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Table of Contents > Chapter 11

South Lakefront (continued)

Just when South Shore was beginning to show many signs of urban decay, it began to stabilize and make a comeback in the 1970s. New housing has been built along the lakefront, and plans are under way for the revitalization of 71st Street. The Academy of St. James College Preparatory School, housed in a former Jewish high school at 7550 S. Phillips Avenue, was opened in 1970 and offers no-nonsense secondary education. A South Shore Historical Society has also been founded. Other organizations dedicated to making the community a bright spot on the South Side abound, including the South Shore Commission, the Neighborhood Institute, the Revitalization Center, and the South Shore Open House Organization (See Fig. 1) . These organizations, plus the fact that the area is well served by mass transportation and is easily accessible by auto, make South Shore an attractive place for Chicagoans.

But there are still problems. Drugs and crime have hurt the community. Seventy-first and Jeffrey continues to be a problem corner. Even the Highlands have been touched by violence. Unlike neighboring Hyde Park with its University of Chicago, South Shore has no large institution that has enough political influence to bring about major improvements. The work of the South Shore Bank at 71st and Jeffery in helping the community make a comeback has been sizable, but problems remain. The city's economic problems have also plagued the area, and racism has prevented investment here as it has in other parts of the South Side.

Perhaps one lesson to be learned from South Shore is that no community in a metropolitan area can stand alone. Those early residents who fled Washington Park in order to leave the problems of the city behind eventually found themselves surrounded by them. They or their children moved again. Chicagoans have long thought that as long as problems remain on the other side of the tracks, there is little that can or should be done. The truth, however, is that problems, like people, cross tracks.

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Figure 1: Elijah Muhammad Mosque #2, 7351 S. Stony Island, 1980.

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