Hermosa is Chicago Community Are #20 and is located 6 miles northwest of The Loop. The area was first settled in modern history by Scottish immigrants in the 1880s. They named the area Kelvyn Grove after William Thomson Kelvin, the Scottish mathematician and physicist and inventor of the absolute temperature scale known as the Kelvin scale and memorialized in the name of the neighborhood and park we begin our tour in.
Belmont-Cragin is Chicago Community Area #19 and is about 8 miles northwest of the Loop. The first business to open up in the area was George Merrill’s saloon in 1835 near Grand and Armitage. The tavern was a convenient stop for truck farmers using the plank road of present day Grand Avenue to bring their harvest to market in the city and the area surrounding Merril’s home and saloon became known as Whiskey Point. In 1862, Michael Moran opened a hotel at Whiskey Point. At this point, the area was hardly developed at all, but twenty years later, Cragin Brothers Company opened its tin plate and steel iron processing plant and the area grew popular with workers and soon other businesses. Soon the town would be known as Cragin.
These two northwest side communities are in the heart of Chicago’s bungalow belt and are surrounded by rail lines. The rail lines were responsible for bringing manufacturers and industries to the communities. The population in Belmont-Cragin and Hermosa expanded as companies located along the rail lines sought workers. Workers and their families filled the bungalows and brick flats in the neighborhoods. Parks, schools, religious and civic institutions dotted the area to service the new residents and the built history of these streets endures today, giving us a perfect backdrop for our tour.
Starting Spot: Kelvyn Park – 4438 W Wrightwood in Chicago
- August 30, 2014