North/Damen/Milwaukee 1996


©2013 Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

So at this point, which was the summer of 1996, Wicker Park had become the focal point of Chicago’s music and art scene. The landscape was rapidly changing since I began photographing there a few years before. Gentrification had started to reach south on Milwaukee toward Division and north toward Armitage; to the west toward Western and the east toward Ashland as well. More new storefronts and Lofts began replacing the old and I began noticing the influx of newer people coming to the area. It would be a few years before I started to see baby strollers though.

Public Phone, Clybourn and Sheffield 1995


©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

Remember when there were plenty of these? I remember that and how this area looked as it was slowly building up to what it is today. Long ago, this area was loaded with factories and warehouses that slowly gave way to upscale businesses and sport bars. It still had some of it’s gritty charm when I took this. It would not be very long before the rest of the gentrified Lincoln Park would overtake it.

Gentrification– Wicker Park, 1994


©2013. Mike Priorie. All Rights Reserved.

To some, gentrification meant purging the past and allowing a brighter future. To others, it meant higher rents and long time residents finding new places to live. Wicker Park first drew in artists looking for work/live spaces for cheap. With that, they brought stability and hope to an area once known for hypodermic needles on the sidewalks and prostitutes on the street corners. Unfortunately, these artists found themselves ousted by the Yuppies who came to the Around The Coyote festival every year. The large poster to the left of the frame says it all.

As a side note, that wall is now an Italian restaurant and the Firehouse where that meeting was held is now a Potbelly’s sandwich shop. “Give a shit”.

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