I had just lost my part-time job writing about interesting and useful websites but I wasn’t ready to let it go. I figured I’d start my own blog, continue writing about new websites and how they extend our reach into a virtual world, where everything is more accessible, more convenient and just more. My first blogpost was about a brand-new Google application, Wave, so new it hadn’t been released to the public. A couple posts later I wrote about Foursquare, another relatively new application.
I thought Google Wave had great potential. I didn’t think Foursquare did. Google Wave is history. Foursquare is doing just fine, thank you. It’s a good thing my blog led me away from writing about the future of interactive Internet websites.
I ended up looking in the opposite direction through an accidental encounter with a collection of photographs of former Chicago synagogues on Flickr. Monumental buildings, clearly at the centers of enormous communities, looked so permanent but were symbols of the transience of Chicago neighborhoods. This was, I realized, my own story.
I didn’t decide right then and there to spend the next year researching the history of Hollywood Park, the North Side neighborhood where I grew up during the 1960s, but week by week I got in deeper and deeper. Between what I hadn’t understood as a child and what I never knew, there’s a lot to discover about one square mile of Chicago.
What’s made this so rewarding is hearing from you in the comments and in emails and making new acquaintances. The contributions of readers have been so amazing. Thanks for chasing the past with me.