WBEZ | North Side http://www.wbez.org/tags/north-side Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en FLATS Chicago developer weighs in on housing affordability debate http://www.wbez.org/news/flats-chicago-developer-weighs-housing-affordability-debate-110475 <p><p>The City of Chicago continues to work on an ordinance to address the phenomenon of fast-disappearing single-room and residential hotels. In recent years, many of these traditionally affordable housing options, particularly along the lakefront on the city&rsquo;s North Side, have been bought and converted into high-end rentals. Hundreds of low-income tenants have been displaced, and with the help of community organizers, have turned the attention of city policy makers to the issue.</p><p>Developers, some of whom have been accused of accelerating the loss of residential hotels, have been quieter. But Jay Michael, co-founder of Cedar Street Properties and FLATS Chicago, recently shared his take on the efforts, and responded to criticism that he&rsquo;s one of the reasons that low-income residents can no longer afford to live on the North Side.</p><p>&ldquo;This is our favorite space. This may have been what really sold us,&rdquo; he said, standing in the basement of his most significant acquisition to date: the Lawrence House. He&rsquo;s looking at a 60-foot swimming pool, covered with wooden slats, but extending 8-feet deep on one end. The floors and walls are lined with beautiful aquamarine blue tiles.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s totally destroyed, but in the back there are these hamams -- these men and women steam facilities,&rdquo; he continued. &ldquo;We were like, &lsquo;Oh my God,&rsquo; my business partner and I, this is just like out of a movie -- &nbsp;it is out of a movie - this could be a movie, right?&rdquo;</p><p>Michael&rsquo;s company, FLATS Chicago, closed on the Lawrence House last year. It&rsquo;s a 13-story residential hotel in the heart of Uptown. When it opened in the late 1920s, it was the pinnacle of glitz and glam: it had an all-glass atrium entrance, porters at the doors, and hosted fashionable visitors who came in town to catch shows at the Aragon Theater and other mainstays of the then-bustling entertainment district.</p><p>When FLATS acquired it, however, the building was under two receiverships, home to about 100 residents who endured slum-like conditions. Delinquent owners allowed the structure to fall badly into disrepair. It was ridden with bed bugs, mice and crime and the utilities would sometimes even shut off. Despite the problems, some residents still paid as much as $700 per month to live there.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FLATS 2.JPG" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Michael’s gut rehab of the Lawrence House Hotel will include a restoration of a 60-foot swimming pool. Ultimately, some rentals in the building could cost more than $2000. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" />Michael&rsquo;s total gut rehab and historic restoration is expected to cost around $18 million. In the end, rentals will start above $800 and go beyond $2000. While nobody believed the building&rsquo;s previous living conditions were acceptable, these prices have made him the new target of criticism.</p><p>&ldquo;The track record has shown that the units that he (Michael) has converted really has affected residents in a negative way,&rdquo; said D&rsquo;Angelo Boyland, an organizer with ONE Northside. The group holds FLATS Chicago responsible for the loss of more than 800 affordable units on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side within the last three years, contained in six FLATS-branded buildings.</p><p>Last year, ONE Northside made the fight against Michael a personal one. They rallied outside his Gold Coast home to protest the displacement of hundreds of North Side residents. Michael has refused to speak with them ever since.</p><p>Others agree that there&rsquo;s a growing housing crisis for low-income residents on the North Side. Many say single-room and residential hotels traditionally offered crucial transitional housing for people who otherwise would face homelessness. Social service agencies typically keep a list of these buildings on hand for when clients need them.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, I&rsquo;d have to update my list and say this one&rsquo;s not here anymore, and this one&rsquo;s closing, and so if anybody has any clients who live there, we&rsquo;re going to need to work with them and help them relocate,&rdquo; said Jennifer Cushman, who was a housing coordinator for Trilogy Health Services in Rogers Park.</p><p>But Cushman said she doesn&rsquo;t blame Michael -- or any other particular developer -- for the problem. She said the city needs to support more affordable housing. Michael agreed, and pointed out that he has preserved -- and improved -- some affordable housing. To prove it, he points out The Windale, an 81-unit building in Edgewater. It&rsquo;s one of two single-room occupancy hotels that Cedar St. Properties has acquired.