After two weeks of voting, we now present the 2016 Curbed Cup winning neighborhood: Woodlawn. Sixteen communities competed for the prestigious honor to be declared Chicago neighborhood of the year, but the South Side’s very own Woodlawn pulled off the big win. Definitely an underdog in the contest, Woodlawn started off strong and never relented, defeating The Loop, the West Loop, Uptown, and Lakeview along the way.
Woodlawn’s victory marks the continuation of a trend that we’ve been witnessing in the last couple of years—that is underdog communities banning together to get out the vote. It’s also the second year in a row that a South Side neighborhood has won the contest (Pullman pulled off the win last year). There was some voting irregularities in the final poll—*cough* ballot stuffing—by one contender, but once the votes had been corrected, it was clear that Woodlawn made the strongest, most honest effort to win the tournament.
This new year is going to be an important one for the Woodlawn community. It seems like 2015 and 2016 were the years that really set a few major things in motion, but the neighborhood will really begin to see the fruits of these projects pay off in the coming years. In 2015, the neighborhood’s historic Shrine of Christ the King cathedral designed by Henry J. Schlacks burned down in a horrific blaze which left the church’s future in limbo. However, the community pulled together to save the historic building and work is underway to restore it.
However, the biggest news in Woodlawn in the last year has been about the future Obama Presidential Center. The new facility is planned for a section of Jackson Park which faces the Woodlawn community. It will be designed by the famous husband and wife architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and is expected to cost anywhere from $500 million up to $1 billion. The Obama Presidential Center is a major investment that will not only attract visitors to the community, but it help create new permanent jobs, and is expected to spur economic growth and new development activity throughout the South Side.
Congratulations to Woodlawn on its 2016 Curbed Cup win!