Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Tale Of Two Uptowns

News-Star Our Views
Uptown is a neighborhood of many gems. Filled with vintage architecture and perched on a jewel of a lakefront, it is home to a lively activist community.

One of those jewels is Argyle's Pan-Asian corridor, tucked away between Sheridan Road and Broadway. This stretch of Argyle has a proud heritage as a point of entry for a century of immigrants from all over the world.

Since the 1960s and 1970s, Argyle has opened its arms to a resettlement of Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Thai and Korean immigrants who have built new lives and businesses along its bustling blocks.

Recently, a volunteer panel comprised of experts in their fields, completed a draft copy of a report designed to unleash Argyle Street's potential as a community center for local residents and visitors' destination.

Sponsored by the Urban Land Institute and Metropolitan Planning Council, the report was thoughtful and unbiased. Included in the report were a series of recommendations designed to revitalize the shopping district.

Among the goals set forth in the draft report were connecting Argyle to Uptown's entertainment district at Lawrence and Broadway. At a recent gathering of business, community and elected officials, suggestions were made to utilize the new student parking garage currently under construction at Truman College, as a stopping off point for visitors to Argyle a half-mile north.

Experienced urban pioneers are familiar with the invisible line that separates Uptown into two parts along Lawrence Avenue, roughly the boundary between the 46th and 48th wards.

South of Lawrence, Uptown stretches like East Berlin. One must traverse multiple gang territories and blocks of urban blight to reach West Berlin on the other side of Lawrence. There, one finds a welcoming mix of retail, theater, night clubs, shops and restaurants that have turned this part of Uptown's fortunes around.

Some of the goals for revitalizing the Argyle business district are immediately attainable. But before connecting the two Uptowns can be accomplished, one must first address the disturbing trend of criminal activity in East Berlin: three shootings near Wilson and Broadway within the span of one week in December, public drunkenness, substance abuse and other activities best reserved for a private restroom.

We urge stakeholders to honestly address these issues and to hold their elected officials accountable. The two Uptowns need to be connected, despite ward boundaries.


  1. As sad as the reality is, its nice to see it finally acknowledged in print! I live just south of Lawrence on Kenmore. The homeless walking the streets is like night of the living dead. Women with baby strollers walk with BIG dogs for safety. Businesses on Broadway have moved out because they can't keep their doors open during the day. Over the past 10 years, conditions have improved, but only slightly...
    People may dispute this, but the neighbors on my street keep their cell phones handy to call 911 all of the time.

  2. Sorry, but this is a little bit ricidulous. Gang and gang activity don't stop at Lawrence. There are shootings and gang activity north of Uptown on up into Evanston, west toward Ashland, etc. Uptown has more wide open spaces, more strip malls with open parking lots, etc. than Edgewater so the homeless/thug element is probaby more visible and have more places to hang out without actually being on private property. But check the crime reports and you won't see a hell of a lot of difference.

    As far as empty storefronts, well perhaps that CAN be attributed to the alderman in charge. Smith is prett aggressive about getting businesses in there and keeping teh "appearance" of a nice stable neighborhood.

    and as for the comparisons to Berlin, well, that's a bit much. Berliners of that era would had LOVED to have the options that the area has. Perspective.

  3. "Sponsored by the Urban Land Institute and Metropolitan Planning Council, the report was thoughtful and unbiased. Included in the report were a series of recommendations designed to revitalize the shopping district."

    Unbiased? The panel didn't include any community members!

    What's all this talk about revitalization? Argyle's not dead. It's not a string of empty storefronts. This is like saying, "Let's revitalize Michigan Avenue" or Clark St. in Wrigleyville.

    No, this is really code for "let's legislate immigrants and poor people out of there so whitey can move in and shop at a Gap store that's closer to home."

    So disgusting.

