There’s a north-south rivalry in this region and I think the northerners are winning. We have the wildly popular Cubs vs. the acquired taste White Sox; posh northern suburbs vs. hardscrabble south suburbs and glittering north shore vs. neglected south shore. The same inequity exists in Forest Park.
Ever since the Eisenhower Expressway sliced through the center of our village, our town has been a house divided. When you cross south over the expressway, you experience a slight drop-off in quality of life. But we’re still proud to be “southies.”
The majority of good restaurants may be in the north but have you tried the Golden Steer lately? There are a few pizza joints to the north but they don’t compare with McGaffer Joe’s pizza. If you’re planning to cook, you’ll definitely have to come south for groceries, now that Sav-Er closed on Madison Street.
The north side has most of the taverns but do any of them have a canoe on the wall like Carole’s?
The north side has Garfield and Grant-White schools, but once they reach sixth grade, the kids have to cross the bridge to middle school. They also have to come here if they want to cool off in the pool or play sports.
Madison Street may be a merchandising success, but if you need musical instruments, sheet music or ice sculptures, you’ll have to shop on Roosevelt Road.
The north side has the Green Line, an elevated train with striking views of the city. We have the Blue Line that runs down the middle of a giant ditch. Want to trade?
In the south we have roving bands of “yutes” clogging our streets and hanging on corners. I don’t see this problem in the north. It’s true that northerners have to put up with a different kind of rowdiness perpetrated by people that are presumably over 21. I notice, though, that the police station is north, while we can’t even get a substation for the south.
The post office is also north. What did we get: The Bulk Mail Center churning out junk mail. Trucks stuffed with third-class mail plague our streets and rarely venture north of the expressway.
The south does lead the north in at least one category: dead people. If you want to take a quiet stroll among headstones, you’re better off coming south.
Forest Park has to address this geographic imbalance. We can’t put our resources into the north and treat the south like a bald-headed stepchild. We need improvements and development just like our northern neighbors.
There’s also a subsection of Forest Park south of Roosevelt that could use some civic attention. I haven’t explored “Forest Park Heights” yet to find out their needs. Who has the patience to wait for that light at Circle and Roosevelt?