Wicker Park has a population of 26,164 residents, with a population density of 27,322 people per square mile. Also, the area of Wicker Park is 0.958 square miles. With this in mind, above is an illustration of Wicker Park as compared to a large public college.
Wicker Park, with its conception in the 19th century, has grown to be known as one of the nation’s hippest neighborhoods, attracting a sense of community for young and old through the establishment of various restaurants, vintage thrift shops, commercial retail stores, bars, and many other institutions. In my opinion, Wicker Park does indeed have a coherence to it, as much of the neighborhood seems to stem from the congealing forces of main streets such as Milwaukee, Division, Damen, and North Avenues, which are all bustling with a number of businesses that gives the neighborhood a sense of identity. Just a few shop names that hint at the hip, trendy, and modern identity of the neighborhood include: The 606, Alliance Bakery, The Anthem, Blue Line, The Hideout, and Reckless Records.
While I explored Wicker Park, these were just a few institutions that stood out to me as proving the à la mode nature of the neighborhood, while still preserving its roots in some of the old school throwbacks. For example, I found that The 606 on North Milwaukee Avenue is an elevated green trail that sits above four neighborhoods that runs along the Bloomingdale Trail, which buttresses a collection of larger parks and trails called The 606; this is how the park and trail system was given its name (The 606). Another example of a shop name aiding in supplying identity to the neighborhood is The Blue Line Lounge and Grill on North Damen Avenue. It is called The Blue Line because it is situated right under the Damen Blue Line CTA “L” stop. The atmosphere of the restaurant has said to be one that emulates the jazz era of the 50’s, adding to the dynamic, fluid nature of the neighborhood (Blue Line). One final example of store signs amplifying the identity of the neighborhood is The Hideout, a famous music and performance venue. The Hideout is said to be a home for individuals who “just don’t fit in, or just don’t want to fit in (The Hideout). The Hideout was given its name from those who created it in the latter parts of the 19th century - undocumented workers who were “hiding out” (The Hideout). One can understand the nature of Wicker Park that works to bridge the gap between old and new, tradition and change. Moreover, the actual Wicker Park located in the West Town Community Area on North Damen Avenue provides a meeting point for residents of not only Wicker Park, but surrounding areas as well, to enjoy social interaction indoors and in the outdoor park. Also, Wicker Park celebrates its identity through the remainder of the Wicker Park signs seen on some corner streets, which serve to remind individuals of the neighborhood’s diversity, as the signs are in English, Polish, and Spanish to celebrate its American, Polish, and Puerto Rican heritage.
In addition, I observed that Wicker Park makes sense in terms of its delineation in that the most popular aforementioned streets seemed to act as the unifying factors that bounded Wicker Park from surrounding areas such as Bucktown, Humboldt Park, and Ukrainian Village. Though the boundary lines between Wicker Park and Bucktown have been debated, I found that Milwaukee Avenue acted as a bridge between the traditional, classic Bucktown and the up-and-coming, hipster Wicker Park. For example, just walking along Milwaukee Avenue, I stopped into vintage thrift shops, and asked others where they had lived, and several older folks did indeed indicate Bucktown. However, I also stopped into the local Urban Outfitters, and most if not all individuals said they were from Wicker Park. Also, Wicker Park plays a role as a conglomerate of smaller neighborhoods, as though these streets delineate the neighborhood, they do not hinder people from surrounding neighborhoods from entering and exploring, as many individuals I asked in Wicker Park were from surrounding neighborhoods like East Village and Noble Square.
Aldermanic wards of Wicker Park are depicted above. Wicker Park is part of 3 aldermanic wards: 1, 2, and 26.
26 census tracts fall within Wicker Park.
