Neighborhood

Smith Park


 
  

Neighborhood Description

Smith Park, a recognized neighborhood within Chicago’s West Town community, is named for the city park on its south border. Bounded by Chicago Avenue (800N) on the north, Grand Avenue (550N) on the south, Western Avenue (2400W) on the east and Washtenaw Avenue (2700W) on the west; the majority of the neighborhood sits within Chicago’s 26th Ward, with a small portion a part of the 1st Ward. This area, formerly known as “The Patch”, was originally settled by Sicilian immigrants who moved west from the “Little Sicily” area on Sedgwick Street, near where the Cabrini-Green housing projects were built, and from the Italian neighborhood along the Grand Avenue corridor. It is a very old community with many families that have lived in the neighborhood for over six generations. In 1929, when a quarry that had been converted to a large city dump in the West Town neighborhood had been completely filled, the Bureau of Sanitation transferred part of the site to the Bureau of Parks and Recreation. The city named the area Smith Athletic Field for Joseph Higgins Smith, alderman of the surrounding 32nd ward from 1914 to 1933. In 1959, the city transferred Smith Park to the Chicago Park District, at which time an artillery piece was placed in the park. A WWII tank was moved to the southeast corner of the park in the 1980s from its former home at Grand and Western Avenues. This is the landmark by which most Chicagoans recognize Smith Park. The Park District added a spraypool, swimming pool, and bathhouse in the late 1960s and in 1979 a large, modern fieldhouse was constructed. Nine years later, the Park District dedicated its gymnasium to Tom Positano, a high school student who had been active at the park and who posthumously received a Junior Citizenship Award.

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