WBEZ | Chicago Park District http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-park-district Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Surf's up in Chicago, but where? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/surfs-chicago-where-110665 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/surfing thumb nail.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: We published a version of this story at the the close of summer 2012, but as curiosity about surfing in Chicago never ends (right?), we recently double-checked whether park district policies described below are up to date. They are.&nbsp;</em></p><p>A couple summers ago, Cherelyn Riesmeyer took her kids to a Chicago beach. They had brought their new boogie boards along, which they&rsquo;d purchased on a family vacation a few weeks earlier.</p><p>But when they leapt into Lake Michigan with their new beach toys, Cherelyn says, a lifeguard promptly told her kids that boogie boards weren&rsquo;t allowed on Chicago beaches.</p><p>&ldquo;[My kids] starting referring to the lifeguards as <em>fun guards</em>,&rdquo; Cherelyn says.</p><p>Then, in January 2012, a local surfer was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/charges-be-dropped-against-chicago-surfer-96500" target="_blank">arrested for illegally surfing</a> at Oak Street Beach. When Cherelyn heard the news, she says, she was in disbelief. But she also wanted answers, so she asked Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why is surfing not allowed in Lake Michigan?</em></p><p>Turns out, surfing<em> is</em> allowed in Lake Michigan, but it wasn&rsquo;t always, and even now it&rsquo;s not allowed everywhere. In 2009, the Chicago Park District lifted its blanket ban on surfing and all &ldquo;self-propelled, wave-riding board sports.&rdquo; These include: body surfing, stand-up paddling, skim boarding and &mdash; of particular interest to our question-asker &mdash; boogie boarding. The district made the decision after local surfers and activists took a stand against the restrictions.</p><p>One of those activists was Mitch McNeil, chair of <a href="http://www.chicago.surfrider.org/#welcome" target="_blank">Chicago&rsquo;s Surfrider Foundation</a>. He recalls the park district had banned surfing and all flotation devices after a 10-year-old girl drowned off Montrose Harbor in 1988. The girl and an 11-year-old boy were on an inflatable raft when the wind blew them far offshore, according <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1988-04-07/news/8803060938_1_windsurfer-raft-lake-michigan" target="_blank">to a report in the Chicago Tribune</a>. The two apparently jumped off the raft and tried to swim back to the beach. A nearby windsurfer rescued the boy but couldn&rsquo;t find the girl.</p><p>&ldquo;The city reacted drastically [after the incident] and put an across-the-board ban on flotation devices,&rdquo; McNeil says. &ldquo;And a surfboard is nothing else if not a flotation device.&rdquo;</p><p>About two decades later, Chicago-area surfers banded together to reverse the ban, McNeil says. An agreement they worked out with the city lifted the ban on a handful of beaches, but there was an important condition: surfers would be responsible for their own safety.</p><p>So today, surfing is allowed year-round at <a href="http://www.cpdbeaches.com/beaches/Montrose-Beach/" target="_blank">Montrose </a>and <a href="http://www.cpdbeaches.com/beaches/57th-Street-Beach/" target="_blank">57th Street</a> beaches. During the off-season (Labor Day to Memorial Day), surfing&rsquo;s allowed at <a href="http://www.cpdbeaches.com/beaches/Osterman-Beach/" target="_blank">Osterman </a>and <a href="http://www.cpdbeaches.com/beaches/Rainbow-Beach/" target="_blank">Rainbow </a>beaches, too.</p><p>It may seem like a short list (consider that <a href="http://www.cpdbeaches.com/home.cfm" target="_blank">the district operates 27 public beaches</a>), but Mcneil says he and other Chicago surfers are satisfied with the compromise &mdash; at least for now. Turns out, those four beaches get some of the best waves in the city (which can get up to 30 feet high!).</p><p>&ldquo;Each beach has its own kind of wave,&rdquo; McNeil says. &ldquo;Each wave is created by the way the bottom is shaped and how the shoreline is lined up according to the wind. So, we had our hit list.&rdquo;</p><p>Also, it&rsquo;s no bummer there are more beaches to choose from in the winter.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s actually when the best waves happen,&rdquo; McNeil says. &ldquo;You get your best waves in the fall and definitely in the winter.&rdquo;</p><p>But there&rsquo;s good news for Cherelyn, our question-asker, too. Since the park district includes boogie boarding in its definition of surfing, the same rules apply. So those &ldquo;fun guards&rdquo; her kids encountered? Well, the story could have been different at a different beach.</p><p>For specifics on Chicago&rsquo;s surfing and flotation device regulations, you can also read <a href="http://public.surfrider.org/files/Chicago_Surfing_Info_Safety.pdf" target="_blank">this 2009 memo</a> from the Chicago Park District.</p></p> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 16:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/surfs-chicago-where-110665 Connecting science and sports http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-03/morning-shift-connecting-science-and-sports-109460 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr PixelElegance.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Journalist David Epstein&#39;s new book explores the relationship between heredity and athleticism. He explains what he discovered while writing the book. The Chicago Park District offers advice on how to lose that extra holiday weight. And, the music of Rob Clearfield.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-looking-at-the-link-between-athletic/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-looking-at-the-link-between-athletic.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-looking-at-the-link-between-athletic" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Connecting science and sports" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 03 Jan 2014 07:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-01-03/morning-shift-connecting-science-and-sports-109460 Chicago's long-forgotten zoo http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-long-forgotten-zoo-108844 <p><p><a name="video"></a><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="340" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ELIFciqVEFs" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Our question comes from John Lillig, a resident of the West Ridge neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s far North Side. The location is important to this story in that he&rsquo;s intimately familiar with the nearby Indian Boundary Park. It&#39;s a place, he says, where he once could take his child to visit a tiny zoo that housed a llama, a bear, and other animals. In recent years, the zoo comprised a goat, a handful of chickens and some ducks.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/John_Lillig.JPG" style="float: right;" title="John Lillig’s interest in historical neighborhood zoos was sparked by the closure of a tiny zoo at Chicago’s Indian Boundary Park. " /></p><p>As the summer closed, the Chicago Park District shuttered the zoo and relocated the animals to the flagship Lincoln Park Zoo. But before all this came to pass, John&rsquo;s curiosity had been piqued, and he sent along this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>With the rumored closing of the Indian Boundary Park zoo, I was wondering about the history of that unusual neighborhood zoo and wondering what other zoos may have existed in Chicago other than Lincoln Park Zoo (or Brookfield Zoo). I have heard that Indian Boundary Zoo is the only remaining neighborhood zoo of what were once several neighborhood zoos. Is this true? What other zoos have existed in Chicago, where were they located, and what is there now?</em></p><p>As there had been a lot of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/west-ridge-residents-angry-over-zoo-plans-108180">coverage of Indian Boundary this year</a>, we took on the latter half of his question. It&rsquo;s a good thing, too, since the answer required some digging.