By Kristin Boza
It’s always interesting to think about who lived in our neighborhood as it was established so many years ago. The Beverly Improvement Association, a civic association serving North Beverly residents, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, a milestone that goes to show the unique commitment that residents have to the community.
According to a 100th anniversary pamphlet compiled by the BIA, North Beverly has come a long way since 1917. Back then, traffic on 95th Street moved a lot slower on the two-lane gravel country road. Sidewalks were made of five-foot square slabs of smooth stone — some of which still exists on the southwest corner of 94th and Vanderpoel. Street lamps were lit each night with a blow torch by a man on a bicycle. And snow was removed by a man with a team of horses and a v-shaped plow.
Nearly half of the lots between Damen (known then as Robey Street) and Charles were vacant, which caused some concern among the neighbors of 100 years ago. The BIA was organized by people who realized that they needed to come together to take action to improve their community, according to the BIA brochure.
These days, roads are paved, electricity is plentiful and horses are a hobby — but the feeling of community and the desire to continually improve it has remained the same.
“BIA has been a leader amongst local community service organizations in the Beverly/Morgan Park area,” said Joe Kratzer, current BIA president. “BIA will continue its long history of promoting and hosting family-friendly events, which offer neighbors the chance to meet new faces and enjoy the many great community assets in North Beverly. We live in a community where people care about their neighbors, and BIA will be here to ensure that spirit of community is maintained.”
BIA celebrated its 100th anniversary on June 29, the date when the secretary of state issued the charter officially recognizing the organization. While no official 100th anniversary celebration is planned, the BIA is busy with their much-anticipated events, including the Bicycle Treasure Hunt, BIA Fall Fest, BIA Family Bike Ride, cross-country ski outings in the Dan Ryan Woods, and Santa’s Workshop.
BIA members also actively participate in the City of Chicago’s Clean and Green days and other beautification efforts, and help on projects that support North Beverly and the rest of the neighborhood.
To find out more about the BIA, visit their Facebook page: Beverly Improvement Association (BIA).