The Maple Springs neighborhood in Oak Lawn, one of the nicest remaining areas in that part of the city, is bounded by Maple Avenue, Hudnall, Cedar Springs Road and Maple Springs/Amelia. It’s one of the few Oak Lawn neighborhoods that still has oak trees and lawns.
Many of the houses in the area have been preserved and renovated. Others have been expanded. Some have been replaced by modern structures that have avoided being McMansions.
But the most endearing feature of this neighborhood is the proliferating flock of Maple Springs ducks — a really ugly/adorable large breed of duck that has taken up residence in the yards of welcoming neighbors. Drive slowly through the area because the ducks will cross the road whenever they please, at their own pace, often with their ducklings following in a curved, waddling line.
If some of the neighbors find these birds to be pests; others have laid out the welcome mat or, more properly, the wading pool.
Development is the real threat to this neighborhood. Recent construction of a CVS on a triangular lot along Maple between Amelia and Maple Springs is an example of a corporation saying screw you to its new neighbors. To endear itself to the neighborhood during construction, both streets were usually closed for months, making access to the area difficult for people who lived there. Since the store’s opening, the neighborhood has mostly said ‘thank you’ by refusing to shop at the store, whose parking lot is always pretty empty.
Despite the threat of development — including the threat of a West Village-type development including 400 apartment units, stores and restaurants running half the length of Hudnall Street with no provision for wider streets to accommodate the additional traffic — the Maple Springs ducks have been thriving. In a completely unscientific count one recent morning while I rode up and down each of the streets, I counted several dozen ducks, which included lots of ugly ducklings.
So while most of Oak Lawn is being overrun with Soviet-style, overpriced apartment blocks and storage unit facilities to store belongings for residents trying to squeeze into these tiny units, one neighborhood is fighting that development. And one of the best reasons to preserve the neighborhood is to make sure the Maple Springs ducks have a nice place to live.