CHICAGO — Your holiday weekend to-do list includes, barbecue some meats, catch some sun at the beach, and of course, catch up on news, right? Either way, we've got a roundup of neighborhood stories from the week.
• This week's big news came from the CTA, which announced a plan to completely rebuild the Red and Purple line tracks in Edgewater and Uptown, in addition to building a Brown line "flyover" bypass track at the Belmont stop.
CTA says the projects will aim to ease congestion, speed up service and improve the CTA experience (beautifying stations, making them accessible) for riders on the North Side.
But those improvements won't come without significant costs. CTA estimates the project will take about 3.5 years and cost $1.33 billion, during which some stations will be closed and riders will need to take shuttle buses. The agency will have to use eminent domain to demolish or take control of some neighboring properties.
• Speaking of transportation woes, local artist Jim Bachor may be the only Chicagoan who was disappointed there were not many potholes this year.
"It's been a poor pothole season," he told DNAinfo Chicago, which was a bummer because Bachor has been raising money for his third year of filling in potholes with colorful mosaics.
The "Treats in the Street" series features whimsical popsicles, soft-serve ice cream cones and ice cream sandwiches to try to distract you from the ugly and dangerous plight of potholes in the city.
• In other news: Chicago is growing! But not by much.
The U.S. Census Bureau released its latest population number this week, showing that Chicago grew by just 82 people — barely a blip in a city of 2.7 million. The growth rate was the lowest of the 10 largest cities in the country.
• There's one population in Chicago that you can expect to grow rapidly in upcoming months: the tourist population. You can see these specimens shopping the Magnificent Mile, frolicking at Navy Pier and possibly taking in one of the more memorable public art institutions in this fine city, Crown Fountain — otherwise known as those giant face fountains in Millennium Park.
This week in "Chicago, Reviewed," we looked at Yelp reviews for what is alternately described as "mind easing" and "creepy." Overall, Crown Fountain scored 4.5 out of 5 stars — not a bad average — but it's clear some people were baffled by it.
• Whether you're enjoying the face fountains or a Chicago beach this weekend, one city water feature that won't be available is Humboldt Park Beach. The Park District has decided not to open the beach this year, citing the expensive price tag and ecological concerns.
But Humboldt Park residents are fighting back, pointing out that the city's only inland beach was created, in part, to ease community tensions and to deliver much-needed relief from heat in a historically impoverished area.
We looked at the 1970s fight to create Humboldt Beach, and what that may mean for its future.
• Latino firefighters told DNAinfo Chicago this week that they were forced to take race-based promotions.
The firefighters, who wished to remain anonymous, said that department brass bullied them into accepting promotions ahead of some of their firehouse brothers who scored higher on a test. After turning down the promotions twice, they said, Cmdr. Monica Porter "made it clear that if they turned it down again there wouldn't be a next time," Mark Konkol wrote in a column Friday.
The firefighters' union supports them, saying that removing minorities from the promotion lists goes against common sense in a department struggling to increase diversity in its leadership ranks.
• Spoken word artist Harold Green delivered a powerful, poignant performance at the City of Chicago inauguration ceremony this week.
Green, an Englewood native and father to a 6-year-old and 7-month old, said he first started writing poems one Christmas when he didn't have money to buy gifts for his family.
He was 18 years old then, and continued on to write poems at church and when he went to Grambling State University. Green told DNAinfo Chicago about his journey from Englewood, to performing for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and being selected for the inauguration.
• The connections made by another father, Brian Volkman, during his life are serving his family well after his death. Volkman's friends are hosting a benefit for his family after the 40-year-old died from lung cancer last year.
"His friendships with people only grew. He didn't leave people behind," said Steve Urbon, long-time friend of the Beverly native.
Volkman's closest friends are planning the benefit to raise money to help pay medical bills and fund the future education of his daughters.
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