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Need to Know
February 18, 2013
Gangsterville
Posted by Staff
National Review reports:

Hey, man. Hey, man. What you need?” The question is part solicitation, part challenge, and the challenge part is worth paying attention to in a city with more than 500 murders a year. The question comes from a young, light-skinned black guy with freckles. We’re in the shadow of what used to be the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects, only a 15-minute walk from the Hermès and Prada boutiques and the $32 brunch at Fred’s that identify Chicago’s Gold Coast as highly desirable urban real estate, a delightful assemblage of Stuff White People Like. Just down Division Street from the boutique hotels and the more-artisanal-than-thou Goddess and Grocer, Cabrini-Green is still in the early stages of gentrification, though it does have that universal identifier of urban reclamation: a Starbucks within view of another Starbucks.

All that remains of Cabrini-Green is sad stories and the original section of row houses around which the projects grew up. Those row houses are being renovated as part of the foundations-up effort to rebuild the neighborhood. Even the name “Cabrini-Green” is being scrubbed from memory: The new mixed-income development on the site of the old Cabrini-Green Extension heaves under the unbearably pretentious name “Parkside of Old Town.” But some of the old commerce remains, and Freckles is pretty clearly an entrepreneur of the street. “You buying?” I ask what he’s selling, and he explains in reasonably civil terms that he is not in the habit of setting himself up for entrapment on a narcotics charge.
02/18/13 7:47 AM
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