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Old 04-02-2007, 11:31 AM
3 posts, read 13,022 times
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Hello Everyone, I'm looking for help, advice and suggestions about an upcoming move to Chicago from Denver. I've just turned 40, I'm quitting my job and going back to school in Chicago. I will be attending a trade school in Skokie, but I would like to live somewhere along the red line between downtown and Evanston. Could anyone please make comments on gay-friendly, safe and affordable neighborhoods?? What is life like in Chicago without a car? Hopefully I would like to live somewhere along the redline, then travel to skokie via train to Howard Station and then Bus it in. What is apartment availability like in this area. How expensive is it? Is there reasonable access to grocery stores and other shopping for someone without a car?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 04-02-2007, 12:19 PM
Location: Chicago
38,704 posts, read 93,600,639 times
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Let's start with affordable. The notion of what's affordable in Chicago is much lower than comparable coastal cities such as, say, NYC, Boston, L.A. and the Bay Area. However, it's probably higher than what constitutes affordable in Denver. Expect to pay a minimum of $700/mo for an inhabitable apartment (small!) in an inhabitable neighborhood.

Next, a note on the Red Line. It will be running at reduced capacity for the next two years due to platform reconstruction at the Belmont and Fullerton stops. Additionally, runs north of Sheridan on the Red and Purple lines are painfully slow because many of the concrete overpasses over surface streets are rotting into the ground and the trains can only traverse them safely at dramatically reduced speeds. This latter situation will continue indefinitely as there are currently no funds allocated to fix this problem, there is no indication any such funds will beocme available anytime in the foreseeable future, and even when the funds do become available, the repairs will take years.

All that said, by the time you deal with the hassle of traffic congestion and parking, the L is still probably the most convenient way to get from place to place. There are two particularly gay-friendly neighborhoods along the Red Line: Boystown and Andersonville. Andersonville is considerably closer to Evanston than Boystown. There are a couple of other very notable differences between the two neighborhoods; first, Boystown is a stereotypically gay "ghetto" of sorts. Everything is rainbow striped. Even the light poles. Every business leans toward a gay clientele. The neighborhood veritably shouts "LOOK HOW GAY WE ARE!" from corner to corner. Apparently a number of gay men are kind of put off by this whole extraverted presentation, which is one reason why some of them prefer Andersonville. Its, uh, "gayness" if you will is a lot more toned down, though it doesn't conceal what it is and signs of its gay neighborhood status are still evident here and there. It's just done more subtly than Boystown's "Look at me!" approach. It's also worth noting that Andersonville is actually considered more of a lesbian neighborhood, though there is a fair contingent of gay men up there as well. The bottom line is that gays are numerous enough anywhere along the Red Line from North Avenue all the way up to and through Evanston that nobody will notice you (unless you demand to be noticed) and nobody will care. Same goes for anywhere along the Blue Line from West Town through Logan Square.

Next, as for living in Chicago without a car, that's not a problem as long as you live in or near an area that is served by an L line. (Bus lines also cover the city quite comprehensively but can often get bogged down in surface traffic and prove painfully slow.) Unfortunately the transportation system on the North side of the city is in serious trouble and this is causing commute times to skyrocket big time. When I lived in Andersonville in the late 90s and early 00's, it took me 40 minutes to walk from my door, catch a bus, transfer to the L, arrive at my destination downtown, and be seated at my desk chair. That process would now probably take me about an hour and 15 minutes -- and that was before the aforementioned capacity reduction. In addition to the problems I've mentioned before, a number of stops on the Brown Line will intermittently close altogether (some already are), as many as two at a time and for as long as a year per closing, until 2009. This is part of a mega-project to extend the length of the station platforms to accomodate 8-car trains (currently most Brown Line stations will only accomodate 6-car trains). They are also adding elevators to many of the stations to make them wheelchair accessible. This is why there is reduced capacity on the Brown, Red and Purple lines between the Belmont and Fullerton stations -- the process of adding the elevators requires one of the four tracks to be shut down, and so it will be for the next two years. In fact the track shutdown just started today, so we will soon get a feel for just how much this is going to impact travel times. My guess is it won't be pretty. It was bad enough before the shutdown; I just hope there won't be riots.

Finally, do you have an approximate address for where the trade school is? If it's right off the Yellow Line or a reliable connecting PACE bus route, you will do just fine without a car. Otherwise, if the school is not conveniently located to public transportation, a car may be necessary.

Well, I've probably given more information you were looking for and ranted a little too much, but I hope this information proves useful.

Last edited by Drover; 04-02-2007 at 01:24 PM.. Reason: Additional Info
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Old 04-02-2007, 01:08 PM
3 posts, read 13,022 times
Reputation: 11
Default Gay student moves to Chicago

To Drover:

Thank you so much for the detailed information. The limitations of the red line north of the city was something I did not know, but is very valuable information to me. I appreciate your thoroughness! I have Travelled to Chicago several times and I am somewhat familiar with Boystown and Andersonville. From your reply, it seems to me that I might prefer living in Andersonville. BUT..... I did not know that Andersonville was within walking distance to an L line?? If it is, would you call that East Andersonville?? Any line that would get me to the Howard Station would be ideal. Thanks Again.

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Old 04-02-2007, 01:31 PM
Location: Chicago
38,704 posts, read 93,600,639 times
Reputation: 29746
The main business corridor of Andersonville (Clark Street) is only a 10-minute walk from the Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stops of the Red line. If you live on the eastern edge of Andersonville, you're only a 5 minute walk to the line. And from there you're less than 3 miles from the Howard stop.
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Old 04-02-2007, 02:23 PM
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We live in Andersonville right now and it is 5-7 minutes to walk to the train depending on the amount of coffee in your system. We are closer to Clark than Broadway where the train runs. For a 2 bedroom apartment in our building we are paying 1150 and we'll actually be moving out by June 1st if you were looking for a place, although it may be bigger than what you need. One bedrooms in our building are about 950 I believe. It's a great neighborhood. It's quiet enough, but you can still walk to restaurants and stores if you'd like. On a nice day I can walk to the main grocery store, but we do have a car and when the car died I took the bus to the store with no problems since it runs down the main street. Let me know if you have any specific questions about the neighborhood, we've lived here 2 years and are moving b/c we bought a place in (gasp), the suburbs.
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