Streeterville residents say neighborhood is convenient and community-oriented

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Published September 5, 2018

Bordered by Rush Street to the west, Oak Street to the north, the Chicago River to the south and Lake Michigan to the east, Streeterville is a bustling community encompassing one of the city’s most popular stretches of road—the Magnificent Mile.

In the 1800s, before the area was developed, there was no Michigan Avenue, there were no high-rises and no restaurants. There was, however, a man named Captain George Wellington “Cap” Streeter.

According to Chicagology.com, Streeter had dreams of running a water passenger service, but one of his boats ended up wrecked on a sandbar east of Michigan Avenue. Streeter and his wife Maria used the ship as a houseboat.

Over time, Streeter convinced developers to dump debris along his sandbar and that fill gave birth to Streeterville.

Today, residents of Streeterville laud the neighborhood’s convenience as well as its community.

Gail Spreen, president and owner of Streeterville Properties Group, referred to herself as “Streeterville’s biggest fan.”

The five-time president of the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR), has lived in the neighborhood for 22 years. She is also on the Streeterville Chamber of Commerce board, was on the board of the Magnificent Mile Association and is vice chair of the Lights Festival parade.

Spreen said she loves Streeterville’s proximity to the lake and feels visitors to the neighborhood bring a “really positive energy.”

New Eastside, she said, is quieter and has fewer retail options, and River North has an energetic nightlife. But for her, Streeterville is just perfect.

“People see each other, they recognize each other, there’s community events that go on that really make it feel like you live in a neighborhood,” Spreen said. “It’s neat
because you would never think that you could create this community feeling in
the downtown urban environment. And you really can.”

Phyllis Mitzen, President of Skyline Village Chicago, a membership organization for older adults, agreed.

“We lived in Evanston, and I loved Evanston … but when I walk down the street here, I almost invariably see somebody I know and we stop and chat,” she said.

Mitzen has lived in Streeterville for 20 years and said the convenience and proximity to museums and good transportation make it a wonderful place for older adults and “an extraordinary community for intergenerational living.”

Donna Dugo, membership director at The Magnificent Mile Association and resident of Streeterville for more than 20 years, said she likes the community.

“I love the fact that I’m steps away from Navy Pier, the lakefront and now the newly developed Riverwalk. I mean, I can be at all of these places in a 5-to-10 minute walk,” Dugo said.

Streeterville is more than just the people. Pets are a powerful connecting force.

Amy Cherner, marketing and leasing coordinator for North Water Apartments, said she and her fiancé walk their dog around the neighborhood each night.

“We’ve gotten to the point where a lot of the faces are familiar, which is definitely kind of cool to have that in the middle of the city, and then really recognize your neighbors,” she said.

SOAR serving lunch to first responders, Streeterville

By Jesse Wright | Staff Writer

September 4, 2018

Once again, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) is preparing for its annual First Responders Appreciation Day. The event will be held Sept. 13, from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at the Chicago Fire Department Engine Company 98, 202 E. Chicago Ave.

Bob Johnson, chairman of the safety and sound management taskforce for SOAR, said the event is a way to give back to the men and women who keep the neighborhood safe.

“The organization wanted to give thanks to our firefighters and our police officers and our paramedics who serve the community,” he explained. “We think they do a terrific job.”

In addition to the public luncheon, SOAR will deliver sandwiches from Timothy O’Toole’s Pub to the 18th Precinct District at 10 p.m. to recognize the overnight shift workers.

This year, the event moved from the Lakeshore Field House to a fire station two blocks west. Johnson said in prior years, getting the firefighters to go to an offsite location and then sit down for a meal could be tricky, especially if a fire broke out.

“The firefighters never got a chance to attend the event because they’d walk in, get a bite of food and then get called out,” he said.

However, Johnson said the event is for the community and not just for first responders.“Just show up,” he said. “Come as you are.”

Johnson said that while a local alderman or congressman might stop in, the lunch is less a political event as it is a way to build community.

“We just think it would be nice for our first responders to get to know our people and for our people to get to know them.”

Johnson said the lunch has been an event for years, and is something of a tradition in Streeterville.

“I think it was done shortly after the 9/11 [ceremonies], as a way to remember the 343 firefighters killed in 9/11,” he said. “It’s a time of year we think of them more so than during the rest of the year.”

For more information, visit the SOAR website, soarchicago.org.