Update: I went back the weekend of the 4th of July in 2021.
Perhaps I was being too optimistic when I first documented Peoria northeast of downtown back in 2013. I have been back, and while there is a wonderful group of houses that have been carefully restored back to their original grandeur, I’m still seeing a lot of abandonment and poverty in this portion of Peoria.
Take this beautiful Gothic Revival and Shingle Style church; it is still in use, and its congregation is working hard to fix windows, but there is clearly no outside help for them or anyone else in this neighborhood.
In fact, it makes me think: is there any chance that any presidential candidate from any political party will walk the streets of this neighborhood over the next year? I doubt it. This might be a tired cliche of the “forgotten America,” but it is based in fact.
Illinois is going for the Democratic nominee for president, even if it is a chicken wearing a bowtie, so consequently, all of America: the news media, both major political parties, academics, corporations, the average American, ignores the people who live in this struggling neighborhood.
There’s this house, that’s been fixed up, but it’s one out of hundreds of houses in this neighborhood. They do this largely out of their own civic and personal beliefs.
Or take this amazing Greek Revival house that’s been restored.
But these solid wood frame houses, built with wood brought down from the Northwoods of Minnesota and Wisconsin via Chicago’s vast rail network, are showing their age, and need massive capital investment to stay occupied.
But for the most part, the people who live along these streets of Middle America are anonymous, living in a country that doesn’t know what to do with a neighborhood such as the one northeast of downtown Peoria.