Wicker Park, situated within West Town, is home to approximately 26,000 residents (Wicker Park Demographics and Statistics), and is known for being one of Chicago’s breeding grounds for up-and-coming trends, illuminating a “hipster vibe” to all who reside and visit there. During the late 19th century, in 1868, the Chicago Board of Public Works declared that it had intentions to build a recreational park west of Milwaukee Avenue and south of North Avenue. Present at this announcement were Charles and Joel Wicker, who, in 1870, bought 80 acres of land along Milwaukee Avenue, designating 4 to the actual park, and began the conception of Wicker Park, giving the area its name. Due to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, several Germans, Norwegians, and Scandinavians moved to Wicker Park in the hopes of rebuilding their homes and beginning new lives in the area (Wicker Park, Encyclopedia of Chicago). Towards the end of the 19th century, the area submerged into the neighboring Polish Downtown, and soon in the early 1900’s, immigration of Polish individuals gave rise to a growing population of Wicker Park though the 1950’s (Wicker Park, Encyclopedia of Chicago). After this period, Wicker Park saw a great migration of individuals from Puerto Rico, which now began to constitute a substantial proportion of the population as well (Wicker Park, Encyclopedia of Chicago). Today, the neighborhood has seen massive improvements in architecture, with the addition of new restaurants, bars and pubs, retail shops, and several other hubs due to the workings of gentrification.
To a large degree, it can be noted that Wicker Park is a planned neighborhood that came to be due to unplanned waves of events in Chicago. Some deliberately designed aspects in the neighborhood are quite apparent. For example, from its very conception the plan was to build a neighborhood that would stem from an outdoor green park with indoor recreational facilities that would be in close proximity of two bustling, busy main streets, attracting residents of different areas together and diversifying the section. Also, in the 1960’s, Wicker Park gained support and recognition by Chicago’s urban renewal plans, and with this, many small factories closed down, causing a noticeable shift in manufacturing to metropolitan services. Again, towards the latter half of the 19th century, groups of more affluent individuals from, for instance, the Northwest Community Organization, aided in supplying reasonably priced housing, and with the construction of the Kennedy Expressway completed in 1960, a new ripple of people shifted into the neighborhood (Wicker Park, Encyclopedia of Chicago).
However, though Wicker Park appears to be a planned neighborhood, it can be said that it arose from a few spontaneous acts. For example, the Chicago Fire was due to a barn fire, and the birth of Wicker Park could not have been predicted from this natural event. Also, the reasons that Wicker Park developed in this way can be attributed to quite random, unpredictable events that resulted from the fire, including a new wave of migration from Poland, Germany, Puerto Rico, and other nations. In Henry Binford’s piece Multi-Centered Chicago, the author notes that today’s Chicago is the result of five phases of events, one of them being migrants and community building (Binford 47). It is evident that Wicker Park developed from immigration of groups of people from different countries, and this overall migration contributed to a larger, more diverse cultural fabric of the city. Another one of Binford's phases that spurred the creation of Wicker Park is elite community development, as can be seen through the numerous projects undertaken by community groups and individuals to create and maintain the neighborhood (Binford 53). For example, the neighborhood once again was built primarily from the generous purchase of the Wicker brothers, and towards the later parts of the 20th century, the neighborhood saw efforts from wealthier community leaders after the Great Depression to take advantage of new money and resources such as the Kennedy Expressway to expand (Expressways, Encyclopedia of Chicago). With this in mind, though Winford’s five phases may not have included other events that could give rise to neighborhoods, at least two of his phases are definite causes of the advent of Wicker Park, as the metamorphosis of an industrial, railroad suburb to a hip, modern neighborhood of recreation and invention can be observed throughout the history of Wicker Park.
Wicker Park, www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/2159.html.
“Blue Line.” English, www.choosechicago.com/listing/blue-line/48769/.
“The 606.” English, www.choosechicago.com/listing/the-606/55566/.
“The Hideout.” English, www.choosechicago.com/listing/the-hideout/54266/.
“Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences.” Henry C. Winford: Department of History - Northwestern University, www.history.northwestern.edu/people/faculty/core-faculty/henry-c-binford.html.
“Wicker Park Demographics and Statistics.” Niche, www.niche.com/places-to-live/n/wicker-park-chicago-il/residents/.
1. Basic Demographic Table of Wicker Park
2. Diversity Table for Race, Age, and Education
3. Diversity Analysis
After calculating the diversity index for my neighborhood, Wicker Park, I found that when analyzing some variables, Wicker Park is diverse, and in others, it is not. For example, the diversity index of Wicker Park for race and age respectively is 2.19 and 2.57. These numbers indicate that Wicker Park is not very diverse in terms of the races and ages found in the neighborhood. In my opinion, these results were not too surprising, because after visiting the area, I found that it appeared to be stratified heavily towards more white individuals, with few Blacks/African Americans, Asians, Multiracial individuals, etc. Also, Wicker Park seems to be a home to people of all ages, yet I found that it appeared to favor college-aged and middle-aged individuals, and fewer children and elderly. For example, my surroundings including several restaurants, bars, lounges, retail stores, and other institutions were filled with college-aged students, as well as many 30-50 year old’s, with few outliers in terms of very young and very old individuals. However, the diversity index indicated that Wicker Park scored a 4.1 for education. Therefore, Wicker Park is quite diverse when speaking of education, as the levels of education that individuals have acquired varies. With this in mind, though Wicker Park is known for being a “hip” neighborhood that maintains a high level of “cultural” diversity, I would argue that racial and age diversity is lacking and not as varied as the media may capture it to be.
