Mount Greenwood, Chicago

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Mount Greenwood
Community area
Community Area 74 - Mount Greenwood
Location within the city of Chicago
Location within the city of Chicago
Coordinates: 41°42.0′N 87°42.6′W / 41.7000°N 87.7100°W / 41.7000; -87.7100Coordinates: 41°42.0′N 87°42.6′W / 41.7000°N 87.7100°W / 41.7000; -87.7100
Country United States
State Illinois
County Cook
City Chicago
 • Total 2.73 sq mi (7.07 km2)
Population (2010)
 • Total 19,093
 • Density 7,000/sq mi (2,700/km2)
Demographics (2010)[1]
 • White 85.96%
 • Black 5.17%
 • Hispanic 7.24%
 • Asian 0.66%
 • Other 0.97%
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP Codes part of 60655
Median income[2] $80,505
Source: U.S. Census, Record Information Services

Mount Greenwood is one of 77 well-defined Chicago community areas. It is a predominantly Irish-Catholic neighborhood on the Southwest Side of Chicago. It neighbors the Chicago neighborhoods of Beverly and Morgan Park to the east, the suburb of Evergreen Park to the north, the suburb of Oak Lawn to the west, and the suburbs of Merrionette Park and Alsip to the south. Because of the presence of the cemeteries along the eastern edge of the neighborhood, the area was fictitiously said to have been known as "Seven Holy Tombs" before it was known as Mount Greenwood by author and playwright, John R. Powers in his fictionalized trilogy [see citation further below in this article] about growing up there. Mount Greenwood is about 14 miles (23 km) SW of the Loop.

Even though there were a small number of settlers in Mt. Greenwood, the origins of Mt. Greenwood began in 1879 when the surveyor George Washington Waite (b.1839) platted an eighty-acre land grant that he had received from the federal government. Mount Greenwood Cemetery was established in that year on what had between 1854 and 1869 been the farm of Benjamin Kaylor.[3] The cemetery was developed by businessmen from Blue Island who needed a place to relocate the remains of individuals who had previously been buried in that community's municipal cemetery, which the village board had deemed a public nuisance after its growth had become unmanagable. Memorial Park today occupies the site of the former cemetery. With Mount Greenwood Cemetery came the saloons and restaurants and eventually tracks for horse and greyhound racing. The cemetery is also the final resting-place of Robert Haslam (1840-1912), who as a twenty-year-old immigrant from England became one of the most celebrated riders of the Pony Express mail service that operated from 1860-1861.[4]

Mt. Greenwood became part of the city of Chicago in 1927. It was not until 1936 that the Works Progress Administration finally laid sewage systems, and paved and lighted city streets. As late as the 1960s, the Mount Greenwood Civic Association was still fighting the city for curbs and gutters. During the 1950s, the area was known as "Mt.Greasewood" due to the number of greasers in the area at the time. By the 1980s, Mount Greenwood was home to the last surviving farm in the city, which was developed as the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences at the southeast corner of 111th and Pulaski.

Mount Greenwood is home to many Chicago firefighters, police officers and union workers of Irish heritage. One of the more prominent and prolific families in Mount Greenwood at the turn of the 20th Century was that of James Dominic "Yank" Cunningham, born in Chicago in 1865. "Yank" operated a popular neighborhood saloon/restaurant and rooming house at 111th and Sacramento Streets, just across the way from Mount Olivet Cemetery. He died in 1907 at age 42, leaving a widow and eight children.

Most of Mt. Greenwood's population is also Roman Catholic. Most students in the neighborhood attend Catholic elementary schools and high schools. Mount Greenwood is home to one Catholic elementary school (St.Christina), three Catholic high schools (Brother Rice High School, Marist High School, and Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School) and a Catholic university (Saint Xavier University). Public grade schools in the area are Mt. Greenwood Elementary School and George F. Cassell Elementary School. Both are filled with neighborhood children.

Chicago Public Library Branch[edit]

Mount Greenwood, like many other Chicago neighborhoods, has its own branch of the Chicago Public Library. The library in this area looks identical to the Hegewisch Branch of the Chicago Public Library. The library has a significant Irish heritage collection.

Chicago Public Parks[edit]

The booming Mount Greenwood community was among the neighborhoods identified for park development in the Chicago Park District's Ten Year Plan to provide increased recreational opportunities in post-World War II Chicago. In 1946, the Mount Greenwood Civic Council urged the acquisition of vacant Board of Education land along 111th Street. The park district purchased the 24-acre (97,000 m2) site in 1949, and slowly began improving the property. The park district constructed a fieldhouse in 1966, and added a swimming pool in 1973. The 1990s brought further improvements. A soft surface playground featured an airport/train station-themed play area. A refrigerated ice skating rink provides winter recreation.

Several features of Mount Greenwood Park honor noted local citizens. A parking area is dedicated to Frederick G. Abrams, Sr. a Chicago Alderman and Treasurer of the Village of Mount Greenwood from 1918 to 1927. A baseball diamond bears the name Rooney Field, in honor of Rooney Richardson (--1982), who took an active role in community affairs. John R. Powers wrote a fictionalized trilogy of his experience growing up in Mount Greenwood in The Last Catholic in America (1973), Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up (1975?) and The Unoriginal Sinner and the ICE-CREAM GOD (1977). In his first novel, The Last Catholic in America Powers fictitiously wrote how the neighborhood was known as "Seven Holy Tombs" before it was Mt. Greenwood.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 3,310
1940 4,390 32.6%
1950 12,331 180.9%
1960 21,941 77.9%
1970 23,205 5.8%
1980 20,084 −13.4%
1990 19,179 −4.5%
2000 18,820 −1.9%
2010 19,093 1.5%

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Paral, Rob. "Chicago Demographics Data". Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Paral, Rob. "Chicago Census Data". Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Andreas, Alfred T. (1884). History of Cook County, Illinois - From the Earliest Period to the Present Time - In One Volume. Chicago: A T Andreas Publisher. p. 639. 
  4. ^ Christopher Corbett, "Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express", Broadway Books, New York, 2003.
  5. ^ Paral, Rob. "Chicago Community Areas Historical Data". Retrieved 3 September 2012.