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Chicago's Historic Places: Hull House Traditional Geocache

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Geocache Description:

New location for the original Hull House cache (GCQB78) since the old location couldn't stay put. The new location is not far from the original but please be careful when making and replacing the find; there are tons of muggles around during the school year. Cache is magnetic key holder. Bring your own pen/pencil.

If you have time, stop at the museum.

The Hull House was built in 1856 (dining room in 1906) and was designated a Chicago Landmark on June 12, 1974.

This site is also known to be haunted. For more information on the Hull House haunting, go here.

History below is obtained from this website:

"Jane Addams was a member of the first generation of privileged, American women who obtained college educations and then dedicated their lives to community service and social justice.Born in 1860, Ms. Addams was influenced by the abolitionist movement, the westward expansion of the US government, the industrial revolution, the progressive era of political reform, and most importantly, the Protestant ethic of hard work, intellectual achievement, and duty to serve others.

Having come from a comfortable, middle class background, Ms. Addams did not have to work to survive or earn a living. Many of her peers accepted a life in a good marriage and settled into a pattern of homemaking, church activities, and limited participation in community and charitable services.

But Jane Addams was different, and she chose to make use of her college education in a way that would challenge her physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Jane Addams believed that she had been educated to serve, but she wanted to serve in a way that would have a real impact on the lives of people who had not had the same advantages as she.

During her travels to Europe after the completion of her education, Ms. Addams visited and was inspired by the community of residents she met at Toynbee Hall in London. It was there she first encountered the concept of a settlement house and observed well educated university graduates living in a community of working class and poor people. These settlement workers organized clubs, recreation, and educational programs for people in the neighborhood. The distinguishing characteristic of the settlement was its ability to deliver services without employing professional social workers or welfare agency staff who were often judgmental and punitive in the way they related to poor people.

In 1889, Jane Addams and her lifelong friend, Ellen Gates Starr, had been given a house by a retired businessman named Charles Hull. His once beautiful country mansion, which had served as a retreat from the rigors of city life, had gradually been surrounded by the encroaching tenements of the rapidly growing city. The house, located at the corner of Polk and Halsted streets, was referred to by the people in the neighborhood as the Hull House and stands today as a national landmark and the museum honoring the work of Jane Addams and her colleagues. It was to this house Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr moved on September 18, 1889. On that day, they opened their doors, welcomed their neighbors, and thus began the great experiment that would last for over 100 years.

The community of the westside of Chicago was characteristic of the large, northern, industrial urban areas of the 19th century of America. Chicago was a center of industry and commerce and served as a gateway between the manufacturing northeast and the agricultural midwest. After the civil war, the US push westward to claim new territories fueled an incredible burst of growth in transportation, manufacturing, and commerce. This economic expansion required cheap labor, and thus massive migrations from Europe were encouraged by the US government. The Halsted street neighborhood where Jane Addams made her home was a slum complete with overcrowded tenements, crime, disease, inadequate schools, inferior hospitals, and insufficient sanitation.

The abundance of non-English speaking new Americans who had come from southern and eastern Europe overwhelmed the public welfare agencies, mutual aid societies, and municipal government. Newspaper accounts from that era abound with reports and editorials in which public debate was devoted to fears of foreigners, anarchists, and unwashed rabble who had no knowledge of American democracy and who were perceived as having no contribution to make to American culture. There was great concern expressed as to how quickly the new arrivals would give up their old world ways, and assimilate into mainstream America. It was believed that until they gave up their language, customs, and loyalty to the old countries, the immigrants were a threat to the political, economic, and social structures of the day.

Not surprisingly, the new immigrants self-perception was quite different from the one expressed in the mainstream press. Many arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs and their heads filled with tales of streets of gold. While the merchants and factory owners of this bustling city of the big shoulders were all too eager to hire immigrants, most were unwilling to pay a decent wage or accept any responsibility for creating the conditions which perpetuated the slums. Local politicians were easily corrupted by moneyed interests, and city services (garbage removal, building safety codes, and police and fire protection) were woefully inadequate.

Economic conditions required parents to work long hours, leaving small children unsupervised and forcing older children to scrounge for themselves. Schooling was inadequate, and teachers unaccustomed to the ethnic diversity were scornful of children who could not speak English. Recreational facilities were non-existent so that juvenile delinquency, prostitution, and petty street crime became major threats to the safety of everyone living in the tenements.

