As an industrial powerhouse and the nation’s most diverse inland economy, Chicago attracted hundreds of thousands of new residents in the early 20th Century. Many followed the jobs to the
Stony Island district, where developers built vast residential communities down the lakefront, around the factories, and along the freight and passenger railroads.
Home to 171,000 people, the district contains housing of every configuration, with large courtyard buildings and high-rises in South Shore, wood boarding houses in South Chicago, elegant manor homes in Jackson Park Highlands, and modernistic bungalows in Pill Hill. Though some metal fabricators and warehouses remain, Stony Island today is mostly residential, with the vast majority of residents commuting to jobs elsewhere via expressways or public transit.
The district has undergone complete racial turnover from the previous all-white communities to almost entirely African American communities, with only South Chicago having a significant Latino population (22 percent). The district has become progressively more distressed since the 1970s, and steadily declining population has resulted in some areas of vacant lots and boarded or abandoned buildings. But there remains a great deal of community pride across the entire area. [Excerpted from Summary of Assets]