Chicago Neighborhoods Assignment #3 - By: Sarah Lewis
Arguably, one of the many challenges that Chicago neighborhoods face is the problem of how to create a neighborhood center with so many streets. However, Wicker Park makes the best of Chicago’s busy streets, as essentially these bustling corners become the neighborhood center. After visiting Wicker Park, I found that in particular, the cross section created by North Milwaukee Avenue and North Damen Avenue serves as the center of the neighborhood. These two streets adequately act as a center that draws people together and defines the neighborhood, as I observed that individuals on foot would stop into the plethora of retail stores, restaurants and bars, lounges, local businesses, and other establishments if even just to browse for a few minutes. While it is true that these establishments may simply be evidence of gentrification in the area, the demand for these businesses is high due to the fact that Wicker Park is “hip,” with about 46% of the population made up of 18-34 year olds. (Social Explorer) Also, I found myself oftentimes engaging in conversation with strangers when I stopped into a few shops and thrift stores, even if just to be yelled at by a Polish owner of a store to not “pull on the clothes.” In addition, these street corners were so busy and active that though some individuals such as myself appeared to be alone, the bundle of groups surrounding you and engaging in conversation with you cultivated a sense of community. Moreover, the establishments offered a wide array of activities to partake in for individuals of multiple ages, bridging the gap between old and new, tradition and evolution. Though some of these institutions may not all be kid-friendly, the actual public space of Wicker Park helped to assuage the need for a public realm for children, as discussed later.
1. North Milwaukee Avenue and North Damen Avenue - The center of Wicker Park, these bustling streets offer a wide variety of activities. (Image taken from Google Maps)
2. Native Foods Cafe on North Milwaukee Avenue (Image taken from Google Images)
3. The Wormhole Coffeeshop on North Milwaukee Avenue - 80’s throwback with rustic feel (Image taken from Google Images)
4. Urban Outfitters on North Milwaukee Avenue (Image taken from Google Images)
5. Dove’s Luncheonette on North Damen Avenue (Image taken from Google Images)
6-8. The public realm of Wicker Park (Images taken from Google Images and Google Earth)
A necessary part of Wicker Park to include when discussing public spaces is the actual Wicker Park located on North Damen Avenue. The space is a satisfactory area for children to congregate and play, bringing along their families and essentially bringing together probable neighbors to make genuine social connections. I observed on a Saturday, and children around the ages of 5-13 were generally playing on the playground and tossing around balls on the baseball diamond for most parts of the afternoon around 12, into the evening around 5. This public realm also brought together not only children, but presumably their parents as well, as I could note that some individuals found familiar faces in the dog friendly parts of the park, or just simply through conversations while waiting for their children. Therefore, the space was used most often by children and their families for recreational use such as playing and walking dogs, and though only around 17% of the population is made up of individuals who are 18 or under (Social Explorer), the park reassures these young individuals that there is more to Wicker Park than bars and lounges. At times, the baseball diamond appeared to be a dead space, but that could most likely be due to the fact that it was a chilly day outside. Also, a quite active space was the dog friendly part of the park, which was almost always occupied by someone during my time observing. Also, I noticed that the park was maintained, clean, and well taken care of, and there were no obvious threats to safety, as most passerby’s seemed comfortable and at ease. Also, the greenery of the park was aesthetically pleasing, and overall the sociability and behavior of people in the park seemed pleasant and genuine. Though not much of the population is around the age to play in parks, Wicker Park still managed to assuage the need for a public realm with this sustainable park.
