Standing between Archer and Wentworth Avenues, the Chinatown Public Library is an architectural marvel—a two-story structure of steel and glass designed in accordance with the principles of Feng Shui. Natural light pours into the all-white atrium, which features a splashy lotus-inspired mural on the second floor. You could be forgiven for thinking it was an art museum.
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.
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.
The phrase ‘Fix it Up, Don’t Tear it Down’—also the title of a painting by Chicago artist Nikko Washington—entered my mind as I watched The Area.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.