WBEZ | West Side http://www.wbez.org/tags/west-side Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Authorities: 2 teens shot near Chicago bus http://www.wbez.org/news/authorities-2-teens-shot-near-chicago-bus-111209 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bus.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago police say two teenagers have been injured in a morning shooting near a public bus on the city&#39;s West Side.</p><p>Police spokeswoman Janel Sedevic says preliminary information shows the shooting occurred on a sidewalk near a Chicago Transit Authority bus just before 10 a.m. Tuesday. She says two 15-year-olds, a male and female, were both injured and sent to an area hospital. The male was shot in the chest and reported in serious condition.</p><p>Police say the offender fled on foot. No one is in custody.</p><p>CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski says one bus line in the vicinity has been temporarily rerouted. She says Chicago police are handling the investigation.</p></p> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 13:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/authorities-2-teens-shot-near-chicago-bus-111209 On Chicago's West Side, mothers and children fight addiction side by side http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-west-side-mothers-and-children-fight-addiction-side-side-110281 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Womens%20Treatment%20Center%20by%20Bill%20Healy%201.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Clinical Director Florence Wright holds a child at The Women’s Treatment Center. Wright oversees day-to-day operations of the center’s daycare, crisis nursery and preschool classroom among other things. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" />Even after her drug and alcohol addictions had forced her onto the streets with an infant son in tow, Jennifer still managed to get high and drunk. She sometimes smuggled alcohol into homeless shelters by hiding it in her son&rsquo;s sippy cup.</p><p>There were many similar stories during the 18 years she abused drugs and alcohol. Until, in the pre-dawn light one morning in late July 2011, she checked herself into The Women&rsquo;s Treatment Center, a West Side drug rehabilitation facility that specializes in assisting pregnant and postpartum women dealing with addiction.</p><p>Jennifer can&rsquo;t pinpoint why she chose that day to try to change her life. She had known about the center because, as she says, she used to &ldquo;rip and run this whole block drinking and getting high.&rdquo;</p><p>Looking back, she doesn&#39;t even think that, as she wandered up to the front door, she knew she wanted to get sober.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t know alcohol was the problem,&rdquo; Jennifer said. (WBEZ is using only her first name to protect her privacy.) &ldquo;When I walked&nbsp;into the Women&rsquo;s Treatment Center, I didn&rsquo;t know I stepped into hope.&rdquo;</p><p>That morning, Jennifer joined about 2.5 million people who seek help each year for drug- and alcohol-related addictions.</p><p>The Women&rsquo;s Treatment Center, 140 North Ashland Ave., is one of nine places in Illinois that allow mothers undergoing treatment to live with their children.</p><p>The hope is that, with their children present, mothers will not only have a better chance of breaking their addictions but can also develop parenting and lifestyle skills, strengthening their families.&nbsp;</p><p>Experts say there are many benefits to treating women with their children. Allowing the children to live on-site usually prolongs the mother&rsquo;s time in treatment, said Nicola Conners-Burrow, an associate professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of Arkansas.</p><p>&ldquo;Longer lengths of stay in treatment are quite predictive of better post-treatment outcomes, including reduced substance use, increases in employment, and decreases in symptoms of mental health problems,&rdquo; Conners-Burrow said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Womens%20Treatment%20Center%20by%20Bill%20Healy%207.JPG" style="height: 266px; width: 400px; float: right;" title="The Women’s Treatment Center, as seen from the El platform at Lake Street, looking south on Ashland Ave. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" />When the center opened in 1990, most of the women came in addicted to crack and powder cocaine.&nbsp; Now, they are more likely to abuse heroin.&nbsp;</p><p>When a mother comes to the center, the severity of her addiction determines her treatment path.</p><p>Women are placed in different units based upon their needs for parenting sessions, budgeting classes and job placement programs.</p><p>Children up to five years old are allowed to stay with their mother. Here, these children, many of whom would otherwise be bouncing from shelter to shelter or in other temporary situations, can attend daycare or preschool every day.</p><p>&ldquo;If moms can make a difference in those first three years and really be able to really bond and have that relationship, those kids tend to do really well,&rdquo; said Dr. Lisa Parks-Johnson, director of the center&rsquo;s parenting services.</p><p>Even with their children around, mothers sometimes find it difficult to focus. Relapse rates for drug addictions range from 40 percent to 60 percent of patients, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Womens%20Treatment%20Center%20by%20Bill%20Healy%202.