Politics | Urban planning

Off the Rails

The demise of a CTA program to employ ex-offenders

“It was all due to one man’s ego,” said Robert Kelly, president of the city’s main rail union. During late November and December of 2013, Kelly was involved in a public spat with the Chicago Transit Authority over the continuation of its rail apprenticeship program. Continue reading

Housing | Politics | Woodlawn

Investing in West Woodlawn

Blacks in Green envisions a future for West Woodlawn community development



West Woodlawn was granted tax increment financing (TIF) district status by the city in 2010. Yet TIF-directed development has been poorly received by the local nonprofit environmental group Blacks in Green, which has been advocating for community-based development projects since 2007. On November 21, the group held a forum entitled “Who Owns West Woodlawn?” to publicize the results of an extensive survey of the neighborhood’s development potential. Continue reading

Bronzeville | Junctures

At the Heart of the Metropolis

47th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue



People come and go, buildings rise and fall, and properties change hands, but a bank must always be present to bear witness. In 1922, the South Side Trust and Savings Bank was built on the corner of 47th and Cottage Grove in the classical style. For years people walked between the two-story-tall Indiana limestone pillars that framed the front entrance to conduct their business, helping to make 47th Street the black metropolis it became in the decades following the Great Migration. The building has since become the Urban Partnership Bank, and if current plans succeed, it may witness a rejuvenated Bronzeville of a different form. Continue reading

Englewood | Politics

Containing an Expansion

The forecast for Norfolk Southern’s impact on Englewood remains hazy. Patrick Leow.

The forecast for Norfolk Southern’s impact on Englewood remains hazy. PATRICK LEOW.

“The mayor’s thrown us under the bus,” Howard McRae says with a declarative ire. It’s a Sunday, and McRae and the rest of the residents at the end of an Englewood cul-de-sac on 58th Street clamor to condemn a particularly disruptive neighbor.

That neighbor is Norfolk Southern Railways, the nation’s largest rail freight company east of the Mississippi, and at the start of the summer it seemed poised to complete a swift and uncompromising takeover of land in Englewood. Norfolk Southern wanted to expand the size of their 47th Street rail yard by close to eighty-five acres, and with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s support, the City Council quickly approved the sale of 105 city-owned lots in the area to them. Continue reading