Editor’s Note: We want to get to know our neighbors, so we picked five questions to ask each of them. Feel free to ask them your own questions in the comments. Or submit your own responseson our submissions page.
Eleven years ago, after 18 months of construction work, Whitney Blakemore and her husband Rob Whitaker opened The Viaduct Theater at 3111 N. Western Ave. The space is rented out to other theater companies and film groups while The Viaduct Theater Company is on hold as Blakemore and Whitaker spend more time with their two kids in the three-flat they own next door.
1. What’s your favorite spot in the neighborhood?
The riverfront. The bike trails. The walking. Right over there. It’s like a little secret. Behind Lane Tech, right along the riverbank there’s a little walk and the ruins of Riverview, foundations and cement footings from all the stuff have been converted into a dirt bike path that’s kinda cool. There’s huge mounds – it’s crazy in there. I don’t think there’s anything like that [anywhere else].
So we take the kids over there for walks. It’s kind of an ugly walk to get there – we have to cross Belmont and then we walk behind Lane Tech and then there’s a forest.
2. What’s the goofiest thing you’ve seen in the neighborhood?
I think the guy who juggles incessantly in front of his store on Belmont. My kids have grown up watching him juggle. That’s kinda goofy.
3. If there’s something you’d change about the neighborhood what would it be?
It’s about to be changed. The viaduct. It’s coming down.
Are you pro or con?
Pro. It’s an eyesore. It creates issues. I’d love to see that mall be something more interesting that something that feels like it’s the outskirts of town. The viaduct going down gives some hope that that can happen, I guess.
What are you going to change your name to when the viaduct comes down?
I guess it’ll just stay The Viaduct Theater and it’ll be a kind of a historical nod. Viaduct-less Theater, maybe?
4. What’s different about the neighborhood since you first moved here?
Everything. The young urban professionals have moved into The Village. When I first moved here it was still just the legacy Riverview Amusement Park families.
Families of people that worked at Riverview?
Yeah! You would meet a lot of them. They all bought homes and properties in the neighborhood. When we first moved in, it was a lot of working families from [Riverview]. Because it only came down in ’69.
All the antique stores are full of Riverview paraphernalia.
And then Antique Row [on Belmont Avenue] has become pet store row. Because I guess maintaining a storefront is expensive when you can sell everything online.
When we moved in it was antique row – antique after antique – and then it just disappeared completely. And all the homes have been fixed up. There weren’t all those condos before. And there weren’t really restaurants either.
5. Retro on Roscoe or Summer on Southport?
I’ve never even been to Summer on Southport. Retro on Roscoe.