Once famous for being an industrial powerhouse, and then for getting one of the hardest hits during the Great Depression, Back of the Yards steadfastly un-slummed itself and evolved into a clean and quaint residential dwelling place on Chicago’s southwest side. A diligent neighborhood council here works hard to create new events and venues for its residents (think traditional folk dance classes and community gardens). For green space, visit Back of the Yards’ Sherman Park, complete with pond and geese to feed. Though closed, the namesake Union Stockyards (once responsible for manufacturing railroad parts and meatpacking) still stand here as well.
Back of the Yards, Chicago Data : Neighborhoods & Travel – Score out of 100
Back of the Yards, Chicago Reviews
Back Of the Yards, My Home for Most of My Life
Stockyards to Slum to Just Sketchy
The former home of the Union Stockyards, forever immortalized by Upton Sinclair’s novel, “The Jungle”, BOTY is now just a gritty, unsafe neighborhood populated predominately by Mexican-Americans. There are frequent shootings and violent crimes.
Like its nearby neighbor Pilsen, Back of the Yards is a history-rich, majority Hispanic nabe on the near-south side that is experiencing an influx of young artists because of the inexpensive rent. My friends have experienced the effects of racial tension in this nabe, so it’s always important to be aware and be respectful of the people who grew up here. In a few years, the near south side may be as trendy a place for hip people as the near northwest side is now.
Back of the Yards
Community organizing as we know it was born in Back of the Yards, so you can imagine that this neighborhood has a huge sense of community. It’s not a wealthy community, but it is vibrant. The busy commercial strips of Ashland Avenue and 47th Street cater mostly to Back of the Yards’ Mexican-American residents, and there are street festivals every summer.
Back of the Yards’ name comes from the now-defunct Union Stockyards, once the center of the nation’s meat industry. The Stockyards have been closed for forty years, but the neighborhood is still bordered by the rail yards that once supported it and Chicago’s other industries.
Buses are your best bet for transportation.