Following the popularity of other fashionable neighborhoods in the United States such as Park Avenue in New York, Prairie Avenue Historic District quickly rose to the fame of being one of the most fashionable residential areas in Chicago City. Famously referred to as the ?original Gold coast? of the windy city, living in this prime community meant being one of the city?s most respected residents. During the last thirty years of the 19th century, Chicago?s elite lived here with over 75 millionaires calling Prairie Avenue their home.
Prairie Avenue Historic District has an infamous past. It was the site where a group of European immigrants were mercilessly killed by violent Indians. This is the reason which prompted the slow development of the area at the beginning but picked up in the 1870s and in no time, Chicago?s most famous flocked here including George Pullman and Marshall Field. Prairie Avenue Historic District at its peak was adorned by grand Italianate-style mansions.
However, at the dawn of the 1890s, rising commercialization in the area took its toll on the status of Prairie Avenue Historic District as a prime residential neighborhood with the construction of factories and railways. This brought noise and clutter which annoyed the residents. One by one, the famous merchants residing in the area moved out in search for more quiet and tranquil communities. Conversion of homes to rooming houses began during the 1920s and some were demolished. More houses were taken down during the Great Depression and more residential space was transformed for commercial use after World War II.
Luckily, concerned residents took a proactive stance in preserving the Victorian houses found in Prairie Avenue Historic District. There are eleven remaining houses, nine of which are declared as historic landmarks. Some of the more notable structure found here include the Glessner House which showcases an extensive collection of decorative arts from the 19th century; the Greek Revival inspired Clarke House Museum; and Second Presbyterian Church which is popular for its beautiful Tiffany stained glass window.
Prairie Avenue Historic District is an officially designated National Historic Landmark.
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