Alan Abrams' special report on
the coming of 1-696 to Oak Park
(Oct. 26) was entertaining as are
all his articles. His way with
words is a reader's delight. The
history of the freeway controversy
was interesting and enlightening.
When it comes to drawing conclu-
sions, however, he should read his
own content first.
It is clear from the interviews
and talk of promised concessions
in the article that there is both an
optimistic and a pessimistic view
as to the degree of alleged horror
that is to be brought to the com-
munity by 1-696. All the subjects
of the article refer to efforts of dis-
placed persons to stay in the
neighborhood to the point where
landlords are raising rents in re-
sponse to the high demand. This is
all mentioned after the fifth para-
graph which declares, "The battle
to save Oak Park and its Orthodox
community .of 7000 from almost
guaranteed destruction by the ex-
pressway was high-minded, and
ultimately ill-fated." To wit: if the
expressway couldn't be stopped,
it's all over.
It is just such an erroneous atti-
tude which can wreck the spirit of
a community just when it needs
There's no reason to be happy
about a freeway coming through
the neighborhood, but if we can't
see any qualitative difference be-
tween true neighborhood destruc-
tion and what is happening here,
and if we think that the state is
picking on Jews, not only is our
perspective tiny, and ethnic
chauvinism rampant, but we
don't know a good deal when we
The effort against 1-696 came
too late because the only way for it
to win would have been to de-
molish plans for the whole
regional highway system de-
veloped in the '50s, and whose
fruition has plowed through
countless neighborhoods includ-
ing whole patches of human set-
tlement where interchanges now
stand. In the true American spirit
the Oak Park community never
objected to freeways on any kind
of principle until it was to go
through their own neighborhood
Speaking of the "instant"
baseball diamond in the rebuilt
Victoria Park (one block from my
home), Abrams refers to it as an
oblique sign of the coming of the
freeway, as if it is not part of the
concessions, which he is loathe to
admit are being granted in any
way, especially with the next line
emphasizing "Concessions, after
all, are merely words."
The lack of construction ac-
tivity on Shabbat and holidays is
also more than a word; it is an
observed fact. As for the
"loophole" that tunnel work will
be allowed on Shabbat, the object
of the work hours restriction con-
cession is not to turn construction
workers into Shomrei Shabbat,
but to minimize annoyance to the
community. If it is accurate, as
the article states, that tunnel
work has been going on 24 hours a
day, no one on the surface has
seen or heard it.
The most crucial concessions,
Continued on next page
"For That Special Day or
To Make That Day Special."
1-696: Making the
best of the freeway
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