The Legacy of Wrigley Field

by Emily Speelman

Last week, the Chicago Cubs made history by winning their first World Series in over 100 years. The famous “Billy Goat Curse” was broken and Cubs fans around the country rejoiced. This victory will go down in history and be as essential to Chicago as the Cub’s stadium itself: Wrigley Field. It’s located between Lakeview and Uptown in the appropriately named Wrigleyville and is one of the oldest stadiums in the Major League. Since it’s construction, Wrigley Field has undergone big changes, massively impacting the surrounding neighborhood and becoming a famous Chicago icon.

Wrigley Field was built in 1914, making it the second-oldest ballpark in the country. Initially called Weeghman Park (after property owner Charles J. Weeghman), the park was built on the grounds of an old seminary at Clark and Addison on the city’s north side. The initial stadium allowed for up to 14,000 visitors. The first game at Weeghman Park was on April 23, 1914 where the home team, the Chicago Federals, played Kansas City. Weeghman purchased the Cincinnati Cubs in 1915, moving the team to its now permanent home. The Wrigley family purchased the Cubs franchise in 1920 and the stadium was renamed in 1926 after Cub’s owner William Wrigley Jr.

Once called Central Lakeview, the area was renamed Wrigleyville to celebrate the park. Unlike many stadiums, however, Wrigley Field is in the middle of a dense residential and commercial neighborhood: therefore, all stadium renovations and changes directly impact the residents of Wrigleyville and interests can often clashes with the team’s ownership. One key example is the long-awaited approval for stadium lights at Wrigley to allow night games. Unlike the White Sox’s Comiskey Park (now known as Guaranteed Rates Field) who gained lights in 1939, Wrigley could only have day games for its first 74 years. Lights were only installed in 1988 after the Cubs threatened to leave Wrigley if the renovation was denied. There are also no official parking lots for the field, making street congestion a constant throughout baseball season. Under its most recent ownership, however, Wriglyville will look very different in the upcoming years.

Since Tom Ricketts’s purchase of the team in 2009, Wrigley Field and the surrounding Wrigleyville has undergone significant change. According to the Chicago Tribune, the current Cubs owner is working with Boston’s Theo Epstein to remake Wrigley and its surrounding neighborhood in the style of Fenway Park, which was built just two years before Wrigley Field. The project is titled The 1060 Project and began at the end of the 2014 season. Learn more about the project here: http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/restore-wrigley/

The 1060 Project

Since 2015, Ricketts and his associated businesses purchased 10 of 16 rooftops surrounding the park, where fans have full view of the game from the top of nearby buildings. Huge signs from companies such as Budweiser now stand on the outer perminter of the stadium, bringing large revenues to the team while blocking the view of rooftops that refused to sell. A McDonalds adjacent to the stadium on Clark Street was recently demolished after being purchased for $20 million: now, a hotel is being constructed on the site. Plazas were created on all sides the stadium and will host events both on and off game days. Northwest of the field, a large building for Cubs’ offices and related retail shops will overlook the stadium.

Mark Schlenker, a local rooftop owner, noted that the Cubs ownership made it clear they want to purchase all of the buildings on the east-bordering street of Sheffield Avenue. While Alderman Tom Tunney is optimistic about the economic growth of these plans for Wrigley, there are concerns about how this will affect long-time residents and businesses in the neighborhood. With an average of 40,000 fans in attendance at Cubs games, however, there is a strong draw to diversify and expand businesses in the area. The team will work closely with both Alderman Tunney and Mayor Emanuel as field renovations continue into the upcoming years. 

As the 2016 World Series Champions celebrate their victory, it is clear that Wrigley Field (and all of the changes to come) will remain an important part of the Chicago landscape for years to come.

 

For more information about Wrigley Field and the continuing renovations, please see the links below:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-cubs-wrigleyville-redevelopment-met-20161023-story.html

http://wrigleyville.org/about-wrigleyville/

http://graphics.chicagotribune.com/wrigley/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-cubs-wrigley-rooftops-future-20150213-story.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/chi-chicagodays-wrigleylights-story-story.html

The Electoral College Explained

by Emily Speelman

The United States is in the last leg of the 2016 Presidential Election and, as November 8 approaches, “The Race to 270” is on. But what does this phrase mean? How does is apply to the everyday voter? And what role does geography play in this race?

