I was driving along 79th Street from about Cicero to Dan Ryan. It was great to see some of the changes along this stretch from a new building being constructed near 79th and Cicero (it was where at one point the 79th bus would go off the street to pick up passengers though probably not any more, it was directly behind a Dunkin Donuts). A house was getting a second story further west and not much to report beyond that until we finally reach 79th and Damen.
At this point the neighborhood starts to turn rough but there are some changes coming. However, we know it's about to be rough because in a four block stretch was Chicago Police cameras. One before Ashland and then another after Ashland.
On the northeast corner of 79th and Ashland was a building I'm somewhat familiar with. My cousin had her high school graduation ceremony there and there are rooms where churches who doesn't have a home will hold their services. In another life though this building was a theater. Now it's more or less a church or a series of churches. Though on this day there was advertisment for theater shows from the Black Ensemble Theater a Marquee as it were, with animation and such.
Now from about Ashland to about Halsted was see a new street scape. It's starting to look a lot cleaner with wrought iron fencing around pots of dirt for flowers and trees. The sidewalks look fresh. There are restaurants and other establishments. Don't get me wrong the area still is full of some rough looking characters, but change is coming and it will take some time.
The changes have been occuring for years though. Oh yeah BTW, did you know this stretch was in a neighborhood called Auburn-Gresham. Now back to the changes.
I remember once upon a time my mother would visit a beauty shop on 79th but for the life of me I couldn't tell you where that beauty shop was. There is a senior building on the northwest corner of 79th and Racine. Once upon a time there was a building there that obscures the famed St. Sabina, home of Father Pfleger. I remember watching channel 23 and they took a look at this sculpture on the grounds of this senior building. It would have been nice if it had been made by a black artist.
Directly across the street of this senior building is a BJ Market. It's a restaurant that serves some soul food. They make some good ribs tips and they have some greens and that good stuff. Haven't had much food from them in a long time. They do have establishments around the south side. There's one in Beverly across from Evergreen Plaza and another near 87th and Stony Island.
I should mention Walgreen's built a new store on 79th and Racine and it basically replaces the Walgreen's that used to be on 79th near the Dan Ryan. I'll get there in a minute. Now we just head further west.
There is a new city building. I couldn't tell you if it's a city bureau building or a library but it's brand new. There are some shuttered storefronts along the way. Near Leo High School there is a vacant lot or more like a field for Alumni. Just an area with nothing but grass. I gotta good look at Leo and I never recalled seeing a column on the top of the build with Leo painted on it.
I noticed a restaurant as we head toward a railroad viaduct past Halsted. It was operated by the Nation of Islam and the NOI has an office nearby. The restaurant is still used for special occasions having been closed years ago because of the parking situation. We see some more buidling past the railroad viaduct and near Vincennces. We see a billiards and dart store across the street from the new housing. Then past Vincennes is the CTA bus barn.
Now finally I arrive at the shopping center I'm somewhat familiar with near the expressway. I heard that the Dominick's that we shopped at various time over time was closed. But the whole shopping center which also housed a laundromat and at one point a Walgreens appears to be abandoned. Sad sight but finally we reached the expressway.
You know random questions to be asked. Why and the big time banks opening branches in these distressed neighborhoods when it's likely that they won't be opening many checking and savings accounts? Maybe most of their customers are from outside the neighborhood. I saw a Citibank and a Chase in the stretch from about Western to the Dan Ryan.
Anyway just a random observation.