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Altgeld Gardens is a modest, easy-going Chicago neighborhood less than a 20-minute drive from the Loop. Located in the southern stretches of the city and surrounded by suburbs, Altgeld Gardens has all the convenience of a Chicago community without the hustle and bustle of city living. The neighborhood park provides residents with a little bit of green space and the perks of an onsite gym, swimming pool, assembly hall and local basketball leagues. Summertime gospel festivals, neighborhood barbecues and annual parades round out the community events in Altgeld Gardens which makes this far south side section of Chicago a tight-knit group.
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On the cusp of Chicago city limits and the suburb of Riverdale, Altgeld Gardens was first pioneered by European immigrants in the mid and late 1800s. Vastly marshland and on the very southern tip of Chicago near the Illinois/Indiana state border, Altgeld Gardens land proved affordable and available. In addition to a price tag that pleased the frugal, the territory was desirable for its proximity to the Calumet River, which borders the neighborhood on the south. The river was a convenient means of transportation and allowed for easy access to other waterways which led to the emergence of Altgeld Gardens as a center of industry. U.S. Steel, the Ford Company, and Pullman (the train car manufacturer) all built factories close to the river and encouraged the development of residential housing and commercial property in the nearby vicinity. The localized industry helped Altgeld Gardens mature into a strong-willed working-class neighborhood.
In 1945, the first public housing projects in America were created. Altgeld Gardens and the Murray Homes consisted of almost 2,000 units of two-story row houses sprawling over 157 acres. The self-contained complex, which has been renovated in recent years, includes not only housing, but also schools, maintenance staff, and onsite social services and medical staff. A comprehensive renovation of the two developments began in 2005 and is scheduled for completion in 2009.
Through the years, Altgeld Gardens has brought forth several celebrity citizens. Tim Hardaway of NBA fame was raised in the neighborhood and famous journalist Scoops Jackson, writer for ESPN and other notable publications, made Altgeld Gardens his home as well.
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