Last week my mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, decided it was time to start using the tools at his disposal to start tearing down abandoned buildings here in Chicago. His thinking is that they harbor gangs and generally cause issues for the law abiding citizens that live around them. I can’t say I don’t agree to some extent, most abandoned buildings aren’t boarded up properly. You know the ones, plywood hanging off the doors and windows, trash strewn all over what used to be the yard, I get it. Just another target for gang bangers to stash their weapons, deal their drugs and hide from the cops when they roll up. Well, that’s what my mayor says anyways.
It’s not like this idea is new. Last year I heard about the mayor of Detroit planning the same thing. They were saying so many people have left the city and abandoned their homes that once they tear all those down it will be like the suburbs with green space everywhere. Then last night on NPR they were talking about St. Louis, where they too are starting to tear down abandoned buildings too.
Gary Indiana, my birthplace, started to do that some years back. I drove through there last summer after a massive traffic jam caused my husband and I to reroute off of 80/94 to Ridge Road. I have to say honestly I couldn’t tell if they are still tearing down properties. I saw so many abandoned buildings in need of tearing down, that I wonder what qualifies as an abandoned property in that city. Is it if you don’t pay your property taxes? What if you pay your taxes but the property is uninhabited and has safety violations? I saw an old auto garage that nature was taking back, no windows or doors left, vines and weeds hanging off of everything but it had a for sale sign on it. Just a few weeks ago I went through the Aetna and Miller sections of the city and saw numerous homes in various stages of abandonment, some burned out and half boarded, others left to mother nature to reclaim with no windows or doors, not properly secured at all. It was sad. I wouldn’t want to live near those homes, they seem haunted by better days and attracting of bad energy.