Chicago, IL

5 Lesser Known Facts About the South Side of Chicago

Asmita Karanje

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Welcome to Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States, having a population of close to three million people. Chicago has fifty wards, with more than 77 community areas. The south side of Chicago was formally Ainsworth, one of the 77 distinct community areas.

The south side is the biggest of the three sides of Chicago city. Looking at the history of the south side of Chicago, it grew as a series of dispersed intrinsic American settlements started living in this area before it became a full-fledged village. It is not what the television series Shameless makes the audience believe.

They portray the south side as the crime-filled, drug pedaling part of the city, but the reality is that there is an income divide in every big city of this country.

Here are five lesser-known facts about the south side of Chicago.

1. A lot of fantastic sites on the south side of Chicago have disappeared, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Midway Gardens entertainment complex, Cottage Grove, and Washington Park Racetrack.

Also lost were Taylor Robert homes, high-rise apartments along the expressway that turned out to be a public housing disaster.

2. Levee and ProIn the early 20th century, Levee was a vice district and State streets with houses of mean reputation holding colorful names such as Bucket of Blood, the Library, and Why Not.

Prostitution was open and easily accessible. However, as they closed Levee, prostitution got dispersed to other parts of the city.

3. The White City amusement park, also known as 'city of million electric lights,' started in 1905 and was operational until the late 1930s at 63rd Street and South Park.

Here's a little trivia of this place - Wingfoot, the first commercial airship of Goodyear was hangared here in this park. When it was operationalized in 1919, an unfortunate incident took place that killed ten bank employees and three people working on the airship.

4. Using fingerprints as a piece of evidence to convict a murderer was first found in the now Beverly neighborhood of Chicago. It is said that in 1910, a burglar named Thomas Jennings after finishing a robbery faced the owner of the house. In the sprawl that ensued the confrontation, Thomas later killed him.

Unfortunately, he left his fingerprints on a railing outside the house that was freshly painted. Later, the police picked him as a suspicious character, and based on the evidence of fingerprints collected; he was sentenced and hanged to death.

5. One of the last areas to become part of the now Chicago neighborhood was Morgan Park, which is on the far south side. It was not love at first sight, as some would say.

The twenty years old seizure battle was said to have begun in 1894. It was a street fight between a politician and a Methodist minister. It was abominable - there were street fights, sly pranks, voter fraud, and even a banking scandal - all in an attempt to annex Chicago.

The residents had hit the polls about eight times (two times voting 'yes' and six times voting 'no') before they formally united with the city in 1914.

Here's some additional trivia

Did you know the play named "Pill Hill" gets its name from the suburb of Pill Hill? Yes, Pill Hill, a neighborhood that was home to many African-American doctors in the 1970s rendered its name to a play written by Samuel Kelly. It is a 3 hours play on the lives of an ambitious group of young doctors growing up in this area.

There are a lot of churches in this part of the city - a lot more believers than one can imagine. It is also dubbed as the most religious place after the Vatican.

All in all, Southside of Chicago is not as scary as Lincoln Park and Wicker Park at midnight.

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Thinker, self-experimenter, and a newbie writer. I write about personal growth, socio-political issues, and career advice.

Dallas, TX
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