University Village, Chicago

University Village is a renamed near west Chicago community consisting of newly constructed residential and retail properties. The University Village/Little Italy community cherishes its rich past as one of the first neighborhoods of Chicago. The community is home to mixed-income residents from ethnically diverse socio-economic backgrounds as a result of immigration, urban renewal, gentrification and the growth of the resident student and faculty population of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

University Village, Chicago, consists of major new residential developments over old known Chicago neighborhoods. One such development is the Ivy Hall development, over the area once-known as the Maxwell Street neighborhood. This development took one of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago and made it into a middle to upper class income area.

The University Commons development and University Station were created from the defunct South Water Market, historically known as the distribution point for Chicago's produce and agriculture market. The Roosevelt Square development was created over the remains of the now demolished public housing area that was under the auspices of the Chicago Housing Authority called the ABLA homes.

University Village, Chicago also includes the established neighborhood of Little Italy, with a rich history of its own.

University Village surrounds the University of Illinois at Chicago, located south and west of the campus. The Illinois Medical District borders the area on the west. The Pilsen community borders the south, the Dan Ryan expressway I-94 borders the area on the east.

Politically, University Village is currently served by the 25th Ward Alderman, Daniel Solis, and the 2nd Ward Alderman, Bob Fioretti, for the City of Chicago. The neighborhood also is served by the Illinois 7th Congressional District seat in the U.S. congress, currently filled by democrat Danny K. Davis.

University Village history

University Village is a late 1990s and early 2000s housing redevelopment in the shadows of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Historically, the neighborhood encompasses the old Maxwell Street neighborhood. From the late 19th century until the 1920s, the Maxwell Street neighborhood was an important Jewish neighborhood for many Jews who had escaped government organized pogroms in their countries of origin. They established an outdoor market both to replicate many of the traditional markets from their countries of origin, but also as a way to make a living when starting out in the United States with very little. Once the Great Migration of African Americans from the South began in 1919, the neighborhood became increasingly African American though many of the businesses remained in Jewish hands. It is at this time that the music known as Chicago Blues originated and was performed on Maxwell Street.

The motto of Maxwell street was "we cheat you fair" and it was widely known that people should get to the market early so that they could be the first customer of the day because vendors would go down to any price so they could sell something to the first customer of the day, thinking that it would bring them luck. "Nate's Deli" which was previously Lyon's deli was an important landmark in the neighborhood. Opened by Ben Lyon, a Jewish man in the neighborhood, in the 1920s, he eventually sold the deli to his devoted employee, Nate Duncan, an African American child of the Great Migration. Nate kept all of the original recipes until the deli was torn down by the University Village development in the 1990s. The famous scene from the "Blues Brothers" where Aretha Franklin sings "Think" was filmed in "Nates Deli".

It was at University Village's Maxwell Street where Abe "Fluky" Drexler first began to sell the Chicago style hot dog in 1929, and where Jim Stefanovic created the Maxwell Street Polish at Jim's Hot Dog Stand. (Chicagoans believe that this is where the hot dog itself was invented....) The Original Jim's was torn down around 2002 and relocated to nearby Union Street, just off the Roosevelt Road on-ramp to the 90/94 expressway, still in the neighborhood. The Maxwell street market continues today on Canal Street between Taylor and 16th streets, east of University Village. It is largely a Mexican street market today, and is still a wonderful place to find interesting things and great bargains.

The retail heart of University Village today still is Maxwell Street and Halsted, but many of the old buildings have been razed to make way for new construction. Several buildings have been saved and rehabilitated in order to retain some of the neighborhood's original character. Restaurants and upscale services that cater to middle to high income residents and college students now stand there.

Little Italy history

Little Italy is located in the Near West Side community area of the city of Chicago, Illinois. It encompasses a 12 block stretch of Taylor Street east of Ashland Avenue and the streets to the north and south for several blocks in each direction. The neighborhood lies between the Illinois Medical District to the west and the University of Illinois at Chicago to the east. It is a neighborhood of strongly Italian influence.

