Sunday, January 2, 2011

Uptown: A Year In Review (Part 2)

And we continue with a recap of 2010 in Uptown. (Part 1 is here).

  • The 4600 block of Clifton became less loitered upon, thanks to the work of a task force consisting of the police, UCC, Rep. Greg Harris, the Uptown Chamber, Truman College, businesses on Clifton, and area residents.  Dumpsters were also removed from the public way.
  • Molly Phelan threw her hat into the ring for 46th Ward Alderman.  Gerald Farinas retrieved his.  Four candidates now:  Phelan, Nowotny, Carroll and Cappleman.  And a whole lot of rumors.
  • Despite fears, the July 4th lakeside fireworks show was a success after Uptown became the North Side location for the city's official show.
  • Uptown's first gang-related death:  Detrick Garrett was murdered in the wee hours of the morning in Clarendon Park.  Later that evening, another man was shot in a car Sheridan Park, possibly in retaliation.
  • Ald. Shiller, with no community input or notice, submitted an ordinance to lift the package liquor moratorium for the area including Wilson and Broadway.
  • Fame da Lupo closed, and was soon replaced by The Cousins.
  • The three-day Windy City Ribfest was a lot of fun and a huge success (judging by the number of ribs consumed and number of people dancing in the streets).  It was Uptown at its best and brightest.
  • Target opened, with the Mayor, Ald. Shiller and Peter Holsten in attendance.  The mayor assured us that we'd "soon forget" the Wilson Yard controversy.
  • There was a violent street fight between gangs at Wilson and Broadway in the middle of the afternoon.  Two convicted felons were arrested and one was tased.  What made this notable was that a couple "concerned citizens" filed complaints with the police over the "unjustified" tasing.
  • After a month of reports of "shots fired" on the 4400-4500 blocks of Magnolia, the bullets finally hit their mark, and Aaron Carter was murdered in plain view of residents and onlookers on a Wednesday afternoon.
  • There was a fire with injuries at the building on the NW corner of Wilson and Beacon.  Firefighters carried several people from the building and put the fire out quickly.
  • Ald. Shiller announced to the media that she would not be running for reelection in 2011.  (A full week later, she got around to addressing the residents of the 46th Ward about her decision, via her website.)  This became the most commented-on story of 2010 on Uptown Update.
  • Greg Harris, citing his ongoing work on the civil unions legislation in Springfield, announced he would not seek Ald. Shiller's aldermanic seat.
  • Our favorite "You Get What You Ask For" moment of the year:  The outdoor screening of Singin' in the Rain was canceled, due to (what else?) rain.
  • Lisa Nigro, who founded Inspiration Corporation, received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Obama.
  • Ald. Shiller's office said she would not request to have the moratorium lifted on selling liquor-to-go in the Wilson/Broadway area.
  • Residents began campaigning to make the drug drive-through in the Wilson/Magnolia strip mall a no-loitering zone.
  • Ald. Mary Ann Smith announced that, like Ald. Shiller, she will not seek reelection in 2011.  She informed her constituents about it the same day.
  • A Pizza Hut deliveryman was badly beaten on the 4400 block of Magnolia.  We haven't heard any follow-up and hope he is doing well today.
  • The snazzy bricolage murals on the outside of Uplift School, done by participants in After School Matters, were completed.
  • Harry Osterman hinted he would be interested in running for the 48th Ward Aldermanic opening.
  • The Chase Park Playground received a half-a-million-dollar overhaul; the mayor attended the re-dedication ceremony.
  • For the second year running, the Wilson el stop received the "Crust Station" award.  Yay, us.
  • Andy Lam announced his candidacy for 46th Ward alderman.
  • Reed Appliance opened its doors on Wilson Avenue.
  • Befekadu Retta announced his intention to run for 46th Ward alderman.
  • So did Emily Stewart.
  • Harry Osterman made it official in the 48th Ward.
  • The Black Ensemble Theater broke ground on its new location at 4440-4450 N Clark.
  • Arnold's Restaurant closed after many years as an Uptown fixture.
  • An Uptown CSA program was started, to provide seasonal produce at an affordable price, year-round.
  • A particularly low-water mark in a year marked by gun violence:  A shooter let loose with a volley of shots near the Jewel parking lot at Montrose that had shoppers dropping to the ground.  We don't know the intended target, but bullets went through the window of an older couple on the 8th floor of Pensacola Place, a block away.
