Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Rich Map : Prairie Avenue
Worlds of Prairie Avenue (Essay)  |  Prairie Avenue Elite in 1886 (Map)  |  Prairie Avenue Gallery  |  Neighborhood Change, 1853-2003 (Essay)  |  Prairie Avenue, 1853-2003 (Map)
Rich Map
Prarie Avenue
Prairie Avenue Gallery
Working on Prairie Avenue
Town Building
The Reach of Prairie Avenue Businesses
Prairie Avenue Politics
Homes Away From Home
Prairie Ave Gallery : Representations

"The Homes of Chicago," Land Owner, May 1874

Launched in 1869 by John M. Wing, the Land Owner was devoted to landed interests, building, and improvement. Its illustrations documented many of the Chicago region's most substantial real estate and technological developments. The paper described its illustration of Prairie Avenue as follows: "Our artist shows in this issue a number of the beautiful homes on Prairie avenue, one of the most fashionable and handsomely-built of all our South-Side thoroughfares. No city in the world can rival Chicago in its residences, a fact which shows that this class of buildings has not suffered by the fire and consequent turning of capital into the erection of business blocks. After all, one of the greatest attractions a city can offer is its homes, for to obtain them is the end of most men's aspirations, for which they toil and sweat in the counting-room and the various trades and professions. Visitors who crowd to Chicago neglect to see the homes of our citizens, being wholly absorbed and astonished by the wonderful buildings put up since the fire in the burnt district. They should not fail to visit such streets as Prairie avenue, where the home-life of our citizens of means is laid."

See also: Housing Types

"South Side," Bird's-Eye Views and Guide to Chicago, Rand McNally & Co., 1893

For Chicago's boosters, the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition offered an opportunity to showcase Chicago, its achievements, and its possibilities. Local publisher Rand McNally publicized the city and the firm's own expertise with a series of illustrated guidebooks, photographic collections, and maps that celebrated the fair and Chicago's diverse neighborhoods. This excerpt highlights the South Side and the neighborhoods and institutions that visitors would find most interesting and appealing.

See also: Douglas

"Four Blocks on Prairie Avenue," Chicago Tribune, 1898

The Chicago Tribune highlighted the demographic changes that accompanied and encouraged the transformation of Prairie Avenue from Chicago's grand residential street into an industrial enclave. Implicit in the description of a street of widows and widowers was the awareness that their children had moved to newer elite communities on the North Side or more distant from the city's center. In this generational change, Prairie Avenue was not unique. But it was unusual in the details: Prairie Avenue was undesirable to those who could afford its houses, and its houses were too expensive for those who might accept the location.

See also: Demography

Prairie Avenue, Arthur Meeker, 1949

Arthur Meeker Jr. (1902-1971) grew up at 1815 Prairie Avenue, the son of the general manager of Armour & Co. who was deeply involved in Chicago business, politics, and society. Much of Meeker's published work focused on the interaction of those aspects of life in Chicago. For Prairie Avenue, Meeker drew heavily on the stories he had heard and lived, providing detail that resulted, according to one critic, in such a faithful picture of the times as to be amazing. The same critic hoped that the novel would remind its readers about Prairie Avenue, a site of Chicago history that he felt by 1949 had already been forgotten.

See also: Haymarket and May Day; Jackson Park