WBEZ | urban planning http://www.wbez.org/tags/urban-planning Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Real estate and religion: The tale of Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/real-estate-and-religion-tale-seventeenth-church-christ-scientist-110980 <p><div>These days Wacker Drive rivals LaSalle as the epicenter of Chicago&rsquo;s financial district. The drive&rsquo;s high-rise office buildings tower over the Chicago River like walls of a canyon. But a break in the skyline at the intersection of Wabash and Wacker makes way for a building that is only five stories above street level.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The structure looks nothing like any of its rectilinear neighbors, which favor steel and glass. Instead, it resembles a concrete space ship with a round, white, windowless facade from the second story up. And, the building has nothing to do with financial power. As spelled out in enormous letters spanning its curved wall, it&rsquo;s the home of the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist.</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cs church wide.jpg" title="Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist sits on a corner of prime real estate at the intersection of Wabash Ave. and Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago. Monica Schrager asked Curious City how the church has held on to the property for so long. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" /></div><p>This distinctive structure caught the eye of Monica Schrager, who works right across the street on the 10th floor of the old Jeweler Building. &ldquo;It has an interesting look,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s this small &lsquo;60s-style building that you never really see anyone coming in and out of in the middle of all these skyscrapers.&rdquo; Here&rsquo;s the question she asked us to look into:</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><em>I&rsquo;m curious about the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist that sits on the corner of Wabash and Wacker: how it came to have that prime real estate and how it&rsquo;s managed to hold on to that prime real estate for so long.</em></div></div><p>It turns out Monica has a nose for a great story. As we look into the church&rsquo;s history, we learn how the tenets of a distinctive faith were translated into concrete and steel by an idealistic, but non-believing architect. And, we follow a devoted congregation as it risked building in a once-abandoned portion of the city ... only to have that neighborhood bloom decades later.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Which faith are we talking about?</span></p><p>Not to be confused with Scientology, Christian Science is a branch of protestant Christianity. It was founded in Massachusetts in the late 19th century by Mary Baker Eddy, who taught that the material world is a temporary illusion, while the only reality is spiritual. This belief informs all aspects of Christian Science practice, including its most famous: devout Christian Scientists don&rsquo;t seek medical treatment. Eddy taught a form of spiritual healing that is inspired by Jesus&rsquo; own healings in the New Testament.</p><p>Mrs. Eddy also taught that God does not communicate by way of a few chosen figures, like preachers or popes. God, she said, communicates directly and equally with all of his followers, so Christian Science is a non-hierarchical, democratic faith. Each church elects readers who serve a short term before passing responsibility to another church member. As the congregation&rsquo;s current First Reader, Lois Carlson, states: &nbsp;&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t have many big cheeses.&rdquo;</p><p>Like Quakers, Christian Scientists also emphasize the importance of individual testimonies; during Wednesday services, church-goers are encouraged to stand and share their personal experiences with Christian Science healing. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;To uplift a neighborhood&rsquo;</span></p><p>It&rsquo;s notable that the intersection of Wabash and Wacker has any church at all, since there are few standalone churches around downtown. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed many of them, and many more relocated to quieter residential areas. In 1907, an unknown author penned an op-ed piece for the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune </em>which reads: &ldquo;One of the changes most noticeable between old Chicago and new Chicago is the disappearance of the churches which used to surround the courthouse square or line Wabash or Michigan avenue.&rdquo; Later, the author notes &ldquo;Chicago has nothing downtown to express the spiritual life of it&rsquo;s people.&rdquo;</p><p>So, when the Seventeenth Church was established downtown in 1924, it was a bit of an anomaly.</p><p>For decades the congregation rented several downtown venues including, at one point, Orchestra Hall. By the late 1940s, though, the congregation wanted a church of its own. Members were still committed to being downtown, though. In this, they bucked a trend of building Christian Science churches in outer neighborhoods such as Beverly, Uptown and Hyde Park. Current members of the Seventeenth Church don&rsquo;t have records that indicate why the congregation prefered downtown, though member Dave Hohle has a hypothesis. &ldquo;I think a church will uplift a neighborhood,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And I think that&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s happened here.&rdquo;</p><p>Today, it seems like the corner of Wabash and Wacker might be the perfect candidate. Not so, according to Hohle. &ldquo;It didn&rsquo;t really interest them because it wasn&rsquo;t very central,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It was just sort of over here on the river.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Carlson points out that Wacker Drive was not always a major thoroughfare. &ldquo;It used to be that Michigan Avenue was it&rsquo;s own entity and the Loop was it&rsquo;s own entity, and there was no sense of connecting the two,&rdquo; she says.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Lot%202%20FOR%20WEB.png" title="" /></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/duo3.png" title="Site of the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist before construction in the mid-1950s. (Photos courtesy Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist and Chuckman's Chicago Nostalgia) " /></div></div><p>Obviously the congregation <em>did </em>decide to buy that property, after almost a decade of searching. At the time, the corner contained nothing but a parking lot and a short, rundown building, which they later demolished to make way for their new church. When they finally made the purchase in 1955, Wacker Drive was just starting to develop.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Kindred spirits: A radical faith and a non-believing architect</span></p><p>Say Hohle is right and the Seventeenth Church congregation wished to uplift their future neighborhood. Surely, then, the church would need uplifting architecture. Over two years, the congregation considered 34 architects, including celebrity designers such as Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as an architect with Christian Science roots. In 1963 they settled on a Harry Weese.</p><p>You may not know Weese by name, but there&rsquo;s a chance you&rsquo;ve seen his work in Chicago: the Time Life building, the towering Metropolitan Correctional Center on Van Buren street, and several others. His resume stretches as far as Washington DC, where designed a cavernous metro, famous for it&rsquo;s waffled concrete ceilings. &nbsp;</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/tai%20flickr%20dc%20metro%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="margin: 5px;" title="Harry Weese, the architect who designed Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist building, also designed the Washington, D.C. metro stations. (Flickr/tai)" /></div><p>Weese had an impressive resume, but then again, so did his competitors and, interestingly, he was not a religious man. (In interviews the church asked each candidate about their religious affiliation. Weese responded, &ldquo;My father was Episcopalian, my mother Presbyterian, and I&rsquo;m an architect.&rdquo;)</p><p>According to Robert Bruegmann, the co-author of <em>The Architecture of Harry Weese</em>, the congregation was impressed by the architect&rsquo;s ambitious, post-war vision for American cities.</p><p>&ldquo;The suburbs had sapped a lot of the vitality of the city,&rdquo; Bruegmann says. &ldquo;A lot of the city architecture and infrastructure was old. The city was in a pretty bad state and Chicago was no exception.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Weese wanted to build a new, more humane city, so he sought contracts for large-scale urban works such as the DC Metro. But Weese also believed architects could revitalize cities by designing new, monumental public buildings. &ldquo;So for Harry, a chance to build a church in the center of the city where the churches had been fleeing for a hundred years was a real opportunity, and he really seized it with both hands,&rdquo; Bruegmann says.</p><p>It&rsquo;s simply conjecture (again, the congregation has no records of this), but we do know the Seventeenth Church congregation was impressed with the architect&rsquo;s plans, if not the architect himself. According to Dave Hohle, the church approved Weese&rsquo;s design on the first round, a rare occurrence in architecture circles. &ldquo;There were, like, no adjustments,&rdquo; Hohle says. &ldquo;It was presented and it was unanimously approved.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Faith translated into design</span></p><p>The congregation&rsquo;s first reader, Lois Carlson, says that Weese&rsquo;s radical building, completed in 1968, matches Christian Science&rsquo;s radical theology. &ldquo;I think what&#39;s so beautiful about this building is that it&rsquo;s so clearly an idea that matches the metaphysical substance of the Christian Science faith,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Specifically, Bruegmann says Weese knew that acoustics were critical to a democratic congregation that valued every voice. That led him to fashion the main auditorium of the church as a greek-style amphitheater, which is ideal for projecting sound. There are 800 seats, and each is within 54 feet of the room&rsquo;s center.