A Walk up Michigan

Many journeys begin with a Google Search. Something piques our curiosity, and we take a simple step to learn more. I typed four words into the search bar: “South Michigan Ave Chicago.”

I know North Michigan Ave well. I have worked on the wold-famous Mag Mile for almost two years. Tourists from around the world visit, pack shopping bags, walk through Grant Park, and discover the joys of Deep Dish and Chicago dogs. The street brims with activity and fantastic noise.

I, admittedly, did not know much about South Michigan Ave, and a quick google search left me unsatisfied. I knew one end of the street so well, but what about the other?

Google did give me a starting point. Beyond the popular stretch of road from River North through Grant Park, Michigan Ave quietly continues uninterrupted through five more miles of Chicago Neighborhoods. One of the most famous streets in the world dead ends at the base of a railroad yard in South Chicago. It then Reemerges south of the railroad tracks and continues all the way to the Calumet River on 127th Street.

I decided to walk north on Michigan Avenue from it’s first dead end at 63rd street to its end at Oak Street in River North. I wanted to see where the avenue took me and document whatever I came across. This is the story of my 8.5 mile journey up Michigan Ave.

Washington Park

Early Wednesday afternoons are quiet. I only hear the noise of the cars at the base of Michigan Avenue. Here is where the mighty road dead-ends into 63rd Street, a few blocks east of a Red Line stop and a few blocks west of a Green Line stop. The neighborhood is Washington Park. I begin walking north on Michigan.

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The end of Michigan Avenue at 63rd Street

This part of Michigan Avenue is defined more by churches than storefronts. I pass several residential developments named after St. Edmund, and two large churches dominate the corner of Michigan and 61st Street. St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church has been operating from this location since 1940. St. Anselm’s Catholic Church across the street broke ground in 1924.

 

As I continue, I pass an empty, fenced-in patch of grass. Plenty of plots of land in Washington Park have no homes. At its height in the 1950s the neighborhood held 57,000 people. Today’s population is somewhere around 12,000. The tremendous population decline was caused by several factors, including changing industrial and commercial job centers in the city, white flight from South Chicago, and city-mandated slum clearance.

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Overgrown dandelions on a patch of grass just south of 62nd Street

Many sights of former low-cost apartments were turned into non-residential community areas or simply left undeveloped. Today’s population is predominately poor, with an average household income of $22,085, and Almost 25% of the neighborhood’s housing units are vacant.

 

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I walk past the WBGX Gospel radio station, and then go under L tracks a bit before 59th street. There are no L stops in Michigan Avenue’s expanse, but the Green Line passes over the road twice. This specific track is the Ashland branch, which was originally constructed in between 1905 and 1908.

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Sunlight passes through Green Line tracks passing over Michigan Ave

I pass William W Carter Elementary on 58th Street and hear children playing at recess:

I pass a small food mart and a little Islamic Education Center, and arrive at the intersection of Michigan and Garfield. Two men are selling personal hygiene products from the back of a truck.

“I sell soap that you wash up with,” said the man with a plaid jacket. “Like bars, and cologne, to make you smell good.”

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Two men enjoying the weather and selling soap from the back of a truck

Across the street on Michigan is a large construction project. A mixed-income housing project called Cleo Art Residencies broke ground here in January, with Mayor Emanuel in attendance. The city has invested over $7 million into this housing project.

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Cleo Art Residencies

It takes a few minutes to cross Garfield Avenue. After I do, I meet a man and two men helping him do yard work.

“I’ve been living in the neighborhood going on six years,” he said. “My daughter’s been here longer.”

He said he loves the neighborhood and knows his neighbors. He claims the house next door to him used to be the residence of the legendary musician Nat King Cole.

 

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“See that house there, you should take a picture of that. He was the most famous singer.”

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Did Nat King Cole really live in this house? It is hard to say. Cole lived in Chicago as a child, and his family moved a few times. Cole definitely did live and go to school less than a mile from this residence, and even lived on the corner of Michigan Avenue and 47th Street.

