New Film Documents the Chicago Neighborhood Demolished to Make Way for Railroads

David Schalliol, director of the documentary, 'The Area,' talks about the impact of a railroad expansion that demolished the homes of 400 families on the South Side of Chicago.
December 14, 2016, 12pm PST | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Adam Moss

The last four years saw a long slow process by which about ten blocks on Chicago's South Side were bought or acquired through eminent domain and converted into a rail yard. As the homes were acquired and either left uninhabited or demolished by Norfolk Southern, which was only interested in the land, the community emptied out. David Schalliol's film The Area documents how that process unfolded in Englewood.

"Throughout the expansion push, many held out for years, particularly with black pride of ownership and community—pushing back in a city infamous for redlining and housing discrimination—rarely seems far from the surface," reports Stephen Gossett in Chicagoist.

The Area, which was originally produced as a short (see below), documents the experience that some of those left behind faced as there community originally faced the prospect of its demise. For some, moving was not merely a financial consideration. "Schalliol recalls a woman who spent some 55 years in her home, which she needed to anchor her memory as her dementia worsened. "No offer would have been sufficient” for the family," Gossett wrote.

The Area from The Grid on Vimeo.

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Published on Thursday, December 8, 2016 in Chicagoist
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