South Shore is easy to glamorize—our wave-crashing cushion, boulders of brick, and archived architecture are all wonderful things to add to a list of “amenities.” But as developers feel entitled to make their properties more profitable and the neighborhood meets its new residents at a rent-raising rate, many original residents are feeling—and being—displaced. Some might remember the Dominick’s, turned food desert, now turned Local Market, bringing them to question: “Who is the new development for? If not us, who makes this neighborhood a ‘wonderful attraction?’” 

And what does this mean for longtime Black-owned businesses, or elder care services, or the preservation of nature in this community? Then there’s the ever-present concept of “safety,” which often leads to this dissolution of feelings—perhaps one of the biggest “amenities” to a golf-loving gentrifier of this neighborhood.

What qualifies a neighborhood to be categorized as an “at-risk” zone? To a generational South Shore patron, all this neighborhood has ever been is a haven. Despite historic inequities that force families into conditioning, this neighborhood has made a diasporic pot out of whatever upheaval and disheveling a united Black Chicago people had undergone in the 1960s and 1970s. Pushed out from upper Chicago and finding the edge to sit on, the people of this community hold onto themselves and this sunrise-facing side. 

This introduction is a gentle reminder, and a treasure-chest guide, to those fighting to remain in concrete they’ve heard crack before. South Shore holds a founding beginning for many homes and folks. Yet from the Black Wall Street of South Shore to communal candy lady feeding, so many starving voices get flushed out by the white noise of redevelopment and whispered diversity. 

With easy access to our city front via the #6 and #26, and with copious musical pop-ups at 63rd Street beach, it’s no wonder this neighborhood thrives as a peace shelter for the city. The historians who  complete the inner workings of our blocks offer understanding of how the “Ova-East” crust remains intact. Research is always made available at South Shore Library, and a curated conversation is always at arm’s reach by any street-hearted security. Young builders of liberated homes take in the city’s stretched trails, and unwind themselves from the gridded passages the rest of the city offers.The back of the city, our waterfall. Praise the shore that closes us in, and opens us to daily horizons.

E’mon Lauren was titled the first Youth Poet Laureate of Chicago and is the author of COMMANDO. She is host of her hit podcast, “The Real Hoodwives of Chicago.”

  • Best Fried Pork Chop Breakfast: L&G Restaurant

    From sunny eggs to hams and buttered grits, this breakfast house has it all. Since its opening in 1980, L&G’s  mission has always been to serve the community—whether by providing locals with first-time customer service gigs, or with hot maple-syruped, made-to-order service. Sitting adjacent to the 75th & Exchange Metra train stop, L&G gives early morning commuters a place to break their fast with an early bird special, or a cup of joe at the window booth while jukebox tunes play on. Waitresses with smiles and coffee pots bring conversation and advice that a lone and hungry decision-maker may need.

    A star menu item—and southern classic—is their fried pork chop breakfast. One or two deliciously crispy and golden fried pork chops come with hash browns, two eggs (any style) with cheese of your choice, and white, wheat, or rye toast. For a less caloric choice, pork chops can also be grilled, with the option of rice and gravy instead of potatoes. These traditional fixings are made with quality ingredients and served in fair portion sizes—with a full tray of food, this $15-17 breakfast can put you well over into lunchtime. Meat is not your thing? Not a problem for this full-house, family friendly restaurant. Any request for a “no-cheese” or vegetarian option can be answered through omelets and sandwiches. At their diner countertop, opposite photos of neighborhood patrons and supporters on the entry wall, morning and lunchtime stories are served up with food every day. L&G leaves mouths full, doors open, and the hearts of its neighborhood beaming. With breakfast all day, warm plates will always be served your way.

    L&G Restaurant, 2632 E. 75th St. 6am–2pm. $2–$20. (773) 374-3098.

  • Best Deals on Wheels: Bike Clinic

    Whether you’ve got a busted kneecap or tire, Mr. Leroy of Bike Clinic provides you with a summer experience that keeps your wheels spinning. The Black-owned bike shop, established about twenty years ago, is run by the street and self-proclaimed “Bike Man”, Mr. Leroy, who has always given a free, tactile look to any bike, whether a tadpole of a vehicle or a full-blown toad of transportation. Parts and physical needs, such as air for your tires, chains, or brake replacements, are available for purchase at a very reasonable price. With much available in stock, this one-man pit-stop crew gets you in and out on the road. When asked about the mission of his shop, Mr. Leroy humorously answers: “To keep everybody rolling.” 

