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.