Years ago, when I first moved to the city, I had visited a college friend’s home in Logan Square. At that time, Logan Square was mostly a Latinx community area. According to census data (see also here), in 1980 52% of Logan Square population was identified as Latinx, and in 1990 66% of the population was. The 2000 census was the first time people actually chose to identify “Hispanic” as an ethnicity, and 65% of the population identified as such. In 2010 this was down to 51%. This downward trend has continued and possibly accelerated as the community gentrified. DNA info has discussed gentrification at length for many communities, claiming that Logan Square has seen the largest loss of Latinx residents of any community area in Chicago (currently less than 50% of the population). Now the area is filled with some of the best known restaurants in Chicago, breweries, and art studios. The streets are lined with coffee shops. You can also buy brunch (brunch=gentrification). The new Bloomingdale Trail (the 606) runs through Logan Square as well, and recent reports have indicated that the dramatic increases of property value has cause some concern; the city is considering levying a special tax on new developments along the trail.
So, given that this area is experiencing such dramatic changes, I was interested to see the library. The architecture is what I have come to expect from Daley-era libraries—open space with a raised ceiling in the middle. Two installments adorned the foyer. One was a glass case with toys, and the other was an interesting art piece of handwritten stories on large paper in different designs. Other art hung in the library and a mural rimmed the ceiling. I was glad to see a rather significant Spanish literature section right in the center as well, surrounding all of the tabled seating. Behind that were large windows facing an outdoor courtyard with seating.
There were a number of people at tables, reading newspapers, working on computers, and reading books. Most were facing the same way and generally there was one person per table. Several teens came in after school and used the computers in their designated area. A few kids were there with their parents. An guy probably in his late 50s or early 60s was handwriting several pages on lined paper. Yes, you read that right, “handwriting.” He seemed very focused and occasionally erased something and started writing again. He had his long hair pulled forward into a man bun. “Trendy” I thought. This is exactly what I would have thought people at the Logan Square Branch would look like. Hipster-esque and reinventing the renaissance through old technologies like handwritten manuscripts. Then I saw his shoes. He had plastic bags covering them. I just don’t know what to make of that, but probably not hipster. Three older people came in, two men and a woman, and sat at a table next to me. One man then moved over to another table that had a TV. The other man said to him “What? You are too good for us?” and then muttered something about watching King Kong. They all chuckled. The first man never turned on the TV, he just read a book. The other man did watch something, maybe King Kong, on his tablet.
This was the most diverse branch I have been to so far. It had diversity in age, race, ethnicity, gender, and purposes for using the library. It was fascinating to watch people here because they were doing so many different things. Logan Square is an interesting mix of people and institutions. The library was no different.