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I live on the northern border of Chicago, specifically just north of Howard street and the commercial district around the northernmost red line stop. My question is about how and why pockets of economic depression, crime, and urban decay seem to co-exist right next to otherwise flourishing neighborhoods--what are the invisible forces that make one neighborhood desirable while half a mile away you don't want to walk alone at night? This question is partly driven by the fact that my partner and I are looking to buy a modest home in the Rogers Park/ Evanston corridor while prices and mortgage rates are tantalizingly low. I'm frustrated by the fact that there are a number of very cute, cozy, affordable homes in residential areas near the Howard red line stop, and yet we are more than hesitant because the area has a seedy reputation. The state of this area is a bit inexplicable because it is not as if it is an urban desert, devoid of infrastructure or services. There is a nice el stop, plenty of viable commercial space, historic architecture and a number of good looking new condo buildings, a police station, and it is close to the lakefront. The area seems to have all the ingredients to be a vibrant and thriving community, but shootings and muggings are commonplace, and the business leave a lot to be desired. What are the forces that affect the ebb and flow of a neighborhood's character, and how can neighborhoods so close in geography (Evanston is on the other side of the street) be so different?

Asked by Anonymous

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