Community Area 7, 3 miles N of the Loop. During the nineteenth century, the inhabitants of the future Lincoln Park Community Area ranged from affluent residents focused on the park and the Loop, to German farmers and shopkeepers oriented to North Avenue, to industrial workers living near the factories along the North Branch of the Chicago River. Most of the early European residents were German truck farmers, whose products earned the area the nickname “Cabbage Patch.” By 1852 the German community was well enough established to begin work on St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church, which was named for the patron saint of local brewer and land donor Michael Diversey. The city of Chicago made the southeastern portion of the area its cemetery in 1837, but the graves proved such a health hazard that the cemetery was moved and the land redesignated Lake Park in 1864. It was renamed Lincoln Park the next year for the assassinated president. This recreational center attracted such cultural institutions as the Chicago Academy of Sciences, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Chicago Historical Society. In 1863, Cyrus McCormick sponsored the opening of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of the Northwest in northwestern Lincoln Park; the school was later renamed for its benefactor.
During the Great Depression, Lincoln Park's housing stock deteriorated as owners subdivided and neglected their properties. After World War II, residents of Old Town, in the southeastern section of Lincoln Park, worried that their neighborhood hovered on the verge of becoming a slum. They formed the Old Town Triangle Association in 1948, which inspired residents of the mid-North neighborhood to create a similar organization in 1950. In 1954 the Lincoln Park Conservation Association was organized to cover the entire community area. LPCA pursued neighborhood renewal by encouraging private rehabilitation of property and the use of government tools such as federal urban-renewal funds and enforcement of the housing code. In 1956, Lincoln Park was designated a conservation area, and in the 1960s the city began implementing its “General Neighborhood Renewal Plan.” Although the LPCA had consciously tried to avoid the wholesale clearance that took place in Hyde Park, it incurred the wrath of poor people who lived in the southwestern quarter of Lincoln Park. The Concerned Citizens of Lincoln Park argued that Puerto Ricans and African Americans were being displaced from their homes and priced out of the renewing neighborhood. Developers bought land near the park and built high-rise apartment buildings, to the consternation of LPCA, which had hoped to keep the district congenial to families.
In the last quarter of the twentieth century, land values increased dramatically, making it difficult for people and institutions in financial straits to remain in Lincoln Park. Most of the poor left. In 1973, the struggling McCormick Seminary sold its land to DePaul and moved to Hyde Park. Single professionals and childless couples moved into the new high-rises and rehabilitated old houses. By the end of the twentieth century, the combination of public and private urban renewal efforts had made Lincoln Park one of the highest-status neighborhoods in the city.
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Ducey, Michael H. Sunday Morning: Aspects of Urban Ritual. 1977.
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The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago © 2005 Chicago Historical Society.
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