</p><p>Thankfully, John was able to provide a solid lead. He once taught literature classes, he says, and would use the <em>AIA Guide to Chicago</em> as source material. He noticed that the entry on Indian Boundary Park mentioned that it was the only<em> remaining</em> neighborhood zoo, which suggested there had once been others.</p><p>Several experts we consulted &mdash; including some who contributed to the AIA guide &mdash; didn&rsquo;t know of of any other neighborhood zoos. But, it turns out, there had been one.</p><p><strong>The West Side&rsquo;s lost zoo</strong></p><p>Chicago Park District historian Julia Bachrach directed us to Union Park, located at 1501 W. Randolph St.</p><p><a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/GarfieldParkZoo/GarfieldPark.html" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GParkThumb.jpg" style="float: left; height: 290px; width: 400px;" title="Click to see this design map, which shows that a zoo had also been planned for Chicago’s Garfield Park. According to Chicago Park District historian Julia Bachrach, park districts balked at the high cost of operating neighborhood zoos, especially after Lincoln Park Zoo proved so successful. (Courtesy of Chicago History Museum)" /></a>We met Bachrach there, against the backdrop of kids playing on the playground and people jogging. During a short tour, she explained what the park was like in the late 1800s, and how, like many American parks at that time, it had a zoo or, more accurately, a menagerie.</p><p>&ldquo;It really was looked at like a collection of animals, something to entertain the people who came to use the park,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;They weren&rsquo;t at all thinking about the needs of the animals or what it would take to take proper care of them.&rdquo;</p><p>So, with Bachrach&rsquo;s good graces, and help from the Chicago Park District, the Chicago History Museum and the ghost of an urban bear, we produced <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago%E2%80%99s-long-forgotten-zoo-108844#video">this video profile</a> of the West Side&rsquo;s long-forgotten zoo.</p><p><em>Image credits: Thanks to the Chicago Park District for permission to film at Union Park and for access to historical images posted in the facility&rsquo;s field house.</em></p><p><em>Scanned images courtesy of the Chicago History Museum. They include:</em></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><em>Visitors at the bear den at Union Park, Chicago, Illinois:&nbsp;ICHi-26321</em></li><li><em>Two men and a bear at the bear den at Union Park, Chicago, Illinois:&nbsp;ICHi-26322</em></li><li><em>Map of Union Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1912. From the book Maps of the Parks under the jurisdiction of West Chicago Park Commissioners:&nbsp;ICHi-68171</em></li><li><em>Map of Garfield Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1885. O. F. Dubuis, Landscape Architect:&nbsp;ICHi-68170</em></li></ul><p><em>Katie Kather is an arts and culture reporting intern at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/ktkather">@ktkather</a>.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/sallee-0" rel="author">Shawn Allee</a> edits Curious City, which you can follow <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity">@WBEZCuriousCity</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 14:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-long-forgotten-zoo-108844 On playground equity, Park District comes up short http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/playground-equity-park-district-comes-short-108668 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JaemeyBush1.JPG" style="height: 300px; width: 200px; margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; float: right;" title="Jaemey Bush and her girl play in Piotrowski Park, 4247 W. 31st St. The playground lost most of its swings in a 2010 renovation, a project that has Jaemey wondering what determines the location and quality of Chicago Park District playgrounds. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Jaemey Bush was excited when the bulldozers rumbled in to renovate the playground at Piotrowski Park, one of the few green spaces in Little Village, a densely populated Latino enclave of Chicago. The 2010 project replaced decaying wood chips with a poured-rubber surface accessible to wheelchairs. Crews tore out all the old play equipment and installed climbing ropes, slides, stepping stools and catwalks. Everything was brand new.</p><p>But something bothered Jaemey, a stay-at-home mom in the neighborhood. &ldquo;When they finally unveiled the playground, it was about a quarter the size of the old one,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Before the remodeling, we had 16 swings at least. Now there are just 6. Sometimes we have to wait in line for them.&rdquo;</p><p>Jaemey noticed bigger playgrounds in some wealthier neighborhoods. So she asked Curious City:</p><p><em>What factors determine the location and quality of Chicago Park District playgrounds?</em></p><p>As Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration tells it, the main factors are equity and community need. Park District officials, who report to a CEO and board of commissioners appointed by the mayor, point out that they manage 525 playgrounds &mdash; a big number even for a population the size of Chicago&rsquo;s.</p><p>They say more than 90 percent of Chicago children live within a half mile (10-minute walk) of at least one of these sites. They point to an Emanuel administration plan to renovate 300 of those playgrounds within five years. And they say they&rsquo;re doing their best to acquire land for new parks and playgrounds in the neighborhoods that need them the most.</p><p>To determine needs for amenities such as playgrounds, the Park District says it has beefed up its planning staff and embraced state-of-the-art data analysis. Gia Biagi, chief of staff for Park District CEO Michael Kelly, says those efforts include research projects with outside organizations including Northwestern University.</p><p>&ldquo;We said, &lsquo;Here&rsquo;s our data. Help comb through it. Are we hitting the markets that we want to hit? Are we serving people in the way that they want to be served?&rsquo; &rdquo; Biagi says. &ldquo;So we&rsquo;re doing a lot of the business-intelligence work that we see corporations do. We&rsquo;re trying to bring it to a Park District, which is pretty unusual.&rdquo;</p><p>Park District officials say they examine data at every level, from the entire city to block-by-block numbers. Biagi says her team considers population characteristics including race, ethnicity and income. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re good planners,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;So we look at everything and we look to serve communities that need us the most.&rdquo;</p><p>But looking isn&rsquo;t the same as doing. Sparked by Jaemey&rsquo;s question, a Curious City investigation shows that not all kids have easy access to quality playgrounds. Worst off are children of color.</p><p><strong>Kids but no monkey bars</strong></p><p>Chicago has playgrounds in its poorest neighborhoods, as we confirmed by mapping the city&rsquo;s playground locations with its 809 census tracts and then shading those tracts according to their child poverty (see Map 1).</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/PARKS/Poverty.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><strong>Map 1: Playground locations and child poverty (<a href="#DataNotes">notes</a>)</strong></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">% of kids in poverty</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(244, 204, 204); background-color: rgb(234, 209, 220); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;0.0&ndash;4.9</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(234, 153, 153); background-color: rgb(213, 166, 189); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;5.0&ndash;19.9</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(224, 102, 102); background-color: rgb(194, 123, 160); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;20.0&ndash;39.0</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(204, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(166, 77, 121); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;40.0&ndash;59.9</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(153, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(116, 27, 71); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;60.0&ndash;100</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 255); background-color: rgb(0, 0, 255); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;No children</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Playground surface</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(108, 125, 210); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Wood Chips</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(138, 240, 138); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Rubber </span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p dir="ltr">But our investigation went further. With help from demographer Rob Paral, we analyzed the playground locations in relation to the latest racial and ethnic data for each of the city&rsquo;s 46,000 census blocks.