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Lower West Side Tour: Sites V & W
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Site V
Turn left at Pulaski Road and go south to the Stevenson Expressway. The Toman Branch of the Chicago Public Library at the southwest corner of 27th and Pulaski was built when South Lawndale was a predominantly Czech neighborhood. It is named in honor of John R. Toman, alderman of the old 34th Ward and a close friend of Anton J. Cermak. Alexander V. Capraro designed this handsome building which opened June 5, 1927.

The 3100 block of S. Pulaski is typical of the housing that made South Lawndale a desirable neighborhood after the turn of the century. Substantial three-story brick buildings with their European-looking fronts provided countless families with the opportunity to become homeowners and landlords at the same time. Now as then, extended families are a familiar part of life in the Little Village neighborhood.

Site W
Just beyond the Commonwealth Edison Crawford station, Pulaski Road crosses the Sanitary and Ship Canal. In 1892 construction began on a main channel known as the "Big Ditch" which would reverse the flow of the Chicago River and thus protect the city's water supply. This channel paralleled the old Illinois and Michigan Canal, constructed from Bridgeport to La Salle, Illinois in the 1840s. According to Louis P. Cain, the completion of the Sanitary and Ship Canal in 1900 had an immediate impact on the health of Chicago's citizens. Because raw sewage was no longer discharged directly into Lake Michigan, the typhoid death rate dropped dramatically, from 67 persons per 100,000 in the 1890s to 14 per 100,000 by 1910.

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