Chicago's Washington Heights neighborhood serves as one of the city's 7 distinct communities. It is just about 12 miles south of the city's Loop district and is bordered by 89th and 107th Streets and two railroad lines at Ashland to the west and Stewart to the east.
The area is comprised of two early settlements known historically as Brainerd and Fernwood. It was first settled by farmers German and Irish farmers in the early 1800s. Later in the century the railroad established a foothold in the region's economy with rail workers settling the area around 1864.
The region encountered a great deal of subdivision soon thereafter. In 1890 and 1891 the two largest portions of what is now known as Washington Heights were annexed into the City of Chicago.
By the turn of the century what was known as the "heights" portion of Washington Heights was developed for upper-income residents and renamed Beverly.
By 1930 the area grew in population to nearly 18,000. It's chief characteristic, its middle class character with brick bungalow homes, more than 75% home ownership and above-median incomes remains the prevailing quality of the area today.
The Washington Heights community is home to the Woodson Branch of the Chicago Public Library. It is located at 95th and Halsted. The branch boasts the Vivian Harsh Collection, the second-of African-American history and literature in the Midwest.
Washington Heights has undergone a great deal of redevelopment in recent years. "The Renaissance at Beverly Ridge," represents one of the largest single family developments in the city. It sits at the southwest corner of Washington Heights at west 105th Street and south Throop Avenue. The area is the former Chicago Bridge & Iron Company site.
Additionally, The Chicago Park District acquired a formerly abandoned rail line along the southwestern edge of the area and converted into the Major Taylor Trail in 2007.