Sunday, July 5, 2009

Too Much, Too Little, Too Late

We're reminded of that old joke: "What's the secret of success?" "....." "....." "....." "Timing!"

Perhaps the would-be social commentator at Winthrop and Leland would have been a little more relevant about, oh, 15 years ago.

Scrawling this on a corner that's just steps from new condos, townhouses, high-rises, rehabs, and a revitalized entertainment district seems just a little bit sad. Dude, try Lincoln Park!


  1. I wonder if they want to also stop the property taxes that are derived from the gentrification which ends up paying for all the social services?

    Like the TIFs, some have the magical thinking that the taxes that pay for all the social services drop out of the sky.

  2. I guess I will take a round about way of explaining my position. I like to go to the Uplift school park regularly. I consider myself pretty liberal and try to understand why the strange man is taking a dump in the shrubbery, or why the teenagers are not attempting to hide the fact that they are smoking weed and fondling each-other (with people circling the track). I look past a lot and try not to judge.

    This morning, the garbage that was left in that park was an absolute disgrace. The fire-cracker wrappers, garbage bags overflowing, beer cans, you name it, it was all over the place. I watched 4 guys eat fast food, pack the garbage in the bag and stuff the bag in the bushes, 10 ft from the garbage can. Dog poop just left out (I have seen all walks of life guilty of this offense). The neighborhood Must continue to change to survive!

    Let's see, if people who lived here before actually gave a shit about there neighborhood, they wouldn't need us "carpet-baggers" coming in here and buying property "dirt cheap". The property values fell because nobody in their right mind wanted to live here with all of the drugs, gangs and prostitution (which, I might add are against the law). When the values fell to such a low level, brave souls moved in to get a lot of space on a budget. More people got in on the trend. Apartment builidings started to go condo. Crime levels dropped some, business started to open. The neighborhood started to get cleaner and friendlier. What the hell is wrong with all of that.
    But, here's the twist; some people were happy not getting hassled about their bad behavior; or the fact that they were safely operating outside the law.. Some people were happy with the status quo. Some people didn't care enough aboout their community until they saw it start to fade away or were satisfied with the level of apathy, decay and violence. Let's face it, if you don't care enough about a green space to walk 10 ft to a garbage can, you don't belong in the park.

    If you use the space, clean up after yourself. If you gotta take a dump, there are public restrooms on the lakefront, plan for it. I do.

    I grew up in Lincoln Park and Lakeview, I can remember when my neighborhood was a hell-hole. I can remember when Hamlin park was a nightmare with garbage and gangbangers in every direction Guess what, they changed. It was due to gentrification.
    The Uptown neighborhood was falling apart. I had a friend that lived at wilson and Magnolia in college in the middle 90's. We walked up to the Aragon one night and were soliced by no less than 4 prostitutes. That's not good for any type of neighborhood.

    The bottom line is that if you don't care about your neighborhood as a community and run it straight into the ground, you run the risk of this happening.
    This is not a class warfare thing. Many of us are more than willing to work with any one of our neighbors to help look out for each other, keep it clean, keep it safe. The only willing parties that are vocal are the "evil condo owners", who insist on a neighborhood where aggressivley harassing pedestrians is frowned upon, intoxicated people are not allowed to loiter in front of the "el" platform. Where problem areas have regular patrols and complaints to the alderman's office are at least objectivly heard instead of summarily dismissed (it is public service, after all). I would like to beleive that we can all come together and fix Uptown, but it's not possible. It's time for gentrification. Uptown had it's chance before, it failed. It's time for a change. Denise Davis is right, it's not our college campus; but it's not their toilet bowl either. If they don't like it, move! Maybe we need a more aggressive positive loitering, like a productive form of "copwatch", We'll call it "Thugwatch". We will call the cops whenever we see illegal activity. We can make a difference.

  3. too funny! wonder if the graffiti artist actually even lives in Uptown...

  4. I totally agree Guitarjunkie..well said..

  5. Until your the one who works hard and has to pay the taxes for thoses who don`t then you would learn the truth and thats not just talking the talk but walking the walk....

  6. Barry,

    you might want to consider moving to Alaska. They have an election coming up for Governor in 16 months and someone with your grasp of cliches and spelin' would be right at home.

    Put on some high heels to go with that photo of John Gotti you use and even Chip Douglas might support you.

  7. Guitarjunkie, I like your angle and I think you're onto something here. Our message to the leaders of Ward 46 should be if they don't like the direction the neighborhood is going, they should move.

    I'm sure there are other less-expensive, crime-ridden sections of the city in which they would feel more at home.

  8. "Perhaps the would-be social commentator at Winthrop and Leland would have been a little more relevant about, oh, 15 years ago.

    Scrawling this on a corner that's just steps from new condos, townhouses, high-rises, rehabs, and a revitalized entertainment district seems just a little bit sad. Dude, try Lincoln Park!"

    but i thought many of the people on this blog complain about this neighborhood being a hell hole infested by hardly anyone but gangs, drug dealers and addicts. the word "blighted" comes to mind from the propaganda i've seen and heard put out by the pro-gentrification crowd. so it isn't so bad afterall you're saying? just as the lynchpin to the wilson yard lawsuit was that uptown is too swanky to have TIF money used.

    these two versions of Uptown seem to be contradictory. not to mention that if the neighborhood has improved so much over the last 15 years, why is Helen Shiller not given credit for that? or is her name only brought out to place blame upon? all things bad attributed to Helen and "wacko leftists" and low-life street trash and all things good attributed to the benevolent condo owners and the workings of the free market. i guess it's just easier that way, right?