I pass Greater Bethesda Baptist Church. The building was once a Jewish temple called the B’nai Sholom Temple Israel. The eastern part of the neighborhood was originally settled by German Jews in the 1890s. The outside is still adorned with the Star of David.

 

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At this time of day the neighborhood is quiet. The occasional pedestrian crosses my path, and a few neighbors converse on front porches. It is a nice spring day, so some people are simply sitting outside and reading.

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A man reads the Chicago Sun-Times by the sidewalk

I have been walking for about an hour, and as I reach the northern border of Washington Park on 51st Street, I stop and grab some lunch. The restaurant is Shark’s Fish and Chicken, a chain prominent in South Chicago. I got 6 wings, fries, and mild sauce. It is delicious.

 

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The cashier tells me to be careful. I’m carrying an expensive looking camera, and the area doesn’t have the cleanest track record regarding crimes and robberies.

“They wanna cause a scene, get your attention, they’re gonna get that sh_t. They don’t give two sh_ts. I seen them get a guy, this construction guy. He had all these tools and stuff in his truck. One of the guys was talking to him, the other went and stole his stuff, like a power drill. They sold it for ten dollars.”

I finish my meal, listening to local patrons’ conversations as a midday soap opera plays in the background. I get up and go on my way.

Grand Boulevard

I cross 51st Street and officially enter Grand Boulevard. The boulevard that gives the neighborhood its name has gone through two name changes. It was given its current name, Martin Luther King Drive, after King’s death in 1968. Grand Boulevard is the southernmost section of Bronzeville.

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A quiet day in Grand Boulevard

Grand Boulevard was at the heart of Chicago’s African-American culture in the early 20th Century. Richard Wright, Louis Armstrong, and Dr. Daniel Hale Williams all called Grand Boulevard home. At its peak in the 1950s, over 100,000 people resided in the neighborhood, which is less than two square miles in area. Today the population is about 21,000 people.

Like Washington Park, this stretch of Michigan Ave holds several churches. St. Elizabeth Church was home to the first publicly recognized African-American Catholic priest in the United States, Father Augustus Tolton.

 

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The intersection of of 47th Street and Michigan is one of the first commercial strips I come across. Restaurants, salons, and convenience stores line the street.

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I meet a man on the street corner and ask to take his picture. He agrees, but doesn’t want to show his face.

On the intersection at 45th I run across a relic of Chicago’s past. Two of Chicago’s richest meatpacking families- the Swifts and the Morrises- married into each other in 1890, and in 1892 they built a large mansion at this intersection. It has gone through the hands of multiple people and organizations in the past hundred years, including a funeral home, the Chicago Urban League, and the Inner City Youth and Adult Foundation.

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The Swift Mansion.

I come across an interesting business called Chi Turf. They sell artificial turf in the city, and have different varieties named after various neighborhoods.

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Turf samples on the sidewalk outside of Chi Turf.

The Green Line passes over again at 40th street, and I come to the edge of Grand Boulevard at Pershing Road.

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The intersection of Michigan and Pershing. The tall old building to the left was once a factory and is now a closed archive center owned by Vanguard.

Douglas

The Douglas community encompasses the northern section of Bronzeville. The community is named after famous Illinois senator Stephan A. Douglas, who ran for Presidency against Abraham Lincoln in 1860.  The Senator owned seventy acres of land between 34th and 35th street in the 1850s. During the Civil War the Union built Camp Douglas, a training facility and Confederate prison, between 31st and 33rd street.

Early on in Douglas I come across The South Side Community art Center. The center was opened during the Great Depression in 1940 with the help of the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt gave the dedication speech at the same building the center calls home today.

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The South Side Community Art Center is the only remaining art center created by the Federal Art Project.

Just North of 36th Place I come across the massive Chicago Public Safety Headquarters. When it was built in 2000, it was considered one of the most technologically advanced police headquarters in the country. Originally just the headquarters for the Chicago Police Department, the Chicago Fire Department also moved in in 2011 as a cost-saving measure by the city. WGN reporters prepare to do a video shoot outside the building as I walk by.