</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/inside%20church%20flickr%20dpyle%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" title="The Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist can hold up to 800 people, but a typical Sunday service is attended by about 40 people. (Flickr/dpyle)" /></div><p>Quite unusual for the time, Weese also worked with an audio engineer who created a system of hidden microphones and speakers so that members&rsquo; testimonies could be amplified. This audio system was so advanced it received a write-up in the Journal for the <a href="http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=1500">Society of Audio Engineers</a> in 1970.</p><p>A year after the church opened, it received a Distinguished Building Award from the American Institute of Architects. The AIA recognized the structure not just for it&rsquo;s democratic design, but also for Weese&rsquo;s expert problem solving. To keep out the noises of a bustling city, the congregation did not want windows in the auditorium but, like most churches, they wanted space and light. So Weese built a tall, domed ceiling with an oculus-like skylight at the very top, which he called a lantern. To make sure the sunday school was equally well-lit, Weese created a moat-like sunken garden around the church so that there could be windows into the basement levels. &nbsp;</p><p>Then of course, there is the building&rsquo;s eye-catching exterior. Bruegmann points out that the facade is modern but still achieves the kind of monumentality that Harry Weese admired in classical buildings. &ldquo;That dome that rounds that corner is one of the grandest urban gestures of virtually any city I know of,&rdquo; Bruegmann says.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">If you build it they (might) come</span></p><p>When the Seventeenth Church triumphantly opened its doors in 1968, the congregation established something few other churches had attempted: a place of worship in Chicago&rsquo;s bustling downtown. The trouble is, membership didn&rsquo;t grow, at least not on the national level. &nbsp;According to sociologist Rodney Stark, the Christian Science movement&rsquo;s membership started to drop in the 1940s and, by the 1960s, was in serious decline.</p><p>So what happened? Stark suggests that early in the 20th century, Christian Science was the fastest-growing faith in the country, but there&rsquo;s a caveat. He believes Christian Science always <em>seemed </em>more successful than it actually was, mostly because members tended to be well off financially. &nbsp;Like the Seventeenth Church, other congregations had resources to establish and build new churches around the country, even after membership began to decline.</p><p>Another theory from Stark: Medical treatment was very crude at the time that Mary Baker Eddy founded Christian Science. &ldquo;We had no antibiotics,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Part of the time they really didn&rsquo;t have any anesthetics. Doctors were pretty untrained and a lot of them were butchers.&rdquo; &nbsp;By comparison, spiritual healing seemed like a strong alternative. Stark argues that interest in Christian Science decreased in the mid-1900s after Western medicine improved.</p><p>Lastly, Stark argues that the first generation of Christian Scientists didn&rsquo;t produce a second generation. From the beginning, Christian Scientists didn&rsquo;t have a lot of children so they had to rely on new converts to expand. Converting new members is often difficult compared to raising children within a faith.</p><p>We can see how this affected the Chicago area by reading <em>The Christian Science Journal</em>, which lists every Christian Science church around the world. The religion was popular in Chicago; over the span of 61 years Christian Scientists opened 23 churches across the city. After the 1950s, Chicago churches began to close. By the new millenium, 13 of the original 23 churches were gone. Today there are only six.</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/10th%20Church%201%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" title="The former site of Tenth Church of Christ, Scientist. (Flickr/Jamie Bernstein)" /></div><p>The remains of these closed churches are dotted all around Chicago. Some have been sold to congregations of other faiths. Thirteenth Church in Beverly has been converted into 16 loft condominiums. The abandoned 10th Church in Hyde Park was sold to a developer, but it&rsquo;s now in foreclosure and falling to pieces.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Holding onto your religion ... and property</span></p><p>So how did the Seventeenth Church hang on? This is the second part of Monica Schrager&rsquo;s question, and it&rsquo;s a good one, when you consider two things: The church now sits among prime real estate, and the congregation is modest in size.</p><p>In the 1980s Wacker Drive saw a major boom in office construction. Eventually Wacker replaced LaSalle as the center of Chicago&rsquo;s financial industry, with massive, glassy skyscrapers to show it. In 2013, <a href="http://s1156.photobucket.com/user/ksershon/media/2013USsMostExpensiveStreetsforOfficeSpace.jpg.html">Jones Lang and LaSalle listed Wacker Drive as the 20th-most expensive street for office space </a>in the country. Next door to the church, a hotel developer &nbsp;bought a narrow empty lot for 5 million dollars. (That&rsquo;s over one thousand dollars per square foot. The developer is now in the process of building a Hilton Garden Inn on that site.) Right next door to that, the historic motor club building was auctioned off in 2011 for 9.7 million. Word is, that building will soon be a hotel as well. &nbsp;</p><p>There may be a competitive real estate market raging outside the walls of Seventeenth Church but, believe it or not, the church says it&rsquo;s never gotten a serious offer from any kind of buyer. Still, Seventeenth Church is a big building, while the congregation is likely small.</p><p>Christian Science branch churches never publish their membership numbers because they don&rsquo;t want to be distracted by material measurements, so we can&rsquo;t know the exact size of the Seventeenth Church congregation. However, when I attend a recent church service, I count approximately 30 people in the 800-seat auditorium. Dave Hohle says that number is likely low, adding that perhaps forty or so attendees arrive for typical Sunday services.</p><p>If you think there&rsquo;s a mismatch between the building&rsquo;s stature and the size of the congregation, Lois Carlson notes the church was paid off in 1978, and members cover maintenance costs.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, even though we&rsquo;re a small congregation, we&rsquo;re an incredibly financially committed group,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>There&rsquo;s likely additional income. On occasion, the church receives a visit from a big movie studio. The Seventeenth Church amphitheater was the set for the &ldquo;choosing ceremony&rdquo; in the blockbuster film <em>Divergent</em>. The church&rsquo;s exterior played a cameo in <em>Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon.</em> (In the film, the church was spared, while robots laid waste to the rest of downtown Chicago.) The church did receive income from those films but does not disclose the amount.</p><p>The congregation, regardless of costs, seems to be just as committed to downtown as it was when it first sought property in the 1940s. First and foremost, Lois Carlson says, the church can be a resource for what she calls &ldquo;hungry hearts that are looking for a deeper understanding for God.&rdquo; The church operates a reading room in the lobby six days a week. Carlson says tourists and curious passersby come into the reading room regularly. A small handful of people have become members this way. &ldquo;We just feel like we belong here because the need is so great,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>In keeping with that, the congregation regularly shares Harry Weese&rsquo;s architectural gem. They lend their auditorium to interfaith groups, and the local alderman conducts community meetings there. A couple times each month the church welcomes tour groups from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. In October, more than 4,000 visitors arrived as part of the Open House Chicago event.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Down the road?</span></p><p>For now, it seems like Seventeenth Church congregation wants to stay put, but what about over the next decade or two? Will it be able to sustain itself? Professor Bruegmann is concerned that the building might not survive if the congregation were to move or dissolve. In fact, many of Harry Weese&rsquo;s buildings have already met the wrecking ball. Bruegmann argues that buildings from the &lsquo;60s and &lsquo;70s are no longer new, but they are not yet considered historic.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s exactly at that moment when they&rsquo;re middle-aged buildings that they&rsquo;re most vulnerable,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Like Monica, he&rsquo;s very aware of the competitive real estate market on Wacker Drive. &ldquo;The economics of having such a small building on such a prominent, very expensive site are going to weigh so heavily in the balance,&rdquo; he worries, &ldquo;If the current congregation moved out, it would be extremely difficult to figure out what to do with a building like that and how you might save it.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mschrager.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Monica Schrager submitted our question about the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist (Photo courtesy of Monica Schrager)" />Monica Schrager was thrilled that our investigation made a connection between her current home &mdash; Chicago&rsquo;s Humboldt Park neighborhood &mdash; and DC area, where she grew up. The relevant detail? Architect Harry Weese designed the Seventeenth Church as well as the DC Metro!