Posts Tagged 'Southwest Side'

Yesterday and Tomorrow

YESTERDAY (January 6th) I was a guest on Justin Kaufmann’s “Extension 720” show on WGN-radio.  We talked about some fugitive stories featured in Hidden Chicago Landmarks.

Historian John R. Schmidt explores hidden Chicago landmarks: The Unknown Fugitives

TOMORROW (January 8th) I will be sharing some stories from the book at the Clearing Branch Library (6423 West 63rd Place, Chicago), 6:00 to 7:30 pm.

Then and Now, 38th-Central Park

1947--38th Street @ Central Park, view west

1947–38th Street @ Central Park Avenue, view west

2019–the same location

In 1898 a branch of the Archer Avenue streetcar line was extended west on 38th Street to serve the developing industrial park near the Santa Fe Railroad freight yards.  The line ended at 3600-Wsst, so the terminal was designated as “38th-Central Park”—even though Central Park Avenue did not cut through this area.  By 1947 the streetcar line was in its last days.

During the 1950s a viaduct was built to carry the freight traffic over 38th Street.  Today the street is without public transit.  However, residential construction has filled in much of the land on the near side of the freight tracks.


Dr. King Comes to Marquette Park (8-5-1966)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had brought the civil rights movement to the cities of the North.  In January he had rented an apartment on the West Side of Chicago.  Today he met a violent reaction in his adopted city.

King was leading a series of protest marches against housing segregation.  The city’s white realtors often refused to show homes in white neighborhoods to African-American buyers.  This was a particular problem in the Marquette Park area, the scene of today’s march.

The protesters planned to demonstrate at three realty offices along 63rd Street.  Opponents of open housing were determined to demonstrate against the demonstrators.  The police were deployed to keep the two groups separate and peaceful.

A few of the open housing demonstrators arrived on the scene early, and marched without serious incident.  The thousand or so opponents behind the police lines jeered and yelled insults, but did nothing more.  Then the main body of 700 demonstrators arrived in a motorcade.

King’s car pulled up at 63rd and Sacramento.  As he got out, a rock sailed through the air and hit him in the back of the neck.  He fell to one knee.  After a few seconds he got up, and prepared to lead his people.

“I have to do this–to expose myself–to bring this hate into the open,” he told them.  “I have seen many demonstrations in the South, but I have never seen anything so hostile and so hateful as I’ve seen here today.”

The march began.  Now the crowd behind the police lines hurled rocks, bottles, firecrackers, chunks of concrete, and anything else within reach.  Someone threw a knife.  From time to time, the people on the sidewalk tried to push through to get at the marchers.  The cops held firm.

The day ended with 30 people injured, including King and 4 policemen.  Forty-one persons had been arrested, mostly whites who had tried to block off Kedzie Avenue.

Later in the year an agreement was reached between the demonstrators and the Chicago Real Estate Board.  The first, faltering steps were taken to ending segregated housing in the city.


“Hidden Chicago Landmarks”

This is not a quiz, so there’s no need to send in any answers.  Rather, this is a selection of photos from my new book Hidden Chicago Landmarks.

These are the places that aren’t on the usual tour.  You might recognize some of them.  Now you can learn the fascinating history behind them.

The book has 60 stories.  Besides 42 current landmarks, there are 10 lost landmarks that are now gone.  The final section visits 8 interesting neighborhoods that most people simply drive by.

Hidden Chicago Landmarks is now available on Amazon.  Buy several and stock up!  Or wait until it comes to your library.  But whatever you do, I hope you have as much fun reading the book as I did writing it.

Here is the Amazon link—


“Hidden Chicago Landmarks”—My Next Book

My fifth book, Hidden Chicago Landmarks, is being published on July 8th.  To quote myself from the Introduction, it is “a descriptive guide to the places that aren’t included on the usual tour.”

The opening sections of the book take you to 42 neglected historic sites in the city and suburbs, and tell you the stories behind each of them.  That’s followed by a look at 10 lost landmarks that should have been preserved, but weren’t.  Finally, we visit Chicagoland’s version of “fly-over country”—notable neighborhoods that most people simply drive by on their way to someplace else.

Hidden Chicago Landmarks has over 50 illustrations, and comes in a convenient digest-size for easy carrying in jaunts around town.  Like this blog, I’ve tried to make the book a fun read.  It’s available at Amazon for pre-order at a discount price.  So stock up now!


A Trip Down 31st Boulevard (1-23-1969)

A bit of local wisdom says that Chicago has two seasons—Winter and Road Construction.  Fifty years ago today, motorists on 31st Boulevard were hoping that winter would soon make way for that other season.  The problem was potholes.

A half-mile stretch of roadway between California and Western was pitted and scarred like the surface of the moon. Though the potholes didn’t have names like the lunar craters, daily commuters were all too familiar with the situation. Most of them knew the course, managing to safely navigate with judicious swerving. Every so often, though, the potholes would claim another victim. Then it was time to get the spare out of the trunk and change the blown tire, in typical single-digit January temperature. Drivers who merely lost a hubcap to a pothole didn’t even bother to stop.

A Sun-Times reporter sent to investigate the carnage measured the biggest hole as 3 feet wide, 4 feet long, and just under 2 feet deep. When informed of the situation on 31st Boulevard, the city’s streets and sanitation commissioner promised the paper that the road would be fixed by the next morning.

*****For 365 more stories like this—one for every day of the year—buy my book On This Day in Chicago History.  Available on Amazon.

Then and Now, 63rd Place-Oak Park

1946--63rd Place @ Oak Park, view west

1946–63rd Place @ Oak Park Avenue, view west

2016--the same location

2018–the same location

In 1946 streetcars on the 63rd Street line jogged a block south to 63rd Place at Central Avenue, then continued west.  Past Austin Avenue, 63rd Place existed only on paper, and the cars ran through open country to a terminal at Oak Park Avenue.  Here they connected with a single-track shuttle line to Argo.

CTA cut back the 63rd Street line to a terminal at 63rd Place-Narragansett in 1948.  The Argo shuttle car was eliminated at that time.  Seventy years later the neighborhood is fully developed, and buses run on 63rd Street itself.