Axios Chicago

Picture of the Chicago skyline.

Welcome to Thursday. On this date nine years ago, a series of tornadoes ripped through Central Illinois, killing three people and injuring hundreds.

🧤 Today's weather: Scattered flurrying with a high of 31.

Today's newsletter is 804 words — a 3-minute read. Edited by Everett Cook and copy edited by Rob Reinalda.

1 big thing: Violent crime decline

Rate of violent crime offenses in Illinois and the U.S.
Data: FBI; Chart: Axios Visuals

The FBI released its latest national crime report last month, but recent trends are still unclear due to incomplete data from local police departments that still haven't mastered new reporting software.

Yes, but: If you take a three-decade view of violent crime in Illinois, it's clear that the state is much safer than it was 30 years ago.

Why it matters: Local and national crime continues to dominate the headlines and political debates this election year as if it's somehow worse than ever.

  • Though this analysis doesn't make our current situation any better, it does offer perspective.

Zoom in: Crain's Chicago Business dug into the data to find that "the North Side is as safe as it's been in a generation."

  • But the West Side is different. Crain's reports the per-capita murder rate in the 15th District in Austin climbed 274% from 2010 to 2020.

What they're saying: "The drop is relative to community space," Dave Stovall, UIC professor of Black Studies and Criminology, tells Axios. "If you look at the areas where crime remained steady and dropped, it is the spaces the police have deemed to be protected."

  • "But if you look at the spaces where it has stayed flat or increased, those are the spaces where crime was to be contained."
  • Although Stovall believes police tactics in certain neighborhoods play a role, he stresses that the drivers of crime trends are always complex and multifaceted.

What's more: When it comes to explaining the huge drop in violent crime, Loyola University criminal justice professor David Olson tells Axios that "15 different criminologists will give you 15 different explanations."

  • But he believes some is due to "renewed emphasis on rehabilitation in criminal justice, increased access to drug and mental health treatment," as well as an improving economy, prenatal care, school outcomes and access to day care.

The intrigue: While most statewide crime has gone down, homicide and suicide with firearms have gone up in recent years, a trend Olson links to new gun access.

  • "The number of guns that were purchased or produced for civilian ownership has dramatically increased in the last five years. It was a trend that started before the pandemic but really got exacerbated during the pandemic."

Now hiring: New job openings

2. Real estate market on ice

Change in monthly mortgage payments, by loan size
Data: Freddie Mac; Chart: Madison Dong/Axios Visuals

Our metro area's real estate market is starting to level off, writes Axios' Sami Sparber.

Why it matters: After two-plus years of plummeting inventory and sky-high home prices, buyers have waited a long time for a little relief.

What's happening: Mortgage rates started to surge in May and have since passed 7%, squeezing homebuyer budgets and making monthly mortgage payments significantly more expensive than they were a year ago.

By the numbers: Pending sales are down 28.1% since May, according to the latest data from Redfin/MLS.

  • Median home sales prices fell from $329,000 to $305,000 from May to September.
  • In September, 23.3% of listings had price cuts, up from 13.2% in May.
  • More than 31% of homes sold above list price in September, down from 53.2% in May.
  • And homes sold in 57 days in September compared with 48 days on average in May.

The bottom line: Chicago's market is calmer, but buying a home right now isn't necessarily cheaper.

3. Tips and hot links

Illustration of the Chicago flag with the stars changing into the words "Tips and Hot Links."

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🦺 Construction at the Obama Presidential Center site in Jackson Park resumed. It was halted last week after workers found a noose. (Tribune)

🛒 A City Council committee approved initial funding to rehab and rebrand six Save-A-Lot grocery stores on the South and West sides. (Block Club)

🗳 Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to announce today whether or not he's running for mayor. (NBC 5)

⚾️ White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease finished second in the voting for the American League Cy Young Award. He lost to Houston's Justin Verlander. (MLB)

4. Food Fight: Mashed potatoes

mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes from Grand Lux Cafe. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. So for this week's Food Fight, we're whipping up a melee over our favorite side — mashed potatoes.

Justin's pick: I come from a family that loves its mashed potatoes, to the point where my Dad will pout for days if the restaurant doesn't have his favorite side dish.

  • So I'm going with the hearty portions from Grand Lux Cafe.
  • The Mag Mile restaurant serves them with braised pot roast as well as other entrees ($23.95).
  • Doused in gravy, the buttery potatoes are both silky and chunky.

Monica's pick: The pommes purée from Lincoln Park bistro Mon Ami Gabi are so silky, rich and buttery that just a few bites can satisfy my tater craving for the whole meal ($8.50).

  • Plus they make great leftovers.

📬 Obviously, potatoes are OUR favorite Thanksgiving side dish, but want to hear from you. Take our Thanksgiving preferences survey, and we'll publish the results next week.

  • As always, reply with your favorite mashed potatoes!
mashed potatoes
Silky take-out mashed potatoes from Mon Ami Gabi that Monica put into a cute ramekin. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios.

Editor's note: Yesterday’s second story on The Hideout was corrected to note Mykele Deville was fired in March, not April.

Our picks:

🥣 Monica is getting hungry thinking about this Community Soup Event tomorrow at Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport, where you can try 20 chef soups for $20.

🎨 Justin thinks you should go see "The First Homosexuals" art exhibit at Wrightwood 659. He went last week and just interviewed the curator, Jonathan David Katz, for a future podcast.

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