Illinois 2nd District
Chicago is a great center of both commerce and industry, and if its white-collar offices are heavily concentrated in the Loop, its blue-collar heavy industries are most visible on the far South Side. This part of Chicago, diminished in economic importance today, is historically significant and, with the remnants of its great hulking factories around Lake Calumet and the nearby rail yards, has a certain undeniable majesty. Thomas Geoghegan wrote in his book Which Side Are You On? of the fights to win benefits for the workers of shuttered steel mills and of the decline of the labor movement in a place where it got much of its inspiration. This is where the Pullman strike of 1894 was broken by federal troops and where policemen killed 10 union supporters in the Little Steel strike of 1937. Over the years, Chicago grew around the tight ethnic neighborhoods where workers went home at shift break each afternoon or midnight. Today, those workplaces are mostly empty buildings that suburbanites speed past on the Calumet and Dan Ryan expressways. A local historic preservation group has listed the Hulett Iron Ore Unloaders, built in 1912 and resembling a giant preying mantis, as endangered structures.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 2nd Congressional District of Illinois includes much of Chicago’s old South Side industrial area, U.S. Cellular Field, the new home of the White Sox baseball team near the site of the old Comiskey Park, and several Cook County suburbs to the south. The district reaches north to include Jackson Park, where the Columbian Exposition of 1893 was held, and south to take in South Shore, a once heavily Jewish neighborhood and now home to middle-class blacks. The district includes all of Chicago south of 95th Street and east of Interstate 57, including the old industrial area around Lake Calumet. The Chicago portion of the 2nd is overwhelmingly black, though many African-Americans, especially young parents fleeing Chicago public schools, are moving into suburbs directly to the south—Harvey, Dolton, Markham, Hazel Crest, and Lynwood. Farther south are economically revitalized Homewood and Flossmoor, with significant Jewish populations; high-income Olympia Fields; and the still vibrant Park Forest, the post World War planned town where William H. Whyte’s The Organization Man was set. Also in the district are mixed-income Chicago Heights, the hometown of David Broder, one of the country’s premier political reporters for a half century. In the south end of the district is struggling Ford Heights, the nation’s leader in single mothers per capita, the vast majority of whom live in public housing. The 2nd District now has more people in the suburbs than in Chicago. Only 40% of the 2008 vote was cast in Chicago precincts. The district remains one of the most Democratic in the nation.