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FLATS%203.JPG" style="height: 240px; width: 320px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Michael’s holding company, Cedar St. Properties, has bought two single-room occupancy hotels on the North Side. It is refurbishing the units in one of those, and keeping the rents below $700. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" />&ldquo;This one, we&rsquo;re planning on restoring and keeping as an SRO,&rdquo; said Michael. &ldquo;One of the things that I thought would be great, and this came from feedback from social service agencies, there&rsquo;ll be two case worker rooms at the end.&rdquo;</p><p>Michael has kept rents at the property under $700, all while renovating it to look cleaner and more pleasant. His company has pulled out the carpet, laid down wood flooring, and repainted the hallways. He said he plans to build a common kitchen on the ground floor.</p><p>Still, about half the previous tenants of the building opted to leave the building once Michael acquired it. He said they weren&rsquo;t interested in abiding by the new rules his company has set down: visitors only between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., no overnight guests, and monthly room inspections.</p><p>Michael said he, himself, would not agree to live in a building that had rules like that.</p><p>&ldquo;But I think that if I had to live in 6019 (The Windale), I would probably prefer to live in (a building) with rules that looked clean and was safe like that, than the ones that didn&rsquo;t have rules and were nasty,&rdquo; he said. He added that he&rsquo;s awaiting federal approval for his first Section 8 housing voucher tenants to live in one of the pricier, FLATS-branded properties. He said once that goes through, he looks forward to having more government-subsidized tenants living in his upscale buildings.</p><p>Michael is working with the city and other housing advocates now on the SRO preservation ordinance, which would apply both to single-room occupancy buildings, and to residential hotels. They&rsquo;re thinking about how to preserve these buildings as affordable. But he worries about restrictions on owners.</p><p>&ldquo;My opinion is, if you&rsquo;re going to take someone&rsquo;s rights away from them, that&rsquo;s in exchange for an incentive,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So if you choose to renovate your building, and if you choose to renovate it with affordability, there should be some sort of incentive offered.&rdquo;</p><p>Ultimately, Michael said the city will have to come up with a big pot of money as incentive for developers to keep affordable housing in their plans.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef"><em>@oyousef</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud"><em>@WBEZoutloud</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/flats-chicago-developer-weighs-housing-affordability-debate-110475 Chicago's Nigerians watch World Cup with optimism and resolve http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-nigerians-watch-world-cup-optimism-and-resolve-110311 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/NIGERIA2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Immigrant communities throughout Chicago are excited about seeing the World Cup. Thirty-two nations will compete to win the ultimate soccer championship. Nigeria is one of three African countries that qualified for the World Cup.</p><p>Nigerians in Chicago are looking forward to seeing their team, but some are concerned over an unresolved conflict in their homeland. WBEZ&rsquo;s Yolanda Perdomo talked with several Nigerians in Chicago about soccer and the crisis affecting a group of schoolgirls kidnapped in April.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ Host/Producer Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a>&nbsp;and <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/106564114685277342468/posts/p/pub">Google+</a></em></p></p> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 09:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-nigerians-watch-world-cup-optimism-and-resolve-110311 Inside Room 317: counting down the last days of the Chateau Hotel http://www.wbez.org/news/inside-room-317-counting-down-last-days-chateau-hotel-107793 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Chateau Hotel 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Tonight at midnight the last tenants of the Chateau Hotel will have to vacate their building, per court order.&nbsp;</p><p>The Chateau is one of several North Side single-room occupancy buildings that developers have bought recently, to turn into upmarket rental housing.