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Washington Park may be one of the most well-known neighborhoods in Chicago, although most people wouldn’t realize it at first. It was the setting for James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan Trilogy and a scene from Richard Wright’s Native Son. Lorraine Hansberry’s time in Washington Park was the inspiration for her acclaimed stage play, A Raisin in the Sun.
The primarily residential neighborhood takes its name from the 372-acre park that spans its entire eastern side, an area so spacious that the city proposed it be the site of the Olympic Stadium and Olympic Aquatics Center during its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Washington Park is rich in African-American history and houses one of the largest African-American museums in the country, The DuSable Museum of African American History.
The neighborhood’s boundaries encompass the area from 51st to 63rd streets, and Washington Park and King Drive to the Dan Ryan Expressway.
Public Amenities, Services, Civic Organizations
Washington Park’s recreational opportunities are centered in the Chicago Park District’s Washington Park, home to numerous walking trails, swimming and fitness facilities, and the city’s only cricket field.
Washington Park holds a fairly even mixture of condos and single-family homes, but is freckled with many vacant lots. In 2007, a surge of speculation took hold of the neighborhood when it was the proposed site of major Olympics facilities during the 2016 Summer Olympics bid. When Chicago lost that bid, the fervor to build in Washington Park died down, although some believe that recent development in Hyde Park and Bronzeville eventually will spill over into Washington Park.
The CTA Green Line makes stops at Garfield and Hyde Park boulevards and King Drive. Many buses run through Washington Park to connect its residents to the Loop and surrounding neighborhoods. Washington Park is easily accessible via Lake Shore Drive at 53rd and 57th streets, which in turn puts drivers in connection with the Stevenson, Dan Ryan and Eisenhower expressways.
Shopping, Dining and Nightlife
Night-life is sparse in Washington Park, as is big-box retail. However, it is home to a handful of small southern-style restaurants including Ms. Biscuit, Rose Bar-B-Que and Harold’s Chicken Shack, a South Side favorite.