just another day

They are building an extension to the school which is visible to the southwest from my apartment window, over what used to be part of Nichols Park. It seems to be going well, they have the steel framework built. Over on the other side of the school they are building something else, presumably another extension; the steel framework over there is covered with huge sheets of plastic, which whips around in the wind making it look kind of like a big ghost building.
A couple of years ago there was a bit of a flap about tax credits being offered to businesses in Hyde Park. HP is not what they call a “blighted” neighborhood but did qualify as “at risk” and the tax credits were supposed to keep businesses in business so that HP wouldn’t turn into part of the wasteland-like area it is surrounded by. The flap was due to the fact that HP is considered to be a rich neighborhood in comparison to a lot of the rest of the south side, and people were annoyed about “the rich” getting tax credits. They have a point, a lot depends on how HP is defined; the area right around the University and Kenwood is pretty rich, but if you treat the area north of 47th St. or west of Cottage Grove as part of HP it makes it look much closer to “blighted,” though I don’t know the technical definition of that term.
There’s a newspaper called Streetwise in Chicago, which is sold by homeless and other disadvantaged people, the purpose being to help people learn job skills and so forth. It’s an interesting paper, and definitely represents a different point of view than the mainstream media, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with that. For example, a lot of the people living in the projects really didn’t want to move when the city started planning to tear them down and create new, smaller-scale subsidized housing interspersed in middle-class neighborhoods. I can understand not wanting to move and leave the community of people you’ve become familiar with; but on the other hand the projects were terrible, terrible places to live and the new plan at least had a hope of being better, so, as I say, it’s difficult to know how to resolve that, but fortunately I’m not in charge.
Anyway, Streetwise had a big article about this tax credits thing, filled with cleverly photographed pictures of the upscale businesses on my own beloved street. For example, they managed to get a photo of the health foods store, without getting the “Harper Beverage Mart” or “Valois: See Your Food” in the frame. If I remember correctly there were also some photos of the stores in the Harper Court complex, which look nice, but seems to always have several empty stores in it; and the photos managed to exclude the dismal looking storefronts right next to it, which include a now-defunct movie theater (I think it was operating then, but just barely).
Apparently, I don’t have much of a point to make with all this, just going over my mental landscape. HP is such a strange place; when I moved here the custodian in my first building assured me that it was a relatively low-crime neighborhood, and the police statistics seem to agree; but there are muggings in broad daylight here practically every single week. Some people think it’s a rich neighborhood, some people tell me they would be too scared to live here. I often wonder how Chicago got like this: why does so much of it seem to be full of abandoned, boarded up buildings and sketchy-looking businesses? Why is it still so segregated? Why do so many people seem to think Lincoln Park is so great, anyway?
Anyway, I’d better get back to ancient Anatolia where I belong, at least for a few more weeks.

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