Mount Greenwood is the far Southwest corner of Chicago. Compared to the rest of the city, it looks fairly new. Yet the community has a long history.
During the last half of the 19th Century, Chicago was the fastest growing city in the world. That meant a future boom for at least one type of real estate: cemeteries. In 1879, George Waite plotted a burial ground in a farming area near 111th Street and Sacramento Avenue.
Welcome to Mount Greenwood!
Waite named his cemetery Mount Greenwood. Within a short time, other cemeteries followed.
Funerals were an all-day affair then. To serve the mourners, a strip of restaurants and saloons developed along 111th Street. They also attracted patrons of the nearby Worth Race Track.
Despite all the dead residents, the neighborhood was getting a rowdy reputation. The Village of Morgan Park wanted to annex the area and shut down the saloons. But in 1907, local property owners beat them to the punch and chartered their own village.
Mount Greenwood was independent for 20 years.The big event of that time was the Battle of the Ditch. Mount Greenwood Cemetery had a drainage ditch. The village passed an ordinance against the ditch, saying it polluted their drinking water. When the cemetery ignored the law, the villagers took up picks and shovels, and filled in the ditch themselves.
(All-day funerals? Drainage ditch Wars? Aren’t you glad you live in the 21st Century?)
111th Street near Kedzie
In 1927 Mount Greenwood had about 3,000 residents. There were no street lights, no sewers, few paved streets and drinking water came from wells. The citizens voted to become part of Chicago. Just in time for the Great Depression . . .
Years passed. More people moved in, but the improvements lagged behind. During the late 1930s, the federal government began playing catch-up with those overdue projects. Just in time for World War II . . .
The war ended in 1945. Then Mount Greenwood really grew. The population hit 12,000 in 1950, and 10 years later passed 21,000. The 1970 count peaked at 23,000.
Click to read the complete blog post by J.R. Schmidt