Friday, February 29, 2008

Uptown Is An Affordable Lakefront 'Hood'

Courtesy: "UR Chicago" (click text above to enlarge)


  1. South Shore is diverse?

    Ethnically? The author needs to do some research beyond recycling old BS.

    My research just showed me it is 95+% black. That ain't diverse. Now there is growing economic diversity in South Shore as condo conversions become more available.

    As a munchkin I used to frequent Rainbow Beach in South Shore and still ride my bike down there and it does have much going for it.

    The South Shore Cultural Center is magnificent. The beaches are better than anything we have in Uptown, but our lakefront parks are deeper and nicer. Their harbors are better than Montrose and Jackson Park is magnificently magnificent although in need of some work.

    South Shore has little in common with Uptown in the sense the author suggests. There is much more crime down there. There are some condo conversions and other renovation activity going on, but relative to Uptown it is little.

    South Shore has great potential in housing stock and undoubtedly will improve with time. There is amazing architecture there and if you love brick buildings it is well worth a look.

    The problems South Shore faces with crime and gangs and lack of retail is more reminiscent of the Uptown of the 70's or 80's than the Uptown of today.

    Whether the author wants to acknowledge it or not Uptown has largely "made it". There are still serious issues that need to be addressed, but Uptown is arguably "better" than Wicker Park or Bucktown and certainly "better" than Logan Square. I use "better" in the sense the author is trying to convey.

    I suggest he walk around or ride a bike to see what the various neighborhoods are really like before putting "pen to paper".


  2. IrishPirate,

    You abandoned the South Side 20 years ago. So you have twice as much reason NOT to talk about that neighborhood you no longer live in. ;)

    Seriously, though, South Shore is changing. It’s still majority black, but the population is changing.

    In our search for a home, we visited the South Shore area a few times. We saw white people jogging along South Shore Drive (something that would have been unheard of a few years ago). We saw some condos that matched Uptown’s historical style, and interested buyers that might have considered Uptown a few years ago.

    Also, let’s not forget the African population – they might blend in a little more, and may not show up in census stats (which are almost 10 years old at this point, and thus out of date with reality)

    On my block (which isn’t South Shore, but close by), we have 3 interracial couples that I know of , plus a couple of others nearby. Not a lot, but we’ve all been welcomed, and more will certainly be on the way).

    I agree that Uptown is way farther down the gentrification curve. Example: If you go down Sunnyside, between Sheridan & Clarendon, most of the buildings, except for a handful, have become condos, and that’s in less 8 years.

    However, the way people keep describing Uptown in terms of filth, lack of retail development & crime, it would seem that comparing it to South Shore is fair, if your stats are right. Read all the message board posts & blog entries and comments – Uptown is deviod of retail, and has the worst crime on the North Side. Based on those unchallenged postings (which cite statistics & publish many photos), the author’s column is accurate.

  3. JP,

    South Shore is overwhelmingly black and will continue to be for the next few decades at least. As for whites in South Shore the number may be growing slightly, but there were always a small group concentrated near South Shore Drive in the northern part of the neighborhood that never left. Many of those folks live in the highrises and are associated with the University of Chicago.

    There is also perhaps 10-15% of Jackson Park Highlands homes that have melanin challenged residents. That is the sub neighborhood filled with great homes that Jesse Jackson Senior lives in. Again many of those folks work at the U of C.

    As for crime South Shore has much more than Uptown. Hopefully that will change there and everywhere else over time. They also have larger issues with lack of retail.

    The problems with Uptown retail are real. I suggest next time you are up around here you walk down Broadway from 4000-5200 North and count the vacant storefronts.

    As for crime in Uptown much of it is tied to a relatively small number of subsidized buildings and a smaller number of people who live in those buildings. Now do some people in Uptown over hype the crime issues? Yes. Just like others downplay it. It's there and it needs to be dealt with. The people who suffer the most from it are not the middle income condo owners, but the lower income folks who may live in the same buildings as the criminals.

    Now your mentioning of Sunnyside was appropriate. If anyone not familiar with South Shore wants to get an idea of what part of it looks like take a walk down Sunnyside. Absolutely magnificent old buildings.

    You might regret not buying there JP. I imagine over the next few decades that area will get significantly better than average appreciation. Praise Jesus.

  4. JP,
    Judas Priest,
    Go Away

  5. My observation has been that crime is rather high in parts of Uptown. If you use Ald. Shiller's way of evaluating crime, she refers to the low stats found on the 23rd Police District. No one has ever disputed that. It's very low.

    When you go to (Clearmap) and then review certain crimes by census tracts, you will find that crime is much higher, Some census tracts rank above the 90th percentile in Chicago for the amount of drug arrests.

    What has been unfortunate is that many of us have been reporting for years that there are areas of high crime and it's been suggested that we might be bigots for saying so. This objective data bears out our concerns. Shame on those who deny our experience.

    Uptown is still a wonderful place to live and I wouldn't live anywhere else. Uptown will be truly diverse when middle-income families from all ethnic backgrounds feel more comfortable with sending their children to the public schools in the area. Quite frankly, if I was a parent and the school advertised they were teaching graffiti to the students (as is done at Uplift), I would immediately be concerned.

    Most of the condo owners I know are either single or couples with no children/pre-school children. I, along with others, want Uptown to remain diverse. Part of that means having middle-income families with children living here as well.

  6. I couldn't agree more with your sentiments re: middle class people with children. We have an awful rap for being boring and square & no one really likes us much. (Probably because we remind people of their own parents.) However, we do pay our taxes, maintain/improve our properties, shovel our snow, clean up our sidewalks, patronize businesses in non-peak hours, and work to create child friendly spaces in our community. (The wonderful Margate Park playground is an example of something that was brought to all of the children in the community by parent volunteers.) All of these things help to bring stability to a neighborhood.

    The one thing that I will not compromise on with my children is the quality of their education. Right now, the local schools are struggling too much. And, instead of things getting better, we have an Alderman who thinks it is ok to introduce more instability and uncertainty into where at least one is located (McCutcheon). I realize she raised her son in Uptown but just because it worked out ok for her doesn't mean that it will for everyone else given the same conditions. As for me, I really want my children to go to a diverse school and I would like to share my money and time with the children of parents who have less. However, I am not willing to fight a battle when the Alderman and the Mayor are working against me and not with me.