56th and Harper

1478 E 56th St Chicago

South Park Walking Tour/56th and Harper
Chicago Studies at the University of Chicago
Written By Chicago Studies at the University of Chicago

Chicago Studies, a program of the undergraduate College at the University of Chicago, offers curricular and co-curricular opportunities to discover, study, and engage with the diverse communities of our world-class city.

Audio Commentary:

56th and Harper

Content by John Mark Hansen, Charles L. Hutchinson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago and author of "The City in a Garden: A Guide to the History of Hyde Park and Kenwood."
56th and Harper (Audio for Web)

If you step into the street—do it carefully—or cross to north side of street and look east, you can see the curve of an old streetcar track. It is a remnant of a line built by the Chicago City Railway between 55th and Lake Park and 63rd and Stony Island in 1911. At 63rd & Stony, it met the Calumet and South Chicago streetcar line built to that point from south in 1893. This part is the southbound. The line ran northbound up Stony to 56th, crossed under the railroad and turned up Lake Park, then circled back on 55th to Harper and to 56th and back under Illinois Central tracks. The northbound tracks were visible during recent construction. Next, move toward 56th & Blackstone; as we go along, I’ll give you some commentary. The formal garden at the corner of 56th and Blackstone was originally the site of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. The Tudor home to its north was its rectory. Both were designed by J. E. O. Pridmore, primarily a theater architect. The church was originally a mission of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kenwood. In the sixties, the congregations decided to merge into the Church of St. Paul and the Redeemer at 50th and Dorchester in Kenwood.

Now, if you want to go a little out of your way, you can proceed north on Blackstone. At 5543 was the home of Morris Fishbein, a medical doctor and the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the scourge of medical quackery and socialized medicine. Apartments in the courtyard building at 5525 and 5529 Blackstone were the homes of Saul Alinsky, the University of Chicago alumnus and community organizer. In the thirties, he helped to organize the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council and in the fifties, he wrote Reveille for Radicals, the bible of community organizing. To continue, go south on Blackstone to 5640.

5640 Blackstone was the Tenth Church of Christ Scientist. This particular church was by a Boston firm. Hyde Park and Kenwood have another Christian Science church, the Fifth (4840 Dorchester). Its architect was Solon S. Beman, a convert to Christian Science. He also designed the First Church of Christ Scientist (4017 Drexel) and many others in Chicago and elsewhere. Next door at 5658 Blackstone was the home of Paul Douglas, economics professor and progressive politician. As an economist, he is widely known as the namesake of the Cobb-Douglas functional form. He was a promoter of the Hyde Park Cooperative Society and the alderman from the Fifth Ward. In World War II, he volunteered for the Marines at age 50 and received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for service in the Pacific. After the war, he served three terms as a US Senator. His most noted policy legacy was the legislation that created the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. His wife Emily was the daughter of the sculptor Lorado Taft and a member of the US House of Representatives for a single term, which proceeded his. Now proceed to 5723 South Dorchester.

Our tour continues with "5723 South Dorchester."

South Park Walking Tour

56th and Harper

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