The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Fun with statistics

Multiple news outlets reported today on preliminary Census Bureau numbers for the last year showing Chicago lost more population than any other city in the U.S.:

Census Bureau figures released today show the five collar counties gaining 5,084 residents, not enough to offset the 10,488 decline in Cook County during the period. The population of DuPage and Lake counties decreased slightly. That left Cook County with 5.2 million residents and the six-county region with 8.4 million.

Let's make fun of that, shall we? Chicago lost a little more than 0.2% of its population, which is like my high school losing two people. Or New York losing 30,000. In other words, it's a pretty small number, and it follows 8 years of growth.

Also, given the exponents involved, the 10,488-person decline in population doesn't even move the needle on the total number when expressed in millions. Yes, it left Cook County with 5.2 million residents, but the county started with 5.2 million residents, so...yeah.

Now if we'd lost 50,000, I'd want a news story about that. But I think I might already know.

New Wrigleyville development to begin

Crains reported today that a 0.93-hectare hunk of Addison Street directly across from Wrigley Field will finally become the nightmarish eyesore in the neighborhood the Ricketts family always wanted:

The deal was completed after two foreclosure suits against the seller of the site, Steven Schultz of Preferred Equities, were resolved, Rossi said.

By gaining control of the 2.3-acre site, the M&R venture is on the verge of starting a development first announced by Schultz in 2007, before a real estate crash and foreclosure suits stalled the project.

The development, formerly known as Addison Park on Clark, will cost more than $150 million and include 148 luxury apartments, 405 parking spaces and 150,000 square feet of retail. The retail space will include a movie theater, fitness club and restaurants...

Yeah, but it's huge, it doesn't look like anything around it, and it barely improves upon the vacant buildings and parking lots that occupy the site right now.

Can't wait.

Reading list for this evening

In between four rehearsals and two performances this week (Monday through Sunday), I'm taking tonight off. So while I have a minute or two between helping new developers understand some old code, I'm jotting down this list of things that looked particularly appealing when they came up on RSS feeds:

OK, the new devs are testing something...and more on that later.

Wacker and Wabash, then and now

I've meant to post this for a while. Here's a photo looking south-west from a point just southwest of the intersection of Wacker and Michigan, here in Chicago, in April 1986:

And here's a similar view today. Note that you can no longer see the Thompson Center, City Hall, or anything else beyond the row of skyscrapers erected on Wacker between Wabash and Clark since then:

The photos aren't from the same vantage point, because this afternoon I only had my phone and not my SLR. I will try to get a photo from approximately the same location and using the same focal length (probably 210mm) soon.

More links

Too many interesting things to read today. I've got some time between work and Bel Canto to get through them:

I have not read Bel Canto, though I understand it's loosely based on an actual historical event. I also haven't ever heard anything from composer Jimmy López before, since it only permiered last month. Friends who work for the Lyric tell me it's pretty good. I'll find out in a few hours.

Things I can waste time with today

Since my company is closed today, and I have no obligations until late this afternoon, I'm taking my time fixing a bug and deploying a software package. So I actually have the bandwidth to read these articles right now, as opposed to "someday:"

I do have to fix this bug, though. Better get back to it now.

Another reading list

Too many things showed up in my RSS feeds this morning. Fortunately, I've got a few days off this weekend and next.

And now, a conference call.

Gift suggestion for The Daily Parker

This is cool. Explains CityLab:

Entomological unease aside, this poster of the planet’s 140 metros should make a fantastic holiday gift for the city-obsessed nerd. Made by Neil Freeman, an artist and urban planner who runs the site Fake Is the New Real, the roughly29 by 23-inch, black-and-white sheet stacks train systems with the largest ones at top…

...and the most basic at bottom.

Take a look at the artist's designs and find your metro.

How Evanston got rid of cars (mostly)

Politico has a long-form article describing Evanston's efforts to rid its downtown of cars:

With stops for Chicago Transit Authority buses and its “L” rail line, Metra suburban rail’s Union Pacific North line and the Pace suburban bus, Evanston always had great transit bones. For much of its history it had also been a relatively prosperous North Shore city, its growth initially spurred by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, as Chicagoans fled its chaotic density, and in the 20th century, its share of once-famous industrial names, from Rust-Oleum Corp. to Shure, the audio products company, to Bell & Howell, then best known for its film cameras and projectors.

The answer to the suburb’s economic woes, as it turned out, lay in embracing Lerner’s theory that “city is not the problem, city is solution.” Beginning in 1986, a new plan for Evanston embraced the idea of a “24/7” downtown, pouring resources into increasing the density of its downtown—a density that also meant decreasing residents’ reliance on automobiles. As a compact city, Evanston couldn’t compete with the vast sprawling parking spots of the Old Orchard Mall. It had to build a different sort of appeal.

Evanston’s approach mixed investments in mass transit—including building a new downtown transportation center—and relaxing its zoning restrictions along two designated corridors, Main and Central Streets, to permit increased residential density. “Nobody wanted a 20-story building in their downtown,” recalls Aiello-Fantus, the former assistant city manager. “There was this perception that we’re just a little town and having something 20 stories changes that character.”

I'm glad Evanston's planning is getting national press. I love the place, which is why I lived there for many years (and may do again). For many years before then, my mom lived along the Main Street corridor mentioned in the article—and then moved up to Central Street later on. And, of course, I was just there a couple weeks ago.

Interesting aside: 116 years ago today, the village of Austin ceased to exist as it was absorbed into the City of Chicago by legislative fiat. The city might have swallowed Evanston as well. How Evanston avoided that is a story in itself.