What is a “Place of Urban Heritage”
Whether it’s a Chinatown, Little Italy, Barrio, or “Gayborhood,” cities big and small have at least one – but often several – geographically defined ethnic or cultural enclaves with a pronounced concentration of a particular minority. These places are also engines of culture, economy, and social capital, boosting not just their vicinity but the host city as a whole by driving people to them. Years of activism, boosterism, and overcoming hostile bureaucracies gave rise to places of multi-layered communal sentiment, imbued with meaning, and a celebration of cities’ pluralistic potential.
Six miles north of Chicago’s Loop and two blocks west of Lake Michigan is a distinct commercial and cultural district adjacent to the Argyle El station. Set within Chicago’s north-side Uptown community area, this district loosely forms a T-shape and includes the three blocks of Argyle between Broadway and Sheridan Avenues and extends for several blocks along Broadway. Despite its small size, this is a place packed with history and culture and the residential blocks surrounding the commercial core are some of the most diverse in the city, reflecting several recent waves of immigration.
Within this decade and beyond, Asia on Argyle will remain a lively, safe, clean, and vibrant multi-national community – empowered to serve as a hub of culture along Chicago’s north lakefront.
• Community: Reinforce Argyle’s charm and sense of place
• Economy: Recognize the Argyle district’s potential as a business incubator
• Culture: Celebrate local traditions, arts, and events
• Tourism: Draw visitors while avoiding commodifying the community
Protecting “Asia on Argyle”
While significant accomplishments have been made in realizing goals to grow and strengthen the Argyle district, much work remains and today the community faces new threats that could undermine this recent progress. Changing demographics and the area’s decline in non-white residents presents a challenge in maintaining the district as the cultural destination that it has only recently become.
Uptown United is already committed to numerous initiatives in the Argyle area and it this document realizes that the agency may be limited in its capacity to take on new work. However, Uptown United is a robust agency with a proven track record of successfully launching and implementing numerous projects and these included recommendations are designed with feasibility in mind.