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="A woman pushes a stroller across the street from The Women’s Treatment Center. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" />In April, another client, Brandi, was at the center for her second attempt to get clean. A mother of three, she came back to the treatment center because of her abuse of heroin and cocaine, she said. Her two oldest children were born addicted to methadone, morphine, and cocaine.</p><p>Brandi lasted only a month at the center in 2012 before returning to her former life. She was in jail on another drug charge and pregnant when the court sent her back, and she&rsquo;s been at the center for about a year.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of people judge me because I have children,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just not that easy. Now that I&rsquo;ve gotten clean, this child doesn&rsquo;t have to know the old me. I want this more than anything.&rdquo;</p><p>In Conners-Burrow&rsquo;s studies, she has found not disrupting the parent-child relationship helps reduce regression.</p><p>&ldquo;Living apart from one&rsquo;s children has been associated with higher rates of relapse,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We then see, of course, the benefits to the child of participating in programs like this, with a number of evaluations showing developmental gains for the child and improvements in parenting for the mother.&rdquo;</p><p>With their children around them, women don&rsquo;t have to worry about when the children will be fed next and who is taking care of them&mdash;that remains their job, Parks-Johnson said.</p><p>&ldquo;I know that not everyone is going to make it on my time,&rdquo; said Florence Wright, the center&rsquo;s clinical director.&nbsp; &ldquo;It&rsquo;s about their time. It&rsquo;s about planting a seed and maybe this seed is not the one that is going to make a difference, but if we keep planting and digging deep, then ultimately a flower will bloom.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Bill Healy is an independent producer in Chicago. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/chicagoan" target="_blank">@chicagoan</a>.&nbsp;Richard Steele is a WBEZ reporter and host.</em></p><p><em>This story was supported through Northwestern University&rsquo;s Social Justice News Nexus Fellowship. Will Houp and Caroline Cataldo contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 16:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-west-side-mothers-and-children-fight-addiction-side-side-110281 Northwestern trauma surgeon finds link between booze and bullets http://www.wbez.org/news/northwestern-trauma-surgeon-finds-link-between-booze-and-bullets-108728 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Liquor Store.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Dr. Marie Crandall was at UCLA when riots broke out in Los Angeles in the early &lsquo;90s. In the aftermath, activists there zeroed in on liquor stores, identifying them as as hotspots for violence. Many sought to have licenses revoked&mdash;but store owners rebuffed and said there was no data to support the claims. And they were right.</p><p>While the discussion about a potential link between booze and bullets has persisted over the last 20-plus years, the data dam remained dry.</p><p>So Crandall, now an associate professor of surgery at Northwestern&rsquo;s Feinberg School of Medicine, decided to crunch Chicago&rsquo;s numbers. She and her research partners used data from the Illinois State Trauma Registry from 1999 - 2009 to geocode all the gunshot wounds that presented to trauma centers in Chicago during that period. They cross referenced the data with the locations of liquor licenses held in the area.</p><p>&ldquo;I was not surprised that there was an association in our again, already distressed communities. I was surprised at the strength of the association in a few of these areas,&rdquo; Crandall said.</p><p>The study found that in some South and West Side neighborhoods, a person is up to 500 times more likely to get shot hanging out by a place with a liquor license than they are standing three blocks away.</p><p>That was not the case in more affluent areas of the city. And Crandall said she thought the geographic trend reflected other issues facing Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;If you looked at the maps, you would see that the trauma deserts, and these neighborhoods that have the association with liquor licenses and food deserts and places where we&rsquo;re closing elementary schools&mdash;all seem to overlap,&rdquo; she explained.</p><p>Crandall said she hopes that when the study is published in a couple of months, it will inform discussions at the city level about potential to engage the business community and public health officials about this association and potential solutions.</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Sep 2013 20:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/northwestern-trauma-surgeon-finds-link-between-booze-and-bullets-108728 Former inmate brings yoga to Chicago’s West Side http://www.wbez.org/news/former-inmate-brings-yoga-chicago%E2%80%99s-west-side-108571 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/130830_Austin Yoga 1_kk.