Best of the South Side 2015 | Washington Park | Woodlawn

Best of Woodlawn & Washington Park 2015

Juliet Eldred

It is no secret that Washington Park and Woodlawn have seen better days. Economic depression and consistently declining populations since the 1970s have led to collective downturn. Currently, the neighborhoods are caught in the crossroads of the lingering memory of a thriving local culture and middle class and the issue of how exactly revival can be effectively stoked. Two newly fashioned courses point to answers: one fostered by communal organizations of both neighborhoods, and the other led by the University of Chicago.

Music | Woodlawn

Coltrane to Close the Gap

Woodlawn’s Coltrane Conservatory offers an accessible jazz education

Finn Jubak

One block south of the Cottage Grove Green Line station, the history and the future of Chicago music converge. Woodlawn’s Grand Ballroom, known as the Loeffler Building in earlier years, has played host to some of the greats of American jazz—Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, and Charlie Parker, to name a few. Today the building leases ground-floor space to the two-year-old Coltrane Conservatory of the Arts, a jazz school founded and run by Joe Pace III. Continue reading

Development | Englewood | Visual Arts | Woodlawn

Mural Seeks to Unite Two Communities

The EarthHeart Foundation and Green Star Movement unveil a mosaic

Deirdre Koldyke

“We made something where there was nothing at all,” announced 20th Ward Alderman Willie Cochran at the unveiling of the mural at 63rd Street and South Wallace Avenue on October 10. “And by including children in the building process, we’ve exposed them to the process by which they can achieve greater good.”

Best of the South Side 2014 | Washington Park | Woodlawn

Woodlawn & Washington Park


Woodlawn and Washington Park sprung up in the late-nineteenth century, accompanied by a rapid influx of (primarily European) immigrant populations and increased industry driven by the 1893 World’s Fair. During the twentieth century, Woodlawn and Washington Park served as a hub of political and cultural activity: important figures from Saul Alinsky to Jesse Owens are associated with the area. Continue reading


Brushing Up

At B’Gabs Goodies, improving health one tooth at a time



While arranging glass jars of baking soda, cayenne, and other ingredients, Gabrielle Darvassy, owner of vegetarian eatery B’Gabs Goodies, explained why the small Mason jar of dull reddish-brown powder in my hand was so important. Continue reading

Activism | Visual Arts | Woodlawn

Embodying Fear

"Concealed Carry" at the Experimental Station

Audrey Green, "American Stand-Off."

Audrey Green, “American Stand-Off.”

Inside the Experimental Station, silence is punctuated by the piercing sound of gunshots. As part of its exhibit “Concealed Carry,” the Station has installed a mechanically operated shotgun that fires blanks every time a housefly crosses its path. Continue reading


Reclaiming the Parks

New CPD initiatives attempt to combine policing with a claim to community



As the clock counts down to the end of the first quarter, a three-point shot by a player in red bounces off the rim and the blue team gains possession. But they do not have enough time to carry the ball back down the court, and the buzzer sounds just as their Hail Mary from half-court falls short. The players hustle back to their respective benches, with the blue team up by four. Continue reading

Housing | Politics | Woodlawn

Investing in West Woodlawn

Blacks in Green envisions a future for West Woodlawn community development



West Woodlawn was granted tax increment financing (TIF) district status by the city in 2010. Yet TIF-directed development has been poorly received by the local nonprofit environmental group Blacks in Green, which has been advocating for community-based development projects since 2007. On November 21, the group held a forum entitled “Who Owns West Woodlawn?” to publicize the results of an extensive survey of the neighborhood’s development potential. Continue reading