He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord and He will repay him. - Proverbs 19:17
When the World’s Colombian Exposition was held in Jackson Park in 1893, 20,000 residents made their home in Woodlawn. Likewise, when the fair closed, the area suffered an economic depression. In 1928 local land owners imposed restrictive covenants that prohibited the lease, purchase, or occupation of property to nonwhites.
By the time the covenant ended the area had declined due to the Great Depression, and by 1960 Woodlawn had experienced deterioration with crowded housing and very little economic support and an eighty-nine percent African American population. The western area of Woodlawn also experienced an influx of displaced persons who formed two new street gangs. In 1959, a major attempt to organize the community and fight racial oppression was made with some success but the area was not able to recover.
Residents who were able moved, especially after the destruction of a reported 362 abandoned buildings due to arson. Unemployment, poverty and crime grew and the population declined from 81,279 in 1960 to 27,086 in 2000. However, the history of peaceful civic action has continued and starting in the 1990s some have attempted to bring commercial enterprises and private development to Woodlawn.
information courtesy of Moody Publishers
"Chicago Neighborhood Prayer Guide" by Dr. John Fuder with Elizabeth Koenig