The South Side of Chicago is the city’s largest section, with about 60 percent of its land area, including public parks and beaches extending along Lake Michigan’s shore. It’s also home to the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Known historically as the location of the city’s stockyards, Chicago’s South Side industries attracted hundreds of thousands of African-American migrants and European immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Check out some of the best places to visit on Chicago’s South Side:
Blues Brothers Bridge
WHERE: E 95th Street Bridge, South Deering, Chicago, IL 60617
“The Blues Brothers” immediately became an important part of Chicago history when it was released on the big screen in 1980. While the Windy City has changed since “The Blues Brothers” was filmed, the movie’s legacy can still be observed all throughout Chicago.
It’s not unusual to see Jake and Elwood donning their classic fedoras, jet black suits and wayfarer sunglasses at Chicago sporting events — and you’re particularly likely to see them on Halloween. But while the city has changed, you can still see where the Bluesmobile jumped over a bridge — specifically the East 95th Street Bridge, which is still standing in the South Side.
Obama Kissing Rock
WHERE: 53rd Street and South Dorchester, Chicago, IL 60615
While nobody truly knows how to measure love, the owners of Dorchester Commons managed to weigh former President Barack Obama’s love for his wife, former First Lady Michelle Obama, at approximately 3,000 pounds.
At 53rd and Dorchester, visitors can view the “Obama Kissing Rock” in Hyde Park, which marks the spot of the first couple’s first kiss outside of a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop. Etched into the boulder is a quote from the former president that was originally from an interview with “O,” The Oprah Magazine: “On our first date, I treated her to the finest ice cream Baskin-Robbins had to offer, our dinner table doubling as the curb. I kissed her, and it tasted like chocolate.”
Along with Obama’s barbershop, the kissing rock is another place to visit if you’re interested in how the former president began his political career in the South Side.
WHERE: 1400 W 46th St., Chicago, IL 60609
A former meatpacking plant in the South Side of Chicago, known simply as “The Plant,” is showing Chicagoans how to go green. The space is owned and operated by Plant Chicago, a non-profit organization, as a food production area that’s designed to be “net-zero, closed loop system” in Chicago’s Back of the Yards.
The sustainable, self-sufficient food business complex features a brewery, a kombucha brewery, bakeries, a mushroom farm and much more. A remarkable model for green technologies within the city, tours of The Plant are offered on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The Secret Mermaid
WHERE: Oakwood-41st Street Beach, Chicago, IL 60653
In 1986, laid-off South Side steelworker Roman Villareal — and his friends Jose Moreno, Fred Arroyo and Edfu Kingigna — spent nine days and nights carving a rock mermaid to hide near the beach at Burnham Park, just north of 39th Street. And its original location was a local secret that was kept for about 14 years, until the mermaid was discovered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2000.
Several rumors circulated about the mermaid, involving anything from a forgotten 1800s mansion that was torn down and used as landfill near the lake, a Columbian Exhibition artwork thrown into the water — even a lovelorn sculptor working alone by moonlight near Lake Michigan.
After being restored in 2007, the Secret or Stonemaker’s Mermaid is now located at the Oakwood-41st Street Beach along Lake Michigan. The mermaid’s presence now serves as a resting spot for joggers and visiting families alike.