Monday, April 5, 2010

Chicago's Bucktown

Bucktown is on Chicago's NW side and is about three miles from the loop. For those unfamiliar with the loop, it is the central area of Chicago and aptly named as such because of Chicago's elevated subway which forms a loop shape from above. With that being said, the area is primarily residential with some commercial development around Armitage Ave. Bucktown gets its name from the apparently large amount of goats that used to preside in the area. For those familiar with the area they will notice that much of the historic architecture that once existed here is long gone. While many residents will argue that this is a vast improvement of the area, I would argue that it, in fact, is not.

Historic architecture is what creates a sense of place. Bucktown has very little sense of place. if it were not for the few "landmarks" that existed here, it would be impossible to distinguish it from any other new development on Chicago's north side. There is this common misconception that historic buildings are worse than their modern counterparts. While there are basketcases that truly do require intervention, many historic buildings can be just as habitable as new construction with a little bit of finesse. New construction, at least in Chicago, almost always requires a building to be torn down. After this occurs, a new building has to be built. Think about the cost and resources that are wasted by dismantling an already existing structure. It is much more "green" to use an already existing building and renovate the interior to satisfy the wants of an owner. This also allows the neighborhood to keep its already existing character - the very character that makes it one of the 77 existing Chicago neighborhoods.

Bucktown is becoming a utopia for young, wealthy, families that tend to overlook the past. They want modern amenities and rooftop terraces. This can be achieved with adaptive reuse of old buildings. Instead, the neighborhood has become a hideous display of modern, lifeless condominiums that leave little to be desired. This has become the tale of much of Chicago, and it is alarming to think that these historically diverse areas are becoming cookie cutter eyesores to be inhabited by suburban yuppies.

The Maproom: one of the last historic structures in the area is also one of the best beer selections in the country.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Essingliger
    If you end up writing building descriptions, I'm sure they'll be great!