WBEZ | urban sprawl http://www.wbez.org/tags/urban-sprawl Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en A slow-mo glimpse of urban sprawl in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/slow-mo-glimpse-urban-sprawl-chicago-108126 <p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="750" scrolling="no" src="http://a.tiles.mapbox.com/v3/reporterel.ChicagoBuilt.html#12/41.8265/-87.6561" width="620"></iframe></p><p><strong><a href="http://a.tiles.mapbox.com/v3/reporterel.ChicagoBuilt.html#13/41.8779/-87.6798" target="_blank"><span style="color:#ff0000;">(View fullscreen map here.)</span></a></strong></p><p>By the time your eyes hit this sentence, you&#39;ve likely encountered the spray of neon colors adorning a black map of Chicago. This is no exercise in design for design&#39;s sake. Instead, it&#39;s a WBEZ data play on this&nbsp;<a href="http://labratrevenge.com/pdx/#14/45.5211/-122.6490">amazing visualization of &nbsp;the city of Portland</a>.&nbsp;It got our juices flowing enough that we put together several views of Chicago data for you to get a look at.</p><p>But other than some serious eye-candy, what&#39;s going on here?&nbsp;We&#39;re basically providing a slow-mo glimpse of urban sprawl: how Chicago grew over almost two hundred years, and where it&#39;s currently growing. (If the concept sounds familiar, it&#39;s possibly because we used the same technology utilized by Open City apps to visualize buildings, zoning and demolitions in the Chicago area in a project dubbed <a href="http://edifice.opencityapps.org/">Edifice</a>.)</p><p>For the map above, we took data from the <a href="http://data.cityofchicago.org">City of Chicago&#39;s data portal</a>&nbsp;(presumably originating with the Department of Buildings) and combined it with a wild color scheme (thanks again, Portland!). The color-coded display shows where buildings were constructed in Chicago within certain time periods, with white being the most recent. The data appear to be valid between 1850-2012, though you may notice a few notable buildings are missing (e.g., Wrigley Field). Interestingly enough, Soldier Field appears white, meaning the data suggest it&#39;s a recent structure. The entry likely accounts for the field&#39;s new spaceship-like modifications made in 2003.</p><p>Below, though, we break out frames to show you before-and-after snapshots during important historical milestones. We&#39;ve by added light blue lines to display boundaries of Chicago <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/319.html">community areas</a> so you can keep your bearings from one era to the next. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>After the Great Fire</strong></p><p>This shows the boom in construction during the 1870s and &#39;80s. This occured after the Great Chicago Fire.</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/postfire.jpg" title="" /></div><p><strong>1920s</strong></p><p>There were other booms, especially in the roaring 20s. The South Side, with its meat-packing plants, factories and railyards, made up the industrial backbone of the city:</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/1920s.jpg" title="" /></div><p><strong>The Great Depression</strong></p><p>There were major declines during the 1930s. As you can see here ... not much happening. The Great Depression probably had something to do with 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/GreatDepression.jpg" title="" /></div><p><strong>Post-WWII</strong></p><p>In the 1950s Chicago expanded westward, especially in Jefferson Park, Norwood Park, West Ridge Ashburn, Garfield Ridge and West Lawn.</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/1950swestbound.jpg" title="" /></div><p><strong>Cooler by the lake in the &#39;60s</strong></p><p>See the line of magenta stretching along the northeast portion of the city? That&#39;s the North Side lakefront&#39;s high-rise boom, which happened in the 1960s. The highrises and other buildings grew in Edgewater, Uptown, the Near North Side and Lakeview. The expansion along the lake continued well into the &#39;70s, with scarce development happening elsewhere in the city. The 1980s began to the rise of Chicago&#39;s downtown structures, with moderate growth appearing in Lincoln Park.</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/coolerbythelakeinthe60s.jpg" title="" /></div><p><strong>Chicago under Daley the 2nd</strong></p><p>The section shows the period between the 1990s and 2012, which saw the largest expansion of new structures since the 1950s.</p><p>West Town, Lakeview, Lincoln Park and the Near North Side exploded with growth in the &#39;90s, during the reign of Mayor Richard M. Daley. If you focus on the neighborhoods of Wicker Park, Bucktown and Lakeview, you&#39;ll recognize blocks that were once dominated by the city&#39;s storied A-frame multi-family houses, but were crowded out or entirely displaced by popular cinderblock condos and 3-flats.</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/daleyschicago.jpg" title="" /></div><p><strong>The boom before the recession</strong></p><p>The early 2000s saw the expansion of the city&#39;s South and West Loop, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/west-loop-boom-108122">a story covered by WBEZ data intern Simran Khosla</a>.</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/theboomberforeression.jpg" title="" /></div><p><strong>The decline of the South Side</strong></p><p>The map also shows that the South Side hasn&#39;t experienced the same growth the North Side has the past 20 years.