Roseland, Chicago

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Community area
Community Area 49 - Roseland
Location within the city of Chicago
Location within the city of Chicago
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Country United States
State Illinois
County Cook
City Chicago
 • Total 4.86 sq mi (12.58 km2)
Population (2010)
 • Total 44,619
 • Density 9,200/sq mi (3,500/km2)
Demographics 2010[1]
 • White 0.42%
 • Black 97.37%
 • Hispanic 1.03%
 • Asian 0.06%
 • Other 1.12%
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP Codes parts of 60619, 60620, 60628
Median household income $40,142[2]
Source: U.S. Census, Record Information Services

Roseland, located on the far south side of the city, is one of the 77 official community areas of Chicago, Illinois. It includes the neighborhoods of Fernwood, Princeton Park, Lilydale, the southern portion of West Chesterfield, Rosemoor, Sheldon Heights and West Roseland.


First Reformed Church of Roseland was founded by the Dutch immigrant population

Roseland was settled in the 1840s by Dutch immigrants, who called the area "de Hooge Prairie", the High Prairie, because it was built on higher, drier ground than the earlier Dutch settlement several miles further south of the Little Calumet River, which was called "de Laage Prairie", the Low Prairie, now South Holland, Illinois.

The community was entirely agrarian until the late 19th century, when the town of Pullman, Chicago was built between Roseland and Lake Calumet. George M. Pullman planned a model industrial city built around a factory that manufactured his "Palace" railway coaches. Modern brick homes were built with electricity, plumbing and gas utilities. Skilled tradesmen from all over Europe immigrated to the town of Pullman with many settling in nearby Roseland. Roseland was annexed into Chicago in 1892. The Roseland area became a very cosmopolitan community made up of multi cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds. There was large population of Italian Americans just east of Roseland in the Kensington community. Most came to the area from the Little Italy neighborhood on Taylor Street making Kensington the center of South Side Italian life. San Antonia de Padua (St. Anthony's) cathedral was a cultural landmark of the area. Supporting businesses flourished rapidly changing the farmland into commercial and residential communities surrounded by a number of industries. Stores on Michigan Avenue served the entire south side of Chicago.

Fortunes began to change in the 1960s when industry patterns lead to economic decline. Steel mills to the east were shuttered. Pullman scaled back production and eventually closed for good in 1981. The huge Sherwin-Williams paint factory closed for good in 1995. A period of rapid ethnic succession took place.

The much lauded mural "I Welcome Myself to a New Place: Roseland Pullman Mural," by Olivia Gude, Jon Pounds, and Marcus Jefferson, 1988, was designed to unite the predominantly African American community of Roseland with its nearest neighbor, the predominantly white Pullman community.

Roseland has yet to recover from the economic decline and gang violence. Community leaders and residents are attempting to restore the community through programs like Kids off the Block.



Fernwood lies on the western edge of Roseland, between 99th and 103rd Streets. It was considered an "upscale"[citation needed] neighborhood of Roseland and extended west into the Washington Heights community up to Halsted Street. Sometimes referred to as West Roseland, it was incorporated in 1883. The area was known for a gardenlike parkway between 95th and 103rd Streets along Eggelston that was known as Fernwood Parkway.

The area is noted for one of the worst race riots in Chicago history. In mid August, 1947, several black veterans and their families moved into the CHA Fernwood Park Housing Project at 104th and Halsted. Area residents viewed this as one of several attempts by the CHA to initiate racial integration into white communities.[3] A violent mob action resulted which lasted for three days and mobilized over 1,000 law enforcement officers to control.[4]

During the 1950s and '60s the community witnessed the combined effects of blockbusting by unscrupulous real estate agents and the ensuing white flight resulting in complete ethnic transition. Like the surrounding communities of Roseland and Washington Heights, Fernwood Park remains predominantly African-American.


Lilydale is a small enclave of modest homes in the northwest corner of Roseland. In the 1920s and '30s the thinly populated area was referred to as little more than a "cabbage patch". It consisted of mostly vacant land between 91st and 95th Streets and between State Street and the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad tracks (then, the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad). The 1940s saw a peak in the Second Migration of Black workers from the South seeking jobs and a better life in the industrialized North. Affordable housing for Blacks was limited and generally restricted to the "Black Belt" on the south side of Chicago. Housing shortages grew more severe with the onset of World War II as defense workers moved into the city to aid the war effort.

