South East Chicago Neighborhood Tour


Video of Ed Sadlowski Describing the Industrialization and Deindustrialization of the Calumet River

Southeast Chicago and northwest Indiana contain the remnants of what was once a vibrant center of the steel industry. Steel mills once blanketed the entire lakeshore south of 79th Street and the banks of the Calumet River, but the mills have all disappeared since the 1970s. For example, U.S. Steel's South Works, which once employed over 17,000 workers and occupied over 800 acres north of Calumet Park, closed in 1993. To hear former steel worker and labor activist Ed Sadlowski describe the steel industry click here: Ed Sadlowski Describes the Steel Industry The neighborhood experienced many labor struggles, such as the infamous 1937 Memorial Day Massacre at Republic Steel, and has undergone continual racial and ethnic succession, as earlier immigrants moved to outlying areas and newer immigrant groups replaced them in the industrial core of the district.

Important sites in South East Chicago include:

*Memorial Day Massacre at Republic Steel
*Bessemer Park
*Our Lady of Guadalupe
*Calumet Park & Field House
*Trumbull Park Homes
*St. Kevins Church
*Serbian Orthodox Church
*Cal-Sag Channel

Labor Trail

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) is proud to present the Interactive Labor Trail, made possible by a generous grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. This on-line history resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. The Labor Trail is the product of a joint effort to showcase the many generations of dramatic struggles and working-class life in the Chicago area's rich and turbulent past. The Trail's neighborhood tours invite you to get acquainted with the events, places, and people -- often unsung -- who have made the city what it is today. In addition, the statewide map is just a starting point for further exploration of Illinois' labor heritage. This Interactive Labor Trail expands the number of locations and provides a greater depth of information, while giving map users the chance to add their knowledge of locations and events in the Chicago area’s working-class history.

We invite all individuals, groups, and institutions interested in the labor and working-class history of Chicago, Cook County, the Calumet Region, and Illinois to contribute to the map. Users can add new sites, edit or build upon existing entries with additional text, photographs, primary sources, audio and video files, as well as links to related websites.

Easy-to-use instructions for adding to the on-line version of the map are available at

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at:

The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle

Project Director:
Leon Fink, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Advisors:
Tobias Higbie, Newberry Library
Lisa Oppenheim, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Liesl Miller Orenic, Dominican University

Administrative Director:
Jeffrey Helgeson, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Assistants:
Aaron Max Berkowitz, University of Illinois at Chicago; John H. Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago; Erik Gellman, Northwestern University; Dan Harper, University of Illinois at Chicago; Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Web Design:
William Atwood and Melissa Palmer