</p><p>This has displaced hundreds of low-income residents of the North Side. Robert Rohdenburg will soon be among them.</p><p dir="ltr">Rohdenburg fought his eviction from the Chateau Hotel until the very end. In recent weeks, the new owners started gutting the building, even as he and a few others lived there. In the video below, crews decked out in hazardous materials suits are seen tossing carpets from the building&rsquo;s back windows.</p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ&rsquo;s Odette Yousef asked Rohdenburg to record his last week at the Chateau amidst this chaos. This is what he gave us.</p><iframe width="620" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/4M0UcouVdBg?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/oyousef" target="_blank">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 07:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/inside-room-317-counting-down-last-days-chateau-hotel-107793 Uptown, past and present http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-05/uptown-past-and-present-107115 <p><p>Uptown. The name seems more generic than natural.&nbsp;And the district the city calls Community Area #3 did start out as a series of separate communities.</p><p>During the 1850s, two rival railroads&ndash;the Milwaukee Road and the Chicago &amp; North Western&ndash;built parallel lines north from Chicago.&nbsp;Where the railroads opened stations, settlement sprang up.&nbsp;Buena Park was about five miles north of Madison Street.&nbsp;Moving further north, there was Sheridan Park, then Edgewater.&nbsp;All three were annexed by Chicago in 1889.</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/Uptown1--Broadway-Wilson.JPG" title="Welcome to Uptown!" /></div><div><p>In 1900 the first North Side &lsquo;L&rsquo; line pushed through&nbsp;the&nbsp;area to a terminal at Wilson Avenue. Rapid growth followed.&nbsp;The three distinct communities lost their separate identities and blended together.&nbsp;By the 1920s the whole area was referred to as Uptown.&nbsp;</p></div><p>Why &ldquo;Uptown?&rdquo;&nbsp;If you think about it, that was pretty savvy marketing.&nbsp;The name tried to put the community on the same level as Downtown, aka the Loop.&nbsp;The main local business street also adopted a more cosmopolitan identity: Evanston Avenue became Broadway.</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/Map.jpg" title="" /></div></div><p>In New York, Midtown was outpacing the city&rsquo;s older business areas. The same thing could happen in Chicago.&nbsp;Uptown boosters predicted that one day the Broadway Limited would locate its Chicago terminal at Wilson Avenue.</p><p>It seemed possible in the 1920s.&nbsp;Department stores, banks, hotels, and every manner of business were moving in.&nbsp;You could find or do almost anything&nbsp;in Uptown.&nbsp;Even Al Capone was investing in local real estate.</p><p>People from all over Chicago came to Uptown for entertainment.&nbsp;The action centered around the intersection of Broadway and Lawrence. Major movie palaces included the Riviera and the 4,000-seat Uptown, the city&rsquo;s largest.&nbsp;For dancing, there was the Aragon ballroom. The Green Mill was the place to go for hot jazz, and over on Clark Street, the Rainbo Gardens complex offered assorted cabaret shows.</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/Uptown3--Dover%20Street_0.JPG" title="Victorian homes in Sheridan Park" /></div></div><p>After a&nbsp;busy Saturday night, there were churches available.&nbsp;All Saints Episcopal and St. Mary of the Lake Catholic were architectural treasures.&nbsp;The biggest congregation gathered at the People&rsquo;s Church, where flamboyant Unitarian pastor Preston Bradley held forth.&nbsp;Summer Sundays might also include a visit to Lake Michigan for fishing off the Horseshoe or swimming at Montrose Beach.</p><p>And when you died, you could still find what you needed in Uptown.&nbsp;Graceland Cemetery, the city&rsquo;s most fashionable burying ground, was located in the community.</p><p>The Crash of 1929 and the Depression hit Uptown particularly hard.&nbsp;Businesses died and money left.&nbsp;Large apartments were carved into rooming houses.&nbsp;Poorer people moved in.&nbsp;The newcomers included African-Americans, American Indians and Appalachian whites.</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/Uptown4--The%20Horseshoe.jpg" title="Montrose Beach Horseshoe" /></div><p>By 1970 portions of Wilson Avenue had become a skid row.&nbsp;The crime rate soared and &lsquo;L&rsquo; commuters were warned not to change trains at Uptown stations.&nbsp;About this time residents north of Foster seceded from Uptown, gaining official recognition as Community Area #77, Edgewater.</p><p>Some sections of Uptown remained intact.&nbsp;These were mostly on the outer edges, near the Chicago &amp; North Western tracks or along Marine Drive. Two blocks of Hutchinson Street were designated an architectural landmark district.