Fourth of July Weekend has just passed, and the big local story is the amount of gun violence that occurred over the weekend, with 13 killed and 58 wounded. There were 21 shootings on Sunday alone. Or at least as far as we know — Chicago police have a hard time with math. Or maybe vocabulary, since it’s not clear that they understand “murder” to mean an act which includes beatings, burnings, or suffocation. But why be negative? Chicago has only had 1,217 shootings this year (as of this writing), compared to 2,185 during this period last year. That’s great news – especially for the 968 people who would also have been shot if the rate stayed steady!
But the really good news is what every Chicagoan knows: if you live on the north side or are visiting as a tourist, all the parts of Chicago you’re likely to see are totally safe. Take a look at this map of where the shootings were over the 4th of July weekend:
This correlates with the general pattern of shootings in Chicago over the last few years:
During the Fourth of July weekend, If you were north of Madison Avenue and east of Western, there were only three shootings. Just three! And if you click on that first map further, you’ll find that all three people were shot while sitting in their cars very late at night. Which leads me to a big safety tip: if you’re sitting in your car very late at night and someone demands to know your gang affiliation, ask them what gang they’re in then declare that very gang to be your favorite gang ever. Gang members aren’t very smart (they also have no style), and really just want affirmation that they’ve made a good choice. But like I said, you’re not going to see any shootings. I know this because a clever guy used data from Flickr to generate this map, where red indicates areas heavily photographed – and therefore visited by – tourists:
This shows another thing that Chicagoans know: tourists really like the Magnificent Mile, where they can photograph such cultural attractions as American Girl Place and the Apple Store that are TOTALLY different than the American Girl Places and Apple Stores in whatever God forsaken town they’re visiting from. Well, different in that their sales tax isn’t pushing 10%. Tourists also go to Navy Pier, the one place in Chicago where it is certain that you will not get shot AND not have to worry about seeing an actual Chicagoan. Navy Pier: it’s everything you love about a cruise ship – claustrophobic, noisy, expensive, and filled with people in ugly clothes – but attached to land!
I was thinking about the maps above, when I heard about a report on arts funding on Chicago Public Radio yesterday. Here’s a map of arts programs in Chicago:
How is it that there’s a lack of arts programs in the same neighborhoods where there’s a prevalence of gun violence? Are artists just chicken? Or does everyone get itchy trigger fingers when they can’t make murals or macrame? But wait! Where were the 53 Chicago school closings last year? Oh, yeah. Here:
Again, if you stay north of Madison and east of Western, you only saw 7 of the 53 schools that Rahm closed. Putting this all together really shows off Rahm’s genius: Chicago has been relatively free of school shootings because the Mayor closed schools in places where you’re likely to get shot. Thanks, Mayor Rahm! It was really smart to force all those Black and Latino kids to switch schools. Blacks and Latinos are much more likely to be victims of shootings, so it’s important to keep them moving around. That’s just smart thinking. I have no idea why only 8% of Blacks and 2% of Latinos say they’d vote for you again. Ingrates.
While you have a much better chance of getting shot on the south or west sides, you have a much worse chance of getting a good cup of coffee. At least according to this map, developed by a coffee fan, who could only find a half dozen decent coffee places on the entirety red, orange and green “L” lines south of the Loop:
I know when I need my morning cuppa and I can’t get my Intellgentsia dark roast with just a skooch of milk, I get all shooty. Who wouldn’t? Certainly not the Gangster Disciples, who control most of the south side and are known to love only to two things: coffee and homicide. And they’re all out of coffee. Worse, there’s no place to eat! That’s right. Chicago is a famous restaurant town, but on the entire south side of Chicago, there’s only two places worth eating at, according to Eater.com: one in Bridgeport and one near Calumet Park (which I’ve actually been to! Hipster cred!) Things are only slightly better on the west side: just 6 restaurants west of Western are worth visiting. You can imagine how this makes the Vice Lords feel. Who wants to lord over a place with nowhere to eat that still somehow features the most overweight people in Chicago?
All the more reason you should tell them they’re your favorite when they confront you in your car at 3 am. Poor guys. But the lack of good coffee and complete absence of restaurants just reinforces what I said at the beginning. You’re not going to going anywhere near where the shootings are, so who cares?
If you want a much more serious look at the homicide rate in Chicago, I recommend this fascinating post. I have no connection to the author.