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A woman reads her phone in the shade of the Public Safety Headquarters.

Just North of the Headquarters is the De La Salle Institute, a preparatory school with an incalculable influence on Chicago. De La Salle Alumni include five Chicago mayors: Frank J. Corr, Martin H. Kennelly, Richard J. Daley, Michael A. Bilandic, and Richard M. Daley. Students loiter outside the school as I walk by.

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The sun shines over De La Salle’s southeast corner.

The Illinois Institute of Technology’s campus Borders Michigan Ave to the west. IIT first opened its doors in 1893, and its current campus was largely the work of world-famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. On this spring morning the facilities are empty, quiet, and green. The university’s school year ended in early May.

 

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At 31st Street I meet a woman with a reflective vest and aviator sunglasses. She works for Safe Passage Chicago, a city program that provides a safe route home for students before and after school. She sees my camera and is happy to pose for a picture.

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A Safe Passage worker enjoying the spring weather.

31st Street is also the point where Michigan Ave finally becomes a two lane road. It continues as two lane road through it’s endpoint in River North.

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The beginning of the North Route.

At 28th street I meet a bus driver who is taking a break to stretch out. His name is Patrick Coogan, He says he only works as a city bus driver part-time. He is also a location scout for NBC’s television shows and owns an apartment building in the city. I tell him I grew up in Ohio, and he proudly informed me that he once met the legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes.

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Patrick Coogan stands by his bus on the #1 route stop on Michigan and 28th Street.

The Community of Douglas comes to an end at 26th street. This street also marks the end of Bronzeville. The towers of downtown grow

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The End of Douglas at 26th Street.

Near South Side

It is in the Near South Side Community that Michigan Avenue’s surroundings grow significantly in height and density. The area has had an ever-changing presence in the city. Once the site of a Native American settlement, the community was settled by blue collar  Illinois & Michigan Canal workers in the 1850s. Wealthy businessmen built mansions in the community later in the 1800s and subsequently left at the turn of the century for quieter residences further from the Loop. The Near South Side then became a vice district with a distasteful reputation for gambling and prostitution leading into World War I.

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Mercy Hospital and Medical Center just north of 26th Street was the first chartered hospital in Chicago, with roots tracing back to 1852. President Theodore Roosevelt was treated for a gunshot wound here.

The community hosted the 1933 World’s Fair at the height of the Depression. After decades of population decline from the 1960s to the 1980s, a real estate boom ushered in a large population increase from the 1990s to present day.

I pass over the Stevenson expressway, and can see  McCormick Place, Chicago’s main convention center, to the north. The expressway lies mostly over the same Illinois & Michigan Canal that the original settlers of the area dug.

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Peering through the fence on the bridge over Stevenson Expressway.

I now enter into Chicago’s historic Motor Row district. During the auto boom in the first half of the 20th century, the strip of Michigan Ave from 14th to 22nd Street became the go-to location in Chicago to buy and repair cars.

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Motor Row has an atmosphere quite different than Michigan Ave in Bronzeville.

I come across a brick building that is famous for a few reasons. Built in 1936, it originally housed the exclusive Illinois Automobile Club. Later it housed the Chicago Defender Headquarters.

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The former Illinois Auto club building and Chicago Defender headquarters is now an event production space.

There are notably fewer places of worship in this community. Second Presbyterian Church is the first of only two churches I pass in Near North Side.

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Second Presbyterian Church has been operating from various locations in Chicago since 1842. The current building was built in 1872.

I have been walking for a long time now, and I am getting a bit tired. The sun is unrelenting, and my hand is cramping up from taking pictures. I stop at a little store called Green Leaf Market just south of 16th street and by a can of iced tea.

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Enjoying a refreshment.

I come across Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church next. The church was constructed in 2002, but the St. Mary’s Parish has been operating since 1842, when St. Mary’s Cathedral was built in the Loop. The church opened an elementary school in 2004.

