For a town that whines and bleats about wanting more interesting places to shop-see our 20 years’ worth of coverage of residents wanting a bakery and a hardware store in Downtown Oak Park-this might be the weekend to discover Harrison Street.
For a town that endlessly kvetches about how all the interesting shops are now onMadison Street in Forest Park, this is absolutely the weekend to discover Harrison Street.
Harrison Street, a.k.a. the Oak Park Arts District, is putting on its spring welcome starting Friday and continuing through Sunday. That means all the shops will be open, music will be live, a raft of activities for those grown and growing will abound, and the street’s restaurants will be bustling.
This, folks, is the Oak Park you profess to want. This is the neighborhood you visit in a distant city and long for at home. It already exists down by the Ike from Austin to Ridgeland. Nothing but independently owned shops, filled with creative and reasonably priced arts, crafts and gifts. The street is completely walkable. Parking is simple and free.
Beyond the Buzz (perhaps the most perfectly attuned-to-Oak Park business in town), andHarrison Street pioneer, La Majada, the street now is home to a fine restaurant in Trattoria 225. So come and make a night of it.
And next year when we tout this event, we’ll be lauding the arrival of Circle Theater, another piece of the Harrison mosaic.
Inured to death
It was a week ago Monday when we saw the story on the Trib’s Web site: Woman dead in South Side drive-by. We admit we didn’t even click the link.
Another shooting. Another violent death. Next item.
And then one of our young staffers walked in and said he knew the woman: She’d graduated from OPRF. And in that moment, Ishma Stewart became real to us.
Last Wednesday, her death made our front page. Today, we cover her funeral.
Ms. Stewart was altogether remarkable. She graduated early from Oak Park and River Forest High School while still a junior. She was set to graduate from Loyola in December, six months early, with her degree in journalism. A teacher at OPRF described her as “a fabulous kid, someone very engaged, very determined.”
After all she had accomplished, she was still just 20.
Police describe her shooting as “random.” And that is the cruelest piece of this. A life led with such purpose taken so thoroughly without purpose.
At Madison and Highland
On this page’s last visit to Madison and Highland, we cautioned that the new privately built office building being planned there ought not be an assemblage of relocated Madison businesses.
We first reported that the Park District of Oak Park is talking to the developers about moving its cramped gymnastics center from across the street. We reported that the District 97 public elementary schools have been approached about a similar move but are rightly skeptical. And today we report that the primary commercial tenant eying the new development is a kidney dialysis center which has been at Madison near Euclid for decades.
First, Madison Street does not need more empty parcels. There is plenty of prime space suitable for development on the street right now. A dearth of developers but plenty of land. Second, the new building needs retail on the ground level not dialysis machines. At least a substantial portion of this medical use should be above ground level.