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Friday, November 04, 2005

Growing Up Evanston...

I grew up in Evanston Illinois and I still have such great memories of living in this amazing town. Evanston is located just north of Chicago and it is considered a city (not really a suburb). Evanston is diverse in so many ways and it really is a great place to live and raise kids I strongly suggest if you are looking for a place to live and raise your children, you will not go wrong with Evanston. The story behind Evanston is compelling and the history is great.

Home to Northwestern University, Evanston has a variety of excellent higher educational opportunities, as well as a successful public school system. Evanston has a population of 75,000 residents and covers about a 8 sq. mile area. You are only about 15 miles from downtown Chicago, though there is so much to do in Evanston, I am not sure why you need to head to the Loop.

The top employer in Evanston is Northwestern University, which I spent many nights at having a few beers. In 1924 the Kiwanis Club decided that Evanston was the “City of Homes.” This description is perfect, though I would add trees and nice people to the mix. Evanston has a great farmers market, the worlds largest garage sale every year, and of course Northwestern football games at Dyke Stadium (aka Ryan Field).

The history of the city is great. Evanston was the first city to have a black superintendent; it was the first place where a bookmobile existed; it was the first place where the Boy Scouts had an African American troop; it was a dry city for 100’s of years; many cool movied were filmed in Evanston, including Sixteen Candles, Home Alone, Breakfast Club, and Ordinary People; and students representing 35 different language groups, from Amharic to Vietnamese, attend ETHS every year.

The city has 75 parks and playgrounds, but even more importantly there are 5 beaches to hang out during the summer. The city is such a great mix of socioeconomic mix with all income levels, all races, and all education backgrounds. The city has 22% African American and almost 10% Hispanic and Asian. I was lucky enough to attend Martin Luther King Jr. Experimental Laboratory School, which opened in 1967 as a kindergarten-grade 5 magnet school with 650 students. The curriculum was designed to be innovative to attract permanent-transfer white students. As the school focused on “Quality integrated education.”

I attended ETHS (Evanston High School) with people of all backgrounds. I took graphic arts with John Cusack, attended church with Ed Harris, and was best friends with three kids named Super, Russell and Marvin Love. I have so many memories of my experiences in Evanston and really feel this town and the people in the city have molded me into a good person.

What a great place to grow up. I can only hope Alexandria, Virginia (where we live now) is as great a place for my kids to grow up also. I guess we will have to see.

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