Logan Square is one of the many neighborhoods facing gentrification in Chicago, the “city of neighborhoods.” Still home to a large Hispanic-American population, the slow-drip to-go coffee is quietly replacing the café con leche in this northwest neighborhood. According to John McCarron of the New Communities Program, “Gentrification is not an abstract social issue in Logan Square. It is a wrenching, here-and-now, up-close-and-personal dilemma.”
I took the following photos during a two-hour walk through Logan Square in March 2013, starting from the west side of the neighborhood and moving toward the square where most of the commercial development is taking place. I plan to add to the series, but as it is, even a short afternoon walk can outline the story of one community replacing another.
Photos by Amien Essif.
One shop on Fullerton Avenue selling religious icons, and only religious icons, will not be reopening.
A toy store opened on the square in 2010 next to a coffee shop and a French-style boulangerie, also new arrivals. The toys here are astonishing in variety but the prices reflect the budgets of the newcomers.
The aesthetic of the toys also appeals to parents (and maybe their children) of a higher income. These German-import cow figurines–no more than three or four inches tall–sell for about $10 a piece.
This is the store window of a gift shop located right on the square. The t-shirts and fridge magnets appeal to the hipster crowd: vintage technology, bike culture, cat ownership, knitting sensibilities. The use of the “home-made” aesthetic gets shoppers to pay $5 for trinkets that advertize pride in Logan Square, even though the shop, as well as its patrons, have been in the neighborhood for less than ten years.
Because of its prime location, the parking lot of the Discount Mega Mall is on the list of properties soon to be developed. Directly northwest is the square, directly east is Milwaukee Avenue, both of which are filling up with bars, coffee houses, and other shops that appeal to a lefty post-college crowd. Down near the entrance of the Mega Mall–a latino-owned clothing store–you can still buy elote (corn and mayonnaise). This pale terrain, and the smell of grilled corn, reminded me of the little bit of Mexico that I’ve seen.
And one last one: