Neighborhood west of Washington Park
Neighborhood west of Washington Park
Posted by: HOLTANEK (
Date: August 09, 2015 09:37PM

Does anyone know when the city of Chicago demolished hundreds of buildings in this area? 55th to 63rd, MLK west to State. All I can figure is according to NETR online there was a drastic change sometime in the 70s. Now the area consists of entire blocks of vacant lots but just west on Michigan there are many original buildings.

Re: Neighborhood west of Washington Park
Posted by: WayOutWardell (
Date: August 10, 2015 11:44AM

The demographic shift happened by '40s during the Second Great Migration, essentially expanding the Black Belt from Grand Boulevard to the south and east (Washington Park, Woodlawn). As the older, northern sections of the Black Belt worsened (overcrowding and dilapidation), those with means moved south into those neighborhoods for better housing and less-crowded conditions.

Most of the buildings in the area you mention were multi-unit buildings that had large apartments within them, and then as the more affluent black residents moved out of those to areas where they could actually purchase a single family home, those units were then split up into smaller separate apartments. By the 70s, the areas were economically depressed and the buildings were probably long vacant since those who could afford to get out did so in large numbers.

There was once a residential hotel at 61st & South Parkway (MLK) which was where black entertainers used to stay while in town. Duke Ellington said they had the best cinnamon rolls in the country.

Not sure how much of a hand the city had in demolishing those blocks or if arson was to blame - Woodlawn had something like 690 arson fires from 1968 to 1972, so I assume the same thing was happening in Washington Park.

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