Getting Free Furniture

After a long winter, Hyde Park comes alive in spring. Flowers bloom from the dead ground, community gardens push up new shoots, and alleys all over the neighborhood sprout used furniture. From the beginning of May through the middle of June, when many leases run out and apartments are being cleared out, Hyde Park’s alleys are a fertile hunting ground for anyone looking to furnish their new apartment or just pick up an extra recliner, nightstand, microwave, or other miscellaneous object. Alleys in student-heavy areas, like the Student Ghetto centered around 53rd and Woodlawn and the parts of 56th and 57th Streets near the University of Chicago campus, are particularly good places to check. Be wary of anything that’s been sitting out for too long, especially if it’s rained recently, and you may want to avoid mattresses and upholstered chairs for fear of bedbugs.

If you have access to a car and are willing to travel, Craigslist’s “free stuff” section (chicago.craigslist.org/zip) has upwards of fifty listings a day from around the metropolitan area. If you’d rather stay in the area, the UofC’s own mini-Craigslist, marketplace.uchicago.edu, also has a “free” section. There’s also a UofC mailing list, reuse@lists.uchicago.edu, for people to give away unwanted items. Anyone can join at lists.uchicago.edu, although traffic has dropped off to only a few postings in the past year. (Sam Feldman)