Weekend Long Reads: Mike Ditka’s Hometown, John Paul Stevens’s Chicago Family History, and more

It’s such a hustle keeping up with the breaking news that I find myself having reserve longer, in-depth articles for the weekend. I suspect I’m not alone.

* The Heart Of Football Beats In Aliquippa: Over five decades of economic decline and racial conflict, a Western Pennsylvania mill town has found unity and hope on the football field, by S.L. Price. // A moving Sports Illustrated article on football at Mike Ditka’s old high school.

* Separate, Unequal, and Ignored: Racial segregation remains Chicago’s most fundamental problem. Why isn’t it an issue in the mayor’s race? by Steve Bogira // A look at a silent issue in this year’s mayoral race. The short answer to the question posed in the title: because economic mobility is viewed as driving segregation and not vice versa, which strikes me as a fairly recent development.

* Fantasies Made Fresh by Scott Eden // In which the former Chicagoan (and author of Touchdown Jesus) visits Brooklyn, Illinois, just outside of East Saint Louis; it’s one of the few “freedom villages” in existence and arguably the first all-black town in America. Via longform.org, a wonderful repository for this sort of thing.

* Heartbreak Hotel: Only a few years after J. W. Stevens opened his grand Michigan Avenue hotel, the Depression devastated his family, inducing a series of calamities that included suicide, bankruptcy, and criminal charges. But from the debacle of the Stevens Hotel (now Chicago Hilton and Towers) emerged a young man who today, at 86, sits on the U.S. Supreme Court, by Charles Lane // The twisted and tragic family history of John Paul Stevens’s Chicago family.

* “O’Hare Airport,” by Paul Goodman // OK, so that’s a really short read, but I like that there’s a poem about O’Hare.

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