South Shore wasn't South Shore then: Cheltenham Beach, Windsor Park, Parkside, BrynMawr and Essex, were loosely incorporated in the Hyde Park Township.
Frank Ryzetsky was a kind of visionary who purchased a large tract of land near Cheltenham Beach about the time that Hyde Park Township became part of Chicago in 1889. He envisioned a unified community and laid out a grid with streets running west to east. Every fourth street was to be wider, accommodating delivery wagons because shops and restaurants were to be situated there, in close proximity to residences, but not intruding upon the domestic enclaves. In so doing, he designed what would be applauded today as a “New Urbanism” model: a community where one could walk to a grocery store or bakery; walk to a dentist's office or to a ladies' apparel shop; walk to church, walk to work
In conducting tours of South Shore, the docents stress that “South Shore is a community of the future.” Enlightened proponents of communities of the future often cite Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Written in mid-twentieth century, but full of implications for urban life in the twenty-first, she emphasized the importance of interactions at the street level. A neighborhood that works organically allows and encourages people of different backgrounds, different occupations, different ethnicities to engage one another in commerce and conversation. The South Shore community is fortunately endowed not only with an ideal street and avenue arrangement; it was created by the railroad and its revitalization is being supported by a transportation system that allows for easy access to the Loop: Chicago's central commercial district. With the proper priming, South Shore can become a veritable model of New Urbanism.
Public/private collaborations such as the joint efforts of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce and the Seventh, Fifth and Eighth Aldermanic Wards are injecting synergistic energy into restoring once thriving retail corridors to pleasant, safe and accessible business districts. Citizen action groups are reclaiming vacant lots, turning them into community gardens and community gathering places. While the local populace expresses guarded optimism about the former U S Steel property's successful development a few blocks to the southeast, which could have a favorable spill-over effect, the truth is that South Shore's transformation must evolve from the inside out. The deus exmachina next door is not going to save us. We have to do that for ourselves. But if we care enough; if we try enough, we can make the dream of a beautiful, lovable, livable South Shore come true. datetime="2012-07-06T22:09:45+00:00">
Filed under: Uncategorized