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Friendly Confines

As an architecture critic who’s also a South Sider, I’m quick to boast about the stately homes on Bronzeville’s King Drive, say, or Beverly’s Longwood Drive. But here’s a confession: My favorite block in the city isn’t on the South Side. It’s on a short street called Midway Park, which harbors a collection of houses … Read more

Five Truths and a Lie About Paxton Avenue

1When Uber drivers drop me off on my block, they ask me if I’m sure I know where I’m going. Do you live here? Is it safe? Are you visiting? I hate these questions. They’re right, though. This is not my block. I live with one of my best friends, the poet Nate Marshall, on … Read more

Urban Drift

As a flâneuse — one who drifts aimlessly for great distances through city streets — I like few pursuits better than setting aside an entire day, ideally no less than eight full hours, ideally with my best flâneur friend and fellow poet, Eric Plattner, to wander observantly from point to point. Among the psychogeographer’s most beloved emotions is curiosity; … Read more

The Random Block

After first light, people walk their dogs on the 2400 block of North McVicker Avenue. Six people, seven dogs. One teenager, clearly robbed of sleep by the jerk-start of morning, trudges along in protest. A woman, then another, uses the outing as an excuse to catch a smoke. A third jogs with her mastiff. A … Read more

Worst Year Ever

So many streets in Chicago carry themselves across the length or breadth of the city. They stretch for miles, changing with the geography or, at the very least, adding a lane of traffic. But not Elaine Place. Never Elaine Place. It is a one-block street between Roscoe and Cornelia, east of Halsted and west of … Read more

Chasing Butterflies

I turned west off Western avenue beneath the railroad bridge that spans 26th Street, drove a few blocks, and then turned right past the Lawndale Gardens row house projects, where shirtless guys were hooping not far from Washtenaw Park. Washtenaw Park is a city playground — there aren’t many trees. Nor is there a garden in Lawndale … Read more