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Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church and School.

Near South Side is bustling with construction. A 47 story high-rise is under construction between 13th and 14th Street. The building will hold over 500 rental apartments.

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A wonderland of construction. The permits for the construction project pictured were an estimated $119 million.

I reach the end of the Near South Side at Roosevelt. from the intersection Grant Park and the towers of River North come into view.

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The end of Near South Side at Roosevelt.

The Loop

Most of Michigan Ave in the Loop Boarders Grant Park to the east with dense, tall buildings to the west. The park is lined with several famous monuments, fountains, and sculptures. The park has been a designated area for public use since the origins of Chicago. In 1839 it was designated that the area west of Michigan avenue be “public ground forever to remain vacant of buildings.”

 

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This part of the walk is beautiful. The historic center of the largest city in the Midwest towers to the left, and the greenery and monuments of the park to the right.

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Though the Loop is already dense with skyscrapers, construction is occurring here too. This 57-story project on 800 South Michigan Ave will include 476 apartments and 290 hotel rooms .

Soon I pass the Auditorium Theatre. The theater was designed by the famous architecture due Adler and Sullivan and completed in 1889. It played a large role in Chicago being named the site of the 1893 World’s Fair.

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The Auditorium Theatre was the marvel of its time. It was the tallest building in the city when it was constructed. The building had electric lighting and air conditioning, and the stage had perfect acoustics.

The streets are getting busier as I continue north. The street comes to life in the warmth, and food vendors pile on side streets.

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A group of friends walking in-sync.

I reach the Art Institute, which is buzzing with people. A group of tourists are posing for a photo and ask me to take a few pictures with their phones. I ask a man where they’re from. “We’re Indian!” is all he says.

 

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The Loop continues after Grant Park for a few blocks, and the skyscrapers overwhelm the senses. Light reflects off the windows and filters down onto the street.

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The Crain Communications Building looks stunning in the bright afternoon.

I meet a man in a wheelchair and chat with him for a minute.

“My name’s Albert, like Fat Albert,” he says.

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Albert Holds up a peace sign across the street from Michigan Plaza

The Loop ends at the Chicago River. Michigan Ave passes over the DuSable Bridge into the Near North Side, and marks the beginning of the Magnificent Mile.

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The intersection of Michigan and Wacker is one of the most famous views in the city. One can see the Wrigley Building to the left, Tribune Tower in the center, and the John Hancock Center peeking in from the background.

Near North Side

After four hours of walking I finally reach River North, the South-eastern section of the Near North Side community. This is the center of Chicago retail and home of some of the city’s most famous buildings.

I first visit the bust of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, historically regarded as the first resident of Chicago. Point du Sable settled at the mouth of the Chicago River and established a successful trade settlement in the 1790s. Though he sold his property in 1800 and moved to the Missouri area, his settlement eventually blossomed into modern Chicago.

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Point du Sable’s sculpture overlooks the Chicago River and DuSable Bridge.

The wide, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks are lined with flowers and greenery. The rain from the day before seems to have livened up the plant-life, which stands in contrast to its metallic and concrete surroundings.

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A fence, flowers, and towers. South tower, home of  the InterContinental Hotel, overlooks Michigan Ave.

 

 

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A saxophonist named Armando plays tunes on the sidewalk. 

I walk by a Rolex store and think of the wide range of places I have walked through today. A few short hours ago I was walking along vacant lots and now I am passing stores that sell watches worth more than my college tuition.

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Shining golden letters on a granite wall.

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The Burberry Building  on Ontario is a sight that cameras cannot quite capture. The whole structure waves with light reflections.

The Allerton Hotel on Huron Street was built in 1924, and was the first Chicago skyscraper to have pronounced setbacks as it got taller to conform with a new zoning ordinance passed in 1923.

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The famous brickwork of the Allerton regally towers next to the glass and steel skyscrapers of the modern Mag Mile.

