Walking Wilmette

July 15th, 2012 at 4:00 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

   This is the most prominent landmark of Wilmette, Illinois, the Baha’i Temple, located by Lake Michigan.  Here’s more on the Baha’i faith and the connection to Wilmette.  The temple is easily seen if you’re flying into O’Hare from the east.  Here’s some famous people from Wilmette.  The population of 27,087 is down about 2,000 from when I was in school here – people are having smaller families.  The town is 11% Asian-American.  The family next to us for many years was from Japan and they were just wonderful neighbors.   Friday evening, I walked several miles through Wilmette and the smaller suburb to the north, Kenilworth.  It had rained a little, which cooled the air down to the mid 70s, but the dewpoint was also near 70, so the air was thick.  I stopped by Homer’s Ice Cream where we hung out in high school.  The place was full on a warm, summer night.  I didn’t recognize anyone.  I hadn’t really lived here since the late 1960s and anyone from my high school days would look different.  I passed a house with a small in-ground swimming pool in the backyard (very rare in east Wilmette where you don’t have the room) and kids there were laughing and playing.  With the drought, there are no mosquitoes.  I watched a black cat pouncing on a critter.  It might have been a tree frog.  There were people riding bicycles and walking dogs.  I briefly talked to a woman and her two daughters who were walking their four rescue-dogs.  The Crystal Cave (glassware) had gone out of business.  I watched people get off one of the trains.  The train tracks from Chicago to Milwaukee are backwards because it was owned by a British Company…so northbound is on the left and southbound is on the right.  My parents moved to Wilmette from Evanston (next door) when I was three, building a small house on a small lot.  Housing was much cheaper here back in 1954.  Today, the prices (and taxes) are high.  In the Thursday Chicago Tribune, they published the highest annual taxes in Wilmette.  These are mainly for homes on Lake Michigan or across the street from Gilson Park (the beach park).  The highest annual tax bill was $156,456.10.  This is one year of Wilmette property tax for a lot that was not terribly big.  #2 was $151,327.56. Yikes!  Kenilworth has an average home listing price of $1,282,500 and there were no foreclosures in Kenilworth last year.   Twenty-four properties were sold in Kenilworth all of last year. Wilmette had 334 sales and home values generally decline as you move away from Lake Michigan (my mother has a condo about 2 miles west of the lake).  I much prefer W. Michigan. You get twice the house for half the money.  The prevailing southwest winds usually give our side the lake the warmer water and we get more snow to play in during the winter and a few degrees of added warmth as the air crosses Lake Michigan.   I’m always impressed with the quiet here in Wilmette, with the exception of the right now, when the cicadas (the annual ones) are making lots of noise in the evening.  However, they abruptly stop about 1/2 hour after sunset, like flipping a switch.  Wilmette is getting lots of tear-downs…with new houses built in their place.  We lived in 2 houses in Wilmette…the first one my dad was general contractor for and was a small 2-bedroom with my brother and I sharing a room that fit a bunk bed and a desk and that was it.   When my sister was born, we moved to a home about a mile away with 3 bedrooms.  The house (built around 1914) didn’t have ducts and had baseboard, hot water heat (so, no air conditioning).  Saturday, we visited the Chicago Botanic Gardens (my mother is a member).  We saw a Food Network demonstration that featured Michigan blueberries!  I met the representative from Michigan who recognized me and I talked to several ladies who came by bus from Kalamazoo.  Each family got a free lemon basil plant.   We head back home this (Sunday) evening.

9 Responses to “Walking Wilmette”

  1. Judi I says:

    Where I was born and raised on the west side of Chicago, I wouldn’t dare walk down the streets there anymore. I checked the Chicago properties and found my old place and there are many burned out buildings. Terrible shame for people who have nothing better to do. YOu are lucky you have a chance to visit a special place that meant a lot to you. When I went back to visit a couple of years ago to a cousin’s place up north, it is amazing how people are building these fancy big houses among the older smaller ones, they have zero lot lines to be building so close to each other. We here in Michigan are lucky to have green space to enjoy.

  2. Mike M. says:

    If I walked the neighborhood in Chicago where my parents were born I would probably be shot and eaten.

      1. Mike M. says:

        If I was eaten, I would taste like bacon.

    1. Hudsonville Barn Cat says:

      The murder rate is climbing again in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s plea earlier last week that gang-bangers should leave children out of the fighting was no doubt heartfelt but ridiculous nonetheless. Two gang rivals both reaching for their guns are going to give exactly zero consideration for anyone else’s life as they start pulling their triggers.

      Want to fix the ghettos in Chicago? Then admit that it’s a war zone and send in the military.

      Until the drugs are gone (and the gangs peddling them) things won’t get better. The local law enforcement is outgunned and understaffed. Send the Marines in there to see that the children can safely walk to school. If the Federal government can’t be counted on to protect our most vulnerable and innocent citizens, and assure them a good education in a safe learning environment, then why have a government at all?

      1. Brad says:

        When there are more people than are necessary to drive the economy, well, this is what happens…

  3. Laura says:

    Enjoy reading your stories from Wilmette. My husband grew up in Wilmette and knows of all of these places. He moved there with his family from St. Louis in 1968 and his parents sold their house in 92. He was very interested in the information about the taxes. My husband and I moved from Lincoln Park to Grand Rapids in 96 and have loved living here ever since. We were pleased to get our children out of the crowded city environment and to a place where we could have a big house, big yard, and good schools all at a pretty reasonable cost. The best changes for me when we moved here was opening the door and stepping right outside into grass rather than walking down four flights of stairs and not seeing more than a patch of grass until we got to the park, and also seeing all of the available parking on the street outside of our window. The parking outside of our building in Lincoln Park was so bad that our moving van spent two days double parked!

  4. When my great grandparents, grandpa, his siblings, came over from Northern Ireland they lived in Chicago for a bit. 849 Centre St. Well there is no more Centre St. it is called Armitage Ave. Neighborhood looks pretty nice. When I was down there a year ago for my cousins funeral, I finally got to see my great grandparents gravesite.

  5. Evie says:

    I always enjoy reading the postings you make about your family and the things you are doing with them. Thank you for sharing with us these things as well as all of your information on the weather. You seem like a great guy!

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