The Daley dynasty began in 1902, when mayor-to-be Richard J. Daley entered this world in a flat on South Lowe Avenue. It ended in 2022, when his grandson, then-11th Ward Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, pleaded guilty to lying about a bank loan. Both of those events had their origins in Bridgeport, along with most other Daley history in the intervening 120 years. Right in the middle of the city, yet distinctly apart from it, Bridgeport has been called both a “village” and a “small town” by Daley biographers. Here’s a tour of sites connected to Chicago’s most connected family, in Chicago’s most connected neighborhood.
Richard J. Daley’s birthplace
Richard J. Daley was born on May 15, 1902, in a two-flat at 3602 S. Lowe Ave., the only child of Michael Daley, a sheet metal worker, and Lillian Dunne. The two-flat was later torn down and replaced with a police station, but it probably looked a lot like this building a block south, which was constructed in 1890.
Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, 653 W. 37th St.
One of the oldest Catholic parishes in Chicago, Nativity of Our Lord was founded in 1868, to serve Irish Catholics who worked in the nearby Union Stockyards. Richard J. Daley was baptized, served as an altar boy, attended grammar school and married Eleanor “Sis” Guilfoyle at Nativity of Our Lord. As an adult, Daley attended Mass every day, sometimes at a church near City Hall, but often in his home parish. When Daley died in 1976, his funeral was held here. Daley’s eight years in the church’s grammar school “helped instill in him many of the Irish-Catholic values he would carry with him throughout his life,” wrote Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor in their Daley biography, American Pharaoh. “Parochial school education was a prolonged education in submission to authority…the ideal education for a young man who might find his way to a career in machine politics, where success lay in unquestioningly performing the tasks set out by powers above.”
De La Salle Institute, 3434 S. Michigan Ave.
Daley and his four sons went to high school at De La Salle, a Catholic institution founded in 1889 by the Christian Brothers. Although located in Bronzeville, it was popular with the Irish in nearby Bridgeport. Wrote Mike Royko in Boss, his biography of Daley, “The students didn’t hang around after school because the neighborhood was black, and there were racial fights. Daley arrived and left each day with a group from Bridgeport.” During Daley’s time, De La Salle offered a practical education in typing, shorthand and bookkeeping, preparing young men for secretarial work in offices. After graduation, Daley got a job with a stockyards commission house. In the mornings, he led cattle off trucks; in the afternoons, he typed and took dictation. According to First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daley, by Keith Koeneman, the younger Daley’s De La Salle classmates nicknamed him “mayor,” because he hoped to follow in his father’s footsteps, but did not elect the quiet, reserved student class president.
Richard J. Daley home, 3536 S. Lowe Ave.
In 1939, Daley, who was then a state senator, built a bungalow half a block from his birthplace, to house a family that would eventually grow to seven children. Royko described the architectural style as “carpenter’s delight”: “It’s the kind of sturdy brick house, common to Chicago, that a fireman or printer would buy.” Even as he grew in grandeur, Daley maintained the blue-collar bungalow as Chicago’s royal palace. His son Richard remembered the house as a haven from his father’s political life: “We never used our home for political meetings or bringing people in. It was strictly my father’s friends…that was one area that was sacred.” The house was occupied by Daley’s widow until her death in 2003, then passed to his grandson, former 11th Ward Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson.
11th Ward Regular Democratic Party Headquarters, 3659 S. Halsted St.
Most ward operations do business out of storefronts that could just as easily be occupied by a divorce lawyer. As a demonstration of its power and influence, the 11th Ward is situated in a two-story brick building with its name engraved on the edifice. This is the real source of the Daley family’s power. Richard J. Daley was named committeeman of the 11th Ward in 1947. Just six years later, he was elected chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party Central Committee. In 1955, the party he controlled slated him for mayor, allowing him to defeat incumbent Martin Kennelly. Daley remained committeeman until his death in 1976, when he was succeeded by his son, then-state Sen. Richard M. Daley. In 1980, Rich passed the job off to his brother John, who holds it to this day, as the only son who stayed in the old neighborhood.
