October 18, 2008

Happy Sweetest Day

It isn't roses or chocolate - it's the demise of the summers hot gambling spot. Bystanders say it was removed Thursday or Friday. The chess/checkers tables in Gale Park were supposed to be a positive thing I suppose. The blatant gambling that took place all summer must have put some entity over the top.

GEDC0083 GEDC0085 GEDC0084

As the saying goes 'if you abuse it, you lose it'.


The North Coast said...

The crime and disorder so prevalent in the U.S. make it impossible to maintain the kind of urban amenities that make a city inviting to everyone, in most of our cities.

I've always loved the photos I see of elderly men passing the day playing Chess in parks in NYC, or people chatting and having a smoke in beer gardens in other countries. In Tokyo, homeless men sleep in the subway stations on their bedrolls, then sweep the station and leave it neat as a pin the following morning.

But we can't have this stuff. We can't have benches lining the streets so I could sit for a while on my way home, for fear that gangers and vagrants would take them over. We can't have truly public restrooms because they would be vandalized, crime-plagued, filthy sumps nobody would want to enter. We can't have chess tables because the gamblers take them over.

So the streets become even colder and more hostile and uninviting than they already were- just noisy,smelly, over-wide corridors for cars to speed through on their way somewhere else.

What a shame.

Toni said...

I'm sure if anyone really wants to play chess they'll find a way. They can organize a chess club in the community center.

This hotspot needed to disappear and it did. It was too close to the school, and playground.

Downtown Chicago is a different world after 7PM - NOH wears the same face all day.

The North Coast said...

You're correct, Toni, it had to go, because of the incivility of the population.

I'm not critical of the act of removing it.

I'm just sad because we have managed to so thoroughly destroy our public spaces, and that the general incivility and violence make it impossible to have the kind of amenities and tone that a city ought to have- and that our cities used to have.

The community center is better than no place, but it doesn't replace the kind of public spaces our cities once had, where people could gather informally and spontaneously. Trouble is, most Americans have no idea how cities here used to be, how you could leave your doors unlocked and your bicycle out front, and how there used to be friendly little gatherings of old men in parks, for a checkers game or such.

Toni said...

Oh people gather informally and spontaneously all the time NOH. That's part of the problem! The spontaneous gatherings are negative in nature.

There are plenty of wonderful public spaces in Chicago and there are chess tables on the lakefront -in more allegedly civilized neighborhoods.

Face it, times have changed and no one leaves their doors unlocked. How many years ago are you referring to?