Eastgate Village: A Community with Real History

ChicagoTribune - A view of a canal lock in Summit, Illinois, southwest of Chicago in the 1840s. (Photo Courtesy of Illinois State Historical Society)

ChicagoTribune - A view of a canal lock in Summit, Illinois, southwest of Chicago in the 1840s. (Photo Courtesy of Illinois State Historical Society)

Chicago neighborhoods have developed unique personalities that stem from their history. The history of these neighborhoods give a great insight of the establishment of Chicago and the communities in which they reside.

Eastgate Village is one of many communities located within the Near South Side neighborhood of Chicago. This neighborhood has probably seen more dramatic changes and redevelopment than any other area of Chicago.

Over the past century, the area has seen various changes. It originated as a Native American homeland and then branched out as a blue collar settlement. Later it became a statement as an elite socialite residential district and then to contributing as public housing and warehouse district. Until finally becoming a newly renovated residential area that you see today.

Settlers working for the Illinois & Michigan Canal, who later worked in the lumber district, first populated this area. Close proximity to railroads attracted shop owners and manufacturers. In 1859, a South State Street horse-drawn streetcar line, linking the area to downtown, attracted wealthy families to the area. By the time of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, it was home to some of the city’s finest mansions and most elite social families.

The Near South Side consisted primarily of railroads and interchanges until the 1960’s. It was around then that rapid transit evolved and many families moved further from the Loop business district. However, the railroads brought warehouses and manufacturers to the Near South Side. Michigan Avenue, between 14th Street and 22nd Street, became known as “Auto Row”. Burnham Park and several accompanying institutions were built in the 1910s and 1920s.

In 1960, construction began on McCormick Place, a convention complex at 23rd Street and Lake Shore Drive. The original building burned in 1967, and was rebuilt and reopened in 1971. Large expansions were added in 1986, 1997 and 2007. The current redevelopment includes greatly expanded hotel accommodations. McCormick Place also houses the Arie Crown Theatre, and is the annual location for the Chicago Auto Show.

In 1977, George Halas (an American player, coach, owner and pioneer in professional football) delivered 51 acres of rail yards to build throughout Dearborn Park apartments, townhouses and walkways. In 1988, the second phase of Dearborn Park construction began between State St. and Clark St., south of Roosevelt Road. A housing boom emerged in the 1990’s and continues to present day with the construction of many new condominium and apartment towers.

It is clear that The Near South Side is one of the most dynamic of Chicago’s neighborhoods. Its’ history and transformation over the past century has created a footprint in Chicago and is one more reason to live downtown.

1 Comment

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One response to “Eastgate Village: A Community with Real History

  1. mzpritteful

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s nice to see the history of an area!

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