"Chicago" by Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders

-excerpt from the poem "Chicago" by Carl Sandburg (1916)

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline
The Chicago Skyline from a Near West Side highrise

Monday, February 14, 2011


The Breakdown
Looking Eastward at Bryn Mawr and Winthrop.

The boundaries: Edgewater was considered the northern half of Uptown until the 1980s when it was designated as the 77th Chicago community area.  It separates from Uptown at Foster Avenue to the south.  Edgewater's western border is Ravenswood Avenue, and to the north it is separated from Rogers Park by Devon Avenue.  Its eastern border is Lake Michigan.

Population make-up: Edgewater is a very diverse neighborhood.  As of the 2000 Census, the population is listed as 57% White, 18% Black, 20% Hispanic, and 12% Asian.  Edgewater and Uptown are the only two community areas to have a double-digit percentage for all four of these ethnicities.  At 22,800 people per square mile, it is the 8th most dense community area in Chicago.

A brief history: Edgewater was founded in the early 1880s as an upscale suburb of Chicago.  However, by 1889 it was annexed into the City along with much of the lakefront area south of it.  It is one of two community areas (along with O'Hare) not originally included in the 1920s city layout.  Edgewater and its beachfront was a popular vacation destination throughout the 1920s.  In the 1940s, the area began suffering from overcrowding and urban blight.  The Edgewater Community Council fought to renew the community beginning in the 1960s, and today the community boasts an eclectic mix of vintage architecture and modern lakefront high-rises.  It was considered the northern half of Uptown until 1980, when it was officially designated as Chicago's 77th community area.  It is a residence destination for college students (notably from Loyola University which sits partly in the neighborhood) and immigrants alike, due greatly to a large and affordable housing stock, as well as great access to public transportation.  Hollywood Beach sits along Edgewater's eastern shore, and Lake Shore Drive begins/ends at Hollywood Avenue as well.  Edgewater is composed of several smaller neighborhoods, notably the Lakewood-Balmoral Historic District, the Bryn Mawr Historic District, and Andersonville.  We've already covered Andersonville, so with this entry we're going to focus on two of Edgewater's other major commercial corridors: Broadway and 
the Bryn Mawr Historic District.
Bryn Mawr Historic District from the Bryn Mawr red line.

Getting there: The entire community area, but especially the eastern half, is very easy to access via public transit.  The red line has four stops: Granville, Thorndale, Bryn Mawr, and Berwyn.  There are also multiple bus lines.  Going east-west there is Devon Avenue (155), Peterson/Ridge/Bryn Mawr (84), and Foster Avenue (92).  Going north-south you can take Clark (22), Broadway (36), and Sheridan (151).  Furthermore, the Ashland bus (50) makes its northernmost commencement/terminus in western Edgewater, and there are two express buses to downtown, the 136 and 147.