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Stoney Island Park is a part of Avalon Park.
Stony Island Park is one of Chicago's many small south side neighborhoods, tucked next to convenient public transportation routes and a major expressway. A plentiful dining and shopping district, affordable housing, and a good amount of new construction make Stony Island Park a neighborhood on the rise. The slew of new residential developments gives homebuyers a broader range of architectural styles to choose from when looking for real estate in Stony Island Park. Many of the modern designs are two-story, brick houses, however, there are still an abundance of classic bungalows and vintage homes in the neighborhood — if you are searching for that antiquated charm.
Stony Island Park is a triangular neighborhood adjacent to the eastern edges of the small communities of Avalon Park and Marynook. These three neighborhoods were once considered part of one larger township called Avalon Park. Actually, the area was known by the name of Pennytown until 1910 after a local store owner named Penny, or so the story goes. Like much of the south side, this region was marshland when early European inhabitants arrived in the early 1800s. In fact, before the swamp was drained, houses had to be built on stilts to avoid being flooded—not exactly what you might have imagined Chicago looking like back in the day.
The Illinois Central Railroad, which forms the western border of Avalon Park/Pennytown, brought many German and Irish workers to the village, and later many Swedish immigrants settled in the area as well. As the number of inhabitants grew, the settlement was annexed to Chicago in 1889. In the early 1900s, the neighborhood’s marshy terrain was finally tackled with a series of drainage systems that successfully dried out the land enough for serious development. This had the desired effect of the first of three major population and new home construction booms that the neighborhood would experience. In addition, the name was officially changed from Pennytown to Avalon Park.
The affluence of the roaring twenties sparked the second population increase and the World War II Baby Boom brought on the third, also prompting a rise in employment for residents who took to working in nearby industrial plants. Unfortunately, the increased prosperity lasted only a couple more decades until the population began to decline. The 1960s saw many African American families moving to Avalon Park from nearby overcrowded neighborhoods. These were mostly professionals of the emerging black middle-class, but fear and ignorance caused many white residents to move to the suburbs, and by 1980, African Americans made up 96 percent of Avalon Park’s populace—up from 83 percent just a decade before.
The southeast, triangular section of Avalon Park is now called Stony Island Park and is its own distinctive Chicago neighborhood. The area takes its name from the hill located in the Calumet Heights neighborhood directly to the south. In a sea of tall prairie grass, the hill looked like an island to early pioneers and was named accordingly. Their instincts weren’t too far off the mark, as Stony Island was in fact an island in glacial Lake Chicago in prehistoric times—who knew? Today Stony Island Park is an upper-middle class neighborhood of almost 14,000 residents, many of whom are professionals and business people that commute downtown for work.
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