This investigation is the first in a series of projects that will document and explore public housing on the South Side. If you have tips or suggestions about coverage, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On January 10, as then-president Barack Obama prepared to deliver his farewell address at McCormick Place, Rosa Esquivel was setting up chairs and tables at a Chicago Public Library named after another prominent community organizer, Rudy Lozano. Esquivel, a Guatemalan immigrant who has lived in the area since 2003, volunteers as a community board member for Pilsen Alliance, a grassroots social justice organization headquartered two blocks west of the Rudy Lozano library. The day’s community meeting marked the latest chapter in the organization’s nearly two-decade history of working to protect its neighborhood.
This past fall, perceptive Chicago art lovers may have noticed the absence of one long-standing tradition: after forty-five years, the Pilsen East Artists’ Open House wasn’t happening.
Before Charles Barlow moved to South Shore earlier this year, he wanted to scope out the neighborhood. He looked up the local grocery stores, got in his car, and drove to the corner of 87th Street and Lake Shore Drive, where he expected to find a Mariano’s. Instead of fresh food, he was greeted by grassland and the promise of future development.
Abuilding’s design tells you a lot about who it’s for. The new faux-Parisian townhomes in Lincoln Park appeal to people who want to imitate the prestige and sophistication of a European capital. The large, bright windows of a traditional commercial storefront ask everyone in the neighborhood to come in and check out the merchandise.
Onstage, a man was delivering a stream of words and a woman translated his words into a stream of movement. Together, real-estate developer Peter Levavi and dancer Stacy Patrice composed a marriage of language and body, as if to symbolize the union of two phrases on the screen behind them: “ethical” and “redevelopment.”
“Look at what we’ve got! We’ve got Chance, we’ve got Chance!”
What do bicycle and nature trails have to do with gentrification?
Yet this Black neighborhood stands firm.
On January 11, Tom McMahon stood up to call to order a public meeting at the Pullman National Monument Visitor Center, introducing himself by simultaneously disavowing and affirming the importance of his own place in Pullman’s community: “I’m the president of the Pullman Civic Organization. I’m also a board member of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives. Tonight, I’m just the moderator, here to ask questions and address concerns raised during the last meeting.”