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.
In his art gallery, which inhabits a small brick house at 64th and Dorchester, originally purchased by his grandfather in 1946, artist William Hill, a co-curator of the Experimental Station showcase “Environmental Concerns,” explained the project’s concept.
For D’onminique Boyd, it was the 65th Street Community Garden that turned Woodlawn into a home. She had moved there in 2011, and had taken to biking around to familiarize herself with the neighborhood. One morning, she biked by the garden and saw Tony Samford, 65th Street’s “godfather of gardening,” as she would later come to call him, tending to his plot. She asked what he was growing; he told her to come back the next day at 6am, and he would teach her.
Diana Quiñones Rivera is a filmmaker from Puerto Rico who moved to Chicago in November 2015. While she was a 2016 fellow in Kartemquin Films’ Diverse Voices in Docs program, she lived in Woodlawn for a year before moving to Avondale. Her new short film “D on the South Side,” which was screened in January and February as part of Collaboraction Theatre’s winter festival, deals with her time living in Woodlawn. “It was tough living in Woodlawn,” Rivera said. “I guess I didn’t expect it to be as segregated. I knew it was segregated but I didn’t think it was going to be a place where I would feel uncomfortable, and it [was].” Invited to make the film by the organizers of long-running weekly performance series Salonathon, Rivera’s experience with Woodlawn’s racial dynamics were a good fit with the Collaboration festival, which was titled “Encounter.” Its focus was on “racism and racial healing in Chicago.”
This week on SSW Radio we talked with South Side native Lena Waithe about her show The Chi; checked in on community developments in Woodlawn, South Shore, and Jackson Park; and highlighted the personal histories of three South Side women
I‘m so proud to be here. You’re all an inspiration to me.”
The University of Chicago announced on January 26 that over the course of this year, the nonprofit South East Chicago Commission (SECC) will gain considerable independence from the university. Much of the SECC’s university funding will be cut, and the university will no longer be able to appoint or approve the organization’s board members. According to both parties, the move reflects the SECC’s need to reevaluate its direction as an organization.
Last November, when William and Jacqueline Lynch moved their art gallery into the recently reopened Strand Apartments on 63rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, they were unaware of their new building’s historical import. “I did know about the Grand Ballroom down the street,” said William. “I didn’t know anything about this building.”