Andrew “Rube” Foster, a black baseball pitcher turned manager, led the Chicago American Giants, a team that played at Schorling’s Park (also known as South Side Park), which stood at Pershing Road where today it crosses the Dan Ryan Expressway.
In 1920, Foster founded the Negro National League and then led his American Giants to three straight league championships. Foster was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981; its website labels him an “unsurpassed visionary.”
In 1962, Mayor Richard J. Daley oversaw the construction of the Robert Taylor Homes, the largest public housing project in the country at the time. It replaced the Federal Street slum, a collection of single and multifamily homes stretching from 39th to 54th Streets.
The complex of 28 high-rise apartment buildings rose along two miles of the Dan Ryan Expressway, a brand-new highway that divided the mayor’s own Bridgeport neighborhood from the poorer black neighborhoods to the east.
At the dedication of the Robert Taylor Homes, Daley professed his hopes for the ambitious urban renewal project: “This project represents the future of a great city. It represents vision. It represents what all of us feel America should be and that is, a decent home for every family in every great community.”
But it didn’t work out that way. The utopian dream of public housing was shattered by gang violence, intractable poverty, and poor building maintenance and management.
In 2005, Daley’s son, Mayor Richard M. Daley, presided over the demolition of the last remaining building. The site today remains mostly vacant.