Go to the Digital Library top page!

Social Studies

Click here to go to introduction.

Table of Contents > Chapter 11

South Lakefront (continued)

Hyde Park homeowners, businessmen, and others banded together to form the Hyde Park-Kenwood Property Owners Association. This group used political, economic, and other kinds of pressure to prevent the racial transformation of the South Side. The fact that bombings took place in the Grand Boulevard and Kenwood areas during the height of the Association's power is indicative of the atmosphere at the time. And while there is no proof that the Association was involved in such activities, there is strong evidence that they did not frown on such practices. More than twenty bombings preceded the tragic race riot in 1919.

The use of restrictive covenants was more successful than acts of violence in stemming the tide of racial change. Hyde Park homeowners pledged not to rent their homes to non-Caucasians. The Supreme Court declared this practice unconstitutional in 1948 in a case argued by Earl Dickerson, a black attorney and insurance executive, who later lived in Hyde Park. Until that court decision, however, covenants remained a partially effective way of segregating the area.

Like World War I, World War II also brought upheaval in its wake. A wartime boom resulted in a new migration of Southern blacks to Chicago. The South Side Black Belt expanded again as memories of the 1919 race riot faded. The neighborhood to the north of Hyde Park witnessed significant racial change, and by the end of the 1940s the combination of two decades of depression, war, and neglect had caused vast new slums to develop. Hyde Park and Kenwood seemed to be in store for the same fate. Many of the old wealthy families, who for years had made Kenwood their home, moved. The odor from the nearby stockyards and the pollution from the lakefront steel mills in South Chicago lessened the area's desirability. Lower-middle-class and white-collar workers replaced the old aristocracy. By 1950 German and Russian Jews made up the largest ethnic group in the neighborhood. Japanese Americans, displaced by World War II, also constituted a large part of the area's population. Blacks accounted for about six percent of the local population, many living in housing units that had deteriorated badly. An irreversible trend seemed to be underway.

« previous 10 of 23 next »

Need help searching?
Search help

Search eCUIP:

Examples: or
Contact eCUIP!

Need help?

Return to the eCUIP top page!