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Table of Contents > Chapter 10

Grand Boulevard — Washington Park (continued)

Because of its proximity to the center of the city. Grand Boulevard developed at a faster rate than the Washington Park district. The most desirable location for single-family homes was Grand Boulevard itself, a beautifully landscaped thoroughfare which extended from 18th Street to 51st Street, where it formed the entrance to Washington Park. (South of 51st Street the avenue was known as South Park; the street is now Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive.) Wealthy Chicagoans, many of them sons and daughters of immigrant entrepreneurs, built elegant houses along the boulevard, while middle-class families purchased spacious brownstones on side streets such as Forrestville, Champlain, and Langley West of Grand Boulevard, two- and three-story apartments filled up the long city blocks, especially Michigan, Indiana, and Prairie Avenues.

The building boom of the 1890s transformed the prairies east and west of Grand Boulevard into a city neighborhood. While most of the pioneer settlers remained, the community expanded to include second generation German Jews and Irish Catholics who had moved up and out of congested areas on the South and Near West Sides of the city. These families quickly put down roots and established synagogues, churches, and charitable institutions. The history of Temple Isaiah illustrates the speed with which a Jewish community was formed in Grand Boulevard.

Temple Isaiah was established in 1895 by men and women who had formerly belonged to Zion Temple at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Ogden Avenue on the West Side (See Fig. 1). According to the Chicago Inter Ocean, by the early 1890s "practically the entire society of Zion temple had settled in the neighborhood of Fortieth Street, between Drexel and Grand boulevards." The new Reform congregation worshiped in Oakland Club Hall at 39th and Cottage Grove until the temple at 4501 S. Vincennes Avenue was dedicated in 1899 Temple Isaiah was an innovative congregation, admitting single and married women to membership, and its magnificent synagogue was the last major work of architect Dankmar Adler.

The Jewish population of Grand Boulevard continued to increase after the turn of the century, and by 1915 the neighborhood included such important synagogues as Sinai Temple (See Fig. 2). 46th and Grand Boulevard; Beth Hamedrash Hagadol (Anshe Dorum), 5129 S. Indiana Avenue; and B'nai Sholom Temple Israel, 53rd and Michigan Avenue.

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Figure 1: Temple Isaiah, 4501 S. Vincennes Avenue, c. 1910.  »

Figure 2: Brick flat buildings with bay windows and spacious porches line the west side of Grand Boulevard (King Drive), just across the street from Washington Park.»

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