The Greenmap Project
New East Side/Streeterville
Talia Chetrit, Rebecca Grady, Andrew Granat, Isaac Leung, Angela Lizak, Ronald Mendez, Madeline Nusser, Esther Soo Ok, Colin Robert Palombi, Christian Ryan, Raymond Serna, Andrew James Tomas, Kendra Walker, Brian Ware
Culture and Design
Lincoln Park is rich with history. From the park grounds themselves, which were once home to a small pox hospital and a cemetery, to the architecturally diverse buildings this neighborhood has no shortage of attractions. Tracings its roots to the 1820s, the once swampy, forested prairie land that was to become Lincoln Park was founded with the building of a small US army post at what would become Clybourn Street and Armitage Avenue, and the erection of a slaughterhouse on river east by Archibald Clybourne. The neighborhood began to take shape in the 1830s as land on Greenbay Road (present day Clark Street) was sold from the Illinois and Michigan Canal Company to speculators and produce farmers. The community grew with the founding of a Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1860 at Halsted and Fullerton on 25 acres of land donated by various city leaders, later to be named De Paul University. Undergoing many demographic changes, Lincoln Park is a presently characterized by the many restaurants, bars, shops, cafes, museums, and of course park areas that make up its urban identity.
In 1871 the Great Fire destroyed most of the houses in the area – only homes north and west of Larrabee Street were saved. However, unlike many other more centralized areas of Chicago, Lincoln Park was exempt from the building code that called for brick only structures, and wood frame structures were quickly rebuilt to house local factory workers – including those who worked at the two-dozen breweries in existence at the time. This is not to say that Lincoln Park does not have its share of larger more stately homes that characterize much of Chicago’s urban architecture. Many large and luxurious homes were built alongside the wooden-framed ones to house the owners and managers of the factories. Furthermore, the 1920s launched a twenty-year trend of tearing down the old box frame homes in favor of more expensive construction. However, the neighborhood did remain essentially working class until a shift in demographics in the late 1950s and 60s affected the southern section of Old Ranch Triangle. Subsequently it became attractive to teachers, artists, writers and some professionals in the mid 1960s. These new residents bought and rented homes to fix up and restore. Continuing throughout the 1960s and 70s, this trend passed to some of the more affluent executives, lawyers and bankers of the city who did not want to live in the suburbs, giving the area much of its present ambiance and real estate value. In 1973, Andrew Messick Jr., then president of Messick Construction Co., which was building a $3 million small shopping center with town houses above it (at the 2500 block of n. Lincoln Ave.) was already declaring Lincoln Park to be “the hottest piece of real estate in Chicago.”
Flora and Fauna
In 1837, Chicago annexed land in the southeast corner of present-day Lincoln Park to create a Small Pox hospital and a cemetery, known as City Cemetery. The “overcrowded and poorly drained” cemetery became a controversial issue in the 1850s, with City Council eventually being persuaded in 1861 to mark off an 80 acre tract north of the old cemetery as public ground under increasing public pressure from religious and civic groups lead by wealthy-north-siders who wanted to close the cemetery altogether. With the creation of the North Park Board of Commissioners in 1863, the cemetery land was gradually incorporated into the public space, with the removal of the graves and hospital. The combined acreage was named Lake Park, and renamed Lincoln Park in 1865 after the assassination of President Lincoln. The zoo was built in 1874, inside of Lincoln Park, and remains free of admission. Other green areas include Eagle Columns Sculpture with baseball and tennis courts as well as chess tables and Park West Play lot, a Chicago Park District run playground that is equipped with safety mats and a large open sitting space.
From military outpost to agricultural and industrial center to chic inexpensive rehabs to expensive completed rehabs, Lincoln Park has gone through an extensive economic shift. These changes have not gone unnoticed by the neighborhood’s residents, who have had various degrees of conflict over the matter, with the decade spanning the late sixties and the early seventies being by far the most volatile. At this time, social organizations such as the Poor Peoples Coalition and the Young Lords, working together on their self-proclaimed mandate to aid the poor and bring cohesion to the neighborhood, butted head with those who promoted the neighborhood redevelopment and gentrification, and typically saw these social groups as thugs who were trying to run the neighborhood. This broad social conflict led to colorful exchanges such as the following meeting of the Lincoln Park Conservation Community, whose function is the approve uses of urban renewal sites, and the community at large in July of 1969 at Waller High School. At this meeting, “the anti-tennis club faction disrupted the evening. Some people were hit on the head by flying chairs and the council chairman was floored with a punch from one of his fellow council members who sided with the dissidents.