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Ashburn, one of Chicago's 77 community areas, is located on the south side of the city. Greater Ashburn covers nearly five square miles. The approximate boundaries of Ashburn are 72nd Street (north), Western Avenue (east), 87th Street (south) and Cicero Avenue (west).
|Community Area 70 - Ashburn|
Ashburn station at 83rd Street and Central Park Avenue.
Location within the city of Chicago
|• Total||4.87 sq mi (12.61 km2)|
|• Density||8,800/sq mi (3,400/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|Source: U.S. Census, Record Information Services|
Ashburn, which got its name as the dumping site for the city's ashes, was slow to experience growth at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1893, the "Clarkdale" subdivision was planned near 83rd and Central Park Avenue along the new Chicago and Grand Trunk Railway, with 19 homes in the first 50 years. The early residents were Dutch, Swedish and Irish. Ashburn opened the first airfield in Chicago in 1916, becoming the home to the E. M. Laird Airplane Company. The marshy airfield closed in 1939. The post-World War II economic boom, the industrial boom of Ford City, and the baby boom all contributed to a population boom in the 1950s and 1960s. Affordable home prices and proximity to the Chicago Loop helped the boom. Before Bogan High School was built, and before the area west of Pulaski Road was developed, ash 'heaps' were visible in the area south of Ford City but north of 79th Street.
Along the southern edge of Ashburn, the square mile to the west is known as Scottsdale (due to the developer naming the area after his son, Scott) or St. Bede Parish. The center square mile is known as Ashburn or St. Denis Parish (which includes the now-defunct St. Denis Grammar School), and the easternmost square mile is known as Wrightwood, St. Thomas More Parish. The population of Greater Ashburn was predominantly Irish-Catholic until the 1990s when the area began to diversify with the migration of the African Americans moving in and the whites moving out. The economic landscape of the community began to suffer when the whites relocated, taking the greatly supported establishments, which they often owned, out of the community. In the 1950s, St. Denis Grammar School was home to over 2,000 children, many of whom were in classrooms of 40+ students each. Classes during the 1959 White Sox Go-Go Series were held in the basement of the school due to overcrowding. There were also two shifts of school grades for grade 4. The pastors at St. Denis (Father Doyle, Father Hanley and Father Fullmer) were devoted to expanding the facilities and serving the Catholics, but could never have enough classrooms to house all the Catholic children in the classrooms in the mid to late 1950s. There was a satellite school at Springfield Avenue & 82nd Place in the early 1950s, and Dawes Elementary was filled, so much so that new schools, Carroll and Hancock, were built shortly after Dawes Elementary. Also, in the early days of St. Denis, the school had clear visibility looking east to Kedzie Avenue, as the Owen School was new and the housing was minimal to the east.
The Ashburn neighborhood was an attraction for certain carnivals, as it had vast tracts of land during the pre-construction boom. In 1953, at the corner of Springfield and 83rd Street, a carnival including elephants set up tents each year. Before the building boom in the mid-1950s, an army surplus store proudly sold "K-mart"-type items near the corner of Columbus and 85th Street; it saw its demise, as did the other businesses in the community, however the surplus store did so when a bowling alley was constructed nearby. The small white Methodist church at the corner of 83rd Place and Hamlin expanded into a great brick facility in the 1950s and was home to numerous Girl Scout, Brownie and Boy Scout meetings.
In 1999, The New York Times did an article on the Ashburn neighborhood as a case study in the difficulties of neighborhood integration in Chicago. Wrightwood, to the east, was the first section of the neighborhood to integrate, becoming dominantly African-American. Ashburn experienced a significant transition to a racially blended middle-class African-American population of firefighters, policemen and policewomen, teachers, and other city workers, along with a few Hispanics moving in from the north. Scottsdale, to the west, has remained predominately white.
In 2016, the Greater Ashburn Development Association (GADA) was created to replace the now defunct Greater Ashburn Planning Association (GAPA). They were created to bring the entire Ashburn community back together through concerted efforts of multi-organizational support. Its' mission: to foster strategic relationships between the businesses and residents to create economic prosperity while partnering with surrounding communities and organizations to strengthen the forces against the challenges of potential blight, while continuing to seek a resolution to the mechanisms of gradual succession.
As a result of the formulation of GADA, Ashburn had its first Summer Extravaganza, turning out over 500 community residents, business owners, sponsors and supporters. In 2017, because of the efforts of GADA and the Ashburn community's online neighborhood platform (NEXTdoor/Ashburn), they were the only predominantly African American community in Chicago to receive the Good Neighbor Award from the NEXTdoor organization, a nonprofit company whose mission is to support neighborhoods in becoming stronger advocates for themselves. Jen Burke, NEXTdoor staff writer, writes, "Every day, we come across incredible stories of how neighbors are using Nextdoor to improve each other’s lives and their larger community - one neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Ashburn, has done just that – in a big way". They were one of the many major corporate sponsors for the event.
The Ashburn NEXTdoor founder, Shaun R. (Pink) Pinkston, an Ashburn resident of 16 years, created the platform in 2013 in an effort to bring the community together. As of April 12, 2019, the platform has nearly 3,000 resident members and business owners who share community news, safety awareness concerns and get to know one another.
A WBEZ report  conducted in July 2017 regarding Ashburn's continued segregation issues of becoming more segregated in time indicated, "Ashburn has seen a lot of racial change since 1990 and appears to be integrated - at least on paper." It further states that Ashburn is the only neighborhood in Chicago with a dominant middle class black population, to add black residents from 2000 - 2010, at a time when black people have been leaving the city in droves. So in essence, blacks are helping to stabilize Chicago, in part by migrating to Ashburn.
Ashburn's first female African American Alderperson, Lona Lane, who presided over the community for over 20 years, was replaced by the community's former Streets and Sans Superintendent, Derrick G. Curtis, now in his second term.
Notable residents (current or former) include:
- John M. Daley, former member of the Illinois House of Representatives. He resided at 8125 S Talman while a legislator.
- Ed Farmer
- Tim McCarthy, retired member of the United States Secret Service. He took a bullet for President Ronald Reagan during an assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr..
- Thomas M. Tunney
- Jim Zulevic
The Ashburn area serves as a home to many schools such as Carroll Elementary School, Dawes Elementary School, Durkin Park Elementary School, Stevenson Elementary School, Lionel Hampton Fine & Performing Arts School, Owens Scholastic Academy, Ashburn Lutheran School, St. Bede the Venerable Catholic School, Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, St. Rita of Cascia High School, and William J. Bogan High School.
- "Community Data Snapshot" (PDF). cmap.illinois.gov. MetroPulse. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
- "Official City of Chicago Ashburn Community map" (PDF). cityofchicago.org. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
- "Ashburn". Retrieved November 16, 2011.
- "Ashburn Chicago Real Estate, Homes for Sale - Falcon Living". falconliving.com. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
- Burke, Jen (July 13, 2017). "Chicago's Ashburn Neighborhood Hosts Community Celebration". nextdoor.com. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
- Emmanuel, Adeshina; Cruz, Carolina; Unrau, Reuben. "Is Notoriously Segregated Chicago Becoming Integrated?". WBEZ. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
- Paral, Rob. "Chicago Community Areas Historical Data". Archived from the original on March 18, 2013. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
- Illinois Blue Book page 215
- Connolly, Dermot (July 14, 2016). "Chief McCarthy named interim village manager". The Regional News. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
- "Bogan Computer Technical High School". archive.is. January 12, 2013. Archived from the original on January 12, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2019.