header 1
header 2
header 3

Far Southeast Side

Video Starts Here

 

 

Far Southeast Side District's
Communities

 

 

 

#44
Chatham
Community

Chatham Neighborhoods
Avalon Park, Burnside, Chatham, East Chatham, East Hyde Park, Gresham, Marynook, Gresham

Chatham Skating Rink

 

The greatest need of any state is a rapid and inexpensive way to bring goods to market. After several failed attempts by the State of Illinois to finance a much needed railroad system to do just that, state government turned to local, private interests, whose efforts immediately proved profitable for the investors and highly beneficial to the state. It was apparent from the beginning, however, that an adequate railroad line would need help from the Federal government.

In 1850 the U.S. Congress passed a Land Grant bill which gave land to Illinois, Mississippi, and Alabama for construction of a railroad between Chicago and Mobile. In 1851, the Illinois Central Railroad Company was incorporated and given the task of constructing the road. It now had the necessary land; but needing finances for the actual construction, it aggressively sought European money. By 1864, over $12,000,000 in Illinois Central bonds were held by European investors with three-fourths of them being from England. 

The railroad habitually constructed a station approximately every ten miles, which quickly became the basis for a town. Many of those station houses, and later the towns themselves, were given English names by the Illinois Central. According to John I. Wright, a former mayor of Carbondale, Illinois and an instructor I had at Southern Illinois University, this was an effort to encourage British investors. In any case, some of these neighborhoods of the Far Southwest Side District carry names that could be a result of good salesmanship. 


Chatham Neighborhood
It’s hard to fathom that the area of Chatham was once a place so swampy that it was referred to as "Mud Lake," but such was the case. The land was used mostly for hunting though some farming was done; but all in all, Chatham’s beginnings were rather boggy and uninviting to residents for many years.

Things started to take a turn for the better in the 1860s and ‘70s when railroad tracks were laid nearby. Industrial plants and factories that manufactured tacks, barbed-wire, scales, watches, and furniture began popping up alongside the new train route. Employment opportunities were plenty. As innovative drainage programs made the marshy territory more livable, Italian stonemasons began to build houses in the neighborhood in the 1880s. In addition to immigrants from Italy, the newly established Chatham community saw an influx of Hungarians and Irish, who came to the area mainly to work on nearby railroad construction sites. By the year 1889, Chatham was welcomed into Chicago’s ever-expanding city limits.

The Chatham name could have had its origins in Chatham, England.


West Chesterfield Neighborhood
Once a swampy area known as Mud Lake—more popular with hunters than humans looking for habitation—West Chesterfield later developed into a small agrarian community on the outskirts of the city in the mid-1800s. Industrial development started slowly and it wasn’t until the turn of the century, when steel mills started crowding the lakefront, that European immigrants began settling in the area to fill the open jobs.

By the early 1900s, West Chesterfield had a population of just 1,800, but the development of the nearby Illinois Central railroad yard caused a bump in growth. The 1920s brought the most dramatic increase as new residents, primarily European immigrants from Scandinavia and Austria, as well as Irish immigrants, moved into the neighborhood, causing the population to more than triple in the decade that spanned the 1920s. Housing, at the time, mostly consisted of small frame and brick dwellings and two-flat homes, many of which are still standing today. 

The Chesterfield name could have come from the English town, Chesterfield.


The West Chatham and East Chatham names came from neighboring Chatham. 

Unfortunately, no historical information on the origin of the names of Princeton Park or Marynook was found.

Details on the Avalon and Burnside neighborhoods will be found later in this series.
 

 

 

#45
Avalon
Park Community

Avalon Park Neighborhoods
Avalon Park, Grand Crossing, Marynook,
South Chicago, Stony Island Park

 

The Regal Theater, formerly The Avalon Theater

 

Avalon Park Neighborhood
The South Park Commission built a park called Avalon Park for local residents in the 1920s in a south side neighborhood, which was later included in annexation to Chicago in 1889. At first the neighborhood was called Pierce's Park; and then it became known as Pennytown because of a general store owner named Penny, who sold homemade popcorn balls. In 1910, Avalon Park Community Church members successfully led an effort to change the name to Avalon Park. In so doing, the church, community, and a local street pay homage to the English Isle of Avalon, believed to be the burial place of legendary King Arthur--another English connection.

