Thursday, February 7, 2019

Annexation into suburbs historically sound, but more likely to p-o people

Mayoral hopeful Garry McCarthy may have history on his side when he talks about Chicago annexing the suburban communities directly adjacent into the city limits, but I can’t envision an idea that would cause more contempt to be felt all the way around.
Once regarded as a suburb with Chicago far off in distance
There was, once a time when the street now known as Pershing Road was the southernmost boundary of Chicago, with Hyde Park Township stretching south to 138th Street. It was regarded as a place to escape urban congestion and noise, but it became a full-fledged part of Chicago in 1889 and added the bulk of what we now think of as the South Side.

SO IN THAT sense, McCarthy saying that places like Oak Lawn, Oak Park or Norridge ought to be taken into the city of Chicago proper isn’t outrageous. Although I don’t doubt one bit that the people currently living there will regard it as such.

McCarthy claims this is an easy way for the city to see a population increase, while also adding to the tax base. While officials in these suburban communities are quick to claim they have solid bases of life and aren’t the least bit interested in becoming a part of the city’s ongoing problems.

Personally, I happen to think there are many suburban communities that would benefit from being a part of a larger entity – because the local services they are able to offer on their own are usually miniscule.

I really question if there are 130 distinct municipal identities within Cook County – which is the number of incorporated villages, towns and cities within the county. With Chicago being merely one of them.

THE FACT IS that most of the suburbs’ true identity lies in their proximity to Chicago. Whether their officials want to admit it or not, they’re a part of the area.

There is a sense in which a place like Dolton might as well just be another neighborhood within Chicago; something along the lines of Hegewisch.

I also find it odd that officials in Oak Lawn and Norridge, in particular, are speaking out against McCarthy’s concept. In the case of Norridge, it is an incorporated community surrounded on all sides by Chicago. Once one summer, I lived on the Northwest Side where literally all I had to do was cross the street and I’d be in Norridge.
McCARTHY: Looking to boost city population

Although I suspect anybody driving through the area would have no clue they had departed, then re-entered, the city limits during the few minutes they passed through.

WHILE IN THE case of Oak Lawn, the claim I often hear from people who live there is that their community is different because it’s so close to Chicago. One can actually enjoy an urban lifestyle, unlike the sense some suburbs offer of being so isolated from the rest of the world.

It’s like they want Chicago benefits without being a part of Chicago. Which to my mindset is mere nonsense!

There is one thing I couldn’t help but notice about McCarthy’s plan, which may be the aspect that kills off any chance of it being taken seriously. The communities he rattled off by name – the ones that would boost the city population by about 160,000 people – are ones with predominantly white populations.

It’s as though by taking in those towns, he can bolster the Anglo part of Chicago’s population. Is his real sentiment one that Chicago has too many non-white people living here?

HECK, I GREW up in suburban Calumet City, whose northern boundary bumps up against Chicago’s Far South Side. Yet Calumet City has changed, developing throughout the years a sizable African-American population (about 72 percent, according to the Census Bureau). I don't hear anyone talking of taking in the suburb's roughly 37,000 residents.

Is McCarthy trying to cherry-pick the kind of people he’d want in an expanded Chicago? If he really were serious, he’d talk about annexing all of Cook County – creating a megapolis of some 5 million people. It would bolster the city tax base and would actually fit into the mindset of many downstate Illinois types who tend to think the whole of northeastern Illinois is all Chicago.
Could this someday become a neighborhood, rather than a village, sign?
Do that, and we’d not only crush Houston’s dreams that they’ll someday be bigger than us, while regaining our spot as the “Second City” by topping Los Angeles’ mere 4.03 million.

Instead, we’re destined to be the 2.7 million portion of metro Chicago, which when you add in all the inner and outer suburbs totals out at over 9 million individuals – none of whom want to give up their community name for the sake of progress.


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