Go to the Digital Library top page!

Social Studies

Click here to go to introduction.

Table of Contents > Chapter 10

Grand Boulevard — Washington Park (continued)

In many ways Washington Park was the prototype of urban neighborhoods which grew up along Chicago's lakefront in the 1920s. In addition to excellent transportation and recreation facilities, the area's apartments provided a middle-class standard of living. While Washington Park included more renters than homeowners, this situation did not adversely affect church formation. Indeed, the concentration of so many families in the district actually accelerated the process of church-building. In 1910 alone, four new churches opened their doors in the area south of Garfield Boulevard: Washington Park Baptist Church, Woolley Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, St. Anselm Catholic Church, and SS. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church.

St. Anselm's and SS. Constantine and Helen's reflected the ease with which white ethnic groups established themselves in Washington Park. Less than six months after their parish was organized in 1909, Irish Catholics of St. Anselm's had financed a combination church-and-school building on 61st Street, just east of Michigan. Nearby at 6107 S. Michigan, Greek families began to worship in a two-story brick structure which also contained classrooms. When the Koraes elementary school opened in 1910, Greek was the primary language of instruction, but by 1922 the program was bilingual and accredited by the Chicago Board of Education.

Like Irish and Greek families, Jewish newcomers to Washington Park also made provisions for the education of their children. In May 1915 the South Side Hebrew Congregation dedicated its new Jewish Educational Center, which had been completed at the northeast corner of 59th and Michigan.

At the same time that Irish and Jewish families were establishing communities within Grand Boulevard and Washington Park, racial change was occurring at the west end of the district. So great was the demand for housing that black families began to purchase homes in the area bordering the Rock Island Railroad tracks along LaSalle Street. For years this district had been known for its "floating population" and saloons. In contrast to the new steam heat apartments in Grand Boulevard, the cottages between 43rd and 51st Streets were relics of another era. Not only did many of them lack sanitary facilities, but their concentration along the long narrow stretches of LaSalle, Federal, and Dearborn Streets gave this district the appearance of a "shantytown."

« previous 7 of 14 next »

Need help searching?
Search help

Search eCUIP:

Examples: or
Contact eCUIP!

Need help?

Return to the eCUIP top page!