Photograph: Courtesy of the Chicago Public Library
Photograph: Courtesy of the Chicago Public Library

"Faith in the Struggle" at the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library

Red Line South Reconstruction Project

Things to do on the South Side before the big shutdown.


On May 19, the CTA will begin the Red Line South Reconstruction Project, a massive undertaking to replace 40-year-old tracks that will effectively close all stops from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th/Dan Ryan for five months. This means you have just a few days to take the El to the following destinations near the nine soon-to-be-out-of-service stations.

95th/Dan Ryan

Carter G. Woodson Regional Library (9525 S Halsted St, 312-747-6900) The library’s latest exhibit, “Faith in the Struggle: Rev. Addie Wyatt’s Fight for Labor, Civil Rights and Women’s Rights,” reveals the life of indomitable activist Wyatt through photos, ephemera and news clippings.—TO

Jim’s Original (16 E 95th St, 773-785-9865) A number of the city’s fast-food sausage stands advertise Maxwell Street Polish sausages, but Jim’s (“since 1939”) is arguably Chicago’s oldest Polish sausage haunt. This is the University Village location’s sister spot.—JP


Chatham 14 (210 W 87th St, 773-892-3204) See Iron Man 3 3D, The Great Gatsby and other Hollywood fare on the big screen at cheaper prices than most downtown movie theaters.—JM

Red Peppers Masquerade Lounge (428 E 87th St, 773-873-5700) Live jazz thrives in this Chatham bar. At a time when similar South Side venues are disappearing (R.I.P., Artis’s Lounge), it’s reassuring to find a place keeping the beat alive.—JP


Auburn Park (406 W Winneconna Pkwy, 312-747-6998) The Auburn Gresham neighborhood’s natural wonder boasts a lagoon (one of 17 in the Chicago Park District), which is surrounded by stone-walled banks and features a waterfall and attractive arched bridges.—JM

Brown Sugar Bakery (328 E 75th St, 773-224-6262) Come for the much-lauded caramel cake; stay for the ambience. Charming chalkboard menus, cozy couches and fist-size cupcakes make this a must-stop shop for those with a sweet tooth.—TO


Kusanya Café (825 W 69th St) Tentatively scheduled to open in June, the Englewood café is worth visiting now for its exterior alone: Striking black-and-white photographs hang in the windows, part of an art exhibit by See Potential, an art group dedicated to installing public art projects on the South Side.—TO

Uncle John’s BBQ (337 E 69th St, 773-892-1233) Now that Leon’s has faded away without fanfare, this might just be the South Side’s finest barbecue stand. There’s no seating, so you’ll have to eat on the sidewalk. But the rib tips are worth the trouble.—JP


Cats Meow (6107 S King Dr, 773-684-3220) Up your bedroom game at this lingerie and erotica boutique. The store’s sexy stock includes the Pocket Kama Sutra guidebook, a DVD called Advanced Love Skills and all manner of arousing gifts.—JM

Kennedy-King College Theater (740 W 63rd St) While the venue has staged productions from Jackie Taylor’s Black Ensemble Theater, most of its performances showcase the city college’s theater students.—JP


Ms. Biscuit (5431 S Wabash Ave, 773-268-8088) The cozy sit-down spot is easy to overlook, but if you’re in the ’hood, its grilled biscuits and hearty Sunday brunch are not to be missed.—TO

Wayne’s Bar-B-Que & Cajun (5401 S Wentworth Ave, 773-536-2282) Two schools of Southern cuisine are served up under one roof. Seafood lovers will find much to love.—JP


Eden Place Nature Center (4417 S Stewart Ave, 773-624-8686) For 15 years, Eden Place Nature Center has brought the countryside to a blighted city block in Fuller Park, offering science lessons for kids, tours of an Indian wigwam and a children’s farm. Don’t let the front-yard construction deter you: The center is breaking ground for a new, permanent building.—TO


Bridgeport Restaurant (3500 S Halsted St, 773-247-2826) Used to be there were two great old greasy-spoon spots at this historic corner of 35th and Halsted Streets. But with the curtain descending on the Ramova Grill last summer, Bridgeport Restaurant is carrying the torch. Its neon sign can be seen from blocks away.—JP

Let’s Boogie Records and Tapes (3321 S Halsted St, 773-254-0139) The stalwart independently owned neighborhood record shop has the aura of a great lost-in-time crate-digging destination, right down to some still-sealed dusties and a poster of M&R Rush, a ’70s-era rock outfit from the Illinois suburbs.—JP


Blues Heaven Foundation (2120 S Michigan Ave, 312-808-1286) From the ’50s through the early ’70s, this was the home of Chess Records, the legendary label of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Ramsey Lewis and a thousand other blues, jazz and R&B giants. Today, it survives as a sort of blues museum, offering tours of the place where the legends cut their many hits.—JP

Chinese Table Tennis Club (215 W 23rd St, 312-636-1010) As the name suggests, most members of this ping-pong posse are Chinese-Americans. But if you’ve got significant skills with a paddle—and you’re able to locate the entrance off of a narrow alley—the group takes all comers.—JM

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