</p><p dir="ltr">We found something interesting. Chicago&rsquo;s Latino children are almost 35 percent more likely than the city&rsquo;s white kids to live more than a half mile from a Park District playground (see Chart 1). More than 23,000 Latino kids live at least 10 minutes, on foot, from the nearest playground.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/oimg?key=0AluraWM750W7dHppQlVGTmhMTFlEVGljWTY0dk1kNmc&amp;oid=11&amp;zx=finl7t3gdy3c" style="width: 600px; height: 371px;" /></p><p>Jaemey&rsquo;s neighborhood, Little Village, is not alone among Latino areas with a dearth of Park District playgrounds. A map that shows the playground locations and the census tracts, shaded this time by child density (see Map 2), reveals a shortage in Brighton Park, Gage Park and Chicago Lawn &mdash; a Southwest Side swath with lots of children, most with Mexican heritage.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/PARKS/Kids.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><strong>Map 2: Playground locations and child density (<a href="#DataNotes">notes</a>)</strong></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Child population</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(255, 229, 153); background-color: rgb(255, 229, 153); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;0&ndash;299</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(255, 217, 102); background-color: rgb(255, 217, 102); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;300&ndash;599</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(241, 194, 50); background-color: rgb(241, 194, 50); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;600&ndash;999</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(191, 144, 0); background-color: rgb(191, 144, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;1,000&ndash;1,499</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(127, 96, 0); background-color: rgb(127, 96, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;1,500 or more</span></span></p><br /><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Playground surface</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(108, 125, 210); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Wood Chips</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(138, 240, 138); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Rubber</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It makes me really sad that these kids don&rsquo;t have a chance to play on a playground,&rdquo; Jaemey says. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s such an important part of being a kid and growing up and being healthy. We also have a lot of gang violence and kids getting into trouble. I feel like more playgrounds could contribute to solving some of those problems.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Park District, presented with our data and findings, sent a statement that describes the city&rsquo;s playgrounds as &ldquo;well distributed in existing parks.&rdquo; Officials say they&rsquo;re also planning a new playground site in a 20-acre former industrial area between Little Village and the Cook County Jail.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We take seriously issues of equity and constantly examine the distribution of, and demand for, all of our resources, whether camps and programs or events and arts or natural resources and capital projects,&rdquo; the Park District statement says. &ldquo;As it should be in any major city and within any park system worth its salt, our work on equity, proximity, and improving the quality of life for all Chicagoans is deliberative and evolving.&rdquo;</p><p>A complication for many of Chicago&rsquo;s Latino neighborhoods is their relative lack of open space. They tend to be densely populated, so it&rsquo;s more expensive to clear space for a playground. Biagi, the Park District chief of staff, says Brighton Park just doesn&rsquo;t have many vacant lots.</p><p>The Park District also avoids putting parks on less than two acres because, Biagi says, the small scale would make them more expensive for maintenance crews to keep up.</p><p><strong>Not all jungle gyms are equal</strong></p><p>Turning to playground quality &mdash; the other part of Jaemey&rsquo;s question &mdash; we found a lot of evidence that Chicago&rsquo;s children of color are not getting their share.</p><p>First we looked at playground surfaces &mdash; the ground material that provides a cushion when kids fall from the equipment. The surface of almost every Park District playground once consisted of wood chips.</p><p>In 2000, however, the Park District started replacing wood chips with poured rubber, a smoother surface that is easier for disabled kids to navigate. Rubber can also be safer because, unlike wood chips, it doesn&rsquo;t require refilling or raking. And a rubber surface signals that the Park District has recently replaced the playground&rsquo;s equipment.</p><p>A big downside to playgrounds with the poured-rubber surfaces, officials say, is that they cost roughly five times more than wood-chip playgrounds with similar play equipment.</p><p>A Curious City spatial analysis using the census data shows that 53 percent of the city&rsquo;s 421,000&nbsp;Latino, African American and Asian kids live within a half mile of a rubber-surfaced Park District playground (see Chart 2). White children have a 24 percent greater likelihood than those kids of color to live within that distance of a rubber-surfaced playground.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/oimg?key=0AluraWM750W7dHppQlVGTmhMTFlEVGljWTY0dk1kNmc&amp;oid=10&amp;zx=yfcjv5ithid" style="width: 600px; height: 371px; margin: 5px;" /></p><p>Another measure of a playground&rsquo;s quality is its safety.</p><p>&ldquo;Kids are hurt on playgrounds by falling, but the way kids actually die on playgrounds is, somehow, a child is strangled or their airway gets blocked,&rdquo; says Amy Hill, who coordinates an injury-prevention center for the Ann &amp; Robert H. Lurie Children&rsquo;s Hospital of Chicago. &ldquo;Clothing gets entangled onto a bolt or something protruding somewhere, and the other way that their airway gets blocked is something called a head entrapment, which is any space that&rsquo;s bound on all four sides that&rsquo;s larger than 3&frac12; inches and less than 9 inches. And so we test all the openings for head entrapments.&rdquo;</p><p>Hill&rsquo;s center conducts a 21-point inspection of Park District playgrounds to find hazards ranging from those entrapment spaces to peeling paint and missing guardrails. Based on the inspections, the center assigns each playground a safety score. The latest inspection round, held last year, covered about 490 playgrounds. Of those, the 40 with the lowest safety scores were all south of Roosevelt Road (see Map 3).<a name="Map3"></a></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/PARKS/LowScoring.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><strong>Map 3: This year&rsquo;s playground renovations (<a href="#DataNotes">notes</a>)</strong></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1429-fc5a-732c-6f227eed17f1"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(138, 240, 138); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Renovated after receiving one of the lowest 40 safety scores.