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.
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.
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.
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.
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.