South Chicago

South Chicago

South Chicago is a far southeast neighborhood of Chicago that occupies a large area east of the I-90 Chicago Skyway toll road. It stretches east to the lakefront, north to 79th Street and south to 95th Street (also known as route 12 or 20). South Chicago is where the city’s scenic Lake Shore Drive ends (or begins, depending on which direction you’re coming from). The popular lakeside road picks up at 83rd Street and takes motorists past Rocky Ledge Park, on the neighborhoods’ northeastern border.

South Chicago has several community parks, including Russell Square Park which has a large outdoor swimming pool that is open during the summer. The park also features baseball diamonds, playground equipment, basketball and tennis courts, and open green spaces for running around, playing games, picnicking or reading a novel under the shade of a tree. Other recreation spots in South Chicago are Dinah Washington Park (on the community’s northwestern edge), Eckersall Stadium off 83rd Street, Bessemer Park (on the southwest side) and a little wooded area that flanks the train tracks on the neighborhood’s eastern limits.

Since the early 1800s, South Chicago has been a magnet for industrial manufacturing. Its proximity to Lake Michigan, the Calumet River and a number of rail lines made it a prime locale for production and distribution. Major manufacturers, such as Brown Iron & Steel Company and South Works, took advantage of South Chicago’s undeveloped land and transportation connections. They set up shop in the 1870s, drawing an immigrant population from Poland, Ireland and Italy to man the huge operations. Before long, South Works had become a global leader in steel manufacturing. The South Chicago facility actually produced a materials used in the construction of Chicago’s famous Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower) as well as other downtown skyscrapers.

The heyday of Chicago’s steel industry peaked decades ago, however, followed by a period of labor strikes, decreased demand for the commodity, and international competition. As a result, South Chicago was loosing its main source of employment and by 1992 South Works was shuttered for good. The site is now a vacant expanse of land along the Lake Michigan shoreline. It has excellent potential for redevelopment, particularly with its access to the Calumet River. 

When it comes to public transportation, the Metra Rail line services South Chicago with four stops in the neighborhood. Commuters can use the Metra to get downtown, or those who prefer to drive can take either Lake Shore Drive or the Skyway into the city center. The majority of South Chicago residents live in single-family homes, although there is a smattering of condos and other multi-unit properties in the area as well. Local restaurants are concentrated around the community’s northwestern border on 79th Street. There are also some places to grab a bite on South Chicago Avenue, which runs parallel to the Skyway.

South Shore Real Estate