After years of neglect and disinvestment, it’s time for Auburn Gresham to rise again

My hope is that 79th and Halsted will rise again — restored to a place where South Side kids can dream big dreams, find the magic of their own neighborhood and gain the confidence to explore the world beyond.

SHARE After years of neglect and disinvestment, it’s time for Auburn Gresham to rise again
A rendering of an apartment project planed at 838 W. 79th St.

A rendering of an apartment project planed at 838 W. 79th St.

Provided

It is encouraging to hear that 79th and Halsted in Auburn Gresham is coming to life again. This week, city leaders broke ground for the first phase of a $40-million-dollar development that will bring affordable housing, new retail, a community center and a healthy lifestyle hub to the South Side neighborhood. After years of neglect and disinvestment, it’s about time.

Growing up, 79th and Halsted felt like the center of the universe. The Muhammad Speaks Newspaper office was there, and so was the Capitol Theater, where I first saw the Jackson Five. There was a bank with national in its name and medical and business offices thriving in second story walk-ups. There was that place with good corned beef sandwiches, a Walgreens and a Woolworths with cool lunch counters. And then there was Frank’s. Frank’s Department Store was magical — they had everything. It was deliciously tempting for first-time African American homeowners, like my parents, anxious to furnish and flourish in their newly purchased bungalows and two-flats. My mom and I would spend hours browsing the aisles of treasures at Frank’s. There were wish list items for the living room and kitchen, but also summer dresses and an unbelievable array of knick-knacks. Mom still has the set of ceramic black cats I saved up to buy for her one Mother’s Day.

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St. Leo, my elementary school, was nearby at 77th and Emerald. By seventh grade I would walk my fast self to 79th and Halsted after school to catch the bus home in hopes of seeing a cute boy from Leo High School down the street. I remember selling paper shamrocks, yes shamrocks, for St. Patrick’s Day at 79th and Halsted. That must have been a sight — my little brown legs sticking out the bottom of that green plaid uniform skirt, shamrocks in hand. It seems ridiculous now, but something gave me the confidence to pull it off.

In college, I stood at the bus stop in front of the Walgreens, shivering during the winter months, waiting for the long ride to UIC on the No. 8 Halsted bus. 79th and Halsted is where I dared to dream of everything from ceramic cats to college. It is part of my South Side story.

My hope is that 79th and Halsted will rise again — restored to a place where South Side kids can dream big dreams, find the magic of their own neighborhood and gain the confidence to explore the world beyond.

Deidra White, Bronzeville

A raise for part-time work

Alderpersons are on the verge of getting a 9.62% raise and bringing their salary to an average of $142,772 a year for only working part-time. Are you kidding me?

I received a 2% raise last year and I work 40 hours a week and have been at my job for 20 years. With inflation and a possible recession looming, if they take that raise for part-time work, we as voters need to remember that come election time.

Richard Barber, Mount Greenwood

Where is top cop?

It’s telling to me that a mayoral assistant is a person who announces to the press that the relentless string of canceled days off, which many blamed for a spike in Chicago police suicides, has been significantly altered. 

My question is where is the police superintendent, who after all, is the leader of Chicago’s cops?

Leadership starts at the top and the job of the top cop is to ensure the department is run in an efficient manner. One of the most important duties is not only officer assignments but also to ensure the men and women who serve and protect Chicago are treated fair and equitably. The mental health of the men and women of the department should be a priority and most definitely is the function of the top brass of the department.

It’s time to let the leadership of Chicago’s cops run the department. Who should know best: the brass, who are charged with overseeing the department on a daily basis or amMayoral aide with a title? Where is the top cop?

Bob Angone, Austin, Texas

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