On the day construction workers began preparing to pour the concrete foundation for his decrepit neighborhood's new Walgreens–" the first new business there in more than 30 years–"Earnest Gates stopped by, buoyed up about his community's future. It was 1999, and West Haven was still more than 95 percent African American, with 54 percent of households living below the poverty level. The Near West Side neighborhood still bore physical scars of the 1968 race riots–"vast stretches of abandoned storefronts and weed-choked vacant lots. But for the first time in 30 years, Gates felt, the neighborhood was on the verge of renaissance. New, wealthier residents, many of them white, were pouring into West Haven and its vicinity to take advantage of its prime location, two miles west of the Loop. Since 1990, its white population had nearly tripled to 281, and it had shed 3,300, or one-quarter, of its African Americans. It had gained hundreds of new housing units, some selling for $300,000, and at least 2,000 more were coming. The new residents were walking their dogs after work, planting flower boxes and otherwise sprinkling the neighborhood with middle-class zest. Now, it was getting its first pharmacy. "It gets better every year," Gates later said. "It's something we've always worked toward–"to boost the demographics to a point where you start seeing a neighborhood and not a poor neighborhood."