Your Friendly Neighborhood Update

The Death of Individuality


The former patchwork quilt that is Chicago is dissolving; the homogeneity of the gentrification is ripping at the metaphorical seams of what makes Chicago, Chicago. A virtual Catch 22 has settled in on the beloved City of Neighborhoods, gentrification set in place to “better” a community replaces the dilapidated, character rich establishments that once gave a given community its individuality. People on each side of the argument compete in a constant tug-o-war. The diverse institutions that once lined Chicago’s thoroughfares are pushed out by people looking forward to the comfort they find in chain restaurants where the food is always the same in a mass-produced, plastic sort of way. Areas that once stood proud of their individuality and uniqueness now stand ambiguously next to the bordering neighborhood.

Hole in the wall restaurants and smoke filled gin mills are quickly forgotten as their walls are torn down and replaced by corporate chains, their memories die with the generations that grew up patronizing them. This homogeneity irks me, and leaves me constantly questioning, where has our character gone. Has American society lost its ambition to endeavor into new businesses or has corporate America taken a chokehold on its smaller adversaries, making it virtually impossible to compete in today’s economy. Those who do hang on and attempt to ride out the shit storm give inspiration and hope that the future may not become a sea of plastic realities created by some master designer at Buffalo Wings n Rings® Corporate Headquarters.

All this may seem like senseless rambling, but someone must be held accountable for their desecration of neighborhood uniqueness, but who. One person cannot be held responsible for the filth that is McDonald’s® One thing can be held responsibly though, gentrification. Gentrification, individuality’s antonym, can simply be defined as a euphemism for ethnic cleansing. To the average American person the sight of a soon to be Starbucks® is a welcome sign, a light at the end of the tunnel, a sign that things are getting better. This is the tipping point where things go wrong. This is the point in time where neighborhood institutions established on the backs of immigrant families lose their clientele as their patrons turn a blind eye to their usual haunts, in search of something new. This is the point where respectable institutions such as Impalaria’s Bakery on 30th and Wallace slows down because Dunkin Donuts decided it would be a great idea to open on every corner of the neighborhood.

To those who still hang on, preserving what makes their communities unique, I tip my hat to you.

9 comments:

A said...

Best grilled cheese in the neighborhood at George's.

Well spoken fella!

LilsSub said...

can someone post a rundown of the lenten specials in the neighborhood? The Connie's pizza deal is the only hot ticket item going, anyone got a shrimp basket or grilled cheese deal going?

Anonymous said...

Bill's on 31st street was the best place to eat in the hood in the 90s Vienna style power 5

1. Bill's
2. Turtles
3. O'Malley's
4. Hungry Hound
5. Chucky's

Al B. said...

Good incite on the destruction of old neighborhoods like ours due to gentrification. You might like this talk by E. Michael Jones on his book "Slaughter of the Cities: Urban Renewal as Ethnic Cleansing". I'm not sure I agree with all of his theories, but he argues that the powers that be engineered the major changes that took place in ethnic Catholic neighborhoods over the past half century: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abQPZDkuUt0

Anonymous said...

this place was a roach infested dump.who the hell cares unless your a wino or a halsted street crack head.

VNeck said...

THe content of the article has nothing to do with George's per-say, instead it uses it as a vehicle to explain the ruthless destruction gentrification causes. I would recommend reading things before you comment

Anonymous said...

nice write up... too bad things will never go back to how they used to be

Look up some old pictures of Halsted St - back when the Ramova Theater was up and running and there were locally owned stores everywhere. Those must have been the days....

Anonymous said...

V-Neck -- I'd recommend getting a dictionary.

Not sure "ruthless" is the right adjective to describe the effects of gentrification as discussed in this article. It's not like gentrification decapitated the owners of neighborhood places, kidnapped their children, or even burned their businesses to the ground.

My point: gentrification is not "ruthless," "per-say."

VNeck said...

I believe my use of the "ruthless" was correct, It was intended to be used as a exaggerated adjective, making the use of the word "ruthless" valid. Furthermore there is no need for the use of a dictionary or more correctly speaking a thesaurus because as far as I know the meaning of the word means, to have no pity or compassion...