Who was Woodard and what did he do to deserve having one of the shortest streets in Chicago named after him?
When CDOT closed off the southwest end of North Woodard Street in 2014 to create Woodard Plaza it lost what little was left of its 2 blocks but gave the community a functional public space in place of a barren concrete island and a dangerously complicated intersection.
But having the word Woodard on our lips a lot these days as we work on the plaza brings up the question, who was Woodard? According to Avondale historian, Dan Pogorzelski co-author of “Images of America: Logan Square” it was Tullar Woodard. Like many real estate developers he named a street after himself. Perhaps he was a modest man which is why he chose such a short street.
The only thing I was able to find about him was this disturbing incident:
BATTLE IN A COURT ROOM, Goshen Ind, May 30, 1901 — Mrs Constance Zalasko, a South Bend Polish woman, is the plaintiff in a $10,000 damage suit bing tried here and in which Tullar Woodard, an Elkhart money-lender, is the defendant. Yesterday afternoon one of Mrs Zalasko’s children refused to answer a question asked by Charles W. Miller, republican nominee for attorney general, and the court ordered the boy sent to jail. The entire Zalasko family attacked the baliff and Mrs. Zalasko became frantic and went into a fit of hysterics. She created a sensation in the court room and was given in charge of a physician. Mrs. Zalasko can not speak English and was examined by means of an interpreter. She claims Woodard, who is rich, treated her in a brutal manner when he came to her home to take possession of some horses.
According to a follow-up article in the Oct. 17, 1901 Goshen Daily News, the Zalasko’s $10,000 claim ($300,644 in today’s money) was dismissed. No mention about how long their child was in jail for refusing to answer the judge.
I’m glad we made the street shorter. Maybe a renaming of Woodard Plaza is in our future.