For me who began her life in Calumet Heights, South Shore was an exciting trip to 71st and South Shore Drive. Here we would visit Bramsons childrens store and Dr. Block, my orthodontist once a week.
Famous residents such as Kanya West and Michele Obama began their childhood journey in South Shore of Chicago just nine miles southeast of the loop. Predominantly now an African American community, South Shore is located along Chicago’s lakefront and offers beautiful historic architecture that was once lived in by some of the most prominent Chicago residents. The South Shore Cultural Center was a place for the visiting famous to retreat and relax and the marriage of Michelle and Barack Obama
South Shore Cultural Center
Once known as the South Shore Country Club, this center that totals almost 65 acres features Paul Bobeso Theatres, Washburne Culinary Institute and the Parrot Cage Restaurant. Founded in 1905, the center is listed on the US national Register of Historic places. the exterior of the building was used in the famous Blues Brothers film. The club has a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, a bowling green, stables and a private beach on Lake Michigan
Jackson Park Highlands
Designated a Chicago Landmark, the district was built in 1905 housing some of the most elite collection of vintage homes that include stately architecture that were built for those who owned businesses on 71st such as an exclusive children’s store, Bramsons, several women’s and millinery boutiques along with doctors and dentists in the 1950s. Though not mansions, the homes reflect style, intrigue and beautiful surroundings. Famous residents have included Jesse Jackson, Ramsey Lewis and Gale Sayers.
Parrot Cage Restaurant
Created by the Washburne Culinary Institute, highly acclaimed for being one of the best American cooking schools, Parrot is located in the South Shore Cultural center and an excellent suggestion for its Sunday brunch. Dinner service includes Thursday through Saturday and private rooms are available for events. The menu includes blackened catfish as one culinary delight. However, the restaurant does not serve alcohol.
Mings Chop Suey
Though just carry out, the service is great and their crab ran-goons, egg roll or chicken fingers can be wrapped and add to your first picnic along the lakefront. Located at 71st and Yates Blvd, you can watch your food being cooked and Mings offers an extensive lunch and dinner menu with very reasonable prices.
Avalon Regal Theatre
The Avalon opened in 1927 and conceived by John Eberson who always created exotic motif in design, the Avalon boosted a Moorish theme. The Avalon closed in the late 1970’s, used as a church until it becoming a venue for the performing arts in 1987 and became a Chicago landmark in 1992. Barack Obama’s acceptance speech for the presidential nomination was held in 2008 at the Avalon. Currently the Avalon is closed, but you may contact the Chicago Architecture Foundation for more information.
Eta Creative Arts Foundation
Recognized as Chicago’s leading African American cultural performing arts institutes, ETA offers a 200 seat theater, a library, and an art gallery. They are always looking for music and dance instructors to teach youth classes and ambitious summer interns in the areas of marketing, production and graphic design. Their current production Lines in the Dust presents the challenges of the Chicago Public School system and the play has received rave reviews.
Located on east 77th street, Rainbow Beach and Park offers a gymnasium, fitness center and a community garden along with a massive beach and comfort station. The beach’s history began as Rock Ledge Beach and finally expanded in 1918 becoming Rainbow; one of the city’s largest beaches One of the first beaches, I attended though some of my memories included the beach being closed because of oil slicks. Rainbow beach includes a large beach house with showers and a large pier with a boat ramp.
Michelle Obama’s Home
A final drive through the South Shore neighborhood will take you to Michelle Obama’s family home, a great example of the Chicago bungalow at 7436 South Euclid. Her parents rented an apartment upstairs from her great aunt who lived downstairs. The house was built in the 1920’s in a respectable neighborhood with a garden , stone bench and shaded by a large elm.