Like many South Side communities, Auburn Gresham faced years of disinvestment. At the time, Auburn Gresham housing stock stayed strong (especially compared to surrounding neighborhoods), but the key commercial areas were hard hit. Now on 79th and on Ashland—two major commercial districts—there are several vacant buildings and empty lots. These eyesores detract from the neighborhood and prevent further investment.
This legal discrimination coupled with redlining by banks has worked to keep Blacks in economically depressed neighborhoods.
I’ve lived in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on and off for about twenty years. Originally, I moved into the westernmost part while going through a divorce. It is a neighborhood of large courtyard apartment buildings and single-family homes. The shops along West 79th Street and along Ashland Avenue guaranteed I had no need to leave my community for anything. Public transportation is a 24/7 convenience, so not having a car wasn’t a problem.
On a map, Auburn Park appears as an unexpected departure from the city grid, its thin fingerlike lagoons passing under two narrow bridges on Normal and Eggleston Avenues.
You can feel the pulse of the community best on a summer night along 79th Street. The sky is pink and perfect, wispy with clouds, while cicadas mingle with the rumble of traffic. People are driving home from work down Racine and Halsted. On Loomis and Parnell children are playing before dinner. From the grey monolith of St. Sabina Church the strains of an organ pour out in waves. Singing rattles the slightly open windows. Continue reading
A lawyer by education and a Christian by birth, Khaleelah, forty-two, now works in community development and is a practicing Muslim. Continue reading
Buried within the fifty-three-page March 18 Chicago primary sheet lies a seemingly innocuous referendum on court recording. Continue reading
Cornel West. MAGGIE SIVIT
As musicians tuned their saxophones and violins, the Sunday morning service at St. Sabina’s, on 78th and Racine, began with an announcement: “If you want to get married at St. Sabina, you must attend our seminar, ‘Becoming One.'” Continue reading
At 79th Street Video, a video rental store purported to be the home of Chicago’s largest selection of martial arts movies, founder and owner Russ Pine pulls the movie “Shogun Assassin” out from the shelves. He slams it onto the counter and beams. He says that the film, which features a child in a bulletproof baby carriage, is “the best martial arts movie you’ll ever see.” The cover, which he analyses meticulously, is proudly garish. The title is painted in blood. The shogun assassin himself is painted with a grimacing double chin. His son peeks out from a bloody carriage reminiscent of Ben-Hur’s scythed chariot. Together they frown, their backs facing a sweeping cloud of fire. Continue reading