The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Collateral damage from urban interstates

I've written before about urban highways, never favorably. Ploughing massive roads through dense urban areas has done incalculable damage to North American cities that tearing them down or burying them has only just started to fix—but usually with an order of magnitude more cost than their initial construction.

Today I got an innocent little email listing houses for sale around Chicago, both because I'm interested to see what's out there, and also because I've been too lazy to turn it off since I last moved. But one house stood out today: a beautiful, 4-bedroom Victorian built in 1898 with a lovely wraparound porch, tons of light and air, steps from everything.

I would love to live in a house just like this. In fact, there are similar houses near me, with price tags around $2-$3 million.

This stately lady in Old Irving Park can be yours for only $750,000. And that jaw-dropping difference in value is entirely due to its location.

You see, even though this house is steps from everything—only four blocks to the Metra, three blocks to the El, close to the shops in the historic commercial corridor along Elston—it's also just 200 meters from the 10-lane I-90/94 expressway:

I mean, holy hell. Getting to the El or to the Metra stations at Mayfair or Irving Park requires crossing all those lanes of traffic. I've done it; the Montrose and Irving Park bridges are soul-crushing for pedestrians. Worse, the Keeler underpass (which you'd take to the Irving Park station) requires you to cross two entrance and exit ramps on either side of a half-block-long underpass.

I'm not even going to talk about how loud the 10 lanes of traffic must be.

In short, this beautiful house, "the second built in the area," can't get anywhere near the price it would had the city not destroyed the neighborhood in the 1950s.

Sad.

Tuesday night round-up

In other news:

And finally, a glimmer of hope that the 10-year project to build one damn railroad station near my house might finally finish in the next few weeks.

How far from the park to downtown?

I love this chart from Twitter user Jay Cuda:

If you don't want to click through to Twitter, here's Jay's chart:

The chart doesn't tell the whole story, does it? For example, both Chicago teams, both New York teams, Boston, DC, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Oakland are all about the same distance from downtown, but easily accessible by train. (Chicago's are both on the same El line, in fact.) Atlanta's and LA's parks, by contrast, are approximately the same distance but completely inaccessible by any form of public transit. (Atlanta's new park even appears deliberately located to prevent those people from getting there.)

I speak from personal experience, as long-time Daily Parker readers know: I've been to every one of them, except the new Atlanta park, which I refuse to visit because of its anti-democratic location.

San Francisco photos

First, on the flight from Dallas to San Francisco, this handsome boi slept peacefully on the floor four rows ahead of me:

Bane is a malamute mix, 11 years old, and here in the SFO baggage claim area, very tired.

Monday morning, I walked over to the Ferry Terminal on my way to the Caltrain terminal at 4th and King. This guy posed long enough for me to compose and take a shot:

I don't know his name, or even whether he's male. Sorry.

Later, in Palo Alto, I stumbled upon this historic site:

That's the garage at Dave Packard's house where he and Bill Hewlett created their company in 1939.

I didn't bring my real camera to San Francisco this time because I thought it would rain throughout the trip. Next time, though.

Catching up at home

New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Arden, just resigned unexpectedly, which is a much more surprising story than any of these I queued up:

Finally, I'm glad to discover that ibuprofen may be more effective than acetaminophen for treating tension headaches, so I will now take one.

Black Hammer Brewing, San Francisco

Welcome to an extra stop on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Black Hammer Brewing, 544 Bryant St., San Francisco
Train line: Caltrain, San Francisco terminal
Time from Chicago: about 4½ hours by air
Distance from station: 600 m

I spent most of Monday in Palo Alto, Calif., one of the few places in California that has an actual commuter rail station. Caltrain's northern terminus, at 4th and King, is only three blocks from an actual brewery, so naturally I stopped in.

My $20 flight started with the Jaded River ESB (5%), a West Coast interpretation of English bitter ale that tasted good to me but had a stronger hop concentration than any Real Ale I've had over there. Next I tried their flagship Western IPA, the Kaleido APA (6%), which had a big flavor for something billed as an APA, with lots of hops and just the right amount of malt. I'm sure you can pick out the Cuddle Puddle NEIPA (6.1%), with all that hazy, Citra goodness, that actually tasted a lot lighter than I expected. I finished with the Vesuvio DIPA (8.1%), a huge beer that sneaks up on you before you get a small explosion of grapefruit, orange, and what I can only describe as Humboldt County mother nature.

