Is there any hope for recovery in Englewood?

A local community development agency tells you that “Englewood, located seven miles south of Chicago’s Loop, is a community rich in history, strong in character and rising again.” Don’t believe it.

The Englewood neighborhood has few community assets and few locational advantages other than good public transit access. The more than $250 million invested in the new Kennedy King College at 63rd and Halsted, the centerpiece of a community revitalization effort, has had little, if any, positive impact on its immediate area.

There seems to be no end to the violent crime and poverty that have plagued Englewood for decades. When you look at one of Englewood’s many foreclosed wrecks with plywood windows, you need to remind yourself that it’s been in that state several times before. Vacant lots and boarded-up buildings are nothing new here.

Some urban neighborhoods are so deteriorated that it’s impossible to reclaim them without first clearing them. Is Englewood one of them?

In the video I traverse an 8-block stretch of Normal Blvd in Englewood, passing a public library branch flanked by boarded-up buildings. The scenes you’ll see are the normal condition in most of Englewood, although better than some.

ADDED: Norfolk Southern has been acquiring land in most of the area shown in the video, with a goal of extending the freight yard north of Garfield Blvd south to 61st St. That accounts for part of the bleakness in this area.

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