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  • Madison street is born out of Chicago's tourist Mecca. It runs perpendicular to Millennium Park. Michigan is the only thing separating Madison from the main entry of the Frank Gehry designed Pritzker Pavilion.

    While Madison is a street that begins in the heart of tourist affluence in downtown Chicago, it spans a drastically different landscape. The street is an artery that leads to some of the most poverty stricken neighborhoods in Chicago, as well as some of the most wealthy.

    This contrast can be most clearly be seen in the contrast between the Austin and Oak Park neighborhoods. Austin is currently the most populated neighborhood in Chicago. It also has some of the highest poverty and crime rates in the city. The neighborhood is almost entirely African American.

    Oak Park, on the other hand, is predominantly white. It's known for being affluent and safe.

    The change between neighborhoods is sudden and stark.

    Madison is a street that reveals the lines of segregation in Chicago. It shows how poverty is quarantined and hidden. It's a symbol of the city. It's only appropriate that Madison is born in the heart of downtown.

    For more thorough introduction on the complexities of poverty and segregation in Chicago, check out this Reader article.
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