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(108, 125, 210); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">● </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Renovated after </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">not</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> receiving one of the lowest 40 safety scores.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(210, 40, 57); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(108, 125, 210); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Not </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">renovated after receiving one of the lowest 40 safety scores.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;That shows a neglect of playgrounds on the South Side,&rdquo; Jaemey says.</p><p dir="ltr">The Park District did not answer our questions about what led to that disparity. A spokeswoman for Kelly, the Park District chief, instead sent a statement criticizing the whole idea of assessing a playground&rsquo;s safety based on a single visit. &ldquo;The static-in-time inspection does not account for the routine site maintenance and work orders for repairs,&rdquo; the statement said.</p><p dir="ltr">Kelly&rsquo;s spokeswoman also touted Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s renovation program, dubbed Chicago Plays. Expected to cost $38 million over the next five years, the program aims to replace the play equipment at 300 sites and departs from the policy of installing the expensive poured rubber as part of every Park District renovation. Many of these playgrounds will have to stick with wood chips.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We have reduced a 20-year replacement cycle to 5 years by implementing a practical, cost-effective citywide construction program,&rdquo; the Park District statement said. &ldquo;We changed our strategy to do more with fewer resources, and reach more Chicagoans in the process.&rdquo;</p><p>Under the Chicago Plays banner, the Park District added 50 renovations to a list of 11 playgrounds otherwise slated for rehabilitation this year. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a paint job, it&rsquo;s a total redo of equipment,&rdquo; Emanuel said at a West Side playground this July. &ldquo;No other city is doing this.&rdquo;</p><p>But the renovation push, despite its scale, is not having a big impact in the South Side neighborhoods with those 40 low-scoring playgrounds. Just 8 of them are getting renovated this year (see <a href="#Map3">Map 3</a>).</p><p>&ldquo;The Park District is obviously not focusing on the worst playgrounds,&rdquo; Jaemey says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no justice in that.&rdquo;</p><p>At some of the playgrounds panned by the hospital but overlooked for renovation this year, officials have let the play equipment deteriorate. This week at Murray Park, 1743 W. 73rd St., some of the wooden rungs on the sole climbing structure were rotting. Others were loose or missing.</p><p>At another low-scoring South Side playground, the Park District has removed all the equipment except two swing sets, both decades-old. Drexel Playlot Park, 6931 S. Damen Ave., now looks like a vacant lot.</p><p><strong>Proving &lsquo;ownership&rsquo;</strong></p><p>If equity and safety don&rsquo;t solely determine the location and quality of Park District playgrounds, what other factors are in play?</p><p>One is funding. The Park District says it&rsquo;s spending about $125,000 per renovation in the Chicago Plays program. That&rsquo;s enough to replace all the equipment at the 300 playgrounds. &ldquo;It will be equitable across the city,&rdquo; says Rob Rejman, the district&rsquo;s planning and construction director.</p><p>But the Park District expects to attract a lot more funding for playground renovations during the program&rsquo;s five years, as it has in the past. Since 2007, Park District coffers have accounted for just 40 percent of playground funding, officials say. Another 35 percent has come from city sources ranging from tax increment-financing, to money leftover from last year&rsquo;s NATO summit, to a &ldquo;menu&rdquo; program in which each alderman controls funds for public-works projects in the ward.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MurrayPark.JPG" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 412px; width: 275px;" title="At Chicago’s Murray Park, 1743 W. 73rd St., some rungs of the sole climbing structure are rotting or loose. Others are missing. Murray is among dozens of South Side playgrounds the Park District did not renovate this year despite low marks from independent safety inspectors. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Another 18 percent of playground money has come from state of Illinois grants, the Park District says. The remaining 7 percent has come from private donors such as foundations, chambers of commerce and neighborhood groups.</p><p>&ldquo;We always welcome partnerships,&rdquo; Rejman says. &ldquo;The outside funding, though, comes where it comes. We don&rsquo;t have control over it.&rdquo;</p><p>That means it comes unevenly across the city. The aldermanic menu money for playgrounds, for example, tends to flow to the North Side, the Chicago Tribune has&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-05-16/news/ct-met-playground-disparity-0517--20100516_1_playgrounds-south-side-aldermen-renovations" target="_blank">reported</a>.</p><p>The funding imbalance played a role at the Piotrowski playground, where Jaemey takes her kids. Renovating that 1993 facility cost $314,000 but, according to the Park District, much of that sum went into a poured-rubber surface instead of play equipment. The Park District didn&rsquo;t manage to pin down any outside funding, a source involved with the project adds. Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22nd) confirms he didn&rsquo;t channel menu money to the project. So, as Jaemey observed, the renovation actually scaled the playground down.</p><p>Besides uneven funding, another factor helps determine playground locations and quality. &ldquo;You don&rsquo;t want to just helicopter in a playground,&rdquo; says Maria Dmyterko Stone, a program director of Friends of the Parks, a group that&rsquo;s working with the Park District on the Chicago Plays program. &ldquo;You want the community to want it, need it, desire it, claim it as theirs.&rdquo;</p><p>Stone says the community engagement helps protect playgrounds from litter bugs and vandals. The community also informs the Park District when a piece of play equipment breaks, she adds. Volunteers will even help rake wood chips to cover &ldquo;fall zones&rdquo; where the ground is bare.</p><p>Community members with a stake in a playground will also call police to sweep away people who don&rsquo;t belong there. &ldquo;It could be taken over by gangs,&rdquo; Stone says. &ldquo;It could be drug sales. People could be drinking in the park. And if you put a playground in there and the community hasn&rsquo;t taken ownership of it, you&rsquo;re not going to have kids playing there.&rdquo;</p><p>To demonstrate that &ldquo;ownership,&rdquo; the Chicago Plays program requires a community group &mdash; such as a park&rsquo;s advisory council or a block club &mdash; to apply for each renovation. The application includes a 50-signature petition, a letter of support from the local alderman, a community impact statement and a report on the playground&rsquo;s current condition. The application form also encourages visual evidence such as photos or video.</p><p>But many communities where high-quality playgrounds could make the greatest difference for kids also lack park advisory councils. Park District records show an advisory council at only a third of city parks. Without one, it&rsquo;s harder to apply for the renovation and raise funds to pay for a poured-rubber surface or extra equipment.</p><p>Chicago Plays thus embodies an old Chicago logic of investing in public infrastructure, first, where it has the greatest chance of &ldquo;success&rdquo; &mdash; and pushing areas that lack resources and clout to the back of the line. In this sense, Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s playground renovations look something like his <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893" target="_blank">bike sharing</a> docks and planned <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/bus-rapid-transit-%E2%80%98maximize-potential%E2%80%99-ashland-avenue-106738" target="_blank">bus rapid transit</a> routes.