Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"'It's going to feel like up north now.'"

These are words I never thought I'd read: "University of Chicago bought the former Borders bookstore at 1539 E. 53rd St. in Hyde Park. Trendy clothing chain Akira will set up shop in the space this fall." Consider my mind blown: I think it means that these shoes will soon be available for purchase in Hyde Park, Chicago. Yes, the neighborhood around the University of Chicago. I have just learned (via) that Hyde Park - yes, that Hyde Park - is undergoing some kind of transformation, and is on the verge of becoming... pleasant. Yes, gentrification, yes, how tragic for the U of C brand, that the neighborhood will now god forbid include options beyond bookstores and Walgreens. (I now live somewhere where the only store worth going to is a bookstore, but for quite the opposite reason. There is a Kate Spade, a Lilly Pulitzer, a lacrosse-gear shop...) I mean, OMG shoes! Shiny, space-age shoes! You could go admire them on a study break (even if it's too cold and icy to wear them)! And with this, expect applications for Paris study abroad to drop exponentially.


Jacob T. Levy said...

The Borders was supposed to anchor a new wave of commercial development, too. Don't be too credulous until things a) are built, b) open, and c) stay open for a year...

Flavia said...

Yes, people love to complain about the J. Crew and the Urban Outfitters and the weird twee jewelry and shoe stores that have popped up together on a street near my alma mater. But when I was a grad student I was thrilled that there were finally stores selling clothes that did not bear the college logo (which was not the case when I was an undergrad, which is why almost everything I owned came from the college bookstore and I wound up with logo-ed soapdishes, towels, trash cans, etc.).

Phoebe said...


Now that you mention it, I remember that about the Borders. Guess I was blinded by the shininess of those shoes. But maybe there's some kind of Obama effect, and Hyde Park is now cool? I haven't actually been back there since college (to the city, but not the neighborhood), so it's hard to picture.


Yes! There's something relaxing about looking at clothes, as well as practical - I'm thinking of the ordeal I went through in Chicago just to get a pair of black pumps for job interviews. And that's very true about logos - I think people imagine that they're about showing pride/showing off, which they sometimes are, but often enough, they're the only game in town.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, gentrification, yes, how tragic for the U of C brand, that the neighborhood will now god forbid include options beyond bookstores and Walgreens."

So you say, but as you noted, UChicago itself bought the old Borders building. In fact, UChicago is behind much of the development.

A quibble about your terminology. Hyde Park is not being "gentrified"; there's already plenty of "gentry" here (i.e. wealthy white people). Rather it's being suburbanized. Akira-5 Guys-Papa John's-Chipotle IS the U of C brand now.