</p><p>Monica is a web developer by trade but her interest in architecture is responsible for her question about Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist.</p><p>&ldquo;I love the variety of architecture we have in the city, from Mies Van Der Rohe to Frank Lloyd Wright,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Monica works right across the street from Seventeenth Church in the old Jeweler Building. She sees the church every day outside her office window and she&rsquo;s definitely rooting for the church to survive, especially now that she has seen the inside. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Just the whole combination of the lighting and the acoustics is kind of really neat,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;You almost don&rsquo;t feel like you&rsquo;re in the middle of the city. It&rsquo;s an oasis of sorts.&rdquo;</p><p>Her bottom line? She thinks Wacker Drive needs an oasis more than it needs another skyscraper.</p><p><em>Ellen Mayer is the Curious City intern. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/ellenrebeccam">@ellenrebeccam</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/real-estate-and-religion-tale-seventeenth-church-christ-scientist-110980 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 Gulp! How Chicago gobbled its neighbors http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: There&#39;s plenty going on in this post: We&#39;re answering a question (partly through <a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CityLimits/cityLimitsGIF.html" target="_blank">an animated GIF</a>!), but we&#39;re also letting you know we&#39;re not done! A previous version of this post asked you to pick which city&#39;s story of resistance to Chicago annexation we should tell next: Blue Island, Oak Park or Evanston. Almost 2,700 of you made your voices heard! The <a href="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/forms/d/1hZ7pRixGl5BicB0a6JZQ7Iz94ZRrx9cTcgxD3Wn8GQQ/viewanalytics#start=publishanalytics" target="_blank">results</a>? Let&#39;s just say we&#39;re looking forward to revisiting our short interview with Blue Island Mayor Domingo Vargas, who told our producers that he considers the suburb to be &quot;the center of the universe.&quot; You can hear Vargas and other suburban officials make their case in our <a href="https://soundcloud.com/curiouscity/smackdowns-lake-michigan?in=curiouscity/sets/curious-city-podcasts" target="_blank">&quot;Smackdowns&quot;</a> podcast episode.&nbsp;</em></p><p>At its start, Chicago was a marshy outpost of hearty settlers who used the convergence of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River to their benefit.</p><p>Now the city spans approximately 237 square miles. Many of its nearly <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/about/facts.html" target="_blank">2.7 million residents</a> live far enough from both the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/have-your-say-lake-michigan-vs-chicago-river-109317" target="_blank">lake and river</a> that the economic drivers and geographic anchors are out of sight, out of mind.</p><p>Curious Citizen Jim Padden grew up in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/sweet-spot-top-chicago-107897" target="_blank">Beverly</a> &mdash; one of the far flung neighborhoods in the southwestern corner of Chicago. He always wondered why his community was part of the city when others closer to the Loop (such as west suburban Oak Park) maintained their independence.</p><p>So he asked this question about Chicago&rsquo;s borders:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What were the original city limits? How did it grow over time as it annexed the neighborhoods we know today?</em></p><p>Chicago swallowed up neighboring towns and villages at a breakneck pace early in its history. Some, like Hyde Park Township, kept remnants of their old names as neighborhood names. Others, like Oak Park, fought tooth and nail to maintain their autonomy.</p><p>The squiggly city borders we know today are the result of hundreds of elections, in which residents faced the same choice: Do you want to be a Chicagoan?</p><p><strong>From marsh to metropolis</strong></p><p>When Chicago was incorporated as a town in 1835, there wasn&#39;t much municipal government in the area; in fact, there wasn&rsquo;t much government at all.</p><p><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CC_citylimits_inline.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CC_citylimits_inline.jpg" style="height: 427px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum" /></a></p><p>But Chicago&rsquo;s borders soon expanded for the same reason they do elsewhere: money and politics. After all, if you wanted to know who you could collect tax dollars from, you had to know who lived in the city and who didn&#39;t. Maps at the Chicago History Museum show that in 1837, city borders were:</p><ul><li>Lake Michigan to the east</li><li>North Avenue to the north</li><li>22nd Street to the south</li><li>Wood Street to the west</li></ul><p>In the <a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-great-fire-destroys-much-of-chicago" target="_blank">Great Fire of 1871</a>, much of the city was destroyed. The most significant annexation in Chicago history came almost two decades later, in 1889.</p><p>That&#39;s when Hyde Park, Lake View and Jefferson and Lake townships became part of Chicago. The annexations were the result of an election and <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/53.html" target="_blank">added 125 miles and 225,000 people to the city</a>, making it the nation&rsquo;s largest city by square mileage at the time.</p><p>(The land in Hyde Park would become home to the city&rsquo;s marquee event, the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994" target="_blank">World&#39;s Fair: Columbian Exposition</a>, just a few years later in 1893.)</p><p>Other annexations didn&#39;t change the population of Chicago as dramatically, but many were contentious for the residents involved. The city&rsquo;s longstanding reputation as a haven for sin fueled efforts by some townships to stay autonomous (and dry).</p><p>But others agreed to join, being wooed by the city&rsquo;s municipal services. The city&rsquo;s public schools system was a draw. Its superior water, sewer, electric, and roadway services were attractive too.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Explore: </strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583#scribd">Archival news coverage of the 1899 annexation of the Austin neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side</a></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;Those four townships that voted wholesale to come in in 1889, they were looking at Chicago and the municipality as really a way out of a lot of problems,&rdquo; said Chicago History Museum historian Peter Alter. &ldquo;No longer were things like sewers and power seen as luxuries that you could offer to the rich; they were seen as necessities.&rdquo;</p><p>The paradigm began to shift away from annexation as the city could no longer afford to swell and the last major annexation &mdash; the land for <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/924.html" target="_blank">O&#39;Hare International Airport &mdash;</a> was more of a grab for land than individual taxpayers in 1956.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons annexation stops [...] in the early 1900s is because the city really doesn&rsquo;t want to annex any more territory,&rdquo; said Chicago historian Ann Keating, who wrote <em>Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs: A Historical Guide</em> and co-edited <em>The Encyclopedia of Chicago</em>. &ldquo;Our vision is suburban communities wouldn&rsquo;t want to join in to the city, but the fact of the matter is the city kind of hits a point where they can no longer extend services.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, some suburban communities remained adamant about their independence.<a name="scribd"></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/tbobeda">Tricia Bobeda</a> is a producer on WBEZ&#39;s digital team and co-host of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/podcasts">Nerdette Podcast</a>. Follow her on <a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda">Twitter</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/alyssaedes" target="_blank">Alyssa Edes</a> was a WBEZ web intern this fall.</em></p><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/189269972/Austin-s-annexation-into-Chicago" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Austin's annexation into Chicago on Scribd">Archival news coverage of Austin&#39;s annexation into Chicago</a></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.195789016713697" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="800" id="doc_66250" scrolling="no" src="//www.scribd.com/embeds/189269972/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-f588hiqpv1x2j5sf16w&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="600"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 27 Jan 2014 15:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583 Making Chicago a better place for women http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-09/making-chicago-better-place-women-108747 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Stephanie%20Valentina.jpg" title="(Flickr/Stephanie Valentina)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">A recent article in <em>The Atlantic</em>&#39;s <a href="http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/09/how-design-city-women/6739/" target="_blank">Cities</a> section, &quot;How to Design a City for Women,&quot; described how officials in Vienna, Austria began taking gender into account in public policy, specifically in urban planning.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">This process of &quot;gender mainstreaming&quot; began in the early 1990s, after administrators surveyed residents of the city&#39;s ninth district and discovered that women were using public transportation more frequently than men, and for more varied reasons. Since then, over 60 pilot projects have been carried out to give men and women equal access to city resources.