I pass the Old Chicago Water tower and come across the John Hancock Center. The Hancock Center was the second tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1969. It’s bold shape and X-braced exterior are prominent in nearly every skyline photo of the city.

 

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Michigan Ave is Chicago’s stage. It is the setting for Chicago’s greatest triumphs and humble roots. Millions of feet have walked its sidewalks, from the men selling soap on Garfield Blvd to the birthday girl outside the Water Tower Place.

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A girl holds a birthday balloon outside of Macy’s at Water Tower Place.

I come to Michigan Avenue’s end as it intersects with Oak Street and dissolves into Lake Shore Drive. I walked through the streets of six communities, learning about their history and meeting their residents along the way. As I look south at the road I just spent my day walking up, I cannot help but feel more connected with the city I call home.

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The end of the road.

 

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Poets in Chicago: A Reading at Women and Children First Bookstore

A small crowd of men and women gathered at the Women and Children First Bookstore to hear three poets: Xandria Phillips, José Olivarez, and Eloisa Amezcua. Women and Children First is one of the largest feminist bookstores in the country, and hosts poetry readings and book releases several times every month featuring feminist and LGBT authors. This reading specifically celebrated Amezcua’s new book From the Inside Quietly,. H. Melt, a bookseller at the store, opened the event with a quick word about each poet and the bookstore. Each poet then read several poems, and the night finished with book signings.

Xandria Phillips

Xandria Phillips has come a long way from her roots in rural Ohio. She moved to Chicago for the exciting energy and opportunities a big city brings. She earned a B.A. at Oberlin College in 2014, where she studied creative writing and Africana studies. She has published two books, Hull (Nightboat Books 2019) and Reasons For Smoking. Her poetry focuses on race and queerness.

Xandria Phillips opened with the poem “Erica Garner and John Henryism”

The second poem she read was titled “Without a Black Mother.”

“It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever written,” said Phillips. After a pause, she laughed and said, “That’s a dramatic thing to say, but it’s true. You’re welcome. You get to hear it.”

After reading a few more poems, Phillips then read a poem called “Sharks are older than trees.” Before reading the poem, she said, “I really tried to not read a shark poem, but I am going to read a shark poem, just FYI. I’m sorry if you’re hearing it again, but I really like it.” Phillips has written several poems about sharks, including the poems “Beached Shark as a Blues Poem” and “For A Burial Free Of Sharks,” which won the fifth annual Gigantic Sequins Poetry Contest in 2016.

She finished with this poem:

José Olivarez

José Guadalupe Olivarez graduated from Harvard University, co-authored the book of poems Home Court, co-hosts the podcast “The Poetry Gods”, and is a marketing manager at Young Chicago Authors. Much of his poetry focuses on being the son of Mexican Immigrants. He also has a new book Citizen Illegal, debuting in September.

“Like a little sibling, it’s on its way,” said Olivarez

He began with a poem titled “My Parents Fold Like luggage”

After reading a few more poems, he read a poem called “Gentification” about both Hispanic immigration and gentrification.

Eloisa Amezcua

Eloisa Amezcua was the final poet of the night. She was also the only poet not based in Chicago. She is an Arizona native. She is a MacDowell fellow, and her debut collection From the Inside Quietly came out in March, 2018. In addition to writing poetry she also translates Spanish poems into English.

She opened with a poem titled “THERE WAS NOTHING TO DO BUT HURT EACH OTHER IN A PLACE LIKE THAT”

THERE WAS NOTHING TO DO BUT HURT EACH OTHER IN A PLACE LIKE THAT

We drive the back roads deeper
into the desert. We’ve driven

this road before, alone together.
Mother tells me about the house

built by her father on the outskirts
of San Luis Río Colorado,

how garbage trucks didn’t make it
that far from town so the family burned

trash in a pit out back every night.
The useless pile’s glow visible for miles.

