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Sherman Park: An Island of Green on Chicago's South Side

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On this third stop of Curbed's epic tour of the Emerald Necklace we take you two miles due west from Washington Park to Sherman Park.

By the turn of the century, Chicago's population had increased to 1.7 million people. Nearly three-quarters of a million people lived in the central part of the city, more than a mile away from any of the existing parks. Social reformers launched a playground movement for the creation of additional parks. In 1899 and 1903 the state legislature authorized the three park commissions (South, West and Lincoln) to acquire property for new parks. The South Park Commission opened a system of 10 innovative neighborhood parks in 1905, which soon inspired similar parks in the West and Lincoln Park systems and in other cities across the United States. The 60 acre Sherman Park is one of the largest of the ten new neighborhood parks that opened in 1905, designed by D. H. Burnham and Company in collaboration with the landscape architecture firm of the Olmsted Brothers. It is located just west of Racine Avenue between 52nd Street and Garfield Boulevard, a few blocks south of the site of the Union Stock Yard.

The Olmsted Brothers transformed its low and wet site into a beautiful landscape with a meandering waterway surrounding an island of ball fields. The classically-designed architecture, located at the north end of the park, includes the fieldhouse and gym and locker buildings united by trellis-like structures known as pergolas designed by Burnham. This commission was especially meaningful to Burnham because the park was named for his father-in-law, John B. Sherman (1825- 1902). The founder of Chicago's Union Stock Yards, which opened in 1865, Sherman had also served as a member of the South Park Commission for 25 years.

Sherman Park was first envisioned as a new type of park that would provide social services as well as breathing spaces to the overcrowded and pollution riddling immigrant neighborhoods surrounding verious industrial districts throughout the city, in this case the Union Stock Yards. Classically arranged, the park offers a social perimeter comprised of the fieldhouse, gyms, lockers, swimming pool and a leisure drive (Sherman Drive) while protecting a private, secluded core space for athletics and social gatherings.

Much of Sherman Park remains as it was originally planned, as well as retaining its originally architecture. So while the communities of New City and Englewood have halted since the 1960s, the Chicago Park District has gone to great lengths to preserve the integrity of the park. Today the park offers an auditorium space for seasonal theater, multiple ball fields, a public gym, basketball and tennis courts, the Sherman Park Library, the Burnham designed fieldhouse, jogging trails, a spray pool and the original open air swimming pool located between the fieldhouse and 52nd Street. This little park packs a lot of punch to compete with its big older siblings.

Featured Property

Lets get one thing straight before detailing the selected property for Sherman Park: The current offerings available directly on the park are slim, and the attractive ones are even slimmer (or non-existant). The neighborhood has not aged gracefully since Chicago's middle class made its mass exodus to the suburbs, leaving behind a tumultuous neighborhood dynamic and widely varying qualities of real estate.

With literally three options to currently choose from, we were drawn to the one that displayed the most neighborhood character, while unknowingly also showing the rock bottom of local multi -amily housing.

This two-flat at 1335 W. Garfield Blvd. has the benefit of not only being directly on the park, but peering out over the boulevard as well. Each 4BD, 2BA unit appears to be currently rented for $1,000/mo and has at least partial hardwood flooring, some built-in shelving and unmolested exposed brick fireplaces. Aside from what little we can gather from the building's modest listing, the remarkable aspect comes from the microscopic list price of $49,900 (PriceChopper got in a serious workout) Leading us to believe that there may be some hidden overheads associated with the property given its claimed rent roll of $2000/month.
(P.S. Where can one find that sweet wheeled cooler?)
· Listing: 1335 W. Garfield Blvd. [Realty Executives Target]
· Urbs in Horto: The Emerald Necklace [Curbed Chicago]