Boyer posse sees South Side on wheels

By Adrian Florido

[img id=”80099″ align=”alignleft”] Students and Hyde Park residents willing to pull themselves away from the Bears game joined Dean of the College John Boyer for his annual bicycle tour of South Chicago neighborhoods and landmarks on Sunday.

The roughly 18-mile roundtrip bicycle tour from Bartlett Quad toward downtown and back took riders to a range of institutions that have shaped the development of both the city and the University.

Also leading the tour and providing commentary at the various stops were Terry Clark, professor of sociology in the College, and Hank Webber, vice president for Community and Government Affairs.

Aside from providing students and community members with an alternative approach to transportation, the bike tour focused on South Side development and re-development and the issues surrounding economic revival and gentrification.

Boyer pointed to the rise of high-end condominiums on Drexel Avenue as an illustration of the southward economic expansion that is affecting a lower-income population.

Boyer, Clark and Webber also spoke about the path that development on the South Side should take to ensure an economically viable and culturally appealing neighborhood.

Webber emphasized the importance of art, culture, and education. He cited the North Side’s Old Town School of Folk Music as a cultural institution that has acted as a vibrant hub for its neighborhood.

All three tour leaders noted the emergence of similar attempts in neighborhoods like Bronzeville, where the tour route passed bookstores, coffee shops, and dance studios.

At the Second Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue riders were treated to a tour of the church’s interior, which is ornately adorned and features Tiffany-stained glass windows. The church, once a congregation for Chicago’s elite, is now struggling to maintain operating costs.

Several of the featured landmarks, including the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Operation PUSH headquarters, and the Harold Washington Cultural Center also illustrated the history of race-relations efforts on the South Side.

Other stops included the Stephen Douglas Tomb and Memorial, Jane Addams’ Hull House, and the Illinois Institute of Technology.