She tells me about her siblings—
five sisters, two brothers—

how they threw her in that pit
one morning. They called her pollita

and cenicienta, her fair skin ashen
and filthy. They hated me, she says,

we hated each other. She blames
her hair—the light strands

in old photographs surrounded
by manes black like mine. I brushed it

obsessively, mother tells me. Hundreds
of times a night
, she says. The sun

peaks over the Sand Tank Mountains.
Her blonde hair turns white nearly.

It’s been years since I’ve touched it.
The smell of dirt and sun seeps in

through vents, mixes with the cool
air keeping us awake. I count saguaros,

imagine sitting under their long shadows.
But they pass too quickly or I give up

too easily. We drive and mother tells me
about the time she ran from one end

of the hallway to the other, leapfrogging
over her sister who sat on the floor

cutting paper dresses for her paper dolls.
Tia Imelda stabbed her in the knee

with a pair of dull scissors. And mother
hesitates to tell me what her sister

screamed before thrusting
the rusted blades into her small body:

You do that one more time and I’ll kill you.

Amezcua read a few more poems from her collection, and then read some newer poems. She said she and her friends were trying to write a poem every day for poetry month, and she would read us a few of those poems.

“I think most of us in this room who are doing it have like ten,” she said. “So, all my poems for the month have the same title, and we’re doing sonnets.”

The title she chose for the poems is “I Haven’t Masturbated in Five Days for Fear of Crying.”

After the readings the authors signed books and talked to the attendees.

Chicago Homicides 2015

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DePaul Rugby: the experience of running a college athletic club

Two DePaul students stood by a U-Haul van parked outside of the Ray Meyer Fitness Center early on a warm Saturday morning.

Juan Orozco, backs captain of the men’s rugby team, and Katina Calamari, backs captain of the women’s team, were deciding how to fit a set of goalposts and other equipment into the van. A few minutes later Orozco drove the van to Diversey Harbor where he and some members of the club set up a rugby field.

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Freshman Edyta Tarczyński helps load a van with rugby equipment. [Photo by Christopher Silber. June 3, 2017]

The DePaul Rugby Club is a student-run organization. Players do everything from funding money to renting fields and scheduling games.

“Every DePaul Club has a $5,000 fund from the University,” said Junior  Erik Anderson, who was elected to be president of the men’s team next school year. “We have to apply to use it so we can buy new jerseys and equipment.”

Orozco, who was elected vice president, said renting fields costs varying amounts of money.

“Diversey Harbor costs about $75 an hour. Winnemac, where we played our home games in the fall, only costs $50 an hour, so we saved  $100 over four hours,” he said. “We also don’t have to put up goal posts there, because the park has permanent ones.”

The club has called four different fields home over the past few years. Diversey Harbor is the closest, but the teams have set up as far south as Dan Ryan Woods.

The Pregame

A group of about fifteen men’s and women’s players walked into the park at 10:00 a.m. to set up the field. They had to measure out the field and spray it, and put up flags and goal posts.

They were careful about measuring the field. The games in a few hours were important for the program. It was the day of the alumni game, where current students play graduates. Former players from as early as DePaul Rugby’s founding in 2001 were coming.

“This is my favorite field,” said Anderson. “It’s so close to DePaul. I think having more games here would get more guys to come out.”

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New men’s president Erik Anderson (far left), and women’s president Katina Calamari (middle) help student Tony LaPiana measure out the field. [Photo by Christopher Silber. June 3, 2017]

The women’s game was scheduled for noon, and the men’s game was scheduled for 1:30. The men are expected to support the women, and the women are expected to support the men.

“Rugby does not discriminate,” said Orozco. “The women literally play the same game we do. Same rules, same ball and same field.”

The men’s and women’s rugby teams used to be separate clubs, but they combined a year ago.

“The two clubs used to be separate,” said Orozco. “The reason why we joined to be one club last year was because a more united effort would look better with DePaul and possible sponsorships.”

Obtaining sponsors and seasonal player fees help the team operate. Occasionally, players have to use their own money to host events.