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A man who spent nearly half of his life in prison for murder is opening a yoga studio in one of Chicago&rsquo;s more violent West Side neighborhoods.</p><p>Marshawn Feltus hopes his new yoga studio will bring peace to the troubled streets of Austin.</p><p>On a summer day, Feltus walked past boarded-up buildings and groups of people clustered on front stoops and street corners.</p><p>He and two staff members wore matching t-shirts and carried yoga mats.</p><p>They regularly recruit people this way for their yoga studio -- the first in Austin.</p><p>The first group he approached just blankly stared at him from the front porch they were sitting on, but he pulled a teenage boy aside and started talking to him.</p><p>Feltus told his story to everyone he ran into along Chicago Avenue that day. Within a few minutes of recruiting, he had a six-foot-tall former inmate reaching high into the air and breathing deeply.</p><p>He says he knows what young people on the streets are going through because he was a gang member 20 years ago -- in the same neighborhood.</p><p>Feltus was in a gang, and what started out as an argument and fistfight over territory, ended with him seeking retaliation.</p><p>He shot a guy twice and killed him.</p><p>&ldquo;The crime I committed was some of the most senseless violence -- much of what you see today,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>That&rsquo;s one of the reasons he recruits on the streets of Austin.<br />&ldquo;I have a specific and a personal mission for the young black males -- to show them there&rsquo;s more to their lives than just hanging out on the street corner,&rdquo; said Feltus.</p><p>But Feltus didn&rsquo;t make that connection right away. He spent the first half of his sentence the same way he lived on the street -- being angry and getting into fights, he said.</p><p>About halfway through his sentence, two things changed, said Feltus.</p><p>He found new meaning in a faith he grew up with, even though he can&rsquo;t point to a specific instance, he said.</p><p>&ldquo;It was an accumulation. It happened in bits and pieces,&rdquo; said Feltus.</p><p>Around the same time, he said he and the other prisoners started watching another inmate stretching in the yard. They tried to guess what he was doing.</p><p>&ldquo;We called him Buddha. We actually thought he was really weird at first. He&rsquo;d be out in the yard doing these strange poses,&rdquo; said Feltus.</p><p>Buddha, whose real name is Bartosz Leszczynski, invited Feltus to his prison yoga classes, but Feltus wasn&rsquo;t exactly looking to change his ways.</p><p>But Buddha was persistent.</p><p>&ldquo;Finally, I went to my first yoga class in prison and I could have married yoga,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>He said the soothing practice was different than anything he had ever done.</p><p>Soon after, Buddha was transferred to another prison and asked Feltus to take over his class.</p><p>Feltus would teach anywhere between 20 to 200 inmates at a time. They would use state-issued towels instead of yoga mats.</p><p>A noted psychiatry and violence prevention expert sees the value in the practice.</p><p>Dr. Carl Bell thinks Feltus can reach young people on the West Side through mastering an art that teaches discipline and breath control.</p><p>&ldquo;You have a model that works to help you calm down and relax, you&rsquo;ve got a skill which gives you a sense of power over your own body. So, it doesn&rsquo;t matter where you&rsquo;re from,&rdquo; said Bell.</p><p>After being released from prison two years ago, Feltus worked at Bethel New Life on North Lamon Avenue, where he went from a volunteer janitor to store manger of one of the community center&rsquo;s retail stores.&nbsp;</p><p>But yoga was his passion and within two years of being released from prison, he completed an <a href="http://ttp://bethelnewlife.org/our-investments/community-economic-development/business-development/" target="_blank">entrepreneurship training program</a> at Bethel while taking classes to become a certified yoga instructor.</p><p>He graduated from the entrepreneurship training program a day after he was laid off at Bethel due to restructuring, he said.</p><p>But that only gave him more time to focus on starting his own yoga studio.</p><p>He held the first class earlier this month at Bethel, in a chapel with stained glass windows.</p><p>Feltus taught the group of six students from a stage overlooking them.</p><p>Two long-time Austin residents, Deloris Bingham and Sarah Evans, practiced yoga next to each other.</p><p>After class, the women talked about what having a yoga studio in their own community means to them.</p><p>Bingham said she hopes the studio succeeds because she hopes it will help return the neighborhood to what it was.</p><p>&ldquo;When I was raising my children when I first got the home, about 30 years ago, it was nothing like this, no shooting everyday, are you serious? Killing kids and stuff -- they don&rsquo;t care,&rdquo; said Bingham.</p><p>Evans said she thinks yoga can help stop the violence she sees in parts of her neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;When you take time to focus on yourself, you don&rsquo;t have time for all this craziness out here, yoga promotes peace within. And when you got peace within, you got peace without,&rdquo; said Evans.