Savanna on Sheridan | Letters | Chicago Reader

Savanna on Sheridan 

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To the editors:

I was startled to read your article in the latest Reader [Field & Street, October 15], as well as the bulletin of the Nature Conservancy, which arrived at the same time, about the attempts to restore the savannas.

If I properly understand what a savanna consists of, then you will be as bemused as I am to learn that, until perhaps 1950, one existed in the unlikely vicinity of Diversey and Sheridan.

This was the area I grew up in, and in the 30s and 40s there were no buildings, except for two medium rises on Commonwealth, between Diversey and Oakdale on the north and south, and the park and Sheridan on the east and west. This "wilderness" also extended west of Sheridan between Surf and Oakdale.

These were not vacant lots, as we ordinarily think of them. There were full growth trees, mostly oaks, dense enough so that entrepreneurs offered pony rides through the woods.

I can testify that there were full grown oaks--I broke a leg falling out of one of them. I can also testify that there were prairie grasses--we used to burn them every spring so that we could play line ball.

Ed Cohen

W. Chase

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