Violent Criminal Activity on the Near North Side of Chicago

By Sam Menegat

The Near North Side is known to the Chicago Police Department as District 18. It is considered to be the northernmost of three districts that make up the general area of Central Chicago, the other two being the Loop and the Near South Side. 

Ranging from theft to domestic abuse, the Near North Side is no stranger to violent crime. Albeit the Near North Side is known for being a good part of Chicago — and being safe for residents and businesses — violent crimes do occur. So it is of ample importance that the point of exercising safety and awareness is recognized. Putting crime in Chicago in perspective, the following Google Trends graphic shows the amount of searches in Google for crime in the North and South Sides of Chicago.

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Google Trends graphic, displaying the comparison between the North Sides and South Sides of Chicago. (Google Trends/Sam Menegat & Cory Moore)

Brian Farrell, a 26-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, oversees robbery cases on the Near North Side, which is, according to him, the most common violent crime committed in the area. Farrell attributed that to the general affluence and larger population of the area. “There are tons of robberies up there, because, for one, people have more money, and two, because victims are plentiful. And the bad guys know that.” 

The stereotype of South Side violence may be true to an extent, but it is amply important that the difference between the types of crimes occurring in the North and South Sides be explained. 

Being an officer for so long, Farrell was able to break down the geographical difference in crimes around Chicago:  “Crimes on the South Side are usually narcotics-related or gang shootings, stuff like that,” he said. “Crimes on the Near North Side in more affluent neighborhoods that do involve a shooting or a stabbing are very typically in circumstances where alcohol takes effect, and is usually at clubs.” 

Screenshot 2020-04-28 at 8.19.26 PM

Chicago Police officers in 2010. | Photo by Nicole Yeary via Flickr.

The most common type of violent crime that Farrell has experienced and dealt with has been theft-on-person, but has developed into a robbery. “If someone wants to make fast money to steal your phone, you resist, and get assaulted in the process, that’s now a robbery,” he said.

Outside of violent crime, Farrell noted that the most common form of crime is theft, specifically car-jacking. 

“People park their cars and will mostly Uber and walk on-foot, which makes (their vehicles) an easy target,” Farrell said. This map created using Google MyMaps displays what Farrell responds to on a frequent basis: 

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Robberies reported in the last year according to the City of Chicago Data Portal. Mapping of Chicago provided by Google MyMaps, which can be found here. (Google MyMaps/Sam Menegat & Cory Moore)

Sam Waldorf, the associate director of the Old Town Merchants and Residents Association, was interviewed about criminal violence in the area. The association, according to Mr. Waldorf, “acts as a liaison between businesses and residents & city officials.” 

Although Waldorf does recognize the predominance in violent criminal activity to be in the South and West Side, he agrees that it is not totally absent on the North side. These crimes “don’t show up as frequently,” he said. “But when they do, you hear about them in the news more than you would (if it were on the South or West Sides).” 

Waldorf is referring to crimes such as theft, where carjacking seems to have become Old Town’s prime suspect, as well as burglary and the rare shooting/ stabbing, which are infinitely more rare and typically occur in the summer, when the Chicago crime rate is at an apex. 

Waldorf believes that Old Town doesn’t pose a looming threat for exposure to violent crimes. When asked if he agreed that Old Town was a safe and protected neighborhood relative to most, he said simply: “Yes, I would agree with that.” 

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Sam Waldorf. | Photo by Sam Waldorf via LinkedIn.

High crime neighborhoods will sometimes seek to lobby for legislation to make the neighborhood safer, which could involve higher security measures. Albeit it won’t solve the problem in its entirety, it could help. The Old Town Merchants and Residents Association don’t see Old Town as particularly high in risk, although having extra security doesn’t go completely away. 

“In regards to safety measures, we don’t lobby on behalf of any political legislation,” Waldorf reassuringly stated. “However, through our special service area, we do hire a private security firm to be on site three days a week during the day, and then Monday through Thursday at night, which acts as crowd management.” 

The Old Town Private Security Team patrols Old Town during Friday and Saturday evenings from mid-March until New Year’s Eve, on Thursdays from May 1 to Labor Day Weekend, and daytime security three days a week under the same time frame. 

The further extent of their private security can be found on the Old Town Merchants and Residents Association website, under the “Our Services” section. 

