MCKINLEY PARK — Forgotten Chicago is bringing its walking tour to the Southwest Side, with special stops explaining the history of an area known for its "smokestacks and steeples."
The 2½-hour tour takes place July 20. Tickets are $15 and are available online.
Jacob Kaplan, editor of the Forgotten Chicago website, said the event kicks off at the 35th and Archer Orange Line stop, then heads over to the grassy expanse and lagoons of McKinley Park, considered among the first Progressive Era parks in the nation.
"Most parks were built in the upper middle class areas like Humboldt Park and Washington Park. For years and years there was a push by reformists to get parks built in the working class neighborhoods. This one was a huge success," he said.
From there, the tour heads south to the Central Manufacturing District, a 265-acre district widely believed to be the nation’s first planned industrial parks.
Crucial to the city’s history and identity, the district’s first buildings along Ashland Avenue — roughly 14 miles from the north and south borders of the city, and halfway between Lake Michigan and the city’s western limits — provided access to nearby Union Stock Yards and the Chicago River's south branch, making them an attractive logistical option for American companies.
Today, only a handful of businesses fill the massive buildings, many of which still showcase their original ornamental flourishes.
After that, the tour heads southwest down Archer Avenue for a glimpse of "retail relics and storefronts that reflect the once-vibrant shopping districts along Archer," Kaplan said.
The rain-or-shine tour concludes at the CTA Western Orange Line stop.
All told, participants can expect to walk more than three miles. For more details, see the group's official website.
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