Ted Kleine hit the nail on the head with “Down on Uptown” (Our Town, 4/3). As a new home buyer in Uptown after renting five in Ravenswood for the past eight years (notice I didn’t say East, West, or South Ravenswood–that’s because they don’t exist), I ran into these bogus neighborhood-naming issues during my search. Unfortunately, this type of marketing has been going on for quite some time.
In Uptown, it started back around 1989 when all the abandoned buildings on Kenmore Avenue between Montrose and Sheridan were rehabbed. Poof–Buena Park. From that evolved Sheridan Park. What is really interesting about the Ravenswood Gardens building on Dover Street mentioned in Mr. Kleine’s article is that there is an existing neighborhood called Ravenswood Gardens ten blocks west at Wilson Avenue and the Chicago River! Hardly original. It isn’t that I am opposed to progress, development, less crime, and a better quality of life; I just feel people are buying/renting solely on name without really exploring or understanding the true character of this and other neighborhoods. Uptown isn’t the only neighborhood to experience this. There are many examples.
When Lincoln Park yuppies made that big leap west of Ashland Avenue, it became West DePaul. When marketers decided Bucktown was a catchier name, its border was pushed four blocks into Wicker Park down to North Avenue. Since the folks in Wicker Park won’t let them go further, marketers have decided to shrink Humboldt Park (west of Western). It is now known as West Bucktown. Cute. Circuit City and PetsMart on Elston Avenue have very vivid imaginations and call their locations Lincoln Park. They are about a mile off. Target is the only store to correctly refer to their location as Logan Square. And finally, when a new bar in the 3800 block of Lincoln Avenue (near Irving Park and Damen) first opened a couple of years back, their first ad in this publication read: “West Wrigleyville’s Newest”. West Wrigleyville? Talk about a stretch.
The problem isn’t isolated to the city. I remember a number of years ago reading in one of the real estate sections about a development in Aurora that happened to be in a Naperville school district. The advertising touted Naperville this and Naperville that, hardly mentioning Aurora. Finally, Aurora said if this kept up they would cut off their Aurora water and sewer. According to the article, the marketing quickly changed.
I’ve reached a point where I just laugh when I read the advertising. The goofy names people come up with for some of the new developments are bad enough! The people I really feel sorry for are those new to Chicago or suburbanites moving in who know nothing about the city, and there are a lot of them who are being somewhat misled by this type of marketing.