Forced to work in appalling conditions, unwelcomed by the community leaders who exploited their labor but ignored their needs, the immigrants of Chicago's westside were without hope or means of escape.

It was here that Jane Addams brought herself, her belongings, her political ideals, and her determination to live by a set of principles. She was a student and an advocate of the progressive political movement which espoused such ideas as political reform, women's suffrage, pacifism, cultural pluralism, dignity of labor, social justice, rights of children, the need for public health and safety rules, and the duty of government to protect the vulnerable. She believed that civic, religious, and philanthropic organizations needed to join into partnership with community residents and government to solve the problems which created ghetto life. Ms. Addams believed that the new immigrants would enrich American culture if given ample opportunity to participate in it.

Ms. Addams established her residency in Hull House based upon several basic principles:

First, Ms. Addams wished to live in the community as an equal participant in the local issues of the day. Unlike the social workers and society matrons who visited the poor and then returned to their middle class homes every evening, Ms. Addams and her colleagues lived where they worked. The settlement concept was central to the success of the Hull House community, and the practice of neighbors helping neighbors became a cornerstone of the Hull House philosophy.

Second, the Hull House community believed in the fundamental dignity of all individuals and accorded every person whom they encountered with equal respect while learning about their ethnic origins, cultures, and customs.

Third, the Hull House community believed that poverty and the lack of opportunity bred the problems of the ghetto. Ignorance, disease, and crime were the result of economic desperation and not the result of some moral flaw in the character of the new immigrants. Ms. Addams promoted the idea that if afforded a decent education, adequate living conditions, and reliable income, any person could overcome the obstacles of the ghetto, and furthermore if allowed to develop his skills, that person could not only make a better life for himself but contribute to the community as a whole. Access to opportunity was the key to successful participation in a democratic, self governing society. The greatest challenge and achievement of the settlement was to help people help themselves.

Implementing these principles was no small task, and Ms. Addams gathered around her a community of young men and women, who were well educated, and willing to sacrifice personal comfort, to risk living in a hostile community, and to experiment actively in seeking solutions to the challenge of ghetto life at the turn of the century. The activities of Hull House included citizenship and literacy classes, adult education, sports and hobby clubs, theatre and dance programs, cooking, sewing, and homemaking classes, public baths, day nurseries, health clinics and visiting nurses, immunization programs, art appreciation, lending libraries, political discussion groups, lectures on educational and workplace reforms, loaned meeting spaces for labor meetings, mutual aid societies, and social clubs. Most importantly, Hull House created a forum for public debate on policy and legislative issues in municipal, state, and national arenas.

The achievements of the Hull House community are too numerous to list, but the impact was incalculable. This group of idealistic young people made Hull House the most famous settlement house in the USA and generated ideas, proposals, and policy reforms still felt 100 years later. Civil rights, women's suffrage, international peace, juvenile protection, labor relations, court reform, public health, public housing, civic watchdog, and urban planning movements can all trace their origins, at least in part, to the work of the Hull House settlement.

By the time of her death in 1935, Jane Addams had won the Nobel Peace Prize and changed forever the profile of Chicago. After her death, the residents of Hull House carried on the work begun by Jane Addams and the other founders. Hull House continued to serve the people of Halsted Street through the Depression of the 1930's and World War II. But economic and political forces had an impact on the changing nature of urban life. While migrations from Europe had diminished considerably, new immigrants from the rural south, the Hill country of Appalachia, central and south America, Asia, the Caribbean, and parts of Africa and the Arabic middle east continued to pour into Chicago in search of employment, education, and a better life.

At the same time, two major cultural shifts occurred:

During the 1950's suburban communities were established in a ring around the city, and the availability of affordable, single family homes escalated the white flight from the urban core. Industry followed, and the jobs went with them.

During the 1960's the emergence of publicly funded welfare programs and the War on Poverty established government as the primary source of relief for poor people who were left behind in the ghettos.

It is ironic that the many of the reforms promoted by Hull House had become institutionalized, and the resulting federal, urban renewal programs destroyed the very neighborhood which had been the home of the settlement residents for 70 years. Hull House Association was faced with the challenge of transition to this modern day urban scene. The original Hull House complex of 13 buildings was sold to make way for the new campus of the University of Illinois, and Hull House moved to the northside of Chicago.

After the move from Halsted street, Hull House established two community centers: Jane Addams Center in Lakeview, and Uptown Center in a storefront on Wilson Avenue. In addition, other community centers located in south, west, and suburban communities joined Hull House to become members of the modern Hull House Association."

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