Posted October 26, 2009 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized
Tagged with 1950s, 1960s, 71ST STREET CHICAGO, 75TH STREET CHICAGO, 79TH STREET CHICAGO, CHICAGO APARTMENT LIFE, CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE, CHICAGO NEIGHBORHOOD, CHICAGO'S SOUTH SHORE, CHICAGO'S SOUTH SIDE, GROWING UP IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS CENTRAL ELECTRIC, JOHN CHUCKMAN, MYRA BRADWELL SCHOOL, NEIGHBORHOOD CHANGE AND WHITE FLIGHT, NOSTALGIA AND MEMORABLIA, RAINBOW BEACH, SHORELINE LAKE MICHIGAN, SOUTH SHORE HIGH SCHOOL, SOUTH SHORE VINTAGE POSTCARDS, SOUTH SHORE VINTAGE SNAPSHOTS, TREE-LINED STREETS, URBAN DESIGN, URBAN LANDSCAPE, URBAN VILLAGE, URBS IN HORTO
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I used to go to the Peter Pan Restaurant after a movie at the Avalon Theater if I recall correctly. This was in the very early 60’s. I also attended South Shore Temple a few blocks South on Jeffrey. It was a very nice area indeed. I noted however when it got to be around 1967 things were going downhill. It was no longer particularly safe to take the CTA bus at that point. I do have many good memories when it was still a wonderful area to go through. I lived in Jeffrey Manor at 97th and Crandon at the time.
The Avalon Theater – 79th and Stony Island – was quite a hike from Peter Pan – 71st and Jeffery – although you may well have made it as a young man.
Perhaps you are thinking of the Jeffery Theater – a fairly large one across 71st from the restaurant?
South Shore went through what was an almost overnight transformation in the late 1960s with “white flight” and substantial in-migration of black people.
I wasn’t there, but I saw a photo once of a block in South Shore with literally a row of “for sale” signs, the only time I’ve seen something like that.
The process was given additional jolts by murders, something which had been very rare in South Shore. A friend – Caryn Amster, who writes a South Shore nostalgia newsletter – had her father murdered in his well-known toy store, Wee Folks, almost across the street from the Avalon, in about 1970. At some point I recall a story of a murder in the Avalon too.
Some spirited locals tried to “save” the neighborhood in the late 1960s with things like civilian car patrols equipped with two-way radios – there’s a picture in my collection – but it was futile.
It wasn’t long before what had been high-quality schools – Bradwell Elementary and South Shore High – became troubled and dropped dramatically in academic standing. Later, in the typical fashion of failing schools in the city, they were re-named as “academies.” The process has continued with new names and new buildings, but the academic standing remains poor.
South Shore faced the same fate as other once desirable neighborhoods on the South Side. Hyde Park went the same way some years earlier, and it was only the resolve of the University of Chicago to stay – they definitely considered moving in around 1960 in the heavily rising crime – that kept the place a bit normal. The City pitched in with little-known measures like 10-foot fences across many residential streets south of 47th (I saw one once later – it looked like a draw bridge pulled up at a castle.), increased policing and better lighting.
The last time I briefly visited South Shore in the 1980s, it was a pathetic place. All commercial streets – 71st, 75th, and 79th – were literally wrecks with nothing but dumpy store-front churches, liquor stores, dives, and and empty lots – with iron bars widely featured. The streets were dirty and battered-looking.
The buildings on the side streets were largely intact – although there were empty spots like missing teeth – but they all had tall iron fences in front. It was depressing and a bit frightening.
My bad. You are SO right. It was the Jeffrey Theater I went to. I still remember taking the CTA bus from the Manor and seeing the Beatles “Help” there in 1964. It was a mad house with all the screaming girls as we tried to watch the movie. Remember the Green River soda machines they had there that dispensed a cup followed by the charged water, then the syrup? Those were the days 🙂
Lived at 96th and Yates from 1950 to 1967-heyday of The Manor. The CTA buses(Commercial and Jeffery) stopped right in front of our house! I felt lucky. Lol.
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