Stony Island Park Neighborhood
Chicago's Stony Island and the nearby town of Blue Island were both named by early settlers because they stood out in such striking relief to the otherwise featureless prairie. The two formations had actually been islands thousands of years earlier when the waters of Lake Chicago covered the area. Of the two, Blue Island was the more imposing, rising fifty to eighty feet above the lake plain and measuring five and a half miles long by a mile wide. (In case you're wondering, Blue Island looked blue from a distance due to atmospheric scattering.)

Stony Island, on the other hand, was just a boulder covered hill that stretched for about a mile and a quarter and stood about twenty to twenty-five feet above the surrounding lake plain. In the 1920s, the "island" was destroyed to make way for drainage systems, a road, and residential development. All that remains of the island today is the name, Stony Island, which was given to the neighborhood that stands in its place.

 

 

#46
South Chicago
Community

South Chicago Neighborhoods
South Chicago, South Shore, The Bush

Our Lady of Guadelupe Catholic Church
 


South Chicago Neighborhood
Back in 1833, smart businessmen, like Joseph H Brown, pegged the community as an area ripe for development due to its location perched between Lake Michigan, the Calumet River, and several major railroad routes. Big companies like Brown Iron and Steel Company and South Works roared into operation in the 1870s. The area soon bustled with immigrants from Ireland, Poland, and Italy, who moved there to work in the factories. It was inexpensive and convenient to obtain the iron ore from Lake Superior for processing in the South Chicago plants; and as a result, South Works quickly became a world leader in steel production.

US Steel bought South Works in 1901 and kept the factory name the same. Back in 1911, South Works employed 11,000 people; but it was a hard job. Men worked 12-hour shifts, six or seven days a week, and safety regulations were hardly sufficient. Workers repeatedly held strikes, but it wasn’t until 1923 that the steel industry finally agreed to the more humane eight-hour day.

Fast forward half a century: The steel industry dramatically changed in the 1970s and ‘80s, as local manufacturers had international competition and less demand on the home front. Consequently, thousands of Chicago steel workers lost their jobs and South Works finally closed its doors for good in April of 1992.


The Bush Neighborhood
During the 1950s many residents of the community called the northeast section of South Chicago "The Bush" because in the early days it had nothing but a strip of sandy beach with some shrubbery. These people worked in the local massive steel mill, US Steel. Others worked in neighboring steel mills such as Youngstown Steel, Republic Steel, Bethlehem Steel, and LaSalle Steel. Bathed in the soot of the steel furnaces, the neighborhood became notorious throughout Chicago for its poor environmental and economic conditions.

 

 

 

#47
Burnside
Community

Burnside Neighborhood
Burnside

Spacious Burnside 2-Flat


Burnside Neighborhood
The Burnside neighborhood was originally known as Burnside Triangle because of the three railroad tracks that circumscribed its boundaries. As a result of its location along the trade route, Burnside developed as an industrial area that, like much of the city, was raised out of swampy wetlands. When the Illinois Central Railroad opened a commuter rail station in the neighborhood in the early 1860s, the community was officially recognized and was named after Ambrose Burnside, a Civil War general, who also conveniently served as the treasurer of the railroad company.

Soon after the turn of the century, the growing area saw an influx of settlers as Eastern European immigrants poured in to take unskilled jobs with the railroad companies and related industries. In little time, the fabric of the Burnside community was distinctly formed, as many of the residents were of similar ethnic backgrounds and worked similar blue collar jobs.

 

 

#48
Calumet
Heights Community

Calumet Heights Neighborhoods
Calumet Heights, Pill Hill, South Chicago

Calumet Heights Home Built in 1956



Calumet Heights Neighborhood
During the 19th Century, the Calumet and Chicago Canal & Dock Company acquired the sparsely populated, swampy area that would someday become Calumet Heights. The region remained largely desolate until 1881 when the New York, Chicago & St. Louis railroad lines built yards along the western edge. As has been evident throughout American history, with trains come people; and it didn’t take long for a small settlement to sprout along the side of the track. When a portion of the area was purchased by Samual E. Gross, it was apparent that something huge was on the horizon for the long-overlooked settlement just southeast of Chicago. The year was 1887 and by 1890. the new subdivision—aptly named Calumet Heights after the nearby Calumet River and the ridge of Niagara limestone quarried in the vicinity—was folded into the city of Chicago as part of the annexation of the Hyde Park Township.

