| 2 | The origin of Playlot 293

In 1986, Playlot 293, (2636 N. Kimball Avenue, Chicago, Illinois) sat on the southeast quarter of a City-owned parking lot, surrounded by a chain link fence.1 The parking lot ran north from Drummond Place, to the back of the lots of the home and the store on Schubert Avenue, and from Kimball Avenue west, to the alley. The play equipment was built right into the concrete. There was a sandbox, a slide, swings, a jungle gym, and 3 benches. There was no water and no grass; there were no trees and no restrooms. The Park District’s “Playlot 293” sign was weathered and covered with ancient graffitti.

The parking lot had been built by the City of Chicago in the late 1950s. According to Thomas Kusnierz, who lived at 3416 W. Drummond Place from 1910 until his death in the mid-1990s, the City acquired and demolished a row of homes along Kimball Avenue, including a mansion with a coach house that sat at the corner of Kimball and Drummond, after a fire destroyed several frame homes in the middle of that block. A metered parking lot had long been requested by local merchants at the nearby 6-corner intersection of Kimball, Diversey and Milwaukee: stores such as Goldblatts, Morris B. Sachs, Woolworths, Jupiter, Jack Lord, and Kaufman’s.2 However, the new parking lot was always underutilized, and during the late 1960s many of the stores closed. Mike Koskiewicz grew up at 3433 W. Drummond Place during that time. Koskiewicz remembers the parking lot primarily serving as a makeshift baseball field and play area that he and other young people in the neighborhood frequented in the 1960s. Long time residents Mr. and Mrs. Robert Arger, of the 3300 block of Wrightwood, were early advocates for carving out a playlot from a portion of the parking lot. In the early 1970’s, the Argers and other neighbors enlisted the support of the merchants and approached the City, who agreed to donate the southeast quarter of the parking lot to the Chicago Park District. The Park District installed a sandbox and the original play equipment that remained there from the early 1970s through 1986. As the 293rd such playlot in the Park District’s inventory, it became “Playlot 293”.

1. Appendix p2 (1986 photo by Hector Mojica)

2. Appendix p3 (“linen” postcard of six corners--Kimball, Diversey, Milwaukee-- CurtTeich Co., 1940s; approaching six corners westbound on Diversey, Chicago Tribune, 1963; approaching six corners southbound on Kimball, undated, unknown producer)