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Back of the Yards

New City
Community area
Community Area 61 - New City

Location within the city of Chicago

Coordinates: 41°48.6′N 87°39.6′W / 41.8100°N 87.6600°W / 41.8100; -87.6600Coordinates: 41°48.6′N 87°39.6′W / 41.8100°N 87.6600°W / 41.8100; -87.6600

Country United States
State Illinois
County Cook
City Chicago
 • Total 4.86 sq mi (12.59 km2)
Population (2010)
 • Total 44,377
 • Density 9,100/sq mi (3,500/km2)
 • White 10.58%
 • Black 29.63%
 • Hispanic 57.31%
 • Asian 1.64%
 • Other 0.84%
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP Codes part of 60609
Median income $25,647
Source: U.S. Census, Record Information Services

New City is one of Chicago's 77 official community areas, located on the southwest side of the city. It contains the Canaryville and Back of the Yards neighborhoods. The area was home to the famous Union Stock Yards that were on Chicago's south side until they closed in 1971.


Back of the Yards

Back of the Yards is an industrial and residential neighborhood so named because it was near the former Union Stock Yards, which employed thousands of European immigrants in the early 20th century. Life in this neighborhood was explored in Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel The Jungle. The area was formerly part of the town of Lake until it was annexed by Chicago in 1889. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the area was occupied largely by Eastern European immigrants and their descendants, who were predominantly ethnic Bohemian, Moravian, and Slovak (from today's Czech and Slovak republics).[2]

In the 1930s the activist Saul Alinsky did community organizing in this area, as its people suffered during the Great Depression. This work led to his founding the Industrial Areas Foundation in 1940, which trained community organizers.[3]

Jane Jacobs in her 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, cites the Back of the Yards as an area able to "unslum" in the 1960s, due to a beneficial set of circumstances. This included a stabilized community base with skilled members who were willing to trade work to upgrade housing, as well as active and well-led local social and political organizations. Jacobs often cited the Back of the Yards as a model for other depressed neighborhoods to follow to upgrade their communities.[4]

Some time after the 1970s, when the stockyard operations closed and the number of nearby jobs decreased, many people left to move to newer housing and work in the suburbs. The population of the neighborhood gradually reflected a new wave of settlement, predominantly Mexican-American.

2013 shooting

On September 19, 2013, three unidentified gunmen fired a rifle at a basketball court of Cornell Square Park in the Back of Yards. Thirteen people suffered nonlife-threatening injuries. A three-year-old boy was most seriously injured and underwent surgery. As of September 21, 2013, no one was taken into custody.[5][6][7][8] Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement regarding the shooting and visited the 3-year-old boy at a hospital. On September 20, President Barack Obama urged supporters to pursue gun-control measures due to mass shootings, and referenced the Cornell Square Park shooting.[9][10][11]


The Canaryville neighborhood is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Chicago and, with neighboring Bridgeport has a reputation for insularity or hostility to outsiders. According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, the neighborhood extends from 40th Street to 49th Street between Halsted Street and Wentworth Avenue. The area's residents depended on the development and suffered from the decline of the livestock and meatpacking industries. Its more successful members moved to newer housing, often in the suburbs, and other work in the post-World War II years.

Its population in 2010 was about half the number in 1930. Historically, it has been known as an Irish American neighborhood. The Irish were the first major group of Europeans to immigrate to Chicago in the 19th century, and defended their territory here against later arrivals, both Europeans and African Americans who came north in the Great Migration. Its gangs were active in attacks on African Americans in the 1919 Race Riot. Since the late 20th century, Mexican immigrants and their descendants have also moved into the area.[12]

Canaryville's name may refer to the sparrows who fed in the stockyards and railroad cars in the late 19th century. The name may also refer to youth gangs in the neighborhood, who were known as "wild canaries".[12]

Historical population
Census Pop.


External links

  • Official City of Chicago New City Community Map
  • Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council (oldest community organization in the United States, founded by Alinsky in 1939)

Template:Neighborhoods in Chicago

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