 

Pill Hill Neighborhood
The neighborhood's swampy nature removed farming as an option, so it remained undeveloped for quite a while. Finally in the 1870s, a number of industrial businesses (such as the Calumet and Chicago Canal and Dock Company and Pullman Railcars) built factories nearby, and residential development was needed and begun to house their workers.

In the 1940s, the once-important factories began closing down, the blue-collar factory laborers moved out, and young white-collar workers moved in. Pretty soon the area became solidly middle-class and gained a reputation for affluence and nice houses. During this time, a large number of doctors from the nearby South Chicago Hospital moved into a small enclave; and people began referring to this little region as "Pill Hill." The name stuck.

 

 

#49
Roseland
Community

Roseland Neighborhoods
Fernwood, Longwood Manor, Princeton Park, Roseland, Rosemoor, West Chatham, and West Chesterfield

Christian Fenger High School, Home of the Titans & Us

 

Roseland Neighborhood
The area was settled in the 1840s by Dutch immigrants, who called it "de Hooge Prairie", the High Prairie, because it was built on higher, drier ground than the earlier Dutch settlement to the south. The other Dutch settlement, which was called "de Laage Prairie" or the Low Prairie, became South Holland.

Fertile, lush, and full of flowers, James H. Bowen, the president of the Calumet and Chicago Canal and Dock Company, renamed the community "Roseland" in 1873. Later, Roseland became home to the premier learning establishment of Christian Fenger High School whose 1958 graduates have swelled the ranks of intelligencia.

Entirely agrarian until the late 19th century, the community changed when George M. Pullman built his planned model industrial city to house workers for his "Palace" railway coach factory. Skilled tradesmen from all over Europe immigrated to the town of Pullman and nearby Roseland.

Roseland was annexed into Chicago in 1892 and became a very cosmopolitan community made up of multi-cultural, ethnic, and racial residents. There was also a large population of Italian Americans just east of Roseland in the Kensington community. Most came to the area from the Little Italy neighborhood on Taylor Street making Kensington the center of South Side Italian life. San Antonia de Padua (St. Anthony's) cathedral was a cultural landmark of the area.

Businesses sporting the influx of population flourished rapidly and changed the farmland into commercial and residential neighborhoods surrounded by a number of industries. Stores on Michigan Avenue served the entire south side of Chicago.


Fernwood Neighborhood
Fernwood Village was founded by Dutch farmers, who named it after the surrounding woodland which was full of ferns. The village was annexed to Chicago in 1891. Fernwood lies on the western edge of the Roseland community and was considered an "upscale" neighborhood.


Rosemoor Neighborhood
Back in the 1800s, the area where Rosemoor now stands was all farmland and known as the High Prairie because of its location to the north of Lake Calumet. The neighborhood was officially established in 1930, but the first major development boom didn’t occur until 1937 when new homes were built for the first time since the Depression. Over the course of the 20th century, the area continued to grow as Polish, Irish, Italian, Dutch, and Greek families planted roots in Rosemoor before leaving the area to join the suburban sprawl movement.

It is safe to assume that the name Rosemoor was derived from Roseland, the community in which it is found.

 

Unfortunately, no historical information on the Longwood Manor neighborhood was found.

 

 

#50
Pullman
Community

Pullman Neighborhoods
Cottage Grove Heights, London Town, Pullman, and Rosemoor

The Florence Hotel, named after George Pullman's Only Daughter



Calumet Heights Neighborhood
During the 19th Century, the Calumet and Chicago Canal & Dock Company acquired the sparsely populated, swampy area that would someday become Calumet Heights. The region remained largely desolate until 1881 when the New York, Chicago & St. Louis railroad lines built yards along the western edge. As has been evident throughout American history, with trains come people; and it didn’t take long for a small settlement to sprout along the side of the track. When a portion of the area was purchased by Samual E. Gross, it was apparent that something huge was on the horizon for the long-overlooked settlement just southeast of Chicago. The year was 1887 and by 1890. the new subdivision—aptly named Calumet Heights after the nearby Calumet River and the ridge of Niagara limestone quarried in the vicinity—was folded into the city of Chicago as part of the annexation of the Hyde Park Township.


