ENGLEWOOD — Rebranding Englewood begins with welcoming people into the community.
That’s what community leaders and aldermen said Friday at the unveiling of a large sign welcoming visitors to Englewood — the first such sign in the neighborhood, they said.
The sign is now at the northwest corner of Yale Avenue and 63rd Street. It features images of the CTA "L" line that runs through the neighborhood, Kennedy-King College and St. Bernard Hospital, among other pictures.
The sign’s graphics were created by Leonard “GLC” Harris, two-time Grammy-Award winning artist/writer, who is a Chicago native and community leader.
Alds. Toni Foulkes (16th), Willie Cochran (20th) and Raymond Lopez (15th) were present to celebrate with the community.
“Englewood is rising,” Cochran said. “We have a new story to tell about Englewood. We have demonstrated what impact the Englewood Quality of Life Plan can have on the community.”
Community members have also started a campaign with the hashtag #EnglewoodRising, which includes billboards, to show the faces behind the community.
Lopez said that the unveiling Friday is more than just one sign.
“Englewood is telling its own narrative, a positive one,” said Lopez. “[Today] is a rebirth of a community.”
Foulkes, who first moved to the community at age 7, said she remembered Englewood as a “wonderful place” with no vacant lots and lots of shopping. She has one purpose she said.
“I want to bring the community back to how it used to be,” Foulkes said. “There was a whole lot of love here. We are going to do some wonderful things in Englewood.”
The “Welcome to Englewood” sign was funded through a $6,000 grant from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago, which covered the cost of the sign, $3,100, a reception, artists fees and beautifying the lot. The Greater Englewood Development Corporation has been working with Teamwork Englewood since last spring on the project.
Teamwork Englewood has been leading The Englewood Quality of Life Plan II. The landmark sign has been identified as an early action project for both the Housing and Public Space Task Force and the Jobs and Economic Development Task Force.
Task force members identified the sign as way to cast the neighborhood in a more positive light. The goal is to have community organizations sponsor more signs throughout Englewood.
Englewood resident Rashanah Baldwin worked closely with other organizations on the project, engaging with elected officials and residents. She said it took several months for this to come into fruition.
Rashanah Baldwin helped bring Englewood's first documented welcome sign to the community. [DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson]
“It feels amazing,” she said. “I’m glad the residents were supportive. It’s historical and this is something the Englewood community can be really proud of and can call our own.”
“We are ecstatic that we are opening up the gateway to better things,” said Jennipher Adkins, Chief Operating Officer of Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation.
Howard Bailey, who owned Dream Cafe in Englewood, said he’s glad to see the welcome sign and would like to see more because it’s a part of the community’s rebranding.
“It’s good to see the community embraced as a whole,” Bailey said. “It’s time for a change.”