By B. David Zarley | Staff Writer
How do you style the name of your neighborhood? The New Eastside As-
sociation of Residents (NEAR), various denizens of the area, and signs erected
by the City of Chicago list the area as the “New Eastside.” However, Google
Maps, the 42nd Ward alderman office’s website, and some corporate entities
spell the neighborhood’s name using three words, “New East Side.”
When NEAR was founded in 1991, it used “Eastside” to register as a not-
for-profit corporation with the State of Illinois. “The commercial end of [the
neighborhood] spelled ‘East Side’ as two words, and then the resident’s associa-
tion came along and changed it to one,” says NEAR President Richard Ward. “I assume that they liked the word N-E-A-R, and the only way you can use N-E-
A-R is to combine Eastside.”
Chicago Tribune archives from the 1980s mention the area, but not by
name. Articles by Ron Grossman and Kathleen Myler, from 1983 and 1984
respectively, refer to the neighborhood as the Randolph Street or Randolph
Corridor. NEAR director Elliot Lapan does not recall a definitive reason for the name’s spelling. “I’m sure it was just a whim,” he writes in an email. “To me,
Eastside is a name while East Side is a location.”
“Prospective buyers are frequently confused as to why our neighborhood
has undergone a name change, and ultimately struggle with its brand,” says
Matt Farrell, managing broker at local real estate company Urban Real Estate.
“[New Eastside is a] gorgeous corner of Chicago that’s anything but new; rather it is a neighborhood that exemplifies Chicago’s evolution into a livable downtown.”
One form of acknowledgment exists in the signs that have been hanging in the
area since the 1980s, welcoming people to “Chicago’s New Eastside.” Scattered
throughout the neighborhood, the signs are a brilliant blue, with “East-
side” underlined by waves evocative of the Lake. The physical signs were
also used as a guide when naming the local newspaper.
“I chose the name New Eastside, two words, to be con-
sistent with the blue signs that mark the neighborhood,” says New Eastside
News founder Elaine Hyde.
Dr. Ann Keating, a history professor at North Central College specializing
in urban and suburban history, gave a simpler explanation. “My hunch is that
there isn’t a deep explanation—except for some marketing meeting at the
development company,” she writes in an email.
A definitive first use of the name—or other such event that can function as
the standard—has yet to be uncovered.
For now, the spelling is at the discretion of whomever is writing it down.