Calumet Heights Neighborhood
During the 19th Century, the Calumet and Chicago Canal & Dock Company acquired the sparsely populated, swampy area that would someday become Calumet Heights. The region remained largely desolate until 1881 when the New York, Chicago & St. Louis railroad lines built yards along the western edge. As has been evident throughout American history, with trains come people; and it didn’t take long for a small settlement to sprout along the side of the track. When a portion of the area was purchased by Samual E. Gross, it was apparent that something huge was on the horizon for the long-overlooked settlement just southeast of Chicago. The year was 1887 and by 1890. the new subdivision—aptly named Calumet Heights after the nearby Calumet River and the ridge of Niagara limestone quarried in the vicinity—was folded into the city of Chicago as part of the annexation of the Hyde Park Township.
 

 

 

#51
South Deering 
Community

South Deering Neighborhoods 
Hegewish, Jeffrey Manor, South Deering, and Trumbull Park

South Deering's 95th Street Bridge



South Deering Neighborhood
South Deering got its start in 1875 when the Joseph H. Brown Iron and Steel Company built a steel mill near Calumet Lake. Irish, Welsh, English, Swedish, and German immigrant laborers flocked to the factory for jobs, and the ensuing settlement was known as "Irondale." It wasn’t until 1903 that community leaders renamed the small township South Deering as a cozy reminder of the wildlife in the area.

Just before the name change, the Brown Iron and Steel Company was bought out by International Harvester, an agricultural machinery manufacturer that was big business in the south side of Chicago. In terms of the local economy, it was an economically positive buyout that brought more jobs and prosperity to the neighborhood. Throughout the early 1900s, other large manufacturers set up shop in the area. Wisconsin Steel, Gold Medal Flour Company, Illinois Slag and Ballast Company, and Federal Furnace Company all opened plants in South Deering, giving Chicago a social and financial boost by creating thousands of jobs and pumping money into the oft-ignored south side region.

 

Jeffrey Manor/Merrionette Manor Neighborhoods
Jeffery Manor and Merrionette Manor were developed by Robert Merrion as a result of the increased demand for housing after World War II. One took the name of the developer, and the other was named because of its proximity to Jeffery Boulevard. Formerly a waste site for slag and other industrial by-products, Jeffrey Manor was cleaned up during the mid-1940s and turned into homes. Originally sectioned off into Merrionette Manor and Jeffrey Manor, the two subdivisions were eventually combined into one neighborhood: Jeffrey Manor.

 

Trumbull Park Neighborhood
The late 1930s was the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal Public Works Administration housing "demonstration" projects. There were three of these PWA projects in Chicago: the Jane Addams Houses in the Near West Side neighborhood of Little Italy, the Julia C. Lathrop Homes on the North Branch of the Chicago River in Lincoln Park, and the Trumbull Park Homes in South Deering Community on the Far Southeast Side. All were administered by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA).

Completed in 1938, this early public housing was built in desperate times. The Depression had created a housing crisis. With annual incomes below $1000, a third of all families in Chicago had no chance of buying housing on the private market. The PWA project architects were asked to design rental units to provide acceptable living conditions at the cheapest possible cost; and although each project was designed by a different group of architects, the designs for the three projects were remarkably similar. 

Trumbull Park Homes development features a low-density design of two-story row houses and three-story apartment buildings--a total of 434 apartments--spread across twenty-one acres. It was named after Lyman Trumbull, who served in the United States Senate from 1855 to 1873.


Details on the Hegewish neighborhood will be found later in this series.

 

 

 

#52
East Side Community

East Side Neighborhood
East Side

Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Simeon Mirotocivi



East Side Neighborhood
The East Side neighborhood was socially and economically dominated by the Calumet River and the jobs it supported. A cluster of riverside docks and slips allowed materials of all sorts to be loaded and unloaded from the industrial Port of Chicago onto adjacent railroad lines. The river itself was lined with steel mills, the earliest being Republic Steel which began operations here in 1901. The Republic mill was the site of frequent union unrest, culminating in the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937 and the successful drive by the United Steelworkers to organize the Chicago mills.