  4. admin, you have the mistaken belief that retail needs to reman subpar to make it diverse. The idea is to appeal to the many numbers of area residents and entice them to spend their money in the neighborhood. That can still be done while respecting the Asian influence found on Argyle. We have much room for improvement in this neighborhood, thus this needed study. BTW, this ULI group has an excellent reputation throughout the United States. You can bet they sought input from people in the area.

  5. Man On The Street said...
    Sorry, but this is a little bit ricidulous. Gang and gang activity don't stop at Lawrence........and as for the comparisons to Berlin, well, that's a bit much.

    Drama Queen Quiz

  6. I agree Kenny. Anyone who makes the ludicrous comparison between Uptown and divided Berlin is being a drama queen. Chill out. Last time I look, there were no checkpoints at on the corner near the Broadway Bank.

  7. There is certainly gang activity north of Lawrence. What a ridiculously simplistic way to depict this area. When I attended the school formerly known as Arai in 80s, (located in the "bad" Uptown), I was ominously warned i was going to be beat up and bothered by gangs all the time. Um, nope, never happened. Didn't happen in "good" Uptown either, but we knew there were gangs in both parts, including Asian gangs or wannabes.
    Argyle is a vital local and very concentrated center of Asian and Asian American culture in Uptown, and while "revitalization" sounds good, I would think hard about plans that would tend to dilute that, leaving behind a mere "Asian influence," whatever that means.

  8. The editorial was about the lack of retail and it stated the dividing line was between 2 wards.

    Go to Broadway and count the number of empty store fronts a couple of blocks of both north and south of the 2 wards (Leland is the dividing line there) and see what the numbers say. Then look at how many of the businesses you support in either direction. When you've done that, you'll quickly get the point what News Star is stating in their editorial. I thought it was right on target. What makes the article even better is that the newspaper made a humorous comparison out of this disparing situation. Sometimes it's okay to laugh at the stark differences between the 2 wards. It keeps me from crying sometimes.

  9. When Helen Shiller is out of Office Uptown will make real improvement. Then again little dick Daley will make it impossible to patronize business, I mean $6 an hour to park on the street and shop in Uptown. Yea, right. Thanks little dick Daley.

  10. If you think there's no "dividing line" in the retail between the 46th and 48th Wards, take a look here.

    Which side of Leland offers the most shopping opportunities? Which side is clearly blighted?

    East and West Berlin isn't such a bad comparison.

    I wonder how Queers to the Left would feel about Target getting millions to locate in WY. They spoke out against Border's getting a fraction of the amount of tax dollars that Target is getting. How times have changed.

    Uptown development

    While residents of public housing are told by city officials that they must now find housing on their own, and while People With AIDS are told by the state that they must now buy necessary prescription drugs on their own, there are people in our community, and elected officials who will be seeking our votes in the near future, who say that a developer of expensive condos, as well as a profitable national bookstore chain, ought to get $6 million in city subsidies. That is obscene.

    A private developer wants to remodel the old Goldblatt's Department Store at Broadway and Lawrence into a Border's bookstore, with expensive condos perched atop. Why should he get public money? Why does a national bookstore chain need public money? Why do people earning way above the city's median income need public money?

    We do not oppose the redevelopment of the Goldblatt's building. What we oppose is redevelopment that drives out longtime residents and locally owned businesses with track records of commitment to our community.

    We agree that there should be retail activity on the street level and housing atop at the Goldblatt's site. We simply do not believe city money should subsidize a chain bookstore (with two underperforming stores in the chain just to the north and south) when it threatens nearby, longstanding independent bookstores that have served our community for decades. And we do not think the city should build subsidized housing for the well-off, particularly when the greatest need in Uptown is for low-cost family housing.

    The City Council will soon be voting on these questions. They are not voting to give permission for a developer to build a Border's bookstore and expensive condos. The city is not preventing him from doing so. They will be voting on whether he should be able to feed at the public trough.

    Queer to the Left

    I wonder how "Queer To the Left" feels about the large corporation getting millions of dollars to located in WY. My, how times have changed.