Friday, April 08, 2016

(Photos) The abandoned homes of Chicago's violent Back of the Yards neighborhood

Violence is skyrocketing in Chicago and the Back of the Yards neighborhood is part of the alarming trend. Back of the Yards is not an official city neighborhood but its generally agreed upon boundaries match the area known as New City--but almost no one calls it by that name.

At 842 W. 53rd Place you'll find this bleak duo of dwellings.

Most of the blight is in the southern half of BOTY--and that's the part that is adjacent to the notoriously violent Englewood neighborhood, the setting of Spike Lee's 2015 movie Chi-Raq. 

If Englewood was a desirable area realtors would be calling Back of the Yards "Englewood North." Perhaps cops already use this moniker.

One of the legs of Illinois' gerrymandered 7th congressional district reaches into Back of the Yards, its representative is Democrat Danny K. Davis, a West Side Democrat. I've never worked on a political campaign, but I have enough common sense to know that slapping posters on an abandoned house offers image challenges for a candidate. This two-flat is at 5433 S. Union.

Vacant lots proliferate in the south end. But the stubborn and expensive-to-remove foundation offer reminders as to what was there before.

Two years ago when Google Maps' truck passed by 748 W. 53rd Street the glass was gone from the upper left-corner second floor window that time too.

A few miles east is the University of Chicago, which was fortunate because I was able to locate an archaeologist who identified this stretch of concrete near the apartment above as a sidewalk.

Here's another neglected Chicago greystone--this one is on 55th Street.

The Back of the Yards gets its name because its south of the old Union Stockyards, when Chicago was the meatpacking center of America and, in Carl Sandburg's words, "hog butcher to the world."

Here is the limestone gate from the old stockyards.

Back of the Yards was the setting for Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle.

The Livestock National Bank building, which has been owned by the city of Chicago since 2000, has been vacant for decades. The design for this stately structure was based on Independence Hall.

Across the street is the site of the International Amphitheater, where the doomed 1968 Democratic National Convention was held. On December 8, 1979, my 18th birthday, I saw my first rock concert there, The Who.

"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." Ecclesiastes.

Richard M. Daley has not been mayor for over five years.

Two more abandoned homes on 51st Street near Bishop.

Leftist community organizer Saul Alinksy, a role model for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, got his start in community organizing by co-founding the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council in 1939. It still exists.

Rubbish fills the backyard of this home at 5044 S. Laflin.

The former Goodman Equipment Company factory is at 4834 S. Halsted, which I explored in a post earlier this week.

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