 

Matt DeMateo is the executive director of New Life Centers of Chicagoland. Their mission statement is: “New Life Centers connect youth and young adults with Christ and Community through mentoring, education, sports and street outreach.” DeMateo works with 27 churches across the city of Chicago with 20 years of experience in violence prevention. 

DeMateo spoke very highly of the Near North Side, he said: “there are only really pockets of violence in the Near North Side.” In comparison to the South Side in Demateo’s eyes the violence is “overlooked”.

The reasoning behind it for DeMateo is that there have been “100 shootings in an Austin neighborhood on the west side where in the 18th District there has been 2 in the past year.”

DeMateo has worked with individuals from the Near North Side. “I have personally mentored an individual who used to live in the Cabrini Green Row Houses,” DeMateo said. This location, according to DeMateo, used to be home to violence in the North Side of Chicago. 

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Matt DeMateo | Photo by the University of Chicago via Harris Public Policy.

DeMateo mentioned how there are different pockets of bad areas on the North Side as a whole. “There are only a few pockets of crime in locations like Rodgers Park and Albany Park where gun violence is present,” DeMateo mentioned.

Even though gun violence isn’t at an alarming rate, there is still a great amount of other violence that fills the area. “There are still instances of domestic violence and intimate partner violence in this area,” DeMateo concluded. 

“Violent crimes occur all over Chicago,” Farrell adds. “And it comes in all different sorts and locations.” So, what is the best way to prevent feeling vulnerable to such violent crimes? His answer is simple: be aware of your surroundings. 

“It doesn’t matter where you live, and it could be a utopia,” he said. “There’s always a victim of opportunity for the criminal to pounce on, because they see you as weak.” So don’t give them that opportunity.”

 

 

Google Trends: Investigations into MLB Manager Scandals, Trudeau’s Relevance with Ukrainian Flight Attack

MLB Scandals: Managers AJ Hinch and Alex Cora Accused and Punished for Stealing Signs

Major League Baseball (MLB) has been deeply investigating the cheating scandals involving the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox, particularly involving their managers: AJ Hinch and Alex Cora, respectively.

Initially, AJ Hinch was the topic of conversation among the media around the tail end of the initial scandal in January of 2020. But in an analysis of Google Search using Google Trends, we see that Cora grabs the center stage once Hinch had been suspended and fired:

Hinch

The interest that Google Search users showed towards Alex Cora after Hinch’s removal from his managerial position was substantially higher. This was likely due to a total and strict shift in focus, as one individual situation (in the case of the Astros and Hinch) turned into a potential scandal.

In the demographic below, it shows that the only states that did not shift their attention from Hinch to Cora were Texas and those states surrounding Texas (ie. Oklahoma and Louisiana):

Hinch 2

According to CBS Sports, the report indicates that Cora “arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed immediately outside of the Astros’ dugout.”

Ukrainian Flight: Included ‘Dozens of Canadian Passengers,’ Trudeau’s Remarks

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the public regarding the January 8 incident, in which a Boeing 737 Ukrainian flight carrying 176 passengers, including dozens of Canadian civilians, was shot down over Iran by the Iranian military.

Ukraine

According to a January 9 article by NPR, Trudeau speculated the incident to be ‘unintentional.’ At about this time, and shown in the Google Trends graphic above, the increase of Google searches for his name was exponential, so much so that the accident seemingly became only a minute detail of the entire situation. 

There is a minimal spike around January 14, after Trudeau had initially addressed the media. This spike was Trudeau’s comments about the flight. According to a January 14 article by the National Review, he named the U.S. as an ‘escalating factor’ and a contributor due to heightened tensions with Iran.

Quinn: Pensions Threatening MAP Grant Program

0711_illinois-govGov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo/Bob Smith)

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

“We do not want anyone denied that opportunity because of finances,” Quinn said. “We can’t afford to lose all the talent that exists, all the ability that exists for higher education to help our economy and to help all of us, because there are financial challenges that deny someone the opportunity to go to community college or a four-year university — public and private — in our state.”

Quinn was joined by several Illinois college students, including DePaul Student Government Association Vice President Casey Clemmons.

“Every year over 5,000 DePaul students receive MAP grants, and just like the students who have already spoken here today, all of these DePaul students rely on this funding in order to continue their college careers,” Clemmons said.

