Broken Windows theory (Part II)

Broken windows/gated windows

Gated Windows

Quick! What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see this storefront on Milwaukee Avenue (right)? Do you feel safe? welcomed? enticed to come back during normal business hours?

As I wrote in my previous post, Broken windows/ dirty windows, windows don’t have to be literally “broken” for the “Broken Windows” theory to apply. There may have been a time in the 1960s and 70s, and even the 80s in Logan Square, when gated windows were a necessary defense against property crimes in the city. I don’t know; I wasn’t in the neighborhood then. If there ever was an appropriate time for gated windows, that time has passed, at least in Logan Square.

That’s not to say that a window is not occasionally broken by vandals or thieves in this neighborhood or countless other city and suburban neighborhoods and small towns too. On balance, though, I have to think that the loss of business from the negative signal that these gated windows send and the law-abiding, potential customers that they put off is greater than the loss possible from a potential crime. While gated windows may offer store owners a sense of security, they offer potential customers quite the opposite.

Unfortunately, the windows above are not an isolated example on this stretch of Milwaukee Avenue north of Logan Square proper. String a bunch of gated windows together for several blocks and you create an unwelcoming environment and a perception of crime. Even when retracted or removed during normal business hours, the gates are still visible and send the message to potential customers that crime is a problem in this area.

Gated Windows - Milwaukee Ave.

Gated Windows – Milwaukee Ave.

Here’s another example of “broken windows” on Milwaukee Avenue. Besides the obvious and ominous gated windows, dozens of light bulbs are missing from the sign (1) and the chains and padlocks only add to a sense of fear (2).

Property owners, store owners: I implore you to lose the worrying gates and make the minor repairs necessary to let people know that this is a safe and well cared for place.

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