Afternoon Edition: Should old trees be protected like historic buildings?

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Elm trees line the 3000 block of West Palmer Avenue in Logan Square. Some neighborhood residents want the trees, planted more than 130 years ago, to have legal protection.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

With Labor Day having come and gone, the end of the summer season has arrived. As a city, we’re turning the page on another summer filled with moments of beauty, tragedy and everything in between.

We saw the continued arrival of new neighbors from the southern border, endured major weather events (like heat waves, wildfire smoke and historic flooding), and watched a new mayoral administration try to respond to ongoing violence in our communities.

There were also some NASCAR races, a whole lot of baseball games and the welcomed return of our favorite street festivals and block parties, all making for a truly unique summer in the greatest city on earth.

As we continue to deal with challenges and take stock of what we’ve learned this summer, here’s to entering a new season with optimism and pride in this city we call home. ✶✶✶✶

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Matt Moore, newsletter reporter (@MattKenMoore)


TODAY’S TOP STORY

Palmer Boulevard’s towering elm trees deserve protection so they can reach their 300-year life span, neighbors say

Reporting by Andy Grimm

They speak for the trees: Since the early 1980s, several homeowners in Logan Square have been working to protect five American elms shading West Palmer Boulevard. Their efforts include shelling out thousands of dollars to treat the more than 130-year-old trees with fungicides and taking on utility companies looking to tear up the parkway and uproot the trees. Now, the homeowners want an ordinance passed that would have the city handle the trees like a historic building, picking up the tab for treatment of the elms and legally protecting them from being chopped down.

History of the trees: Four stories tall and 5 feet in diameter, the trees likely were planted when the boulevards were first laid out in the 1860s. They’re among the few in Chicago that survived a blight that denuded other city streets some 50 years ago. Dutch elm disease claimed millions of trees from the 1960s to early 1980s, but the five survivors arching over the sidewalks across the street from Palmer Square Park avoided the fatal fungus — and the chainsaw crews that rushed to take down trees before they got sick and fell on their own. That’s thanks to the West Palmer Boulevard residents who rallied to save the trees.

Trees treated like buildings?: If a city ordinance can designate all buildings facing the boulevards off-limits to tear-downs, residents say, a new ordinance protecting trees might allow the elms to live out their 300-year or so lifespans in relative peace. First Ward Ald. Daniel La Spata said he had yet to dive into the residents’ proposal for the city to treat the elms and flag any permits to dig near designated trees. In the meantime, neighbors say they’ll be on guard for any threats to their elms.

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WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

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Indicted former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

  • The end of Madigan’s political career: Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan will not seek reelection as a Cook County Democratic commiteeperson, marking the end of a troubled chapter in Illinois politics and the indicted Democrat’s record-setting political career. Madigan, 81, has held the post since 1969.
  • Teachers call off strike at ChiArts: The teachers union and the board of directors at the Chicago High School for the Arts are nearing agreement on a new four-year contract to avert a threatened strike, school officials announced.
  • New One Book, One Chicago pick: The Chicago Public Library has selected the novel “There There” by Tommy Orange for this year’s One Book, One Chicago program. The book follows 12 characters who are all headed to a powwow at the Oakland Coliseum in California.
  • Fall classical music preview: Riccardo Muti returns, Lyric Opera goes to sea, Newberry Consort joins forces for the first time with Haymarket Opera Company — and more events will highlight the upcoming season.
  • Chicago 2nd-best city for vegans: The city’s culinary scene was ranked the second-best city for vegan travelers in a recent report by InsureMyTrip. First place? New York City.
  • Pearl Jam’s heartfelt set at the UC: The rockers gave Chicago fans a two-and-a-half-hour, Goliath of a show at the United Center, with Evanston native Eddie Vedder professing his desire to have the Cubs’ “W” victory flag symbol tattooed on his forehead.

EXPLORING THE CITY 🏛️

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A replica of a cast of a person who was buried in ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius is part of ”Pompeii: The Exhibition” at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The wonders of the MSI’s ‘Pompeii’ exhibition

Reporting by Stefano Esposito

The scrawled etching in stone reads: “I’d like to be the gem in your ring for just an hour to get the kisses you give when you press the seal.”

The ancient Pompeii graffiti is a reminder of how little has changed in the last 2,000 years or so — think of the far-less-creative tourists recently caught carving their initials into the walls of Rome’s Colosseum.

There are intriguing links to the present scattered throughout the Museum of Science and Industry’s popular exhibit “Pompeii: The Exhibition,” which the museum has extended through Jan. 15, 2024. It had been set to close this month.

There are marble statues of toga-clad dignitaries, bronze gladiator helmets encrusted in ancient verdigris, a hefty bronze pan that looks big enough to fry up a dozen eggs all at once. And among the 150 or so artifacts on display are the most delicate of bronze implements: a slender hairpin with a snake’s head at one end; a handful of scalpels and a bronze suction cup that, the exhibition tells us, was used to “remove liquids they believed caused the patient discomfort. These were also used to heat diseased areas and in bloodletting.”

Graffiti, we are told, was abundant in Pompeii — often concerning the attributes of a favored gladiator. Celadus was, according to one wall scratching, “the man the girls sigh for.”

The exhibit also includes three pieces unveiled last month, one of which is a terra cotta wine jug in the shape of a rooster — an intricately inscribed piece that would have been used for special occasions, said Voula Saridakis, a curator at the museum and a historian of science and technology.

Ticket prices for the exhibit (which do not include the cost of general admission to the museum) are $18 for adults; $14 for children; and $9 for members.

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BRIGHT ONE ✨

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This season’s home-grown Bears players, from left, top row: T.J. Edwards, Cole Kmet, Jack Sanborn. From left, bottom row: Robert Tonyan, Doug Kramer, Dan Feeney

Michael Reaves, Steph Chambers/Getty Images

On the Bears’ 53-man roster? There’s a 1-in-10 chance you grew up here

Reporting by Patrick Finley

In the course of their history, the Bears have suited up 104 players from Illinois, from Dick Butkus to Red Grange to Emery Moorehead. They’ve averaged, roughly, one in-state player per year.

When the Bears named their 53-man roster last week, though, a whopping six players hailed from the state: linebacker T.J. Edwards: Lakes Community High School in Lake Villa; center/guard Dan Feeney: Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park; tight end Cole Kmet: St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights; linebacker Jack Sanborn: Lake Zurich High School; tight end Robert Tonyan: McHenry High School; center Doug Kramer: Hinsdale Central High School.

“As a kid, my grandma would always put on the Super Bowl shuffle on VHS and make me watch it when she was babysitting me,” Feeney, for whom the Bears traded a sixth-round pick earlier this week, said Thursday. “Those are some of the first memories.”

Feeney was swamped with messages from both his family and friends when he was acquired from the Dolphins. His friends have spent the last couple years passing around clips of the “Saturday Night Live” Superfans sketch. With a feathered mullet and mustache grown during the COVID-19 lockdown, Feeney looks like one of those fans.

And most of the local players on the roster figure to play in the season opener Sunday. That’s amazing, considering that only 62 Illinoisans played in the NFL last year.

“I grew up hating [the Packers],” Feeney said. “So I think I am right at home.”

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YOUR DAILY QUESTION ☕️

What was one highlight of your summer in Chicago this year?

Email us (please include your first and last name and where you live). To see the answers to this question, check our Morning Edition newsletter. Not subscribed to Morning Edition? Sign up here so you won’t miss a thing!


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Editor: Satchel Price
Newsletter reporter: Matt Moore
Copy editor: Angie Myers

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