Back in the Neighborhood

By Jacqueline Robertson

Being back in Beverly/Morgan Park after graduating from college is like realizing you needed a new prescription for glasses. You don’t notice the details that surround you, but you know that you have friends and family, and familiar businesses all around.

When you get that new prescription, everything is so much clearer! You can see the little things: the people who were always there, those who just moved in, and the importance of community.

I used to walk around the neighborhood all the time, not caring to glance at my surroundings. But being back after four years at Northern Illinois University — where everything is corn and cold — I can appreciate the things I didn’t think about before. Living in the small town of Dekalb, I noticed how much it was like Beverly/Morgan Park — there is a love and care for local businesses, people know each other and are always friendly.

Though there is an increase in neighboring big businesses, this does not stop many neighbors from going to the local businesses. For my first Halloween back in Chicago since college, I decided to walk around the neighborhood with the mission of choosing the perfect pumpkin for Halloween festivities. I decided to make my way towards County Fair, where I found the perfect specimen for my carving masterpiece! I used to visit this grocery store with my grandmother, but this time I looked at it through the eyes of someone from the neighborhood, not just someone running another errand.

The growing art community is amazing too. I was a frequent visitor to the Beverly Arts Center as a child, and love seeing how vast and popular events are now. Going to the art galleries and seeing the shows at the BAC gives me a sense of nostalgia and happiness that the art community is held in high esteem. Also, the Beverly Art Walk, organized by the Beverly Area Art Alliance, is astonishing and gratifying. As an artist, it’s great seeing area illustrators or sculptors get recognition and a chance to share their work with others.

My friends from outside the neighborhood love wandering around Beverly/Morgan Park with me and seeing what it has to offer. There are little free libraries in front of different buildings, allowing people to give or take various novels, sharing personal favorites and expanding the sense of community. Just walking around the neighborhood, one can’t help but check in on these little dwellings, exploring what new goods and adventures they have to offer. In the past, I wandered the neighborhood every now and then, just to get to a destination, earplugs in. Now I wander and take in the nature of my community. I love the houses here, especially in the fall, when the warm colors of the season blend with the unique architecture.

Beverly/Morgan Park is a place for those young and old; a welcoming area of Chicago for those who are new to the big city, and those – like me — who return after years of living elsewhere. There is always a home here, and a bond that brings people together.

Beverly/Morgan Park has grown and changed for me; these new hypothetical glasses have cleared my vision and allowed me to see my neighborhood with a fresher perspective, and I’m excited to see more.