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Single-room housing: Can not-for-profit developers turn the tide?

It seems the most unlikely of combinations: single-room-occupancy hotels, those holding pens for the John Hinckleys and Travis Bickles of the world, and not-for-profit organizations, those bastions of goody-goodyism. Yet such a combination has emerged on the north side, and it may represent a new direction for Chicago in the provision of low-income housing. Acting […]

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Uneasy alliance: Can north-side progressives build a coalition in the absence of Washington and in the wake of Cokely?

Outside the windows of the Truman College cafeteria, as a balmy breeze wafts through the trees, tennis players and softball swatters congregate, enjoying one of the gentler, more peaceful days of spring. But inside the stuffy cafeteria of the Uptown junior college, it’s all work for 200 or so north-side activists getting down to the […]

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See teacher run: George Schmidt, the perennial outsider, campaigns for president of the CTU

It’s only 7:30 in this teachers’ lounge; the morning’s first cups of coffee have barely been drained, but already the teachers are outraged. The teachers at this northwest-side high school are grumbling bitterly about petty rules, dictatorial bosses, lousy wages, and a public that just doesn’t care. “We’re out here on the front lines,” says […]

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Calling London: Can Stewart-Warner’s new owners be persuaded to save this plant?

For the workers at Stewart-Warner, the signs of doom were evident long before the company made it official that cold winter day in 1985. “We propose to transfer the remainder of the Alemite pump assembly to [our facility] in Johnson City, Tennessee,” read the January 31 letter from the director of personnel at Stewart-Warner Corporation. […]

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The impossible bank: South Shore, a model mixture of capitalism and community development

In the beginning, Richard Taub recalls, it was just an idea passed to him over the backyard fence by his next-door neighbor. Ronald Grzywinski, the neighbor, and several of his friends and colleagues–Milton Davis, Mary Houghton, Jim Fletcher, and Michael Bennett chief among them–had a vision: they were going to buy the South Shore Bank, […]

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South of North: What’s urban renewal doing in a hot neighborhood like this?

It’s not a very large neighborhood. The major distinction of the eight-block area that runs southwest from the corner of North and Wells is that it has stubbornly resisted large-scale redevelopment for over 30 years. Tucked between middle-class Sandburg Village and destitute Cabrini-Green, this neighborhood of mainly poor and working-class families has resisted social, political, […]

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Big noise in Winnetka: banned bicyclists rally round the Ravine

The trustees of Winnetka probably did not realize it, but with little fanfare or celebration they unleashed a revolution last October. Of course, that was not their intention. Instead, the seven-member village board was merely approving what looked like a rather mundane proposition to outlaw bicycle traffic on the “Ravine”–a winding stretch of Sheridan Road […]

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Upscaling Uptown: Can developers of subsidized housing escape HUD rules by prepaying their mortgages?

Before the landlord’s notice came, Rosemary Winblad and her two daughters lived comfortably and affordably in a well-managed federally subsidized apartment building at 833 W. Buena in Uptown. Then came the jolt: an immediate rent increase of 20 percent, on top of last year’s hike of 10 percent, with warnings of unspecified raises to follow. […]

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Roots: digging up the past in the Newberry Library’s black-genealogy collection

As a research librarian at the Newberry Library, David Thackery has watched for years as patrons–most of them old and retired–slowly but steadily combed pages and pages of census ledgers, legal documents, and manuscripts in search of the past. They are, in effect, private investigators, unpaid but hardworking, tracing their families’ roots from Chicago and […]

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A lot of controversy in Hyde Park

In a few days or so, the good citizens of Hyde Park–doctors, lawyers, architects, professors, more lawyers, and other educated, cultivated people–will gather together as they have before to discuss, calmly and rationally, the leading issue of the day. If this meeting follows the pattern voices will rise, followed, maybe, by emotional accusations. The whole […]