Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Derrick Gragg appointed as Northwestern’s vice president for athletic strategy, search for new athletic director begins

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The secret (and short) lives of cicadas on campus

NU Declassified: Prof. Barbara Butts teaches leadership through stage management

Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

City Council: Can I Get A Light?

By Elizabeth GibsonThe Daily Northwestern

A frightening specter once more has taken up its annual residence in downtown Evanston. Empty storefronts, panhandlers and drunken students might worry Evanston residents year round, but every winter something chills downtown Evanston to the core of its condos – the cold.

The subzero wind-chill sucks the breath out of downtown business and anyone daring enough to step outdoors. The city should do something about it.

Change the weather? Is this woman crazy? There’s nothing in the city code about that.

Humor me a moment.

Evanston is Evanston and the cold comes without fail, but modern man has ways to deal with these forces of nature.

The heat lamp, for one.

Quick, someone stop the aldermen before they rush off to kick in the city manager’s door to demand funding. Don’t rework the budget on my account – after all, we’re not talking beach tokens here.

The city doesn’t need to scramble to rearrange the budget now, but at least start thinking about this for next year. Maybe then, the frustrating tundra blast won’t catch us all off guard. Mother Nature can bring it on all she wants once we’re ready.

The cold is such a simple problem that we all laugh it off as our friends walk around wrapped in a tangle of scarves that makes them look like pompom balls on steroids.

That mess of scarves staves off the cold for a few minutes, but the North Shore ‘s wind bites right through the poofy exterior of even the most prepared Evanston residents. The city’s frostbitten downtown is desolate during the yearly freeze. Only a few pompoms blindly dart from their cars into the CVS for milk.

It’s not even worth going to a cafe for a steaming cup of coffee to stop the headaches caused by cabin fever and caffeine withdrawal.

The problem is serious. It’s a safety hazard.

And what about those unprepared?

The homeless, even with donated jackets and mittens, can’t stay outside in this level of cold. They have to find a place in a shelter or ride the El all day. The Purple Line should not be Evanston ‘s public heating service.

Northwestern students also end up stranded by the cold. In lieu of cars, students have little choice other than to walk.

Last year I saw a student walking down Chicago Avenue on the verge of tears as she awkwardly tried to keep hold of her groceries.

Drunken students don’t always make great judgments about how to dress for the weather, either. Perhaps that’s their own fault, but I still wouldn’t wish frostbite on them as they trudge past the locked storefronts late at night. NU does provide transportation services, but they’re limited. Safe Ride, the student escort service, has limited availability. And waiting for one of the perpetually tardy shuttles is like challenging Jack Frost to a smackdown.

So that leaves us looking for a 24-hour service to provide a warm oasis for a moment of relief in the artic dessert.

Heat lamps, anyone?

People actually would use them.

Go to the nearest El stop to check out the Chicago Transit Authority’s heat lamps.

On second thought, take my word that people like the lights. It might be difficult to investigate on your own since it’s nearly impossible to get close enough to a heat lamp to see it. It’s crowded, and the people freezing at the edge of the huddle are slowly going mad from the cold because they’ve been waiting for the El for five hours.

Really, the El could use more heat lamps, too.

You can save the deteriorating Civic Center and the trees at risk for disease, but my praise on this frigid day goes out to anyone with a sign in the yard saying, “Save the Pompoms.”

City editor Elizabeth Gibson is a Medill junior. She can be reached at [email protected].

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City Council: Can I Get A Light?