Saturday, March 26, 2005
What is the West Side?
Chicago Aurora & Elgin RR Map
The Chicago Aurora & Elgin railroad called itself the "Sunset Lines". It carried commuters straight west into the sunset from Chicago's Well's Street Terminal over the Congress "L" to Forest Park and then on to Wheaton and finally the major towns along the Fox River. Above is a map from the Shoreline Interurban Historical Society of the CA&E's right-of-way.
The CA&E's trail defines the "West Side" for me. The railroad started today's modern suburbs and eased the trek west for city dwellers.
George Baily edited a wonderful book titled West Side Stories, City Stoop Press, Chicago, 1992. In the introduction he wrote the West Side was "...Bounded on the north by the C.M. & St. P. & P. Railroad, Kinzie Street, and the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, on the south by the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Chicago River, and the Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway, on the immediate west by Oak Park and Cicero, and on the east by the Chicago River." page ix.
Bailey also wrote the West Side was a "state of mind" and while Railroads, rivers, and highways geographically described it, the book gave us a sense of the "state of mind".
My Dad always told me to take a good look around Chicago because we're constantly tearing down and building over again. We're also moving west. The old CA&E rightway is the path, and Bailey's right when he says there's a West Side mind set. It's an outlook on life, and we bring it along with us.