  9. Ron,

    have you been taking lesson in English language and grammar from Barry?

    Or are you just drinking?

    I hope it's the latter.

  10. why is Helen Shiller not given credit for that?

    Strong arming new businesses to fill up her campaign coffers is not a good strategy for growth.

    How many other businesses would be in this ward were it not for her playing the same political games she'd rallied against during her "rise" to power?

    The lynch pin of FWY was not that Uptown is too swanky, it was that the units being built out were too swanky for their proposed use.

    Siphoning off $440k per 2bdrm from schools/police/general revenue to build something that a large number of the community didn't sign off on is good governance to you?

    Lying to your constituents is good governance, to you?

    Letting the gateways to our community crumble under the weight of decay, entropy, violence and urine is good governance to you?

    Try again, Ron. Next time, put a little effort into it.

  11. Unfortunately, gentrification is a necessary evil, if you are the displaced one. A necessary function of any city. If you are a land owner, it's a positive thing. The whole idea is a catch 22.

    It's unfortunate that in any living city that has remained creative and innovative, gentrification was a necessary process of its revitalization (if that was ever necessary). That being said, the city of Chicago would not be what it is today without the process of gentrification and I say that Uptown is long overdue for its turn.

  12. While gentrification is definitely an ongoing process in Uptown, in what universe is it too late to hope to stop it? I think the whole litany of "problems" that make up much of this blog provide ample evidence that the yuppification of Uptown may be somewhat incomplete. The post even makes the point itself, in a way: no reasonable person would find great similarity in wealth or culture between Uptown and Lincoln Park, despite the attempted comparison. And even with the condos and a few businesses that cater to newcomers, Uptown is still host to vibrant and diverse communities threatened by increasingly unaffordable housing and the erosion of local businesses' traditional customer base. There's a lot that makes this place special and great, none of which is part of the gentrification process. I, for one, hope the writer on the sign gets their wish.

  13. in what universe is it too late to hope to stop it?

    In what universe would you want to?

    Without the gentrification/progress, the area will collapse upon itself.

    I'm always surprised when people don't understand that and consider deterioration of infrastructure and/or diminishing opportunity to be the calling cards of a diverse and vibrant community.

    Uptown is host to all sorts of things. Without a stream of new money coming in, that host will die.

    A balance needs to be struck and social issues must certainly be addressed; but turning "gentrification" into a dirty word is not a positive step.

    Never was. Never will be.

    Go to Gary, or Detroit, and tell me how killing gentrification worked out for them.

  14. You have to distinguish between the sort of gentrification (a la LP) that forces poor people (bad and good alike) out of the neighborhood, and the sort of gentrification in which non-criminal, contributing people who want to stay in their community are enabled to do so, and can enjoy living in an improved upon and safer environment. If the graffiti artist means the former, I concur. If the graffiti artist is some hipster with no concept of community development and progress, then I do not.

  15. 18% of the housing in Uptown is subsidized per the CURL study based on the U.S. census. This is a study that ONE initiated hoping to prove the area was becoming gentrified so that they could push for more subsidized housing. When the results proved otherwise, they quickly quashed it.

    I wonder if Ron can find any other neighborhood in the United States with such a high percentage?

  16. Andrew - how is in the world is Uptown unaffordable? If you're broke, you can't afford housing anywhere? And... as just wondering pointed out, Uptown has a high percentage of subsidized housing. I am by no means wealthy yet found an affordable home in Uptown.

  17. I forgot to point out that Hamlin park is right by the Lathrop Homes , which is a large low rise section 8 housing complex that was notorious for gangs drugs aqnd violence. Yet, they are able to keep the park clean and safe.
    I just want all the Uptown stakeholders, people who live here in a condo or subsidized housing and the "leadership", to enforce simple things like park curfews.
    The "leadership" seems to make excuses for bad behavior, are resigned to the fate that this is just the way that Uptown is, or they just don't care as long as they are getting paid (or paid off).
    It doesn't have to be this way! I have a friend who lives in a problem building, everyone is afraid to call the cops or management. Nobody does anything, the bad behavior continues. Even if it was a 100% low income community, poverty doesn't automatically make you a criminal. I was on public assistance when I was a kid, I didn't join a gang or feel compelled to litter, or curse out and mistrust people who had more money than me. I studied, and worked and saved and got loans for college. Stop making excuses for everyone!

  18. In my understanding, gentrification is about movement of people which results in the change in character of a neighborhood. Higher-income people move into an area, which raises property values and can result in lower-income people being pushed out of the neighborhood. Of course, gentrification can bring things that many people want: safer neighborhoods, better selection of places to eat, drink, shop and hang out.

    But to take this snide tone about gentrification is to ignore the very real effects that it has on lower-income people. Some of the rhetoric in these comments about residents of pre-gentrification Uptown not "caring about their neighborhood" is a little bit ridiculous. The large majority of people -- not just upper-class whites, but all people -- want to live in a safe, health, vibrant neighborhood.

    But the city needs to take precautions to guard against eviction and displacement that can occur as a result of gentrification. If we want to improve neighborhoods without alienating low-income communities, we need to take this seriously, not brush it aside with a flippant blog post like this.