&nbsp;</p><p>Feltus said he hopes ACT Yoga -- which stands for awareness, change and triumph -- will provide a safe place for the neighborhood and a different way to deal with aggression, just like it did for the prisoners he taught.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;When we made the call to breathe in, you exhale and let it all go. When you come to yoga, that&rsquo;s what you are,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>When doing yoga with the prisoners, all their differences dissolved -- there was no race and no gangs, said Feltus.</p><p>And he said he&rsquo;s excited to bring that to people in the Austin community, especially young black men, because he said he&rsquo;s been where they are now.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t feel like I&rsquo;ll be able to go out and save the world, but if I could just grab me a few guys every day or every week and get them to see it -- that&rsquo;s my contribution,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Katie Kather is an arts and culture reporting intern at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/ktkather" target="_blank">@ktkather</a>.</p></p> Fri, 30 Aug 2013 10:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-inmate-brings-yoga-chicago%E2%80%99s-west-side-108571 City tackles crime with demolitions http://www.wbez.org/news/city-tackles-crime-demolitions-107840 <p><p>Carl Carpenter has lived most of his 41 years in Englewood, starting at a time when the area was full of houses. But things have changed.</p><p>&ldquo;Every other block, you&rsquo;ve got anywhere between 5 to 6 vacant lots,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Some of those vacancies were part of collaboration between the Chicago Police Department and Department of Buildings to demolish structurally unsound properties that also bred criminal activity. About 300 buildings were knocked down in the last year.<br /><br />Carpenter, who lives with relatives in the South Side neighborhood, doesn&rsquo;t think the plan is a real solution to curb crime.<br /><br />&ldquo;If that&rsquo;s the best you can do, stop playing,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;That ain&rsquo;t fixing to do nothing. What&rsquo;s that going to stop?&rdquo;</p><p>Carpenter said the strategy of tearing down vacant homes makes it harder for low-income residents who may live in the foreclosed or abandoned properties.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s people who live there,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;You gonna force them to be homeless and force them into crime?&rdquo;</p><p>The Chicago Police Department said in the target area of the 3rd, 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th police districts, overall crime has dropped.</p><p>In the police district that covers Englewood, murders and overall crime are both down 19 percent from last year. Shootings are down 38 percent.</p><p>More than 100 properties in the area were demolished during this time.<br /><br />Leo Schmitz is the deputy chief of the 7th district. He said gang members use vacant buildings on strategic blocks to store either narcotics or weapons.</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/Screen%20Shot%202013-06-25%20at%203.43.30%20PM.png" style="float: right; height: 414px; width: 280px;" title="A neighbor of this Englewood apartment building who called himself &quot;Big Homie&quot; said he felt safer after the building was recently boarded up. (WBEZ/Tricia Bobeda)" />Schmitz said it&rsquo;s largely the community that brings problems to police attention. He said officials work with property owners first and only use demolition as a last resort.</div><p>&ldquo;Whether it&rsquo;s boarding it up, whether it&rsquo;s fixing it up and getting new tenants in, all of that is brought to the table before demolition is performed,&rdquo; he said.<br />&nbsp;<br />Asiaha Butler is the founder of Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.) She said her organization works with the 7th district often.<br /><br />&ldquo;I know the CAPS officers,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re doing a lot of great work. I don&rsquo;t know how strategic the plans are overall [that I] can say is making a huge impact on the community.&rdquo;<br /><br />Butler is a property owner on a block with very few neighbors. She doesn&rsquo;t like to see demolitions.<br /><br />&ldquo;But at the same time you don&rsquo;t want to have havens where people can do criminal activity,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I definitely see a fast track of the demolishing of buildings. I don&rsquo;t necessarily see a fast track in curing the criminal activity that&rsquo;s happening there.&rdquo;</p><p>She said there needs to be more collaboration among residents, police and organizations for a plan to work.<br /><br />&ldquo;The city said they&rsquo;re gonna do this, but we on the block know that something else needs to happen,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />Butler said part of that is getting people to invest in properties in the community. She&rsquo;s hopeful that the market <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/residents-city-tackle-problems-around-vacant-homes-and-lots-107825" target="_blank">is slowly turning around</a>.<br /><br />In another part of Englewood, litter collects against some abandoned chairs in a large empty lot. A family that lives across the street is just arriving home.