</p><p><a name="DataNotes"></a></p><p><a name="DataNotes"></a>Jaemey, our curious citizen, says it&rsquo;s not fair. &ldquo;Too many places where kids really need good playgrounds are not getting them,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;They keep getting left behind.&rdquo;</p><p><em><b>CONTRIBUTORS:&nbsp;</b>Reporting and data analysis by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a>. Geospatial analysis by <a href="http://www.robparal.com/" target="_blank">Rob Paral</a>. Maps, editing and additional reporting by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/sallee-0" target="_blank">Shawn Allee</a>. Follow Mitchell, WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>. </em></p><p><em><b>SOURCES:</b> Playground locations from the Chicago Park District and the Injury Prevention and Research Center of Ann &amp; Robert H. Lurie Children&rsquo;s Hospital of Chicago. Playground surfaces from IPRC, Friends of the Parks and Google Maps. Playground safety scores from IPRC. Age, race and ethnicity data from the 2010 Census of the U.S. Census Bureau. Poverty data from the bureau&rsquo;s 2007-2011 American Community Survey. </em></p><p><em><b>NOTES:</b> The terms &ldquo;children&rdquo; and &ldquo;kids&rdquo; refer to Chicago residents, ages 0-14. The racial and ethnic categories, as described by the Census Bureau, are &ldquo;One Race / Asian,&rdquo; &ldquo;One Race / Black or African American,&rdquo; &ldquo;Hispanic or Latino,&rdquo; &ldquo;Not Hispanic or Latino / White alone.&rdquo; An entire block is considered within a half mile of a playground if any portion of that block is within a half mile. The poverty data are subject to sampling variability that can lead to unexpected results for individual census tracts. Geospatial coding may plot playgrounds slightly off their exact locations; if you notice a significant error, please write Curious City Editor <a href="mailto:sallee@wbez.org">Shawn Allee</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 12 Sep 2013 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/playground-equity-park-district-comes-short-108668 West Ridge residents angry over zoo plans http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/west-ridge-residents-angry-over-zoo-plans-108180 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Indian Boundary Park Zoo.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid--6c218be-162f-17c1-9598-56468885ec20">A meeting Wednesday night to discuss what to do with the small zoo in the Indian Boundary Park on Chicago&rsquo;s far North Side turned heated, particularly during a short appearance by the district&rsquo;s alderman. The meeting was called by the Indian Boundary Park Advisory Council, a nine-year old volunteer organization that helps advocate for the park. It came in response to the Chicago Park District&rsquo;s plan to dismantle the zoo and replace it with a nature area of trees and plants.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The zoo is one of the things that made our park special,&rdquo; said Ron Rogers, an attorney and 20-year resident of West Ridge. Rogers said he used to take his children to the zoo when it had much more exotic animals like swans and llamas. When the zoo was first built in the 1920s it housed a single black bear. Today, the zoo is home only to a couple of goats and some chickens that live in fenced enclosures along the north border of the 13-acre park.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s one of the few treasures that we&rsquo;ve got,&rdquo; continued Rogers. &ldquo;All you have to do is go up and down Western Avenue, Touhy, Devon, see how the commercial district is eroding, some housing stock isn&rsquo;t what it had been. But it&rsquo;s the one thing that sets this neighborhood apart, that makes it a draw, that makes why people would choose to move up here.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Many of the more than 100 people who packed into the Warren Park District fieldhouse voiced a similar sentiment. Throughout the crowd, distrust of the Chicago Park District&rsquo;s motives and its commitment to executing an alternative plan for the site, ran high.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This is unfortunately part of the systematic dismantling of the zoo given to us by the Chicago Park District,&rdquo; said Advisory Council President Jennifer Albom, referring to the decline of the zoo. &ldquo;They have presented us with nothing, they have not paid for maintenance, they have not supervised or encouraged Lincoln Park Zoo to do what they should be doing.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Lincoln Park Zoo is responsible for the maintenance of the animals at the Indian Boundary Park Zoo.</p><p dir="ltr">Albom and others were also highly critical of Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th), who called two community meetings with the Park District to discuss the future of the zoo. Silverstein made a brief, unexpected appearance, prompting a barrage of criticism from constituents who felt they had not been adequately notified of her meetings.</p><p dir="ltr">Silverstein countered that she included the discussion of the zoo plans in her weekly newsletter. But some at the meeting, like Albom, said their attempts to share their concerns about those plans were ignored. Many asked the alderman to consider calling another community meeting with the Park District where they might be able to present their opposition to the nature area proposal.</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Parks District claims it would cost $2 million to make infrastructural improvements to bring in more animals, such as cows. Currently, the agency says it spends $90,000 a year to maintain the zoo.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;A responsible agency does not maintain status quo simply for the sake of maintaining status quo,&rdquo; wrote Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, spokesman for the Chicago Park District, in an e-mail. &ldquo;The Chicago Park District must constantly evaluate its parks and facilities to make certain that we are responding to the needs of the community while making fiscally responsible decisions.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">A visit to Indian Boundary Park Wednesday afternoon found dozens of families enjoying the expansive playground, picnicking, and children playing in a fountain. A handful strolled slowly by the enclosures in the back, hoping to catch a glimpse of the goats or chickens.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t live in the area, I live up by Logan Square,&rdquo; said Mario Meza, who was there with his young daughter. Meza said he grew up near the park and his children look forward to seeing the animals.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I wish they would have kept it maintained better,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;Maybe it could have drawn more people.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Indian Boundary Park Advisory Council has organized a <a href="http://www.thepetitionsite.com/225/705/785/save-indian-boundary-park-zoo/">petition </a>to challenge the zoo&rsquo;s closing, and plans a march at the park on Sunday at 10am.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 25 Jul 2013 09:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/west-ridge-residents-angry-over-zoo-plans-108180 Chicago’s South Shore Jazz Festival canceled http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-07/chicago%E2%80%99s-south-shore-jazz-festival-canceled-108057 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/3547441641_a6dac7d9bc_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><em>Updated 9 p.m.</em></p><p dir="ltr">The South Shore Jazz Festival, a long-standing summer tradition in Chicago&rsquo;s cultural scene, has been canceled.</p><p>The festival was founded in 1981 by <a href="http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/geraldine-de-haas-38">Geraldine de Haas</a>, a former singer and one of Chicago&rsquo;s most tireless jazz advocates.</p><p>De Haas modeled her lakeside festival on the famous Newport Jazz Festival. And she did attract some big stars, from Count Basie to Diane Reeves.