Saturday, March 21, 2009

5200 S. Wolcott Report

Today was a nice day--the sign on Park Federal said it was 65 degrees late this afternoon--so I decided it was a good day to take that stroll over to 5200 Wolcott and check out the scene. As our commenter reported, there are quite a few vacant lots over there. It was pretty quiet when I walked the block--there was a hoop on the east side of the street, but no one was playing ball. Over on Honore a bunch of little kids were shooting at a hoop, and older kids were playing in the street south of 51st on Wood.

The most striking feature of the south end of the 5200 block of South Wolcott is the giant vacant lot on the west corner. It's full of trash. There are more vacant lots everywhere south of 51st than north of, but there's a whole new house going up at the south end of 5100 S. Wolcott, so that was nice to see happening.

I saw maybe half a dozen people--three teenage girls and a younger boy--plus some older guys on the east side of the street --but everything was quiet and I felt perfectly safe.

On the way over, the block that really impressed me was the 5200 block of South Honore. They have a block club street sign at the north end of the block, an older Latino guy was picking up trash at the corner, and an African American man and woman (not sure if they were a couple or just neighbors--I kinda thought just neighbors) were chatting on the sidewalk and made the effort to greet me. That's where the little kids were taking turns shooting at a hoop--boys and girls, which doesn't always happen when it's basketball.

I talked with the guy picking up trash for a couple of minutes. "This is a really nice block here," I said.

"We try," he told me. "I've been here 30 years."

I told him I lived over on Marshfield. He asked how long I've been here.

"It'll be five years this summer," I said. I could see he was pleased and surprised.

Anyway, driving through the Wolcott block in broad daylight didn't seem like it would be any problem to me. But if I wanted to talk to people, I'd probably go over to Honore and see if any grownups outside seemed friendly.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the report on that. The south end of the block you're talking about used to be a dark red brick 2 flat that was vacant the whole time I lived there and was filled with needles and trash (used to sneak in there as a kid). I know there's a term for the area "Back of the Yards" neighborhood. Is that area of Wolcott considered the outer edges of it or just how big of an area does that fall under? Just curious. Thanks again for walking around there and reporting. As for the other commentor that pretty much said it's not a big deal to walk over there, I didn't mean to imply that everyone is horrible and wants to kill people that walk around the neighborhood. I truly do understand there are good people working hard to improve things. But that fear can stem from those few moments of crime you may witness and stays with you. So sorry if I offended anyone in the area. LM

Maritza said...

Thanks for your comment, LM. To answer your question, the official community area that Back of the Yards is part of is called New City, and it is bigger than what most people think of as Back of the Yards. I'll post about New City and maybe I can link to a map so you can see how big it is. New City runs all the way south to Garfield Boulevard, where Englewood/West Englewood starts.

I personally tend to think of Back of the Yards as running from 43rd to 51st, Racine to Western. That leaves the 51st to Garfield area as kind of a no-man's-land, between Back of the Yards and Englewood.

I get the feeling folks at Holy Cross tend to think of the neighborhood in even narrower terms, from 43rd to 47th, and have to be kind of prodded into thinking about the area between 47th and 51st. I get frustrated with that, so it's kind of unfair of me to think the same way about 51st to Garfield, but I'll be honest and admit that I do it.

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