</p><p>A 19-year-old resident who didn&rsquo;t want to give his real name said to call him Big Homie. He says new streetlights and more secured buildings make his block feel safer.<br /><br />He remembers his uncle living in the house across the street before it was demolished. He points out a large boarded up apartment building on the block.<br /><br />&ldquo;It was a good place at one point, but the gangs took over,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s done now. They boarded everything up.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Susie An is WBEZ&rsquo;s business reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/soosieon" target="_blank">@soosieon.</a></em></p></p> Tue, 25 Jun 2013 15:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/city-tackles-crime-demolitions-107840 Narcotics task force takes aim at Mexico to Chicago drug trafficking http://www.wbez.org/news/narcotics-task-force-takes-aim-mexico-chicago-drug-trafficking-107796 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3567_Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and Anita Alvarez.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A team of federal agents and police officers arrested 21 men allegedly involved in drug dealing on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>Jack Riley, head of the Chicago office of the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration, said the arrests were the first major case for a new narcotics strike force.</p><p>Early on Thursday, the strike force executed search warrants on nine Chicago residences and two cars, arresting 21 alleged drug dealers.</p><p>Another two men who were also indicted are still at large.</p><p>The arrested men are due in court for hearings next week.</p><p>According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, the men arrested were allegedly involved in selling cocaine and heroin in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.</p><p>The arrests were the result of a nine-month investigation that is still ongoing.</p><p>Along with the arrests, law enforcement officials seized about three pounds of heroin and nearly nine pounds of cocaine.</p><p>Special Agent Riley said the drugs would be worth millions of dollars on the street.</p><p>&ldquo;Another great day for the good guys here in Chicago,&rdquo; Riley said at a press conference announcing the drug bust.</p><p>He said the arrests were part of a continuing effort to cripple the supply of drugs from Mexico into Chicago.</p><p>Specifically, this operation was aimed at finding and bringing down what Riley called the &ldquo;choke point&rdquo; where the Sinaloa drug cartel and Chicago street dealers connect.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got to make the connections, even if it takes us back into Mexico and Central and South America. The idea is to eliminate the organizations,&rdquo; Riley said.</p><p>He added that when he and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy discussed the narcotic strike force last year they &ldquo;envisioned it doing exactly what it did today.&rdquo;</p><p>McCarthy said the new task force works because the Chicago Police Department and the DEA have different, but complementary aims.</p><p>For the police, the goal is to &ldquo;eliminate street corner markets&rdquo; and make Chicago safer, and for the DEA it is to find the larger drug suppliers.</p><p>With the task force, McCarthy said, the work his department does on the ground can help the federal agents in their pursuit of high-level drug traffickers. And the investigations done by the DEA can aid the Chicago police.</p><p>McCarthy said the drug bust will have a big impact on crime in Chicago</p><p>&ldquo;Much of the violence on the West Side of Chicago &hellip; a lot of it revolves around the narcotics trade,&rdquo; McCarthy said.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 10:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/narcotics-task-force-takes-aim-mexico-chicago-drug-trafficking-107796 West Garfield Park, past and present http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/west-garfield-park-past-and-present-107658 <p><p>In 1869 the West Side Park Board created three major parks.&nbsp;One of them, Central Park, was later renamed Garfield Park.&nbsp;The neighborhood immediately west of this park is Community Area 26&ndash;West Garfield Park (WGP).</p><p>Settlement here began in the 1840s, when a plank road was laid along the line of Lake Street.&nbsp;Chicago&rsquo;s first railroad came through the area in 1848.&nbsp;The railroad became the Chicago &amp; North Western, and later built&nbsp;train shops&nbsp;near today&rsquo;s Keeler Avenue.</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/06-17--01--Madison%20%40%20Pulaski-b%20%282013%29.JPG" title="The heart of West Garfield Park--Madison and Pulaski" /></div><p>But it was the park that really got the community going.&nbsp;New construction sprang up in the area around it.&nbsp;There were single family homes and some large apartments, though two-flats were predominant.&nbsp;Graystone was popular.</p><p>A gentlemen&rsquo;s&nbsp;trotting club&nbsp;operated along the east side of Crawford (Pulaski) south of Madison.&nbsp;Gambling kingpin Mike McDonald took over the track in 1888.&nbsp;The Garfield Park Race Track became the center of controversy, as neighbors feared for their property values. There were shootings and one near riot.