Category Archives: Division Street

End of the Road for Division Street

Dear Readers:

Division Street was an experiment – along with California Faultline in L.A. – by the good folks at NBC Universal. With the launch of new local sites such as, the NBC folks have decided to shut down Division Street and Faultline. In turn, I will be increasing my contributions to, including material that you might have otherwise found here, and of course you can still read me at The Beachwood Reporter. Thanks for reading me here, and I’ll see you there.

Studs’ Place

This blog, as explained in our About, takes its name from Studs Terkel’s Division Street: America.

“Division Street is both an homage to the Studs Terkel book about the divisions in American politics as well as a metaphoric nod to the real street in Chicago that stretches from the infamous Rush Street entertainment district through the gentrifying arts district of Wicker Park and largely Hispanic and African American neighborhoods on the West Side to the suburbs. In this way, Division Street encapsulates the dynamism and divisions of the city, and we hope this blog does that too.”

I have occasionally posted “Division Dispatches” here that illustrate the divisions and dynamisms of the real Division Street as a way to hopefully illuminate the nation’s Division Street, as envisioned by Studs.

And it is to Division Street: America that I turn first in a brief round-up of Studs encomiums from the weekend.


“On undertaking this assignment, I immediately called Dr. Philip Hauser, former chairman of the University of Chicago’s Sociology Department, one of the country’s best informed demographers,” Studs wrote – in 1967 – in the book’s Prefatory Notes. “Is there a street in Chicago today where all manner of ethnic, racial, and income groups live? His reply – though a blow – was not unexpected. There is none. As late as twenty-five years ago, Halsted Street may have encompassed all these peoples. There is a quarter-mile radius on the Near North Side of the city that might fit these specifications; upper-middle-income high-rise complexes have sprung up with startling suddenness in the rooming-house heartland. They are adjacent to one another, at this moment. Still the area I was seeking was a matter of conjecture, even here. The nomadic, transient nature of contemporary life has made diffusion the order – or disorder – of the city. The bulldozer and the wrecking ball have played their roles.”


“Although detractors derided him as a sentimentalist populist whose views were simplistic and occasionally maudlin, Mr. Terkel was widely credited with transforming oral history into a popular literary form,” the New York Times wrote in its obituary. “Division Street consisted of transcripts of 70 conversations Mr. Terkel had with people of every sort in and around Chicago. Peter Lyon, reviewing it in The New York Times Book Review, said it was ‘a modern morality play, a drama with as many conflicts as life itself’.”

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Barack Bits

1. “Barack Obama wore a flag lapel pin during the first debate and John McCain did not, for those who monitor patriotic accessorizing,” Zay Smith notes in his Sun-Times Quick Takes column today.

Maybe both candidates were trolling for crossover votes.

2. “Forty-six percent of American voters are still unable to correctly identify Barack Obama as a Christian,” Smith also writes.

Yeah, but that’s a higher percentage of Republicans who identify John McCain as a Christian.

3. “The people of Cook County need a state’s attorney who is ready to run the office now, not someone ready to learn on the job,” the Sun-Times writes today in its endorsement of Anita Alvarez for Cook County State’s Attorney.

Experience will be much less important when the paper endorses Barack Obama for president – just as it was when the paper endorsed Obama over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

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Chicago’s Pundits Have Spoken

Who Chicago’s commentariot are voting for, as discerned by a Division Street Labs analysis of their work. Denials and/or confirmations welcome – as are arguments. If I’ve missed anyone who should be on this list, let me know at or leave a comment.

John Kass: McCain
Eric Zorn: Obama
Mary Schmich: Obama
Dawn Turner Trice: Obama
Clarence Page: Obama

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Chicago Chooses!


Previously in Division Street Polls:

Who would you rather see impeached?

The [Fourth of July] Papers

At the Beachwood, including:

1. Miss Manners on patriotism.
2. Kim Wilde’s Kids in America.
3. Regulated Militia Well. A poem.
4. 13 Anthems. Including The Respangled Banner, The Alphabetically-Spangled Banner, The Star-Spangled Forecast, and The Redacted Banner.

Posting here at Division Street will resume later today.

Programming Note

Please bear with me, dear readers, I have to take my laptop to the local Genius Bar this morning to get my Wi-Fi working properly. I also will be flying out very early to L.A. on Friday morning to help teach a session at SPJ’s Citizen Journalism Academy. So posting will be light to sporadic if at all today, though I hope to resume tomorrow and through the weekend from sunny California. Apparently they have a cool new subway system and I might just check it out.

Throw Out A Bum

One reader asked why I didn’t include All of the Above. Because I wanted to make you choose! Thanks, everyone.

Division Dispatch #4

In Studs Terkel’s Division Street: America, Division Street is a metaphor. But here in Chicago, Division Street is a living, breathing metaphor, and from time to time on this blog, I like to check in with it to see what it says about our city, our lives, our nation. Consider:

* “Division Street: Two Americas.” Straining to be rich and hip.

* “Do Division Street Fest & Sidewalk Sale 2008.” Pabst Blue Ribbon will be served based on its popularity in the ‘hood.

* “This life-work began with the best-seller Division Street: America, in which he talked to politicians and protestors, firemen and cops, actors and salesmen, saints and thieves.” From “Roger Ebert’s Journal: How Studs Helps Me Lead My Life.”

* Division Dispatch #1: “You don’t have to worry about getting mugged on Division near Damen at 10 on Friday night like you did 10 years ago. And as folks who live there will tell you, the main drag isn’t a hooker depot anymore.”

* Division Dispatch #2: “A three-block section of [Chicago neighborhood] Wicker Park that once accommodated eight families, two vintage clothing stores, a French cleaners, and a gourmet bakery has been completely razed to make way for a private livery stable and carriage house.”

* Division Dispatch #3: “Division Street separates Wicker Park from East Village (east of Damen) and Ukrainian Village (west of Damen). In last week’s Reader, Ben Joravsky described how ‘Dan Rostenkowski kept the villages under his thumb even after he’d gone off to Congress – and jail.'”

Exit Strategy?

I’m scheduled to appear on NBC5’s morning news show at 6 a.m. on Tuesday to discuss the Oregon and Kentucky primaries, as well as Hillary Clinton’s potential exit strategy. Please tune in.