Author Archive for Rachel Wiseman

All Together Now

While renting an apartment or living in University housing may be the default choices, there are other alternatives. In Hyde Park alone there are three established housing co-ops–Bowers, Concord, and Haymarket–which provide room and board at a low premium, plus…

Police Watch

95th and Dan Ryan is the end of the line. The farthest point south on the map of the ‘El,’ it is also where Michael Pleasance was killed in 2003. He was unarmed and standing in place when a police…


Before the airport was built, the railroad drew working families to the area west of the Grand Trunk tracks. To this day, West Lawn remains a small but vibrant cultural center for Lithuanians in Chicago and beyond–home to the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture and one of the only Lithuanian-language printing presses in the country.

Englewood & Auburn-Gresham

There’s a common question asked to visitors of Englewood and Auburn-Gresham: “Do you know where you are?” If you’re walking in the neighborhoods west of the Dan Ryan and south of 55th, and a worried, well-meaning passerby thinks you might not be from the area, you might get asked yourself. If you’re not careful, the histories of Englewood, West Englewood, and Auburn-Gresham can read like bottomless tragedies.

Best of the South Side 2011

If you look at a map, you’ll see our city of neighborhoods carved into 77 “community areas.” The lines, drawn by sociologists in the 1950s, sometimes traced the perimeters of ethnic enclaves and sometimes created them. Flattening Chicago’s complex social geography, these semi-official designations remain in use, but even urban planners would admit they are not adequate. Borders shift and names change, reflecting the movement of people from one place to the next. Local identity is made in the minds of residents as much as it is inherited. It is a sum of experiences.

A Prayer for St. Procopius

The story of the two discrete communities within St. Procopius tells a lot about the changes that Pilsen has seen, and about some changes it hasn’t seen–that faith can be an enduring, even stubborn, part of life for these immigrant communities in Chicago.

New Year of the Rabbit

Spanning three blocks on Wentworth, the Lunar New Year Parade rang in one of the most important holidays on the Chinese calendar, melding traditional symbols with local politics and color.

Dirty Words

In 1929, Joseph Stalin read a story and didn’t like it. He put down Andrei Platonov’s short story “Doubting Makar” and declared it an “ambiguous work.” It wasn’t a compliment. Ambiguity in literature is dangerous–any lack of clarity in art opens up opportunities for interpretation, and thus criticism. While the state press churned out more heroic accounts of Soviet projects, Platonov’s story languished in the drawer.