Neighborhood History

GSDC is located in the heart of the Chicago Lawn neighborhood, a community bounded largely by the impressive 323-acre Marquette Park. Chicago Lawn was founded by former educator-turned-real estate developer, Professor John Frederick Eberhart.

 

Within four years of arriving to the Chicagoland area, Eberhart was elected as the first Cook County Superintendent of Schools. Later, as Eberhart began to focus more and more on real estate development, he became largely responsible for the development of Marquette Manor. In 1871, he bought the property that now extends from 63rd to 67th Streets and from Kedzie to Central Park Avenues. He also convinced former Chicago Chief of Police James Webb to buy an equally large tract of property between 63rd and 59th Streets. Together these two pieces of land would become the original town of Chicago Lawn. Nearly 20 years later, Chicago Lawn would be annexed by the City of Chicago.

 

Chicago Lawn experienced tremendous growth during the early and middle parts of the 20th century and by the 1950s, much of the area was surrounded by many working families. As the years progressed, however, the entire Marquette Park community gained notoriety for the racial strife imposed by outside groups. Open housing marches drew the ire of local residents and resulted in rock throwing and protests. The turbulence continued until the 1980s, when committed residents finally began to win the fight. Today the area is truly ethnically and racially diverse with a heavy population of Eastern European (many Lithuanian), Hispanic, Middle Eastern and African American residents.

 

Excerpt from Images of America: Chicago Lawn/Marquette Manor by Kathleen J. Headley.