“Because the number of Illinois students eligible to receive MAP is currently increasing, existing funding does not allow the state to assist all the eligible students. As a result, without action by the Illinois state leadership, more DePaul students than ever will see their MAP funding disappear this year and more

DePaul students than ever will be forced to give up their education due to finances.”

More than 150,000 students nationally receive MAP grants each year.

Clemmons told the audience that on Tuesday, DePaul’s SGA unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Illinois general assembly and the governor to ensure the longevity of the MAP program.  He read the resolution aloud and presented a copy to Quinn.  

Ken Thomas, a University of Illinois Board of Trustees student member, MAP recipient and University of Illinois Chicago student, told how he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the MAP grant.

“My mom, when I was in high school, had to work two jobs just to keep food on the table,” Thomas said, “and if we didn’t have [the] MAP program like we do today, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today; graduating with a degree, hoping to be a productive member of society.” 

Having a productive and functioning society and economy is what Quinn says it’s all about.

“Jobs follow brainpower,” he said. “We want to make sure we have smart people in Illinois. Well skilled, well-educated students coming out of college with graduate degrees and diplomas so they can create jobs, create new businesses,” he said. “Our goal in Illinois is to have at least 60 percent of the adults in our state with a college degree or college associate degree or career certificate by the year 2025. In order to achieve we have to make sure we have a good scholarship program.”

Clemmons said that in order for that to happen, state legislatures need to reflect upon the question, “What must be done?” and do what’s required. 

 

UIC Campus Master Plan: An Analysis of UIC Campus Renovations

UIC Campus Master Plan: An Analysis of UIC Campus Renovations

 

By Dominic Smith and Sam Menegat

This is a projection of what the opening of UIC’s Mixed-Use Housing and expansion of the Events Field will look like post-completion. Rendering by UIC’s Office of Capital Planning and Project Management

“The 2018 Implementation Plan is a bold, visionary, and achievable

plan that supports the UIC mission of teaching, research, public

service, and healthcare. This plan will carry the university’s

positive momentum into and through the next decade with a solid

foundation for future growth.”

 

  • Michael D. Amiridis, Ph.D, Chancellor of UIC

 

In November 2018, the UIC Campus Master Plan was updated and set as to what the future of our campus will look like:

https://cppm.uic.edu/Content/master_plan/2018campus/UICMP2018%20v17.pdf

At the time, school officials said that changing the physical infrastructure is a lot more than just a change in aesthetics, but “a change in the dynamic and trajectory of academic and healthcare programs at UIC as well.”

However, an appealing look to campus does matter a good amount. UIC Chancellor Michael D. Amiridis  said when announcing the project in November: “For a number of years infrastructure here hasn’t been a priority — we made it a priority through this process because it’s clear that we cannot achieve our strategic goals as an institution if we do not have the right infrastructure.” These ideas are expressed in the following visual: 

With a very high want and need for infrastructure, a value is placed on how much these projects will cost. There are three phases to the UIC Campus Master Plan. The costs of the master plan are determined in the first phase, where the entire project, including funding required for completion, is conceptualized. The total was not specified, but the final cost runs to nearly $1 billion, and a project length span of 10 years. However this value is not set in stone. Amiridis mentioned in his press conference that this is excluding a potential second phase that lays out another “5 or 6” buildings, though it was too early to give an exact price tag because there are so many variables.

The goals are not entirely based on physical attractiveness of campus alone, but also on how efficiently these new buildings will be utilized for academics, the cultural connection to the rest of the city, and the social connection within campus itself.

Priority Focus Areas for the Implementation Plan. Mapping by UIC’s Office of Capital Planning and Project Management

Within the basis of the Master Plan, there are three major locations that are the center of the project: the west side of campus, or the healthcare campus, the east side of campus north of Taylor Street, and the east side of campus south of Taylor Street.

The overall developmental plan for the south side of east campus. Rendering by UIC’s Office of Capital Planning and Project Management

The south side of east campus houses the entire Athletic Department, as well as the majority of the Kinesiology Department. Listed at number 40 is the PEB Atrium Addition. This is the initial subject of this article. Though minute compared to some of the plans, the convenience that the addition will provide for the entire body of athletic facilities will be colossal.

The UIC Master Plan states: “To solve internal circulation and promote movement between the campus core and the athletic area to the south, the plan proposes a retrofit of the building’s central circulation spine and a new corridor addition along Roosevelt Road that appropriately links the western and eastern spaces of the building.”

