Just a little update on what's been going on with the neighborhood. I've stopped posting pictures of demolished buildings recently because I never seem to have the camera handy. But I thought I'd post a couple bfore and after pictures of some of the sites I've talked about in the past so you can see what's happening to the neighborhood and the new world that's emerging on the Near West Side.
This building was a neighborhood landmark and a favorite. It was demolished because it was too small, and didn't feature any condos with balconies like the rich people like. They are willing to accept less footage to be able to live close to cool people like me, but they demand a view.
The big problem with this building is that it faces the wrong way. It ignores Damen, Bucktown's main thoroughfare, in favor of Shakespeare, which at a quarter-block south of Webster is not even a real street, since it doesn't fit the grid. From it's balconies, the moneyed classes will be able to gaze south along Damen and see the trendy business district with its boutiques and restaurants and funkily dressed babes, oblivious to the way their homes have deteriorated the quality of life for everyone around them. By facing south, the building presents a side view to Damen Avenue, with little bathroom windows that are asymmetrical, too much empty brick, and the edge of the balconies visible on one side only. In short, it's lopsided, deformed and ugly. The designers apparently decided that if they put retail with an attractive awning on the ground level, nobody will notice how the little group of buildings has become scarred and disfigured.
The new condo building at the corner of Damen and Webster, by contrast, faces the right way and even manages to present an attractive and fairly symmetrical face to the residential side street.
An attractive two-story commercial-residential building with decorative 19th Century iron metal details. Not enough units on the property, once again no balcony for rich people to store their bicycles and gas grills.
Fairly attractive modern commercial-residential condo building going up on a portion of the site. This building pays more attention to detail than do most new condos I've seen, the splash of color brightens up what is quickly becoming another shopping/residential quarter. I am pleasantly surprised. An identical building will rise next door, and then a skinny half-building that will look like the right half of this one, on the site ofthe old building. Unfortunately, this four-story complex will pretty much overwhelm the pretty Victorian turret next door.
Still, as industrial uses fade from the area, they are trying to extend the Wicker Park trendiness all the way up to the Congress Theater and beyond. Unfortunately, retail jobs do not pay what industrial jobs did, and people who work in these buildings could never dream of living in them, or increasingly, living in the neighborhood at all. Fortunately there is an El stop a couple blocks NW on Milwaukee.
Well, another digger, signifying another teardown is about to take place. I took pictures of all the likely suspects, but I was wrong. A little house that used to be a storefront was the victim. I don't really remember it and I walked by it several times a week for three years, so it's probably not the biggest tragedy ever. Still, I wish these people would leave my neighborhood alone. They are filming a movie here tomorrow so we won't be able to park on our own street. Maybe once people see the 'hood on film, someone (like the Alderman) will conclude it is worth something more than the value of the land underneath it.
This doesn't really mean anything, Trope took it and it's just cool (I played with the color a little to make it pop more). If you have any idea what it might represent, drop me a line.