Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Night That The Lights Went Out In Uptown

...and never came back on. As promised, here is the pic courtesy of James Cappleman, taken around 6pm facing south on Broadway from Ace-Hardware at Leland. This is truly pathetic folks, and once again we encourage our readers to call the Alderman's office and 311 with requests for lighting to be replaced/added to this area. Is it going to take someone getting killed, raped, or mugged in this unlit and seedy area for our local officials to take notice?


  1. It's been this way for as long as I can remember. Sad thing is that Ald. Shiller probably drives by this spot every evening when she's heading home from her office, which is less than 2 blocks away from this spot. Past efforts to resolve this through CAPS around 5 years ago were futile.

  2. Well we know for a fact that the city of Chicago has been checking out "Uptown Update" as well as members of the media.
    Perhaps this something that needs to be investigated pronto.

  3. James-
    Who else would you suggest notifying to get the ball rolling on this?
    Forwarding this to the local tv stations and media outlets is a start. Who has the final say in whether lighting is installed or not?

  4. Gee, I wonder what our alder"manic" menu funds were spent on this year? They could have used to fund fund these lighting improvements.

    By the way, why does our 46th ward Streets and San superintendent (who gets paid by Streets and San but is handpicked by the alderbeast) need a brand new city-provided Jeep or Pickup each and every year? I,like 95% of Chicagoans, can't afford a new car each year so why should a city maintenance guy get one at my taxpayer expense every single year? Wouldn't that money be better spent on CTA lighting?

  5. It might be interesting to ask Ald. Shiller how much money is currently in her aldermanic menu fund and a listing of the amount that has been spent where for the last couple of years.

    Her current approach (she says) is to ask residents where they want money spent. Because there is no ward plan for development (at least none that we have been made aware and none that has had any public involvement), it's not clear how decisions are prioritized.

    Regarding the lack of lighting by Ace Hardware, a good start (again) is to go to the next Beat 2311 CAPS meeting, which is at 7PM at Truman College on the first Tuesday of the month. There's a new beat facilitator there who has lots of positive energy. Their current focus will be the 4400 & 4500 block of N. Magnolia, but that meeting could consider doing a "Positive Loitering" event at 7PM on another night of the week and invite the media. Anyway, I suggest there because it starts it at the right place and it lays a paper trail that cannot be ignored well when asked by the press.

  6. Lighting will never be added to this spot, it is where the alderbeast hangs upside down at night. She needs is very dark.......

  7. The really sad part is that if you look at the lit area, that's the Wilson L stop. That means people going to and from the Wilson L must walk down this path if they are heading north. lists this block as having particularly high rates of arrests and we can't get lighting. When we were getting no where with the Alderman's office from our CAPS meetings years ago, we stopped asking, knowing that the only way to really get this addressed is to get new leadership.

  8. So Tuesday, December 4 we should plan to bring this up at the CAPS meeting? It should be a priority. We will post a reminder when the meeting is a bit closer to hopefully drum up more attendance.

  9. Tread carefully regarding the Ace store. I shop there all the time and really like the people that work there. That store has been there a very long time and some people working there know Helen and share Helen's resentment toward condo owners and the "gentrifiers" who, in their minds, displaced the poor and blocked the relocation of the Social Security office to the South East corner Wilson and Magnolia. (We old-timers remember that as really being a "lack of parking" decision, but they don't remember it that way.)

    Any way, try to keep any CAPS discussion focused on lighting, crime and safety (as it truly is) and don't let this concern get spun into a another cliche "attack of the yuppies" issue.

  10. I obviously can't tell anyone how to think, but Ace Hardware disliking the local condo owners seems to be a case of talking the talk, but not walking the walk... I would assume most of their business comes from condo owners, not renters, particularly subsidized renters. (I don't think the CHA pops out to the local Ace to buy many of its building materials.) As a long-time Uptown renter, now an owner, I can say I never went to Ace until I bought my place -- and found the experience not unlike sending a kid to college. I'm there at least once a month, sometimes several times a week.

