A Century on 63rd Street

From 1920-1950, 63rd Street was one of Chicago's largest commercial districts outside of the Loop...but today, many of its blocks seem quiet, even abandoned.  How did this streetscape change so dramatically, in so short a period of time?  Join us in Spring to continue exploring 63rd Street's history and finding some answers to these questions!

A Century on 63rd Street (1920-2020), AKA "Co63" is the second "chapter" of an ongoing undergraduate research project sponsored by Chicago Studies. We aim to gain granular insight into ten decades of changes in the neighborhoods around our campus, including those due to the Great Migration, redlining, White flight, University-led urban renewal, and civic (dis)investment. We also plan to map and represent the information collected. Our research, which began on 55th Street/Garfield Boulevard, is building an open-access resource and digital archive. We hope this resource will serve as a stepping-off point for future classes, public programming, and further investigation, as well as more thematic and/or creative projects and exhibition(s) such as our collaboration with Expositions magazine, which published a special edition devoted to 55th Street in Fall 2023.  Students in the College (of any class and field of study) may contribute to this project as stipended research assistants.  

Apply to join Co63 HERE (new researchers OR researchers who participated in 2023's Co55)

Students who have not yet participated in Chicago Centuries (55th or 63rd) may apply to be a Foundational Researcher. The description for this role is below. For those who previously worked on Co55, you may join the project either as a foundational researcher OR as a specialist -- see the application for details about possible roles.  Students who participated in Co63 in Winter 2024 need not reapply; just let the project team know you intend to return on your Winter term closeout form.

Foundational Researcher Description

No prior experience is necessary for this role. Accepted applicants will be taught how to use the necessary historical research tools. However, students should be interested in the following activities required for this role:  

  • Documenting foundational information about the buildings, inhabitants, businesses, and institutions on an assigned block of 63rd Street
  • Creating hand-drawn maps of their block at various periods of its history
  • Identifying, developing, and digitally documenting one or more microhistories from that block to illuminate what 63rd St. was like during the past century
  • Working in small groups with Research Specialist mentors during meetings, and then continuing independently with online support to complete research deliverables
  • Producing assigned research deliverables in a timely manner
  • Presenting research findings at public events later in the term
  • Co-developing the NEXT stages of this project in collaboration with other team members, Chicago Studies' staff, and our research partners
  • Actively and consistently communicating using the research project's Slack channel and Canvas site

All researchers must participate in a weekly project meeting, which will be determined based on the availability of the team members prior to final hiring and the start of the Winter Quarter. Foundational researchers can expect to devote approximately 75 hours to this project during the Winter term.  This research assistantship includes a $1500 stipend, which will be paid upon submission of completed deliverables.  

Applications for Co63 will be considered on a rolling basis until all available positions are filled. We anticipate hiring at least 12 foundational researchers during Spring (so as to investigate 63rd Street between S. ML King Drive and S. Halsted Street), but may expand our study area further west based on interest.  We will also be hiring researchers for the summer; if interested, please submit an application to let us know you're interested.  Note that summer roles will be similar to academic year roles, i.e. approximately 10 hours/week.

Questions about Co63 may be directed to Chicago Studies' Chris Skrable (available via email or by appointment).