[Abandoned Buildings in Uptown]

This tape documents abandoned buildings in Chicago's Uptown and Edgewater neighborhoods and discusses the dangers associated with them. Roberta Westmore of One Land Use Action, a subsidiary of the Organization of the Northeast, leads the camera through the various violations at several buildings. This is followed by raw footage of a city hearing on mortgage redlining by local banks in Uptown, and then footage of a tenants meeting.

00:00Copy video clip URL This tape begins with static.

00:21Copy video clip URL Roberta Westmore, a member of the housing committee of the One Land Use Action, a subsidiary of the Organization of the Northeast, explains what the program will entail. “This committee has been formed to investigate the various ways that we can help to improve the housing situation in the Uptown/Edgewater community.” She talks about the dangers of abandoned buildings in the area, including a building located at 4652 N. Malden.

01:36Copy video clip URL The front entrance of the building is ragged and torn. Broken glass and pieces of scrap wood are sprawled through the entryway. Westmore comments on the dangerous aspects of the building and interviews a group of neighborhood children about the building. The children tell Westmore about the building’s status as a playground for children, and confirm that they have never seen a guard on duty (a requirement for such dangerous buildings in Chicago). Westmore eventually shows us a broken window on the ground floor level. She points out that children and others have easy access to the building through this window. The camera operator gets a shot of what lies inside: piles of broken wood, beer cans, and glass densely scattered on the floor. Westmore then reveals a playground right next to the building. Children hang out in the open windows of the abandoned building.

03:57Copy video clip URL In the back of the building lies a pile of burned wood. The back porch of the three unit building had burnt down. As Westmore speaks, a child wanders through the rubble.

04:46Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of 4907-09 N. Winthrop. “The condition of this building is appalling,” says Westmore, yet reinforces that its condition is typical all of the buildings shown in the video. She points out the caved in porch roof in the back of the building. She interviews a teenager who had previously explored the building about why he felt compelled to enter it, and about what dangers lie inside. Westmore then points out the dangling porches and the back yard, full of burnt debris. She then states that there has been no guard on duty at night.

07:21Copy video clip URL At 4226 N. Kenmore, Westmore points out the terrible boarding job on the building. The burned out building looks very similar to the previous structures. Westmore goes on to talk about the 1971 city ordinance which requires night watchmen to remain at abandoned buildings overnight. “The city council has passed the ordinance. Now when is it going to be enforced?”

08:55Copy video clip URL Cut to raw footage from a city hearing on accusations of mortgage redlining (the practice of discriminating against certain groups) in the Uptown/Edgewater neighborhoods. An Uptown National Bank official is questioned by the panel. They ask the man about a legislative amendment which would require banks who want to be the depository of state funds to sign a pledge or make a commitment in some form similar to the Chicago city ordinance. The panel eventually calls Carl Kalender and Aetna State Bank Vice President August Girardi. The two answer questions about the issue. This lasts for a large portion of the tape.

17:00Copy video clip URL Jim Cain, President of Uptown Federal Savings Chicago, answers questions about an accusation that Uptown Federal Savings has been redlining. Cain reads aloud a statement. The panel asks Cain numerous questions about loan figures. This lasts for several minutes.

30:54Copy video clip URL Cut to a meeting with tenants who want to organize opposition to poor housing conditions. They appear to meeting with a lawyer. The residents describe the poor living conditions they face in their two building compound totaling 100 units. A man states that he and his fellow residents have no locks in the building. They talk about the poor security and building upkeep, and the level of tenant support for legal action.

33:05Copy video clip URL Tape ends.

 

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