Grand Crossing

Grand Crossing

The aptly-named Chicago neighborhood of Grand Crossing marks an area where two rail lines converged back in the 1800s. The junction (which is now where 75th Street and S. South Chicago Avenue meet) was actually quite dangerous at the time. In fact, it was the site of a massive train crash in the 1850s that resulted in the deaths of 18 people. Several subsequent incidents at the same intersection led to an eventual elevation of the tracks and installation of signal lights. Despite its infamous reputation, the area surrounding the train crossing developed into an industrial outlet. As a precautionary measure, trains were required to stop at the junction before proceeding on their routes. This short stopover opened an opportunity for further growth around the junction.

Much of the land near the crossing was purchased by a real estate developer named Paul Cornell, who wanted to name the borough after himself. It was only called Grand Crossing after Cornell found out another settlement already had the moniker. Most of the area’s early inhabitants were railroad workers, farmers, craftsmen and factory laborers of British, Irish and German descent. They built cottage-style homes that were eclipsed by the later construction of brick single-family houses, two-flat residences and even apartment buildings. Grand Crossing’s major population boom came in the years following the 1983 World’s Columbian Exposition, which put Chicago on the map as a truly cosmopolitan city with some of the most revolutionary advancements and innovations on the planet.

By 1920, the Greater Grand Crossing area had a population of more than 44,500. As a result, the neighborhood was largely residential in landscape and remains so to this day. In addition to a solid housing stock, Grand Crossing has a few pockets of commercial development and a sizeable cemetery that occupies the community’s northwest corner. There is a hospital and medical center on the neighborhood’s eastern edge and a number of local recreation spots tucked among the residential blocks. Among these are Adams Park, Grand Crossing Park, Railroad Junction Playlot Park, Essex Playlot Park, Hoard Park and Chestnut Playlot Park.

Complementing Grand Crossing’s public outdoor spaces is a youth center that opened in 2006 on S. Ingleside Avenue. The facility offers a number of activities and community programs, as well as a computer lab, gymnasium and dance studio. This newer addition to the neighborhood was a gift from a former Grand Crossing resident named Gary Corner, who happens to be the founder of Land’s End catalog. Corner spent his final years trying to revitalize his old stomping grounds with an infusion of new development. Aside from the youth center, which is located next to Corner’s childhood school, he also built a housing project in the neighborhood. 

Grand Crossing Real Estate