Usually I try to mix things up geographically, but even though this home is just a few blocks away from the home we featured on Wednesday, I couldn’t resist it.
There’s only this one photo on the listing, but there is just so much to love about it. You’ve got the astroturf-covered front steps, the giant wall of tacky glass blocks that surround the front door, the paper notice taped to said wall, the large plants growing in the gutters, and the ominous outline of the home’s occupant just inside the door, looking back at the camera.
I’m sure there is a story… and the happy ending is that the owner is finally selling. I hope they land somewhere safe where they’ll be looked after properly, soon. (I could find no “last transaction” in the listing. Reads “aged in place, to me.)
It looks like it was a wonderful little home, and they may actually get half the asking price – even though several offers have “failed on inspection” (as Marty notes, it’s been a while since those gutters drained). The steps really do slope from right to left (I actually counted the bricks; I get dizzy), but they may have been installed like that, for drainage. Of more concern to me is that it takes quite a smack to break one of those glass bricks: that was no rock… but if it finally made them sell, it was worth it
Another walkabout this neighborhood has brought possible insight into my “It’s a mystery” comment on Wednesday’s house (made that just a few moments ago). While a decent percentage of the surrounding residential area seems well cared for, the closest retail area – South Ashland Ave, 4 blocks to the west – is in sorry shape. What there is left of it, anyway. That’s a huge indicator of what’s going on economically for the whole area. Even if the residents of the area all commute to Chicago proper to work, they would still need grocery stores, banks, coffee shops, doctors’ offices, housewares stores, and the like near home. I saw one grocery store/drug store (Jewel/Osco, both major local chains) a few blocks over that looked fairly recent. Other than that, though, there’s a whole lot of nothing with a minimal side order of not-very-useful shops, other than same-day-loan sites. That’s a big clue right there, along with the all-caps “cash only” notice in the listing description.
So… likely no white collar commuters in this neighborhood, but perhaps minimum wage commuters headed to the suburbs for jobs better off folks don’t want. But this brings up another mystery – why the homes themselves and their attendant lawns and hedges look, for the most part, very well cared for. The logical response would be that, knowing they have few options, the people here are being careful to hang on to what they have and not let it go downhill. But reality doesn’t usually work like that. These days, when community and social ties are nothing like they used to be, little to no opportunity doesn’t breed care – it breeds hopelessness and a *lack* of caring. So what the hell gives here?!
@anodean: I think I must be missing what you and Marty are seeing, Anodean. I sort of see someone behind the door, though just the legs in the lower half of said door, but not really seeing any body in the upper half. I can just as easily see semi-visible items in the distance and odd reflections.
I, too, counted the bricks, the ones either side of the door up to the knee high white ledge, and I see 7 on each side. To me, the stairs seem to slope simply due to the angel the picture was taken at.
Also, are you implying there is a broken glass block? I see a dark patch on one, just to the left of the door at mid-height, but that also looks like a possible trick of the light. Did you mean there may be a hole behind the posted notice, with it’s location being chosen for strategic effect? I noted Marty referred to the glass blocks as “tacky,” but they also allow for the most secure “sunroom” possible, if indeed crime is that bad. Since I’m not seeing any damaged blocks, I’d say they’re doing their job. In my own opinion, glass blocks aren’t tacky in and of themselves. Some uses of them are, some aren’t. This isn’t the greatest artistic use of them, but it is extremely practical.
@Emerald63: That should read “angle of the picture” *not* “angel.” I fear there are no angels in the immediate vicinity.
@Emerald63: All your observations are consistent with a little “island” of elderly people aging in place – a bad place – and slowly dying or being driven out by illness, assault, or household injuries.
Elderly folks take care of their yards (even if they can no longer go up ladders to clean their gutters), and they live on fixed incomes, so the shops selling the goods and services needed by people with jobs are gone – and the crime has washed in over them, since these folks can be expected to have fence-able stuff and money at certain times of the month.
The glass brick three up and two in from the lower right corner has likely been struck by a bullet. But it’s just as likely that it happened some time ago, and they rationalized ignoring it until some other calamity destabilized their situation and forced the sale.
Um…since the home’s occupant does not seem to be wearing much in the way of clothing, I’m kind of glad those are opaque glass bricks instead of windows.
I disagree about the glass brick. I think it is whole and just looks dark at that angle, I expanded the pic a bit to help me see anddid not see a broken edge.
@anodean: Good observation about the elderly people. I think something like that is quite plausible.
Good thinking, zooming in on the picture. The glass brick still looks broken to me, with a semi-circular shard in it’s lower right corner, but I freely admit the limits of image resolution.
Good news is, that’s not a person – the apparent head, torso, and hands are all pieces of paper that have been pushed into the grille-door – and the white “shoes” turn out to be two pieces that fell down in there. Nobody home, and our hopes with them that this is a good thing.
I still can’t decide whether the steps and railing are one course of brick higher on the right, but I’ve learned to just let these things go before I injure my neck. :D
@anodean: About the stairs… A slight cant to outdoor stairs is not unheard of, but an entire brick’s height across only a few feet would make the stairs difficult to use and thus dangerous. For a cant with a brick’s height difference to be navigable, the horizontal measurement would need to be far greater.
For example, the rate of slope for the Roman aqueducts was about 1 foot per mile. Of course the great volumes of water from which they drew (the best were mountain lakes) allowed for optimal hydrodynamics. The comparative inertia of a smaller volume of water, say on outdoor stairs, and with a much higher ratio of surface tension, would likely require something steeper than the .01% of the aqueducts.
Also common in exterior stairs is a cant downward from the back edge of treads to the leading edge. If it works properly it helps prevent ice buildup. If it doesn’t work properly, it can lead to a false sense of security. Regardless, an inverted cant, sloping from the leading edge down toward the back edge, is most definitely a big no-no, especially in cold climates, but also as a factor leading to materials decay in warmer climates (not to mention ooky algal growth).
@Emerald63: Ahh, thank you, kind expert-person. I learn so much of practical value as we disport ourselves hilarious. :D