“We don’t have a team credit card or anything,” said Kevin Simoni, the team’s treasurer for the 2016-2017 school year. “When we hosted the Chicago Cup, I had to put $1600 on my own credit card. I wasn’t able to use it for the rest of the month.”

The Women’s Game: Empowerment and Inclusion

Rugby is a physical sport. The physicality is one of the major draws for men and women alike.

“When I was looking for a new sport I decided to try rugby because I was an enforcer in high school soccer and I’ve always thought being competitive and aggressive was an asset, not a detractor,” said sophomore Maya Scanlon-Kimura.

She said the sport is empowering in a way most activities are not.

“My favorite part is definitely the empowerment for women both on the field and off as well as the accessibility of the sport,” she said.  “This team is unique because you’re allowed to come to practice just to learn and try it out – there’s no stigma about what shape or skill level you are.”

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Members of the women’s team converse as they watch the men’s game. [Photo by Christopher Silber. June 3, 2017]

Members of the women’s team praised the club’s inclusivity. The fee to play is small compared to sports like rowing, and practices are usually open to newcomers.

“My favorite part of rugby is how it brings all types of people together,” said women’s president and backs captain Katina Calamari. “My team is amazing and I might not have met them if it wasn’t for Rugby.”

The Men’s Game: Competitive Camaraderie

Current men’s players and alumni walked onto the field before kickoff. Many were joking about old memories, the party after the game, and making bets about the upcoming game.

“The best thing about DePaul Rugby is the brotherhood,” said Erik Espeland, a senior playing his last game as a student. “More brotherhood, less cost, and none of the weird stuff that comes with joining a frat.”

Some students played in high school, and enjoy the competitiveness the team maintains while keeping the game fun.

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Student Jack Stevens relaxing with friends before the game. [Photo by Christopher Silber. June 3, 2017]

“My favorite part about DePaul rugby is just the atmosphere the team gives while having a competitive yet relaxed attitude” said Erik Anderson. “I wanted to continue playing rugby in college. Also I wanted to play with people at my school instead of joining a men’s team.”

Students praise the social aspect of the club, or, as junior Jack DeHaven said, “Smashin heads, drinkin beer, singin songs.”

The students won the men’s game and the alumni won the women’s game, both by close margins. After the men’s game, all the men and women present made a circle and talked about the club, how the teams did this year, and the importance of keeping the tradition of the alumni game alive.

“I have felt so welcomed into the rugby community and I love playing because it is so empowering as a woman to celebrate my strength and power on the pitch,” said senior Claire Sandberg. “DePaul Rugby has been such a great experience and a great space to learn a new sport, stay active, and meet great people.”

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Current players and alumni gathered for a picture after the games. [Photo courtesy of the DePaul Rugby Club. June 3, 2017]

Chicagoans contemplate the future development of Holy Name’s Parking Lot

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An old basketball hoop sits in the middle of Holy Name’s parking lot, which was sold to developers in April. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 3, 2017]

The bus stop on the corner of Chicago Avenue and State Street brimmed with activity on Wednesday afternoon.

A man and his child ate McDonald’s, a utility crew cleared leaves off the sidewalk, and hundreds of people walked up and down the stairs of the Chicago El stop.

Mark Adams stood away from the curb, smoking a cigarette as he viewed the scene.

“This area sure gets busy,” he said. “I got lost on my way over today.”

Adams had just gotten a job at a business off of Chicago Ave. “It’s been a great day so far. Now I just need to get on the bus,” he said, chuckling.

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The Chicago stop on the El fills with passengers waiting for a train headed north. According to CTA, more than 16,000 people enter the station on the average weekday. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 3, 2017]

Within vision of the bus stop was a wide, low parking lot on State. The lot, once owned by Holy Name Cathedral across the street, was purchased by JDL developers for $110 million in early April.

“That parking lot must be nice for the church,” said Adams. “You don’t usually see lots that big in a place so crowded.”

JDL plans on building two to four apartment tower complexes on the parking lot.