    Having said that, crime (and the lack of lighting that facilitates crime) is everyone's problem, from the homeless guys who sleep in the parking lot to the richest homeowner who uses the el to commute to and from the Loop.

    It being so dark is just an invitation to those with mayhem in mind. Shame on those who know about it, have the power to change it, and keep it the way it is.

  11. sorry but I don't get supporting a store that resents you - they should be in business to make money not political statements - I refuse to support businesses that won't support the improvment of the neighborhood - the "gentrifiers" are the ones buying their goods - and they resent them - only in uptown...

  12. Yeah I am now closer to the Ace on Sheridan and Irving Park, it is much better, more friendly, and safer. So I could care less about the ace on Broadway, if they are not concerned about thier patrons safety, what good are they anyway.

    I see the point though, there is a problem with lighting; make sure to only be addressing that, and not start some other arguement that detracts from fixing that lighting.

    When I was on the SSA Commission the Wilson EL stop (and surrounding area) was my focus. I know that the SSA PM takes that area seriously and working with the SSA might free up some money for improvements there.

  13. Yes Caring Neighbor--CHA has an account with that ACE Hardware as I was behind them in line hte other day when they put supplies on thier account. I guess it is much faster and easier to "pop around the corner" to pick up the supplies they need for quick fixes then to run to Home Depot or Lowes. As for the not supporting a business based on a statement someone here posted BUT not actually going in there and asking them for yourselves (but does it matter what their political preference is?) If you want to see yet another vacant store front on Broadway then go ahead and boycott them and watch a store that has been around for well over 20 years disappear.

  14. I agree with the last anon. Why would anyone take an anonymous post saying that Ace doesn't like Condo owners as fact? Please go check it out yourself and form an educated opinion. If they are openly hostile to you after you reveal you are a condo owner, then I'm with you. I've personally been there multiple times and they've only been helpful.

    And asurfc2, why are you upset at Ace and state they don't care about customer safety? Is this in reference to the lack of lighting? How is the lack of public lighting on a public way in any way Ace's responsibility? This is our government's fault, not Ace.

  15. my comment is based on some things I have heard some Ace employees say. They have been part of the "this hood belongs to us, gentrifiers leave" crowd. I mean it is typical rhetoric but I started avoiding the Ace after that.

    I don’t know who the owners are and if the comments were from owners or just people I have seen working there, either way that is not my closest Ace anymore so makes no difference to me.

    In the store’s defense, they were helpful and nice when I did shop there.

  16. "How is the lack of public lighting on a public way in any way Ace's responsibility? This is our government's fault, not Ace"

    Thinking about fault and blame only nine months after an election ain't gonna do much good.

    And to say it's the govt's fault is too easy. It shouldn't end there. Citizens of the community, including local businesses, all have a role to play. I know I'd want safer streets right outside my store. I would imagine Ace does as well. For all I know they've lobbied hard for better lighting in that area. If they haven't though, I wonder why not. Same goes for every business and resident in that area.

  17. James,

    Could you put this fire out? This blog is attacking the wrong people. You know the folks who work at Ace. You know the residents in the area. Really.

  18. I haven't read the board in a day or so, and it looks like there's been a lot of buzz on this thread lately. I have said hello to the owner, who comes across as a quiet & hardworking nice guy. Jeff, who has worked at this store for almost 20 years, will give you the shirt off his back. I'll let him tell people where he stands, but I have had conversations with him and he has my utmost respect.

    There is one worker there who currently lives in subsidized housing and this worker has been relatively outspoken about the "gentrifiers" to the press on some occasions. A politics of fear has been ingrained in a number of people in Uptown, which tells them they are hated by residents living in condos and that they are deserving of low standards. This fear was especially reinforced in Uptown when some Shiller campaign materials were distributed to residents living in CHA & HUD housing, which stated that I was against all affordable housing, that I wanted to "round up" all the children in the neighborhood and have them arrested on sight, that I wanted to close down Uplift, that I was against all job training, and that my tactics were similar ones used by George Bush.