Many of the neighborhood's residents during this period were families of Slovenia, Croatian, and Serbian heritage, who had emigrated from Europe to work in the steel mills and take related jobs. Especially after unionization, the neighborhood became a stronghold of the Chicago Democratic Party machine of Mayor Richard J. Daley. The neighborhood's longtime alderman, Edward Vrdolyak, became a noted Chicago "power broker" after the senior Daley's death.

The neighborhood was christened "Eastside" simply because it was located on the east bank of the river.

 

 

 

#53
West Pullman
Community

West Pullman Neighborhood
West Pullman

West Pullman Elementary School


West Pullman Neighborhood
Despite Pullman’s reputation as one of the world’s best towns in which to live, a number of its employees preferred building their houses outside of its boundaries. These workers did not want to live under the thumb of George M. Pullman, who controlled both the wages and rent of all who worked and lived in Pullman. The West Pullman neighborhood provided alternate housing for Pullman employees, and many settled there. Its name originated because of its physical location in regard to the Pullman town and factory: southwest.

As other industrial facilities sprung up in the region, the laborers of other manufacturing plants migrated to West Pullman. The mixed-community of working-class and white-collar residents thrived and was eventually was incorporated into the city of Chicago in the 1890s.

 

 

 

#54
Riverdale
Community

Riverdale Neighborhoods
Altgeld Gardens, Eden Green, Golden Gate, Pullman, and Riverdale

 Riverdale Rail Commuter Station


Riverdale Neighborhood
In 1835, George Dolton settled in this area alongside the Calumet River near a Potawatomi Indian reservation. He built a toll ferry, which became known as the Riverdale Ferry. A bridge soon followed, and the area was called both Dolton and Riverdale for years as it became an industrial epicenter.

Most of Riverdale's swampy land was used or zoned for a wide range of manufacturing and industrial purposes throughout much of its history. Its largest industry was the Calumet Paint Company, which began in an abandoned church in the early 1900s. Later Sherwin-Williams purchased the paint factory and turned it into one of America's largest paint manufacturer. It is said that jobs at Sherwin-Williams plus those of Riverdale's Chicago Drop Forge, the Illinois Terra Cotta Works, and the Swift and Knickerbocker Ice plants made the town a place where far more people worked than lived until the end--at least until after World War II.


Altgeld Gardens Neighborhood
Mostly marshland and on the very southern tip of Chicago near the Illinois/Indiana state border, Altgeld Gardens attracted European immigrants in the mid and late 1800s. The land proved affordable and available and was close to the Calumet River, a convenient means of transportation. U.S. Steel, the Ford Company, and Pullman Palace Cars provided jobs in the area and helped Altgeld Gardens mature into a strong-willed working-class neighborhood. The town bears the name of John Peter Altgeld the twentieth Governor of Illinois, who served from 1893 until 1897. 

In 1945, the first public housing projects in America were built, and Altgeld Gardens was chosen as one of Chicago's sites. The complex consisted of almost 2,000 units of two-story row houses sprawling over 157 acres plus schools, maintenance staff, and onsite social services and medical staff.


Unfortunately, no historical information was found on the Eden Green or the Golden Gate neighborhoods.
 

 

   

#55
Hegewisch
Community

Hegewisch Neighborhoods
East Side, Harbor Point Estates, 

and Hegewisch

Hegewisch Railroad Crossing


Hegewisch Neighborhood
In 1883 Adolph Hegewisch, President of United States Rolling Stock Company, purchased one hundred acres of land and founded the community of Hegewisch--naming it after himself--with the intention of creating a company and company town similar to that formed by George Pullman. Later, investors bought an additional 1,500 acres for working class housing, and a small business center popped up just north of the factory area.
 
The envisioned industrialization was never quite fulfilled because a proposed canal connecting the Calumet River, Wolf Lake, and Lake Michigan never materialized. By 1911 Hegewisch was still a struggling community; and though the Cal-Sag Canal brought some employment opportunity to the area, its distance from downtown Chicago continued to be a stumbling block to real economic growth.


Unfortunately, no historical information was found on Harbor Point Estates neighborhood.