Posts Tagged ‘Logan Square’

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

This weekend, I’ll be voLUNTerring, once again, for the Logan Square Arts Festival, in the beer tent on Friday night from 4:30-7:30pm—stop by!

Volunteering in my neighborhood is something I see as my responsibility as a civic-minded individual fond of building and enjoying the profits of a strong community, and it’s fun!


“The monument” in the park in the center of Logan Square, where people congregate and enjoy life in our beautiful corner of the world.

I love my neighborhood—Logan Square—where I have lived since relocating to Chicago in 2007. I’m thoroughly at home in this place. Many of my closet friends live here, too, and we can walk easily to visit one another on weekends. The numerous joys of neighborhood living include running into friends on the streets, at cafes and bars, in the parks, and on the train.

Over Memorial weekend I encountered two friends who quickly and eagerly encouraged me to join them at the BBQ where they were headed. Just this week, I was pausing at an intersection to look at a rose blooming along the fence at the corner at Kedzie and Fullerton. My friend Joey was passing. He said hello and we stopped to catch up and we discussed the book he was reading. I could recount an infinite number of frequent and lovely encounters I share with friends and neighbors; we should all be so lucky!



Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, a gift bestowed on urban citizens that yields incredible benefits; unfortunately, the plague of neighborhoods has always been and will always be gentrification.

When I moved into Logan Square, I paid a reasonable rent, $800 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Without such a low rent payment, I’d never have been able to stay in the city and build a life here. That particular apartment’s rent was increased to $850 a month the second year. The third year, I was extended the surprising offer of $1050 per month, an increase of $200 in 12 months; I certainly hadn’t experienced a $200 increase in salary. I moved to another apartment elsewhere in the neighborhood. The rental company, the reviled M. Fishman, was able to rent out my far-from large or luxurious place for $1150 that year. Due in part to this unchecked and illogical increase in rents, the current going rate for renting a one bedroom apartment is a ludicrous $1400 per month.

M. Fishman has the distinction of being the worst landlord in Logan Square, perhaps all of Chicago. Anyone who isn’t in his pockets truly despises the man’s business practices. He was instrumental in driving rent prices up and hard-working low-wage workers (including college students and artists) and middle class (healthcare professionals, educators, lawyers) residents out. In fact, a local artist made artwork depicting the ways M. Fishman’s prices were forcing locals out of the area; the young woman’s art was selected for display in the local Art Fest a few years back. As a board member of I am Logan Square, one of the festival’s sponsors, Mr. Fishman objected. The artwork stayed. It was he who was asked to leave (he was asked to step down from I am Logan Square). I’ve heard a rumor that the man has chronic insomnia; trouble sleeping seems a most appropriate condition for him.

Despite my manifold connections to the community, I’ll have to leave Logan Square soon. Other friends and neighbors left long ago. Many young couples found the escalating rent too much to pay. The family who lived on the first floor of my current building was forced out due to a huge rent increase just last month. They had lived in their apartment for twenty years, raising a daughter who now attends RMU, where I work as a professor.

Meanwhile, terrible, and tremendously costly, building projects are invading Logan Square. In addition to being hilariously over-priced, the truly hideous “towers” condominiums projects are effectively ruining the view of the city visible down Milwaukee Avenue. I expect even the head foreman would confess that the buildings are ugly.


Well, this corner used to be cozy. . .

I enjoy living simply, and I respect my neighbors, whether they have more or less than I do. Apartments are the happy households of countless Americans. Not everyone will have a house, but everyone needs a home. Neighborhoods benefit from the investments, both economic and intangible that contented neighbors bring to a community. Indeed, it is the diversity of a neighborhood that makes it strong, which is why building and renting to members of only one economic stratum strips a place of both personality and heart.

What is lost when truly rooted residents are forced out cannot be quantified. Perhaps that is why so many people have difficulty understanding the real value of a neighborhood.




By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

I’m moving in June, as my seriously misguided landlord is raising the rent by $200 a month. I will not go down the rabbit hole of my anger towards that man, at least not in this post. What I want to talk about is my deep devotion to my neighborhood, the matchless Logan Square. When people discover that I am looking for a new apartment, they sometimes ask me if I plan on staying in the neighborhood. I fight the urge to respond with incredulity. I know the joys of life in an authentic neighborhood, so I couldn’t even imagine living anywhere else; Logan Square is my home.

Logan Square is the friendliest place I have ever lived. My two closest girl friends in Chicago, Leah and Hanna, live within easy walking distance, and I happily and regularly brighten their respective doorways. Other lovely friends live in the area (Matt and Kris and both Ryans), a brood of people who I have come to call my “Urban Family.” We host holiday brunches and celebrate birthdays. I have quotes tacked above my desk at work. One from Oliver Wendell Holmes reads, “Where we love is home.” It occurs to me now that my neighborhood is part of my Urban Family, too.

I am warmly welcomed at my local haunts. The regularity with which people lean over to kiss the world’s best bar owner, Maria, is positively extraordinary. I have often conjectured that if a person from a foreign country stumbled into the Whirlaway, he would get the impression that kissing customers is the cultural norm. Maria hosts potlucks and cook-offs and cookouts to which we all contribute food cooked from favorite family recipes. I expect Bryce’s sister to bring “funeral potatoes,” and Katie to bring phenomenal baked goods. When a loyal customer has a birthday, Maria provides the cake. I am missed at Dunlay’s if I don’t go often enough. A favorite waitress recently gave me a hug because it had been too long since she’d seen me. I delight in being a regular and greeting other regulars, whose names and stories I know, an aspect central to the neighborhood experience.


I adore the small circular park in the center of the square, which features The Illinois Centennial Monument. The Urban Family picnics there in three seasons. We eat and drink and read and talk, and we are not alone. Neighborhood acquaintances say hello, then enjoy the park with bocce sets and Frisbees. The park buzzes with life. There are events and gatherings, film screenings, rock concerts and street fairs. The dates for this year’s Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival are already marked on my calendar. Something called “The Culture Coach” pulled up last summer and treated us to performances by Flamenco dancers and offered impromptu Mambo lessons. My friends and I were just relaxing in the park, and voila: spontaneous dancing!

The neighborhood provides everything a person needs. The Logan Square branch of The Chicago Public Library bustles with neighborhood activity. Gwen, the lady who works at the circulation desk, personifies welcome, cheerfully helping patrons and calling them by first name. I voted early there this past fall, where I found a long line of my hard-working, civic-minded neighbors at 6am. The neighborhood garden, known as the Atlgeld-Sawyer farm,  was started by my charming neighbors Margaret and Johanna, and members of the Urban Family volunteer as part of the compost team. The Farmer’s Market will be moving to its outdoor location soon, where I’ll expect to spontaneously encounter at least one friend each Sunday. I recently got my bike, Orangina, spruced up at Boulevard Bikes. When I asked the woman fixing my bike, “do you want to hear something weird?” She and her coworkers instantly said, in unison, “yes,” another sure sign that Logan Square is where I belong.

When I got hurt, neighbors rushed to my aid. A man whose name I don’t know put his arm around me and comforted me while he phoned the police. A woman I’d never met introduced herself as Drea and wiped blood off me with a wet towel fetched from nearby apartment. Another woman brought me a glass of cold water. They stayed with me until the ambulance arrived. I suspect that I pass these kind strangers on the streets of my neighborhood, at least I like thinking they, and others like them, are around me all the time.

The neighborhood gets a lot of great press, which is reflected in the rent increase, but only residents know the genuine value of a place. There is inestimable wealth in the true community of people I know and love in my neighborhood, my home: Logan Square.