</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/northvssouth.jpg" title="" /></div><p>Further, and possibly more depressing, is that the amount of abandoned buildings (above) that were demolished and turned into vacant lots are much more apparent on a map, displaying as jagged teeth-like structures when compared to other North Side neighborhoods.</p><p>See anything above that should spark a conversation? Please hit us up in the comment section below.</p><p><em>Elliott Ramos is a data reporter and Web producer for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://www.twitter.com/ChicagoEl">@ChicagoEl</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 22 Jul 2013 16:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/slow-mo-glimpse-urban-sprawl-chicago-108126 Reuniting with nature in the nation's backyards http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/reuniting-nature-nations-backyards-105473 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/reallyboring/6055188964/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/exurban%20sprawl%20by%20Eric%20Allix%20Rogers%20via%20flickr.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 610px;" title="Exurban sprawl meets cornfield in Woodstock, Ill. Agriculture and suburban development are leading factors in the homogenization of local landscapes. (Eric Allix Rogers via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>In 2011 Doug Tallamy and his wife drove from Pennsylvania to Oregon. Every time they stopped for gas, he would wade into a typical residential neighborhood and snap a few photos of the plant life and landscaping. Mix those photos up, he said, and it&rsquo;s impossible to tell which stop in the 2800-mile trip you&rsquo;re looking at.</p><p>&ldquo;Nobody is using the plants that are important to their biome &mdash; they all are the same from here to California,&rdquo; he said from his home in Pennsylvania, which sits on 10 acres of white pine, milkweed and other native species that the University of Delaware professor coaxed back into a landscape once choked with invasives. In just a few years, he tripled the number of bird species on his land.</p><p>Restoring native plants has a ripple effect, because so many insects are dependent on specific species for food, and 96 percent of birds rear their young on insects. It takes at least 4,800 caterpillars, Tallamy said, to feed one clutch (5-8 babies) of Carolina chickadees. But biodiversity isn&rsquo;t just for the birds.</p><p>&ldquo;Biodiversity losses are a clear sign that our own life-support systems are failing,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Healthy ecosystems provide services like carbon sequestration, flood control and sustenance for the pollinating insects that nourish our agricultural system. And you don&rsquo;t need 10 acres to make a difference.</p><p>There are more than 45 million acres of lawn in the U.S.</p><p>While Tallamy does not want to abandon agriculture or manicured neighborhoods, he points out there is ample space to introduce a bit of wilderness into the nation&rsquo;s backyards.</p><p>Much of that land is in the suburbs, where urban sprawl has made the homogenous lawn a status symbol. But Chicago has plenty of land <a href="http://www.placemakingchicago.com/">to work with</a> &mdash; something to keep in mind as <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/green-belt-envisioned-south-side-103970">the city targets thousands of empty lots</a> that could support community gardening and farming operations. <a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2011/08/18/native-plant-gardens">One Chicago condo-owner</a> introduced 175 native species of trees, shrubs and grasses to his 6,200 square feet 16 years ago, and has substantially cut back on landscape maintenance in the process.</p><p>In part that&rsquo;s because native plants are evolved to endure their local conditions. Tallamy&rsquo;s research found non-native ornamental species, common in many gardens, support 29 times less biodiversity than their native counterparts.</p><p>Take Illinois&rsquo; state tree, the white oak. Its genus, <em>Quercus</em>, is one the most productive known &mdash; just in the eastern U.S., more than 500 species of caterpillars develop on oaks. Illinois <a href="http://web.extension.illinois.edu/forestry/il_forest_facts.html">ranks 49th</a> among states in the amount of land left in its original vegetation.</p><p>&ldquo;If you have a chickadee that eats caterpillars, but you only have species of caterpillar in your yard, and that species crashes, your chickadees are out of luck,&rdquo; Tallamy said. But if you have 35 species, you have restored some resilience to the system.</p><p>Tallamy&rsquo;s focus on lawns has solicited skepticism from some landscapers. He recalled one nurseryman who left him nonplussed by asking, &ldquo;Are you trying to put us out of business?&rdquo; But with 29 million homes in the U.S., Tallamy said, restoring native species is a business opportunity for any landscaper willing to change his or her inventory. And the cost of not doing so could be even greater.</p><p>&ldquo;If there were dollar figures on the ecosystem services produced by the plants in our landscape,&rdquo; Tallamy said, &ldquo;everybody would be doing it.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 12 Feb 2013 07:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/reuniting-nature-nations-backyards-105473