 

 

 

 

 

This image was taken relatively even along the north side of the Physical Education Building (PEB), and on the south side of Roosevelt Road. This is the general vicinity of where the addition will allow a connection between east and west PEB. Photo by Sam Menegat

Students and student-athletes, staff, and faculty will appreciate this connection, as navigating the halls underneath PEB, which holds much access to the building, can be misleading at times.

Farrah Manthei, UIC Deputy Director of Athletics, said there had been discussions of a potential HVAC system being installed in or around the atrium to filter through PEB.

However, she mentioned that they “could run up to $500,000,” so this idea may at times seem far-fetched. There were also discussions about adding branding and new paint in the atrium of PEB.

https://infograph.venngage.com/pl/AgO8yoJBnE

“Branding would be ideal in PEB because the staircases, old piping, etc. are very dated,” Manthei said. “Adding branding, logos, and new paint would be beneficial for (PEB) to show pride and spirit, as well as a good, clean look for athletes as well as visitors.”  

Finally, there have been talks about a collaboration of space-sharing with the Kinesiology department in order to create a shared nutrition station for student athletes. Being that Kinesiology owns a good portion of the space in PEB, especially in the atrium upstairs, this would allow more distribution and wiggle room for opportunity for the benefit of the plan long-term.

A panoramic view of the soccer stadium from the viewpoint of the bleachers. This is the furthest south on the entire campus of UIC that the entire plan covers. Photo by Sam Menegat

Manthei said this will be one of the first projects completed in the Master Plan.

“There has been a schedule set to break ground in November of 2019,” she said, adding that it could be finished less than a year later in the Spring of 2020.

According the Master plan, the new facility will feature elevated seating, a new turf surface for the field, a press box, an entry plaza and spectator elevated concourses.”

This is the current view of the entry area to the soccer field, nestled right behind Curtis Granderson Stadium, home of UIC Baseball. It features a black, coated chain link fence, a storage unit, and no pathway leading to the bleacher area for spectators. Photo by Sam Menegat

 

The most aesthetic aspect of this project, other than adding a custom turf surface to the field itself, is creating an entry plaza on the southeast side of the stadium.

Shelby Egan, Assistant Director for Campus Planning, mentioned the importance of a desirable entryway: “It is envisioned that the soccer stadium will instill pride and spirit in the UIC community, create a welcoming and visible entrance to the soccer field, and help to attract students, athletes, coaches, and fans.”

This is the final rendering of what is yet to come for UIC soccer. Comparatively, this is a much more visual pleasing option, with an open entry plaza featuring video boards and an improved external patio. Rendering by UIC’s Office of Capital Planning and Project Management

Google MyMaps: Top 20 Cities to Cycle In!

If you haven’t used Google MyMaps, you’ve got to try it. I’d tell you the possibilities of projects you can create, but the list is endless, really. From creating a bucket list, to creating a map of possible travel barriers, creativity is the word that comes to mind.

That being said, the project shown here is listing the top 20 cities to find enjoyment in while cycling (or biking). For each of the 20 places listed, there is a brief description of why the city is ranked the way it is, along with videos of first-hand cycling experiences in said cities. Oh, and there’s also a beautiful picture to go show off the vibrancy of each city, too. Finally, there is a set of directions included between Paris, France, and Bordeaux, France, should you find interest in long-distance bike rides and the gorgeous French countryside. You can get a glimpse of the project below:

Dubai, the Desert Oasis: Progression of the City from 1984-2016

Since 1984, the UAE has prided their monstrous city with things like the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building on the planet, alongside a resort in the shape of a palm tree. You can see the dramatic progression of Dubai in the Google Timelapse graphic below.

https://earthengine.google.com/iframes/timelapse_player_embed.html#v=25.20484,55.27078,10,latLng&t=3.24&ps=100&bt=19840101&et=20161231&startDwell=0&endDwell=0

The city of Dubai has seemingly become the ultimate mirage: an exclusive paradise in the middle of the Arabian Desert.

Illinois: Retired Veteran Living Ranks 39th in the U.S.

According to WalletHub, retired U.S. military veterans in Illinois are receiving the 38th best overall treatment in the country, leaving Illinois in the 22nd percentile. This includes level of affordable housing, VA facilities, percentage of homeless veterans, among numerous others. Included below is a graphic, displaying the ranking of the state of Illinois in such a category.