Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Tour of Chicago

My current Musculoskeletal/Orthopedics float has me bouncing between hospitals and clinic locations between the North and South sides of Chicago. Today I drove through several neighborhoods that I had never spent much time in, and was pleased and saddened by some of what I saw. It is unsettling to think that people can be so negligent and destructive in neighborhoods that have absolutely beautiful greystones and historic buildings.

If you've never been to Chicago, outside of the Loop, or lived here (like me until this year) you might not know that this city (in the NORTH) is one of the most racially segregated places I have ever seen in my life--and I'm pretty well-traveled and from the South. The street grid system and a racially discriminate housing policy that wasn't ended until almost the 1960's (and has since been forgotten by many who criticize Southern racism) made it quite easy to cordon off people by race. Even today it can remind me of the Apartheid Bantustans in that literally entire neighborhoods are derelict and blighted (and black), yet all one has to do is cross the street and middle class wonder abounds. Frequently these dividing lines are major boulevards such as Western Avenue (which serves as a dividing line between multiple neighborhoods the entire breadth of the City of Chicago) or large parks such as Humboldt Park which conveniently divides the neighborhood of the same name into one side kitchy/krunchy white hippies and another of Puerto Ricans of mixed income. The far west of Humboldt Park is another few block of poor blacks that spills south and West into the even poorer (and quite frankly dangerous) neighborhoods of West Garfield Park and Austin. Not all black neighborhoods are poor and not all are dangerous.  But a few definitely are. There are also VERY rough historically Irish neighborhoods. 

Having said all that I continue to be amazed by the place I'm calling home.

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