Chicago Neighborhoods - Wicker Park Assignment #4 - By: Sarah Lewis
1. Primary Uses: Urban designer Jane Jacobs argues in favor of mixing "primary uses," and blurring the lines between residential and commercial establishments. Wicker Park works to mix the two kinds of institutions, and offers a plethora of apartments and condominiums, retail stores, restaurants and bars, churches, parks, and other resources to promote diversity and a sense of community.
Several apartments and condominiums in Wicker Park are home to the younger crowd of 18-34 year olds that makes up 46% of the population (Social Explorer). Often times, these complexes are situated near public transportation, retail stores, restaurants, and other businesses that gives rise to social connectivity and bonding among the neighborhood’s residents. (Picture taken from Google Images)
Retail Stores and Thrift Shops
Pictured above is Ragstock, one of the many thrift shops and retail stores that attracts crowds of younger and older people. Though this business appears to be a simple thrift shop, it actually aids in bridging the gap between tradition and change. I found that both younger and older individuals were likely to stop into this store to browse the racks and often enter into conversations that appeared genuine, even if only for a few minutes. (Picture taken from Google Images)
Restaurants, bars, and lounges
There are several restaurants and coffee shops such as the one pictured above named “Hot Chocolate” that serve as quaint places to get together with others and catch up with neighbors. These hubs serve as little joints that individuals can stop into to talk over a cup of coffee, increasing the sociability and connectivity of the neighborhood’s residents. (Picture taken from Google Images)
Pictured above are several restaurants and bars that serve as local stops for neighbors to unwind and share a meal while talking about the neighborhood happenings. Many of these stops are kid-friendly as well, and are more than adequate places for families to bring their children to enjoy a meal and socialize in a group setting. (Picture taken from Google Maps)
Pictured above are several churches of different denominations for individuals of varying religious backgrounds to gather and worship together. These establishments bring together parishes of individuals, and often times these individuals are neighbors that work closely in the church and outside in other neighborhood matters. (Picture taken from Google Maps)
Pictured above are several eateries, retail stores, theaters and museums, bars, inns, and other establishments that are part of what makes Wicker Park a special neighborhood in which inhabitants do not have to travel outside of the area to find their basic necessities and entertainment. (Picture taken from Google Images)
Parks and Recreation:
The public playground space of Wicker Park is a resource for children and their families to engage in outdoor activities, bringing together individuals on the baseball diamond just simply throwing a ball or even just chatting in the dog-friendly part of the park. Resources such as the park work to incorporate mixed public spaces into the neighborhood to increase social diversity and allow inhabitants of the area to interact and mingle. (Picture taken from Google Maps)
Chicago Neighborhoods - Assignment #5 - Connectivity - By: Sarah Lewis
Analysis of Connectivity:
When the three aspects of block, network, and thoroughfare types are taken into consideration, the Chicago neighborhood of Wicker Park appears to be quite well connected, giving rise to a sociable, welcoming neighborhood.
The block types of Wicker Park are to an extent well connected. The square blocks created by West North Avenue, West Division Street, North Damen Avenue, and North Western Avenue create sufficient parking spaces around the neighborhood for both owners and renters of homes, while also creating space for a public capacity. These square blocks bind the actual public space of Wicker Park located on North Damen Avenue, and provide an open center that serves as a playground for children and a field to walk dogs, increasing social connectivity. Second, elongated blocks in the neighborhood give rise to different kinds of residential homes, such as apartments, condominiums, and houses. This variability in housing tenure increases diversity, and allows for different kinds of homeowners to mingle. For instance, oftentimes homeowners have families with children, while renters might have roommates or room alone. With these differences in living, unlike neighbors may find themselves connecting in search of a babysitter, or for a cup of sugar for baking a cake! Finally, the third type, irregular block type, allows for a triangular shape to some of the major streets in the neighborhood such as North Milwaukee Avenue, North Damen Avenue, and West Division Street, which mirrors the triangular public space of Wicker Park. Also, the I-90 highway is an irregular block that also serves as a border from other areas, yet also acts as a means to go into and out of Wicker Park.
The Savannah, Mariemont and Washington network patterns were the most prevalent in Wicker Park. First, the Savannah pattern diverted much of the ongoing traffic from busier streets onto side streets, and permitted a manageable dispersal of traffic throughout the area. For instance, when I visited North Damen Avenue and North Milwaukee Avenue, they were bustling avenues, yet side streets helped to alleviate some of this through traffic. However, a pitfall of this pattern was that it caused a monotonous nature at times in parts of Wicker Park. Second, the Mariemont pattern created well defined diagonal intersections that unfortunately could be disorientating and confusing for people on foot and in cars. Third, the Washington pattern also produced diagonals that interrupted the monotony of Wicker Park and an even dispersal of ongoing traffic, but a disadvantage to the pattern was that it created a number of awkward and cumbersome spaces that may confuse people directionally.
