Posts Tagged 'South Side'

Then and Now, Yates-92nd Place

1938–Yates Boulevard @ 92nd Place, view north

2019–the same location

In 1938 the Chicago Park District had plans to extend its system of parkways into the city’s southeast side.  The Depression had already delayed the project, but now this quiet residential street was slated to become Yates Boulevard.

World War II further delayed the extension of the parkway system here.  The plan was eventually abandoned.  Today this is Yates Avenue, a one-way local street.

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Black Chicago at Mid-Century (12-28-1949)

The 20th Century was reaching its mid-point.  It was a time to consider where we had been, and where we were going. On this date, the Chicago Tribune began a three-part series on the city’s African-American community.

In 1910 the city’s Black population had been 44,000.  By 1940 the number had grown to 277,000, and was projected to rise to about 400,000 in 1950—over 10% of Chicago’s population.  That was a significant number of people.  They could no longer be ignored.

Apartments on South Wabash Avenue

Housing was the number one problem.  True, the number of African-Americans in the city had kept growing and growing and growing.  But because of segregation, they were still crammed into the narrow “Black Belt” on the South Side.

Unscrupulous landlords had taken advantage of the situation.  Countless old apartment buildings had been chopped up.  A former six-flat might now have twenty or more kitchenettes.  These units had a single room, equipped with a bed, stove, and ice box.  One mother was struggling to raise seven children in these cramped quarters.

New public housing units

The housing conditions led to social problems.  The crime rate among African-Americans was high.  With several families using the same bathrooms and cooking facilities, quarrels resulted.  Parents would avoid returning to their congested living quarters, and the children would be neglected.

There did seem to be hope for the future.  The city was planning to expand public housing, hoping to lessen the over-crowding.  And just last May, restrictive real estate covenants—which promoted segregation—had been outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Congressman William L. Dawson

African-Americans had traditionally been “last to be hired, first to be fired.”  That was slowly changing.  The Urban League reported that the percentage of Blacks employed in many industries had risen sharply—in printing and publishing, for example, the figure had jumped from 1.2% to 19.7% between 1940 and 1945.  But with the end of World War II the job market had tightened, and equal employment opportunity was not yet a reality.

Still, the community was starting to flex its political muscle.  Chicago had a number of African-American government officials, and three of the city’s fifty aldermen were Black.  The South Side was also the home of William L. Dawson, one of only two Blacks in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Chicago’s African-Americans had made great progress in the first half of the century.  The second half would see even greater advances.

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Then and Now, 56th-Everett

1920–56th Street @ Everett Avenue, view west

2019–the same location

Here we are on the northern boundary of Jackson Park, just east of Hyde Park Boulevard.  In 1920 the first Hotel Windermere, originally built to serve visitors to the Columbian Exposition, dominates the scene.  In the distance is the Illinois Central viaduct.   No automobiles are visible, not even a Model-T Ford.

Ninety-nine years later, the old Windermere has been demolished, rebuilt, expanded, then partially demolished again.  The remaining Hotel Windermere East is now on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Illinois Central still runs through the neighborhood, and the descendants of the Model-T line both sides of 56th Street.

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Then and Now, 103rd-Yates

1939–103rd Street @ Yates Avenue, view west

2019–the same location

Eighty years ago the area around 103rd-Yates was largely undeveloped.  Trumbull Park (on the left in the photo) had few amenities.  In the distance on 103rd Street, a long viaduct carried traffic over some major railroad freight yards.

In 2019 this part of the South Deering community is filled with postwar ranch homes.  Trumbull Park has many facilities.  And in addition to the rail yards, the 103rd Street viaduct now spans the Bishop Ford Freeway.

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Hidden Movie Landmarks on “Extension 720”

Last night Justin Kaufmann had me on his “Extension 720” WGN radio show.  We talked about three of the little-known movie-related sites in my book Hidden Chicago Landmarks.  Here’s the link—

Historian John R. Schmidt explores hidden Chicago landmarks: Hollywood in Chicago

Some “Hidden Landmark” Graves on Extension 720

Last night I was on Justin Kaufmann’s “Extension 720” radio program on WGN, talking about some Hidden Chicago Landmarks—specifically, some interesting grave-sites.

Here’s the link—

Historian John R. Schmidt explores spooky hidden Chicago landmarks: Chicago’s smallest cemetery, the Robinson family graves and the Couch Mausoleum in Lincoln Park

Then and Now, 106th-Ewing

1944–106th Street @ Ewing Avenue, view east

2019–the same location

In 1944 the northeast corner of 106th-Ewing was the site of Mausen’s Tavern, which connoisseurs claimed served the best hot beef sandwiches in Chicago.  Down the street from Mausen’s is an old Shell gas station.  Keep going east on 106th, and you’ll find yourself in Indiana.

Today a parking lot occupies the property where Mausen’s once stood.  The Shell gas station has been replaced by a number of store-front businesses, including a pet-grooming salon.  Now in the distance on 106th, the Skyway viaduct marks the Indiana border.

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