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South Shore is one of 77 well-defined community areas of the City of Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker in the United Statesmarker. A predominately black neighborhood located along Chicago's southern lakefront, it has become more diverse in recent years . It is a relatively stable and gentrifying neighborhood that has been long neglected. Michelle Obama, wife of President Barack Obama, grew up in this neighborhood.

The jewel of the neighborhood is the South Shore Cultural Centermarker, previously The South Shore Country Club, which began as a lakefront retreat for the wealthiest of Chicago’s movers and shakers. Marshall and Fox, architects of the Drake, Blackstone, and Edgewater Beach Hotels, were hired to design an opulent, Mediterranean-style clubhouse for a membership that included Chicago's most prominent families. The grounds provided private stables and members-only beach, and golf course. Tennis, horseback riding, and skeet shooting were enjoyed by guests the likes of Jean Harlow, Will Rogers, and Amelia Earhart. Between the first and second World Wars, a housing boom brought a development of luxury cooperative apartments and mansions to the neighborhood surrounding the club. In 1974 the club held its last members-only event. Today, the Chicago Park District owns the property. It has been restored to its original design and is now open to the public.

At the northern end of South Shore is the historic district Jackson Park Highlandsmarker which is one of Chicago's greatest examples of structural history and 19th-Century architecture, with an abundance of homes in the style of American Four-Square, Colonial Revival, and Renaissance Revival on suburban sized lots.

Located in the Bryn Mawr section of South Shore is the Allan Miller Housemarker located at 7121 South Paxton Avenue. Commissioned by advertising executive Allan Miller, this home is an excellent example of Prairie-style architecture. Built in 1915, it is Chicago’s only surviving building designed by John Van Bergen, a former member of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture firm.

History

Before the community came to be known as South Shore in the 1920s, it was a collection of settlements in southern Hyde Park Township. The names of these settlements—Essex, Bryn Mawr, Parkside, Cheltenham Beach, and Windsor Park—indicate the British heritage of the Illinois Central Railroad and steel mill workers who had come to inhabit them. Most of these settlements were already in place when the Illinois Central built the South Kenwood Station in 1881 at what is now 71st and Jeffrey Boulevard.

As with many South Side Chicago communities, the two events that sparked commercial and residential development were annexation to Chicago in 1889 and the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. The location of the fair in nearby Jackson Park prompted the sale of land and building lots and subsequently housing explosion. White Protestants fled neighboring Washington Park as immigrants and African Americans moved there. In 1905 these former residents of Washington Park built Jackson Park Highlands, an exclusive residential community ensconced within South Shore. In 1906 they established the South Shore Country Club, a posh 67-acre lakeside playground, which excluded blacks and Jews.

A housing boom in the 1920s generated not only a large increase in the area's population, but also greater diversity among its residents and in housing stock. Between 1920 and 1930 the population of South Shore jumped from 31,832 to 78,755. Many of these new residents were Irish, Swedish, German, or Jewish and had followed native white Protestants from Washington Park to live in South Shore's high-rises, single-family homes, and apartment houses. Institutions built in South Shore during these years reflected the community's growing diversity. By 1940 South Shore contained 15 Protestant churches, 4 Roman Catholic churches, and 4 Jewish synagogues.

As African American families moved to South Shore in the 1950s, white residents became concerned about the neighborhood's stability. The South Shore Commission initiated a program they called “managed integration,” designed to check the physical decline of the community and to achieve racial balance. The initiative was largely unsuccessful on both counts. Although residential and commercial decline did coincide with an increase in the African American population (69 percent by 1970 and 95 percent by 1980), it had more to do with real-estate “redlining” and commercial disinvestment. In the early 1970s, a collaboration between the Renewal Effort Service Corporation (RESCORP) and the Illinois Housing Development Authority resulted in two rehabilitation programs called “New Vistas.” When in 1973 the South Shore Bank attempted to relocate to the Loop, the federal Comptroller of the Currency denied their petition to move under pressure from local activists. These local activists became the new management of the bank in 1973. The bank's reinvestment in South Shore led to both residential and commercial revitalization.

By the late 1990s South Shore had reemerged as a solidly middle-class African American community. Although the commercial strips on 71st and 75th still struggled, developers built a shopping plaza at 71st and Jeffrey. The cultural life of the area has been enhanced since the Park District purchased the waning South Shore Country Club in 1972, converting it into a cultural center. The New Regal Theater opened in 1987 on 79th Street and remained open until 2003. Perhaps still not “social register,” South Shore remained a choice destination for those desiring a congenial middle-class community on Chicago's South Side.

Neighborhoods

Jackson Park

Jackson Park is a 500 acre (2 km²) park on Chicago's South Side, bordering Lake Michiganmarker and the neighborhoods of Hyde Parkmarker and Woodlawnmarker.

The land for Jackson Park and its sister Washington Park was set aside in the 1870s. The area was originally a "rough, tangled stretch of bog and dune" until it was transformed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of New York Citymarker's Central Parkmarker.

Jackson Park's moment in the sun was the 1893 World's Columbian Expositionmarker. For this event, hundreds of acres of undeveloped park was turned into the spectacular, but temporary, Beaux-Arts "White City."

Everything from the World's Columbian Exposition has been demolished except the old Palace of Fine Arts, which is now the Museum of Science and Industrymarker and the Japanese garden on the Wooded Isle.

Sites worth visiting are the pleasant Osaka Garden, the Jackson Park Golf Course, the gilded Daniel Chester French statue Republic (a replica of a much larger statue built for the Columbian Exposition), and several lagoons, one of which features the Wooded Isle.

Jackson Park is connected by the Midway Plaisancemarker to Washington Park. In accordance with a canal that Olmsted wanted built between the two parks, a long excavation was made on the Midway; but water has never been allowed in.

Jackson Park Highlands is the neighborhood that goes along with the park. Its homes were built in the early 20th century by some of the most notable architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright. Home prices range from $300,000 to $1.8 million. Many of the homes are tri-level and have anywhere from two to seven bedrooms. Some of the more "modern" features of the neighborhood at the time where to exclude alleys and set the homes further back from the sidewalk. Also, Jackson Park Highlands portrays home styles from around the world which explains the different types of houses seen on various streets. Some of the notable Chicagoans that have resided in the Highlands include James Montgomery, Ramsey Lewis, Bo Diddley and Rev. Jesse Jackson. Jackson Park Highlands is currently home to Judge Greg Mathis.

Culture

The Nation of Islam National Center and the Mosque Maryam are located at 7351 South Stony Island Avenue in the area.

Education

Chicago Public Schools operates area public schools.

Muhammad University of Islam, a Nation of Islam (NOI)-affiliated primary and secondary school, is adjacent to the Mosque Maryam.

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