&nbsp;The construction of Truman College helped stabilize the central area.</p><p>During the 1980s nearby Wrigleyville and Boys&rsquo; Town began attracting yuppies, and it seemed likely Uptown would follow this path. That brought protests from various community groups. They claimed that Urban Renewal simply meant Poor Removal. Three decades later, gentrification continues to be a hot-button local issue.</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/Uptown5--Argyle%20Street.jpg" title="Argyle Street, aka Chinatown North" /></div><p>Today Uptown is home to 56,000 people. One of Chicago&rsquo;s more diverse communities, the population is identified as 52 percent white, 20 percent black, 14 percent Hispanic, 11 percent Asian.</p><p>Uptown endures. The Green Mill and the Aragon remain in business.&nbsp;Along Argyle Street, Asian restaurants are thriving. The boarded-up Uptown Theatre still stands, awaiting a financial angel with deep pockets.&nbsp;New apartments and commercial development have replaced the old &lsquo;L&rsquo; yards&nbsp;on Broadway.</p><p>Uptown endures.</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/Uptown6--New%20Construction.JPG" title="New development at Broadway and Montrose" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 13 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-05/uptown-past-and-present-107115 The magic motor bus http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/magic-motor-bus-106165 <p><p>A strange new vehicle appeared on the streets of Chicago for the first time on March 25, 1917. It was called a &ldquo;bus.&rdquo;</p><p>Since 1859 public transit in Chicago had been&ndash;literally&ndash;street railways. The first railcars had been pulled by teams of horses. Then came cable cars, and finally electric streetcars. For moving large numbers of people, streetcars seemed to be the ultimate form of surface transportation.</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/03-25--bus.jpg" title="Chicago's first bus, 1917 (CTA photo)" /></div><p>Meanwhile, the automobile had been invented, and was evolving. Though early gasoline engines were small, they soon became bigger and more powerful. By 1910 full-size gasoline buses were a reality. Since buses weren&rsquo;t tied to rails, they had more flexibility than streetcars.</p><p>The City of Chicago had granted a transit franchise to the Chicago Surface Lines company. But the boulevards and parks were controlled by three separate park district boards. In 1916 the new Chicago Motor Bus Company was awarded a franchise by the Lincolon Park District. Now, on March 25, 1917, their new vehicles were ready to roll.</p><p>Mayor William Hale Thompson and a collection of dignitaries boarded the first bus at Sheridan and Devon. The ceremonial trip moved off over the regular route, down Sheridan to Lincoln Park, through the park and over various streets, until reaching its south terminal at Adams and State. Then, while the invited guests were brought back to the Edgewater Beach Hotel for a luncheon, revenue service began.</p><p>The buses operated from 6 in the morning until 1:30 a.m. Each double-deck vehicle had a two-man crew, with a conductor to collect fares and a &ldquo;chauffeur&rdquo; to drive. Passengers could board at any intersection. Though only 11 buses ran the first day, another 39 were on order.</p><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/3-25--1948.jpg" title="Buses on Michigan Avenue, 1948 (CTA photo)" /></div></div></div></div><p>The buses were popular from the start. True, the 10-cent fare was higher than the 7 cents paid on the streetcars. But the ride was usually faster&ndash;and prettier, too.</p><p>During the next few years, the&nbsp;three park&nbsp;districts gave franchises to other companies. As the advantages of buses became more apparent, even Chicago Surface Lines began replacing their streetcars with the rubber-tire vehicles.</p><p>All the different park district bus operators were later combined into the Chicago Motor Coach. That company continued in business until 1952, when it was bought out by the CTA.</p></p> Mon, 25 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/magic-motor-bus-106165 1981 Brown Line Ride http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/1981-brown-line-ride-105401 <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/2-13--Halsted curve.jpg" title="Clybourn curve near Halsted, Ravenswood 'L'" /></div></div><p>A few weeks ago Lee Bey posted a great video of a 1970s ride on the Dan Ryan Red Line. That inspired me to digitalize some of my old Chicago &lsquo;L&rsquo; home movies.</p><p>Right up front, I&rsquo;m offering a warning&mdash;my films are strictly amateur. I&rsquo;m not a film-maker, and my equipment was a tiny, hand-held&nbsp;Super-Eight silent movie camera. Since I had to change cassettes every four minutes, there are many gaps in the action. I&rsquo;m sharing the video because it provides a look at how some parts of Chicago have changed in the course of three decades.