In 1915, residents rebuffed Chicago in a landslide, with about 77 percent voting not to join Chicago.</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/blue%20island%20historic%20western.PNG" style="height: 207px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="Archival image of Western Avenue in Blue Island. (Courtesy of Rock Island Public House)" /><strong>Blue Island roots</strong></div><p>The outcome doesn&rsquo;t surprise Richard Bauer. The 83-year-old comes from a family whose roots in Blue Island run deep. He&rsquo;s a direct descendent of Henry Bauer, who <a href="http://www.blueisland.org/landmarks/33-bauer/" target="_blank">opened a brewery in Blue Island in 1858</a>. Richard Bauer was born 15 years after the annexation vote, but remembers plenty of stories about why it failed.</p><p>&ldquo;There were certain businesses and politicians that were very prominent and it wouldn&rsquo;t be any advantage to them at all,&rdquo; Richard said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;d be out. Naturally they&rsquo;d want to stay the way it was.&rdquo;</p><p>Richard said he never heard anyone in Blue Island consider joining Chicago again.</p><p>&ldquo;If there had been any talk it wasn&rsquo;t serious talk,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Jason Berry is a city planner and history buff who loves Blue Island so much he braved a blizzard to come out and talk about it.</p><p>&ldquo;We have our own identity,&rdquo; Berry said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a shock to me that in 1915 Blue Islanders also felt the same way &mdash; growing up in the shadow of Chicago doesn&rsquo;t mean you have to give up who you were. The pride that Blue Islanders have today you see echoed in these old papers. Blue Islanders always felt strongly about their place in history and I&rsquo;m glad that they were able to hold onto it.&rdquo;</p><p>Identity. That word keeps popping up. Sure, taxes, politics and plenty of other things factored into Blue Island&rsquo;s fear of annexation. But it seems that &mdash; for most folks I talked to &mdash; it&rsquo;s about identity.</p><p><strong>Identity and infrastructure</strong></p><p>It&rsquo;s one thing to have a strong community identity. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-are-chicago-neighborhoods-formed-103831" target="_blank">Plenty of Chicago neighborhoods do.</a></p><p>Shoot, Hyde Park was annexed into the city way back in 1899, but if you ask someone at 55th and Woodlawn where they live, odds are good the first words out of their mouth aren&rsquo;t &ldquo;Chicago,&rdquo; but &ldquo;Hyde Park.&rdquo;</p><p>So the warm fuzzy feeling of a Blue Island identity wasn&rsquo;t enough to fight off annexation. It had to have city services good enough to make Chicago&rsquo;s offers of infrastructure unconvincing.</p><p>A big part of it was that Blue Island had already secured a way of getting fresh water from Lake Michigan without Chicago&rsquo;s infrastructure.</p><p>&ldquo;They didn&rsquo;t need Chicago to come in and say, &lsquo;Hey, you&rsquo;re going to get water, you&rsquo;re going to get this and this &mdash; we&rsquo;ve already got it,&rsquo;&rdquo; Kaliski said. &ldquo;We got a contract and they already secured the water. So you gotta understand their attitude was we don&rsquo;t need you. We don&rsquo;t want to be part of Chicago. There&rsquo;s nothing Chicago could offer except higher taxes.&rdquo;</p><p>Blue Island was also bolstered by its connection to the railways and had diverse industry. It made everything from bricks to beer.</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/rockislandpublichouse_elliott.PNG" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 350px;" title="Blue Island’s Bauer brewery opened in 1858 but didn’t survive until today. The the beer-loving tradition continues with a new business: Rock Island Public House. (WBEZ/file)" /><strong>Depending on diversity for future growth</strong></div><p>The only thing more diverse than the industry in Blue Island&rsquo;s past is its people. The <a href="http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17/1706704.html" target="_blank">latest U.S. Census numbers</a> show residents are:</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>41.3% white</li><li>47% Latino (can include other categories)</li><li>30.8% African-American</li></ul><p>The city just elected its first Latino mayor: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBsnlL7YcVc" target="_blank">Domingo Vargas</a>. He says Blue Island&rsquo;s diversity still keeps it distinct from Chicago and newer suburban sprawl to its west.</p><p>Blue Island businesses struggled in the 20th century to compete against suburban malls.</p><p>But Vargas &mdash; whose own family has lived in Blue Island since 1914 &mdash; says the suburb is poised to grow again. They&rsquo;re not making bricks anymore, but they are <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/echo-past-help-blue-island%E2%80%99s-future-105883" target="_blank">brewing again</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;Blue Island&rsquo;s basically been a community of churches. As well as the breweries. So from one extreme to the other,&rdquo; Vargas said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re coming back. The churches are coming back, the breweries are coming back, and eventually hopefully more of the small businesses will be the unique niches here again.