Most of the buildings and houses of
the 8900 block of Exchange Avenue in South Chicago have been around since
the late 1800's. Since they were built there have been a lot of improvements
on the houses. For example, garages have been built and improvements
have been made in the interior as well as the outside of the houses which
include the porches and the stairs. Most of the original buildings
on the block are still in existence. The block includes single family
dwellings as well as two flats, three flats and some larger apartment buildings.
It is typical of the blocks in the area which provided densely populated
housing for the workers in nearby steel mills and other industrial concerns.
When South Chicago first began it started
out as scattered settlements and it soon evolved into a village. The region
from 91st street to the 89th street, also from Exchange Ave
to the United States Steel mill was a marshy lake in which working men
would have to wade when it was good weather and have to row through when
it was really bad weather. Also when it was tranquil waters, the men would
use hip boots to walk in order to get to their work. Yet for years the
streets stayed unpaved and muddy. Soon, there were roads and
sidewalks built, but they were nothing but boards just about less
than seven feet above the street level. These sidewalk boards were
also put just about an inch apart for water drainage for those rainy days.
In 1937, a house was bought at 9023 Exchange Avenue by the St. Peter and
Paul parish for the sisters who taught in their school.
Phil Sheridan is the school closest to this
block. This school was originally called the 93rd Street School but
named Phil Sheridan on January 24, 1912. Phil Sheridan school is
now named after Arnold Mireles , a community activist for the South Chicago
area. Mireles was shot in December 1997 as he walked home after working
late at a community center in his South Chicago neighborhood. Mireles
was found shot to death in front of his home on 89th block of Exchange
Avenue. Mireles was dedicated to a litany of community service projects
in the neighborhood in which he had grown up. He walked around South
Chicago with a camera and a building code book and brought his findings
to city inspectors. The alleged killers of Mireles lived at 8822
S. Exchange Avenue.
Click on the links at the left to tour
Chicago's South Chicago Community.