</p><p>Today&rsquo;s film shows the second half of a 1981 ride on the Ravenswood &lsquo;L&rsquo; (Brown Line), from Roscoe junction to the Loop.&nbsp;It runs&nbsp;about 8 minutes, and includes audio commentary.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="465" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/d_x0uFd1i7w?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 25 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-02/1981-brown-line-ride-105401 Rogers Park, past and present http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/rogers-park-past-and-present-104722 <p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re Number One!&nbsp; We&rsquo;re Number One!&rdquo;</p><p>Any Chicago neighborhood can shout that.&nbsp;But Chicago&rsquo;s&nbsp;official Community Area #1 is Rogers Park, in the city&rsquo;s northeast corner.&nbsp;That&rsquo;s where some anonymous U of C social scientist started the numbering system in the 1920s.</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/1-15--Chicago%20NE%20corner.jpg" title="Chicago's northeast corner" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The earliest residents here were the Potawatomi.&nbsp;Sometime before 1800 they established villages along the glacial ridge that&rsquo;s now Ridge Boulevard.&nbsp;The land eastward toward the lake was too low and swampy for much of anything.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">When white Americans moved in, they stuck to the high ground.&nbsp;In 1839 Philip Rogers built a cabin near (present-day) Ridge and Lunt, and began truck farming.&nbsp;Over the next several years, other farmers settled in Mr. Rogers&rsquo; neighborhood.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1-15--map.jpg" style="width: 350px; height: 260px;" title="" /></div></div><p>Patrick Touhy, Rogers&rsquo; son-in-law, really spurred development.&nbsp;During the 1860s he organized many of the locals into a building and land association.&nbsp;The Chicago &amp; North Western Railroad arrived on the scene in 1873.&nbsp;Five years later, the Village of Rogers Park was incorporated.</p><p>Growth was slow but steady.&nbsp;Large Victorian homes were erected in the blocks between the C&amp;NW line and the ridge.&nbsp;A small commercial district sprang up just east of the train station, around Clark and Lunt.&nbsp;In 1885 a second&nbsp;commuter line was completed&nbsp;through the eastern lowlands by the Chicago, Milwaukee &amp; St. Paul Railroad.</p><p>Rogers Park was a sleepy little community of 3500 people when Chicago annexed it in 1893. But as the century turned, &lsquo;L&rsquo; service came to Rogers Park over the CM&amp;SP right-of-way. And then Rogers Park really took off.</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/1-15----Jackson-Thomas%20House-7053%20N%20Ridge%20Blvd.jpg" title="Early Rogers Park: The 1873 Jackson-Thomas House" /></div><p>Loyola University relocated from the West Side. Two-flats and large apartment blocks went up near the &lsquo;L&rsquo;, and the Howard line became the city&rsquo;s busiest.&nbsp;The population jumped from 6,700 in 1910 to over 57,000 twenty&nbsp;years later.&nbsp;</p><p>Rogers&nbsp;Park didn&rsquo;t have a single dominant shopping district.&nbsp;Most stores were small and locally-owned, and could be found in clusters near the &lsquo;L&rsquo; stations.&nbsp;Clark Street, the main streetcar line, developed its own commercial ribbon.&nbsp;</p><p>Howard Street was a special case.&nbsp;The street bordered Evanston&ndash;which was dry&ndash;so a whole range of bars and liquor stores set up on the Chicago-side of Howard.&nbsp;&rdquo;Going to Howard&rdquo; was a favorite field-trip for generations of Northwestern students.</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/1-15--The%20Jungle.jpg" title="Juneway Terrace in The Jungle" /></div><p>East of the &lsquo;L&rsquo; the border jumped north of Howard to include&nbsp;the few blocks up to Calvary Cemetery.&nbsp;Here the narrow streets were crammed with&nbsp;three-story apartments that&nbsp;shaded the sidewalks the whole day.&nbsp;Someone called the area The Jungle, and the name stuck.&nbsp;</p><p>In&nbsp;Patrick Touhy&rsquo;s day, most people in Rogers Park were English in ancestry.&nbsp;They were later joined by Germans and some Irish.&nbsp;Beginning about 1910, a significant number of Russian Jews began moving into the community.&nbsp;By 1950, when the population reached 63,000, they were the largest identifiable ethnic/religious group.</p><p>Rogers Park was a good place to live.&nbsp;Public transit was fast, stores were plentiful, crime was low, rents were affordable, and Lake Michigan was at your doorstep.&nbsp;That last one was important in the era before air conditioning.