Thursday, September 22, 2011

Good Stuff Happening: Earl Shapiro Hall

posted by richard gill

After years of development inactivity, Hyde Park seems to be up and moving.  One big project getting under way is Earl Shapiro Hall, which will house the new Early Childhood Center of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.  The start of construction is imminent; the Center is scheduled to open in the Autumn of 2013.

On September 17, on the site at 5800 So. Stony Island Ave., an enormous outdoor party celebrated the groundbreaking. People were issued hardhats and chrome-plated shovels for groundbreaking photos in front of construction equipment.  There were plastic shovels and pails that children used for "excavation," music and balloons and even a Lego construction game.  The food was for all generations—tacos, chicken, veggies, gourmet sliders, hot pretzels, sno-cones, Good Humor bars, popsicles, soft drinks, lemonade, and bulk candy.

For 90 years, the site had been occupied by Illinois Central Hospital, one of two medical facilities that the railroad had operated for its employees as well as the public.  In recent decades, the building had changed ownership and names and finally closed.  It was razed in early 2011 to make way for the school.  It's good to see good stuff happening in the neighborhood.