Unique Streets: 7
Miles Walked: 5
Street Names are listed at the bottom.
I started this walk in a certain section of Spring Hill-City View that has a quaint Bavarian village quality to it. The houses aren’t merely close together, they actually touch. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if they are pushing against each other or holding their collective heft upright. Most of them boast intricate scroll work on the dormers and corbels or at least they used to. Now, most are covered in siding and many more are gone altogether.
Their existence perched high on this hill in this neighborhood is mutable. With little to no upkeep, they will soon fall down the hillsides along with the roads, memories, infrastructure, keepsakes, garbage, and civility.
Gershon Street is a perfect example of what is to come if these homes aren’t preserved. Gershon is closed to vehicular traffic because of large landslides occurring on the downward sloping side.
Large graffiti-covered cement barriers block the entrance but this area is a destination for some regardless. Directly on the other side of these barriers and on the continuously slipping hillside there is a dumping ground rivaled by few others I’ve seen in the city. Refrigerators, shingles, tires, tiles, aluminum cans, and countless televisions have formed a new type of ground cover in these slanted woods. The garbage here is left by a special kind of miscreant. Too lazy to hide it, they place it just on the other side of the barrier or just over the guardrail.
There are a few houses on Gershon and I wonder if they are still inhabited.
At first glance, the answer seems to be definitely not, but then I spy an electric meter running and notice fresh tire tracks near the mailbox. Someone still gets mail delivered here.
I continue up the huge hill until I get to the entrance of Northview Heights. I stand on the corner of Essen and Penfort pretending to think about which way to go while I hype myself up to inside. I look at my watch and act like I just realized I don’t have time to go stright and I make a right into the neighborhood. Nonchalantly, I walk past the security guard convincing my self that if I act like I belong, he won’t ask me why I’m here. If he does ask me, can I tell the truth? Is wayfaring one of the valid reasons to visit these streets? This community is gated and IDs of car passengers are examined before they can be let through. He nods at me and I keep going.
I take Penfort to Chicago and make a left. I’d walked on Chicago in November with my friend Rachel and mistakenly, we turned around on it too soon.
We saw a boring asphalt patch in the woods and so we gave up. If we’d kept going, we would have found a mini neighborhood of several houses in this strange part of the Northside.
In one yard, half a dozen vehicles surrounded a boat. Across the street, there seemed to be collections of things scattered all over the yard. I noticed a kitchen sink under a bathroom vanity that was hung from an oak tree. In the yard of the next house I found a bright teal male mannequin torso standing guard over the low ground cover.
A man smoking a cigarette at the end of the driveway told me an artist lives there. I told him I could tell. I then asked him if he knew if there was a way off this street at the end. He said he didn’t think there was but I could try. I headed down the dead end to find out for myself.
It was dead as a doornail.
I checked the woods just to be sure there wasn’t a way down to East Street. I found old infrastructure and a flat surface through the trees that at some point could have been a road.
I also found some discarded bicycles and decided I didn’t want to die in the woods like the owners of these probably did.
So, I hiked back up the hill, deep in my thoughts about all people and their strange varied lives. How many people walked on this very street and had internal existential conversations? Just me? Couldn’t be. My own mortality was called into question when a Doberman Pinscher came barking out of a tidy yard. A distant male voice yelled: “Abby!” I turned to face the large dog, put my hand up, and looked her right in the eyes. “STOP! YOU SIT!” She did not sit but she halted right in front of me, still barking. Her owner came running around the corner and called her again. She went to him reluctantly barking at me the whole time. She didn’t stop until I was off her street. I wonder if Abby stays up at night wondering how I got down her dead end street. When she twitches while sleeping, her owners ascribe it to a dream bunny. No, the thing that keeps her up at night is the terrifying thought that someone could sneak up on her house like that.
I took Hazlett down to East and walked the long length that parallels 279.
Ruins on the side of the road point to a time when East was a typical Northside street instead of a glorified interstate onramp.
Before the six lane highway came to be in the 1970s, there used to be houses, churches, and businesses here. One large cathedral remains in the East Street Valley and I made use of its grounds to gain elevation. St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church, is now a part of the regional Christ Our Savior Parish and has weekly masses on Sunday mornings.
I walked between the church building and the old playground/athletic fields that children attending the attached school used. It brought back memories of my own afternoon recesses at the school I attended.
The grounds were deserted and my imagination brought forth images of an escaping princess in these stone hallways.
So deep in thought I almost bumped into a large projection TV someone had dumped on this consecrated ground.
I climbed Royal Street and tried to focus on the steep streets instead of threatening open doorways. The musty smell that emanated from the darkness managed to distract me from the climb for a moment.
A man startled me back to reality by telling me that I should be going down, not up. It’s much easier that way. I agreed but stated I had to get to my car somehow. Finally I found myself on top of the hill and a mere block from my car. I decided to take the scenic route via Winner Way. It did not disappoint.
One found shell casing later and I was ready for a rest.
Check out all of the pictures I took on IMGUR:
Street Names (italicized have been walked another day): South Side Avenue, Bessie Avenue, Mina Street, Luella Street, Heim Street, Gershon Street, Sunset Avenue, Essen Street, Gilchrist Street, Penfort Street, Mount Pleasant Road, Chicago Street, Lucy Street, Aner Street, Hazlett Street, Vantassel Street, Boyer Street, East Street, Creek Street, Husk Street, Milroy Street, Royal Street, Nettie Street, Shank Street, Shine Way, Landgraf Avenue.