Finally, the thoroughfare types mostly indicate that Wicker Park is made up of avenues, which most directly correlate to the definition of avenue found in The Lexicon of New Urbanism. Other types of transportation routes include boulevards, streets, and highways, though the boulevard called North Oakley Boulevard was quite similar to the definition of avenue provided by the lexicon ("a thoroughfare of high vehicular capacity and low to moderate speed acting as a short distance connector between urban centers"). Also, the I-90 highway serves as an eastern border of Wicker Park, yet does not just block others from entering the area, but rather may invite and encourage connectivity from other individuals in other neighborhoods.
Overall, the connectivity of Wicker Park from these three aspects of block, network, and thoroughfare types all create a quality idea of connectivity in the neighborhood. Generally, there was a good sense of connectivity, and transportation routes in Wicker Park helped to make a more than satisfactory essence of social interaction among individuals. Therefore, this high level of connectivity generates a high degree of communal mingling, and hence aids in keeping individuals well linked together and connected.
1. Block Types: As a Chicago neighborhood that utilizes the grid system, "a web of intersecting thoroughfares that is rectilinear in its alignment and orthogonal at its intersections," Wicker Park also displays several examples of block types. These block types include: the square block, the elongated block, and the irregular block.
In this example, the square block is delineated by West North Avenue to the north, West Division Street to the south, North Damen Avenue to the east, and North Western Avenue to the west. This example of the square block type provides ample parking spaces for the neighborhood, and there is an open space that lies along North Damen Avenue. This open space along North Damen Avenue is the actual public space of Wicker Park, which serves as an adequate park for people of all ages to socially connect and mingle.
Pictured above: availability of parking created by square blocks
Pictured above: explanation of square block
In this example, the elongated blocks are scattered throughout residential areas of condominiums and apartments. According to this model, lot depths remain relatively similar, while the widths vary. This variation gives rise to different condos, apartments, and homes. Also, owner occupancy is at 42%, while rent occupancy is at 58%. Therefore, while those individuals who rent tend to be younger and without families, those owning homes are inclined to have families. These two different housing tenure types therefore mix on these elongated blocks, giving rise to social connectivity and diversity in Wicker Park. Some examples of these elongated blocks are shown in this map, such as West Ermitage Avenue and Ashland Avenue.
Pictured above: apartment complexes along West Division Avenue
Pictured above: explanation of elongated block
In the example, Wicker Park does not exhibit too many examples of irregular blocks, but it is worth noting North Milwaukee Avenue, that cuts through major streets such as Ashland Avenue, North Damen Avenue, West Division Street, and North Western Avenue. This long avenue in a way creates a triangle of major streets (North Milwaukee Avenue, North Damen Avenue, and West Division Street), and mirrors the triangular shape of the nearby public park of Wicker Park. Also worth noting is the I-90 that cuts through parts of the neighborhood, acting almost as a boundary from other neighborhoods, yet also promoting travel by car into and out of Wicker Park.
Pictured above: I-90 cutting through Wicker Park
Pictured above: explanation of irregular block
2. Network Types: Of the different types of neighborhood networks, Wicker Park utilizes a mixture of the Savannah, Mariemont, and Washington patterns. Primarily, Wicker Park uses the Savannah and Mariemont patterns; benefits of both of these patterns include even dispersal of traffic through the web of streets. On the other hand, drawbacks of these patterns include the monotony from the Savannah pattern and the resulting disorientation from the Mariemont pattern. Meanwhile, the Washington pattern displays even dispersal of traffic through the grid, yet there is a high number of confusing and awkward shapes.
Pictured above: The Savannah, Mariemont and Washington patterns
Example 1: The Savannah Pattern
In certain parts of Wicker Park, the Savannah pattern is quite prevalent. This pattern provides a means for faster traffic, as several side streets direct traffic away from the busy main streets such as North Damen Avenue and North Milwaukee Avenue to alleviate heavy traffic.