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The ultimate goal of Vienna&#39;s gender mainstreaming project, which remains in effect today, is to ensure that all women are given the same opportunities to succeed in an urban environment as their male counterparts. According to Eva Kail, a <a href="http://www.difu.de/node/5949#1">gender expert</a> in the city&#39;s urban planning group, &quot;It&#39;s about bringing people into spaces where they didn&#39;t exist before, or felt they had no right to exist.&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But would such a gender-specific plan work in a city like Chicago?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">As a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/how-growing-disney-shapes-gender-roles-107575" target="_top">gender role-eschewing</a> feminist with vivid memories of the &quot;For Her&quot; <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/bic-pen-for-her-amazon-reviews_n_1842991.html" target="_blank">Bic Pen fiasco</a>, I can see the criticism coming from a mile away. Shouldn&#39;t we design a city for <em>people</em>, not men and women? Wouldn&#39;t such a plan just reinforce steoreotypes of how men and women use public space? Or, to quote one frustrated Austrian opposed to the capitol&#39;s exhibit of Who Owns Public Space, &quot;Does this mean that we should paint the streets pink?&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">To distance themselves from the idea that the project is about dividing people by gender, not bringing them together into spaces of equal opportunity, Viennese officials have begun to shy away from the term gender mainstreaming. Instead, they have opted for the label <a href="http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409410249" target="_blank">&quot;Fair Shared City,&quot;</a> to reflect their goal of equality for all.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Obviously, Chicago is a drastically different city than Vienna. Also, certain discrepencies in lifestyle between Viennese men and women (for example, women using public transit more often and making more foot trips than men, mostly to run errands, take their children to school, and tend to their elders) do not directly align with the commutes of typical Chicago urbanites, many of whom are students or single and living independently.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Still, if Chicago officials did choose to implement a similar plan, what changes would we see?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Ideally, the city would showcase more art and installations by female designers, artists and architects. Perhaps we could also design parks and children&#39;s spaces to be more gender-inclusive with a wider range of activities, or create more innovative housing to aid working mothers and families, like Vienna&#39;s <a href="http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/09/how-design-city-women/6739/" target="_blank">Women-Work-City</a>.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Designing&nbsp;a city with women in mind is not about building more shopping malls, planting more flowers or erecting a bizarre Marilyn Monroe statue for tourist <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-05-02/entertainment/ct-ent-0502-marilyn-appreciation-20120501_1_marilyn-monroe-statue-sculpture-foundation-melissa-farrell" target="_blank">upskirt shots</a>.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The key to understanding what women want is not rocket science: just&nbsp;<em>ask</em>. If city officials surveyed the women of Chicago, asking them about the struggles they face on a daily basis and what the city could do to better meet their needs, the answers might surprise them.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer and co-host of WBEZ&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels,</a>&nbsp;a podcast about the future of television. Follow Leah on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Tumblr</a>.</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 24 Sep 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-09/making-chicago-better-place-women-108747 Morning Shift: Investigation seeks source of holes at Indiana Dunes http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-15/morning-shift-investigation-seeks-source-holes <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Indiana Dunes - Flickr - pepplerchristine.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The EPA and scientists are trying to discover the source of holes at the Indiana Dunes. What is causing them and what&#39;s the solution? Also, Lake Bell, star of &quot;In a World...&quot;, talks about the voice-over community, the topic of her new film.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-44.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-44" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Investigation seeks source of holes at Indiana Dunes" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 15 Aug 2013 08:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-15/morning-shift-investigation-seeks-source-holes Why are Chicago’s sidewalk cafes all on the North Side? Part 2 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-05/why-are-chicago%E2%80%99s-sidewalk-cafes-all-north-side-part <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F95737941" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>With warm weather securely in hand, Chicagoans are dining out in droves. We don&rsquo;t know exactly where all this sun-drenched dining is taking place, but we can make a solid case that nearly all of the dining at sidewalk cafes is happening near downtown and in several North Side neighborhoods. How do we know this?</p><p>Last week <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-chicago%E2%80%99s-sidewalk-cafes-all-north-side-part-1-107257">we released the map you see here</a>, which lays out the location of sidewalk cafe permits that existed in 2012. The map and the data that inform it show that sidewalk cafe permits are densely concentrated on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side, but few exist on the South and West Sides. That post laid out where disparities in cafe permits exist, as well as the regulatory framework governing sidewalk cafes. (<a href="http://wbezdata.tumblr.com/post/52258923427/how-does-mass-transit-figure-into-chicagos-sidewalk">We can now add another likely economic factor, one related to public transit.</a>)</p><table align="left" border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="margin-right: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; width: 465px;"><tbody><tr><td><strong>Chicago&#39;s Sidewalk cafes in 2012</strong></td></tr><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MapKey.jpg" style="height: 46px; width: 460px;" title="" /></div></td></tr><tr><td><iframe frameborder="0" height="790" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/May/Patios/Map/LumpySpacePrincess.html" width="460"></iframe></td></tr><tr><td><div class="credit">Data analysis and map produced by Elliott Ramos</div></td></tr><tr><td><em>Source: <a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/WBEZ%20FOIA%20request-Streetscape%20Projects.xls">Chicago Department of Transportation</a>, <a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/Sidewalk%20Cafe_Permits_2006_May_2013.pdf">Chicago Department of Business and Consumer Affairs</a>, <a href="http://www.stevencanplan.com/2011/logan-square-mcdonalds-crash-map/">Steven Vance, Azad Amir-Ghassemi and Bill Vassilakis</a>&nbsp;(See data: <a href="https://opendata.socrata.com/profile/WBEZ/p6ex-wt2f">WBEZ Open Socrata</a>)</em></td></tr></tbody></table><p>Our first article received plenty of feedback, a lot of it pressing for an obvious followup: Why do these disparities exist? Does City Hall and the other powers that be make a conscious effort to keep the North Side flush with sun-kissed dining opportunities?</p><p>The answer says a lot about the state of economic development across Chicago. But before we dig in, why should we even care?</p><p><strong>Chicagoans (and their aldermen) want out </strong></p><p>On a Wednesday afternoon in Lakeview, we met a trio of young women dining at the sidewalk café of Bahn Mi, a Vietnamese Sandwich shop on north Broadway.</p><p>For one of them, 28-year old Lauren Flanagan, a sidewalk cafe&rsquo;s plus side is obvious.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re sitting out on the street, you can watch people as they go past,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just nicer than being indoors on a day like this, it&rsquo;ll be stuffy. You feel like you should be outside.&rdquo;</p><p>We told the trio about the gist of our cafe permits map, and all three were surprised to learn that sidewalk dining was so concentrated on the North Side.</p><p>Krist Giuntoli, a 20-year-old who lives in Highland Park, asked &ldquo;Do you think that has a socioeconomic impact?&rdquo;</p><p>Well, Krist Giuntoli, there are many people who are convinced sidewalk cafes <em>can</em> have an impact &mdash; alongside restaurants, bars and other outdoor social outlets. And, as we pointed out in our last post, officials engineer (and pay for) streetscaping projects that clear away regulatory hurdles and make all of this activity more likely in the long run.</p><p>Philip Ashton, an associate professor of urban planning and policy at University of Illinois at Chicago, has studied economic issues such as <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-takes-chicagos-food-deserts-90776">food deserts</a> and foreclosures on the city&rsquo;s South and West Sides.</p><p>&ldquo;I think planners have been really curious about what makes a vibrant public space,&rdquo; Ashton said. &ldquo;Like a sidewalk that&rsquo;s still full of people, some of them sitting outside dining. Those are really attractive spaces for planners.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein considers streetscaping part of a city&rsquo;s economic development toolkit.</p><p>&ldquo;A streetscape can be very catalytic, and a streetscape, and I&rsquo;ve seen this in Washington D.C., and I&rsquo;ve seen it here where streetscapes can really foster a lot of growth,&rdquo; Klein said.