In junior high school at Warren in the late 1960’s, my friends and I were allowed to walk to 87th street for a Saturday of shopping and lunch between Jeffrey Ave and Stony Island Ave. My home was located at 91st and Phillips; a good mile from the area though we would pass through Stony Island Park which is now known as the Jesse Owen Park. Across the park was Chicago Vocational School, an award winning school, which is now fading, in need of students and in disrepair; hoping to receive enough votes for historic status. At 2014 East 87th street was Leslie’s Restaurant, a popular place for many who attended CVS. My friends and I would continue to travel west on 87th. I remember first approaching Kims Rexall Drugstore at 87th and Bennett. One of my neighbors was a pharmacist there for a few years and filled prescriptions for my family. One of the next establishments was a three story building on the left which had to do with ATT/Illinois Bell at the time. The next building was Monarch/Perusso cleaners at 87th and Cregier. It was a beautiful building with floor to ceiling windows and a neat multi-colored brick post. Back in the 1960’s, cleaners were more necessary than ever since so much was dry clean only.
We always ate at Seaways for breakfast. We also ate Thomas’s restaurant which is still there at 1657 East 87th. Tom Thomas shares his story that his father opened the restaurant in 1958. Many loved their breakfast but I liked Markons on Jeffrey, where I went for a chocolate phosphate and hamburger. There was a very popular Gossage Grill on the corner of 87st and Stony Island back in the 1960’s and had counter service only…more for the drugstore next door but the best burgers. For clothes shopping, we would visit Totville and my memory now becomes confused since I am not sure of the location and there was record store called Mr. T’s.
As early as 1951, 87th Street had little business; just beginning to prosper. Buses replaced street cars courtesy of Dan Ryan Jr. who was a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. He served on the Roads and Bridges committee. He was a businessman and lawyer who passed away in 1961 and of course, the Dan Ryan Expressway was named after him. He ran for Mayor and Governor at one point. His father, Daniel Ryan Sr., was a Chicago politician who eventually rose to become President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
Today, Thomas’s restaurant is still open. Walgreens, may have been Woolworths, is located at 87th and Stony Island Ave which I am not sure how long it has been there. New millenium stores include Essential Elements Boutique at 1640 East and Maxine’s Boutique at 1613.