Here are a few major milestones from the South Loop that happened in 2014 that for one reason or another I never got around to writing about.
The New Skateboard Park: I complained and whined and I was right to do so, but now that it's finished, it's not so bad. The hill that the neighborhood used just north of Roosevelt and east of Michigan Avenue for sledding is still there, covered in new sod--and as long as the City doesn't put any obstructions there, all should be well. Although there was foul-language rap music emanating out of speakers on opening day that residents of neighboring buildings complained about, it seems that just happened opening day--and park people say they aren't going to let that happen again. The whole area actually appears to be a nice place to sit and relax with a cup of coffee now and then.
The end of the Historic Handiwork Circle: One of the neatest amenities in the South Loop was the Clarke House Museum's old-fashioned craft group that met the last Thursday of every month for about two-and-a-half years. The Clarke House is the oldest house in Chicago. The group was great for people like me who've been trying to finish a plain knit scarf for about 30 years and never seem to have the time or inclination. But the group is disbanding. Although there are other places in the South Loop where knitters can get together and learn from each other, not so--as far as I know--for lacemakers and other more obscure, old-fashioned crafts. But the Clarke House says it's going to offer new things in the coming year to compensate.
The Protests: The South Loop had a ton of protesters a few weeks back as the country was in protest mode in response to unarmed individuals around the country being shot to death by cops. In fact, several groups of peaceful and very committed groups came past my house at Roosevelt and State on a few occasions. The cops who accompanied the groups--there to extinguish any trouble that might erupt--seemed to far outnumber the members of the groups. That was an interesting sight to see. However, the groups went by so fast, I never got a chance to snap a picture.
The 20th Anniversary of the Chicago Homes of Dearborn Park: 2014 marked the official beginning of life in 36 single family frame homes at Roosevelt, State and Plymouth. Although there were a few early birds who built in the latter part of 1993, and a handful of latecomers who moved in in 1995, the vast majority of us (more than half who are still here) moved in and began a new life in 1994. We've seen a lot of changes in the neighborhood--once a bastion of fallow railroad tracks, SRO housing and offbeat businesses like the printing of racing forms. Those of us who could see the future knew that others would follow and live in homes, town homes, lofts and condos--and love being near great transportation, good schools, the great museums and parks of Chicago, Lake Michigan and The Loop. We celebrated our 20th anniversary in early September with a party in our alley. Storms came--and went--that evening. And like everything else that we have weathered in the last 20 years, we totally enjoyed ourselves, knowing we made the right choice to be pioneers in a place that a lot of people thought we were crazy to invest our money and time in.
Happy New Year!
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