Lower West Side – what is that exactly?

Nuevo Leon at 1515 W 18th in Pilsen.

Nuevo Leon at 1515 W 18th in Pilsen

You’ve got to hand it to Chicago……no other city in the world has quite so many ways of defining its areas.  Chicago is the city of neighborhoods.  It is the city of wards, districts, tracts, parishes, block organizations, school attendance areas, turf and sides.  Chicago residents can navigate the paths of their lives and step through dozens of self-identified, government identified and cultural-identified territories in a single stroll. To assist the city and its residences in understanding the intertwining maps and designations and making logic out of the melange, in the 1920s the City of Chicago collaborated with the University of Chicago to create an entirely new map of the city, with an entirely new designation for its different areas….the Community Map of Chicago.

You know.  To make it easier.

Originally, the areas were divided into 75 distinct Community Areas between the North, South and West Sides of the city.  O’Hare became the 76th Community in the 50s and Edgewater broke off from Uptown in the 80s to give us the 77 different Community Areas of Chicago.  And in doing so, creating yet another way of referring to where you live. The Chicago Community Area in some cases represents the dominant neighborhood in that part of the city, like Hyde Park or Bridgeport.  In other cases, the name is a complete construct of the naming project.  Some areas take the name of one small neighborhood amongst many, and others don’t have a neighborhood with the community area name.  Some have one neighborhood and some have dozens.

Take the Lower West Side for instance.  It would be a difficult thing to find someone living in the boundaries of Chicago’s Lower West Side Community Area map that would tell you that is they live in the Lower West Side.  The Lower West Side consists of Pilsen, the Heart of Italy and the Heart of Chicago, and one of those is where they would tell you they live.  Maybe even East Pilsen.  Or maybe they’d say the parish of St. Matthews, St. Paul, St. Pius or St. Procopius.  Or in the 25th Ward.  Whatever they might say, it is almost certain that none of them are going to tell you they live in the Lower West Side.

But that’s where we are touring anyway. See you there on Saturday.

Tour of the Lower West Side
Saturday February 21 at 11:00 AM
Harrison Park at 1824 S Wood Street in Chicago

Take care one and all. – Lee