Last month in Crain’s Chicago Business there was an article about how home sales in Beverly are on the rise and some of the reasons why. Before saying more about that article, a couple of declarations are in order here.
- Best Public Library in a Castle
- Best Mom & Pop Grocer
- Best Place to Find Something Fishy
- Best Pizza Not From a Pizza Parlor
- Best Anarchistic Arts Organization
- Best New Alternative Space
Beverly Hills (its proper full name, often shortened to Beverly) and Morgan Park are the Castor and Pollux of the South Side. Eternally joined as “The Village in the City,” they have earned a reputation as a place of good schools, gracious homes, and comfortable middle-class living—a bastion for city workers. An ancient glacial ridge runs along the length of the appropriately named Longwood Drive, topped by magnificent homes. Morgan Park, named after early estate holder Englishman Thomas Morgan, was a village in its own right until its annexation to the city in 1914. Beverly Hills, named not after the Los Angeles neighborhood but the town of Beverly in Massachusetts, became part of Chicago in 1890.
To those who grew up here, Beverly means idyllic streets for learning to ride bikes, summer outings to Rainbow Cone and Sunday mornings at their local churches. To those from the surrounding areas, Beverly is the hub of the Southwest Side. They celebrate their 21st birthdays in the bars on Western Avenue, go out for a special dinner at Pizzeria Deepo or Franconello, or take in a show at the Beverly Arts Center. It has much to offer outsiders, yet is also known to have a tenuous relationship with the communities that border it.
Sitting in the empty four hundred-seat theater, I spoke with program coordinator Jonathan Moeller before the festival began.
Rainbow Cone, stately old homes, Top Notch Beefburgers, and the South Side Irish Parade. The highest natural point in all of Chicago. Continue reading
This year the theme for the annual Chicago Artists Month (CAM) is “Crossing Borders.” In a city with so many distinct community areas, the topic seems particularly applicable and the event’s definition of borders includes “actual physical borders, or conceptual, genre or societal boundaries.” Continue reading
On one of Chicago’s few pleasant March days, a group of community residents and art patrons from across the city sat basking in the sunlight in the gallery of the Beverly Arts Center (BAC). Continue reading
A young Lemon Andersen walks into a poetry reading. He’s just triumphantly concluded his jail sentence. He’s heady with freedom, so ready for change he’s followed a hipster’s invitation to the open mic. “I’m greeted with love,” Andersen says. “And a quick pat down.” He mimes the motions of a frisk with an edge of cool comedy. The intrusion hardly breaks his stride, shimmying down his back like a dance move. The action of his one-man theatrical autobiography “County of Kings” has admittedly whisked us to worse places this evening. We’ve watched his mother Mili die from HIV, we’ve seen his family variably incarcerated, and we’re wondering what happened to his fifteen-year-old fiancée, conspicuously absent since Andersen’s trial for coke dealing. Continue reading
Quick to balk at the typical outsider’s offhand impression of Beverly as a suburb, the neighborhood is fond of the tagline “Village in the City.” It feels a bit like having your cake and eating it too, a desire to affirm disparate identities as a community unto itself, and one that is still fundamentally of Chicago. Seated at the southwest edges of the city limits, Beverly most resembles the sort of small-but-not-too-small town young parents move to in search of good schools and a tree to hang a tire swing on. Continue reading