Gentry achieve total victory in Paulina corridor turf war

It’s official. With the demolition this week of the sky blue water towers on the 2700 block of North Paulina, the paradigm shift, as they used to say back in another century, is complete. The transformation of the city (okay, maybe just some parts of it) into a processed, ersatz urban fantasyland, is a stick-your-fork-in-it done deal. In just ten years, the area roughly bounded by Ashland, Wrightwood, Wolcott and Wellington (West West DePaul? South Roscoe Village?) has become the perfect example of Chicago’s transformation from what it Used To Be into what it Is Today.

What Chicago “Used To Be” was a major manufacturing center. What it “Is Today” is a place with a mindblowing inventory of expensive, new, and strangely non-urban residential development. Cruise down Paulina and see for yourself.

Do you remember what this strip was like just ten years ago? It was strictly industrial, dominated by the massive Stewart-Warner factory and warehouse buildings with businesses like Niedermaier and Vintage Pine. As of this week, you’d never know any of it existed.

Let’s not even pretend to argue the myriad economic issues here: if you still haven’t accepted the futility of resisting the relentless onslaught of “urban progress” and its inevitable displacement of manufacturing ventures with high-priced housing, then it’s time to wake up. The larger issue is the crap that’s been built to replace the commercial buildings.

Over the course of the decade, the development projects here have gotten more and more elaborate. Million-plus single family houses are the norm now. Current projects like JDL’s Estates at Columbia Place and Belgravia Group’s Hartland Park typify what the area has morphed into: the kind of McMansionized idea of a “community” you’d see in Long Grove or Burr Ridge and feel so superior thinking something like that could never get built in the city.

Well, think again, friends.

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