Sunday, March 23, 2014


Chicago Magazine ranks the neighborhoods because of course it would

In a desperate plea for attention, Chicago Magazine has decided to highlight twelve city neighborhoods and suburban communities as best in the metropolitan area.  I do not usually pay much heed to Chicago Magazine, but the neighborhood I currently live in (Edgewater) made the list, much to the delight of the webmaster at Edgeville Buzz.  This should come as no surprise -- I live in Edgewater, after all -- but curiosity got the better of me and I decided to see what other communities were honored.

Yeah, we got a beach!

The odd criteria used to come up with the rankings only reinforced the pointlessness of trying to order something as subjective as a "good" neighborhood.  Being affiliated with the Chicago Tribune, the author assures the reader that any high crime neighborhoods -- over the city-wide crime rate of 9.3 per 100,000) was immediately cast out into the alley.  Aside from this marker, they did not pay much attention to why certain crime rates end up where they are: the author noted the Loop would not qualify for exceeding the city average; never mind the fact that the Loop's crime rate is distorted by a high "daytime" population of workers, tourists, and shoppers that eclipse the several thousand residents who actually call it home.  

Mindful of Chicago's sorrowful history of segregation, the author eliminated any neighborhood where 92% or more residents were of a single race, because a community that is 91% white or black is transformed into a bastion of multiculturalism.  It also happens to disqualify virtually all of West and South Side of the city...

...which leads to some hilarious and "generous" definitions of what a West Side city neighborhood is.  Deciding, for whatever reason, that the rankings must include 4 neighborhoods each from the North, West, and South Sides, neighborhoods such as Logan Square, Edison Park, and Portage Park, areas that are actually on the North or Northwest Side, are now reppin' the West Side.  Laaaaaaaaame!

Of course, Chicago Magazine does not give two hoots what I think, and by going to the page at all (and effectively publicizing it here) it's already won.  Still, I think it serves as a reminder that what functions as a good neighborhood by one person (or magazine's) criteria might fall short for others.  Yes, Edgewater is diverse, has great transportation options, and a low crime rate (3.3 per 100,000, not that it stopped some knuckleheads from shooting each other around Thorndale and Kenmore last week), but many of my friends could never call it home due to its lack of a lively night life.  Many middle-class families likely would find the single-family options too expensive and the public education options lackluster.  

But as a grad student who simply wanted a fairly affordable, quiet, and boring neighborhood within walking distance to work, Edgewater has suited me well these past six years,and I'm very much looking forward to the seventh!

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