I needed to spend a few days in New York last week. It gave me a chance to think even more about Chicago’s neighborhoods, and their subtle differences. Sometimes it’s good to get away.
Having grown up in New York, I started thinking about some specific neighborhoods that I loved, and why I loved them. I was seeing them in the context of Terry Nichols Clark’s concept of “scenes,” that I discussed a few weeks ago. Here’s a brief sample:
• Yorkville – on the upper edge of the Upper East Side in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, there were German and Hungarian neighborhoods full of small restaurants and groceries and specialty stores. The German section was bigger, but geographically very distinct from the Hungarian.
• Astoria – the largest Greek community in the world outside of Greece itself. Think food and culture and language. Enough said.
• Williamsburg – Slightly down-at-the-heels, almost entirely occupied by Hasidic Jews and their businesses. Strictly kosher, and not just in food.
• Seventh Avenue in the 30’s – mixed into the larger Garment District, there were quirky little independent stores selling buttons and trim and fabrics. These stores served the garment industry, but they were open to any member of the public who wandered in. They could be very inspiring.
I recognize that not everyone reading this blog has the same intimate knowledge of New York City as I do, but hopefully this list and map will illustrate the geographical distance of these scenes from each other.
Here’s the relevance to Chicago, and Jane’s Walk:
Chicago still has neighborhoods – or scenes – with variety like this. Maybe there are fewer than fifty years ago, but they are still there, still distinct, still vibrant and interesting and diverse. One of the goals of Jane’s Walk Chicago is to celebrate that diversity in all its glory and variety of its scenes.
Jane’s Walk Chicago is a living, growing organism. Come explore it with us on May 3 and 4.