Carla Bruni is a colleague of mine at The School of the Art Institute, Associate for Outreach at PlaceEconomics and she posts compelling observations about Chicago neighborhoods on FB.
She posted this piece about Englewood last week, and I wanted to repost it here. I couldn’t agree with her more, especially:
We could all stand more visits. More dialogues. More northside-southside neighborhood exchange opportunities. Change and learning has to flow both ways.
All photos are hers.
I spent yesterday inspecting Englewood. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was and then realized that this was because there weren’t landscaping companies revving their accursed leaf blowers all morning like in my own neighborhood. Obviously this is due to a lack of expendable income, but to me it was heaven to have a bit of quiet. Of all the neighborhoods I’ve spent time in, this one had clearly endured the most demolition, the effect being that on blocks where old farm houses still stood, one got the impression that the area had been almost the same for 120 years, vegetation surrounding the lot on all side and the sun only obstructed by occasional tree canopies. A bizarre fallacy.
Also, more than in any other neighborhood, I had people come outside and ask me if their building was going to be foreclosed on, which is another indicator of what folks have been putting up with for years. Constant shuffling due to poor management and lousy circumstances. I was glad to have good news for them, of course, but one woman in particular charged up to me with her young daughter to ask me this and when I smiled and tried to reassure her, she loudly said “don’t you scare me like that!” Heart breaker of the day. They say moving is one of the most stressful things we can endure, and I can’t imagine being shuffled around, especially with kids and work and likely a hell of a tight budget just because you got stuck in a building with another shitty owner.
This is another stunningly beautiful part of the city where northsiders rarely, if ever, visit. We often hear about how “inner city kids” never leave their neighborhoods and there’s always a note of pity when this is discussed, for these kids not having more exposure to what the city has to offer, not seeing alternative realities. Of course, the great irony here is that northsiders do the same damned thing. We go to the northside and downtown. Maybe a couple of hipster areas on the west side. We see maybe 5-10% of the city. It’s a damned shame. We could all stand more visits. More dialogues. More northside-southside neighborhood exchange opportunities. Change and learning has to flow both ways.
Anyway, thanks, Englewood. You’re beautiful and I’m sorry so much of your history has been obliterated, even along your magnificent boulevard. XO.