Thursday, June 3, 2010

Victims of the revolution


The behemoth that is O'Hare International Airport has been hungry for land. After a protracted legal battle, it seems its appetite will soon be satisfied, as a large chunk of suburban Bensonville is being torn down to make way for airport expansion.

Dozens of homes are being sacrificed to appease the monster. I paid a visit to them last summer, at a point when perhaps 90% of the homes had been vacated, with only a handful of recalcitrant holdouts remaining. It was an eerie environment, with tidily kept yards and houses standing shoulder-to-shoulder with lots that were rapidly becoming overgrown.




A holdout next to a long-vacant house.


More recently I returned, and found that with the legal hurdles cleared and the holdouts gone, demolition of the entire area was underway. An entire neighborhood had been fenced off and was prepped for systematic destruction. Trees are down, fences are ripped out and piled in the street, grass has been stripped away, and the houses are looking pretty ragged.







The other bizarre casualties of the expansion scheme are two cemeteries that have already been ingested by O'Hare. The two will have to be relocated, but for many months they have stood as untouched islands in a vast construction project.

Yes, that's a jet engine.


Chris said...

Wonderful! So O'Hare can become an even more congested and dysfunctional airport? I'm sure they claim that this expansion will "solve" all the flight delays right?

Check out this website for the same type of mass demolition in St. Louis:

TheLetterAHyphenTheNumberOne said...

I normally consider myself a preservationist, but it's hard to get worked up over some low-density, stick-frame houses with aluminum siding. Same with cemeteries; what a waste of useful space. Even very nice, historic cemeteries, like Graceland, are a relative waste of space. This is a low, low price to pay for the benefit of an expanded O'Hare.

Anonymous said...

To the above commenter: this isn't about preservation, it's about the strong arm of local government forcing people out of their homes for some nebulous "greater good". These abandoned homes are just a small part of the picture -- what about the thousands of other nearby residents who have seen their home values plummet? Or consider friends of mine who has been trying to sell their home Bensenville for nearly 2 years, which is almost impossible now that the area is so undesirable. Calling this a "low, low price to pay" is pure arrogance.

Anonymous said...

Well, they're not really abandoned homes. They've been purchased at fair market value. The government doesn't come in with a rifle and demand everyone gets out. That said, it's a shame when any neighborhood is bulldozed. Alot of people must have grown up there, regardless of the architectural quality.

Anonymous said...

Well, many travellers are stranded from the capacity issues. These people knew what they were getting into living next to the airport.

I live a few miles and am glad to see the expensive legal battle finally end. This region needs to compete, and not think the 1950's will come back.

And some forget, this land once belonged to Native Americans and was 'strong armed' away.

The whole area is in a downturn, so all housing is down, not just your friends in Bensenville. Which will benefit once more hotels are built on west side.

Instead of spending billions on high speed rail, build runways so people can get places.