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Community Gardens

Winthrop Family Historical Garden

A vibrant community garden and gathering space celebrating the rich history of the families who lived along Winthrop Avenue.

The Winthrop Family Historical Garden was established by NeighborSpace in 2009 to celebrate the families who helped found Uptown’s rich cultural diversity, while also providing a greatly needed, open green space in one of Chicago’s most densely populated neighborhoods.

Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood is known for its rich, dynamic history and its mingling of cultures and customs. However, pre-World War II land covenants and legal segregation listed the 4600 block of North Winthrop Avenue as Uptown’s only block where African Americans could live. Partly as a result of this racism and outright segregation, the families who lived on Winthrop Avenue developed a tight-knit bond. They referred to each other as the “Winthrop Avenue Family,” and grew up surrounded by love and care by the members of their family on “the Avenue.” Oral history narratives with contemporary members of the family, almost none of whom live on the Avenue anymore, reveal only the fondest memories of life on the block, their home. Although only one resident from those decades remain, the result was a large extended family that still gathers and refers to themselves as the Winthrop Avenue Family. Learn more about the history of Winthrop Avenue here.

In the mid-2000s, through community engagement efforts, the idea of transforming several vacant parcels of land into a community greenspace on the narrow 4600 block of Winthrop took shape and a new garden was dedicated in the fall of 2009 thanks to the leadership of Uptown United and several other local leaders and volunteers. 20 years after the garden dedication, Uptown United received a City of Chicago Public Outdoor Plaza (POP!) Grant in 2022 to fund a complete renovation of the garden.

Partnering with Uptown United, MKSK and Human Scale have collaborated to reimagine and renew the Winthrop Garden as a beloved community green space for growing food and gathering together as a community. The design will re-establish the garden as a vibrant outdoor open space for gardening demonstrations, markets, neighborhood events and more, all while telling the story of the rich history of the Winthrop Avenue families within the Uptown neighborhood. The new garden will reopen in the late summer of 2022 and Uptown United looks forward to utilizing the space for community programming this fall.

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