Example 2: The Mariemont Pattern
The Mariemont pattern can be observed in Wicker Park, as there are several diagonals for traffic and diagonal intersections such as the one shown above. This pattern tends to be disorienting in the neighborhood, as the many diagonal pedestrian walkways and pathways confuse people on foot and drivers alike.
Example 3: The Washington Pattern
The Washington Pattern in Wicker Park allows for diagonals that cut into the monotony of the other patterns, and allows for even dispersal of traffic on the grid. However, the diagonals make odd shapes in the middle of roads and pathways, and tend to be confusing for people on foot and by car.
3. Thoroughfare Types
Pink - Avenue
Blue - Boulevard
Green - Highway
Purple - Street
According to the Lexicon of New Urbanism, the street names of Wicker Park and the actual definitions of different transportation routes align not perfectly, but quite well. For example, the one boulevard, North Oakley Boulevard, is quite closely related to an avenue. Also, Wicker Park appears to be made up of several avenues, and the I-90 highway east of Wicker Park appears to delineate the eastern border of the neighborhood. Overall, the Lexicon provides a quite accurate representation of the actual transportation paths of Wicker Park, and gives an adequate general outline of the nature of Wicker Park's traveling routes.
Images taken from Google Images, Google Maps, and Google Earth
The Lexicon of New Urbanism
Final Assignment - Chicago Neighborhoods: Wicker Park By: Sarah Lewis
A Proposal to Improve the Social Diversity of Wicker Park
Background Information: Wicker Park is a Chicago neighborhood in the West Town Community, with a population of 26,164 residents. Formally, the street borders are the 606 to the North (Bloomingdale Trail), Division Street to the South, Ashland Avenue to the East, and Western Avenue to the West.
Problem: Wicker Park is a victim of gentrification. Though gentrification is an indication of the influx of wealth into a neighborhood, problems arise, such as: the rise of rent for residents in public housing, the loss of small businesses and mom-and-pops stores, and the loss of culturally historic urban areas. Therefore, this phenomenon of gentrification is leading to the lack of social diversity in Wicker Park.
Solution: To combat the problems that arise from gentrification such as the rise of rent in public housing, the loss of small businesses and mom- and-pops stores, and the loss of culturally historic urban areas, I propose the following 3 courses of action to improve the social diversity of Wicker Park:
A. To lower public housing rent by diversifying housing type, size, tenure, and price, which will help to accommodate different sizes of families and residents of varying income brackets. Particularly, median housing value is $455,100, median rent is $1,343 (lowering median housing rent substantially would accommodate more demographics), and housing tenure is cut at 42% owner occupied and 58% rent occupied. This intervention will combat the problem of the displacement of low-income residents as well. These changes might also elicit positive correlating diversification in age and race demographic in the neighborhood. (Pertinent Information about other Social Demographics): By Race = White - 66.25% - 17,334, Black or African American - 12.95% - 3389, Asian - 5.3% - 1387; By Age = Under 18 years - 17% - 4448, 18-34 years - 46% - 12,036, 35-64 years - 33% - 8635) (Social Explorer)
B. To save small businesses and mom-and-pops stores by integrating commercial rent stabilization and aiding local business owners with cash grants. It is vital to save small businesses and mom-and-pops stores because they are sources of jobs, neighborhood cash flow, and they are essential to local businesses revenue. Commercial rent stabilization will protect low-income tenants due to the fact that restrictions would be placed on landlords that restrict their actions. For example, restrictions on the rent a landlord can demand and limitations on reasons for the eviction of tenants would be placed in order to tackle commercial gentrification. In particular, a few select municipalities in America implement Commercial Rent Control (CRC) in order to combat commercial gentrification; this program provides affordable commercial space for small business owners that are susceptible to closing down due to competition from the introduction of new retail chains or the raising of rent in developing neighborhoods. ("Tackling Commercial Gentrification") An initiative similar to this one might help in preventing small mom-and-pop stores that establish identity in Wicker Park from going out of business.
C. To preserve culturally historic areas by incorporating neighborhood volunteer programs, including community service volunteers through school and even inmate initiatives. Unfortunately, the true, popular belief is that taxpayers do not want to see their money being allocated towards artistic endeavors. Therefore, this backdoor way of preserving cultural landmark, for example the public park of Wicker Park, is an effective strategy to maintain the history of the neighborhood. For instance, a volunteer program through neighboring schools could create murals and markers for the park to remember its beginnings in the late 1800's, or inmates who desire to complete community service could not only maintain the upkeep of the park through cleaning, but even through creating cultural murals and markers. These murals and markers, "Wicker Park Markers," could be scattered through the park and on busy streets.