</p><p>He does, however, caution that they&rsquo;re not panaceas. (&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a lot of pressure to put on a streetscape.&rdquo;)</p><p>Just a few examples would suggest Klein&rsquo;s caveat is on the mark. Take the example of two significant streetscapes: Auburn Gresham&rsquo;s 2004 revamp of 79th street, and Bronzeville&rsquo;s 2002 revamp of 47th Street. Both projects had all the works and fixings (wider sidewalks, new street lamps, etc.), but they occurred in areas pocked by vacant lots and abandoned properties. Economically speaking, neither streetscape has fully delivered. And, incidentally, neither location had a sidewalk cafe in 2012.</p><p>But for much of City Hall and City Council, the jury&rsquo;s out; both are politically invested in streetscaping efforts. Among the proponents: North Side Alderman Ameya Pawar (47th).</p><p>&ldquo;Things happen on streets where there isn&rsquo;t a lot of development, where there isn&rsquo;t a lot of business, because you can get away with crime in those areas,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I think when you have a vibrant neighborhood with a lot of people walking around spending time outside, I think what ends up happening is that neighborhood becomes safer.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lawrence.jpg" style="float: right;" title="CDOT plans of the upcoming Lawrence Avenue streetscape indicate that sidewalk cafes are an aim for the project. (CDOT)" />Pewar says he eagerly awaits the completion of a streetscaping project along Lawrence Avenue. And what&rsquo;s prominently listed in the schematics for that project?</p><p>Space for sidewalk cafes.</p><p><strong>The aldermanic funnel</strong></p><p>As we explained earlier, Chicago aldermen hold the proverbial keys to the sidewalk cafe &mdash; it&rsquo;s up to the local alderman to secure City Council approval. After reading the first part of this story, several commenters suspected foul play; maybe some aldermen, they wrote, are simply denying permits.</p><p>That doesn&rsquo;t seem to be the case.</p><p>Calls to several aldermen and their offices suggest it&rsquo;s rare for permits to be denied. When permits are denied, they said, it&rsquo;s usually because the permits don&rsquo;t conform to parameters outlined in city regulations (e.g., not allowing enough space for passersby). Aldermanic staffers and the city&rsquo;s Department of Business and Consumer Affairs said they work with businesses to be in compliance.</p><p>Instead, North Side aldermen simply receive far more requests for sidewalk cafe permits than their counterparts on the South and West Sides. And that, both aldermen and development groups tell us, reflects the relative disparities in economic health across Chicago neighborhoods.</p><p><strong>On the South Side, small buds of growth</strong></p><p>Hyde Park is an anomaly, with its sprinkling of sidewalk cafes on 53rd Street. Ald. Will Burns (4th) said while many parts of the South Side lost population over the past decade, his area didn&rsquo;t. He said population gain has led to a surge in recent commerce.</p><p>Burns said he&rsquo;s never rejected a sidewalk permit.</p><p>&ldquo;I want people out on the streets. I want eyes on the street. It makes the community feel more vibrant. I try to facilitate the process when I can. I don&rsquo;t want to be a hindrance,&rdquo; Burns said.</p><p>Norman Bolden owns an eponymous bistro on East 43rd in the North Kenwood neighborhood. Bolden&rsquo;s sidewalk café, with fare such as cranberry-smoked salmon, Caribbean-style duck and a variety of martinis, is a popular neighborhood attraction. This part of the 4th Ward has less commercial activity than Hyde Park.</p><p>Bolden said applying for the permit year after year can be a red-tape worthy headache. But Bolden, who also lives in the community, said having outdoor seating is essential.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/night-2.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Patrons take in a sidewalk cafe off Clark Street in Andersonville on a week night. (WBEZ/Elliott Ramos)" />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s important that the people in this community know that they have the option to experience what the downtown community, what the North Side community are offering. This café is an additional reason for people to feel good about themselves and the community,&rdquo; Bolden said.</p><p>True, the South Side did lose population over the last decade or so. But the South Side is the city&rsquo;s biggest geographic area. There are still neighborhoods full of people for whom non fast-food dining &mdash; outdoor or otherwise &mdash; isn&rsquo;t an option.</p><p>&ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t really surprised,&rdquo; said Leana Flowers, concerning conclusions drawn from WBEZ&rsquo;s café map. Flowers chairs the Bronzeville Retail Initiative, which works with the Metropolitan Planning Council, a regional planning and development advocacy group.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a fundamental need to have these kinds of amenities; you have to have restaurants,&rdquo; Flowers said. &ldquo;The North Side has lots of restaurants and you&rsquo;d expect they&rsquo;d have [outdoor] cafes. The challenge for us is we need to get more retail on the South Side of Chicago, and that includes restaurants. Then we can address sidewalk cafes.&rdquo;</p><p>Aesthetically pleasing streetscaping &mdash; often the first step before a crush of local retail &mdash; is tied to Special Service Areas (SSAs.) These local tax districts fund programs such as façade improvements and public way maintenance and beautification. Property owners have to vote to be a SSA for the additional tax. If there isn&rsquo;t a strong existing business corridor, it&rsquo;s harder to pull off an SSA.</p><p>UIC&rsquo;s Ashton says that SSAs can help, but there needs to be more.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of times it&rsquo;s not just the physical investment, but also business organizations are using SSA or business improvement districts and local chambers of commerce as a way to get businesses more organized to promote themselves,&rdquo; Ashton said. &ldquo;So it can be sort of a package deal. And I believe that&rsquo;s an important tool in the local economic development planners&rsquo; toolbox.&rdquo;</p><p>West Side Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) said three things are needed to make an area sidewalk-café ready: density, safety and retail estate value. He knows parts of his ward lag in those categories.</p><p>&ldquo;As our areas improve and our level of retail escalates and restaurant, we are open to have those cafes. The constituents will demand it. I believe people would take it if it were an option,&rdquo; said Ervin, who lives in economically starved West Garfield Park. &ldquo;You need some density and vibrancy. You need factors other than just chairs and tables outside of a restaurant.&rdquo;</p><p>Ervin said streetscaping can provide a corridor a needed facelift.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of those streetscapings are done with SAA dollars or TIF dollars and some areas on West Side we don&rsquo;t have access to that money,&rdquo; Ervin said. &ldquo;We need more entrepreneurs to come into the community other than a submarine shop or chicken shack. We want to attract the nicer retail.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Streetscapes not always a silver bullet</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cafestory2a.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Aldermen say there needs to be a demand and solid economic footprint before sidewalk cafes become popular in a neighborhood like this one in Lakeview. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" />And here&rsquo;s the kernel of an answer to why the spread of Chicago&rsquo;s sidewalk cafes is so uneven, and skewed to the North Side. If Chicago aldermen are eager to approve sidewalk cafe permits, and there are streetscape projects throughout the city that lay the (literal) foundation for them, then the business environment (informed by location of SSAs and TIF districts) is likely behind the disparity. In other words, there are just too few dollars available from too few businesses to create a critical mass of restaurants that sport sidewalk cafes.</p><p>This outcome is not necessarily a good thing for South Siders and West Siders, and it&rsquo;s one that everyone in the city should consider.</p><p>Steven Farber, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Utah, <a href="http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2013/04/your-city-getting-way-your-social-life/5368/">recently published a study</a> that examined land use and transportation in 42 major U.S. cities. His work looks at how urban space affects how often and how well we interact. The gist is that seemingly small differences in landscape affect our social networks and well-being.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that neighborhoods without those types of opportunities for social contact may not fare as well as neighborhoods that do have these cafes and sidewalks and better streetscapes,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But Farber isn&rsquo;t suggesting that Chicago put cafes where they wouldn&rsquo;t be viable. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not sure that building sidewalk cafes in neighborhoods that don&rsquo;t seem to be demanding that kind of business infrastructure at the current time is necessarily going to have a huge impact on the neighborhood structure,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I think that raising socioeconomic status is far more important than providing sidewalk cafes, or at least these things have to come together.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, Farber&rsquo;s work could provide a little ammunition to South and West Siders who suspect there&rsquo;s something wrong with the distribution of cafes across the city. And it&rsquo;s not founded in a easily-dismissed gripe that they have to travel out of their neighborhoods for good food in some warm sunshine.