Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, June 22

Gapers Block

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The development juggernaut known as the University Village Association (UVA), which has extended UIC down to 18th Street along Halsted as well as displaced countless businesses and homes between Van Buren and Taylor Streets between the west 800 and 1200 blocks, is now trying to make Taylor Street more "European." They've issued a set of guidelines for current and future businesses that would insist on "street furniture," fancy "menu boxes," for restaurants, and turning the ABLA homes power plant into a "funky" microbrewery or bookstore. This follows the pattern of forcing an old-world sensibility on organic neighborhoods that has marred places like Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, and "Old Town." Been to Taylor Street recently?

The irony of this situation is that Taylor Street's diversity and "organic," nature, meaning its somewhat disjointed streetwall, are the epitome of the "European" style of urban development. Zoning laws and community-enforced architectural regularities are all but absent in most European towns, and as a result you get...well, you get Taylor Street, more or less. Taylor Street is one of the hidden gems in the city's long list of historic commercial strips, getting none of the publicity or foot traffic that its cousins up North or Northwest get. This attempt by the UVA to homogenize the Taylor Street streetscape will completely rob the area of its wonderful, organic, small-town feel. If you enjoy a good Mario's Lemonade, drinks at La Vita, the phenomenal Italian sandwiches from Conte DiSavoia or soul-food breakfasts from Sweet Maple, let Alderman Danny Solis know it!

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