Street Smart Chicago

Race Review: Race to Wrigley 5K (May 11, 2013)

News etc., Running, Wrigleyville No Comments »
Race to Wrigley runners/Photo: Zach Freeman

Race to Wrigley runners/Photo: Zach Freeman


Breakdown:  For the eighth straight year, Chicago Cubs Charities organized the Race to Wrigley, a 5K through Wrigleyville that starts at the intersection of Addison and Clark and ends with a brief jaunt through the Wrigley Field ground-level concourse. After being warmed up by WGN’s Dina Bair and Danni Allen (winner of Season 14 of The Biggest Loser), the 3,000 or so timed runners (self-organized into pace groups) took off down a blocked-off Addison.

Organization along the course, including directional information and water stations were heavily attended and clearly marked, with a great deal of fanfare paid to the finish line area in front of Wrigley Field. The pre- and post-race party area in the space between Clark, Waveland and Wrigley Field was less well-organized, with a slow-moving and regrettably unsystematic gear check slowing things up and too many participants crammed into the space after finishing the run. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Streetcar Desire

Checkerboard City, Green, Lincoln Park, Loop, Transit, Wrigleyville No Comments »

John Krause/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

Acid jazz pulsed on the sound system as a group of stylishly dressed transit fans clinked wine glasses last week at Vapiano, a sleek Italian restaurant at 2577 North Clark Street in Lincoln Park. They were there to launch the Chicago Streetcar Renaissance, a campaign to create a world-class streetcar line on Clark from the Loop to Wrigley Field, and eventually add lines in other parts of the city.

“Our mission is to grow the economy and the population of Chicago every year while reducing traffic congestion and making the city easier to get around,” says John Krause, the architect who founded the movement, nattily attired in jeans and a dove-gray sports jacket. “That means every year there will be more people and fewer cars, more commerce and less congestion.”

He has a vision of the clogged traffic and the notoriously sluggish buses on Clark replaced by efficient, comfortable streetcars, more pedestrian traffic, on-street cafés and broad bike lanes. “The only way you can get rid of cars is to replace them with something better,” he explains. “In a car paradigm everybody assumes the city is going to grow more and more congested. But a public-transit system is the opposite. The more people use public transit, the better it gets.” Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Race to Wrigley 5K (April 14, 2012)

News etc., Running, Wrigleyville 1 Comment »

Race to Wrigley 5K finish lineA crowd is gathering outside Wrigley Field this Saturday morning. And for once none of them are drunk. In fact, the hardest thing they’re drinking is some poorly mixed Gatorade from concentrate (more water per powdered cup next time, race organizers). It’s an overcast morning, with the temperature (and the percentage chance of rain) hovering in the mid fifties; in other words, perfect running weather for the 7th Annual Race to Wrigley 5K. Addison Street is quickly filling up with chip-timed runners being especially cognizant of their proper pace group (those just out for the fun run are corralling separately down Clark).

After a surprisingly poignant rendition of the national anthem (for a 5K), radio personality Eric Ferguson says a few words of encouragement before announcing that Samwise Gamgee himself (Sean Astin) is participating in the race as well. Astin steps up to say a few brief words about the Cubs before wishing everyone good luck and joining the pack (estimated to be over 8,000 strong). Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Gain: Six Ideas Chicago Should Steal from Other Cities

Architecture, City Life, Green, Lakeview, Loop, Pilsen, Transit, West Loop, Wrigleyville 2 Comments »

Rendering of the Dallas park expressway cap via the Woodall Rogers Park Foundation

By Sam Feldman

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Chicago’s received its fair share. We pioneered the steel-frame skyscraper, the Ferris wheel, and the electric blues, all worldwide hits. We started studying the idea of turning the abandoned two-point-seven-mile Bloomingdale Line into an elevated park in 1998, a year before the High Line was a gleam in anybody’s eye, though it’s New York’s elevated park that’s gotten all the attention. (To be fair, New York’s park does have the advantage of actually existing.)

But other cities have some good ideas too sometimes, and every so often we should glance around and see what might be worth stealing. We’ve made a good start with the recent announcement of a 300-kiosk bike-sharing system arriving by next summer, an idea we stole from Washington, DC, along with our new transportation chief Gabe Klein. But there’s a lot more we can rip off. There are areas where we haven’t been keeping up, or we’ve been making small plans, or we just haven’t taken the lead. Some of these ideas would cost money, but some of them would make money. Some of them might be immediately popular, while others could take some convincing. Some of them won’t happen—but some of them will. Read the rest of this entry »

Rebel Rebel: My dad owns The Alley. So what?

Lakeview, Wrigleyville 4 Comments »

By Alexis Thomascover

My first job was as proprietor of a lemonade stand at the corner of Belmont and Clark, an intersection of smut, littered with empty PBR cans, Dunkin’ Donuts-stained napkins and transsexuals in ripped fishnet pantyhose. It was the epicenter of the counter-cultural lifestyle. If you lived in Chicago, dyed your hair blue and believed punk rock could save the world, you’ve probably spent some time at Belmont and Clark.

