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Sun-Times Editorial Features our own Al Goldberg


Al Goldberg, a developer of artist studios and apartments in the Glenwood Avenue Arts District, talks with Dorothy Milne, artistic director of Lifeline Theatre, during a walk on Tuesday morning. When Lifeline moved to Glenwood Avenue in 1985, taking over an old Commonwealth Edison substation, the struggling neighborhood began to form a new identity as an arts hub. / Sun-Times Photo by Elizabeth Davidson

An editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times, “Lifeline Theatre in Rogers Park Shows How the Arts Can Transform a City” (April 13, 2018) starts with the story of Glenwood Avenue and its amazing transformation from scary and lifeless back-alley, to the popular neighborhood gathering point it has become today. The editorial says “successful cities make their luck.” If this is true, then one of the people most responsible for “making the luck” of Glenwood Avenue is our own Al Goldberg. Al is a long-time Rogers Park Builders Group member and has served as Arts Chair on the Board of Directors for many years.

As the Sun-Times accurately describes, Al was one of the early believers in the arts as a key component in bringing life and vitality back to the Rogers Park community. Al bought the commercial and residential building at the southwest corner of Glenwood and Morse about three decades ago, at a time when the area had reached a low point resulting from years of disinvestment. But Al and other neighborhood pioneers like Lifeline Theater, had a vision. They imagined the area around Glenwood and Morse transformed into an arts mecca. Al put his money where his mouth was and began renovating his building and renting the apartments to artists and other creative people who appreciated the low rent and abundant sunlight that poured into upper-floor windows.

With Lifeline and Al’s building anchoring the area, other theaters, restaurants and bars began to fill in the gaps. We all know what the area is like today. Most of us have probably taken in a play, enjoyed a meal or stopped off for a cocktail somewhere along the Glenwood strip. Like the Sun-Times says, none of this happened by accident. The Glenwood we know today is the direct result of a few, far-sighted people with a willingness to take a risk and follow their instincts. In so doing, Al and the other early investors in Glenwood and Morse have proven the importance of the arts as a community redevelopment tool.

Lifeline Theatre in Rogers Park

The editorial concludes, “there is an inclination during difficult economic times to run away from public support for the arts, which are seen as an indulgence. The story of Chicago – in the Loop and in the neighborhoods – says something different.” Al knows how important the arts are to a community. Thanks to people like Al, who saw the potential of Glenwood when its prospects looked grim, we are all better off today. Here is the link to the full editorial:



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