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.
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.