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
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."