People look to Chicago parks as health risks rise

Thousands of Chicago residents walked through the warm spring air over Easter weekend, but the air wasn’t doing them any favors.

According to a new report published earlier this month, Chicago had 151 dirty air days last year. Seventy of those days also had elevated smog levels.

Many Chicagoans say they escape the pollution of the city at public parks.

“I try walk through some greenery every now and then,” said Nora Drew, a freshman at DePaul, as she walked along the sidewalk to Oz Park on Webster. “I don’t think I could live somewhere without any parks.”


Parks are often seen as an escape from urban harms such as air pollution. “Chicago-018” by Jesse Rapczak licensed under CC by 2.0.

She said living near a park makes her feel healthier.

“Being close to Oz Park, it makes me get out and move around a bit more,” she said.

Mayor Emmanuel appears to agree. His office announced a $26 million investment to repair aging park facilities earlier in April.

“I think investing in parks is a win-win,” said Drew. “It helps us stay healthy, and it gets us to go out and do something with ourselves.”

Beyond the Air

For South and West side residents, health problems extend beyond air pollution.


A Sinai Urban Health survey found that South and West siders have high rates of obesity, diabetes, asthma, and more.

CHIObesity has become a serious health risk in many neighborhoods in Chicago. Statistics found on Chicago’s Data Portal.

Though many health factors in these areas require complicated and long-term fixes beyond public green space, many parks in the South and West sides are scheduled for improvement with the new investment. Among the parks on the list for repair are Archer Park, Austin Town Hall Park, Columbus Park, Douglas Park, Dvorak Park, Fosco Park, Hamilton Park, and Harrison Park.

Are parks a possible solution to Chicago’s health problems? Contact me by email at or on twitter @silber_depaul



Residents succeed in halting construction of River North tower


River North is home to some of the tallest buildings in Chicago. Newer high rise plans, however, face steep opposition from residents. “Chicago 204a” by Lize licensed under CC by 2.0.

For River North residents, bigger isn’t necessarily better.

Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd Ward announced that plans for a high rise at 739 N Wabash Street won’t be moving forward.

The proposed 725-foot-tall Carillon Tower was going to be the tallest planned River North Building since Trump Tower. Residents, however raised concerns about traffic at a community meeting about the project in March.

After seeing these plans, people felt the plans did not do enough enough to address the already slow traffic at the intersection of Superior Street and Wabash Avenue.

The building was supposed to be mixed use, with retail on the first floors, condos, hotels, and indoor parking.

“This combination of uses suggests heavy volumes of deliveries, curbside pick-up/drop-off, special event traffic and buses,” Alderman Reilly wrote in an email to constituents on Friday, “It’s simply too much for this block.”

Similar sentiments caused the Alderman to oppose a proposal for a 45 story hotel in the same area in 2014.

New construction plans ahead

It’s also worth noting that a few blocks down Chicago-based JDL Development plans to build two to four apartment and condo towers on the site of the old parking lot for Holy Name Cathedral. JDL bought the lot for $115 million earlier in April.

Details on height and size of these buildings have not yet been determined. Don’t expect happy residents if they’re too big.


Will residents approach development of the former Holy name parking with the same coldness as 739 N. Wabash? “Holy Name Cathedral” by David Wilson, licensed under CC by 2.0.

What do you think about River North development? contact me by email at or on twitter @silber_depaul