    The peace-driven, old-school Mr. Leroy welcomes visitors with a gentle hand wave or nod of approval. Holding used and vintage bikes as well as new road dusters, a deal can be found and made for you. Surrounded by other fresh businesses, neighborhood voyeurs will stop by to see the process of motorcycle gangs greasing up for their grind. No stranger to this community, Leroy has spent two decades shedding “wheels of wisdom” and “locks of light” for children, adults, and adults who first came into the store as children. Huffys and fixies, bike galore, this shop grants all mechanical needs for a pedestrian to explore. Rest up for water or a quick tire check, then head to trails and paths on the approaching corners. Be sure to stop by for the safest and best-prepared experience. With no appointment necessary and only a short tripaway, the Bike Clinic is a seasonal necessity.

    Bike Clinic, 2221 E. 71st St. Monday–Saturday, 11am–6pm. Closed Sundays. (773) 955-2028.

  • Best “Cut”: South Shore Nature Sanctuary

    We all have our secret place that we wish to keep a secret. First date kiss spots, perfect hills for rolling, views that win you the cool points. Tucked in the “cut” of the South Shore Cultural Center on 71st and Exchange, a steady stride will take you past shady lawns, well-maintained beaches, and a cattail-covered lagoon. A winding wooden bridge overlooks baby frogs and bird-occupied branches, crossed at the top with two bonfire pits and a wonderful view of the water and our city’s skyscraper crown. A perfect spot for midday getaways or late-night lyrics, this nature sanctuary is a vital safe space for the community.

    As the heat rises and the water freezes, discussions of if this natural gem will continue to live here stay in our forecast. Conversations and theories dispersed amongst the community shed light on which developmental decisions will be made to further the eye and comfort of newcomers. With the sanctuary at risk of being  replaced with a giant golf course—rumored to be named after Tiger Woods—this scenic treasure sits atop a list of reasons why the South Shore community needs to remain intact. Not just for its people, but for the animals and other living creatures of this water-coasted land. According to the Chicago Park District, South Shore Nature Sanctuary “contains over six acres of dune, beach, wetland, pond, woodland, prairie, savanna, and shrubland habitats.” 

    Displacement is much bigger than the developments and businesses that separate an enriched culture from its people for profit. It also includes the displacement of all living things who inhabit this area. While pest extermination is still a common request from the residents of renovated older buildings, will the removal of mice bring an influx of private developers? Who’s to say; but nature-viewing and outside enjoyment can still be an occasion for a perfect date, a private artistic outing, or a secluded corner for you and your comrades. Join the elements and take in the city, in a way you never have before.

    South Shore Nature Sanctuary, 7059 S. South Shore Dr. Dawn to dusk. (312) 742-7529.

  • Best Traditional Black Hair Salon: Hair 4 U

    If you’re a kinky/coily/curly person, you may be all too familiar with the “my hair used to be real long until my mom put that perm in my hair,” or the “my cousin wanted to go to cosmetology school so she died my hair with peroxide” story. Such narratives live deep in the femme cultural canon of South Shore, with it being predominantly a Black neighborhood. As a fair tribute to Madam C.J. Walker, who became America’s first self-made woman millionaire through her invention of Black hair tools and products, most of us would find our kitchens, siblings’ rooms, or living room fold-out chairs to be our first salon—though leaving much ambiance to be desired. Hair salons have historically been important places of storytelling and safety. When thrown into new salons that may deter our original comfort, in the midst of lessons regarding life and hair upkeep, we naturally have so many questions running through our unkempt head. Is this hair stylist “scissor happy?” Is a wash and blowdry included? Do I have to bring my own hair? How long am I gonna have to wait? Taking new chances on new shops and stylists will always be a gamble. This 72nd & Exchange salon is a safe bet, and will crisp any nostril hair with nostalgia and comfort.  

    Hair 4 U Salon, a Black woman-owned and run salon, specializes in every hair need or dream. From haircuts to braids, natural styles to permanent care, this crew of women focuses on giving all forms of hair its very best treatment. From cast-iron hand combs and curlers to flavorsome heated flat irons, a bumped end is only a corner away. With advice, empathy and compassion, any head is safe here. Appointment booked and reliable, but walk-in ready, you can find some auntie tunes that make you feel good in the spritzed air. With prices also raising the nostalgia factor, you will find your most traditional treatment, such as a wash, deep conditioning, blow dry, silk press, and split-ends clip, all for $60. A reasonable tip is always given to the ladies who keep us laid—our stylish stuarist of South Shore.

    Hair 4 U, 7205 S. Exchange Ave. Tuesday–Friday 9am–7pm, Saturday 8am–5pm. Closed Sunday and Monday. (773) 221-8561

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