My dad owns The Alley, an alternative-lifestyles store that sells everything from neon-colored sex toys, leather jackets, pins, one-hitters, spiked collars and bondage gear to Doc Martens.

Saturday mornings, dad and I packed Dixie cups and pitchers of Crystal Light lemonade into the back of his Cadillac hearse. The hearse was decked out in Alley decals and for ten years was his main ride. He drove it throughout Chicago neighborhoods promoting his store and lifestyle.

I’d sit on the corner as dad watched the foot traffic of Cubs fans, punks and everyone in between. But no one bought lemonade from me. Instead, their eyes crossed and noses wrinkled as they looked at me like an orphan misplaced by her parents before a show at The Vic and a whiskey sour at L&L Tavern.

Kids with mohawks and leather jackets sat next to my lemonade stand with their jelly donuts and cigarettes. Skinheads, oi punks, riot grrrls, ’77 punks and metalheads crowded into tight circles and broke into the kind of fights that were all fists and snot and blood.

Just as I was about to give up on my lemonade stand, my dad yelled over the walkie-talkies in the store, “You all better go out there and buy some lemonade from Alexis when you’re on break!”

The Alley rescued my business from bankruptcy as every employee handed over a dollar for my lemonade. By the end of the day I had made ten dollars.

The Belmont and Clark I knew at 8 years old got lost in the rubble of punk rock’s Armageddon. And before punk could revive itself, gentrification filled its void. Today, the Belmont and Clark I knew is an abandoned history. Read the rest of this entry »

411 Seven Days in Chicago: Go to Zell

City Life, News etc., Sports, Wrigleyville No Comments »

Almost everyone’s up in arms over Sam Zell’s recent comments about being open to selling the naming rights to Wrigley Field, including Lincoln Square Festa T-shirts’ owner Christopher Festa. The avid Cubs fan is fighting the name change and making some cash on the side with his “Keep it… Wrigley” T-shirt campaign, which launched from his shop last Friday. Festa has already sold a hundred shirts to Wrigley Field advocates like himself. “We just wanted to help people—the point of the shirt is that it’s not just a cool design and not just a cool slogan, it’s to help people show their loyalty and show their feelings,” Festa says. “I think this is really a special situation and if they leave it alone, it’ll make everyone more happy and prosperous in the long run…I think that the owners of the team—whoever they are now or in near future—are meddling with primeval forces that create the magic and aura of the Wrigley experience. They are alienating people on an emotional level for changing the name.”

The Turn of the Century: 100 reasons why the Cubs will not be 100-year losers

Sports, Wrigleyville No Comments »

By Tom Lynch

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Cubs’ last World Series title. Herewith, a hundred reasons why the streak ends here.

North Siders need mercy from Sox fans’ badgering
The team must win before Wrigley Field is renamed Viagra Park
Won’t be able to handle embarrassment of playing home games at The Cell without having won
Weak division, yet again
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Painful Reality: MTV comes to Goose Island

Events, Media, Wrigleyville No Comments »

A taxi screeches to a halt on Clark Street in front of Goose Island Wrigleyville, where a patient crowd of teenagers and twentysomethings are lined up. Out steps a gentlemen in his early twenties who wears faded jeans, Armani sunglasses and what appears to be Derek Zoolander’s “blue steel” pose. The sad reality is that he is strutting towards the line to audition for the twenty-first season of MTV’s “The Real World,” and he probably has a decent chance at making the cut.
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Bohemian Rhapsody: University of Chicago profs study the migration of hipsters and other urban phenomena

Andersonville, Bridgeport, Bucktown, City Life, Edgewater, Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Irving Park, Kenwood, Lakeview, Lincoln Square, Little Village, Logan Square, News etc., North Center, Pilsen, Roscoe Village, South Shore, Ukrainian Village, Uptown, Washington Park, Wicker Park, Wrigleyville No Comments »

By Sean Redmond

Entering Wicker Park by the Blue Line, you emerge into the intersection of Damen, North and Milwaukee to a long-familiar sight. There’s the Double Door across the street, Flash Taco and, until just recently, the façade of Filter, Wicker Park’s former hipster coffeehouse extraordinaire. These staples, like many along these primary roadways, fade into the background with repeated visits; yes, you know you can find Reckless Records and American Apparel and the venues and art galleries in the surrounding area, but getting where you want to go requires little thought once you’re situated enough to put your eyes to the sidewalk and your feet into autopilot. But then one day, you get off the train and, surprise, the boarded-up shell of Filter is replaced with an expansive Bank of America, and your mind jolts back into motion. Suddenly, a wave of thoughts bursts forth: “Man, there are a lot of banks in the area,”or “Wicker Park really is getting commercialized,” or  “Maybe I need to start spending more time in Logan Square.”
Read the rest of this entry »