&nbsp;The track closed for good in 1906.</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/06-17--02-WGP%20Map.jpg" title="" /></div><p>In 1893 the West Side&rsquo;s first elevated railroad&ndash;another Mike McDonald project&ndash;went up&nbsp;over Lake Street.&nbsp;This line was soon joined by the Garfield Park &lsquo;L&rsquo;&nbsp;at Harrison Street.&nbsp;Now downtown Chicago was only minutes away.&nbsp;More people flocked to WGP.</p><p>The community reached residential maturity in 1919.&nbsp;The largest ethnic group was the Irish, and the St. Mel&rsquo;s complex on Washington Boulevard took on impressive proportions.&nbsp;There was also a significant Russian Jewish settlement.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>WGP&rsquo;s boom continued into the 1920s.&nbsp;The shopping district along Madison Street was one of the busiest outside the Loop.&nbsp;The 4,000-seat Marbro Theater was among the city&rsquo;s largest.&nbsp;The nearby Paradise was slightly smaller, but was often called &ldquo;the world&rsquo;s most beautiful movie house.&rdquo;</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/06-17--04--Pulaski%20Rd%20%40%20Madison%20St%20%281934%29-view%20north.jpg" title="Pulaski at Madison, looking north toward the Guyon Hotel, 1934 (CTA photo)" /></div><p>Cultural institutions included an active West Side Historical Society and the Legler Regional Branch of the Chicago Public Library.&nbsp;Paradise owner J. Louis Guyon opened a new hotel down the block from his theater.&nbsp;The Midwest Athletic Club was completed in 1928, the tallest building between the Loop and Des Moines, Iowa.</p><p>Then came the Great Depression, followed by World War II.&nbsp;WGP stagnated, but remained stable.</p><p>During the 1950s, African-Americans began moving into the community.&nbsp;They were usually met with hostility.&nbsp;Panic-peddling by real estate companies scared long-time residents into selling. Others were forced out by construction of the Congress (Eisenhower) Expressway. WGP changed from all-White to all-Black within 10 years.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/06-17--03--Mike%20McDonald%27s%20Lake%20Street%20%27L%27.jpg" title="Mike McDonald's Lake Street 'L'" /></div><p>Many homes and businesses were destroyed in a 1965 riot.&nbsp;The trouble developed after a fire truck leaving the Wilcox Street firehouse knocked over a light pole, killing a woman.&nbsp;More of WGP burned down following the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. &nbsp;in 1968.&nbsp;The big movie theaters closed, major retailers&nbsp;left.&nbsp;Crime rose.</p><p>Now people began moving out.&nbsp;Vacant lots became common.&nbsp;In 1961 CTA had added a new Kostner station to its Congress (Blue Line) &lsquo;L&rsquo; route, to take care of heavy patronage. Less than 20 years later, the station was shuttered.</p><p>Jimmy Carter came to WGP in 1986.&nbsp;The ex-president was working with&nbsp;Habitat for Humanity, and personally helped construct new homes at the corner of Maypole and Kildare. Despite their pedigree, the buildings became derelict. They were torn down a few years ago.</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/06-17--05--Jimmy%20Carter%20Habitat%20for%20Humanity%20homes%20%282010%29--SE%20corner%20Maypole%20and%20Kildare%20Ave.jpg" title="Jimmy Carter's Habitat for Humanity homes, 2010" /></div><p>No one can deny that WGP has problems. Yet there are positives.&nbsp;There are still stores at Madison-Pulaski, and they still draw customers.&nbsp;Compare this to the fate of another old-line shopping district, 63rd-Halsted.</p><p>Some blocks have been rehabbed.&nbsp;The Tilton School is an architectural gem designed by Dwight Perkins.&nbsp;The nearby Garfield Park Conservatory draws people to the area.</p><p>A century ago West Garfield Park promoted itself as being &ldquo;only five miles from the Loop.&rdquo; That location is still a selling point.&nbsp;Perhaps the next economic boom will bring better times to the community.</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/06-17--06--renovated%20two-flats%20%284200-block%20W%20Washington%20Blvd%29.jpg" title="Renovated apartments on Washington Boulevard" /></div></p> Mon, 17 Jun 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-06/west-garfield-park-past-and-present-107658 What it took to rehab the Viceroy http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/what-it-took-rehab-viceroy-107478 <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/Before-1.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The Viceroy Hotel on Chicago’s near West Side fell on hard times before it was rehabbed late last year. (Photo courtesy of Shane Welch)" /></div><p>The Viceroy Hotel had its problems long before the alderman was robbed.</p><p>Built in 1929, the hotel originally catered to middle class professionals who couldn&rsquo;t afford their own two-flat. It was built in the dense, up-and-coming near West Side, with 175 tiny rooms and a view of Union Park. It was a beautiful example of Chicago&rsquo;s many Art Deco terracotta buildings. A <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> editorial from the year it was erected praised the new building, saying the hotel would &ldquo;add a dash of color to a district. . . daubed with grime put on by Old Father Time.