Although modest homes, commercial buildings, and industries made up East Garfield Park in 1914, the Great Depression and WWII resulted in the deterioration of homes and neighborhoods. As a result, East Garfield Park became one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.
The situation worsened during the 1950s when the Eisenhower Expressway was constructed and displaced residents from a southern stretch of the neighborhood. The demographics shifted from Irish, German, Italian, and Jewish to predominantly African American. The 1960s brought the development of three different housing projects in the neighborhood. By the year 2000, East Garfield had lost more than two-thirds of its population and was plagued by endemic poverty and unemployment; drugs and prostitution filled the economic void.
High hopes for the rehabilitation of the neighborhood, including plans for a Madison street revitalization initiative, have resulted in little improvement. The economy of East Garfield has never fully recovered and the neighborhood continues to face many challenges with gang violence, drugs and unemployment.
The poor will never cease to be in the land.
- Deuteronomy 15:11
information courtesy of Moody Publishers
"Chicago Neighborhood Prayer Guide" by Dr. John Fuder with Elizabeth Koenig