Chicago's South Side

Ian Fargo

History of the South Side

Most of the South Side's neighborhoods were settled by European immigrants. The neighborhoods gained population by more businesses opening up and more immigrants moving in. The largest amount of immigrants were African-American immigrants coming from the Southern United States during the civil war. At first, the South Side was the wealthiest side of Chicago. There were mansions built on the Near South Side in the Prarie district and narrow brownstone houses that had the same material as the mansions but were more close together. The area west of State Street has always been the slum of the South Side. It was started by tenements were lower class European immigrants lived. It was replaced by housing projects such as The Robert Taylor homes.


The Downfall of the South Side was mostly caused by the "flight" process. This process took place in the 1950s. The population increase after World War 2 had a successful effect on the city in the 1940s by a commercial and residential growth. But as the population increased, people moved out of the neighborhoods because they were afraid of a rise of crime. So as the former residents moved out, the taxes got lower from the population decrease. The process continued to the point where the neighborhoods hit a hard level of poverty. There was riots after Martin Luther King's death which was part of the reason why there was crime in the neighborhoods. The main reason was that some people were fed up with their poverty and had an objective to steal from other people. Even though this process was the cause of poverty in most neighborhoods throughout the country, there were different neighborhoods on the South side that had different problems. Most of the neighborhoods that were further away from the city were stable middle class neighborhoods for a long time. The Far South Side has always been one of the most industrial parts of Chicago. The amount of industries has kept the population of the neighborhoods employed until a good amount of the industries went out of business. The unemployment in these neighborhoods was a slower process compared to what happened in the closer South Side neighborhoods because the industries shut down at different times. But as more industries went out of business, more neighborhoods lost employment.


Not all of the South Side is either residential or industrial. There are unique tourist attractions within the South Side such as the Museums, Soldier field, Jackson Park, South Shore country club and the beaches. There is also some remaining mansions in the Prairie District that are non-residential landmarks. In the Hyde Park neighborhood, there are some mansions that remain residential such as Barak Obama's house. Hyde park is also where the University Of Chicago is located.
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Railroad bridge over Calumet river

This is where the Ej&E railroad crosses the Calumet river. You can also see beyond the bridge where Lake Michigan flows in because of the opening of water.

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South Side Map