|A sense of community has developed in the South Loop tent city (via New City)|
Chicago’s first non-Native American settler was Jean Baptiste Point du Sable.
Du Sable established a farm on the Chicago River in the 1780s. By the 1820s, trappers, traders and “squatters” began a larger settlement at the convergence of the three branches of the river, then an empty prairie named after the local wildlife, Wolf Point.
Almost two-hundred years later, a new encampment has sprung up on the South Branch of the Chicago River, stretching from Harrison Street to Bertrand Goldberg’s River City development, a swath of 6.6 acres of open land known as Franklin Point. Instead of cabins, residents live in brightly colored nylon tents. Food is “gathered” via donations and trips to fast food restaurants. While the wolves have long vanished, the tent residents are wary of thieves and an occasional visit by the police.
Yet these people still live their lives largely outdoors, enduring the wind, rain and Chicago winters in the same way riverfront settlers, squatters and hobos have throughout the city’s history, from Wolf Point to infamous encampments on Goose Island and now, the South Loop.
“My wife and I have been here for three, well, more like five years,” says a man called Joe as he emerges from the riverbank. “We make friends with the dog walkers who help us out and one guy comes with a truck and brings us cases of water and peanut butter. Otherwise, we panhandle or get food from the dollar menu.”
Strange, but interesting??????