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Old 12-29-2012, 05:19 PM
2 posts, read 4,167 times
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There is a fair possibility that I will be residing in West Elsdon, Chicago somewhat near Midway Airport in the not too distant future. Could somebody please tell me about its overall safety and vibe?

I've been hearing mixed reports. Some report the area as been generally safe with no need to worry much at all, and that the community and its homes are well maintained. That does seem true the last time I was there. (I'm too far away to look right now.) But then a Internet search reveal a couple of somewhat recent shootings. Does gang fighting venture into this area? What has been the trend of crime the last couple of years? How is it at night, e.g., by the "L" and a few blocks away from it? Etc.? Also, what about the areas that border it? Do any of the possibly very bad areas leak in? Etc.?

As a final question, though of less importance, how does this neighborhood fit into the rest of Chicago? I do like a urban feel. While West Elsdon is not exactly near the lake or downtown, does it at least plug you into the city life well? Or does it isolate you? I like exploring around easily.

Thank you for any help you can provide. It is much appreciated. It's a lot of questions, I know, but they are important to me.

Last edited by Mimas; 12-29-2012 at 05:22 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:38 PM
Location: the Great Lakes states
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We left the West Elsdon area (we were closer to Kedzie Ave.) in the mid-1990's due to increased gang activity and problems. The schools went downhill well before then, except for the Catholic schools. The parks were iffy and the area was not served well by city programs, so youth didn't have many outlets for positive activities. There were starting to be muggings, lots of graffiti, and turf wars that threatened to become violent. It was worrisome when family members came home late in the evening... we always stayed up and waited for them. I'm very glad we didn't have anyone in our family who was a pre-teen or teenager... gang recruitment was becoming vicious, especially east of Kedzie and south of 55th. West of Central Park Avenue was always a little better, but there was trouble in spots. The worst place to be is on a turf line between two gangs. We were in police beat 822, which was a notch better and stayed quieter than 821 or the 9th district beats on the other side of Kedzie.

As of 2012, based on what family/friends have told me, some things have improved (resurgence of the shopping strips, now populated by hispanic businesses - Pete's Market is an excellent grocery), much increased property values, and several new public and charter schools, but some things have stayed the same or gotten worse.

My old block still looks pretty nice on Google Maps Street View, but one bad neighbor who invites gang/drug activity can make you pretty miserable and place you in some danger. Those are tightly packed blocks with not a lot of breathing room between you and your neighbors' homes.

And yes, the residents of the previous generation were a lot of Polish Catholics who were 2nd or 3rd generation in the city who maintained their homes very well (though didn't necessarily update them.) We had five or six elderly widows on our block who lived in their homes well into their 80's. Then those homes turned over quickly because being not updated with modern decor or remodeling, their prices were low and the buyers were somewhat of a lower economic class of people or were 1st generation Latino who either brought the gang activity with them, or were (this is a characterization and generalization) nice overly-trusting non-English speaking people, who were not reporting and demanding police involvement to stop the gangs and problems. 1st Generation Latino immigrants generally do not trust the police, but unfortunately if you want to be proactive about crime you have to contact police and request the kind of help you need.

It's probably accurate to say that West Elsdon is "block-by-block" and greatly dependent on your neighbors. If you have some city workers, fire or police, on your block, or a few solid families, things will probably be generally fine. A friend of mine lived in the Pasteur Park area well into the 2000's and was watchful but didn't experience any real trouble, just some annoyances.

The neighbors who I knew who raised successful young people were very vigilant about who the kids played with and where they were, and drove them to-and-from the Catholic schools or to selective enrollment (magnet or arts program) public schools in other parts of the city. If you have kids in that area, you can't leave it to chance, and you'll probably have to keep them busy by keeping them involved in activities that are in better neighborhoods or in the suburbs.

It is a very convenient area -- really a hidden gem of an area when the neighborhood was still nice -- easy 30-40 minute drive to downtown or Lincoln Park via I-55, or 30-40 minutes out to the Southwest/Western suburbs. You can also drive Garfield Boulevard south to the Ryan as a shortcut. West Elsdon is more of a bedroom community and you will probably be commuting often to other neighborhoods and suburbs for activities and enjoyment.

I miss that community quite a bit, especially the brick bungalow we had, the front porches, the spacious yard, the sweet neighbors, the well-kept lawns, the local Jewel, and St. Gall Parish. But, I don't think I would choose to live there today-- if I wanted an urban feel on the Southwest side of the city, I would look first to Bridgeport (which is now very diverse but has retained neighborhood cohesion) and then maybe toward the Beverly/Mount Greenwood areas.

Last edited by summer22; 12-30-2012 at 06:53 PM..
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:09 PM
2 posts, read 4,167 times
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Thank you, summer22, that helps.
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