Month: February 2013

Chicago: That Neighborhood Feel

Let’s call this post “a tale of two neighborhoods.”

One is Andersonville. It’s a north side neighborhood. Its borders run roughly from Broadway on the east to Ashland on the west, and from Foster to Peterson/Ridge at its north end.

In terms of geography, it’s an unremarkable neighborhood – no close CTA stop or Metra stop, no rivers or remarkable parks, and one main bus (the perpetually crowded and slow 22 Clark) running down Clark Street, its main thoroughfare.

Photo credit: Patrick Erwin

Photo credit: Patrick Erwin

The second is my current hood: the West Loop. Or as I like to call it, WeLo.

(It sounds clever, right? Also, I’m a lazy typist and that’s way fewer letters.)

WeLo has a close proximity to the Loop. It’s got one main bus route (the perpetually crowded and slow 20 Madison), and a new, shiny Morgan Green Line stop. (Two more stops, both Blue Line, sit at the extreme southern ends of the neighborhood.)

The Bartelme Park at Monroe and Peoria is an entire city block of amazingness. And WeLo is also known for “Restaurant Row” on its northern end.

But for all the amazing things happening in WeLo, it still hasn’t reached that point of coalescence as a neighborhood. Andersonville, on the other hand, is the textbook definition of a neighborhood, and all the pluses of one: tight community ties and people filling its shops, stores and restaurants.

Why isn’t WeLo every bit as cozy and inviting as Andersonville? I’ve wondered why for a while – and figured I’d try to use some urban planning ideas and metrics to compare and contrast these two areas.

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Hello City

Because I’m a pop culture kid at heart, I was captivated by the Atlantic Cities post on the “Hello” commercials for local news stations.

The Cliff Notes version: Local news stations share concepts, from theme music to commercial/promotional ideas, and this one spread like wildfire in the 80s. (From what I can tell, it was primarily for ABC affiliates.)

It was created by Frank Gari, who also wrote many of the theme music packages news stations have used over the years. For those of us of a certain age, it evokes a whole lot of nostalgia.

The Atlantic Cities post shares a few, including Milwaukee, the first in the series.

I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few other towns – Rust Belt towns, of course. (more…)

Postscript: Uptown Theater

Last week, I shared a post about the long-dormant Uptown Theater, and what its long-planned renaissance would mean to that neighborhood.

Some photos from a recent Chicago magazine feature by photographer Eric Holubow show the current state of the Uptown. You can see those photos here (the first 7 or so) along with other abandoned movie houses in the area.

These theaters constitute several thousand square feet of valuable resources that are already standing. It seems like a no-brainer to use that space – and not tear these gems down to build a McPlaza.