I stumbled across a real estate blog not too long ago on which a condo listing on Hoyne generated a bunch of comments about what a shit hole Rogers Park is. The following is my lightly edited response:
I have lived in Rogers Park and West Ridge for 19 of the past 20 years, including a stint as a condo owner, and I personally wouldn't want to live anywhere else. I love Rogers Park's diversity, convenience, access to great restaurants, entertainment, the lakefront, shopping...
In all my time here, 7 of those years on Pratt near Lakewood, the worst experience I've had is when my road bicycle was stolen out of my storage locker in 1994, or so. My car may have been broken into once, too, but that's life in the city. The same thing happened when I lived in Boys Town—and that's supposed to be a "safe" neighborhood.
Lost Eras is one of many businesses along Howard Street in Rogers Park.
I currently live in what you all would consider the worst of the worst of Rogers Park, that little enclave notoriously known as the Jungle that butts up against the Calvary Cemetery. I don't have a car right now and EVERYTHING is conveniently located within 2 blocks of my apartment building: Red/Purple Line is a block away as well as a bus depot that will take me to just about any part of the city and into Evanston and Skokie, as well. Grocery store, post office, laundromat are all within a block; the lakefront, with a nice little beach, is a 4-block stroll.
I'll admit I've been startled by the sound of gunshots in this neighborhood. And there are definitely druggies and too many young men hanging out on street corners (the unemployment rate among young black men in urban areas such as this is as high as 52 percent). But, for the most part, the people I have met and spoken with in this neighborhood, some of whom have lived here for 20 or 30 years, are no different from you and me: hard-working, law-abiding citizens who just want some peace and to be able to get along in this world.
People like you guys who do "drive-bys" of neighborhoods like Rogers Park or form opinions of my 'hood based on the crap you read on city-data.com message boards are missing out on opportunities to live in a vibrant, racially, ethnically and economically diverse community that boasts all the great conveniences of city living without the ginormous price tags. Gentrification be damned, this is a GREAT time to invest in a community that is committed to maintaining its identity as the most diverse neighborhood in Chicago. I love Rogers Park and look forward to the day when I can afford to invest in real estate here again. Just sayin'
*This commentary was originally published Nov. 1, 2010.