</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/1-15--Morse%201978.jpg" title="Morse Avenue at the 'L', 1978" /></div><p>My wife and I lived in Rogers Park during the 1970s.&nbsp;Our apartment was across from Loyola Beach, and if you sat in the right chair, you could actually see the lake from our living room.&nbsp;Nearly every summer weekend, relatives and long-lost friends descended on us.&nbsp;Could the reason have been that it was often 20 degrees cooler at our place than a few miles inland?&nbsp;</p><p>In the years since, like many Chicago communities, Rogers Park has had problems.&nbsp;Some of the older housing deteriorated.&nbsp;Businesses left.&nbsp;Crime increased.&nbsp;Parts of The Jungle became blighted.&nbsp;</p><p>Yet&nbsp;the positive factors remain.&nbsp;Meanwhile, new construction has replaced many run-down buildings.&nbsp;The Gateway Centre Plaza has helped stabilize the area around the &lsquo;L&rsquo; terminal.&nbsp;</p><p>The 2010 Census counted 55,000 people in Rogers Park. The community&nbsp;has a diverse population&ndash;39% White, 26% African-American, 24% Hispanic, 7% Asian.&nbsp;Rogers Park&nbsp;also boasts an active historical society and numerous other community organizations.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re Number&nbsp;One!&rdquo; In many ways, it&rsquo;s true.</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/1-15--Rogers%20Park%20Lakefront.JPG" title="Rogers Park lakefront" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 15 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/rogers-park-past-and-present-104722 There in Chicago (#17) http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-11/there-chicago-17-104132 <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/04--2012-Belmont-Wilton.JPG" title="Belmont Avenue at Wilton--view west" /><br /><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-06--image.jpg" title="1955--the same location (CTA photo)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">How well did you find your way around 1955 Chicago?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">We are at Belmont and Wilton, a short-block east of Sheffield. The &#39;L&#39; station is one clue to the location. The platform canopies indicate that there are four tracks running through the station, which tells us we&#39;re somewhere on the North Side main line. Notice the building behind the turning bus. In the contemporary photo, that building has been torn down because of renovations at the station.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The double overhead wires reveal that we are on a street with trolley buses, and one of them can be seen in the distance. The gasoline bus turning onto Belmont is on a short extension route that ran between the &#39;L&#39; station and Lake Shore Drive. Like the streetcars that preceded them, the Belmont trolley buses went only as far east as Halsted.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">In 1955 this neighborhood was simply known as East Lakeview. Today&#39;s it&#39;s called Wrigleyville. The name change hasn&#39;t seemed to have helped the Cubs.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 07 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-11/there-chicago-17-104132 Ghost Street: North Ogden Avenue http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/ghost-street-north-ogden-avenue-103468 <p><p>Driving north on Ogden Avenue, just&nbsp;past Fry Street, you come upon a concrete railroad overpass, emblazoned with the name of your street and the year &ldquo;1925.&rdquo;&nbsp;You emerge on the other side, and Ogden abruptly ends.&nbsp;You have just discovered a classic example of urban planning gone wrong.</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/11-05--Ogden%20%40%20Fry.JPG" title="Ogden Avenue at Fry Street, 2012" /></div><p>Ogden Avenue is named after Chicago&rsquo;s first mayor, William B. Ogden.&nbsp;Like many of Chicago&rsquo;s major diagonal streets, it follows the path of an old trail. The original starting point of the street was Union Park.&nbsp;From there it ran southwest to the city limits and beyond.</p><p>As early as the 1880s, plans were hatched to extend Ogden to the northeast.&nbsp;In 1903, Alderman William E. Dever unveiled an ambitious project to push Ogden through to Lincoln Park, while building another diagonal boulevard from Union Park southeast to the lakefront at 22<sup>nd</sup> Street (Cermak). The idea was to provide two speedy bypasses around the Loop.&nbsp;There would also be two new streets opened for commercial development.</p><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/11-05--Cram's map.jpg" style="float: left; height: 307px; width: 325px;" title="North Ogden Avenue (Cram's Chicago Street Map, 1935)" /></div></div></div><p>The southeast route was never built.&nbsp;But in 1921, the city began constructing the northeast Ogden extension.