Street Smart Chicago

One Perfect Life: An Ode to the Real South Side

Back of the Yards, Bridgeport, Bronzeville, Chinatown, Englewood, Essays & Commentary, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Little Village, Pilsen, South Shore, Southeast Side No Comments »

By Scoop Jackson

“Pharaoh of the Sun/Lookin’ down the barrel of a gun/Y’all know where I’m from.”
—from the poem “Keep On” by famous South Sider Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. (aka Common)

We call them “pockets.” It’s the best way any of us who come from the South Side of Chicago can describe the drastic ebb and flow of the ‘hoods we live in.

“On the South Side,” real estate agent and South Side resident Chrystal Caruthers says, “you can grow up in a good neighborhood but go two blocks over and I’ll bet the people won’t feel the same.” The block-to-block change. The neighborhood-to-neighborhood shift in dynamics, living conditions and mentality. It exists in other neighborhoods in the country, but not like on the South Side in this city. The same way Chief Keef can weave tales about life on the South Side, Will Smith can come here and hang out on the lake on 31st Street and go write “Summertime.”

Growing up here gives one a perspective of range. Range in the sense of how far-reaching an area can be, how diverse and disconnected and devoted people raised on the same concrete can be. Where oftentimes the kids at Bogan were more dangerous to a young black kid than the GDs or El Rukns who went to Dunbar.

There is more beauty in the real South Side than anyone who doesn’t live here could understand. Through all of the bullshit, all of the incidents that happen on the side of Chicago that gives it the nicknames “Homicide Capital” and “Chiraq,” there exist pockets of life that bring an unmatched sense of pride and joy not found anywhere else in the city. Read the rest of this entry »

Wheel Dreams: Can Emanuele Bianchi win his race to build the $45 million Chicago Velo Campus by 2013?

Bicycling, Southeast Side No Comments »

By John Greenfield

Imagine yourself watching—better yet, competing in—a breakneck bicycle race on a gleaming indoor track at the Chicago Velo Campus sports district. It is a freezing winter night outside but sweat pours off the chiseled, Lycra-clad riders as they whiz by and zip around the sloped turns on sleek fixed-gear bikes. The crowd goes wild.

Emanuele Bianchi, businessman, racer and president of the low-profit limited liability corporation Chicago Velo Campus L3C, is working hard to make this vision a reality. The sports district would include a stadium nearly as large as the United Center housing the velodrome (bike racing arena) and many other sports facilities, plus outdoor BMX, mountain bike and cyclocross tracks, at an estimated total cost of $40 to $45 million.

Bianchi, no relation to the Bianchi bicycle company, and his partners want to build the velo campus on the former site of U.S. Steel South Works, a hunk of land on the lakefront between 79th and 92nd Streets. They hope it will be the centerpiece of Lakeside, an ambitious new 500-acre community proposed for the site by real estate developer McCaffery Interests, in partnership with the steel company, which still owns the land. Read the rest of this entry »