</p><p>But for years, the festival has struggled to raise money. In fact it was almost canceled last year until DuSable Museum of African American History President and long-time festival supporter Carol Adams <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/chi-south-shore-jazz-festival-20120712,0,1206153.column">stepped in</a> at the last minute.</p><p dir="ltr">De Haas, who retired recently, handed the operation of the festival over to <a href="http://www.jazzunitesinc.org/">Jazz Unites</a>, a civic group she also founded. She said this year the new organizers were waiting to get their application approved from the Chicago Park District.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve only had since June to pull it together because that&rsquo;s when the park district said you have the right to do it,&rdquo; de Haas said. &ldquo;But June is not long enough. They have to raise at least $100,000.&rdquo;</p><p>A spokesperson for the park district confirmed that Jazz Unites was given official notice of approval on June 24, &quot;though as a returning event the group was informed months ago that partnership approval was very likely.&quot;</p><p>The Park District said it plans to work closely with Jazz Unites to bring back the festival in 2014.</p><p>Meanwhile, Delmarie Cobb, who is acting as a consultant to the festival (Cobb was also involved with the festival in the mid-2000s) said they&rsquo;re already reaching out to the park district now to secure the site for 2014.</p><p>The delay this year is actually in keeping with de Haas&rsquo; wishes. She said she wanted the new group to wait a year before re-launching the festival so they could &ldquo;do it right.&rdquo; She&rsquo;s confident the show will eventually go on.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s one of the prides of the city,&rdquo; said de Haas. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s definitely the pride of the South Side of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>And as a parting gift to de Haas and her husband (a noted jazz performer himself), who are moving to New Jersey, the festival organizers have renamed the festival in their honor.</p><div><span id="docs-internal-guid-4efdcd4d-e455-d01c-d936-7e561f148e22"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter and co-host of </span><a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Changing Channels,</span></a><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> a podcast about the future of television. Follow her on</span><a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">,</span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and</span><a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Instagram</span></a></span></div></p> Mon, 15 Jul 2013 16:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-07/chicago%E2%80%99s-south-shore-jazz-festival-canceled-108057 Solar pump moistens marsh to beckon rare birds http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/solar-pump-moistens-marsh-beckon-rare-birds-107347 <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/hegewsich-marsh-swan610p.jpg" title="A swan swims the open waters in Hegewisch Marsh, recently replenished by a solar-powered pump. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>Although Chicago was built from a swamp, wetlands remain only <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-04/hegewisch-past-and-present-97835" target="_blank">in the city&#39;s most remote corners</a>. <a href="http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/millennium-reserve/Pages/HegewischMarsh.aspx" target="_blank">Hegewisch Marsh</a> is a prime example of a <a href="http://web.extension.illinois.edu/illinoissteward/openarticle.cfm?ArticleID=479">hemi-marsh</a>, a mix of open water and stands of vegetation.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of the Calumet area used to be hemi-marshes, and there&rsquo;s not much of that habitat left,&rdquo; said Zhanna Yermakov, natural areas manager for the Chicago Park District, which acquired the 100-acre site from the Department of Environment when the city dissolved that department in 2011.</p><p>The Park District also found itself in control of a solar-powered pump that can draw water from the Little Calumet River to replenish a parched marsh during droughts. Though it was installed in 2008, the pump hadn&rsquo;t been turned on until this year. Now it could be part of a five-year restoration plan for this rare bird breeding ground.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/hegewsich-marsh-hunt610px.jpg" style="height: 197px; width: 305px; float: right;" title="Looking for frogs in Hegewisch Marsh. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" />The ebb and flow of marsh water gives life to a unique&nbsp;ecosystem favored by migratory birds. During the late 1980s, a suite of rare birds &mdash; yellowheaded blackbirds, black terns, common gallinules and others &mdash; frequented northeastern Illinois marshes. Since then there have generally been declines in those species, while others that prefer open water or shallow wetlands, like pied-billed grebes and sandhill cranes, have increased.</p><p>Arriving on the sodden edge of the 29-acre marsh itself, U.S. Fish &amp; Wildlife Service&nbsp;Biologist Mike Redmer is visibly impressed.</p><p>&ldquo;The last time I saw the marsh with this much water was probably 1999,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Redmer is leading a small group through the wetland in search of frogs for <a href="http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/millennium-reserve/Pages/UrbanBiodiversityWeek.aspx" target="_blank">Urban Biodiversity Week</a>. They turn up empty-handed but for some tadpoles and a hatchling painted turtle, no bigger than a half-dollar when it retracts its limbs into its shell.</p><p>The pumps appear to have worked, but Yermakov cautions it&rsquo;s hard to know how much of the water is runoff.</p><p>&ldquo;We weren&rsquo;t even sure the pumps were going to be operational,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>And fine-tuning a natural area is no easy task.</p><p>&ldquo;Figuring out how to manage the system is not simple,&quot; Yerkakov said. &quot;These sites don&rsquo;t come with owner&rsquo;s manuals.&rdquo;</p><p>Several frog species were once abundant in Hegewisch Marsh. While they remain, all have become more difficult to find. Invasive species have ravaged habitat once home to uncommon amphibian species like wood frogs and spotted salamanders. One prevalent invader, buckthorn, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/buckthorn-draws-out-coyotes-cripples-native-frog-development-107271" target="_blank">even cripples developing frogs with a chemical it uses to set the table for its advance</a>.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/keeping-aromatic-invader-bay-107163" target="_blank">As with many urban natural areas</a>, Hegewisch Marsh also has its issues with off-road vehicles and dirt bikes. Deep cuts from what look like either trucks or years of ATV traffic scar the marsh with bare beds in spots. But <a href="http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/millennium-reserve/Pages/HegewischMarsh.aspx" target="_blank">ongoing restoration efforts</a> have used federal dollars to convert the treaded ruts into corridors for amphibian habitat.</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/hegewsich-marsh-trail-before-and-after-610px.jpg" title="Scars from off-road vehicle traffic, left, make fitting habitat for amphibians after restoration, right. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>Yellowheaded blackbirds and spotted salamanders may make for rare sightings in Hegewisch Marsh these days, but the urban wetland is still a refuge for threatened species, thanks to ongoing management. Time will tell if the Park District&rsquo;s restoration plan &mdash; an effort of the Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Natural Resources, and the Chicago-based nonprofit Wetlands Initiative &mdash; will strike the right balance. But if last week&rsquo;s dewy hemi-marsh is any indication, the new pump may be a valuable tool in their fight.