Little Italy never had a concentration of Italian-Americans that constituted a majority.cite web |author= Grinnell, Max |url= |publisher= Chicago Historical Society |title= "Encyclopedia of Chicago" "Little Italy" |accessdate=2007-02-07] Other ethnicities have always been present in the area known as "Little Italy."Binford, Henry C., "Multicentered Chicago", "The Encyclopedia of Chicago", p. 548-9, Eds. Grossman, James R., Keating, Ann Durkin, and Reiff, Janice L., 2004, The University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-31015-9] Nonetheless, the neighborhood was given its name due to the strong influence of Italians and Italian culture on the neighborhood throughout the 19th and 20th century.

Though the Italian population declined throughout the late 20th century, many Italian restaurants and groceries remain in the formerly prominent Taylor Street corridor.Poe, Tracy N., "Foodways", "The Encyclopedia of Chicago", p. 308-9, Eds. Grossman, James R., Keating, Ann Durkin, and Reiff, Janice L., 2004, The University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-31015-9] The neighborhood also hosts the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame as well as the historic Roman Catholic churches Our Lady of Pompeii and Holy Guardian Angel.

Recent gentrification

Rents in the area have risen in the past few decades due to an influx of condominiums, townhouses, and the proximity of Little Italy to UIC and the Loop. An example of this gentrification: in the 1990 census, no homes in the Little Italy sample area were reported to be worth more than $400,000. By contrast, according to the 2000 census, 62 homes were reportedly worth more than $500,000, and 13 of those were worth at least $1 million.Paolini, Matthew and Craig Tiede, "Economic upswing in Little Italy comes with a price" [ Medill News Service] . December 1, 2005.]


Two of the more significant landmarks of Little Italy were the Catholic churches of Our Lady of Pompeii and Holy Guardian Angel founded by Mother Cabrini.cite web|url=||year=2006|accessdate=2007-04-19|author=Candeloro, Dominic|title=chicago's italiansimmigrants, ethnics, achievers, 1850-1985 - part 1] Holy Guardian Angel was the first Italian congregation in Chicago. The parish was established in 1898, and the church was built on Arthington Street in 1899. Due to the burgeoning population, a second major Italian church, Our Lady of Pompeii, was founded in 1911. [Candeloro, Dominic Lawrence "Chicago's Italians: Immigrants, Ethnics, Americans" p. 24] The Holy Guardian Angel Church was razed for the construction of the expressway system.cite web|url=||year=2006|accessdate=2007-04-19|author=Candeloro, Dominic|title=chicago's italiansimmigrants, ethnics, achievers, 1850-1985 - part 2] The Our Lady of Pompeii Church is now a the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii.

Hull House, Jane Addams' settlement house known for its social and educational programs was also located within the Little Italy area. In recent years, the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (founded in 1977 in Elmwood Park, Illinois) was relocated to a new building in Little Italy.

University Commons history

Near Maxwell and Halsted, University Commons stands on five city blocks that for 78 years was the home of Chicago's South Water Market. Originally, South Water Market sprawled along the Chicago River on South Water Street. It stretched westward from what is now Michigan Ave. It was fairly accessible to the rail yards; and most of all, it was backed up to the docks where incoming vessels could bring fruits and vegetables from the states located around the Great Lakes. Michigan was a big supplier during the warm months. Cherries, celery, apples, plums and other fresh commodities were put on boats in Benton Harbor, St. Joe, Ludington, Traverse City and other Michigan port cities and shipped to the South Water Market.

Around 1925, the City of Chicago began the construction of new streets parallel to the Chicago River and the market was in the way. As a result, the market was moved to the location that is University Commons today. The displacement of the market was hailed as a good move since the market was now close to modernizing transportation infrastructure such as trucks and railroads. To make room for the new South Water Market, deteriorated existing houses were bulldosed down in this high crime neighborhood, then called The Village. In 1925, the cost for the approximate 13 acres of land and buildings was around 17 million dollars.

On July 10, 2003, The Chicago Planning Commission granted their approval on the sale of the 78 year old produce market for a cost of approximately 36 million dollars to Enterprise Companies of Chicago. Enterprise turned the South Water Market's six buildings of 4 levels into 824, one, two and three bedroom loft apartments with convert|4500|sqft|m2|-1|abbr=on. of retail property. The cost of this redevelopment was in the range of 200 million dollars in August/September 2003.

The market was auctioned off to a few other interested developers taking in all intentions of the 5 highest bidders, Enterprise Companies, was offered the deal because of their interest to not tear down the 78 year old units. Other bidders had intentions of demolition rather than saving and restoring the terra cotta facades, as Chicago University Commons plans to do.

