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January 24, 2010

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and yesterday I went to all of them.  Coffee in Bucktown, lunch at De Colores in Pilsen, the Art Institute and Millennium Park downtown, Wicker Park for some record shopping, drinks at a friend’s in Ukrainian Village, and Lakeview to an incredibly corny bar called Uncle Fatty’s Rum Resort that smelled like college.  Some good friends were in town and we had a marathon day; it was stupendous.

Walking through Pilsen, I was thinking a lot about gentrification and what it does to neighborhoods.  I’m not going to attempt to draw any conclusions; good and bad things persist every time a neighborhood flips.  The forces are often unstoppable, so  it can be important to focus not on if a neighborhood will change, but how to best manage that change in a sustainable way for the rooted residents as well as the newcomers.  For an interesting time line of “how Bucktown got boutiqued,” take a look here.

Some info on the photos below: In Nos. 345, the top photo is taken from the Nichols Bridgeway that takes you from Millenium Park, over Monroe St., straight into the Modern Wing of the Art Institute.  I love the way the city looks when clouds fog out the tops of the buildings.  A really great photo of the Nichols Bridge can be seen here.  The two photos below that were taken in Pilsen, and the disturbing wallpaper below that is from Robert Gober’s Untitled, 1989-96, exhibited in the Modern Wing.  The artist had this to say about the work:

“The painful imagery depicted on the wallpaper in this 1989 installation was meant as a reminder of fact– the ugly and unforgettable reality of the United States’ history. By putting this image onto endlessly repeating wallpaper, I made an attempt to say, metaphorically, that this was not an isolated event and that in ways it has become our background.”

The final photo from Nos. 345 was actually taken Friday night, not Saturday – I cheated.  In Nos. 344, the first photo is again an incredible display of winter shapes from the porch of my apartment, as the clouds broke for about 5 minutes this morning.  The photo below that was taken at Jerry’s Sandwiches in Wicker Park.

Nos. 344: 1/24/2010

“Did you ever live in New York?” I asked
“Used to.”
“I was just there.  I want to live there someday.”
“I lived there ten years.”
“Why did you leave?”
Again the direct look.  “I woke up one morning and realized, if I didn’t, I’d be dead in a year.”

– Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

Nos. 345: 1/23/2010

Yuppies Out – The Natives Are Hostile

– grafiti written on the Abco Supply Building in Wicker Park,
Chicago as the neighborhood began to gentrify, erased in 1994

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2010 6:43 am

    I love the view from your porch and I’ve never seen wallpaper like that. A message indeed.

  2. January 26, 2010 2:47 am

    I came across your blog this evening and have enjoy reading over it so much. You have a knack for picking quotes and I like the ideas you put forth. Wonderful indeed!

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