How the neighborhoods got their names, part deux

How the neighborhoods got their names, part deux

Last week, my "Did You Know, Chicago?" post feature the history of how some of the city's neighborhoods got their names. I received such great feedback and responses from readers wanting more that I thought I'd do another one! Feast your eyes on even more Chicago neighborhood history:

Streeterville has one of my favorite histories because it's just so ballsy. In the 1880s, a man named George Streeter and his wife crashed their boat about 150 yards off the lakefront. Rather than getting his boat out of there, Streeter decided to not only live on the boat but haul in more sand and claim the whole area as his personal property. Streeter started charging construction workers a fee to dump their debris in the area, and it soon became a very undesirable shantytown that was christened 'Streeterville.' The history just keeps getting better. Read more here.

Englewood was originally a town called Junction Grove that was annexed into the town of Lake. It became known as Englewood when a wool merchant and several residents lobbied to have it changed. "Englewood" was chosen due to the wool merchant's association with Englewood, New Jersey. It was annexed to Chicago in 1889.

Roger's Park
The city's most northern neighborhood was actually once a regular settling ground for various Native American tribes. Before the area was a part of Chicago, a pioneer named Phillip Rogers regularly traded and worked with the tribes and then purchased the land for development. Patrick Touhy (guess where that name came into play) developed the land, incorporated the village and named it Rogers Park. Chicago annexed it in 1893.

Back of the Yards
Once part of the town of Lake, Back of the Yards was annexed by the city in 1889. It was called Back of the Yards because of it was so close to the famous Union Stock Yards. The novel "The Jungle" is set in this neighborhood.

Humboldt Park
Not surprisingly, Humboldt Park is named for the actual Humboldt Park. The park was named after Alexander von Humboldt, a German citizen and author who only came to the United States once and didn't even visit Chicago. Figure that one out. Chicago annexed the neighborhood in 1869.

Old Town
During World War II, Chicago's Civil Defense Agency created a neighborhood defense unit in the area between North Avenue, Clark Street and Ogden Avenue and called it North Town. It gave the area a sense of community that lasted well after the war, and the neighborhood began to sponsor annual fairs called the "Old Town Holiday." The name "Old Town" really stuck when the Old Town Triangle Association was formed in 1948.

Portage Park
This one will expand your vocabulary. Did you know that a portage is the carrying of a boat or its cargo between two navigable waters? The area known as Portage Park was once a strip of land the Native Americans used to carry canoes from the Des Plaines River to the Chicago River. The name stuck when it became part of Chicago in 1889.

It's kind of funny to think of Uptown as the far north resort destination, but that's exactly what it was back in the early 1900s. I read two explanations for how the neighborhood got its name. The commercial center of the neighborhood was the Uptown Store, and the neighborhood took on the name. I also read that since at one point all northbound trains ended in this neighborhood, you were headed "up town" from downtown.

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