The Chicago neighborhood of Calumet Heights is located on the far Southeast Side of the city, about 12 miles from the downtown Loop. Calumet Heights is one of Chicago’s 77 official communities. Its boundaries are defined by 87th and 95th streets to the north and south; and the Chicago Skyway and railroad tracks to the east and west. Its easternmost point is across the highway from the Calumet River—the area’s major waterway.
In fact, development of the entire region stemmed from its proximity to the channel and eventual construction of train yards along the western edge of the community. The railroad and shipping industries were prevalent in Calumet Heights during the 1870s and 1880s, followed by real estate expansion of the land by developer Samuel E. Gross.
Even with its annexation to Chicago, there wasn’t much population growth in Calumet Heights until 1930. The number of residents more than doubled between 1920 and 1930, soaring from 3,250 to 7,340 in the course of a decade. Many of the new inhabitants were immigrants from countries such as Ireland, Italy and Poland. They lived mostly in single-family houses and standard Chicago bungalows, many of which are still around today.
There are also traditional courtyard apartment buildings in Calumet Heights, as well as a showing of stately townhomes and renovated condominiums. Almost three-fourths of the neighborhood housing stock is single-family homes, which catered predominantly to the middle-class throughout the 20th Century. After World War II, Calumet Heights experienced a surge of growth resulting in a shopping center at 87th Street and Stony Island Avenue and a new residential subdivision near 92nd Street.
Within the Calumet Heights neighborhood, there is a smaller residential district known as Pill Hill. It was named for the large percentage of doctors and medical professionals that ended up living there due to its convenient location to the nearby hospital. The main commercial corridors in Calumet Heights are along Stony Island Avenue and 87th Street. Both thoroughfares have a number of restaurants and storefronts, including pizzerias, fast-food places, bakeries and sandwich shops.
Calumet Heights has a sizeable public park on the northern border between Jeffery Boulevard and Clyde Avenue. The beautifully landscaped plot of green known as Jesse Owen Park is outfitted with 6 outdoor tennis courts, 3 softball fields, a baseball diamond, paved pathways, open fields and a children’s playground. Calumet Heights’ residents can go to the park for a bit of recreation or just head outside their doors to hang out in their own yards, which boast green grass lawns and leafy tall trees.