Best of Mount Greenwood 2021. Photo by Marc Monaghan.

Mount Greenwood is a place full of dichotomies, where the living co-exist with the dead, where the city can be a farm, where the neighborhood number—seventy-four of seventy-seven—is nearly the last on one list, but the number of city workers in the neighborhood puts it near the top of another. From building inspectors to tax collectors, lawyers to laborers, educators and everyone in between, a wide variety of other city workers also live in Mount Greenwood.  

If I were designing a flag for Mount Greenwood, I’d take the Chicago banner, replace the upper and lower fields of white with dark blue for the police and dark red for firefighters, Both groups are heavily represented in Mount Greenwood, which is home to more Chicago first responders and city workers police than any other community area in the city. In the past, the neighborhood’s affinity for police has led to ugly incidents, as has its racism: as recently as 2016, an off-duty Chicago cop shot and killed twenty-five-year-old Joshua Beal in Mount Greenwood, sparking Black Lives Matter protests which were met by angry neighborhood residents who waved “Thin Blue Line” flags and shouted insults. 

Bisected by a green swath of acreage made up of a golf course and three cemeteries undulating between two very active freight train lines which once brought funeral mourners from the city, Mount Greenwood incorporated as a village in 1906 to keep the taverns and restaurants “wet,” when nearby Beverly and Morgan Park decided to go “dry” and prohibit the selling of alcohol. It has kept its out-of-town character by having the last working farm in the city until 1980, when the farm became part of the Chicago Public School system as the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, which still works the land today.

To include some of these best-ofs, I’ve stretched the boundaries of Mount Greenwood slightly to the entire 60655 ZIP code, which has Western Avenue as its eastern edge. (L.D. Barnes)

Neighborhood captain L.D. Barnes lives in the Mount Greenwood area, according to her ZIP code.  She is a member of FLOW (For Love of Writing), Longwood Writers Guild, and Mystery Writers of America She has been published in several anthologies and is the author of The 107th Street Murder.

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Best Recording Studio

On Track Recording Studio

Driving south on Kedzie past 103rd, there are a couple of blocks inhabited by chain restaurants, doctors’ offices, a bicycle shop, a funeral home, and a pet shop. Hidden in the middle is a combination video store/recording studio. Since 1992, On Track Recording Studio has been an unimposing storefront at 10437 S. Kedzie, but once inside, the expertise of Ray Vanda and the equipment he has is amazing. The studio can accommodate a large band like the Funkadelics, a Do-Wop ensemble like the Spaniels, the Oak Lawn Barbershop Quartet or solo artists like Killer Ray Allison, Shirley King or podcasters in the homey space.  Six days a week by appointment, the studio awaits you. 

The rates are reasonable at $40 per hour. Ray works with either analogue or digital, has a variety of microphones, plus a few miscellaneous musical instruments. From recording to posting your masterpiece on YouTube, Ray and his wife Julie work with artists in genres ranging from blues to zydeco, singing to spoken word. Should you have old photos, home movies or videotapes to be preserved, they can do that too. (L.D. Barnes)

On Track Recording Studio 10437 S. Kedzie (773) 238-6752. Monday–Thursday 10am–8pm; Friday–Saturday 10am–9pm; Sunday 12pm–8pm.

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Best Irish Import Shop

South Side Irish Imports

South Side Irish Imports. Photo by Marc Monaghan.

On 111th St., South Side Irish Imports is the go-to place for any Irish themed gift you can think of. Linda and Ron Gorman run this eclectic collection that runs from Belleek china to Waterford crystal, t-shirts to brass door knockers to wool caps. They have a vast assortment of Catholic themed items for Christening, first communions, confirmations or weddings. In a neighborhood full of police, firefighters and city workers, Irish Imports has signs, mugs, flags and shirts especially for them to show their Celtic heritage. With forty-one years in the neighborhood, they guarantee you will get a sincere “Cead Mile Failte” (one hundred thousand welcomes) any time you go there. (L.D. Barnes)

South Side Irish Imports, 3446 W. 111th St., (773) 881-8585. 10am–5:30pm Monday–Friday; 10am-5pm Saturday; closed Sunday.

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Best Memorial

Korean War Memorial

Photo by Marc Monaghan.

Stretching the boundaries may be viewed as a bad thing—but to be able to include the first monument in the country and the only one in Chicago to veterans of the Korean War is a good thing. 

On the corner of 113th and Western Ave., what looks as if it could be a misplaced tombstone that wandered from one of Mount Greenwood’s many cemeteries is actually a five-foot-high and ten-foot-long semi-circle of marble engraved with a remembrance to the American soldiers who served in the Korean War. Conceived by Korean War veteran Ed McCarthy, funded by the Windy City Veterans Association, it was installed in Kennedy Park in 1988. Contributions of labor from the Korean War veterans of the Maurice Moore Memorial company and many others made this possible. Visit it to get the statistics about the war that claimed 36,574 American lives and never officially ended: although an armistice agreement stopped the fighting in 1953, North and South Korea never signed a peace treaty, and the United States still maintains a force of more than 20,000 troops in the South. (L.D. Barnes)

Korean War Memorial. Kennedy Park, 11320 S. Western Ave.

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