Six real-life neighborhoods will be on display May 16 during the Great Chicago Places and Spaces Festival, which is branching out this year to feature more than the usual tours of central-city architecture and hotspots. As part of the Burnham Plan Centennial, tour buses will be heading to Bronzeville, South Chicago, Auburn Gresham, Pilsen, Albany Park and the Indian shopping strip on Devon Avenue in West Ridge.
Mr. Burnham would be pleased, because the changes in these places reflect a less-quoted section of that "make no little plans" statement that we hear so often.
"Make big plans," he continued, "aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency."
I've seen that ever-growing insistency in most of the New Communities Program neighborhoods, where the noble, logical diagrams laid out in their quality-of-life plans keep rising up in the conversations. Insistently. As in "if we want to be great, or just survive, we've got to do this and that." And think big, too, which is another Burnham dictum.
Six neighborhood groups have been preparing the tours with help from the Burnham Centennial team and professional tour consultants, and the stories are shaping up nicely. The Bold Plans Big Dreams Community Showcase Tours will start from downtown, with details to come at Explore Chicago. Here's the lineup:
Albany Park: Chicago's Gateway to the World, will highlight that neighborhood's rich multi-ethnic base, its bungalow belts and retail assets, and its culture, nature and movement. Hosted by the North River Commission.
Bronzeville: Civil War to Civil Rights and Beyond, will trace back to the beginnings of Chicago's African-American experience, show off many historic sites, and preview the "second urban renaissance in the capitol of Black America." Hosted by Quad Communities Development Corporation
Pilsen: A Healthy, Vibrant and Well-Organized Community will focus on that neighborhood's long history in labor activism and organizing, with a focus on the work done by Mexican-American community organizations since the 1980s. Hosted by The Resurrection Project.
South Chicago: From Pollution to Solution will show how the formerly gritty steel town is transforming itself into a "green" community of affordable energy, efficient houses, organic gardens and talented artists. Hosted by Claretian Associates.
Auburn Gresham: A Classic Chicago Community will show off the bungalows and two-flats and 79th Street commercial district that have attracted and supported generations of families. Hosted by Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation .
West Ridge: Gateway to India in Chicago will feature walking tours of the Devon Avenue retail strip, complete with visits to sari shops, video stores and snack shops that attract Indian and Pakistani visitors from across the Midwest (and plenty of locals, too). Hosted by the Indo-American Heritage Museum .
South Chicago photo above by Eric Young Smith for Chicago Neighborhood News Bureau.