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Sue and I are back in Chicago, having spanned nearly 2,000 miles, and dropping 40 degrees in temperature, in just a few short hours of a plane ride.
Here on the South Side of Chicago, beside Lake Michigan, the ethnically-diverse Hyde Park and Kenwood Neighborhoods have long boasted 1890's mansions, down the street from vintage, three-story walk up apartment buildings. High-rise condominiums and local restaurants and taverns. Coffee houses, pizza joints, and bookstores.
The respected University of Chicago, and The Museum of Science and Industry (a favorite play place of me and my brother when we were just kids). The National Headquarters for Operation PUSH, on Drexel Boulevard, and neighborhood blues clubs.
But now, these neighborhoods contain the home and neighborhood haunts of the soon-to-be President of the United States. And things have indeed changed!
The Obama Residence, near the corner of 51st Street (Hyde Park Boulevard) and Greenwood Avenue, on the Kenwood Side, is a restored Colonial Style home on a large lot. Every day since his election to President on November 4th, the curious attempt to venture nearby streets for a glimpse - but are quickly chased away by a phalanx of Chicago Police, the FBI, and U.S. Secret Service Agents.
(Chicago Tribune Photo by Michael Tercha, November 6, 2008).
Today, three blocks east and west, and two blocks north and south, are protected by protective fencing and Jersey Block Concrete Barriers to keep Barack and Michelle Obama and their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, secure.
Parking is prohibited, and through traffic on Hyde Park Boulevard, a local thoroughfare running right in front of the Obama Home, has been closed - even for CTA Buses, which have been diverted for Obama's term to nearby side streets.
The dozens of neighborhood residents that live nearby are subject to multiple ID checks, questioning and fingerprint registration. Even members of a nearby church have been security registered.
Even Chicago Police Cars are subject to close inspection and scrutiny by the Secret Service. Each car's engine and chassis must be carefully inspected for any security breach.
Neighborhood businesses have been impacted as well.
Valois Restaurant, offering low-cost family fare nearby, at 1518 E. 53rd Street, was a favorite spot for Barack Obama before the Presidential Campaign, and he often had lunch there. Today, he cannot stop in without fanfare, but often orders carry out. However, a stream of reporters have come and go since the election, looking for an Obama tidbit or two to share with their readers.
On the day after the election, over 2,000 neighborhood residents and many visitors were treated to a free breakfast by Valois Proprietor, Gus Sellis.
Said University of Chicago Graduate Student Sam Permutt, "It's remarkable how this neighborhood has become an epicenter. When the election results came in, people were hugging each other, some crying. It looked like pictures of the day World War II ended."
My visit to Obama's neighborhood included parking my car near the corner of Greenwood Avenue and 52ndStreet, exactly one block south of the Obama Residence. Kids and their parents were frolicking in the playlot on the 5200 Block of Greenwood, and student residents of the brownstones were heading to and from their apartments.
However, I was quickly shooed away by both Chicago Police Officers and one onerous FBI agent - both heavily armed, I might add!
Most from the Kenwood and Hyde Park Neighborhoods consider living in close proximity their now-famous neighbor a real honor - but not without considerable inconvenience!
See our post from earlier today @ BlogChicagoHomes.com, with a link to Ron Grossman's story in the November 7th edition of the Chicago Tribune.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.