Friday, July 10, 2009

Yet Another Reason Sleeping In The Park's A Bad Idea

Police: Drunken Cabbie Hits Two Homeless Men on Lake Shore Drive

CHICAGO (STNG) - An allegedly drunken cab driver was arrested after missing an exit on Lake Shore Drive and striking two homeless people sleeping in a park before fleeing early Friday in the Uptown neighborhood on the North Side.

About 5 a.m. the 72-year-old male cabbie was driving a Ford Crown Victoria southbound on Lake Shore Drive when he tried to exit at Lawrence Avenue, but missed, according to a Lincoln District police sergeant.

Police News Affairs Officer Robert Perez said the allegedly drunken cabbie went off the road near 4801 N. Lake Shore Drive onto park property, where he struck a guardrail and a pole, then ran into some shrubs, Perez said.

On the other side of the shrubs, a 40-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman, both homeless, were sleeping. "He struck them both," Perez said. Continue reading here.

How awful do the 48th Ward's attempts to prevent the homeless from sleeping in the park seem now?


  1. I see homeless sleeping in clarendon park all the time at night. Not to also mention them drinking and making a fire in back of the empty maryville building at the east side of Montrose and Clarendon. The city police say I have to call the park district police and make complaints to them. I did and I was told over the phone I should call Shillers office as she wants the park police to ease up on throwing them off the park property. I did and they said they never told them that and hung up in my ear. Just like everything in this ward its just one big circle that never ends and people have the nerve to say I am too negative about Uptown where I live.......

  2. That's no argument for not sleeping in the park... that's an argument for never being within several hundred metres of a car. Those things are dangerous!

    Not that anybody *should* be sleeping in the park. Geez, I've done it... do you have any idea how many biting insects there are out there?

  3. I'm not a Chicago native, so maybe some "old timers" can clue me in on this. I've heard that back in the good old days before air conditioning, etc., whole families would abandon their houses and apartments and sleep in local parks during the hottest summer months, without hassle by the police or others. True?

  4. Gayle, I can't enlighten you on that, but I know that people used to sleep on the tops and hoods of their cars at highway rest stops. I have relatives who tell me they did it as recently as the 1970s. Think people feel safe doing that now?

    There were at least three sexual assaults last summer on women sleeping in Uptown parks. And the National Coalition for the Homeless says attacks on the homeless are up in record numbers.

    No, sleeping in the park is hardly a utopia, or even a safe choice. "Hassling" by the cops is the least of their worries.

  5. Yeah, that's what I figured. But it sure does sound intriguing!

    I sometimes see adventurous teenagers sneaking out of their bedrooms and hanging out/sleeping on the roofs of their houses during hot nights. Not a good idea if there's too much of a slant!

  6. I've heard that back in the good old days before air conditioning, etc., whole families would abandon their houses and apartments and sleep in local parks during the hottest summer months, without hassle by the police or others. True?

    I think it was more common for whole families to sleep on their "sleeping porches" during the hot weather. Nowadays, a lot of these porches have been enclosed and I am not sure if people even still call them "sleeping porches" anymore?

    As for sleeping in the parks, that may have been more prevalent during a few days of a high temperature heat wave. That was one of the differences during Chicago's last heat wave---few people felt safe going out at night to sleep, rest or simply cool down. If I remember correctly, Uptown had a lot of deaths in the last heat wave compared to Lakeview, Andersonville, Edgewater, etc.

    I don't have any family who claim to have slept in the parks during a Chicago summer. I, too, would be interested to hear from someone who heard their gram or gramps tell such a story...

  7. My grandmother and her family, emigrants from Sweden, settled in Hyde Park. It was common to sleep in Jackson Park and on the beaches in the summertime. Entire blocks worth of families would convene and make a night of it. Was it something only certain people did? It could have been; that I don’t know. My grandmother, like her siblings and parents, were not class conscientious people. One of the better legacies of a Scandinavian heritage, I suppose. God knows it’s not the food. (Think lutfisk. ;-))

    As for sleeping porches, they are a bit of heaven. I am currently restoring is a 125-year old farmhouse, the house I grew up in actually, and it has a sleeping porch. I took special care to bring this room back. It’s an open-air space on the second floor, set up among the trees, a breezy respite from the summer’s heat. I can’t be sure but my hunch is that sleeping porches were a Victorian staple though somewhat déclassé. They seem to be a regular feature of farmhouses more than the tonier boulevard homes.

    The ’95 heat wave was catastrophic. Many people without air conditioning or sleeping porches, particularly those who health was already compromised by disease or substance abuse and, of course, the elderly would have been better off sleeping on Montrose Beach than staying and dying in their stifling rooms. I analyzed the coroner’s data and geo-plotted this debacle for a colleague who wrote what is, to date, the definitive sociological deconstruction of that catastrophe. And compared to the crime statistics then (and now), I can say unequivocally that sleeping in the park would have saved lives.

    Sleeping in the park is not, categorically, a bad idea. Like just about anything, you have to put it in a context. As jazz great and crazy man Les McCann said about trying to make it real, “Compared to What?”

  8. Back in the days of yore people did sleep in the parks or their front or backyards during extremely hot weather.

    According to my mom who lived through the depression and can tell you where she was when they heard Pearl Harbor had been bombed.

  9. Ah yes, the good ole days. Sometimes I do yearn for those days too.

    I agree about keeping it all in context. These days I keep 911 on my cell phone's speed dial, making it easier than ever to call the police when I see people sleeping in the park. There's nothing worse than accidentally stepping in a person's crap in the park's grass.

  10. HM: Which begs the question: were the public restrooms open and accessible in the old days when people would sleep in the parks?

    Yes, I remember the heat wave of '95 and saw the play "Heat Wave" produced at Pegasus Theatre last year. One of the great catastrophes of our recent history. A friend of mine almost became a victim; luckily she had a good "social network" of people who could look out for her before it was too late.

  11. Which begs the question: were the public restrooms open and accessible in the old days when people would sleep in the parks? Gayle

    Which begs the question: would you want a family member or friend to go inside a restroom in the park at 2 AM alone?

    And it begs another question: do you honestly believe that the only reason why people sleep out in the park at night is because it's too hot in their apartment?

    And one other question: what's the reason for the park curfew again?

    During those good ole days when people slept in the park, there was no such thing as air conditioning. These days we have cooling centers for people who don't have air conditioning and may suffer from harm due to a fragile health condition. It's much safer, cooler, and it's legal.

    If you think that's unfair and cruel, ask Helen to pass an ordinance that would void the curfew in all the city parks. Even Helen knows she would be made the fool for making such a stupid suggestion in City Council. Let her stick to making a fool of herself with fish farms instead.

  12. My parents grew up in Andersonville and Uptown, and my dad says that during the hot months he and my uncle would sleep on the beach with their friends, and that tons of other people were out there, too with hopes of catching a breeze. This was all the way into the late fifties, at least.

  13. Yes, it's true that people did sleep on their porches in hot weather, before air conditioning of course. Henry Ford did this at his mansion/estate in Dearborn, Mich. (who woulda thunk).

    In "modern" times, you have people here enclosing their porches and trying to call them a 2nd "bedroom" for an extra $950/mo. Those days are over.