LOGAN SQUARE — In an effort to spark a conversation about gentrification and “remind us what we love about Logan Square,” longtime Logan Square resident Khloe Karova is publishing a photography book full of the people and places that define the changing neighborhood.
“I want to capture the changes in the community before full gentrification takes hold,” Karova said.
“There’s so much activity, but we’re not pausing enough to think about, ‘What are the longterm consequences?'”
Earlier this summer, Karova, a financial advisor, enlisted a team of professional photographers and creatives to document the neighborhood and put the book together.
Photographers Robin Marchant, Joerg Metzner, Saverio Truglia and David Schalliol all signed on to help with the project, as did Jason Pickleman of JNL Design, who’s handing publishing, and Ines Bellina, the sole writer.
The goal, Karova said, is to publish a roughly 200-page book by Christmas 2020.
The book will contain about 200 photographs of neighborhood people like the man who drives the San Luis Freeze ice cream truck and the tightrope walkers in Palmer Square Park, as well as meaningful places and events like the Battle for the Eagle at the Logan Square Monument and various community meetings.
The book will also include photographs of political stickers, old signs and other memorabilia “that speak to the renegade cultural undercurrent of Logan Square,” as Metzner put it.
Stories on local businesses and neighborhood figures and ruminations on gentrification will be woven throughout, Karova said. She said they’re exploring the idea of asking residents to contribute 100-word essays on their favorite Logan Square experiences. She’s also planning to hold public meetings in the lead-up to publishing so residents can get together and discuss some of these big picture issues.
“I want the process to be community-driven. It’s not just my perspective of Logan Square. I want everyone to feel like they have a voice, they have a say,” Karova said.
“It’s not just about putting together pretty pictures. These are images that I want people to feel like I like that image because when I see that sign it says home to me.”
‘We have these really important questions we need answered’
Karova, 46, is funding the entire project herself; she estimates it’ll cost her upwards of $100,000 all told.
“A lot of people know me as a money manager, the lady who does financial literacy programs at the Logan Square Library. I want people to know me as the woman who did the book about Logan Square. This book is my legacy. That’s why I’m committing a lot to it,” she said.
The financial advisor said she’s not looking to make a profit off of the book. She just wants her 10-year-old daughter, Coco, to read it and share it.
“I want her to know, ‘This is your Logan Square.’ This is how you describe it to your relatives. It’s really important to me,” she said.
Karova has lived in an old Victorian at Spaulding and Dickens avenues since 1997. She bought the home for $80,000 when she was just 23 years old.
Originally from Jacksonville, Fla., Karova moved to Chicago to attend Northwestern University. She studied theater and then art history before getting her master’s in business.
When Karova first landed in Chicago, she settled in Wicker Park when the neighborhood was gentrifying. She ended up getting priced out of Wicker Park, which is when she moved to Logan Square.
“It took a year to get into the house. Things were a lot more affordable and it was still really, really hard for me to get a loan,” she said.
Karova said she’s watched Logan Square change in the years since she bought her home. The neighborhood’s white population has now surpassed its Latino population, according to a 2018 WBEZ analysis of census data.
With the photography book, Karova said she’s aiming to capture all aspects of Logan Square life and “inspire people to take action to preserve the things that make Logan Square a great place to live for everyone.”
“In so many ways, [Logan Square] is an ideal place to live, but we have these really important questions we need answered,” she said.
Those looking to get involved are encouraged to visit the book’s website.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.