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Uptown in the News  

January 23, 2005
Chicago Tribune
Argyle Street Burglar Bars Divide Old, New Cultures
By Oscar Avila Tribune staff reporter

Neighbors of Uptown's Argyle Street, love window shopping on Argyle Street, where Vietnamese, Chinese and other Asian merchants display everything from live lobsters at the Seaworld Food Market to golden Buddhas in the trung Tin GIft Shop.

But steel burglar bars and security screens cover nearly all of those windows. And that troubles new homeowners, most of whom are not Asian. The Argyle Winmore Block Club launched a new beautification campaign last fall and are pressuring merchants to take down the bars. They made their case again Thursday before the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce of Illinois.

For the merchants, the aesthetics are less important than keeping their shops safe. The ambivalence of the merchants reflects deeper issues of culture and respect as well. Most merchants in attendance agreed that the bars are an eyesore. But some in the community say block club members have been so insistent, even condescending, that they have turned off many merchants.

Most block club members are white and most merchants are Asian, which adds racial undertones, though both sides downplay that tension. But many merchants left the meeting feeling that even though they agree with the block club residents, they won't comply, as it feels like outsiders are dictating how they should run their business.

To view the entire article for a fee, please visit the Chicago Tribune website at www.chicagotribune.com.

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