“The Race to 270” refers to the number of votes a presidential candidate must win in the Electoral College to secure the presidency. There are a total of 538 members in the college and, to become president, candidates must earn 50% + 1 of their votes. Electors are appointed by their state and the number of electors is equal to their state’s number of representatives in Congress, giving each state a minimum of 3 (accounting for two senators and at least one representative in Congress per state).

Image from National Geographic: http://nationalgeographic.org/maps/electoral-college/

Image from National Geographic: http://nationalgeographic.org/maps/electoral-college/

Rather than voting directly for their desired candidates, citizens cast their ballot to the electors, telling them who to vote for. Based on this popular vote, the state’s electors put all their votes toward the majority candidate. Even if the candidate wins by only 51%, state’s “winner-take-all” policy dedicates that all the state’s electoral college votes can only go to the majority winner.

This applies to all states except Maine and Nebraska, who use Congressional Districts to determine electoral votes. Maine has four electoral votes and two congressional districts: the winner of each district gets at one vote and the statewide winner automatically gets two of the four. Nebraska, with its three electoral votes, has a similar system: the statewide winner gets two votes and the district winner gets the third. It is possible for the votes to split, which is important to note in a close election like this years.

While this sounds pretty straightforward, there are some problems with this system:

  1. Unequal voter power: As previously mentioned, a state’s number of electors is determined by its number of representatives in Congress. With each state getting a minimum of one, the number of house representatives are decided by a state’s total population. By giving each state three electoral votes (to account for the two senators), voting power is unequally distributed amongst the population, which can have a big impact on the election. Votes from states with lower populations (such as Vermont and Wyoming) have more power representation in the Electoral College than their population calls. They receive electoral votes that should belong to states with bigger populations, like California and Texas. Therefore, the individual votes of these smaller population states are giving more weight in determine who their state’s’ electoral votes go.
  2. Problems with a winner-take-all system: The winner-take-all system can greatly misrepresent the popular vote. With this system, the majority candidate in most states gets all of their electoral votes, no matter how much or little they won by. Therefore, the candidate needs to win states votes more than people’s votes.  This can make a massive difference when the nationwide popular vote is calculated, potentially swaying the election results. This occurred in 1876, 1888, and 2000, where the candidate won less than half of the popular vote, but won the election due to the Electoral College’s rules. To see this explained, CGP Grey made video exploring it here.
  3. Missing American Votes: There are a huge amount of American votes missing from each election. Why? This is because US territories are not allowed to vote in the election, with the exception of the District of Columbia (which was only granted in 1964). The territories of Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, and US Virgin Islands are not granted Electoral College votes because they are not states. They are, however, US citizens and over 4 million people live here (which is more people than live in the city of Chicago!).

While the Electoral College has its problems, every vote counts in an election. The deadline to register online or by mail in Illinois is October 12 so make sure you are registered and make your voice heard on November 8.

 

Questions about how to vote in Illinois? Click here for a video explaining IL deadlines, absentee ballots, and more!

 

For more information on the Electoral College, see the videos and articles below:

A Breakdown of the Electoral College: http://nationalgeographic.org/maps/electoral-college/

How the Electoral College Works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUS9mM8Xbbw

The Trouble with the Electoral Collage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wC42HgLA4k

History of US Elections: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48EZKXweGDo

A COOL Summer

Hello Backyard Geographer readers! My name is Emily Speelman and I am the Social Media Intern for GSC for the 2016-2017 year. I’m excited to share what we’re doing at the Geographic Society with you. While I am new to this position, I’ve been working with the Geographic Society since June through a program called COOL Summer Learning Experience in Waukegan, IL.

COOL is a six-week program for kids ranging from 3rd to 8th grade that focuses on environmental science and teaching sustainable practices. The program’s goal is to enhance students’ skills in science and learn more about the environment around them. This summer’s theme was “Our Footprints on the Earth,” teaching students about their ecological footprint and how they can minimize their footprint through responsible utilization of resources such as soil, water, and air. There were usually 40-55 kids in attendance each day throughout the summer, split into three different classes (3/4, 5/6, 7/8).

