Dream Streets

Cheltenham Station 1900 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">75th and Coles

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  • HI,
    Surfed my way to your blog through a link I found for Open House Chicago. Your blog is wonderful. Just read all your posts tagged South Shore. Thank you! I live in South Shore too. I lived here as a child and moved back to the neighborhood in 1991 when my mother was ill. I remained here after her death. South Shore in 1967 and South Shore in 2012 are certainly a lifetime of difference. For about nineteen years now, I've lived in a spacious (about 2000 sq. ft) rental that was built in the 1920's. South Shore's 1920's architecture (the art deco inspired buildings near Jeffery and 71st), its proximity to the lake, and the convenience of getting to almost any place inside or outside of the city make it an interesting place to live. However, almost half of the neighborhood's housing stock is made up of apartments. Add to that the recent years influx of former CHA residents, increased crime and drug proliferation, the lack of restaurants and grocery stores, and I cannot imagine that it is a desirable place for new middle income residents who might be attracted to this end of Lake Shore Drive. You guys must clearly have been the exception.

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