Bensenville neighborhood lost in airport expansion

  • A vacant house waits to be demolished in 2008 in a Bensenville neighborhood that has made way for a new O'Hare runway and other infrastructure.

      A vacant house waits to be demolished in 2008 in a Bensenville neighborhood that has made way for a new O'Hare runway and other infrastructure. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer, June 2008

 
 
Updated 10/15/2015 6:52 PM

Twenty years ago, kids raced home through piles of fall leaves, past pumpkins and scarecrows decorating their Bensenville neighborhood, located just southeast of York and Irving Park roads.

Five years ago, demolition of those homes was ongoing, after many had stood vacant for months.

 

And, Thursday as Chicago opened its latest runway and air traffic control tower on the south end of the airfield, nothing remained to mark the neighborhood, once a vital part of Bensenville.

About 600 homes were torn down to make way for the relocation of Irving Park Road, the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, a drainage ditch and the runway.

The blue-collar neighborhood was a classic American story, a melting pot of longtime residents and new immigrants, living in bungalows and townhouses.

"I had friends from high school who lived there," Bensenville Mayor Frank Soto said. "I used go to their house after school. Anytime you lose a portion of your town, it's something you hate to see."

Soto said he is hoping some relief for residents weary of jet noise will come when the entire O'Hare modernization plan is finished. That involves building one more runway and extending an existing one on the north airfield.

"I'm optimistic there is movement, and we now have a better relationship with the new aviation commissioner and city of Chicago," he said.

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