Monday, July 7, 2014

Since my phone was dying...

...on Saturday during my walk through Beverly, I took only one picture, of the sign above outside a shop at 91st and Western. (The rest I "liberated" from the Internet.)

I began my two-hour hike at Beverly Unitarian Church at 103rd and Longwood Drive, above. I strolled down (up?) Longwood, past St. Barnabas Church, to 95th Street, where I turned left (west) and passed Top Notch Beefburgers, below. (Navigating "south of the equator" was a little disorienting for a native North Sider like me. But I guess I'll have to get used to it; my buddy Kevin reminded me on Thursday that "You're a South Sider now.")

(The day was a bit of a reconnaissance mission, as I intend to take in a service at Beverly Unitarian one of these days and also bring my sons to Top Notch when my older boy arrives in town next month.)

I then walked past an antique store across the street on 95th that had a couple of curious signs in the window, one of which urged passersby to "pray to end abortion" (or something to that effect) and the other begging forgiveness from God for the United States (presumably for abortion?).

(Shame on me for not taking more pictures; but there will be other opportunities in the not-too-distant future, I can assure you.)

I turned right (north) on Western Avenue, which is considered the western border of the neighborhood, and walked past the bike shop at the top of this post and Rainbow Cone, which is another spot I'd like to take my boys. (Will there be enough room for ice cream after Top Notch?)

I walked as far as 87th Street (big mistake), past Beverly Country Club on the left (unbeknownst to me at the time) and headed back south toward 103rd Street. I passed a wedding at Christ the King Parish on 93rd and Hamilton (oh, to be a fly on the wall for that one!) and eventually reached my car back at Longwood.

As I mentioned, this was only the first of many trips I plan on taking to Beverly in the future; it's too historic a neighborhood not to delve deeper. But my first response was mixed: on the one hand I could see how it was once a grand Chicago neighborhood, while on the other I could understand how someone who grew up there would feel discouraged at what it's become. (Did it look charming on Saturday, or rundown?) Most of the houses have been kept up, but others are almost beyond repair. At one point I stopped and considered a beautiful old brick mansion on Longwood Drive. "How much would it take to restore this house to its former grandeur?" I thought. "Half a million bucks? No; a million." Perhaps not worth it. (Maybe that's why people tear down some houses and just start all over.) Which brings me to another observation: I can recall seeing only one house that looked like it had been built in the last ten years or so. The rest have all been there for decades. And that's not a good sign. In fact, I thought Beverly looked like many Chicago suburbs would look if they hadn't changed in the last forty or fifty years.

My final thought (actually I'll have a lot more to say in future posts) on my walk was a question that kept running through my mind: Will Beverly decline further, or is this place ripe for a renaissance? And, after much thought, I'd bet on the latter, although it may take a while.

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