    Ald. Shiller knows the power of fear and she knows how to use it on the more vulnerable people living here. For that reason, I don't have a problem with this particular person. The person is reacting to fear rather than hope.

    It's a sad statement about Uptown, but it is our reality. However, I am running into more and more people living in poverty who do not buy into this fear mentality anymore. I remain hopeful that the politics of fear used so much in Uptown is losing its grip.

    One example of this change occurred at the last Beat 2311 meeting. People living in CHA and HUD housing stood up and said they had had enough of the drug dealing going on in and around their property. That was an incredibly brave act on their part for a multitude of reasons, but they now refuse to believe that they should be accepting of low standards. In time, I believe this worker at the Great Ace will change as well.

    This politics of fear has also spread to many business owners who face serious repercussions if they are viewed as supporters of an aldermanic challenger. This occurs all over the city so there's no need to point the finger at any one alderman. Serious campaign reform is needed, but that's a whole other thread.

  19. Walking through there today we counted at least 6 lights that do NOT work. We want people to understand that there ARE lights there...they simply do NOT work. This makes it even more pathetic.

  20. People should really do thier homework before they attack a business for bad lighting and then turn it into a smear campaign against its employees. That particular picture was taken outside of Ace Hardare looking south on Broadway BUT it is a picture of the parking lot NEXT to Ace. This area is owned by none other than the CTA---NOT Ace Hardware. If anyone has a problems with the lighting contact CTA--although I don't know what good it will do since they still haven't fixed any other problems with the Wilson El stop.

  21. In the defense of Ace Hardware i would like to make a comment on the respect, i have and many others have for The owner of Ace Hardware he is a very hard worker who will goes the extra miles for his customers.when you walk into Ace hardware your walking into a type of hardware store your grandpa took you too when you were young, as many have told me.we always treated are customers as family-freinds.We may not be a big chain but are customer know we love them.

  22. Just so some people can get an idea of why some of the things were said about Ace Hardware check out this link. Read the stories and watch the video.

    Northwestern Student Stories and Video.

    It's very clear what the assistant manager thinks of the changes in Uptown. She is entitled to her opinion. Many people dislike change.

    That being said I've always liked that store. I also like the ACE on Sheridan. Personally never had a problem. I'm in there frequently. Their pricing is comparable to a Home Depot on most of the stuff they sell and they are certainly more convenient.

    As for their sales being down they may need to expand their hours. Their competition has longer hours.

    There used to be a True Value where the Tattoo shop is on Broadway but they left around 93 or so. The owners, married couple, had been there since 1952. They were a font of information on Uptown and the changes it had gone through. For years they used to sell shotgun shells. I wonder why?

    They thought I was great because of the amount of money I spent there when I initially moved here and because being 12 feet tall and 400 pounds I scared the gangstas away.

    It didn't hurt that they were both Irish and knew some of my relatives.

  23. I can't be sure, but I just drove up Broadway under the el and it looked brighter than before--perhaps these lights have been fixed... anyone else noticed?

  24. Local H-
    If that is true then this is great news. We will see what we can dig up or if it has been fixed, we're sure it will be made public tonight at the CAPS meeting we hope everyone will attend.

  25. Hey guys,

    I actually sent an e-mail after reading this last week to Michelle Blaise, the City Services Coordinator, and informed her of what was going on. She informed her contacts at the CTA and I think it was fixed over the weekend.

    Although there are obviously many of deficiencies in leadership in our ward, it's still important to stay involved. I'd never made a complaint like this before, and I certainly will feel less apprehensive to do so in the future. I really encourage everyone else who contributes on here to put those ideas you've been mulling around on here into action.

    Sometimes the outcome can be positive.

  26. Ronnie-
    Congrats to you for taking the initiative and informing the CTA of this long standing problem. We hope this will show other residents how important it is to report things in our ward that need attention. Bravo!
    Now about that tax-exempt organization on Wilson who chooses to proudly display political posters...