Natarus on Noise

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(Photo: Sorry, did I wake you? Credit: 42nd Ward Office.)

Chicago Carless is no stranger to the fight to protect downtown residents’ right to quiet. Last winter, Yours Truly took a stand against allowing the debatably talented “bucket boys” to drum on plastic containers deep into the night beneath the windows of downtown high-rise bedrooms.

But with all the building construction projects currently going on downtown, the can-whackers are the least worry of downtown residents. This year, downtowners have suffered through construction work occurring at illegal hours throughout the 42nd Ward–the ward at Chicago’s heart.

According to the office of 42nd Ward Alderman Burt Natarus, all construction work except for road work is legal only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., albeit seven days a week. Little comfort to Loop loungers wanting a little peace on a lazy Sunday. But enraging to locals like myself and numerous downtown friends and colleagues who have repeatedly been knocked out of bed at 6:30 a.m or kept awake until almost midnight by the pounding, whirring, and wheezing of scofflaw construction sites.

Which sites? State Street’s Block 37, for one, where for weeks now work has begun at the crack of 6:30 a.m. and frequently runs until the evening news (and during one particularly galling week, all night). Or the hotel construction site at Dearborn and Kinzie, where morning work began this morning around 7. And don’t forget Wabash Avenue’s quickly rising Trump Tower, where heavy vehicles seem to roll into and out of the construction site, well, really whenever the Donald seems to damn well please.

In February of this year, the City Council finally recognized that an obnoxiously noisy downtown is not the best way to win and keep residents within the neigborhood, for a neighborhood downtown surely is. To that end, Natarus has been collecting complaints about scofflaw construction projects and, much to this downtowner’s delight, actually following up on them (he put a quick end to the aforementioned moonlight madness on Block 37).

If you’re a resident of downtown Chicago suffering through consistent scofflaw building construction noise, consider following this advice provided by the 42nd ward office:


1. Write down the date, time, and location of each noise violation.

2. Call 911 (yes, 911), and immediately report the violation so that an official record is made of your complaint.

3. Call the 42nd Ward office at 312-744-3062 and report the violation so that aldermanic staff can follow up.

Downtown Chicago needs and welcomes (well, except for the wags at Folio Square) the spanking new condo and office towers that developers are building, and developers have a right to build them. But downtown residents also have a right to a liveable, sleepable neighborhood–and at specific, legally enforceable hours, the right of residents takes precedence.

So if the jackhammer under your downtown window woke you up at the crack of dawn again today, go set a precedent for yourself and stand up for your right to quiet. Write it down. Call it in. You won’t regret it.

I mean, besides finally being able to get some rest, just think of the money you’ll save on bleary-eyed early morning lattes and Red Bulls.

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