&rdquo;</p><p>But like the surrounding neighborhood the Viceroy fell on hard, then harder, times. You&rsquo;d never recognize the building praised by the papers if you had seen the hotel just a few years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;My house got robbed several Christmases ago, and the police came and they didn&rsquo;t find anything,&rdquo; Alderman Walter Burnett (27th) recalled. &ldquo;Then somebody recognized the person who robbed my home. I jumped in the car, and I chased him right to the Viceroy Hotel.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>There, he saw some of the hotel&rsquo;s down-and-out residents.</p><p>&ldquo;There was a young lady who was on drugs, and there was a man who was pimping her,&rdquo; the alderman said. &ldquo;That was the type of characteristic of people who were in the Viceroy.&rdquo;</p><p>In 2002, a young reporter named Mandy Burrell <a href="http://www.chicagojournal.com/Blogs/Near-Loop-Wire/06-30-2010/From_the_archives:_A_night_at_the_Viceroy">tried to spend the night at the Viceroy</a> for a story. She was offered crack before she even walked in the door and could not bring herself to touch the furniture in her $38 room.</p><blockquote><p>After looking at the stained and soiled comforter tattered by cigarette burns and other unidentifiable transgressions, [I&rsquo;d decided] that we would not be lying or sitting on the bed that night. In fact, it didn&#39;t seem wholesome to touch anything in the room. From the faded, pulled-up mess of a carpet to the showerless bathroom, with its filthy bathtub and mildewed grout, it seemed impossible that the room would pass muster on any state health inspection. Even the wood paneling on the TV set was gashed and burned by god knows what. And there was no way I&#39;d ever use the threadbare towel or two Styrofoam cups resting upside down on the dresser.</p></blockquote><p>Burrell barely made it past midnight. Later she called the Viceroy &ldquo;the most depressing place I&rsquo;d ever been,&rdquo; although she admitted the real takeaway from her reporting was the stark contrast between her own privileged upbringing and that of the poverty-stricken tenants she encountered that night.</p><p>The Viceroy went out of business not too long after after that. Writing for WBEZ in 2011, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/another-chapter-chicago%E2%80%99s-viceroy-hotel">Micah Maidenberg described</a> the metal guards strapped across the windows of the vacant building.</p><p>But the Viceroy Hotel has gone through a second transformation: it&rsquo;s no longer a shady SRO, but rather, a model of affordable housing.</p><p>Now called Harvest Commons, the old hotel was recently rehabbed by a coalition of community developers and neighborhood groups, including Heartland Housing and the nearby First Baptist Congregational Church.&nbsp;</p><p>At a recent talk on the project, Hume An, Heartland Housing&rsquo;s Director of Real Estate, and architect Jeff Bone of Landon Bone Baker, explained their ambitions. The Viceroy was given city landmark status in 2010. But it wasn&rsquo;t enough for An, Bone and company to merely save the building, with its intricate, molded plaster and sculpted terracotta tiles.</p><p>An says Heartland is &ldquo;focused on affordable and permanent supportive housing.&rdquo; That means it wants to serve the neediest residents: those living at below 60 percent of area medium income. According to An, that translates to about $31,000 a year.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/After-1.jpg" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Harvest Commons’ 89 apartment units are subsidized by CHA, but are meant to look just like market rate units. (Photo courtesy of Shane Welch)" />&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not a lot of money,&rdquo; An says. And because of rental subsidies provided by the Chicago Housing Authority, An says that if residents &ldquo;make zero income, they pay zero rent.&rdquo;</p><p>The affordability piece of the Viceroy rehab is especially noteworthy as <a href="http://www.wbez.org/chateau-hotel-residents-avoid-immediate-order-vacate-105922">the city stands ready to lose other SROs</a>, which, despite their reputation as fleabag motels, still provide cheap housing to people who might otherwise be homeless.</p><p>&ldquo;We house those in most need,&rdquo; An added.</p><p>That includes people who are formerly homeless, incarcerated, or, like one resident An described, living in a shelter.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the first time in a long time he has his own kitchen and bathroom, and he&rsquo;s loving the privacy,&rdquo; An said.</p><p>Because Heartland&rsquo;s other mission is to build projects that are environmentally sustainable, Harvest Commons was also built with a number of green components, including geothermal heating and cooling systems, a green roof, and an adjacent urban farm. The project received&nbsp;certification from <a href="http://www.enterprisecommunity.com/solutions-and-innovation/enterprise-green-communities">Enterprise Green Communities</a>, a LEEDS alternative which works specifically with affordable housing.</p><p>Of course, the greenest part of all was using the existing building, rather than tearing it down in favor of new construction. It came at a price, though: $260 per square foot compared to the estimated cost of similar new construction, $90-200 per square foot. These costs were subsidized mostly by the state, along with historic tax credits.