In October I visited my sister Elaine in Chicago. And, although I had visited her many times over the years, for the first time I took the time to walk through and really look at her neighborhood, Norwood Park. Elaine and her husband Wally
have raised their four children and lived in the same house for almost 50 years in this beautiful and classic neighborhood, one of the oldest in Chicago. In fact, the oldest existing house in all of Chicago, built before the great fire of 1871, the Noble–Seymour–Crippen
House, is in Norwood Park. Its southern wing, built in 1833, is widely considered the oldest existing building in Chicago.
Norwood Park is one of 77 Chicago community areas. It encompasses the smaller neighborhoods of Big Oaks, Norwood Park East,
Norwood Park West, Old Norwood Park, Oriole Park, and Union Ridge. Originally organized in 1872 from adjacent townships as a village, and named after Henry Ward Beecher's novel Norwood, or Village Life in New England (1868), Norwood Park was
annexed to the City of Chicago in 1893.
Back in the day, Henry Ward Beecher was one of the most famous men in America, an American Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, and speaker, known for his support of the abolition of slavery and
the bother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, who achieved worldwide fame with her abolitionist novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Some other nice-to-know facts regarding former Norwood Park residents include the creator of the musical Grease, Jim Jacobs, who
attended Taft High School and used it as the backdrop for the production. Much of what is in the play is based on his experience growing up in Norwood Park during the 1950s and 1960s. Another famous resident is guitarist Terry Kaith, a founding
member of the band Chicago. Just a few doors down from Elaine’s house is a former residence of Frank Buck, the American hunter, animal collector, and author, most famous for his best selling book Bringing ‘Em Back Alive.
So, over a couple of days Elaine took my Nikon and me on a grand walk in beautiful fall weather on the tree-lined streets of Norwood Park. Every street we saw had its own unique collection of old and older homes, some grand and some not so
grand. For me, it was like going back in time to when we grew up in neighborhoods with people we knew. My brother in law Wally and his brother and sisters all went to school in the neighborhood, at Norwood Park Elementary and Taft High School.
And Elaine and Wally’s four children also attended these schools. I have included in the Photo Album the most representative pictures of the variety and character of this grand old neighborhood.