&rdquo;</p><p>There&rsquo;s even talk now in Blue Island of making room for newcomers by snapping up a few bits of available land in the surrounding area.</p><p>Because, as just about everyone we met there said: Who wouldn&rsquo;t want to live in Blue Island?</p><p><em>Tricia Bobeda is a WBEZ web producer. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> @triciabobeda</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 24 Feb 2014 16:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-blue-island-fought-chicagos-annexation-attempt-109763 Suburban board election to be decided by coin flip http://www.wbez.org/news/suburban-board-election-be-decided-coin-flip-106923 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Stickney_130501_sh.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>In April, the Stickney&#39;s Village Board of Trustees election tied with 573 votes for each candidate. Under Illinois law, ties must be broken by lottery-- usually a coin toss. So David DeLeshe and Lea Torres met at the Cook County Clerk&rsquo;s office to decide the winner.</p><p>DeLeshe sat at one end of the room, bouncing his knee. He said he had been feeling&nbsp; nervous since the ballot counts started coming in. &ldquo;Initially, I was down by four, then the next day by three, several days later it was down to a tie. So [I feel] anxiety to the point that I want it over,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Torres sat at the other end of the room, with a few good luck charms in her purse. &ldquo;There are just little holy cards from my mom, dad and mother and law. I keep them close to my heart all the time.&rdquo;</p><p>There was a&nbsp; brief discussion of using a half dollar or quarter from Illinois. But neither was on hand, so they used a Hawaii quarter.</p><p>DeLeshe won a drawing that determined who would get to call heads or tails. Then Cook County Clerk David Orr flipped the coin. DeLeshe called heads. The coin rolled on the floor, and everyone crowded around it.</p><p>&ldquo;There it is, it looks like a head. So David is the new trustee of Stickney,&rdquo; announced Orr.</p><p>Those who are skeptical about whether or not their vote matters, might want to consider that Cook County suburban elections have been decided by coin toss in both 2007 and 2011.</p><p>As for that quarter? DeLeshe says he will frame it.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Wed, 01 May 2013 08:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/suburban-board-election-be-decided-coin-flip-106923 Park Ridge, past and present http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/park-ridge-past-and-present-106638 <p><p>Park Ridge is one of Chicago&rsquo;s older, inner suburbs, located about 15 miles northwest of the Loop. The name is descriptive of its park-like setting along a gentle ridge. Local legend to the contrary, it does not contain the highest point in Cook County.</p><p>The area that became Park Ridge was originally part of a Potawatomi settlement. After the 1833 treaty, people from New England and upstate New York began moving in. They were mostly farmers. Reflecting their Yankee background, they called the district Maine Township.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><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/A--Prospect.JPG" title="Welcome to Park Ridge!" /></div></div></div><p>George Penny was a driving force in the early years. When the first railroad came through in 1854 he opened brickworks near the line, and then arranged to have trains stop by building his own station. The community was informally known as Pennyville, until Penny himself suggested it be called Brickton.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>By 1874 the brick pits had been worked out. The residents voted to incorporate that year, naming the new village Park Ridge. Over the next decades the community took on the look of a traditional New England town, with large homes on wide lots and plenty of trees. Apartments were banned and industry discouraged.</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/A--z--Park%20Ridge%20Map.jpg" title="" /></div><p>The 1910 census counted 2,009 people in Park Ridge. Anticipating annexation pressure from Chicago, the village reorganized as the City of Park Ridge in 1910. The population continued to grow steadily, reaching 10,417 in 1930. With its pleasant surroundings and convenient Chicago &amp; North Western rail service, Park Ridge had found its niche as a commuter suburb.</p><p>The depression came, and building stopped. During the early 1940s and World War II, some new housing was constructed for war-industry workers. However, away from the main commuter station, much of Park Ridge was still open land.</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/A--After School 01.JPG" title="Picking up the kids after school" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">A new boom began with the war&rsquo;s end in 1945. Americans were moving to the suburbs. They were looking for the good life away from the crowded central city. They wanted quality schools and their own ranch homes. Park Ridge satisfied all these desires. The population rose to 16.602 in 1950. Twenty years later it was 42,466.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And once again, location was important to the growth of Park Ridge. In 1962 nearby O&rsquo;Hare became Chicago&rsquo;s chief airport. Meanwhile, the metropolitan network of express highways was under construction. The suburb was at a prime spot, near the junction of two major tollways and the Northwest (Kennedy) Expressway.