Lilydale became an attractive area due to its proximity to the steel mills and other defense industries on the south side. It was centrally located and convenient to railroads and streetcars. Beginning in 1942, Black contractors Matthew Goodwin and "Duke" Hodges began building simple, low cost single family homes and duplexes for a growing working-class black neighborhood.[5] To Black trades workers, Lilydale represented an all-too-rare opportunity to use their skills and help resolve their own housing problem. While the homes were modest, they were made of brick and many still stand today. They were originally intended to be rented to defense workers and sold to veterans after the War. The homes were dramatically more affordable than similar homes in the area making them attractive to workers and veterans alike.

Today, only about 12 city blocks remain of the original settlement and the area is generally referred to as a part of Princeton Park.

Princeton Park

Princeton Park is a community of single-family homes built in 1944 and is located in the northwest corner of the Roseland community area in Chicago. Originally, it was a subdivision of low cost multi-family row houses between 91st and 95th streets and Wentworth and Harvard streets. The eastern boundary later extended to State Street (now the Dan Ryan Expressway). This area includes single-family homes, classic bungalows, that were part of the Lilydale community.

File:Donald O'Toole.jpg
Donald O'Toole

The project was the creation of banker/real estate developer Donald O'Toole.[6] The land had previously been used for farming by the primarily Dutch settlers in the Roseland area. In the early 1900s, Roseland transitioned from a farming community to an urban residential neighborhood. As one of the last remaining open spaces it was primed for development. The low cost housing was marketed exclusively to the African-American community making it the first established black community in Roseland. It remains a segregated African-American community today. Once established, Princeton Park was on the leading edge of the ensuing "panic peddling" that engulfed Roseland. Unscrupulous realtors used scare tactics such as blockbusting to frighten and intimidate white residents; churning the real estate market for quick profits. As suburban housing and commuting became more accessible in the 1960s and 1970s, middle class whites left the Roseland area resulting in a total ethnic transformation.


The 95th/Dan Ryan terminal of the Red Line is located in Roseland.


The Kids off the Block memorial featuring hundreds of simple stone blocks, one for each child killed by violence in Roseland

Chicago Public Schools operates public schools in Roseland.

K-8 schools in Roseland and serving sections of Roseland include Bennett, Cullen, Curtis, Dunne, Frank L. Gillespie, Haley, L. Hughes, Kohn, and Lavizzo.

K-8 Schools outside of Roseland and serving sections of Roseland include Evers, Fernwood, Pullman, Ryder, and Smith.[7]

Two high schools, Fenger High School and Harlan High School, are located in Roseland and serve Roseland. Some Roseland residents are zoned to Corliss High School in Pullman, while others are zoned to Julian High School in Washington Heights.[8]

Harlan Academic Center and Turner-Drew, K-8 magnets, are in Roseland.[7] Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, a magnet school, is located in Roseland.[9]

Roseland Christian School, a private school, is in Roseland.

The main campus of Chicago State University at 95th and Martin Luther King Drive, is in the northeast portion of Roseland.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 43,206
1940 44,009 1.9%
1950 56,705 28.8%
1960 58,750 3.6%
1970 62,716 6.8%
1980 64,372 2.6%
1990 56,493 −12.2%
2000 52,683 −6.7%
2010 44,619 −15.3%


  1. Paral, Rob. "Chicago Demographics Data". Retrieved 12 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Paral, Rob. "Chicago Census Data". Retrieved 9 October 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Arnold R. Hirsch, (1998) "Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago 1940-1960" page 54. The University of Chicago Press
  4. Chicago Tribune, August 17, 1947 page 10 "1,000 Policemen keep order at Homes Project"
  5. Albert G. Barnett, "Chicago Negroes Fight Housing Shortage, Build Their Own Homes," Chicago Defender, June 7, 1947, pg. 13
  6. Encyclopedia of Chicago "Roseland"
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Far South Elementary Schools." Chicago Public Schools. Retrieved on September 18, 2009.
  8. "High schools far south." Chicago Public Schools. Retrieved on September 18, 2009.
  9. "Contact." Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy. Retrieved on September 18, 2009.
  10. Paral, Rob. "Chicago Community Areas Historical Data". Retrieved 17 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links