WBEZ | alleys http://www.wbez.org/tags/alleys Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en In praise of alleys, Chicago's unsung heroes in the city's broadband push http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/praise-alleys-chicagos-unsung-heroes-citys-broadband-push-102656 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicagoalley.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/baywatch brimful)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F61121353&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>On The Morning Shift today, while discussing Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s ambitious plan to massively expand high speed internet connectivity throughout the city, Chicago&rsquo;s Chief Technology Officer John Tolva called alleys &ldquo;the unsung hero in Chicago.&rdquo; He was making reference to the city&rsquo;s ability to string fiber optic cables aerially, rather than underground, but it got me thinking about the part that alleyways play in Chicago&rsquo;s unique personality. How has the city been shaped by the small, nameless veins that connect its major arteries?</p><p>That imagery may seem a little florid, but it&rsquo;s important to understand that Chicago is, at its heart, a city of alleys. They predate almost every identifiable landmark, stretching out over 1,900 miles, helping to ease congestion throughout the city. While the lakeshore and the el are embedded in the city&rsquo;s consciousness, alleys touch something deeper. They&rsquo;re so ubiquitous, and so easily overlooked, that they begin to occupy the darker corners of our urban subconscious.&nbsp; As such, alleys have been derided and dismissed, used as metaphors for the backstreet deals and corruption that have become cliché in Chicago politics. Over the past century, the image of the alley has been one of illicit dealings, overseen by the rats criss-crossing from dumpster to overflowing dumpster. But, that image is changing, and Tolva isn&rsquo;t the only one beginning to see Chicago&rsquo;s oldest, darkest feature under new light.<br /><br />For the past two years, the city has been spearheading an initiative to green Chicago&rsquo;s alleyways, using new porous asphalt to filter rainwater, keeping it from polluting the city&rsquo;s rivers and streams. It&rsquo;s ambitious and practical, and, since its inception, has been used as a model for cities looking for creative ways to encourage sustainable urban development. A beautiful use for something so often seen as useless.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s hard to know if alleys will ever garner the respect Tolva and others think they deserve, but their ever-evolving function within the city will, at the very least, help push them from our collective subconscious to somewhere a little brighter. Tolva&rsquo;s humming the melody, time will tell if the rest of the city decides to hum along.</p></p> Tue, 25 Sep 2012 15:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/praise-alleys-chicagos-unsung-heroes-citys-broadband-push-102656 Officials: Snow plowing has been equitable http://www.wbez.org/story/news/officials-snow-plowing-has-been-equitable <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//IMG_0849.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago officials say crews have now opened most side streets after this week&rsquo;s blizzard. And they&rsquo;re rejecting claims that the city is neglecting some neighborhoods. <br /><br />Complaints about the snow removal are coming from several City Council members. <br /><br />Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) said Friday afternoon that her constituents had been calling her office all day. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s disheartening for residents whose street hasn&rsquo;t been plowed to see on TV that the downtown is devoid of snow,&rdquo; Lyle said.<br /><br />Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) is asking the city&rsquo;s inspector general to investigate whether the snow removal has been equitable. Jackson spokeswoman Keiana Barrett on Friday afternoon said much of the ward remained impassable and that factors might include politics.<br /><br />Matt Smith, spokesman of the Streets and Sanitation Department, insisted that the department was doing the best it could and that its decisions had nothing to do with clout. &ldquo;Some areas&mdash;based on weather conditions, drifting and other situations&mdash;have been hit harder,&rdquo; Smith said. &ldquo;We assess those and we clear them up.&rdquo;<br /><br />Smith said city crews would continue working on side streets through the weekend.<br /><br />The city is not planning to plow alleys, however. Streets and San Commissioner Tom Byrne on Friday said the snow would block garages and that garbage trucks were laying down grooves instead.</p></p> Fri, 04 Feb 2011 21:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/officials-snow-plowing-has-been-equitable