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“Chicagoist” to Downtown Residents: Drop Dead

More or less. Chicagoist columinst Amy Hart ridiculed Downtown Chicago 42nd Ward Alderman Burt Natarus for wanting to put a stop to non-permitted street drummers who have lately accosted downtown visitors and residents with a panoply of obnoxious and illegal “music” to accompany their illegal panhandling. In this Chicagoist entry, Amy Hart tells downtown residents to deal with it as the price of living downtown. (Previous expletive deleted when a cooler head prevailed). Um, excuse me?

Living downtown, I pay more taxes than most Chicagoans. Living downtown, I help the core of the city stay alive, and vibrant, and safer at night than it has been for decades, all things that all Chicagoans benefit from.

Moreover, downtown is my neighborhood. My home. The streets of the Loop are as much my “own” as anyone would think of the streets in Uptown or Bridgeport. I know them intimately. I almost never leave them. And I am very protective of them and their quality of life.

In these days when thousands and thousands of people are moving downtown, it seems anywhere from unfair to downright meanspirited to tell people if they don’t like it, then leave. Hmm, how about if Amy Hart’s Alderman or local police captain told her that her neighborhood concerns were of no consequence the next time she complained about something in her outer neighborhood? Got mugged? Loud construction until midnight every night across the street? Afraid of a little local rapist? Tough, babe, go live in Oak Park, that’s the price of living in the big city? Well, no, a substandard quality of life doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be the “price” of living in the big city. And that right to a livable neighborhood does not end where the borders of the Loop begin.

Times, they are a changin’, dear Amy. Much of Downtown Chicago is turning residential, and quickly. You seem to think that the needs of we Downtown residents can be taken for granted. That we are rich enough (I wish), or dumb enough (I get to choose where I live) to know better, or that we are simply second-class citizens whose input can be flippantly tossed aside because in your experience you can’t conceive of people actually living downtown and calling it Home with a capital H.

Well, speaking as one of Chicagoist’s readers, and a regular local blogger–and more importantly, as a fiercely loyal resident of downtown Chicago–honey, you have been severely misinformed.

Categories: LIFE Planning Politics

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

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16 replies

  1. Trains? Don’t be silly. This is downtown. I can walk wherever I need to go.

    “Other people”? Exactly who? A residential downtown is an extraordinarily recent phenomenon in Chicago. In 1990 you could count the number of people who lived in the Loop in two digits. Most of the people who live downtown now are part of an enormous first wave of residents. New residents along State and Wabash and Wacker, we are the “other people” about whom you’re referring.

    The small numbers of people before us complained about noise, too. The only difference is now our growing numbers are making this an issue that is harder to dismiss out of hand.

    People historically have not lived downtown in Chicago. But they do, now, and like it or not, that is fundamentally changing the character of this neighborhood.

    Oh, and check your calendar. Marina City, itself, with its thousands of residents, was, indeed, “in place” long before HOB arrived.

  2. “Everyone has the right to demand an acceptable quality of life in any neighborhood that they choose to live in.”

    Hey, Frasier: if you choose to live in Chicago, you’d better be ready to deal with the cold; if you choose to live in Florida, you know you’re in for a few hurricanes; if you choose to live in the city, expect some noise and some weirdos and some dreaded suburbanites asking you how to get to Navy Pier. Bitch bitch bitch! The House of Blues was in place long before you arrived, and you now want them to stop hosting live concerts because the tour buses annoy you. You want your neighbors to stop putting up tacky lights on their balconies because, Gawd, they’re so gaudy! Other people have a right to live how they want, too. And other people have learned to deal with the noises of the city — the roaring trains, say, that you rely on.

    Cripes. Shouldn’t you be down at Whole Foods, bitching your way into a credit voucher?

  3. First of all, the idea that it’s only the well-to-do who live downtown is a false one. Many of us, myself included, don’t make any more and in some cases considerably less than the average Joe or Jane but have managed to find really good deals down here. And even if we were monied, that doesn’t have anything to do with the right to expect a livable neighborhood. It is not just the poor who get to complain about neighborhood problems or demand an acceptable quality of life. Everyone has that right.

    And in terms of O’Hare, there are carefully set and regulated standards governing airport noise. That’s what we need and don’t have downtown.

    So far the arguments against Natarus’ proposal all seem to revolve around the idea that people who aren’t poor or who don’t live in your neighborhood don’t have a right to complain. That’s rot.

  4. I think the real issue here is that tons of well-to-do people are moving to the city and expecting everything to change because they are here now. I live in Logan Square and I don’t expect my neighbors to stop playing Spanish language music because there are college educated white people here now. Nor should you move to the Loop and expect the things that come with the Loop to disappear suddenly. Your arguement seems like moving next to O’Hare and complaining that there is so much air traffic.

  5. Well, actually, yes I can. Everyone has the right to demand an acceptable quality of life in any neighborhood that they choose to live in. No one tells residents of the west or south sides not to complain about illegal or nuisance activities in their neighborhoods. Just because I live downtown doesn’t make me or the thousands of other people who live downtown with me second-class Chicago citizens.

  6. boo hoo hoo! you can’t move someplace and then expect it to change just because YOU live there now! silly yuppie!

  7. Yes, I certainly did not read the first sentence from your post on December 1. Of course, feel free to get me on the absence of “feeling like” from my previous comment.

    Congrats on expanding your readership today past your immediate family.

  8. Well, as a suburbanite trying to work and do a good job in the city, I too am being accosted by the noise and don’t appreciate it. I work in an older, not soundproofed building, just off of State Street and frequently have to listen to these down-right-bad musicians for hours and hours on end. Sometimes playing the same song over and over and over. Go Burt!

  9. Here’s your comment, you high-strung mountain-maker. Inhale and fucking count to ten before you reply. Your analogies are just as constructive as my name calling, but judging by your claim to know the streets intimately, you won’t get the point since there have been downtown street performers since before your ass moved to Chicago, you self-proclaimed ‘suburbanite transplanted into the city.’

  10. It’s all a question of degrees. If something is injurious to an acceptable quality of life, whether it’s a 1 or a 10 on a scale of degree, it’s still unacceptable. before downtown, I lived in a crime-ridden outer neighborhood. You think my example is so far fetched. You know what the police (this is Logan Square) told me after I got mugged during an autumn crime wave there last year? And I quote, “You should move. This neighborhood has a reuptation, you should have known better than to move here.”

    Given that, I stand behind my comments.

  11. i dont think it’s fair to compare someone playing a musical instrument in public with a rapist or thief.

  12. I think we apparently have conflicting views on what constitutes “quality of life” then. Or “expectation” for that matter.