Special mention goes out to this guy:

Growler—and what a name for a brewery dog—kept flirting with me before deciding that I didn't have any treats on me, even though my coat pocket smelled just like the bacon nibbles I carry for Cassie. So after someone put him on the barstool across from me, he stared. And stared. And willed me to bring him a treat. Because he knew that the bartender had a whole box of them, and at some point, I would crack and bring him one.

He was absolutely right.

Beer garden? Sidewalk, covered
Dogs OK? Clearly
Televisions? Two, avoidable
Serves food? BYO
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Beautiful day in San Francisco

Unfortunately, though, I'm already at the airport, staring out at blue skies and sunny...airplanes. I'm looking forward to getting home, though, and to picking up Cassie tomorrow morning after her bath. (She was already overdue, but after 4 days with her pack, she'll need it even more.)

I've got a couple of Brews & Choos from yesterday as well as a few photos from the weekend coming later this week. Stay tuned.

You can't buy labor at below-market rates

Chicago Transit Authority president Dorval Carter, Jr., blamed "extremely higher-than-normal call-offs" (i.e., a blue flu) for the New Year's Eve failures that left The Daily Parker waiting on a platform 35 minutes for the El:

It’s not unusual for CTA workers to “call off” on holidays, but the CTA has in the past been ready to replace them. But this year, with a shortage of train operators in the ranks, the CTA couldn’t deliver the number of free trains it promised.

The CTA promoted increased service on the Blue and Red lines on New Year’s Eve, advertising free train rides sponsored by Miller Lite. Carter did not say how many workers called off, and CTA officials did not provide a number after Friday’s meeting.

CTA worker unions, represented by Local 308 and Local 241, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Carter said he would work with the unions and employees to come up with better ways to incentivize staff to come to work. Disciplinary measures could only go so far, considering the worker shortage, he said.

“We are operating very close to the margins,” Carter said. “I am trying to both put out a level of service that is within the constraints of the workforce that I have, but recognizing that in order for that to work, my workforce has to show up.”

One factor possibly limiting the available workforce: wages that have not kept up with inflation. If you want more people to work for you, pay more; QED. But even Chicago, with one of the best transport networks in the world, still struggles to see public transit as a public service rather than a profit-making enterprise. So who should pay more for the CTA? All of us in Chicago, perhaps by taking back some of the Federal money we send to Oklahoma for their useless freeway projects.

At least I didn't get too cold on the Brown Line platform on New Year's Eve. I still would have liked to see my friends earlier than I did.

Changing planes in Dallas

Staring out a window at the Terminal A parking garage at DFW Airport, I pause to check my email. Top of the pile I see this lovely report from MSNBC:

Californians should brace for flooding and possible landslides as “heavy to excessive rainfall” is expected over the weekend and into next week, forecasters warned early Saturday. 

With recovery efforts continuing in parts of the state which was battered by storms earlier this week, the National Weather Service said in a bulletin that a couple of Pacific storm systems were forecast to impact the West this weekend “bringing heavy lower elevation rain, significant mountain snow, and strong winds.”

The first system would approach the coast Saturday and move inland, the bulletin said, adding that there were “multiple slight risks of excessive rainfall,” that could lead to localized instances of “urban and small stream flooding as well as mudslides.”

What does NWS say about downtown San Francisco?

Tonight
Showers and possibly a thunderstorm before 1am, then rain likely, mainly between 1am and 4am. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Low around 9. West wind 14 to 16 km/h, with gusts as high as 32 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between 5 and 7.5 mm possible.
Sunday
Rain, mainly after 10am. High near 12. Southwest wind 11 to 18 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between 2.5 and 5 mm possible.
Sunday Night
Rain. Low around 8. East southeast wind 19 to 29 km/h decreasing to 5 to 15 km/h after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 40 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between 1 and 2 cm possible.
M.L.King Day
Rain, mainly before 10am. High near 12. Breezy, with a west northwest wind 26 to 35 km/h, with gusts as high as 47 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between 1 and 2.5 mm possible.
Monday Night
A 20 percent chance of rain before 10pm. Mostly clear, with a low around 7.
Tuesday
Sunny, with a high near 12.

Lovely. Perhaps I'll get my morning coffee before it starts to rain again tomorrow?