Axios Chicago

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🐫 Happy Wednesday! You made it to hump day.

🏀 Situational awareness: Tonight, the Sky start their playoff journey to defend their WNBA title. They take on the New York Liberty at Wintrust Arena in a best-of-three-game series.

Today's newsletter is 940 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: A South Side 606

Map rendering of a new development

Photo: Chicago Department of Planning and Development

Last week the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a $20 million grant for a nature trail in Englewood along an old railroad corridor.

Why it matters: Like the 606 Bloomingdale Trail, the Englewood Nature Trail could rejuvenate its area with safer recreation and transportation.

But organizers hope to avoid one big pitfall of the 606: gentrification and displacement.

  • U.S. officials specifically noted planners' work to address "potential impacts such as gentrification, displacement, and equitable employment opportunities," in their announcement.

What they're saying: "We want to create protective measures for residents to help build community ownership and a future here," Grow Greater Englewood (GGE) lead steward Anton Seals tells Axios.

  • He plans to do so with community engagement, compacts, ordinances and land trusts.

Yes, but: He stresses that Englewood — with its huge rate of vacancies — is starting with a very different real estate landscape than Bucktown and Logan Square did ahead of the 606.

Flashback: Community members started planning the Englewood project more than a decade ago.

  • But last spring it got a boost when Mayor Lori Lightfoot pledged $6 million in city money and said officials would apply for federal funding.

Zoom in: The trail is projected to run between 58th and 59th streets, stretching for 1.75 miles from Lowe (700 West) and Hoyne (2100 West) Avenues.

  • It's meant to link local urban farms and "transform a vacated rail corridor into a naturalized space for residents to enjoy and use to connect with nature," according to the GGE website.

What's more: DOT officials see it as "an alternative, safer [travel] option for residents."

  • They note that within a half-mile of the trail, "there were more than 4,000 crashes between 2016 and 2020 — 11 of which were fatal."

What's next: Community members can attend a planning meeting on Sept. 8 and offer feedback here.

  • Organizers aim to finish the first phase of the trail by 2027.

2. Survey of the day: Why people leave

Share who say that <span style="border-bottom: 2px solid #000;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span> issue would most motivate them to consider leaving their state
Image credit: Data: Axios/Ipsos; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

A lot has been made about people leaving Illinois and where they are heading. But why are most people in the U.S. moving at all?

The big picture: A new Axios/Ipsos Two Americas Index survey finds Democrats and Republicans have more differences than similarities when it comes to reason for relocating from state to state.

  • Republicans are more likely to move over finances, while Democrats move at higher rates for personal and family reasons.

What's more: The survey also shows Democrats are more likely to move to "blue states" while Republicans stick with "red" ones.

Read the whole Axios story

3. Tips and hot links

Illustration of a humongous Willis Tower looming over the earth and sending out small lightning bolts from its antennas.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

✈️ Chicago-based United Airlines will hire hundreds of new employees to combat staffing shortages and delays. (ABC7)

🌳 Little Village and Lawndale residents are feeling "sad" and "ignored" by the city and park district over the disrepair of Douglass Park after this summer's music festivals. (Block Club)

🩰 The Joffrey Ballet is launching a contemporary ballet training program, the first of its kind in the country. (Tribune)

⚾️ Justin Verlander outdueled Dylan Cease, but the Sox came from behind for another big win against the Astros. (ESPN)

4. Exploring those new Wild Fork stores

Frozen meals

Frozen canapes and empanadas at Wild Fork. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Hey, it's Monica. Last year I noticed a bunch of mysterious "meat and seafood" stores called Wild Fork popping up around the Chicago area, including one on Belmont near home.

  • After passing by for months, I recently stopped in for a peek.

The intrigue: I was amazed by the offerings from this Brazilian company with a U.S. base in Florida.

Beyond meat and seafood, it offers high-quality plant-based proteins, desserts, pasta, appetizers, vegetables, side dishes, spices, sauces and grilling supplies.

  • Also there are frozen cassava, plantains and Brazilian cheese balls.

The big picture: Everything here is what they call "blast frozen," which is supposed to keep food super fresh. I don't know much about freezer technology, but I do know most of this stuff tastes great.

Frozen meat
In addition to mainstream meats, Wild Fork offers yak, ostrich and venison. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

The highlights: Grass-fed, dry-aged skirt steak ($22.98/lb) that seared up nicely in a cast-iron pan and gave us two days of tacos.

  • Juicy Argentine chorizo ($4.48) that paired beautifully with peppers and onions.
  • Fun, Argentine-style grilling cheeses on a stick ($9.98).
  • Buttery, skin-on salmon steaks ($7.78/lb) that make dinner easy.

Rare surprises: Elk, bison, ostrich, yak, foie gras, blood sausage and A-5 wagyu beef.

Yes, but: A slightly gritty flan and dryish eggplant parmigiana were both just OK.

Between the lines: As a half-Latina whose partner lived in Argentina for years, I'm thrilled to find a place that lets us host a South American grilling party in a snap, but also offers so much more.

  • For those looking for dry-aged, grass-fed, pastured, organic, heritage or antibiotic free meat, Wild Fork has your number.

What's next: I'm trying to avoid visiting Wild Fork too often, because there's a lot more that I want to try but that won't fit in my freezer.

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5. Where's Justin? The old Tower Records

Guy in front of building

Justin takes a selfie in Lincoln Park. Photo: Justin Kauffman/Axios

This one was too easy for our Generation X readers. It's the old Tower Records at Belden and Clark. Dozens of you answered correctly.

  • And those of a certain age remembered it as the old Belden Deli.

Flashback: Tower was a great place to shop for records but also to catch in-store shows by bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt and, of course, Liz Phair.

  • The music palace closed in 2006.

🎉 Congrats to Nisa J. and Bailey S., who were randomly selected from a yellow Tower Records bag.

You can pick up your swag at our Axios Office Hours event on Friday!

  • The show runs from 6-7:30pm and will feature interviews with baker Mindy Segal, storyteller Jacoby Cochran and hip-hop star Vic Mensa.
  • 🍹Come hang out. The first round is on us.
Three people in one photo
Mindy Segal, Jacoby Cochran and Vic Mensa. Photos courtesy of the three artists.

Go deeper for some reader memories of the old Tower Records.

😵‍💫 Monica can't choose from among this weekend's Ribfest in North Center, Ruido Fest in West Town, VegFest in Highland Park and Sangria Festival in Humboldt Park.

🦷 Justin got tooth pain for his birthday. Jealous?

Want free Axios swag? Refer your friends to Axios Chicago and get cool merch like stickers, totes, hats, T-shirts and more!