My role at COOL was the GIS/GPS Intern. Two days a week, I helped plan and lead GPS-based activities. I worked closely with the teaching staff to show students how to use GPS units (Earthmate PN-40s), explain how GIS/GPS are used to study the environment, and execute GPS activities that expanded on their classroom material. After collecting data in the field, students brought it into ArcOnline to create maps showcasing their results. These maps were used not only for everyday classroom work, but also for their final program at the end of the summer.

We spent the summer studying a variety of topics and traveling throughout the surrounding area to study phenomena such as pollution, water quality, and neighborhood plant life. Some of my favorite projects we worked on were: collecting water samples at Bevier Park and Waukegan North Beach; walking around the neighborhood cleaning up and marking different types of litter; studying carbon footprints by country through ArcOnline; and visiting Illinois Beach State Park to collect soil samples. These projects connected information from the classroom into interactive, exciting projects to show students how ecological consciousness can be incorporated in their everyday activities. I loved spending one-on-one time with the students, getting to know them as they learned and grew this summer.

One of my key takeaway from this summer was how important GIS/GPS is for younger generations to learn. I was amazed at how enthusiastic and excited the students were about it: the students loved working in ArcOnline. They search through the maps, customizing them to properly show the data they collected. The students caught on quickly, often moving on to the next step of a project without needing guidance. The same goes for the GPS units. Since GSC has worked COOL for a few years, some third and fourth year students already had experience and were able to assist others when collecting data on site. They gladly accepted the work at hand and everyone got a chance to operate the units.

I had a great time working at COOL this summer. I was constantly amazed by the students’ ideas and willingness to work on class projects (even though it was their summer break!). Some of their final projects, data and maps created by students, can be seen below:

3rd/4th Final Project5th/6th Grade Final Project

What’s in a Name? Chicago’s Interstates Explained

by Derek Kaden

The city of Chicago has a number of interstates passing through it, and almost every one has its own name. If you’ve ever heard a traffic report in Chicago, it can sound overwhelming and confusing. Where exactly are all of these sections of interstate, and how did they get their names? Today I put together a map to show you exactly where each part of an interstate starts and stops in Chicago, and I explain where each of these names come from. If you live here, hopefully this alleviates confusion the next time you listen to a traffic report, and if you live elsewhere, you will be a more well-seasoned traveler next time you’re passing through the Windy City.

Chicago's Interstates

Chicago Interstates Map

Chicago Interstate Names Explained

Kennedy – Completed in November 1960, it was originally named the Northwest Expressway until 1963. It was then renamed in honor of recently assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

Dan Ryan – The Dan Ryan Expressway opened in December 1962. It was named after Cook County Board President…Dan Ryan, who was a supporter of expressway construction.

Edens – Named after William G. Edens, who was a banker and advocate of paved roads early in the 20th Century. The Edens was the first Interstate in Chicago, and opened in December 1951.

Eisenhower – First referred to as the Congress Expressway, and later named after President Dwight D. Eisenhower, its first stretch of completion was in December 1954. Famous Chicago journalist Mike Royko called I-290 Chicago’s only Republican Interstate, since Eisenhower is the only Republican political figure after which the Interstates were named. The Eisenhower is also the first Interstate in the United States to be fused with public transit (Chicago’s ‘Blue Line’).

As Interstates are concerned, Eisenhower is the most important name on the list. He signed the Interstate and Defense Highways Act as President in 1956, which rapidly increased Interstate construction across the nation. This Act decreed that the Federal Government would cover 90% of all construction costs, while the State only had to pay 10.

Stevenson – Opened for traffic in September 1964, this Interstate was originally known as the Southwest Expressway. Exactly one year later, the Interstate was renamed after Adlai Ewing Stevenson II. Stevenson was Governor of Illinois from 1949 to 1953. He was also the Democratic candidate for President in 1952 and 1956, where he lost decidedly both times against…Dwight D. Eisenhower!

Bishop Ford – The Bishop Ford is a stretch of I-94 that runs around Lake Calumet and a large industrial corridor on Chicago’s far south side. Christened the Bishop Ford Memorial Freeway in 1995, it is named after Louis Henry Ford, who was a Bishop and an advocate of social justice.

Chicago Skyway – Opened in April 1958, and originally referred to as the Calumet Skyway, this is one of only two sections of Interstate in Chicago that is not named after a person.

I-57 – The only section of Interstate referred to by number. Unofficially, it is called Dan Ryan’s West Leg. But that just sounds a bit…strange.