On snowy city streets, staking curbside turf… I Do NOT Miss Doing This! The Last Time I Did This Was In 1995…

snow spot

It’s an unwritten law in Chicago (And New York and lots of other places) during winter weather: If you shovel a parking space, it’s yours. And woe betide anyone who nudges your orange cones (or lawn chairs, or flowerpots) out of the way.

With snow expected to snarl the roads and cover cars here over the next few days, the cold-weather battle over Windy City street parking will kick into high gear.

Residents will pick up their shovels, clear their curbs of powder and ice — and then line their stretch of the street with lawn chairs.

Or sawhorses. Dinette sets. Bar stools. Flowerpots.

Even empty cardboard boxes and rusty metal buckets will litter the roads, all in a bid to ward off drivers who might steal the cleared space.

It’s an unwritten law, particularly in the densely populated neighborhoods that have gentrified as part of this city’s ongoing urban revival: If you shovel it, you own it. And woe be to anyone who moves such items while the spot’s “owner” is away.

“You could put a television set out there and no one would touch it,” said Wendy Pastrick, 36, a database administrator whose family keeps a bright-orange construction cone next to the snow shovel on the front steps.

Across the street, two houses had folding chairs leaning against snow shovels. Down the block, two more homes had white plastic chairs nestled amid the shrubs and bags of de-icing salt.

Those who do dare move such items and claim a stretch of curb they didn’t clear could see their normally friendly neighbors turn into vigilantes who dole out justice by breaking windows, scratching paint and slashing tires.

The tradition of guarding parking spaces is not without its critics.


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