2. Graphic of Specific Locations of Proposal:
3. Illustrations explaining Wicker Park Proposal
Intervention #1: A - Lower Residential Public Housing Rent for Residents
The area above depicts public residential living in Wicker Park, yet the area fails to offer diverse public housing options for residents of different family sizes and income brackets. Though residential and commercial establishments are effectively mixed as Jane Jacobs advocated for, the residential commons currently present in Wicker Park are geared for 18-34 year olds without families who are interested in renting. This excludes several family sizes and individuals receiving income that is not sufficient to pay rent in Wicker Park.
A plan to lower public housing prices could help to reclaim the idea that Wicker Park is socially diverse in terms of public housing, which will diversify the social and racial demographic of age and race as well. Pictured above is the Centrum Wicker Park Rentals at 1664 W. Division Street, with the CTA Blue Line only minutes away as well as a gymnasium, free WiFi in the common spaces, bark piking, and other amenities. However, from this example above, a 1 bed, 1 bathroom apartment at 652 square feet can be rented at $2,091, which is oftentimes too expensive for the average American to afford. ("Centrum Wicker Park Rentals")
Intervention #2 - B: Save small businesses and mom-and-pops stores
Above is Lucky's Sandwich Company in Wicker Park on 3472 N. Clark Street - it was announced on July 8, 2016 that Lucky's would be closing. This is most likely due to competition from outside food chains and retail stores entering the neighborhood. Such businesses are closing at a record pace due to landlords raising prices on rent for small business owners, thus leading to the closing of small mom-and-pop stores because of gentrification. A plan to combat this would be to implement rent stabilization on landlords and cash grants to small business owners.
Above is a mom-and-pops gas station on Damen Avenue and Division Street that has been open since 1977 and will be closing in 2017. The owner of the gas station, Gaspar Gomez who has owned this gas station with his family for over 30 years, notes that it is closing due to rent hikes, leading to the loss of their rent. However, to prevent local businesses such as these from closing, rent control would be able to save small business owners and preserve some companies that have aided in giving Wicker Park its identity. (DNAInfo.com)
Intervention #3 - C: Preserving Culturally Historic Areas
Part of this intervention includes community volunteer programs to save culturally historic sites such as the public space of Wicker Park along North Damen Avenue in order to increase social diversity. Wicker Park is utilized by families, but is often forgotten due to the integration of restaurants, bars, lounges, and other new establishments. Volunteer programs through schools could enhance awareness of these areas, and allow children to engage in preserving public spaces that bring together different demographics. Another idea to save such landmarks is volunteer programs for the cleanliness of the park through inmate correctional facilities. This would serve a dual purpose of maintaining public historical spaces while also allowing inmates to engage in community service and bonding. Also, cultural markers and indicators scattered throughout the park commemorating the institution of the public space in 1868 will increase social diversity and even enhance the neighborhood's aesthetic.
Above is a Nina Palomba mural in Wicker Park that integrates social diversity through a simple message: "Love and be loved." This mural and other cultural indicators can help to engage residents in commemorating the neighborhood's history of immigration of, for example, Puerto Rican and Polish residents. This mural bridges the gap between older and newer residents, and reminds them to spread social connectivity and encourage togetherness among diversity. Therefore, though this mural is quite enhanced, an initiative to engage in community service through schools or inmate programs could potentially enhance cultural commemoration. Creating artistic murals and "Wicker Park Markers" through these volunteer programs in order to remember the institution of the park in 1868 and the ethnic history of the neighborhood would be effective interventions to increase social diversity. Specifically, they would be quite effective in the park and along busy streets such as North Milwaukee Avenue and Division Street.
1. Images taken from Google Images, Google Maps, and Google Earth
2. Meltzer, Rachel. 2016. “Gentrification and Small Business: Threat or Opportunity?” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research. 18 (3): 57–85.
3. Talen, Emily. 2008. “Why Diversity?” in Design for Diversity: Exploring Socially Mixed Neighborhoods. London: Elsevier. Chapter 3: Pps. 33-47.
4. Social Explorer