Why Won’t Chicago Say What It’s Offering Amazon?

Transparency activist Freddy Martinez on his lawsuit against City Hall

David Alvarado

Lucy Parsons Labs, a Chicago- and San Francisco-based nonprofit that works toward more transparency in government and business, first gained attention in 2014 for its use of public records lawsuits to uncover the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) undisclosed purchase and use of Stingray cell phone surveillance devices. In addition to concerns about surveillance, a 2016 investigation the nonprofit published with the Chicago Reader lent visibility to the CPD’s controversial use of civil asset forfeiture, the process by which police can seize money or goods they believe are connected to a crime. The CPD drew from its civil asset forfeiture funds to purchase the Stingrays and other surveillance equipment, their investigation found.

Visual Arts

SSCAC at Seventy-Five

A conversation with executive director Maséqua Myers

Myers with a work by Joyce Owens in SSCAC's Dr. Margaret Burroughs Gallery. | Rachel Schastok

The South Side Community Art Center is located in a beautiful 1893 Georgian Revival house, the former home of a wealthy grain merchant. Its galleries and the row of arched windows in its third-story ballroom overlook a calm stretch of South Michigan Avenue in Bronzeville. SSCAC’s collections include federally commissioned art from the 1940s, works from the Black Arts Movement and the AfriCOBRA collective of the 1960s, as well as pieces by present-day artists. Continue reading

Activism | Environment | Little Village

Citizens for an Unpolluted La Villita

Little Village’s fight for environmental justice

Ellie Mejia

On December 14, Mayor Rahm Emanuel spent the day in Little Village. He was the center of a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the newly completed Park 553, dubbed “La Villita” by residents and journalists, where he touted the twenty-two-acre site as one of several new green spaces opened during his time in office and a major victory for the park-starved neighborhood.

Music | Pilsen | Sports

Futbol Punks

Chitown Futbol does it all

On Saturday night, there’s a ten-foot Christmas tree lighting up the lobby of ChiTown Futbol. Packs of teenagers carrying soccer gear pour out of cars and into the stadium, a repurposed industrial building at the end of a quiet block off Cermak Avenue. The street dead-ends just past the parking area, giving way to beached shipping containers and one of the Chicago River’s freightloading channels. Continue reading


Open House Chicago

Many South Side neighborhoods have changed hands over the years, each community leaving behind architectural remnants as they gave way to a new population. One striking example of this pattern is places of worship. This past weekend, 150 buildings of all kinds across Chicago opened their doors to the public for this year’s Open House Chicago event, organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. We set out to explore a cross-section of churches to see what they reveal about the history of neighborhood change on our side of the city. These four sites illustrate how a place’s history becomes imprinted on its buildings, and the different ways those legacies become masked or celebrated over time. (Rachel Schastok)
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Best of the South Side 2014 | Little Italy | University Village

University Village & Little Italy


Both “University Village” and “Little Italy” could be considered misnomers—titles that describe the neighborhood by certain identities as others have been successively carved away. In fact, the story of this neighborhood contains many of the processes of change that mark the history of Chicago at large: the rise and fall of public housing, shifts in demographics, and urban renewal. Continue reading


64th & Cottage Grove

A tale of two buildings


Just a block south of the 63rd and Cottage Grove Green Line, on the northeast corner of the intersection, sits a squat two-story building. Its facade of light stone is punctuated by decorative maroon bricks and sets of three arched windows framed with golden wood. Continue reading