Development | Features | History | Politics | Woodlawn

Where Are You Going, Woodlawn?

At a community celebration, residents and visitors consider the neighborhood’s next chapter

Ireashia Bennett, Ellen Hao

With the Obama Presidential Center proposed for Jackson Park, the University of Chicago’s continuing development along 61st Street, and a myriad of other projects large and small, residents are asking: what will Woodlawn become? This is the first article in a series investigating the past, present, and future of the neighborhood.

Activism | Development | Environment

Dumping Dirty Industry

Across the South Side, neighborhood groups fight for environmental justice

Katie Hill

A new coalition of community and environmental activists met for the first time last Thursday to discuss their effort to fight pollution on the South Side. Members of four groups from McKinley Park, Little Village, Pilsen, and the Southeast Side convened in a crowded gymnasium at the Rauner Family YMCA. The impromptu meeting space was organized after attendees quickly overcrowded the small side room originally intended for the gathering.

Development | Stage & Screen

Facing Fate

'The Area' is a complex, issue-driven documentary analyzing the erasure of a neighborhood, and shining a light on the meaning of community

Courtesy Scrappers Film Group

The phrase ‘Fix it Up, Don’t Tear it Down’—also the title of a painting by Chicago artist Nikko Washingtonentered my mind as I watched The Area.

Development | Nature | Visual Arts

A Study in South Works

A summerlong installation explores the anthropocene in artifacts from South Works

Lewis Page

Early in the afternoon on the day of her installation’s opening, Stella Brown is standing by the end of one of the mammoth concrete walls at the site of U.S. Steel’s former South Works plant, on the lakefront at 87th Street. Two local residents approach by bike; they say they’re frustrated that the park district decided to spend money on an artist—from outside of the neighborhood, no less—rather than on other much-needed facilities, like restrooms. Brown acknowledges the problem, says it’s indicative of bureaucracy, and offers that she tried to get a Porta Potty for the opening event. A temporary fix, though, is not what they want.

Development

Bringing Up the Backwaters

After decades of debt and secrecy, the Illinois International Port District presents a plan

Spaceco (Courtesy Illinois International Port District)

For the first time since 1981, the Illinois International Port District (IIPD) is undertaking extensive repairs and construction in the southernmost part of its 1500-acre property on the Southeast Side.

Development | Environment | Far Southeast Side | Nature

Shoreline Abnormality

An industrial corridor’s past and future, as seen from the waters of the Calumet

Piles of salt on city-owned land on the Calumet River (Courtesy Ders Anderson)

Down the Calumet River from a former petcoke storage site, several acres of early growth trees rustle gently in the breeze. It’s one of a few areas with sustained natural growth on the northern part of the river, which snakes through the Southeast Side’s industrial corridor. Tom Shepherd, an environmental activist and longtime Southeast Side resident—and, on a recent overcast morning, the guide of a boat tour down the river—singles that parcel out as we pass by. “It’s really amazing on that property to see how nature makes its comeback,” he says.

Architecture | Development | Media | Visual Arts

Saving a Black Aesthetic

How two nonprofits preserved parts of Johnson Publishing

David Sampson (Courtesy Rebuild Foundation)

Once the home of Ebony and Jet magazines, the historic Johnson Publishing Building on South Michigan Avenue is currently being transformed into rental apartments. Meanwhile, the building’s iconic interior fixtures are being shipped out across the city to keep the Black publishing house’s legacy alive.

Development | Lit

A City Built on Sludge

An ambitious book chronicles the early years of the South and West Sides’ sewage systems

May 11, 1937. The sun is shining through the access manhole above and through floor manholes into the gate chamber. Access to the backwater gates on West Town's outlet sewer section 3 is through the operating gallery above the gate chamber. (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Archives)

The largest and greatest sludge plant in the world… wasn’t intended to be that way,” Richard Lanyon, former executive director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), said to a rapt audience, a playful smile spreading across his face. “It just happened.”

Development | Religion

What’s Next For St. Adalbert?

St. Adalbert Church is no longer being sold to the Chicago Academy of Music, but its future is still in flux

Robert Harris

In May 2016, the Archdiocese of Chicago decreed that St. Adalbert Parish in Pilsen would no longer exist. Instead, it would be merged with the neighboring St. Paul Parish. That October, the Archdiocese announced the intended sale of St. Adalbert Church at 17th Street & Paulina Avenue, home of the parish, to the Chicago Academy of Music (CAM)—a music school with no connection to the Catholic Church.

Development | Environment | Far Southeast Side | Politics

Planning Beyond Pollution

After manganese regulations, Southeast Side residents push to reconsider the neighborhood’s manufacturing zoning

Lizzie Smith

Late in March, the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks, and Building Standards heard testimony on a piece of new legislation from 10th Ward Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza. Garza’s ordinance, which passed both the committee and, the following day, City Council, regulates manganese-bearing companies in Chicago by prohibiting new facilities from being built and preventing existing ones from expanding. It also requires that companies that handle bulk materials with manganese have a 150-foot setback from areas that are zoned residential, and that manganese-bearing facilities submit quarterly reports to the Department of Planning and Development detailing the amount of manganese passing through or stored in their facility.