“It’s a great location,” said Adams. “transport, walking, food. It’s all here. I just hope it doesn’t get too congested.”

Noise is normal

A block south of the parking lot, an elderly woman walked and admired the new leaves growing.

“There really are beautiful trees on this street,” said Susan Carson, as she fumbled to show me a picture she took on her phone. “This is my favorite time of year to walk around.”

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The new 8 East Huron building is under construction by Holy Name Cathedral. The Cathedral’s parking lot lies on the right. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 3, 2017]

We could hear the sound of construction near us. CA Residential LLC is finishing building  new residential skyscraper on 8 East Huron.

“It is a noisy place,” said Carson. “There’s always something being built around here.”

She said she doesn’t mind all the noise from construction.

“Places like this are supposed to be bustling.” Carson said.

She said she thought building on the parking lot seemed like a good idea.

“I feel like that parking lot is wasting space,” she said. “I just hope the people at the Cathedral have somewhere to park when it’s gone.”

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Parents wait for their children to finish class outside of Francis Xavier Ward School by Holy Name. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 3, 2017]

How big?

Eliot Sterling ate a burger with a milkshake on the McDonald’s outdoor patio.

“I mean, somebody was going to build something there eventually,” he said. “It’s a developer’s dream.”

Sterling, a middle-aged office worker, said how he views the construction depends on what the building plans look like.

“I don’t think the [developers] will be able to build some huge tower,” he said. “There’s too many hoops to jump through.”

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Cars and commuters fill the streets outside of the McDonald’s on Chicago and State. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 3, 2017]

Sterling may be right. In April a proposed 60 story building was shot down a block away on Michigan Ave. for traffic concerns.

“I know the Church sold it for a lot of money. It’s probably gonna be a big project,” said Sterling. “But I can’t see them building anything that would hurt the Cathedral.”

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Residents walk by the walls of the former convent and seminary next to Holy Name Cathedral. The Holy Name complex encompasses a whole city block.  [Photo by Christopher Silber May 3, 2017]

What do you think of the development of Holy Name’s parking lot? Contact me by email at csilber298@outlook.com or on twitter @silber_depaul.

An Inside View on a Radio DePaul Pocket News Broadcast

An Inside View on a Radio DePaul Pocket News Broadcast

As a member of the Radio DePaul News team, I got an inside look on the daily Pocket News broadcast at noon on May 1, 2017. Freshman Sarah Breedlove and Sophomore Ryan Witry wrote and produced the show. Pocket News is a fifteen minute broadcast every weekday at noon and 5:00 p.m.

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The DePaul Radio Station at University Hall is empty at 11:00 a.m. before students arrive to prepare for Pocket News at Noon. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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News Operations Director at Radio DePaul Sarah Breedlove begins looking for stories to report in an hour. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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Breedlove is joined by Radio DePaul Sports reporter Ryan Witry. The two have an hour to put together a fifteen minute broadcast that streams live. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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The broadcasting studio waits for the two reporters to begin the daily news report at noon.  [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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Breedlove and Witry situate themselves in the studio. Breedlove configures the computer and sound hardware before the broadcast. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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Breedlove opens Pocket News with local news, reporting on the recently closed Bridgeport Bar Schaller’s Pump. She goes on to report on national, world, and entertainment news. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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Witry reads the sports script he compiled in the hour before the show. he reports on The NFL Draft, Chicago Cubs, and DePaul Women’s Tennis team.  [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

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The central microphone lays unused as music streams onto the station after the short Pocket News broadcast. [Photo by Christopher Silber May 1, 2017]

Radio DePaul’s News Team is always looking for more reporters. If you are a DePaul student interested in joining the News Team, I suggest you contact News Director Doug Klain at radiodepaulnewsdirector2@gmail.com. Visit Radio DePaul’s website for more information on the station’s shows and events.

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.”

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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 csilber298@outlook.com or on twitter @silber_depaul

 

Residents succeed in halting construction of River North tower

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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.

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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 csilber298@outlook.com or on twitter @silber_depaul