What Harold Washington Meant to Me | Letters | Chicago Reader

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What Harold Washington Meant to Me

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To the editors:

When I moved to Chicago, almost four years ago, I started reading avidly the local newspapers and travelling extensively in it, wanting to learn as fast and as much as possible about the city in which I've decided to spend the rest of my life. Especially I wanted to learn about the politics here and why the streets and sidewalks were in such a bad repair. In fact, so bad that not only I had a fall, but in many places the holes were so big that virtually a body could lie in them and be flat with the ground.

Then as I thought that since Harold Washington was in the second year of his term then, the mayor couldn't have been responsible for the bad condition of the sidewalks and streets, because the wear on them couldn't have taken place during his time in office. Then I became more convinced about it, not only by reading that it was the previous mayor responsible for this neglect, but as I noticed that repair of the streets and sidewalks started taking place throughout Chicago. I noticed this more so, for when I moved to my present address, driving on all the streets in my neighborhood, especially on Granville, was very bad before they were fixed.

Another proof I have that Mayor Washington made a difference, was that as I was living in Hyde Park during my first year in Chicago, and as I had never lived previously in a neighborhood where the majority are blacks, I had some reservations in terms of my safety. And yet, not only the blacks there seemed very nice, but although many times I had to return home late in the evening, and as I felt quite safe walking the more than four blocks distance from the bus stop to my home, I thought the reason was that the black people wanted to make Mayor Washington proud of them.

Another reason I have for feeling that Washington's policy was that of a caring mayor, was when one night I saw that four street lights in front of the building I lived in were out of order, and since across the street was a vacant lot, I became frightened enough to call the Mayor's office. It was two o'clock in the morning when I called and within ten to fifteen minutes, not only there were lights, but the person from the Mayor's office, who had answered my phone, called me back to ascertain whether the situation has been remedied. In addition, I realized that the bus drivers in Chicago were very nice and helpful, more than I can say about the bus drivers in New York City. I didn't know then if Mayor Washington had anything to do with it, but now reading David Moberg's article about Washington "What Did He Accomplish?" Reader [Nov. 25, 1988], that he didn't have a chance to do all the things he wanted for making Chicago a better place to live, still, I'm convinced that Washington had really made a difference in the short time he had been the mayor of Chicago.

Christina Athanasiades

W. Hood

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