Thank you for voting

As a neighbor of mine used to say, I saved the country this morning. My polling place is in a hall at Kenwood United Church of Christ, at 46th and Greenwood. Though it was busy when I went — most of the voting booths were in use — there were only three people in line ahead of me, so the saving went quickly.

Obama’s house is just five blocks south of the church, so in this very un-November weather, I walked there after voting. Along several blocks of Greenwood, little American flags planted every few feet along the parkway flapped in the breeze; one house hung an enormous flag on its front wall. Many lawns sported Obama-Biden placards.

Before the Democratic convention you could walk or ride right past Obama’s house. Not any more. Concrete barriers at either end of the block are manned by police and Secret Service, traffic on the block is one-way and restricted to residents. Your best view of the house is from the south side of Hyde Park Boulevard, looking north. You also get a good view of the synagogue across the street from Obama, whose members probably have mixed feelings about the security when they attend services.

The synagogue, KAM Isaiah Israel Temple, is a city landmark, so it’s possible not all the people walking by with cameras are trying for a shot of Obama’s house.

Interestingly, you can look at Google satellite photos of Obama’s house, but most of Kenwood is unavailable on Google Street View, so you can’t “walk” up the street and see the place. Or anything else for blocks around. I can look at my front door, but not his. In any case, both papers have published photos of the place, so if you really want to see it, you can.

Dropped in another neighborhood, his house could look like a mansion. Here, it’s just another big old house, but others are bigger and older. You can be a neighbor if you want: Koenig and Strey lists the Georgian-style house at 4819 S. Greenwood for $2,575,000, which is pricy, but it boasts seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, a four-car garage and tennis courts on a giant lot.

Meanwhile, a check of the local paper, the weekly Hyde Park Herald, shows 67 foreclosure sale listings. Some are condos, most are actually outside the Hyde Park and Kenwood neighborhoods. I’ve seen a couple of houses on my street go into foreclosure, including one single-family house that listed for just $97,000. “That’s like a winning Lotto ticket,” one neighbor said during a recent block party. The place sold fast and is being rehabbed.

The dividing line between Obama’s neighborhood and mine is 47th Street, and you can feel the difference as you cross from one to the other. Kenwood could be mistaken for parts of Evanston, Wilmette, Hinsdale; North Kenwood bears the scars of the city. But that dividing line is blurring. On the walk from the polling place to Obama’s house, I walked by the Black Pearl art center on 47th Street, the future site of the Muntu Dance Troupe (if construction ever resumes) and I picked up lunch at a new gourmet food store, Zaleski and Horvath, that opened recently on 47th Street.

Can the neighborhoods support them? We’ll see, but I’m hopeful. And I can’t wait to see the smiles around here tomorrow. I’m certainly wearing one.

2 Responses to “Thank you for voting”

  1. Tony Orlando says:

    I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work 🙂

  2. Thanks for post. Nice to see such good ideas.

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