Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Does your neighborhood “matter enough” to get mention by Old Navy?

I still remember a dispute I had once with one of my editors at the City News Bureau of Chicago of old with regards to identifying neighborhood names within stories.
The t-shirt take, ...
I believed then (and still do) that telling where something happened in Chicago is significant, and that since Chicago is such a neighborhood-oriented city it helps to know the 77 official (and 120-plus unofficial) neighborhoods that comprise the city.

MY EDITOR DISAGREED, saying she believed that some neighborhoods just weren’t well-known or significant enough to be worth mentioning.

Lincoln Park and Bridgeport? Yes.

Clearing? Probably not, as opposed to just thinking of it as the place where Midway Airport jets.

And as for the East Side? Hell no, because it’s too confusing for those marketing-oriented geeks who want to think of Streeterville as the New East Side, compared to the neighborhood so named because it is the community located east of the Calumet River.

I COULDN’T HELP but remember this decades-old newsroom discussion on Monday when I read a Chicago Tribune report about the “controversy” arising over a new t-shirt being sold at Old Navy stores.

Personally, I don’t shop there. So I wouldn’t have known firsthand. But it seems the store that likes to think it is hip and happening (or whatever cutesy terms are used to mean the same thing these days) has a new Chicago-oriented t-shirt.

It is an outline of the city limits, with neighborhood names printed on it in a crude approximation of where those neighborhoods are located.

You can wear a trendy map of Chicago on your chest, if you so wish!

EXCEPT THAT THE map is so crude that there’s no way one could use the illustration to tell where anything is in the city.

Also, the map only designates 21 neighborhoods or communities – far fewer than the aforementioned number of neighborhoods that actually exist within Chicago.
... as opposed to the real thing!

Which means most people don’t even get to see their neighborhoods included.

Live in Rogers Park, Logan Square, Sauganash, Humboldt Park, Pilsen, Canaryville, South Shore, Pullman or Hegewisch – just to name a few? Forget it, you’re not on the list.

I WOULDN’T HAVE realized how significant some think Lincoln Park was, except it comes across as SO BIG on the map. While Hyde Park is so dinky – it barely fits into the South Side mix.

Personally, as someone who is a native of the 10th Ward (South Chicago, with relatives in the East Side, South Deering and Hegewisch), I find it comical that the entire southeast corner of Chicago gets designated as “Lake Calumet.”

Although considering that the key element that unites the 10th Ward neighborhoods is their proximity to Lake Calumet and the Calumet River, that’s not the most inaccurate description of the area.

I’m more intrigued by the description of “Polish Village,” which according to the t-shirt is northwest somewhere between Belmont Heights and Lake View.

NOW I’M AWARE that there are still traces along Milwaukee Avenue of the Polish ethnic neighborhoods of old that used to dominate the Northwest Side. Although I’ve never heard of a specific community bearing that name.

If anyone can tell me of a neighborhood by that name, I’d like to know. Otherwise, I’m going to presume it a generic name for the area. (It is one of the unique aspects of Chicago that even at age 49, there are still new things I learn about the city).
Is the whole of North Side "Wrigleyville?"
Then, there is the area on the t-shirt designated as “Stockyards.” Which refers to the area just south of the Bridgeport neighborhood where stockyards used to exist, but is now the Chicago Stockyards Industrial Park.

It’s kind of a shame that the actual neighborhoods around there didn’t get included.

AS IN THE Back of the Yards and Canaryville neighborhoods.

Personally, I think those are two of the most off-beat neighborhood names in all of Chicago. Definitely more interesting than those North Side-oriented people who want to say they live in Wrigleyville – no matter how far away from Wrigley Field they actually live.


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