December 31, 2003

Absurd Fences

Category: Urban Planning

Chicago: Having lived a year in London, i got used to having fences every ten feet, but they usually seemed to define something vaguely sensible. These little enclosures in Chicago seem completely useless. (and the first one is especially ugly). In a high traffic neighborhood where people might trample the grass to death, this might make sense, but here, it's just plain absurd.

Posted by Nick at December 31, 2003 07:32 PM | TrackBack


It's probably not trampling, but dog urine they are trying to keep out. Dog urine is death to trees.

Still, someone could have picked a nicer fence.

Posted by: John on January 3, 2004 05:39 AM

I doubt the fences could keep the dogs out. Anyway, the tyres of the cars parked nearby would be equally attractive to the dogs.

Posted by: BH on January 5, 2004 02:20 PM

The fences might not keep out a loose dog but they might keep out a dog on a leash, or rather act as a sign to the dog's owner that the dog isn't welcome.

On the other hand they could be just human territorial markers -- kind of like what the dogs would do, but in chain link rather than urine.

Posted by: Prentiss Riddle on January 14, 2004 03:08 PM

Yeah, that fence is ugly, but consider this:

I'm from Chicago and am responsible for a plot of land like this, one city block long along my wicker park building.

I've been looking for years for a cheap way to manage the land, but:

-Every day I pick up a gargage bag full of trash that people throw there.
-The city fines you $600 for trash or overgrown weeds there, even though it's city property.
-It's $600 just to buy flagstone or $800 for treated wood to put around the edges.
-As a woman with a small car, I can't scavenge construction sites for free bricks.
-Nice wrought-iron style fences cost $3000.

Please make suggestions for broke landlords like me who can barely pay the taxes and mortgage, much less keep up with yuppie aesthetics for overblown landscaping costs...

This person with the ugly fence probably put it up in the 70s when the neighborhood was rougher. They were probably tired of animals and punk kids trashing it, but too broke to afford a prettified fence.

It might have been an old person who couldn't bend down to pick up Doritos bags anymore.

One good thing about these fences, when around backyards, is that they let neighbors see each other.

In the 1980s affluent people put up ugly walls or brick fences that made it impossible to talk to your neighbor while gardening or hanging out--good for privacy, but one more sign of how isolated American culture has become since front porches were common on every home.

But bring on the cheap, new, environmentally friendly fences. There's a market for them.

Posted by: elsa on January 24, 2004 09:28 AM
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