Devon Avenue on Chicago’s far north side is known throughout the Midwest and even internationally as a destination for a wide variety of Indian, Pakistani and other South Asian restaurants and shops. This international marketplace highlights the great diversity of Chicago and attracts thousands of visitors to Chicago. First developed in the years following World War I, Devon Avenue exhibits a fine collection of modest early-1920s brick buildings, elaborate late-20s era terra cotta commercial flats, and art deco-influenced structures from the early-1930s. While the vibrant cultural melting pot of Devon Avenue flourishes, its architectural heritage is threatened by neglect, indifference and the city’s lack of enforcement of zoning and building codes. Several redevelopment plans proposed in the recent past could irreparably harm the character and quality of this important street and its surrounding neighborhood if they were to come to fruition.
Update: Recent community efforts to both raise awareness about the importance of the architecture and to reward responsible stewardship by local building owners has met with some success. As of May of 2011, the 50th Ward has a new alderman, Debra Silverstein. Although the area still remains unprotected from wholesale demolition because it lacks official Landmark protection, it is hoped that the new administration will look more kindly on historic preservation than did the previous administration.