There’s a newly paved bike path that runs along the east side of the Chicago River, back behind the various stores of the River Plaza, accessible from Fullerton and Wood. It inexplicably appears, born from a little roundabout behind the T.J. Maxx and heads all the way to Dominick’s on the north side of Fullerton. On the south branch, a Lane Bryant sits closest to a small gate that’s never locked. Entering at this point brings you closest to the underside of the Fullerton Avenue Bridge and a small community of men who’ve set up residence within. The space is flat and fenced in, actually sanctioning off the appropriated living quarters from the path—the only entrance, a hole in the chain link. Each person has claimed a little part of the grounds for himself and his belongings. An extension cable carries electricity down from the Plaza powering a mammoth big-screen television set of a nineties vintage. The residents watch football and drink beer, much like brothers in a fraternity. A fraternity without a home, that is.
Best of Chicago 2012