</p><p><em>&mdash;</em><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Natalie Moore is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side bureau reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/natalieymoore" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;" target="_blank">@natalieymoore.</a>&nbsp;</em><em>Elliott Ramos is a data reporter and Web producer for WBEZ. Email him at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:eramos@wbez.org">eramos@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;or follow&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/ChicagoEl">@ChicagoEl</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 05 Jun 2013 18:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-05/why-are-chicago%E2%80%99s-sidewalk-cafes-all-north-side-part Why are Chicago’s sidewalk cafes all on the North Side? Part 1 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-chicago%E2%80%99s-sidewalk-cafes-all-north-side-part-1-107257 <p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="480" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/May/Patios/BeforeAfter/SidewalkBeforeAfter.html" width="950"></iframe></p><div class="credit">(Photo, interactive illustration by Elliott Ramos/WBEZ)</div><div class="caption">Residents on the city&rsquo;s South and West Sides have few options available for outdoor socializing &mdash; and that&rsquo;s partially by design.</div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Whenever Chicago shakes off winter, the temperature isn&rsquo;t the only quality of life indicator on the upswing. It&rsquo;s as though city-goers have license to be more social and especially so when it comes to eating. It&rsquo;s not just that neighbors will barbeque together or that families will flock to parks for picnics; summer opens up the opportunity to socialize with friends over wine, cafe fare or Thai food while sitting on city sidewalks.</p><p>On a recent afternoon, we caught diners just at restaurants started serving on sidewalks.</p><p>&ldquo;I wanted to eat outside, it&rsquo;s the first warm day of spring. It&rsquo;s nice to come outside, eat and people-watch,&rdquo; said 33-year-old Mike Capasso.</p><table align="left" border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 510px; margin-right: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px;"><tbody><tr><td><strong>Chicago&#39;s Sidewalk cafes in 2012</strong></td></tr><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MapKey.jpg" title="" /></div></td></tr><tr><td><iframe frameborder="0" height="790" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/May/Patios/Map/LumpySpacePrincess.html" width="510"></iframe></td></tr><tr><td><div class="credit">Data analysis and map produced by Elliott Ramos</div></td></tr><tr><td><em>Source: <a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/WBEZ%20FOIA%20request-Streetscape%20Projects.xls">Chicago Department of Transportation</a>, <a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/Sidewalk%20Cafe_Permits_2006_May_2013.pdf">Chicago Department of Business and Consumer Affairs</a>, <a href="http://www.stevencanplan.com/2011/logan-square-mcdonalds-crash-map/">Steven Vance, Azad Amir-Ghassemi and Bill Vassilakis</a>&nbsp;(See data: <a href="https://opendata.socrata.com/profile/WBEZ/p6ex-wt2f">WBEZ Open Socrata</a>)</em></td></tr></tbody></table><p>We caught Capasso outside with his friends at Lady Gregory&rsquo;s, an Irish restaurant in Chicago&rsquo;s Andersonville neighborhood, where patrons can take advantage of sidewalk cafes that stretch along blocks of North Clark Street&rsquo;s manicured sidewalks.</p><p>But this is not a scene you can spot in all parts of the city.</p><p>WBEZ compiled data about where City Hall issues sidewalk cafe permits that allow eateries to serve customers on sidewalks. Our analysis paints a disparate picture of Chicago&rsquo;s sidewalk dining and drinking spots. It may not surprise many longtime city-goers that such permits are concentrated on the North Side. But what may surprise some is just how uneven the spread really is: There&rsquo;s quite literally no comparison with communities on the South and West Sides, as those parts of town have no permits with which to compare.</p><p>Next week, we&rsquo;ll provide an account of the economic and social consequences of this mismatch. For now, we lay out where Chicago&rsquo;s cafe permits are issued, where they are glaringly absent, and how the city&rsquo;s outdoor dining landscape got this way.</p><p><strong>Setting up shop outside</strong></p><p>Aside from weather, there are three things that make sidewalk dining in Chicago possible. The first is a permit for a sidewalk cafe, which is not to be confused with an outdoor patio. The latter is on the owner&rsquo;s property, but if you&rsquo;re eating at a sidewalk cafe, technically you&rsquo;re eating on public property. That&rsquo;s even the case if your establishment seats you on the sidewalk after asking if you want to dine &ldquo;on the patio.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>1. Getting a sidewalk cafe </strong></p><p>A sidewalk cafe requires a permit to use ostensibly public space for a business purpose. The sidewalk cafes allow restaurants and coffee shops to set up tables and chairs in front of their businesses, provided they adhere to certain rules.</p><p>Maureen Martino is the executive director of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce, which represents many local bars and restaurants. She says many chamber members utilize sidewalk cafes.</p><p>&ldquo;When spring comes out and you see the first sidewalk cafe go up, you like to be in a place not usually seen during the year,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It creates a people spot, a spot where people go to socialize.&rdquo;</p><p>Unlike a license distributed by a City Hall department, a sidewalk cafe permit is approved by City Council, with the permit&rsquo;s sponsor being that of a business owner&rsquo;s alderman.</p><p>The approval process is usually expedited; however, the city limits the sidewalk cafes&rsquo; specs, which can range from the height of a table to spacing between a building and sidewalk.</p><p>&ldquo;The city does set guidelines on how your sidewalk cafe should be constructed,&rdquo; Martino said. &ldquo;They mandate that you have flowers.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed, according to Chicago&rsquo;s 2013, Sidewalk cafe application, &ldquo;at least 50% of the boundary must be covered with live plants.&rdquo;</p><p>However, it&rsquo;s that spacing that may affect where a cafe can go, because the city requires that pedestrians be allowed a minimum of six feet of walk space. The rest, the code says, should allow enough space for diners, especially those with disabilities access to the tables.</p><p>This means that you can&rsquo;t place a cafe on a nine-foot sidewalk, but you can place one on a sidewalk that&rsquo;s been widened. Some of these are widened to accommodate such seating. And that widening, it turns out, is not even across the city, either.</p><p><strong>2. Streetscapes lay a foundation </strong></p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s official motto, embossed on its corporate seal is &ldquo;urbs in horto,&rdquo; a Latin phrase which means city in a garden.</p><table align="right" border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 280px; margin-left: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px;"><tbody><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/briar.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Elliott Ramos)" /></div></td></tr><tr><td><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Elliott Ramos)</div></td></tr></tbody></table><p>Under the stewardship of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago expanded the number streetscapes. These urban renewal projects were implemented by the Chicago Department of Transportation, but bankrolled from sources which include (but were not limited to) city, state and federal transportation funds. At times, these sources included what&rsquo;s known as tax increment financing.</p><p>According to 2003 guidelines issued by Daley&rsquo;s administration, streetscapes are meant to &ldquo;encourage the enhancement and revitalization of commercial areas in Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>That guideline is still adhered to, notably by Gabe Klein, the current commissioner for Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Transportation.</p><p>&ldquo;We want to have a robust economy, we want to have a safe city and we want to have a city that people can feel like they can move around safely as pedestrian, cyclists, transit users or automobile users and the way we design our streets is absolutely key to making that happen,&rdquo; said Klein.</p><p>Klein&rsquo;s department works with community groups, businesses, builders and aldermen to to use Chicago streets, sidewalks and alleys as development tools.</p><p>Streetscape projects can vary dramatically from neighborhood to neighborhood. Projects can include, but are not limited to: the repavement of streets, the replacement and widening of sidewalks, installation of new street lamps, ornamental lighting, flower beds, sidewalk planters, viaduct improvements, vaulted sidewalks, bike lanes, bus stops, and benches. Streetscaping can even involve removal of a traffic lane. The projects sometimes last years and several rollouts can span a decade or so.</p><p>One effect of a streetscape &mdash; not lost upon developers and planners &mdash; is that wider, more accommodating sidewalks are amenable to sidewalk cafes. Planners often will draw in cafes on <a href="http://www.centersquarejournal.com/news/pawar-pitches-lawrence-avenue-improvements-as-school-boost">renderings of streetscape projects</a> when pitching them to the public.</p><table align="left" border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 425px; margin-right: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px;"><tbody><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Southport_Coobah.jpg" title="Sidewalk cafes must maintain a distance between city structures such as trees and parking meters, with enough space for pedestrians to pass. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div></td></tr><tr><td><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div></td></tr><tr><td><div class="caption">Sidewalk cafes must maintain a distance between city structures such as trees and parking meters, with enough space for pedestrians to pass.</div></td></tr></tbody></table><p>After filing a Freedom of Information Act request with CDOT, WBEZ was able to obtain a list and description of streetscape projects spanning back to 1996. &nbsp;From 1996-2012, there were roughly 127 individual streetscapes. In some cases, streetscapes were done in already flourishing areas in Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Wicker Park and Andersonville.</p><p>When asked about the concentration of sidewalk cafes on the North Side, Klein said a streetscape can be a factor.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the things we look at definitely look at is how to activate public space,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;A streetscape then allows for more frontage for a restaurant might mean that restaurant might move in there, which means they might have an outdoor patio, which means that you might have more eyes on the street. Decorative lighting might make it more pleasant to be out there in the street. Bump-outs [portions of sidewalk that jut into the street] and taking a lane of traffic away, may slow the cars down so that people feel more comfortable sitting outside. It feels more like a neighborhood street or boulevard instead of a highway.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>3. Pedestrian zones maintain flow of customers</strong></p><p>Businesses with sidewalk cafes require a certain threshold of foot traffic to work effectively. Business owners will say that large crowds will spur larger crowds, which increases the appeal for restaurant-goers &mdash; especially those in the mood to do some people-watching.</p><table align="right" border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 425px; margin-left: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px;"><tbody><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rocks.jpg" title="Sidewalk cafes must maintain a distance between city structures such as trees and parking meters, with enough space for pedestrians to pass. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div></td></tr><tr><td><div class="credit">(WBEZ/Andrew Gill)</div></td></tr><tr><td><div class="caption">Pedestrian streets can increase the flow of customers, but businesses must stay within standards.</div></td></tr></tbody></table><p>By default, all licensed restaurants in Chicago lay in areas zoned for business or commercial use, but there&rsquo;s another zoning classification that explains where sidewalk cafes land across the city: so-called &ldquo;<a href="http://wbez.is/118cgwm">pedestrian streets</a>.&rdquo;</p><p>According to Chicago&rsquo;s Zoning and Land Use Ordinance, pedestrian street regulations are &ldquo;intended to preserve and enhance the character of streets and intersections that are widely recognized as Chicago&rsquo;s best examples of pedestrian-oriented shopping districts.&rdquo;</p><p>The ordinance goes on to state that the &ldquo;regulations are intended to promote transit, economic vitality and pedestrian safety and comfort.&rdquo;</p><p>The city&rsquo;s pedestrian streets, or p-streets, were mapped out by Chicago transportation advocate <a href="http://chi.streetsblog.org/">chi.streetsblog.org</a> writer Steven Vance who created the map with Azad Amir-Ghassemi and Bill Vassilakis. We&#39;ve included the maps in our analysis of cafes.</p><p>A pedestrian street must have a &ldquo;high concentration of existing stores and restaurants&rdquo; and have a &ldquo;continuous pattern of buildings that are abutting or very close to the sidewalk.&rdquo;</p><p>The regulations go on to stipulate that a p-street should have businesses with storefront windows and there should be few vacant stores. In other words, a p-street must already have a vibrant economic scene before receiving this designation. But when it does, the regulations are similar to those of a condo board&rsquo;s, requiring that new businesses abide by standards that can include the size of building entrances, facades and windows.</p><p>If you want to account for sidewalk cafes&rsquo; thriving North Side presence, as well as their dearth on the South and West Sides, p-streets have an impact.</p><p>Consider that a p-street designation effectively shuts out businesses and structures commonly found on the South and West Side arterial streets: strip malls, drive-through facilities, gas stations, residential storage warehouses, car washes and car sales lots. The designation also shuts out big-box retailers, which several South Side aldermen have actively sought to attract. In effect, the regulations make aldermen choose one path of economic development or the other.</p><p>Chicago has nearly 50 streets and intersections designated as pedestrian streets. About 10 of those are on the South Side. None exist on the far West Side. And the rest are located on the North and Northwest Sides.</p><p>The last lines of the p-streets regulations state that &ldquo;the following uses are encouraged on lots abutting pedestrian streets&rdquo;: sidewalk cafes and outdoor eating areas and outdoor display of produce, flowers and plants.</p><p><strong>Where are Chicago&rsquo;s outdoor venues?</strong></p><table align="right" border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 400px; margin-left: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px;"><tbody><tr><td><strong>Permits by Community Area 2006-2012</strong></td></tr><tr><td><script type="text/javascript" src="https://www.google.com/jsapi"></script><script type="text/javascript" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/March/SchoolClosings/tablewraper.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> google.load('visualization', '1', {'packages' : ['table']}); google.setOnLoadCallback(init); var dataSourceUrl = 'https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AoxVpL8Zenp3dDhzc2F2TjI5Vm54MkNMS0hBQm1rWGc&single=true&range=B:I&headers=1'; var query, options, container; function init() { query = new google.visualization.Query(dataSourceUrl); container = document.getElementById("table"); options = {'pageSize': 10}; sendAndDraw(); } function sendAndDraw() { query.abort(); var tableQueryWrapper = new TableQueryWrapper(query, container, options); tableQueryWrapper.sendAndDraw(); } function setOption(prop, value) { options[prop] = value; sendAndDraw(); } </script></td></tr><tr><td><form action=""><a name="list"></a>Number of rows to show: <select onchange="setOption('pageSize', parseInt(this.value, 10))"><option value="5">5</option><option value="selected">10</option><option value="15">15</option>&nbsp;</select></form><br /><div id="table">Permits</div></td></tr></tbody></table><p>Our map of sidewalk cafe permits data shows where Chicago&rsquo;s outdoor hubs lay as of last summer, but we also obtained data (from 2006 and on) that suggest where the number of cafes is growing.</p><p><em>Chicago&rsquo;s Near North Side</em></p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p>This <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/319.html">community area</a>, just north of the Loop, is the sidewalk cafe stronghold. It includes parts of the city&rsquo;s Michigan Avenue shopping district, as well as Streeterville and the Gold Coast. In 2012, Chicago&rsquo;s Near North Side had 223 sidewalk cafes &mdash; a 33.5 percent increase from 2006, when that community had just 167.</p></li></ul><p><em>Lakeview</em></p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p>In 2012, the Lakeview community area came in a strong second with 151 sidewalk cafes &mdash; an 18.9 percent increase from 2006. That number is not surprising as Lakeview regularly attracts entertainment venues, taverns and restaurants. It&rsquo;s also home to Wrigley Field and Boystown, the largest of the city&rsquo;s gay bar districts.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>The data suggest that the rate of growth has slowed in Lakeview, perhaps even that the market is peaking or saturated. But businesses continue to expand northwest.</p></li></ul><p><em>West Town and Logan Square</em></p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p>West Town, which encompasses Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village, saw a 72 percent &nbsp;increase of sidewalk cafes from 2006-2012.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>The Near West Side, which includes the West Loop and Little Italy, saw a 92.85% increase, nearly doubling from 42 to 81 sidewalk cafe permits for that same period.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p>Logan Square had an increase of 54.54%, up from 12 permits in 2006, to 34 in 2012.</p></li></ul><p><strong>Where the permits stop ... but the story doesn&rsquo;t </strong></p><p>Chicago community areas are not all the same. Some are or were previously industrial zones. Others lack real estate density or have no access to mass transit. Still, restaurants and dining are ubiquitous throughout the city, though sidewalk cafes are not, especially in North and South Lawndale, Washington Park, South Shore, Roseland or Pullman, all of which have no permits.</p><p>Even on the North Side, communities like Jefferson Park, Avondale and Albany Park have just one or two permits each.</p><p>Permits for 2013 were available by request, but many of them are still pending, and some businesses may wait until the weather is consistently warm before applying for a permit.</p><p>Permits are scarce or nonexistent in a few North Side neighborhoods, but not nearly as acute as those on the South and West Sides.</p><p>Permits become scarcer west of California Avenue and south of Roosevelt Road, with the exception of clusters at University of Illinois at Chicago&rsquo;s campus, Pilsen and University of Chicago&rsquo;s Hyde Park campus.</p><p>But the story doesn&rsquo;t stop there.</p><p>Next week, we&rsquo;ll take up what we&rsquo;ve heard over and over: that these disparities matter when it come to quality of life and economic development.