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A Field Guide to

South Shore

Explore the lush green spaces and cultural landmarks of this South Side pocket.

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Above:South Shore Cultural Center Photo: Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune

If Chicago’s neighborhoods were stocks, we’d be calling our broker about South Shore right now. There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the enclave’s prospects. Barack Obama’s presidential library and museum, expected to attract 800,000 visitors a year, is scheduled to go up in adjacent Jackson Park by 2021. And, pending public support, Tiger Woods will revamp and merge the South Shore and Jackson Park golf courses in a $30 million project to create an 18-hole championship green. But even without any of that, residents of this predominantly black, partly middle-class neighborhood have long appreciated its pristine views of the lake and skyline and its rich architectural stock. Our advice: Sneak in a visit to South Shore now before the crowds of duffers and Obama-heads arrive.

South Shore map
Illustration: Michael A. Hill
Stony Island Arts Bank
Stony Island Arts Bank Photo: Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune

1. Allan Miller House

The only Chicago work by Frank Lloyd Wright’s esteemed colleague John S. Van Bergen, this Prairie-style home with archetypal horizontal details made the National Register of Historic Places.

2. Mosque Maryam

A former Greek Orthodox church and now headquarters of the Nation of Islam, the imposing Byzantine mosque was modeled after Istanbul’s sacred Hagia Sophia.

3. Oak Woods Cemetery

On the community’s western outskirts, this 183-acre memorial park is the resting place of blues singer Otis Clay, Nobel Prize–winning physicist Enrico Fermi, and Olympic legend Jesse Owens—and it holds the remains of 6,000-plus Confederate soldiers.

4. Rainbow Beach Park

Stroll 61 acres of park and beach that offer skyline views, a community garden, and two playgrounds.

5. South Shore Cultural Center

Picture Tara from Gone with the Wind—but on the lakefront. The former country club grounds are picnic-worthy, and the facility remains the epicenter of the neighborhood, hosting plays, weddings, and other events.

6. South Shore Golf Course

Make sure your shot is straight—the third and fourth holes are narrow at this overlooked nine-hole gem ($20 on the weekend). It’s not exactly Augusta—hence the Tiger Woods overhaul.

7. Stony Island Arts Bank

The 1923 former bank building was destined for the wrecking ball when artist Theaster Gates undertook its privately financed $4.5 million renovation four years ago. Today the beautifully restored behemoth is a thriving arts center that displays fascinating cultural collections, like the records of house music pioneer Frankie Knuckles.

8. St. Philip Neri Catholic Church

In 1928, architect Joseph W. McCarthy built a church so singular—with its azure stained glass windows, intricate mosaics, and 16-story spire—that it inspired its very own architectural genre: South Shore Gothic.

Bicycle Clinic
Bicycle Clinic Photo: Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune

9. Bicycle Clinic

With the lakeshore bike path ending a few blocks away, this is a good go-to for a repair—or a new ride. The shop specializes in the middle-of-the-road Diamondback brand.

10. The Music Experience

Find the latest hip-hop and soul here and check out the gold albums on the walls from artists like Maxwell and Mos Def. Ask owner Dedry Jones about Biggie Smalls or Al Jarreau stopping in; a good story will follow.

Eat & Drink

11. Chef Sara’s Cafe

You’ve had chicken and waffles, but here the chicken is in the homemade waffles. That and locally made pastries, plus warm banter from affable owner Sara Phillips, give this airy café serious breakfast-fave potential.

A cupcake
Give Me Some Sugah Photo: Ratko Radojcic

12. Give Me Some Sugah

Amateurs get their savory-sweet fix with the salted caramel, but those in the know come to this cozy bakery for the potato-chip sugar cookies (a family recipe, natch).

13. Jeffery Pub

Of the few 4 a.m. bars on the South Side, this institution is known for its, uh, enthusiastic drag shows fueled by potent Long Island iced teas.

14. Parrot Cage

The next Grant Achatz may have made that pan-seared duck breast in front of you: The meals are prepared by students from the nearby Washburne Culinary & Hospitality Institute.

This Summer

Saturdays:Forget Whole Foods; hit the Quarry Event Center for organic veggies and hot sauces at the weekly Healthy Food Hub, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Through June 18:The ETA Creative Arts Foundation presents Among All This You Stand Like a Fine Brownstone, a series of vignettes about black life in Chicago adapted from Gwendolyn Brooks’s poetry.

June 25:The shenanigans don’t end when the marching stops: Jeffery Pub hosts an after-party to cap off the Chicago Pride Parade festivities.

August 21:The daylong South Shore Summer Festival hosts entertainers in all genres, from budding R&B artists to the South Shore Drill Team, at the South Shore Cultural Center.

Did You Know?

Barack and Michelle Obama were married at the South Shore Cultural Center in 1992.

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If You Want to Live Here

Population Median houshold income Median sale price (house)
(95% black, 2% white, 1% Hispanic)
$29,900 $111,800

Listing of the month

7354 S. Merrill Ave.

7354 S. Merrill Ave.
Photo: Ratko Radojcic

Asking price:$357,500

Specs:3,850 square feet, five bedrooms, three bathrooms

We were sold the minute we read about the 1,000-square-foot master suite, complete with a Jacuzzi tub, in this light-filled bungalow-style home with upgraded designer finishes.

NOTE: Real estate data are from February 2017. SOURCES: Statistical Atlas, Zillow
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