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><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/A--Athletic and Academic.JPG" title="Maine South High School--celebrating athletic and academic excellence" /></div></div></div></div><p>The sleepy days were over. With the expanding population and demand for services, Park Ridge moved to increase its tax base by encouraging office-building. A small number of apartments and condominiums were allowed. However, a proposal by Marshall Field&rsquo;s to build a store in Uptown was rejected, and commercial development remains limited.</p><p>New residential construction has continued, even though the community has reached maturity. Beginning in the 1980s speculators started buying small houses, tearing them down, and replacing them with larger dwellings. The &ldquo;McMansions&rdquo; caused some controversy. Still, it&rsquo;s acknowledged that they&rsquo;ve helped keep general property values high.</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/A--Two%20Eras.JPG" title="Two eras of Park Ridge houses" /></div></div><p>Park Ridge retains a feel of uncluttered openness. The Cook County forest preserves along the Des Plaines River are just to the west. And the suburb even has a pair of its own man-made lakes.</p><p>If Park Ridge has a signature building, it&rsquo;s probably the Pickwick Theatre. The landmark structure has been in place at the summit of Uptown since 1929, and was used in the credits of the Siskel-Ebert TV show &ldquo;At the Movies.&rdquo; Another art-deco gem from the same era is Maine East High School. Hillary Rodham Clinton&rsquo;s girlhood home still stands on Wisner Avenue, a few blocks from the house where actor Harrison Ford grew up.</p><p>The latest census reported that Park Ridge has a population of 37,480. About 93 percent of the residents are identified as white, with the remainder mostly Asian or Hispanic.</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/A--Murphy Lake.JPG" title="Park Ridge's own Murphy Lake" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 23 Apr 2013 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/park-ridge-past-and-present-106638 Palatine's deathly, intergalactic secrets http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/palatines-deathly-intergalactic-secrets-106723 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F88481381" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20palatine%20topper%202.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p>The village of Palatine sits about 30 miles northwest of Chicago. It&rsquo;s marked with a water tower you can see from I-90.</p><p dir="ltr">Like a number of our suburbs here, Palatine was founded around the 1830s by settlers leaving Chicago&rsquo;s Fort Dearborn, who walked along various Indian trails until they found the right spot.</p><p dir="ltr">That spot, now Palatine, had its own trading post and railroad station by the 1850s. And the population kept growing. Now, Palatine is home to about 70,000 people. And it&rsquo;s also home to the state&rsquo;s largest space-themed roller rink, and a mini golf course located in the basement of a funeral home.</p><p dir="ltr">Sandra Levin bought <a href="http://www.orbitskate.net/">Orbit Skate Center</a> in 1992. In this audio clip, she talks about why she bought a skate center, of all places, and what that means to her:<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F88450687" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">We also meet Ryan Breede, an employee at the rink who&rsquo;s been skating for about 15 years. We convince him to teach us some skate tricks. Surprisingly (not), we&rsquo;re both pretty rusty. And yes, we do operate a camera on a tripod on roller skates. But Justin Bieber and disco lights keep us motivated. You should really just watch this whole ordeal on your own:<iframe align="middle" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/QP5JIMg1soo" width="560"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">All of those new moves really work up our appetite. We want energy for the trek ahead: the journey into the basement of Ahlgrim Funeral Home.</p><p dir="ltr">So we get a bite at a place suggested by Sandra, our roller rink owner: <a href="http://www.thepalatineinn.com/">The Palatine Inn</a>. She adds there is a museum of the village&rsquo;s history in the restaurant, and that maybe we would find it useful for our story.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</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/FOR%20WEB%20palatine%20inn.jpg" style="float: left;" title="The Palatine Inn (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></div><p dir="ltr">Turns out, the museum is more of a one-wall grid of framed pictures once used in a calendar featuring some of Palatine&rsquo;s memorable history. This includes a human pyramid of Palatine&rsquo;s Mens Athletic club from 1918, mustached men playing cards at a saloon in 1900, an aerial view of the village from 1929.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">We stick around for the food. The Palatine Inn is the type of place where matzoh-ball soup, a BLT and rice pudding just seems like the right choice.