Best of the South Side 2017 | Bridgeport | McKinley Park

Best of Bridgeport & McKinley Park 2017

Jason Schumer

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Bridgeport? From its immigrant beginnings producing the nation’s sausages, or its dichotomy of old-school born-here, die-here types rubbing shoulders with the constant tide of artisans and students floating around, it’s the most Chicago neighborhood. Bridgeport has sordid histories; it has promising futures.

Auburn Gresham | Best of the South Side 2017

Best of Auburn Gresham 2017

Ian Grant-Funck

Like many South Side communities, Auburn Gresham faced years of disinvestment. At the time, Auburn Gresham housing stock stayed strong (especially compared to surrounding neighborhoods), but the key commercial areas were hard hit. Now on 79th and on Ashland—two major commercial districts—there are several vacant buildings and empty lots. These eyesores detract from the neighborhood and prevent further investment.

Back of the Yards | Best of the South Side 2017

Best of Back of the Yards 2017

Grace Hauck

A community like this—there’s no condos here—most of the houses don’t have in-unit washers and dryers, so folks are forced to use laundromat facilities. We think that this laundromat focuses on a really underserved niche—low-income, working-class folks. Clean clothes [are] a right, in our opinion. You can go without a lot of things, but everyone is entitled to clean underwear. You shouldn’t have to go to a rat-infested hole in the wall to clean your clothes. This is thought of as a safe place in a very dangerous neighborhood.

Best of the South Side 2017 | Beverly | Morgan Park

Best of Beverly & Morgan Park 2017

The Walker Branch Library in Morgan Park (David Daruszka)

Beverly Hills (its proper full name, often shortened to Beverly) and Morgan Park are the Castor and Pollux of the South Side. Eternally joined as “The Village in the City,” they have earned a reputation as a place of good schools, gracious homes, and comfortable middle-class living—a bastion for city workers. An ancient glacial ridge runs along the length of the appropriately named Longwood Drive, topped by magnificent homes. Morgan Park, named after early estate holder Englishman Thomas Morgan, was a village in its own right until its annexation to the city in 1914. Beverly Hills, named not after the Los Angeles neighborhood but the town of Beverly in Massachusetts, became part of Chicago in 1890.

Best of the South Side 2017 | Englewood

Best of Englewood 2017

Denise Naim

Asiaha Butler is the president of the Residents Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.), a former member of the Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation, and organizer of the Englewood Rising campaign, an initiative that brings together these and other community voices to promote positive narratives around the neighborhood.

Best of the South Side 2017 | Bronzeville

Best of Bronzeville 2017

The interior of aplomb, a vintage store celebrating African American culture at Boxville (Jason Schumer)

Historically, Bronzeville is known for its high volume of Black residents, many of whom originally came to Chicago during the Great Migration, between 1910 and 1920. I know Bronzeville best for what these residents did once they got here, making the neighborhood a mecca for arts and culture. Colorful tributes made through murals, statues, and structural art can be seen driving along popular boulevards and avenues. The architectural structures found in Bronzeville are just as breathtaking as its tribute to art and culture, with many mansions, three-flats, and greystone homes to admire as you make your way along the streets. Many valued and well known contributors to African American history have called these buildings and this neighborhood home: Gwendolyn Brooks, Ida B. Wells, Nat King Cole, Dr. Margaret Burroughs, Bessie Coleman, Louis Armstrong, Robert Abbott, and Dr. Daniel Hale Williams top a constantly growing list of brilliant people.

Avalon Park | Best of the South Side 2017 | Chatham | Greater Grand Crossing

Best of Chatham, Avalon Park, & Greater Grand Crossing 2017

Jason Schumer

I’ve lived in Chatham since the fifties. My aunt and uncle were one of the first African American couples who lived here. It was an all-white area at the time. Within two years, white flight took place. African American middle class professionals moved here. Doctors. Policemen. Judges. Politicians. Dentists.

Best of the South Side 2017 | Chicago Lawn | Gage Park

Best of Chicago Lawn & Gage Park 2017

Denise Naim

Shamar Hemphill is a senior organizer at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), a community organization based in Chicago Lawn. An Englewood native and Hyde Park resident, Hemphill has been working for IMAN for the past decade. IMAN’s work encompasses a dizzying array of initiatives—among them, a fully-staffed health center for low-income residents, weekly farmers markets and bimonthly open mics for youth, a “green reentry” program that trains recently incarcerated men in environmentally friendly construction skills, a summer music and arts festival, and lobbying for parole reform.