</p><p><em>&mdash;Elliott Ramos is a data reporter and Web producer for WBEZ. Email him at <a href="mailto:eramos@wbez.org">eramos@wbez.org</a> or follow at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/ChicagoEl">@ChicagoEl</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/144483401/CITY-OF-CHICAGO-SIDEWALK-CAFE-PROGRAM" name="CafeDoc" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View CITY OF CHICAGO SIDEWALK cafe PROGRAM on Scribd">CITY OF CHICAGO SIDEWALK cafe PROGRAM</a></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_10447" scrolling="no" src="http://www.scribd.com/embeds/144483401/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/144484232/Streetscape-Design-Guidelines" name="StreetscapeDoc" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Streetscape Design Guidelines on Scribd">Streetscape Design Guidelines</a> by <a href="http://www.scribd.com/WBEZ915" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Chicago Public Media's profile on Scribd">Chicago Public Media</a></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="0.772922022279349" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_12300" scrolling="no" src="http://www.scribd.com/embeds/144484232/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-omgza5ypd4299a03tcx&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 29 May 2013 20:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-chicago%E2%80%99s-sidewalk-cafes-all-north-side-part-1-107257 Make Plans! Pilsen Sprints Forward http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/make-plans-pilsen-sprints-forward-107182 <p><p>Pilsen is a neighborhood located in the residential Lower West Side community in Chicago. In the late 19th century it was inhabited by Germans, Irish, Czech, Polish and Lithuanian immigrants. Mexican immigrants and Latinos became a majority in 1970 as the neighborhood served as a port of entry. The legacy of uneven development throughout major cities, including Chicago, has left various neighborhoods vulnerable to uneven stabilization. Yet Pilsen sprints forward as a &ldquo;Think and Do&rdquo; community. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Patricia Saldana Natke</strong>, Principal of Urbanworks, &nbsp;presents an inspiring master plan and recent lasting changes made through Transit Oriented Development, a new student dormitory at the Pink Line Stop, planning visions for a &nbsp;Green Trail &ldquo; Paseo&rdquo;, &nbsp;proposed cultural &nbsp;anchors, and connectivity to the Chicago River.</p><div>This program is part of Lunch Talks @ CAF, a weekly lecture series that takes place every Wednesday at 12:15pm at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Further information and resources on this topic are available on our website at <a href="http://www.architecture.org/lunch">www.architecture.org/LunchTalksOnline.</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CAF-webstory_6.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><br />Recorded live Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at the&nbsp;Chicago Architecture Foundation Lecture Hall.</div></p> Wed, 17 Apr 2013 11:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/make-plans-pilsen-sprints-forward-107182 Water: does the future depend on who controls it? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-07/water-does-future-depend-who-controls-it-93810 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-07/water4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Water flows fast and often free from the taps of many American households. The United States uses more water in four days than the world uses oil in a year.&nbsp;Many of us have no idea where our water comes from, let alone who controls it.&nbsp;</p><p>Investigative journalist Charles Fishman says the golden age of water, at least in this country, is coming to an end.&nbsp;Fishman is the author of <em><a href="http://www.thebigthirst.com/the-book/" target="_blank">The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water</a></em>. As part of WBEZ’s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter" target="_blank"><em>Front and Center</em></a> series, Charles discusses who should control this precious resource, here in the Great Lakes region and beyond.</p></p> Mon, 07 Nov 2011 16:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-07/water-does-future-depend-who-controls-it-93810 Computers changing the essential nature of cities http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-25/computers-changing-essential-nature-cities-93456 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-25/barry1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The great historical turns in the evolution of the city have been agriculture, industrialization, globalization and now, what has been called the “information revolution” in the last thirty years. Digital logic circuits have produced continuously faster, more powerful and smaller computers, mobile telephones, smart phones and countless other innovations. The fruits are many. The WorldCat allows librarians to access 1.75 billions entries from 72,000 libraries in 170 countries. Perhaps the most universal emblem of this era is the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are constantly clutching their mobile phone as if they were awaiting word of a heart transplant. This revolution has profoundly changed the city, its relationship to nature, and our relationship to each other.&nbsp;</p><p>Today the digitization of the city reaches almost every urban resident in some manner, from traffic lights to observation camera’s on the corner. According to <a href="http://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/publications/internet_matters/index.asp" target="_blank">McKinsey &amp; Company</a>, internet sector consumption and expenditure is bigger than either agriculture or energy. Computers are used for a huge variety of functions that, we are told, make the city more efficient, safer and intelligent.</p><p>The first electronic computer emerged in 1946 and the worldwide web started in 1989. Computers store 40% more data annually. But computer ownership and internet use are still the privilege of a minority worldwide. Few people have done as much to escalate the digital divide as Steve Jobs of Apple. He was devoted to produce beautiful products that are not affordable by hardly anyone worldwide, and is alleged to have strenuously objected to price reducing initiatives. Although the executive of the richest corporation in the world, he made no effort to narrow the digital divide.</p><p>Cities, particularly large cities, are increasingly functioning like a computer. The traditional language of the city is also the language of the computer; “networks”, "gate," "port," "pipeline," "cache," etc. Cities are becoming more like computers. The “smart city” of the future will control movement, climate, communications, consumption, health, crime, energy and virtually every aspect of human experience. Feeling and thinking are not required for city life. As the connection to nature and to each other is increasingly regulated by computer people are alienated from nature and each other.</p><p>The euphemism for this transformation has been the “Smart City” or the “Intelligent City,” promoted by corporations such as Siemens or IBM. The direction of this transformation is "Super Intelligence," or machines that are more intelligent, and more capable, than human beings. This was portrayed in the character of Data on <em>Star Trek</em>, or the robots in <em>I-Robot</em> with Will Smith. Nowhere has this “intelligence” been utilized to greater effect than the military drones. Digital logic circuits, and their successors, are now co-producing our evolutionary future.</p><p>Charles Darwin declared that “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” How well is our species adapting to this information revolution? As cities grow “smarter,” do they become more just or ecological? Is artificial intelligence better than human intelligence? Or is there a Faustian danger of trading ones soul to obtain greater information and power? Unfortunately, it has been intelligent people that led the planet into the current condition of ecological peril. And of course, intelligent people have unleashed some of the most barbaric episodes in human history.</p><p>What are the values of the information revolution? Technology is not neutral. Every technology contains the values of the people that designed it. Albert Einstein understood that, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Never has this been more so than today. We have utilized our sophisticated technology to occupy, dominate and threaten every ecosystem on the planet. Today, our technology dominates our cities, and us.</p><p>Increasingly digital networks are replacing people networks. The character of the digital relationship is not the same as a personal relationship. The quantity of the communication is not the same as the quality of the communication. One documentary on the Intelligent City boasted that “humans don’t have to make any decisions.” The seduction of communication, or technology, for its own sake is far different than the production of value. Some argue that information is the glue of society. While information has its value, we are glued together by the emotions we share, by love, not the information we acquire. The homogenization of experience, which is the result of the digital city, runs contrary to our development as a species.&nbsp; Oliver Sacks said, “We must humanize technology before it dehumanizes us.” Or is the genie out of the bottle until death do us part?</p><p>It is often stated that computers can be used for extreme invasions of privacy and lead to extraordinary levels of vulnerability. The recent breakdown of the Blackberry is an instance of this vulnerability. What if the impact of the computer, and the entire information revolution, is the homogenization of the human being and therefore, our cities. What if the price of being plugged in is to be turned off?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Barry Weisberg is global cities contributor for </em>Worldview<em>. His </em><em>commentaries reflect his own views and not necessarily those of </em>Worldview<em> or 91.5 WBEZ.</em></p></p> Tue, 25 Oct 2011 15:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-25/computers-changing-essential-nature-cities-93456