Kramer, Ferdinand

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Ferdinand (Ferd) Kramer was born on August 10, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois, to Adolf and Ray Kramer. Kramer graduated from the University of Chicago Laboratory School. He went on to attend West Point and graduate from the University of Chicago with a bachelor's degree in Philosophy in 1922. He resided on Chicago's South Side for much of his life, and connected his real estate development work to his personal attachments to the South Side. In 1958, Kramer moved with his family into Prairie Shores, one of his best known housing developments on the South Side.

In 1922, Kramer began his long career in real estate when he joined his father's firm, Draper and Kramer, Inc. He became chairman of that firm in 1944, serving in that position until 1995. Kramer served as president of Chicago's Metropolitan Housing and Planning Council beginning in 1943. As a real estate developer, Kramer championed the Prairie Shores and the Lake Meadows housing complexes between the late 1940s and 1960s, and the Dearborn Park housing complex in the 1970s. Kramer saw new urban housing developments as a key way to keep middle income residents, particularly white families, in America's struggling cities. Kramer was also a proponent of managed integration, ensuring a racially diverse population within housing complexes through the use of racial quotas. Kramer's efforts at managed integration were frustrated when the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ruled that these practices were in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

In addition to Kramer's work life, he also maintained strong ties to the University of Chicago, where he served a life trustee and was awarded the University Alumni Service Award in 1997. Kramer was also a passionate tennis player, continuing to play into his nineties. Between the 1970s and 1990s, he won twelve national seniors doubles titles from the United States Tennis Association. He also bred English Bull dogs, and was a two-time judge of the Westminster Dog Show.

Kramer married his first wife Stephanie Shambaugh Kramer (1909-1973) in 1933. A landscape architect, Stephanie Kramer designed the garden in the center of the University of Chicago Quadrangle.

Ferd Kramer died on July 16, 2002 in Chicago, Illinois. He was survived by his wife Julia Wood McDermott Kramer his children Douglas Kramer, Anthony Kramer and Barbara Kramer Bailey, and three step-children: John McDermott, Jeanne McDermott and Charles McDermott;

From the guide to the Kramer, Ferdinand. Papers, 1886-2002, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969. Papers, 1925-1969 (bulk: 1937-1969) Houghton Library
referencedIn Klutznick, Philip M. Papers, 1914-1999 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
creatorOf Kramer, Ferdinand. Papers, 1886-2002 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Emmons, David, 1940- person
correspondedWith Gropius, Walter, 1883-1969 person
associatedWith Klutznick, Philip M. person
associatedWith Klutznick, Philip M., 1907- person
associatedWith Wille, Lois person
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