Former site of Schaller’s Original Pump, 3714 S. Halsted St.
When it closed in 2017, Schaller’s had been in business for 136 years, making it Chicago’s oldest tavern. Located across the street from 11th Ward headquarters, it was a popular gathering spot for politicians, and a favorite of the Daleys. According to Boss, when straitlaced young Dick Daley was president of the Hamburg Athletic Club, a neighborhood social organization/street gang, “[h]is idea of a big time was a Hamburg softball game and a few beers and some poker at The Pump on Halsted Street.”
Engine 29, 3509 S. Lowe Ave.
What’s the point of being mayor if you can’t guarantee yourself the best police and fire protection? The police station on the corner of Daley’s block housed the limousine that drove him to City Hall every morning and the squad car that guarded the alley behind his house. The police district has relocated to a modern building on Halsted Street, but the firehouse remains.
3309 S. Lowe Ave.
Daley always insisted he had nothing against Blacks, despite his efforts to keep schools and neighborhoods segregated. In 1963, an idealistic high school teacher named John Walsh decided to test the mayor’s commitment to brotherhood. He bought a Bridgeport two-flat and rented one of the apartments to Black tenants. Daley’s neighbors threw rocks and bricks through the windows, while chanting “Two, four, six, eight, we don’t want to integrate.” The police removed the new tenants’ possessions, and the ward organization ordered Walsh’s real estate agent to find some white renters.
Richard J. Daley branch, Chicago Public Library, 3400 S. Halsted St.
A photograph of Hizzoner hangs in this spartan neighborhood library, which was dedicated in 1988.
Former Richard M. Daley home, 3320 S. Emerald Ave.
Daley’s eldest son and heir began his family and political life in a house just two streets over from his father’s. In 1993, though, the younger Daley abandoned Bridgeport for a condo in Burnham Place, a gated South Loop community which provided more security for his family. “What, do they think they’re better than us?” a neighbor told the Tribune’s John Kass. “That’s what it is. He thinks he’s better than us. I hate the guy.” Despite leaving his roots, Daley was re-elected four more times, always with strong support from the 11th Ward.
Daley Insurance Brokerage, 3530 S. Halsted St.
Richard J. Daley’s sons have used the family name to enrich themselves in business, law, and insurance. “If I can’t help my sons then they can kiss my ass,” was Daley’s answer to do-gooders who criticized him for steering city business toward his sons. What appears to be a modest neighborhood brokerage is actually a source of wealth for John P. Daley, who has supplemented his five-figure Cook County commissioner’s salary with a six-figure income as an insurance agent. According to a 2005 article in Crain’s Chicago Business, Daley “acknowledged making as much as $400,000 a year securing insurance policies…for city contractors at O’Hare International Airport and elsewhere.”
Former site of Washington Federal Bank for Savings, 2869 S. Archer Ave.
There’s an old saying about family dynasties: “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” The first generation builds, the second maintains, the third throws it all away. Such is the story of the Daleys. Patrick Daley Thompson is the son of Richard J. Daley’s eldest daughter Patricia, and strongly resembles his rotund grandfather, looking as he does like the offspring of a leprechaun and an ogre. Thompson was elected 11th Ward alderman in 2015 — the Daleys have long controlled that office, but Patrick was the first family member to hold it. He was forced to resign last year, after being convicted of making false statements to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission about a $219,000 loan from a Bridgeport bank. The bank was shut down by federal regulators in 2017. A few days after its president — the founder’s grandson — committed suicide. To replace Thompson, Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed Nicole Lee — who had the Daleys’ support. A Daley has held elective office in Chicago continuously since 1934, when Richard J. was elected to the state House of Representatives, but that will likely end once 76-year-old John retires from the county board.