I watched the news today and saw how Chicago was promoting itself in Belgium for the upcoming summit this May. Samples of pizza, cheesecake and hot dogs were given to everyone to prepare them for Chicago’s culinary delights. They are being heavily urged to bring their credit cards to Chicago in May and spend like there’s no tomorrow. I am sure they will, and this town certainly needs the money, but I already know where those credit cards will be swiped-in the Loop and near north side. I would like all of the city’s neighborhood businesses to get an economic boost-albeit a temporary one.
This will just reinforce to outsiders that everything outside of the Loop an north lakefront areas do not count or should be avoided. Downtown is not going anywhere, it is the first place visitors hit, and they often do not go anywhere else. Will these international visitors get a chance to see where us non-dignitaries live? The people who are providing hotel wake up calls, the taxi rides back to their private jets or the printers who made their glossy “Welcome to Chicago brochures”?
Our neighborhoods were built and funded by industry and industrious people. Those industries are gone and many neighborhoods are suffering. Some neighborhoods far from the lakefront and shine of Downtown are holding on, in spite of the dangers lurking, but how long will they last? These neighborhoods need attention and investment in their people and infastructure. I can only hope the visitors will be invited to see what is beyond 26th street or beyond Ashland.