Best of the South Side: South Loop

Like most neighborhoods on the South Side, the South Loop has fought to recover an identity it once lost. Once a thriving immigrant enclave that fell victim to crime and blight in the 1970s, the area is rebounding with unprecedented vitality, throwing up luxury lofts on Printers Row, townhouses along Roosevelt Road, and fine dining restaurants … Read more

Poetry as rhetoric

Charles Bernstein has been a major figure in American poetry since 1978, when he coedited the influential magazine L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. “One of the things that interested me was poetry that was eccentric, that diverged from the norms, that was weird and queer and extreme and very self-conscious about how its forms were provisional and imaginary and … Read more

The New 53rd Street: Will the University’s plan for Harper Court reflect the neighborhood—or redefine it?

In May 2008, when the University of Chicago completed the $6.5 million purchase of Harper Court, President Robert Zimmer heralded the moment as an opportunity. “Ideally,” he said in a public statement on the purchase, “this project will be reflective of the distinctive nature of Hyde Park and represent the best of Chicago’s mid-South Side.” … Read more

The Turnaround: The Academy for Urban School Leadership is transforming Chicago’s worst public schools

Harvard Elementary School in Englewood was a teacher’s worst nightmare. Kids ran in and out of classrooms in the middle of class, started fights, and swore at faculty. Principals cycled through without making any impact. In 2007, less than a third of Harvard students passed the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), putting the school in … Read more

Unholy Business: Chicago-bred writer Nina Burleigh discusses her latest book, religion, and the ugly side of journalism

There are few quicker ways to inflame a conversation than by broaching the topic of religion. Monolithic megachurch pastors wield enormous influence over vast swaths of the pious population, while nonbelievers like Christopher Hitchens energize the opposing side in the same fashion. And with a presidential election constantly dredging up religious associations as artillery fodder … Read more

South Loop

The South Loop is not an easy neighborhood to encapsulate. “It’s not very cohesive yet,” admits Ryan of Sloopin, a blog dedicated to the going-ons in the swathe of land that bleeds into the touristy gleam of Grant Park to its north, the buzz of McCormick Place on its east, and the storied history of Motor … Read more

Big Trouble at Little Shimer: What’s happening to Chicago’s Great Books college?

Last Sunday afternoon, most of Shimer College crowded into a small room to discuss the future of their school. The Assembly—a democratic body in which all students, faculty, staff, and trustees have equal votes—has traditionally been the moral authority of the college, while legal authority rests with the Board of Trustees. In last Sunday’s special … Read more

The Exchange: Does Chicago’s cash-for-guns program pay off?

“Let me tell you something: if this were the Wild West, Jesse James and all, we wouldn’t have problems with gun violence.” The smell of hard liquor heavy on his breath, a patch of stubbly white hairs hanging off his lower chin, the man proceeded out of the basement of St. Sabina Catholic Church with $75 … Read more

Road Trip to the Mall of America

The Mall of America purports to have everything, and maybe that’s why we went, just to see what “everything” could look like. The Mall is less than twenty years old, and boasts 4.2 million feet of shopping and entertainment. But we weren’t going to buy anything—we were going to be somewhere completely different. Hyde Park had … Read more