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(See also: Marquette Park, Chicagomarker)

Chicago Lawn is one of the 77 community areas of Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker. It is located on the southwest side of the city. Its community neighbors include Gage Parkmarker, West Englewoodmarker, Ashburnmarker, and West Lawnmarker. It is bounded by Bell Avenue on the east, Central Park Avenue on the west, 59th Street on the north, and 75th Street on the south. This puts it 13 km (8 miles) southwest of the Loopmarker. The local residents call the area "Marquette Park" after the parkmarker in its center.


The city of Chicago Lawn was founded by John F. Eberhart in 1871. Although it was annexed by the city of Chicago in 1889, it remained mostly farmland with some scattered settlements until the 1920s. Between 1920 and 1930 the population increased from 14,000 to 47,000. Residents of Germanmarker and Irishmarker descent began to move into the area from the Back of the Yards and Englewoodmarker neighborhoods. Polesmarker, Bohemians, and Lithuaniansmarker followed them. Most new residents belonged to various Protestant denominations, but Chicago Lawn also was home to many Roman Catholic churches and schools. Today, there are six Catholic institutions that make up the Marquette Park Catholic Campus Council. Chicago Lawn was a thriving urban neighborhood as the Depression hit the nation and by 1940 its population had reached 49,291. In 1941, the National Biscuit Company announced plans to build a huge bakery in Chicago Lawn. When completed, this was the largest bakery in one location in the world. The size of the facility was doubled in the late 1990s.

John F. Eberhart, the father of Chicago Lawn

The Lithuanian community has maintained a notable presence in the area by establishing a network of institutions that earned their community the label as the Lithuanian Gold Coast. They formed some of the richest savings and loans in the city. The Lithuanian Sisters of Saint Casimir founded Holy Cross Hospital in 1928 and Maria High Schoolmarker in 1952 (originally established as St. Casimir Academy in 1911). The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church was established in 1927 on the corner of 69th Street and Washtenaw Avenue. It was founded as a Lithuanian national parish and services are still held in Lithuanian. An Art Deco monument was erected by Chicago's Lithuanian community in Marquette Parkmarker commemorating Lithuanian pilots Stasys Girėnas and Steponas Darius who died in the crash of the Lituanicamarker in 1933.

Chicago's changing racial demographics had a profound impact on Chicago Lawn. In the 1960s most of the white Americans had fled Englewood and West Englewood and Chicago Lawn became a target for civil rights groups' open housing marches. In 1966 a march led by Martin Luther King, Jr., into Marquette Parkmarker met a violent reaction. King himself was hit by a rock. Violence also erupted in the neighborhood when Gage Park High School attempted to integrate after Brown v. Board of Education. The primary resistance to integration came from fear of declining property values by people who put their life savings into their homes and disruption of ethnic bonds, especially for the Lithuanians. Some Irish, Poles, and Lithuanians still remain, though most have moved further south and west. Many Lithuanians and Poles have reestablished a community in Lemontmarker.

By 1990 African Americans comprised 52.9% of the population, while Hispanic groups accounted for 35.1%, and the white population dropped 72%. Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation (House of Peace for the Children of the Ancient Ethiopian Hebrews), at 66th Street and Kedzie Avenue, serves members of the local Jewish community, many of whom are black. Rabbi Capers Funnye and Michelle Obama are first cousins once removed.

Notable residents


  • Kathleen J. Headley. Images of America: Chicago Lawn/Marquette Manor. Chicago: Tempus, Inc., 2001.

"Population change creates 'new' Chicago Lawn." New Communities Program. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, 2003. Web. 30 Sept. 2009. />.

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