WTTW’s Geoffrey Baer tells the sweeping story of CHICAGO’S SOUTH SIDE in a new 90-minute local television program of the same name, premiering on MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30 at 7:30 pm on WTTW11 and on wttw.com/southside.
In his latest in a 20-year series of entertaining TV travelogues, WTTW’s “tour guide” takes us on a revealing journey highlighting the rich history and culture of the neighborhoods south of I-55. From Ashburn to Auburn Gresham, Hyde Park to Hegewisch, Woodlawn to Washington Park, we learn about the events that shaped these communities. With the help of local experts and longtime residents we meet along the way, Geoffrey shows how these neighborhoods came to be, leads a scenic and fascinating tour of the architecture and landmarks, and reveals why South Siders feel such intense pride in their neighborhoods.
Geoffrey introduces us to this multi-faceted area by focusing on eight of its neighborhoods: Bridgeport, Bronzeville, Beverly, Chinatown, Englewood, Hyde Park, Pullman, and The Southeast Side, and their surrounding areas. Highlights include:
Bridgeport – We discover how the Irish helped Chicago become a shipping transportation giant, and meet the five Chicago mayors who came from this neighborhood.
Bronzeville – Geoffrey pays a visit to a hardware store that was once home to a legendary jazz club, and hears the story of a man born into slavery who started a business empire. Geoffrey also learns how Chicago came to be home to many African Americans during the Great Migration.
Beverly – Geoffrey climbs to the highest elevation point in the city, checks out Chicago’s only castle, and indulges in a Rainbow Cone at an iconic local ice cream parlor.
Chinatown – We join dragon boat racers on the Chicago River as they participate in a 2,000-year-old sport, and sample the spicy cuisine from regions all over China.
Englewood – Once home to the city’s second largest shopping district, Geoffrey discovers hopeful signs of rebirth here, including new cafes and Washburn Culinary Institute at Kennedy King College. He also stops in at John’s Bicycle and Hardware, where the motto is “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.”
Hyde Park – We explore the long history of progressive politics that ultimately gave rise to Barack Obama, and recall the world-changing experiment that split the atom, conducted underneath the stands at the University of Chicago’s football field.
Pullman – We learn about the utopian dream and tragic end of George Pullman’s company town, now a Chicago neighborhood and the city’s only national monument. Also, how the struggle to unionize by African American “Pullman Porters” helped give rise to the civil rights movement.
The Southeast Side – Geoffrey traces the history of the rise and fall of industry in this region and the many ethnic groups that came to work in the factories. Also the plans for enormous new developments on abandoned factory land.
Geoffrey visits noteworthy places in other neighborhoods as well, such as an Archer Heights confectioner who can truthfully boast “the World’s Finest Chocolate,” and Gage Park, where Mexican folkloric dancers perform. He returns to the site of the Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit in Brighton Park, remembers Jewish history in South Shore, and checks out the dazzling South Shore Cultural Center, plus much, much more.
WTTW will cut to live remotes in the neighborhoods during all three broadcasts, as follows:
Horse Thief Hollow Brewing in Beverly, and Gallery Guichard in Bronzeville
Cork & Kerry at the Park in Bridgeport, and Woodlawn Tap in Hyde Park
The Rink in Avalon Park, and Triple Crown in Chinatown
The journey through CHICAGO’S SOUTH SIDE continues online with a robust companion website, at wttw.com/southside, featuring extra content on fourteen of the neighborhoods, five web-exclusive videos that tell the stories of South Side Public Art, the Chinatown River Tour, the Mexican Independence Day Parade, the Englewood Jazz Fest, and the Auburn Gresham Renaissance Festival, and immersive slideshows for every corner of the South Side.
“We wanted to go beyond the typical historical documentary and show what life is like in these neighborhoods today,” Geoffrey Baer says. “We took a different approach to this story, and through my conversations with devoted longtime South Siders and local ‘tour guides,’ I learned many things about the area that really surprised me,” he added. “I think they will surprise viewers as well.”
CHICAGO’S SOUTH SIDE is produced by Eddie Griffin, hosted by Geoffrey Baer, and written by Geoffrey Baer and Eddie Griffin. Associate Producer is Ava Odom Martin. Camera: Tom Siegel, Dave Moyer. Editor: Tim Boyd. Assistant Producers: Erica Gunderson, Tim Masterton. Executive Producers: Dan Soles, V.J. McAleer.
CHICAGO’S SOUTH SIDE is made possible by: BMO Harris Bank; ITW; the Russell & Josephine Kott Memorial Charitable Trust, a partner of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation; ComEd; and Carl Buddig & Co. Major funding is also provided by: Peter Kelliher II; Millennium Properties R/E; Ken Norgan; and Ariel Investments.
WTTW is a premier public media organization committed to creating and presenting unique television and digital media content across four distinct television channels – WTTW11, WTTW Prime, the Spanish-language channel WTTW Vme, and WTTW Create/WTTW WORLD, and on wttw.com. Recognized for award-winning local and national productions such as Chicago Tonight, Check, Please!, and MEXICO – One Plate at a Time, WTTW presents the very best in public affairs, arts and culture, nature and science, history and documentary, and children’s programming to 2 million weekly viewers across a four state area. Visitors to wttw.com can connect with others in the community and access a full library of local and national video content for kids and adults, interactive features, event and membership opportunities, and robust microsites dedicated to WTTW and PBS series and specials. Connect with WTTW on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.