Albany Park could be an old, gray and dull area just like many others outside the wealthy Downtown Chicago. Here, decadence and despair could have been roaming the streets and the community be forgotten and lost. It could very well have been this, but it is not. The hard work and dedication of the people within the community grows stronger each year as the old Streetscape Beautification Program continues to generate not only beauty, but welfare and hope for the souls within Albany Park, “Chicago’s Gateway to the World”.
North Park River Commission along with Lawrence Avenue Development Corporation and Albany Park Chamber of Commerce are the three parties today working together in the Beautification Program. Over 4000 jobs have been created since the program’s start in 1976 and it has kept the community clean and up to date. Since 2011 it has generated 60 “Chicago’s Gateway to the World” banners, 40 new and renovated planters, and over 40 renovated storefronts, all along the avenues of Albany Park. All in all, $10 million have been invested into these projects.
So not only does this program provide an appealing and charming front to the community, it also gives small local businesses a chance to quickly get on their feet and expand. Along with the three local area parties above, the City of Chicago Small Business Improvement Fund gives small entrepreneurs huge economic relief when updating and renovating their restaurants and stores.
Restaurant Golden Crust Pizzeria and North River Commission’s office, both on Kedzie, as well as the clothing store Chica’s Secret on Lawrence are all properties that in the last year have gotten complete renovation, both interior and exterior. This is not only good for the business and economy, saving thousands, even millions of dollars, but also it is improving Albany Park as a community, increasing the atmosphere and charisma.
Albany Park is one of the most diverse zip codes in the country. With so many different people from different countries it would be interesting to see what the community can achieve when coming together. That is exactly what the Streetscape Beautification Project provides: a platform on which all can unite and create the diverse and charming community that is Albany Park.
This article was written by Simon Bredberg