WBEZ | South Lawndale http://www.wbez.org/tags/south-lawndale Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en South Lawndale, aka Little Village http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/south-lawndale-aka-little-village-105892 <p><p>Our subject is Community Area 30, the area of the West Side generally centered around 26<sup>th</sup> and Central Park. Historically, the neighborhood was known as South Lawndale.</p><p>That&rsquo;s still the official name. But around 1964 community leaders here began referring to their turf as Little Village. North Lawndale was going through some bad times, and the people south the Burlington railroad wanted to emphasize their separate status. To keep the narration simple, I&rsquo;m calling this area SLLV.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/South%20Lawndale--Trumbull%20Avenue%20%282013%29_0.JPG" title="Welcome to South Lawndale--or is it Little Village?" /></div></div></div><p>In 1869 the City of Chicago annexed most of the area that would become SLLV. The only hints of civilization then were a few farms and a little settlement near the Burlington tracks. That would soon change.</p><p>The Great Fire of 1871 wiped out downtown Chicago. The McCormick Reaper Works on the lakefront was among the properties destroyed. The company rebuilt on the outskirts of the city, at Western and Blue Island avenues. When employees at the new plant began settling nearby, developers began subdividing in SLLV.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/03-14--SLLV%20map.jpg" style="width: 518px; height: 345px;" title="" /></div><p>Over the next 30 years, the community grew slowly and steadily. Many of the residents were Czechs moving west from Pilsen. There were also some Germans and Poles. In 1889 the city annexed the area west of Crawford Avenue (Pulaski Road), giving SLLV its current boundaries.</p><p>The real building boom came with the new century. In 1903 the massive Hawthorne Works opened just to the west, while to the north, the Douglas Park &lsquo;L&rsquo; line was being extended. Cottages, two-flats, and distinctive three-decker flats began filling up the 25-foot lots of SLLV. A ribbon commercial strip took hold along 26<sup>th</sup> Street.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/South Lawndale--26th St.JPG" title="26th Street commercial strip" /></div><p>Meanwhile, other factories and rail yards were being constructed along the community&rsquo;s eastern and western borders. The Sanitary and Ship Canal was built along the southern periphery, and attracted similar development. SLLV became an island surrounded by a sea of industry. &nbsp;</p><p>The population reached 84,000 in 1920, making SLLV was one of the most densely-packed communities in Chicago. The residents were mainly blue collar and Czech. The most prominent was Anton Cermak, businessman and political boss. Cermak&rsquo;s clout brought the community the Cook County court house and jail complex. In 1931 he became mayor of Chicago.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/South Lawndale--Court House (2013).JPG" title="Mr. Cermak's court house" /></div><p>From Cermak&rsquo;s time into the 1960s, SLLV didn&rsquo;t change much. The population steadily declined to about 60,000, which was a blessing. Poles replaced Czechs as the dominant nationality. A few African-Americans lived in the northeast section. There were also a small number of Hispanics.</p><p>The last-named group proved to be the future of SLLV. In 1970 about a third of the population was Hispanic, and by 1980 that proportion had become 74 percent. At the same time, the total number of residents began rising. The 1980 census counted 75,000 people living in Community Area 30. Twenty years later the population reached a historic high of 91,000.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/South%20Lawndale--Epiphany%20Catholic%20Church%20%282013%29.JPG" title="Epiphany Catholic Church" /></div><p>Today SLLV is home to about 79,000 people. The 2010 Census identified the population as 84 percent Hispanic, with 12 percent African-American and 4 percent White. The Mexican community is the largest&nbsp;in the Midwest. A highpoint on the calendar is the 26<sup>th</sup> Street Mexican Independence Day Parade in September.</p><p>Hawthorne Works and most of the other factories are gone, and many SLLV residents work in clerical and service jobs. The 26<sup>th</sup> Street strip continues to be one of the city&rsquo;s busiest outlying shopping districts. In recent years several public schools have been built to serve the area.</p><p>SLLV has always suffered from a lack of parks. Though Douglas Park is just to the north, the only facility in the community itself is Piotrowski Park on 31<sup>st</sup> Street. Perhaps some of the vacated industrial land can be devoted to recreational facilities.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/South%20Lawndale--Little%20Village%20High%20School%20%282013%29.JPG" title="New use for old industrial land--Little Village High School" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 20 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-03/south-lawndale-aka-little-village-105892 The Marquette monument http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-03-12/marquette-monument-97115 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-12/marquette statue_Schmidt.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-09/03-12--Marquette.jpg" style="width: 490px; height: 487px;" title=""></p><p>The statues stand at one of the corners of the Emerald Necklace, where Marshall Boulevard swings east into 24th. Three men of the 17th Century are sculpted in bronze--an Algonquin man, a Catholic priest and a French soldier.</p><p>Father Jacques Marquette is the man in the middle, and the monument is officially dedicated to him. Chicago also remembers the Jesuit with two streets, a major park, a public school, a Southwest Side neighborhood, a downtown office building and at onetime, a police district.</p><p>Marquette was born in France in 1637. He was ordained at 28 and came to French North America as a missionary. Most of his early work was in the lands that are now Ontario and Michigan.</p><p>In 1673 Marquette was part of an expedition sent to explore the Mississippi River. On the return trip he became friendly with the Illini tribe. Marquette was heading back toward Lake Michigan, so the Illini told him about a shortcut.</p><p>This was the Chicago portage. The expedition took the Illini's route and found out it worked fine. Just a short hop between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system--hey, this might be a good place for a city someday!</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-09/03-12--2701 S Damen Ave.JPG" title="Marquette 'residence' marker: 2635 S. Damen Ave." height="367" width="490"></p><p>The Illini had asked Marquette to return, and tell them more about his religion. During the later part of 1674 he set out for their settlement near Starved Rock. The weather turned bad and Marquette came down with dysentery, so he spent the winter on the portage. This gives him the distinction of being Chicago's first European resident.</p><p>In the spring Marquette reached the Illini. But his health was getting worse, and he soon decided to return to the French settlements. He never made it. Jacques Marquette died at what is now Ludington, Mich. on May 18, 1675.</p><p>The Marquette Monument was designed by Hermon Atkins MacNeill and dedicated in 1926. Over 15,000 school children had signed a petition asking for a statue of the missionary-explorer. The French soldier is Louis Jolliet, who traveled with Marquette. The Algonquin is representative of the many friends Marquette made among the native peoples.</p><p>Nobody is sure exactly where Marquette lived on the Chicago portage. The traditional site is near 2635 S. Damen Avenue, and a marker was erected there in 1930.</p></p> Mon, 12 Mar 2012 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-03-12/marquette-monument-97115