&nbsp;The roadway was designed to accommodate six lanes of vehicular traffic, with a separate&nbsp;parkway in the middle for streetcar tracks.&nbsp;The first stage was completed in 1925 and dedicated by ex-alderman Dever, by now the mayor of Chicago.</p><p>Construction continued for several years.&nbsp;The most notable feature was a half-mile long viaduct, which carried Ogden over Goose Island and the Halsted-Division intersection.&nbsp;The street was finally cut through to its Lincoln Park terminus, at Clark and Armitage, in 1934.</p><p>There it remained. Buses were becoming the favored form of mass transit, so the new section of Ogden never did get streetcar tracks.&nbsp;Then, the city completed its expressway system in the 1960s. The Ogden extension was no longer needed as downtown bypass, and traffic on the street steadily declined.</p><p>In the area between North and Armitage, neighborhood residents now demanded that Ogden be removed&ndash;the 100-foot-wide swath through their community was a blight, and served no useful purpose.&nbsp;The city agreed.&nbsp;In 1969, the section of Ogden north of North Avenue was closed and built over.</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/11-05--Ogden%20Ave%20%28The%20Plan%20of%20Chicago%201933%29.jpg" title="Ogden Avenue, looking southwest from Lincoln Park (The Plan of Chicago 1933)" /></div><p>A few years later, the street was cut back to Clybourn.&nbsp;Then, in 1992, chunks of concrete started falling off the Ogden viaduct on Goose Island.&nbsp;Rather than spend money to fix the structure, the city tore it down.</p><p>Today, except for a couple of isolated sections, Ogden Avenue halts at the Fry Street railroad overpass.&nbsp;That means that roughly two-thirds of the northeast extension has been abandoned&ndash;after taking thirteen years to complete, and costing millions of dollars, and requiring the removal of hundreds of homes and businesses.</p><p>Easy come, easy go.</p></p> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-10/ghost-street-north-ogden-avenue-103468 The world's biggest high school http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-09/worlds-biggest-high-school-102301 <p><p>On September 17, 1934 Chicago posted another superlative. The new Lane Tech was dedicated and the city now had the largest high school in the world.</p><p>Named after a pioneer Chicago educator, the first Albert G. Lane Manual Training School opened at Division and Sedgwick in 1908. The school offered vocational education in fields such as carpentry, foundry, printing and electrical work. All the students were male.</p><p>Other courses were added over the years, and the school became Lane Technical High School. By 1930 enrollment had grown to 7,000, with students going to class in shifts. The search began for a new site for a bigger Lane.</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/09-17--Lane%20Tech.jpg" title="Artist's drawing of the new Lane Tech (author's collection)" /></div><p>Over at Addison and Western, the Mid City Golf Club was having financial problems. The economy was getting sluggish &mdash; this was the beginning of the Great Depression &mdash; so the course sold off part of its land to the Board of Education. In the summer of 1930 ground was broken for the new school.</p><p>Four years and $6.5 million later, it was finished. At 10 in the morning on dedication day, 6,000 Lane students assembled at Wrigley Field. They were handed small American flags, then began walking down the middle of Addison Street toward the school, two miles away.</p><p>They laughed and shouted and waved at the people watching from the sidewalk. Along with them, in marching order, came squads of ROTC cadets and bands from seven other high schools. They passed the reviewing stand at Western Avenue and moved into the school stadium. About 10,000 additional spectators were on hand.</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/Kelly%2C%20Edward%20%2801%29_0.jpg" style="float: right; " title="Mayor Edward J. Kelly (author's collection)" /></div></div><p>At the formal dedication, various educators gave uplifting orations on the value of learning. The Lane students saved the most applause for Mayor Edward J. Kelly. &quot;You fellows have to swim upstream from now on,&quot; Kelly told them. &quot;But I&#39;m looking at you and seeing real men. If any of you gets in trouble and you come to me &mdash; and you&#39;re on the square &mdash; I&#39;ll help you.&quot;</p><p>The ceremonies ended and the students dispersed. The mayor and the other dignitaries adjourned to the school cafeteria for a luncheon of macaroni and cheese.</p><p>The original Lane became Cooley High School, and was eventually torn down. Though it is no longer the world&#39;s largest high school &mdash; and no longer all male &mdash; the 1934-vintage Lane still operates at Addison and Western.</p></p> Mon, 17 Sep 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-09/worlds-biggest-high-school-102301