BUCKTOWN — Brick by brick, Bucktown has been losing its brick streets.
A spokesman from the Chicago Department of Transportation confirmed Friday that "outdated bricks" on Bloomingdale Avenue will be replaced with asphalt next fall.
The news that brick will disappear from a one block stretch of Bloomingdale Avenue between Hermitage Avenue and Winchester Street comes in wake of the Bloomingdale Trail construction.
A $91 million effort that's creating a 2.7-mile elevated trail adjacent to the brick street to be paved over, the Bloomingdale project also includes converting the narrow Bloomingdale Avenue to a one-way westbound street in the portions of the trail that pass through Bucktown.
In a statement Friday, CDOT spokesman Bill McCaffrey said the improvements scheduled to be made to Bloomingdale Avenue "includes removing the outdated brick pavers between Wood Street and Hermitage Avenue and laying asphalt to create a more comfortable ride for all roadway users, improve drainage and allow for easier maintenance."
Near the end of a community meeting Wednesday, Bucktown resident Sandy Johnson called the bricks a "last vestige of charm."
"Leave hands off bricks. Why can't we have some charm left in Bucktown?" Johnson said.
Previously, Paul Sajovec, a spokesman for Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), said he's "sympathetic to the idea that there's a value in having brick streets."
Sajovec said that there was a plan in 2010 to re-construct an all-brick street on Lister Avenue on the northern edge of Bucktown.
But Sajovec said "it was two and a half times more expensive" to restore the brick on Lister Street rather than use asphalt.
On Thursday, while walking back from afternoon mass at St. Mary of the Angels Church at 1850 N. Hermitage Ave., which abuts the brick street, Tom Flanagan said he "enjoys the bricks" but "suspects it's more practical" to have asphalt streets.
Mary Drogus, 65, was walking her daughter's dog, Scooter on the brick street.
"I do love the brick," Drogus said, almost wistfully, as Scooter lapped up rainwater with his tongue from a puddle that had formed where the bricks had buckled.
Drogus lives in the suburbs but grew up in the city and visits Bucktown frequently, she said.
"Bricks are nice if they're kept up," she said, but added that the bricks she was standing on were, "not safe and bad for walking on."
In May, after crews paved over a brick street on Concord Place just west of Damen Avenue, several residents expressed sadness over the loss of the brick.
"We've been a city since 1871 and are losing our historic identity little by little," lamented Steve Jensen, president of the Bucktown Community Organization.