Henry Austin purchased 470 acres in 1865 for a temperance settlement named “Austinville” in which home ownership, tree-lined parkways, and gracious living would be the status quo. By 1920, Austin had become one of Chicago’s best-served commuter neighborhoods.
Germans, Scandinavians, Irish, and Italian families settled and built churches and homes, but fled during the 1960s when the demographics began to change dramatically. By 1980, Austin’s population was predominantly African American. Like many other West Side communities, the neighborhood experienced the tragedy of systemic racism and white flight through housing disinvestment, vacancy, demolition, and the loss of jobs and commerce.
It is currently known as one of Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods, stricken with illegal drug and gang activity. Yet, there is hope for the future as Austin experiences signs of recovery through neighborhood churches and organizations.
information courtesy of Moody Publishers
"Chicago Neighborhood Prayer Guide" by Dr. John Fuder with Elizabeth Koenig
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