Monday, February 22, 2016

(Photos) Abandoned homes in Chicago's violent East Garfield Park neighborhood

Last Thursday I did some more urban exploring--this time in another one of Chicago's notorious violent neighborhoods, East Garfield Park.

According to the Chicago Tribune over the last thirty days it was the third-most violent of Chicago's 77 designated community areas. But there is hope for the area because gentrification may be coming soon.


The abandoned apartment building on the left on the 2700 block of West Monroe alludes to Psalm 23:4 in the Bible.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.


East Garfield Park's population peaked in 1950 when 70,000 people lived there, now just 20,000 do. These homes are on the 2900 block of West Adams Street.


On the 2700 block of West Washington Street is the Wolfson House. It's mostly boarded up. Back in the day it must have been a mansion, but a woman I spoke with who lives in the two flat on the right said that it was a homeless shelter until recently. "Inside it," she exclaimed, "you'll see a complete mess. Just cleaning it up will cost a fortune."


From this angle it looks a bit more inviting. "Sometimes," the neighbor added, "I see a light inside, I think that place is haunted."


That's a Cuban flag in front of the occupied row house. Up until very recently nearly 100 percent of the people living in East Garfield Park were native born African Americans. The last Census showed a three percent white population and a four percent Hispanic population.

Believing realtors who claim a bad neighborhood is gentrifying is risky, but yes, it is. A bit. I saw a few hipsters in East Garfield Park who clearly lived there--they walked into homes, parked  their cars in garages. Oh, about hipsters: that's a dog whistle word real estate agents use for "white people." Although black people of means live there too. To the east is the Near West Side, which has seen much gentrification and higher property values. And according to the Census, the population plummet in East Garfield Park may be bottoming out.

Were it not for Chicago's pension crisis--which just forced a huge property tax hike with possibly more to come, I'd predict a bright future for this area.


Those hipsters won't find fine wine at Rothschild Liquors at 3015 W. Madison. The panhandlers out front scattered when I started taking photographs. I gave them nothing--I mean, where do you think that money will go? To buy a cup of coffee? One woman, who was just out of camera view kept shouting at me, "Whatcha takin' pitchers fo?

Notice that the windows to the liquor store are long-gone.


Unlike West Garfield Park there aren't many Chicago greystones in its eastern counterpart but I found a boarded-up one behind Rothschild's.


Boston? Brooklyn? Nope, Warren Boulevard in Chicago. This stretch of rowhouses is a block to watch.


Not so glamorous is the 3400 block of West Walnut.


People throw trash on the ground where I live in suburban Morton Grove. Either the people in Chicago are bigger slobs or no one bothers to pick the rubbish up. Although this cat that I found behind the house on the right above doesn't seem to mind the garbage.


Across the street sits a police camera box. There was a lot of traditional police activity near here during my visit too.


Not only does the Eisenhower Expressway pass through East Garfield Park so do the Green and Blue Line CTA el trains. Yes, crime is a huge problem here, but the neighborhood is well served with transportation choices.

Above is are the elevated Green Line tracks on Lake Street.


This Victorian mansion at 3329 W. Washington is the former home of the Philadelphia Missionary Baptist Church, which is now located next door in newer and larger quarters.


On the corner of Fifth and Whipple not only will you find the former Ben's Hot Dog Stand but on the left you'll see this quote, "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die," which is attributed here to Benjamin Franklin but there is no proof he ever said or wrote it.


Behind the now-closed Sky Box Sports Bar where they used to "Cater to Party's" (sic) at 3601 W. Harrison is a burnt-out building where the view is not so good.


The jewel of the area is the Garfield Park Field House--sorry about the lack of color but I was facing the sun when I took this photograph--and the nearby conservatory.

Next: US Rep. Danny Davis' office and a 1966 triple murder at a car dealership.

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