</p><p><object height="458" width="610"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157633647673232%2Fshow%2Fwith%2F8798151283%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157633647673232%2Fwith%2F8798151283%2F&amp;set_id=72157633647673232&amp;jump_to=8798151283" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157633647673232%2Fshow%2Fwith%2F8798151283%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157633647673232%2Fwith%2F8798151283%2F&amp;set_id=72157633647673232&amp;jump_to=8798151283" height="458" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="610"></embed></object></p></p> Thu, 23 May 2013 19:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/solar-pump-moistens-marsh-beckon-rare-birds-107347 Endangered herons make themselves at home in Lincoln Park http://www.wbez.org/news/endangered-herons-make-themselves-home-lincoln-park-107258 <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/heroncrop.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Black-crowned night heron in Lincoln Park. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" /></div><p>Just south of Chicago&rsquo;s Lincoln Park Zoo, there&rsquo;s a lovely promenade of trees, sometimes called an allee. This is a well-trafficked and noisy part of Lincoln Park, packed with joggers, soccer players and a perpetual stream of people walking their dogs.</p><p>It seems like an unlikely spot to find a species endangered in Illinois. But that&rsquo;s exactly what has happened.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8758103904_e90e84930a_z.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Mason Fidino of the Urban Wildlife Institute at the Lincoln Park Zoo. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" />I&rsquo;ve come here to meet with Mason Fidino, who works at Lincoln Park Zoo&rsquo;s Urban Wildlife Institute. As coordinator of wildlife management Fidino keeps track of the fish, insects, mammals and birds that live near the zoo&rsquo;s boardwalk.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">As far as I can tell, he has the coolest job in Chicago, though I can&rsquo;t absolutely swear to it. This guy actually gets paid to walk through Lincoln Park each morning, though he&rsquo;s not just taking a random stroll of course. Bincoculars and iBird app in hand, he carefully keeps tabs on the number and species of birds in Lincoln Park, stretching from Diversey to North Avenue.<p>His route is very specific, and for good reason. When a colleague purchased an old book about Lincoln Park&rsquo;s migratory bird community from 1898 to 1903, they decided to update the data they discovered.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;And so we saw this information and we went, &#39;Wow, that&rsquo;s really cool! Let&rsquo;s do science with it,&#39;&quot; Fidino said. &quot;And so now I&rsquo;m kind of recreating these walks with a little bit more standardized methods now.&quot;</div><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/nests.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Black-crowned night heron nests along Lincoln Park’s allee. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" />One of the biggest &quot;celebrities&quot; along Fidino&rsquo;s route is the encampment of over 250 black-crowned night herons at the allee.</p><p>They&rsquo;re a colony nesting species, Fidino said. They really prefer to be in close proximity to one another when they build nests and give birth.</p><p>The social pull must be strong. Because every day the population grows, and at last count there were over 440 of these endangered herons throughout the Lincoln Park Area.</p><p>&quot;Prior to 2009 we only had a small number of night herons that nested here and this was only in the island and nature boardwalk,&quot; Fidino said.</p><p><strong>Where they came from</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image ">To understand why these birds have taken up residence, first you have to understand where they came from. Several bird experts advise that I must talk to Walter Marcisz, a guy with some detailed information about this bird. Marcisz has monitored black-crowned night herons in the Lake Calumet area for several decades.</div><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/marsh.jpg" style="float: right; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="Indian Ridge Marsh. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" />So here we are, 20 miles southeast of Lincoln Park, in an area known for its many years of industrial development&mdash;and the abysmal land and water quality that stemmed from that. Specifically, we&rsquo;re at Indian Ridge Marsh, stretching along Torrence Avenue between 116<sup>th</sup> and 122<sup>nd</sup> streets. We&rsquo;re here because this was the last significant nesting area of black-crowned night herons in the Lake Calumet area before they packed their bags and started their great migration to Lincoln Park.</p><p>Wetland grasses and spongy black earth give way to what I can only call &quot;sink mud.&quot; Ahead, I see long, meandering stretches of water that seem to melt into a distant landfill and a lonely railroad track. To this girl from the Northwest side &ndash; this is like another land.</p><p>Black-crowned herons have lived here for at least a hundred years. That is documented by ornithologists. But Marcisz thinks it&rsquo;s likely the birds actually lived here for thousands of years. &quot;This was a pristine wetland,&quot; he said. &quot;It defies logic that they wouldn&rsquo;t have been here.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">In the late 80s and early 90s, Marcisz would regularly get counts of 1,500 birds at a time. But the census count declined year by year and by 2000 or so, there were only a few hundred pair left. Then 200 pair, then 50 pair. And today? There are none.</div><p>So why&rsquo;d they all go?</p><p>&quot;A lot of the other herons that nest in this area are larger species,&quot; Marcsiz said, and they pushed black-crowned night herons out of the colonies. But in one sense the black crowned herons have an edge over the big guys.</p><p>&quot;They are much more forgiving in terms of nest sites,&quot; Marcisz said. &quot;They will nest in reeds above the water or [in] a number of other sites that other herons are not so tolerant of.&quot;</p><p>And so when pushed around by the big guys in this marshy neighborhood, black-crowned night <img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/8758104618_d1995f25b6_z.jpg" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="Walter Marcisz in a stand of phragmites at Indian Ridge Marsh. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" />herons made their nests in phragmites, a tall invasive type of water reed. All well and good for a while. But in recent years, the water level has fluctuated like crazy.</p><p>&quot;If the water is too high, the nest gets flooded. If the water is too low and there&rsquo;s a drought, they&rsquo;re susceptible to predation. And to my way of thinking, that contributed heavily to their looking for a new site,&quot; Marcsiz said.</p><p>Okay, so the birds abandoned this marsh. But what makes Marcsiz think these are the same black-crowned night herons that ended up in Lincoln Park?</p><p>Here&rsquo;s one clue: Before the mass exodus, one evening he and others counted approximately 600 black-crowned night herons leaving the Calumet area, en masse, to feed. And they had another crew of observers set up in Lincoln Park, just waiting. About a half hour later the Lincoln Park crew observed about the same number of herons headed to Lake Michigan, apparently seeking fish.</p><p>&quot;I guess in April there&rsquo;s a big run of alewives and that&rsquo;s mostly what they&rsquo;re bringing to feed their babies,&quot; Marcisz said.&nbsp;</p><p>And at some point some of these birds may have figured out there&rsquo;s an easier way.</p><p>&quot;Common sense, right?&quot; Marcisz said. &quot;Why travel 20 miles when you can just set up camp right next to Lake Michigan?&quot;</p><p><strong>Advent of the citizen scientist</strong></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/lady.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Jean Valerius, taking her own census. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" />Back at Lincoln Park, I&rsquo;ve noticed that these red-eyed birds are drawing big attention from park goers who aren&rsquo;t normally birders. A surprising number of passersby can tell me what type of birds they are and a little about their behavior. I&rsquo;ve even run into a few of what I&rsquo;ve dubbed, &quot;citizen scientists.&quot; People who&rsquo;ve taken it upon themselves to study these creatures in depth.