Friday, May 13, 2016

(Photos) The abandoned homes of Chicago's violent West Englewood neighborhood

Isn't one Englewood enough?

Apparently not. On the terrifyingly violent Englewood's western border on Racine Avenue on Chicago's South Side sits the unimaginably-named West Englewood.

Why bother with a border? Over the last 30 days Englewood ranks 6th among Chicago's 77 official neighborhoods in violence, West Englewood places seventh.

Near Hoyne and 69th Place you'll find this burned-out three-story frame house with a Willie Wilson for Mayor sign where the front door used to be.

The 1200 block of W. 74th Place is a dead end--and the terminus brings you to this Red X abandoned home.

On Wednesday, in an apparent domestic dispute, two women and a man were fatally wounded in West Englewood. The shooter fled south a few miles to the Roseland neighborhood where he barricaded himself for eleven hours. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound yesterday afternoon after SWAT officers stormed the home he was hiding in.

It's a boom time in Chicago--if you are a board-up shop owner. Cook County Board-Up got the job at 6333 S. Hamilton.

West Englewood was hit hard by 1960s and early 1970s block-busting. Whites leaving for other parts of the city or for the suburbs often sold their homes at a lost and unscrupulous real estate agents gouged black buyers. Many businesses and of course jobs fled. Houses are cheap in West Englewood--which is why some Hispanics who are priced out of better neighborhoods are beginning to move in here.

"Stop killing your brothers before you die too...God is real." A blessed sentiment. But too bad I found this sign laying on the grass.

In the mid-1990s I was the convention service manager for a health fair sponsored by Dr. Alvenia Fulton, founder of Fultonia Health and Fasting Institute. She counted actress Ruby Dee, comedian and activist Dick Gregory, and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton among her clients. Above is her former store--now vacant--at 1953 W. 63rd Street. Fulton died in 1999 at the age of 92.

This abandoned Chicago bungalow at 2057 W. 68th Place must have been toasty-warm in the winter--it's bundled up in layers.

The aluminum siding thieves who stripped this vacated home at 2050 W. 68th Street committed too crimes. Stealing the siding was the first one and the second one was exposing this hideous green shade of asphalt brick to unsuspecting South Siders.

This three story home on the corner of Loomis and 73rd Street is open in back. Anyone can walk in. To look inside, click here.

On the 5900 block of South Winchester is this ramshackle dwelling.

A block south someone painted the bottom half of a forsaken frame house fuchsia. There are some teen artists on the South Side who paint these homes.

Above is a ghost sign for the Kedzie Pawn Shop on 63rd Street just east of Damen. The shop, at 6323 S. Kedzie in the Marquette Park neighborhood, is gone, it's a Walgreen's now.

Someone appears to be in the process of dismantling the wrought iron fence--a favorite of former mayor Richard M. Daley--that once surrounded this brick bungalow on the 5500 block of South Elizabeth, for scrapping. Why are the posts still standing? Probably because it's too much work for the lazy criminals to remove them.

I'm often asked if I'm frightened to walk unarmed in these dangerous neighborhoods. "No," I reply, "I am not." Why? "Because I take precautions and I am not reckless." However, while walking down an alley where I found this rubbish heap a 60-ish African-American man shouted out to me, "I ain't done nothing wrong...I ain't done nothing wrong for five years." He was scared of me.

Sad, very sad. I'm not very intimidating.

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Tortminder said...

I lived in this neighborhood from when the family bought the house on 70th place in 1949 until I moved out when I got married in 1965. The housing stock was old then, (our home had been one of three built by a guy named Modine who worked at the Pullman company in Roseland building insulated refrigerator cars. The house was so well insulated that it was very cheap to heat and kept fairly cool in summer without air conditioning.

Back then it was a good place for a kid to grow up. Folks watched out for one another. You didn't dare misbehave while out because some parent would have notified your mom before you ever made it home. Older kids watched out for the younger ones and houses and cars were never locked. You could leave your bike or other possessions out in the front yard and nobody would mess with anything.

It is a time long gone in Chicago, (and sadly in many other places in the US). The closest I have found to that old community type concern has been in small towns fairly removed from large metropolitan areas. We currently live in the Missouri Ozarks just outside of a smaller town and the atmosphere and attitude is ALMOST like it was back in the "Old Neighborhood".

Just some rambling reminiscences of an old man.

John Ruberry said...

It was the same way in Roseland a few miles southeast of West Englewood--I was six when my family moved to Palos Heights.

The opening line of Mike Royko's Boss about Richard J. Daley begins something like this: "Richard J. Daley was born a small town boy when it was still possible to do so in a big ciy."

True, very true.

Anonymous said...

Chicago has nothing on Detroit. Not even close. Drive through the streets of Detroit (at your peril) and you will see what urban blight really is.

John Ruberry said...

I've been to Detroit. You are right. I have quite a few blog posts about the former Motor City with pics.