Saturday, February 4, 2012

Living and Walking in Chicago

After yesterday's walking experience, I started to think about how many strange sights Zoe and I witness on a single walk. It's such a regular occurrence that it's easy to take for granted. There's a whole lot more to this city than the Loop, Navy Pier, and Michigan Avenue. For a fantastic tour of one of Chicago's hidden locales, the Bloomingdale Trail Murals, see our friend In Black & White's most recent post.

When walking, Zoe and I tend to take major streets because I like to expose her to lots of distractions, new people, noises, animals, etc. It also makes it more likely that we will meet other Chicago dog owners, such as our Two Pitties friends, whom we met at a neighborhood rally to keep our police station open (incidentally, it's going to close). It's hard to imagine how different things would've been had we not met E & A, as well as their adorable pittie crew. We wouldn't have gotten involved in Chicago SociaBulls, and have met so many other wonderful like-minded dog owners. It's also unlikely that I would've gotten the encouragement to start this blog!

So, I thought I would chronicle some of the sites from today's walk. As E. and A. described in one of their posts on Chicago, this is a city of churches. For a Divinity School student like myself, this feature is, well, heavenly (sorry, I couldn't help it).

One of my favorite activities with Zoe is touring the gorgeous churches in our area:

Walking the tree-lined streets ringing with church bells makes me feel like I'm living in the middle of Europe, rather than in America's Midwest.

What's troubling is that many similarly gorgeous buildings in other neighborhoods are falling into disrepair. Quietly and without fanfare, these structures are slowly sinking into themselves.

The demolition of a gorgeous building in the Auburn-Gresham neighorhood. Photo by Lee Bay.

Built in 1913 as Anshe Knesseth Israel. Next it became Shepherd's Temple Baptist Church. Photo by Lee Bay.

Beyond being visually striking, this building is notable because Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke here. Sadly, even that historical facet is not enough to keep this place alive. As of right now, it is set for demolition.

Photo by Lee Bay.

Because these buildings are located in Chicago's "less economically viable" (read: non-white) neighborhoods, there is less motivation to support these gallant structures (or the people still inhabiting these neighborhoods). Indeed, Chicago is still the most segregated major metropolis in the country. I cannot do this complex subject justice in the space of an animal-related blog, but it is a fact that demands mentioning. It is too often that Chicago's history of racial violence and segregation is brushed aside. The ghosts of that dark past are still with us today.

What is left of Chicago's infamous housing project, Cabrini Green. This was demolished by the city to accommodate the neighborhood's growing gentrification. Last I heard, some big box stores will be built on this site.

Much like the scene above, Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood has experienced rapid gentrification over the past ten years. It has become a veritable hipster haven, as these photos from today's walk attest: 

Though this has nothing to do with hipsterdom (except for being ironic), I also must include my all-time favorite sign that's in Bucktown:

Pretty telling, I think.

On our way home from today's walk, we stopped at a store to pick up some groceries. K. went inside, and I sat outside with Zoe. We never leave her tied up in front of stores, even if we will be gone for a minute. Instead, I spent our waiting time to work on skills like "leave it" and "watch me." She did pretty well:

When there's food involved, Zoe will pay attention.

Zoe was also greeted by many other people entering and leaving the store, which gave her another opportunity to practice her greeting manners.

After our standard four-mile walk, Zoe is relaxed and I can get to work:

What kind of places do you like to walk your dogs? What types of sights do you see?


  1. So much culture and interesting things to look at in Chicago....I love your city!

  2. Love this one! One of my favorite things about dogwalking is that we do get to see so much of the city! The segregation is such a big issue...I think I've told you about the "Our Neighborhoods" project our students do.

    1. Thanks! I agree with you. I feel like I have a whole different sense of the city from walking all over the place. I love it. :)

  3. What a great post (and thanks for the shout-out) - it really can be fascinating to ramble around a city like this.

    1. Thanks! I know... the best way to learn any city is to walk it! Chicago is fun in that respect. :)

  4. Great post!! I love Chicago! I'm so sorry about the other walking experience though. Always the yelling... Btw, yesterday I found out that my new neighbor has two adorable pitties! I will tell him about the Sociabulls on the next occasion. :)


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