Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Money Transfers and Check Cashing on Clark

I had never seen these businesses before I moved to Chicago. Cash transfers are everywhere in Rogers Park. A large percentage of wages made in Chicago are sent back to families in Mexico and South America. I understand this is a huge source of cash for Mexico, and that the current downturn has choked off many of the transfers.

These businesses aren't regulated as closely as banks, and I always suspect that they take advantage of low income workers, especially the undocumented. Not sure this one can get any more signs on this building.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Clark and Schreiber, northwest corner

Do you remember the "literals" craze in the 1980s? Bags labeled "Brown Bag" and mugs labeled "Mug"? Did you know they did the same thing with buildings? The Rogers Park police station is living proof. In huge lowercase letters it reads, "police" on the wall nearest Clark. As if that could make up for the aggressively unattractive design. Maybe worse of all, it creates a huge windswept plaza along the most auto-dominated stretch of Clark. Optimistically there's a single bench. And what kind of trees were chosen for the plaza? Locust trees, whose most admirable quality is resistance to pollution.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Clark and Farwell, northeast corner

The Rogers Park Library is one of the few new buildings in the neighborhood that I really admire. Designed by Antunovich and Associates, it was built in 1999 and is aging comfortably. This is apparently the new model for Chicago libraries, and similar versions can be found in Bucktown and Edgebrook. Thankfully they stopped building those awful blue cinder block libraries. If you're in the neighborhood go up to the second floor and admire the hanging sculpture. Public buildings of this quality make me glad to live in Chicago.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Clark and Pratt, southwest corner

So McDonald's has started to replace their old 1980s mansard-style outlets with something a little more sensitive to the street Sure, they'll still surrounded by parking lots and driveways, but they're faced with brick, they're typically built with one wall right on the street, they have decent storefronts, and the interiors are better designed and more comfortable. Say what you will about McDonald's, but I'm impressed that they periodically reinvent themselves.

We took Felix to the Museum of Science and Industry on Saturday. If we hadn't felt a crazy need to see everything we would have just stared at the amazing model train exhibit for hours. They basically created the Loop, complete with working CTA trains. Wow.

On Sunday we took Felix to get his hair cut. At the end of the haircut the woman said, "Oops, I nicked his ear. Free haircut." Sure enough, there was a tiny cut on the top of his ear which Felix barely noticed. We were left conferring on what to do. Should we just leave? Should we give a tip anyway, since we already saved $20? Should you tip someone who just cut you son's ear? We grabbed a lollipop and shuffled out awkwardly.