</div><p dir="ltr">Around 2 p.m., we start heading to <a href="http://www.ahlgrim.com/">Ahlgrim Funeral Hom</a>e, but get sidetracked by <a href="http://www.spunkydunkers.com/">Spunky Dunkers</a> along the way. Spunky Dunkers is a doughnut shop owned by three sisters who have kept the place in its original everything. It&rsquo;s clean and cozy and lined with chrome bar stools under big windows. Newspaper clippings and photos of past employees are spaced evenly throughout the walls.</p><p dir="ltr">One of the workers, Doreen, has been there for about 10 years. She says she&rsquo;s not really a doughnut person, but she sticks around for the customers. Sometimes they go to brunch in a nearby town or play cards on weekends. She says her customers would kill her if she quit.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20ahlgrim%20hole.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Ahlgrim Acres is the mini golf course in the basement of Ahlgrim Funeral Home (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p dir="ltr">We finally get to Ahlgrim Funeral Home. We were excited about coming here long before we even started our drive: It came up in a search of mini golf places one day, and we&rsquo;ve been scheming how to get here ever since.</p><p dir="ltr">The funeral home itself is familiar to people in Palatine - it&rsquo;s been around since the 1960s. But not everybody knows there&rsquo;s a death-themed mini golf course and arcade in the basement.</p><p dir="ltr">Bradford Hein, Ahlgrim&rsquo;s funeral director, explains how this whole thing got started and why it seemed a natural fit to open a golf course in the basement:<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F88451183" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">He goes on to explain the creative ways to bury people these days:<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F88451594" width="100%"></iframe></p><div id="PictoBrowser130418140311">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "620", "470", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Palatine, IL: April 18, 2013"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157633277356060"); so.addVariable("titles", "on"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser130418140311"); </script><p><span id="cke_bm_202S" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><i>Rob Wildeboer is the criminal and legal affairs reporter for WBEZ.&nbsp;Logan Jaffe is a web and multimedia producer for WBEZ and Curious City. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity" target="_blank">@WBEZCuriousCity</a>.&nbsp;</i><span id="cke_bm_202E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></p></p> Thu, 18 Apr 2013 13:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/palatines-deathly-intergalactic-secrets-106723 Maywood, Illinois: A small village with a circus of talent http://www.wbez.org/news/maywood-illinois-small-village-circus-talent-106467 <p><p>There are two Maywoods in Illinois.</p><p>One is a 2.72 square-mile small town nine miles west of downtown Chicago that has produced a circus of raw talent ranging from NBA players to activists, folk singers and Emmy award winners.</p><p>The other is a Chicago suburb with a fewer than 25,000 people struggling with crime, blight, housing issues, poverty, changing demographics and identity.</p><p>On the south side of town, you have boarded up buildings, burnt-out brick buildings in a slow-state of repair, a quiet little downtown area and a Masonic lodge that serves as a Boys and Girls Club.</p><p>The north side boasts an eclectic mix of Chicago architectural styles where Frank Loyd Wright&rsquo;s students were said to have practiced. You can find 16 homes on the National Register of Historic Places, many tucked away in a quiet little neighborhood just west of the Des Plaines River.</p><p><object height="465" width="620"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633156114641%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633156114641%2F&amp;set_id=72157633156114641&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633156114641%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633156114641%2F&amp;set_id=72157633156114641&amp;jump_to=" height="465" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></object></p><h2><strong>You&rsquo;re in Pirate Country</strong></h2><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PTHSpic0101.jpg" style="height: 211px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Image courtesy of Proviso East High School alumni site)" /></p><p>What the two Maywoods share, besides history and square footage, is a high school called Proviso East, which has proven a fertile ground for more than athletic achievement. The last man to walk on the moon, the inventor of the Sidewinder missile, the founder of BET and an influential member of the Black Panthers all attended the school.</p><p>Proviso East High School - formerly the home of the Proviso Township School District until it was split into east and west schools - is a focal point of the small town.&nbsp; Its colossal brick field house and impeccable blue track make it look more like a small college than a high school.</p><p>Rivaling the school&rsquo;s physical size is its lengthy list of impressive alumni:</p><ul><li>Folk singer John Prine</li><li>Black Entertainment Television (BET) co-founder Sheila Johnson</li><li>Dennis Franz of <em>NYPD Blue</em></li><li>Christopher Gardner, the inspiration for the Will Smith film <em>The Pursuit of Happyness</em></li><li>Dr. Walter LeBarge, undersecretary of the Air Force</li><li>Tony and Pulitzer prize winning producer Dennis Grimaldi</li></ul><p>At a concert at the school a few years ago, John Prine said: &quot;Boy, I spent a lot of time in this place, I had a lot of naps...it was rumored that the Dean of Students had a metal plate in his head, so we would carry magnets in our pockets.&quot;</p><p>The school&rsquo;s athletic prowess, especially in basketball, is legendary. Proviso players who made it to the NBA include Reggie Jordan, Steven Hunter (currently with the Denver Nuggets) and most famously Glenn &ldquo;Doc&rdquo; Rivers, the NBA All Star who went on to coach the Celtics all the way to an NBA championship in 2008.</p><p>Donnie Boyce also played in the NBA.</p><p>Boyce was born in Maywood and grew up just down the street from Doc Rivers.&nbsp; He was one of the so-called &ldquo;three amigos&rdquo; (along with Sherell Ford and Michael Finley, both of whom also played in the NBA) on the Proviso team that won the Illinois State Championship in 1991.&nbsp; Boyce played for the Atlanta Hawks in the late &lsquo;90s.</p><p>Two years ago he came back to Proviso, this time to coach.</p><p>For an ex-player with offers to coach in Europe, his decision to come home was a big one for himself and the community.</p><h2><strong>Fred Hampton&rsquo;s legacy of black activism</strong></h2><p>Another famous Proviso alumni is Fred Hampton, the charismatic activist who founded the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party (and became chair of the Illinois BPP). Hampton was shot and killed by the Chicago police in 1969. &nbsp;Hampton earned three varsity letters and graduated from Proviso with honors in 1966. Though he didn&rsquo;t join the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) until he enrolled at Triton Junior College, he seems to have developed his political consciousness and organizing skills at the high school.</p><p>While at Proviso, Hampton led student demonstrations and boycotts over a number of issues: disparities between the treatment of black and white athletes, the lack of black teachers and administrators, and even the election of homecoming queen, a contest limited to white females. <a href="http://www.westsuburbanjournal.com/Maywood/sep17_09_hampton_fred_article55624.html">He won a number of reforms and was head of the school&rsquo;s Inter-racial Council</a>.</p><p>After high school, Hampton continued his activism while rising to lead a Youth Chapter of the NCAAP. He led a campaign to get an integrated public pool in Maywood. Some demonstrations he was involved in apparently became violent, including one against a city board meeting in 1968.</p><p>Many associate the term &ldquo;rainbow coalition&rdquo; with the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., but it was actually Hampton who coined the phrase to describe the alliance he formed between the BPP, Chicago street gangs, youth organizations and student political groups.</p><p>Maywood has remembered Hampton by naming both a street and that very pool he fought for after him. Outside the pool is a bust created by famous Chicago sculptor Preston Jackson. But on Proviso&rsquo;s wall of famous alumni, Hampton&rsquo;s name and image is notably absent.</p><p>Still, not everyone has forgotten him. Donnie Boyce says Hampton had a big impact on him - in fact he thinks Hampton helped quell racial tensions at Proviso.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F86363109" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Maywood Now</strong></p><p>In his 1978 song &ldquo;Bruised Orange&rdquo; John Prine described Maywood like this:</p><p>&ldquo;My heart&#39;s in the ice house come hill or come valley<br />Like a long ago Sunday when I walked through the alley<br />On a cold winter&#39;s morning to a church house<br />just to shovel some snow.</p><p>I heard sirens on the train track howl naked gettin&#39; nuder,<br />An altar boy&#39;s been hit by a local commuter<br />just from walking with his back turned<br />to the train that was coming so slow.</p><p>You can gaze out the window get mad and get madder,<br />throw your hands in the air, say &quot;What does it matter?&quot;<br />but it don&#39;t do no good to get angry,<br />so help me I know&rdquo;</p><p>If you talk to residents now, you&rsquo;ll find that some are mad. They are mad about what they perceive as high property taxes and water rates. They&rsquo;re mad about murder rates.</p><p>Even the mayor of Maywood, Henderson Yarbrough Sr. <a href="http://www.maywood-il.org/News&amp;Info/Newsletters&amp;Releases/Releases/2010/VoM_d042210_PropertyTaxAppeal.htm">says that property taxes are high</a>. He&rsquo;s held an appeal forum with <a href="http://www.cookcountygov.com/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_0_336_226_0_43/http%3B/www.cookcountygov.com/ccWeb.Leadership/LeadershipProfile.aspx?commiss_id=506">commissioner Larry Rogers Jr.</a> for three years running.</p><p>With a murder rate hovering near an average of <a href="http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Maywood-Illinois.html">eight murders per year</a>, and the blight of old buildings boarded up and empty houses, it might be easy take Prine&rsquo;s approach and gaze at the window and &ldquo;get mad and get madder.&rdquo; &nbsp;But with elections coming up on April 9, citizens have that one quintessentially American way of expressing themselves at their disposal. &nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 04 Apr 2013 10:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/maywood-illinois-small-village-circus-talent-106467