Englewood came to life at a time when the rest of Chicago was literally blazing. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed much of the city, many residents moved to the outskirts of downtown, making Englewood the new home of many fleeing Chicagoans. Englewood quickly became the host of the Chicago Junction, a merge of several rail road lines that ferried goods and passengers to and from the city, as well as across the country. With such a quick and prosperous start to the new community area, Englewood was seen by many as the “it” spot of Chicago.

Soon after the railroads emerged in Englewood, the shops and markets arrived. In the 1920’s Englewood was the second busiest shopping district in Chicago, topped only by the loop itself. By the 1960’s, Englewood even boasted a pedestrian mall. However, the mall did not bring in the people, money, or neighborhood revitalization the community had hoped for. By 1980 the mall was abandoned and classified as a “failed project,” and for many of the shops it was too late to relocate. Although trains services were still in operation, a steady decrease of commuter train traffic sealed the fate of Englewood. A once fast-paced and highly desirable shopping location for so many turned into a desolate community lacking resources it needed to thrive.

In the late 90’s, Mayor Daley publicized a revitalization plan for Englewood. The plan, estimated to cost $256 million dollars, included a new police station, affordable housing for residents, and the multi-million dollar relocation of Kennedy-King College to the heart of Englewood. With the new plan in place and revenue coming into the community, the forsaken Englewood saw a glimmer of a brighter future. New businesses and nonprofits moved into the neighborhood, offering the residents greater economic stability, and more importantly, the services and programs that will help to foster community growth.

In late January of this year, Englewood found itself in the limelight yet again for a $133 million renovation plan to build the Englewood Flyover on Chicago’s South Side, a Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) project. The project is expected to bring approximately 6,000 jobs to Englewood and surrounding communities.

However, many vital human services and community needs in the Englewood area still need to be met. In the past ten years Englewood has seen the benefits of the 1999 revitalization plan, with new parks, community gardens, and after school programs bringing life back to the community. Let’s not stop now! Chicago Cares and other nonprofits offer many programs to help rejuvenate and restore the Englewood community. Henderson, Hinton, and Sherwood schools are home to many after school and weekend programs offered to students through Chicago Cares. With the help of volunteers we are able to offer meaningful and dedicated programs for many of the under-resourced children of the Engelwood community.

If you would like more information on Chicago Cares programs in Englewood, or to learn how you can make an impact and be apart of the Chicago Cares presence in your community, e-mail info@chicagocares.org. You can also donate to help support our critical after school programs.