The three-story buildings were originally designed by the architects Fugard & Knapp. They were adorned with intricately carved terra-cotta façades reminiscent of the acclaimed Wrigley Building, which dates to the same era. Terra-cotta carvings and floral ornaments were cleaned, repaired or replaced by the firm Pappageorge/Haymes Ltd., a leading urban residential architecture firm.

Roosevelt Square history

On May 16, 2005, boosted by recent approval of $9.7 million in funds from the Roosevelt/Racine Tax Increment Financing District, LR Development Company, along with partner Quest Development, broke ground on Phase I townhomes and condominiums in the new Roosevelt Square mixed-income community on Chicago's Near West Side.

ABLA was home to about 12,000 residents. It is now gone for Roosevelt Square. This was fueled by the resurgent Little Italy neighborhood. The large and vibrant neighborhood was poor and hence obsolete by most upscale standards, and the tenants of the "ol' vill" where scattered to the furthest corners of the city and county.

ABLA was a public housing development made up of different public housing projects in Chicago, operated by the Chicago Housing Authority. The name "ABLA" was an acronym for four different housing developments that together constitute one large site. Those four developments were: the Jane Addams Homes, Grace Abbott Homes, Robert Brooks Homes, Robert Brooks Extension, and Loomis Courts. It spanned from Cabrini Street on the north to 14th Street on the south; and from Blue Island on the east to Ashland avenue on the west. Most of ABLA has been razed for the Roosevelt Square mixed-income community development.

Homes in ABLA

Jane Addams Homes

The Jane Addams Homes (One of the first housing projects) are made up of 32 4- 3, and 2-story buildings, and were built in 1938 by Franklin D. Roosevelt's WPA Program. They were originally built to last 60 years. Fact|date=February 2007 They were famous for their animal sculptures in the court area. The majority of the buildings have been demolished.

Robert Brooks Homes

Built in 1943, the original 800 rowhouse units were recently reconstructed (completed in two phases between 1997 and 2000) The $45 million CHA-funded renovation reduced unit density per acre and increased unit sites, resulting in 330 units of public housing.

Grace Abbott Homes

Originally made up of 7 15-story buildings and 33 2-story rowhouse buildings, the Grace Abbott Homes were built in 1955. Although in 2005, 4 of the high-rise buildings were demolished, and the rest were demolished by 2007. This property is planned to be redeveloped in Phases 3-6 of the new Roosevelt Square mixed-income community.

Robert Brooks Extension

Built in 1961, this complex was made up of 3 16-story buildings. One building at 1239 S. Racine was demolished in 1998. The remaining 2 buildings were demolished in 2001. In 2005, Phase 1 of Roosevelt Square has been built on this site.

Loomis Courts

Built in 1951, this 126-unit complex consists of 2 buildings of 7 stories each. It was built with City-State funds, not federal public housing funds. In 2005, the CHA started a 2-phase rehabilitation of the property that will result in all units being preserved as affordable rental housing. Rents will continue to be based on 30% of household income.

Cross Ashland

Just west of the ABLA's was small neighborhood affectionately known as " 'cross Ashland". Named for the southern twang in which many residents of the downtown and the projects pronounced its location. Bordered by Ashland to the east, Western avenue on the west ,the Fifteenth place train tracks to the south and Roosevelt Rd. on the north. This area originally went as far north as Polk, pre-dating the Medical district.Many blacks and jews lived in the area through much of the 20th century until the late sixties when most Jews, Poles and Italians moved away.

Cross Ashland also extended east all the way to Halsted.Before the ABLA homes were constructed.Many Blacks worked at the various railyard companies at Fifteenth street before the companies all moved to foreign lands and the suburbs.They were proud to leave the oppressive south and work arduous hours to feed families and attend barbecues. In 2005 this community of roughly 10,000 in the fifties and 5,000 in the nineties was completely destroyed overnight in a mass scale fire sale for land developers hungry to devour the last vestige of black community east of Western avenue. Today the land remains vacant and lifeless save for the new FBI building and University Police Station.


External links

* [ University Village / Ivy Hall]
* [ University Commons]
* [ Roosevelt Square]
* [ University Station]

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