The entire Near West Side of Chicago was developed primarily during the 1870s and 1880s. The southern portion of this area became known as Little Italy and was built with many Italianate homes using Joliet Limestone to house the Italian immigrants who were rebuilding the city after the Chicago Fire of 1871. On the west side of Little Italy, the Tri-Taylor Neighborhood became more distinct as the Illinois Medical College and hospitals located near there expanded after the Chicago Cubs vacated their park located at Polk and Wolcott in 1917.
In 1941, the Illinois General Assembly created the Illinois Medical District (IMD) whose boundaries included all of the Tri-Taylor neighborhood east of Oakley St and west of Ogden, and which granted the IMD regulatory control over all properties and buildings within its boundaries. The primary mission of the IMD is to foster economic growth in healthcare enterprises and support these enterprises through commercialization and real estate development. In the 1960s, the IMD acquired and tore down all the residence and businesses in the neighborhood between Ogden and Oakley, north of Polk to develop the land for activities more in line with their mission. The boundaries of the IMD were also expanded south of Roosevelt Rd during this time (called the District Development Area), and the IMD acquired and cleared the properties in this mostly residential area as well during the 1970s.
Watching events in the District Development Area and remembering the clearing of land in the eastern part of the neighborhood 20 years earlier, residents of Tri-Taylor became increasingly concerned about the fate of their neighborhood. Several residents worked with the Landmarks Preservation Council to have the buildings in the remaining part of Tri-Taylor placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in order to prevent the IMD from destroying more buildings in their neighborhood. In 1983, much of the Tri-Taylor Neighborhood was designated as a federal historic district, and the district’s boundaries were expanded in 1988 to encompass the residential areas from Claremont (west), Harrison (north), Ogden (east) and Roosevelt roads (south). Since that time, many historic homes in the neighborhood have been rehabilitated and new homes have been built according to the federal historic guidelines.
Although the Tri-Taylor neighborhood is in the City of Chicago, both the state (through the IMD) and the federal government (historic district status) also have control over the physical character and contents of much of the neighborhood. Due to its unique history and influence from UIC and IMD-related enterprises, the neighborhood population is quite diverse. According to the 2010 US Census, the neighborhood population is about 50% White, 16% Black, 16% Asian, and 18% some other race.
Currently, the Tri-Taylor neighborhood is poised to undergo significant change again as development occurs just north of the area. The $300 million Gateway project, which is scheduled to open in summer 2018, recently broke ground on the Tri-Taylor land north of Polk and south of Harrison that the IMD cleared in the 1960s. This development is slated to include a 10 story, 240 room hotel, 76,000 feet of retail space, and a 230-unit apartment tower at Polk and Ogden. The Cook County Board also recently approved plans for a $700 million development on the site of the old Cook County Hospital that would bring many more residents and businesses to the area near the Tri-Taylor Neighborhood.
- Illinois Medical District, Master Plan, January 2019. IMD 2019 Master Plan update
- Itinerant Urbanist: https://itineranturbanist.wordpress.com/tag/illinois-medical-center/
- Illinois Medical District: History IMD History
- American Institute of Architects (AIA). Guide to Chicago.
- Bike, William S. Streets of the Near West Side, ACT Publications, Chicago
- Catrambone, Kathy and Ellen Shubart. Taylor Street: Chicago’s Little Italy, Arcadia Publishing, Chicago. See chapter 6: The Other Taylor Street, Tri-Taylor
The Tri-Taylor Historic District was created in 1983. Access the full application here: Tri-Taylor Historic District_NR Nomination