It’s going to be tough to remember what the back of the East Side Shopping Center looked like before its transformation. Thank goodness someone thought to post “before” pictures at the grand opening of Mural Alley on Aug. 13.
The photos — propped up on easels near a table where a DJ is spinning hip-hop and pop music — show the boring backside of the shopping center, home of the Hawthorne Branch of the library, which faces East Washington Avenue.
All the back-alley basics remain: cinder block walls and gray utility boxes, dumpsters and a whole lot of concrete. The parking lot behind the shopping center is where some food carts park in off hours. It’s also been home to some unsavory activities, according to Ald. Marsha Rummel, who represents the Darbo-Worthington-Starkweather neighborhood. “This is an amazing day,” says Rummel, grinning ear to ear, and headed for a food cart. “The back of the East Side Shopping Center, which was a ‘no place’ before, and now it becomes a place.”