</div><p>Eleven-year-old Hadrien is one. He&rsquo;s here for a school project but also hopes to become a nature photographer one day. He&rsquo;s been watching the herons build their nests.</p><p>&quot;They actually grab the end of a branch that they want and they fly backwards,&quot; Hadrien said, &quot;to try to rip it off instead of twisting it with their beak. Which I thought they would do.&quot;</p><p>Meanwhile, Jean Valerius has brought a pencil and an index card to the park. She&rsquo;s numbered each tree on the east and west sides of the allee and carefully records the numbers of birds she spots in each.</p><p>Not everyone, however, is quite so solicitous of these birds. Mariann Pushker, for one, is put out by all the droppings.</p><p>&quot;They&rsquo;re ruining the park as far as I&rsquo;m concerned,&quot; Pushker said. &quot;I&rsquo;m sorry that you&rsquo;re an endangered species, but go home!&quot;</p><p>Pushker&rsquo;s friend Patricia McCloud is also annoyed but wants to know if the birds are endangered.</p><p>&quot;I don&rsquo;t know,&quot; Pushker said. &quot;I wish I had a BB gun. I&rsquo;d shoot &#39;em at night.&quot;</p><p>For the next few months no one has to worry about&nbsp;droppings from under the nests. Because, as they&rsquo;ve done for the past few years, the Chicago Park District has just fenced the area off to protect the fledglings, the baby birds, who sometimes fall to the path.</p><p>But fence or no fence, says Jean Valerius, you can still see a lot.</p><p>&quot;Last summer when they were learning to fly, they kind of used this as a runway to take off,&quot; Valerius laughs.</p><p>Most park goers seem to find it quite a show. And it&rsquo;s one that will go on at least until August.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 17 May 2013 17:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/endangered-herons-make-themselves-home-lincoln-park-107258 A lakefront landing strip for migrating birds http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/lakefront-landing-strip-migrating-birds-106429 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Burnham%20Wildlife%20Corridor%20Map_2.jpg" style="width: 610px;" title="(Courtesy Chicago Park District)" /></p><p>They may have evolved to make the trip, but migratory birds are still tired after flying for thousands of miles. As a major stopover for roughly 300 species of birds, Chicago&rsquo;s lakeshore can be a good place to rest.</p><p>Building off similar work east along the waterfront, the Chicago Park District will restore native habitat for migratory songbirds along a 2.2 mile strip of land sandwiched by railroad tracks and Lake Shore Drive between 31st and 47th Streets.</p><p>The Park District is calling the 103-acre parcel the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. It includes land east of Lake Shore Drive, where restoration is already underway.</p><p>Shirlee and Douglas Hoffman, both retirees, live on 32<sup>nd</sup>&nbsp;Street, just steps from the proposed site.&nbsp;The Hoffmans said they have seen more kestrels, hawks and warblers than ever before since work began on the corridor several years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;We can really notice the difference so far,&rdquo; Shirlee Hoffman said. &ldquo;And we&rsquo;re hoping that this will continue that work.&rdquo;</p><p>Most of the new 41.5-acre stretch will be woodland, seeded with oak species <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/reuniting-nature-nations-backyards-105473">known for fostering hundreds of species of caterpillars</a> &mdash;&nbsp;a key component of migrating songbirds&rsquo; diet. In August, Park District officials hope to organize a massive volunteer event to plant 125,000 trees in one day.</p><p>Before then the Park District will have to clear out invasive buckthorn and cottonwood that has taken over this narrow outpost. Years of runoff from the neighboring highway and railroad tracks have only worsened an already lackluster soil profile. But oaks are hardy, park officials said, and should take root once restoration work clears the way.</p><p>This isn&rsquo;t a restoration project per se &mdash; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-has-chicago%E2%80%99s-coastline-changed-over-decades-104328">the land originally came from lake fill</a>, so it&rsquo;s more accurate to look at the Burnham Corridor as habitat enhancement. If it is successfully rehabilitated, this skinny strip of neglected land could become a welcome layover for the more than five million birds that pass through Chicago each migratory season.</p><p>&ldquo;Even though it might not be a fully thriving ecosystem,&rdquo; said Mike Redmer with the U.S. Fish &amp; Wildlife Service, &ldquo;it&rsquo;s providing a place for them to crash. Anything you can give these migrating birds along the lakefront is going to help.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/71YVxFOU6s8" width="560"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 02 Apr 2013 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/lakefront-landing-strip-migrating-birds-106429 Mark White Square and McGuane Park http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-11/mark-white-square-and-mcguane-park-104103 <p><p><em>Give my regards to Skid Row,&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Remember me to Mark White Square . . .</em></p><p>Those are the opening lines of a song that went around town when I was a kid, a parody with Chicago landmarks of Cohan&rsquo;s &ldquo;Give My Regards to Broadway.&rdquo; Skid Row was the flophouse section of Madison Street. Mark White Square was a pocket-park located at Halsted and 29<sup>th</sup> streets.</p><p>Today Skid Row has been gentrified. Mark White Square has changed, too. Now it&rsquo;s called McGuane Park.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-12--McGuane Park.JPG" title=" McGuane Park today--'Established 1904?'" /></div></div><p>The Chicago Park District renamed this 10-acre facility in 1960 to honor the recently-deceased John F. McGuane. McGuane was a World War I veteran who had been active in various civic organizations and had served on the park board. He&rsquo;d lived across the street from the park all his life.</p><p>What about Mark White? Who was he?</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/12-12--Mark%20White%20Square%20%281910%29_0.jpg" style="float: right; width: 338px; height: 225px;" title="Mark White Square, 1910 (University of Chicago Map Collection)" /></div><p>Mark White was born in 1837 at Salisbury, Vermont. He came to Chicago in 1871 and found work as foremen of a construction crew in the South Side parks. He eventually became general superintendent of the entire South Park system.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">In 1891 White was living in a house near Washington Park. On the morning of March 4 he woke up feeling sick, and decided to stay home to rest. As the day went on he grew worse. The doctor was called, but before he arrived White had died. He was 54 years old.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The cause of death was listed as apoplexy. White was survived by his wife, three grown daughters, and his widowed father. &ldquo;He was a faithful, tireless, competent man,&rdquo; the <em>Chicago Journal</em> said. &ldquo;His life seemed devoted to the parks under his care.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Some years later, the South Park District began acquiring and clearing land to build a number of small parks. In 1904 the park at Halsted and 29<sup>th</sup> was dedicated to its late superintendent. Mark White Square remained in place until the name was abruptly dropped in 1960.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-12--Mark White Square, 1905 (LofC).jpg" title="Open-air gymnasium at Mark White Square, 1905 (Library of Congress)" /></div></div><p>It&rsquo;s not my place to compare the respective merits of Mark White and John McGuane. Nor do I think the name of the park should be changed back. By now it&#39;s been McGuane Park nearly as long as it was Mark White Square.</p><p>But if Mr. McGuane had died in more recent times, he would probably be given an honorary street, and the name of the park would stay the same. So in fairness, shouldn&rsquo;t the city put up a few of those brown signs in memory of Mark White?</p></p> Tue, 11 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-11/mark-white-square-and-mcguane-park-104103