</p><p>In the audio above, An and Bone explain why the cost was so high, and what it took to pull off the rehab and reconstruction. Bone begins by describing the process of &ldquo;disassembling&rdquo; the historic building.<br /><br /><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Hume An and Jeff Bone spoke at an event presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation in May of 2013. Click <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/preservation-and-adaptive-reuse-viceroy-hotel-107421">here</a> to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p><em>Photos courtesy of Shane Welch. Check out more of his excellent architectural photography <a href="http://shanewelch.com/documentary/commercial/viceroy-hotel-reconstruction/">here</a>.</em></p><p><em>Robin Amer is a producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer">@rsamer</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 31 May 2013 16:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/what-it-took-rehab-viceroy-107478 Chicago's biggest 'L' rebuild http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-05/chicagos-biggest-l-rebuild-107284 <p><p>The south end of the Red Line is now officially closed for rebuilding. The project is supposed to take five months. Many Chicagoans are reminded of the Green Line renovation of the 1990s, when service was suspended for nearly two years.</p><p>However, if we want to talk about the biggest Chicago &lsquo;L&rsquo; rebuild, we have to go back to the 1950s.</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/Garfield%20Park%20%27L%27-Ashland%20%281953-CTA%29.jpg" title="Garfield Park 'L' at Ashland during land clearance, 1953 (CTA photo)" /></div><p>Sixty years ago, the Garfield Park &lsquo;L&rsquo; was one of the city&rsquo;s major transit carriers. Trains ran west from the Loop along the general line of Van Buren Street to a terminal in Forest Park. The &lsquo;L&rsquo; tracks were also used by the Chicago, Aurora &amp; Elgin electric interurban line.</p><p>In 1953 the city began clearing land for the new Congress (Eisenhower) Expressway. Plans called for both &lsquo;L&rsquo; and interurban trains to operate in the median of the completed highway. In the meantime, part of the Garfield Park &lsquo;L&rsquo; was in the way, and would have to be torn down.</p><p>The expressway project was going to take years. CTA might have shut down Garfield Park service for the duration and told riders to take the Lake Street &lsquo;L&rsquo;. Instead, a temporary elevated structure was to be erected along Van Buren Street.</p><p>Local aldermen objected. The temporary &lsquo;L&rsquo; would be ugly, and probably unsafe. A compromise was reached. Garfield Park trains were rerouted along Van Buren Street&mdash;but on the ground.</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/Garfield--Van Buren @ Ashland (1953-CTA).jpg" title=" Garfield Park 'L' train running on Van Buren Street, 1954 (CTA photo)" /></div></div><p>The Van Buren bypass opened on September 20, 1953. Trains ran at street-level between Aberdeen and Sacramento, about two-and-a-half miles. The tracks were fenced-in, with crossing gates at each intersection, and took up most of the street. Only a single lane was left open for west-bound auto traffic.</p><p>Garfield Park trains did not make passenger stops along Van Buren. However, they were forced to halt for red lights like ordinary street traffic. This made the ride slow. Many patrons moved over to the Lake Street line, or simply switched to their cars.</p><p>Meanwhile, Chicago, Aurora and Elgin service into the city was cut back. Their trains now operated only as far east as Forest Park, where riders had to change to Garfield Park trains. Patronage fell off rapidly, and the interurban went out of business in 1957.</p><p>On June 22, 1958 &lsquo;L&rsquo; trains began operating on the expressway median as the new Congress line. The remaining structures of the old Garfield Park line were demolished. And after five years, the automobile reclaimed all of Van Buren Street.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 22 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-05/chicagos-biggest-l-rebuild-107284 There in Chicago (#22) http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/there-chicago-22-106623 <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/04-25--2013.JPG" title="North Avenue at Pulaski Road--view west" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04-24--1954_1.jpg" title="1954--the same location (CTA photo)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">How well did you find your way around 1954 Chicago?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The most notable clue to the site is the former Pioneer Bank building, which has anchored the northwest corner of this intersection since the 1920s. Another clue is the trolley bus--it&#39;s operating on Pulaski, and the overhead wires show that the other street also has trolley buses. There were very few locations on the West Side where two trolley bus lines crossed.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Also seen in the older picture is one of the Morrie Mages chain of sporting goods stores. And on the far right, an Andes Candies store is partially visible.</div></div><p>&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 19 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/there-chicago-22-106623