  • The laundromat at Weiss Plaza re-opened under new ownership.
  • The Combined Insurance properties, including the main offices and a 600-car parking structure, were sold at auction.
  • SL Grill closed, and Papa Ray Pizza & Wings took its place.
  • The American Islamic College reopened after ten years, at Irving Park and Marine.
  • The Broadway streetscaping was completed.
  • While new small trees were being planted along Broadway and Wilson, the mature trees that had been in front of Truman College for years were cut down as part of the parking garage renovation.
  • Wild Pug closed its doors.
  • The worst day of the year, violence-wise, was Halloween.  In the wee hours of the morning, a man was wounded inside of his home by a shooter outside, near Wilson and Malden.  Then, just steps from "safe trick-or-treating" on Kenmore, a gunman fired a series of shots, wounding three teenagers (one just 13 years old), and forcing little princesses and superheroes carrying bags of candy to jump behind trees and dive behind cars to avoid being shot.  An hour later, a man was murdered on Sunnyside, just steps from the new Target.  Rest in peace, Marlos Canteberry.  A sad, sad day for this community.
  • Dominick's opened a flagship store at Foster and Sheridan, just a year after the previous, badly outdated store closed.
  • The new Admiral at the Lake broke ground on its new senior housing complex, replacing an older building that had been there since 1960.
  • The office windows of several politicians and aldermanic candidates were smashed with bricks.
  • Stewart Elementary School presented its first musical, "The Best Little Theatre in Town."
  • Buttercup Park Advisory Committee put its two final designs online and invited community input and comments.
  • Ceres' Table and Hopleaf received Bib Gourmand ratings from the Michelin Guide, denoting that they offer "good cuisine at a reasonable value."
  • The new Town Hall police station opened.
  • Strictly Locals artist exchange/gallery opened on Clark Street.
  • The new property tax bills didn't say it, but a trip to Cook County Clerk David Orr's website revealed that people in the Wilson Yard tax district are paying 71-74% of their property taxes to the TIF instead of to city services.
  • The seven 46th Ward aldermanic wannabes who had already declared their candidacies turned in their nominating petitions, with five surprise candidates joining them:  Diane Shapiro, Marc Kaplan, Caitlin McIntyre, Janice V. Thomas and Scott Baskin.  There were five candidates in the 48th Ward and five in the 47th, as well.
  • Thanks to the hard work and sponsorship of Rep. Greg Harris, the civil unions bill passed in the Illinois House, followed by the Senate a day later.
  • Eight challenges were filed against 46th Ward candidates, and five against 47th Ward candidates.  Even though the Board of Elections required that the ballot be finalized by December 23rd, we're still awaiting the results of most of them.  [Chop, chop, guys and gals!  We'd really like to know who's going to be on our ballots!]
  • Sarah's Circle announced its intention to open an SRO at 4836 Sheridan.
  • Former political opponents Heather Steans and Suzanne Elder teamed up to get "The Care of Students With Diabetes Act" passed, despite a gubernatorial veto.
  • Pegasus Players announced it will leave its home at Truman College to take over the Hull House performance space that Black Ensemble Theater will be vacating.
  • The Clark streetscaping project was completed and dedicated.
  • Sedgwick Properties resurrected its plan for Lake View Station on the Maryville site, holding small community meetings and sponsoring a write-in campaign.
  • Masala Indian and Thai restaurant opened on Argyle.
  • Harold's Chicken opened on Wilson.
  • A Secret Santa left stockings with gift cards in them around town.
  • Uptown won Curbed Chicago's "Neighborhood of the Year" vote.
We ran 1,328 items in 2010, and sadly, no subject was more prevalent than violence, most of it having to do with gangs.  By the numbers:
  • Number of times readers reported hearing "shots fired" with no victim reported: 32
  • Number of shooting victims UU reported, with injuries ranging from superficial to catastrophic: 31
  • Number of residents murdered: 4
  • Number of times Ald. Shiller came to CAPS or sent a representative: 0
  • Number of times Ald. Shiller responded to or even acknowledged the violence: 0
If we have a New Year's resolution for our community, it's that Uptown's crime rate starts resembling that of its bordering areas, rather than Tombstone, Arizona in the 1880s.  Here's to a safer, saner 2011.


  1. For you political junkies the website "Early and Often" is free this week.

    Browse around for the 46th Ward stuff.