27 March 2013

Europe Came to Chicago

I don't mention Chicago on this blog as much as I should.  I grew up just to the north of it and came back after college.  While I hadn't anticipated staying, it seems Chicago had other plans and got me a job and married within my second year of being back.  This place has a very soft/large place in my heart and it's not just nostalgia.  Though the winters are harsh and unpleasant, the summers are season-long celebrations.  The Parks and Recreation Department blows most of its budget during those 4 blissful months by hosting all manner of free events, whether outdoors at Grant Park, the Pritzker Pavillion in Millenium Park  (with the famous "Cloud Gate"/the Bean nearby), or just any park that exists in the city.  Then neighborhoods and any organization that wants to have a party does it during that time.  There's never a thing NOT to do.  It is, hands down, the most enjoyable part of the year despite oppressive humidity and heat.  There's cool stuff to do indoors, like our fabulous museums, and year-round, but the real taste is in summer.  You see all the ethnic mixing and vibrant culture bursting out of the concrete.


However, whenever people come to Chicago and ask what to do, it's hard not to repeat the same rote list of tourist attractions (except Navy Pier, which has two uses: ferris wheel and bike rental).  It's hard because the most interesting part of Chicago is the neighborhoods and when someone is passing through, it's not very easy to get them to meander through some really historic areas.  They tend to want flashier things.  Neighborhoods are such a vital part of Chicago's history and identity.  There is still ethnic and racial segregation in the city (we're #2 after Milwaukee) and scads of books are published about the "neighborhood effect" in Chicago.  Last year, my husband and I saw a play "Clybourne Park", which dealt with the tensions of class, race, history, and gentrification in a burgeoning neighborhood.  It was the truest thing I've ever seen about Chicago neighborhoods and the Playbook had great insight on the inspiration behind the play.

During the heyday of industrialism, immigrants flooded to Chicago to find industry jobs.  The location of these jobs created ethnic neighborhoods.  What's fascinating is how wildly some have fluctuated and others have stayed relatively unchanged.  There are still ethnic pockets in neighborhoods, though they switch hands.  I live in south Logan Square, which is bordering on the Puerto Rican community, but the rest of the neighborhood is largely Hispanic with a pocket of Polish.  The neighborhood also has a Norwegian Lutheran church, as well as Catholic cathedrals.  Pilsen used to be German and Irish, but then became largely Czech (with Croats, Poles, Austrians, Slovenes, and Lithuanians), hence the name after the city Plzeň.  Currently, it is a predominant Hispanic community with gentrification taking root in the eastern half of the neighborhood.  Chicago history is full of immigrants from central and eastern Europe looking for work and settling into neighborhoods.  Most eastern Europeans fled to the suburbs, in part due to African Americans moving in.  The presence is still felt, but not quite as strongly as the Poles and Germans, who were the backbone of the city (incl. Irish and African Americans).

So where did everyone settle when they poured into Chicago?  I  tried to put together a fairly comprehensive list below of who moved into the neighborhood at one point in time (since it is always in flux), but if the neighborhood still has that ethnic group/culture, it's italicized.  This is not a complete list since many histories I read said "Slavs" or "eastern European immigrants", which isn't very helpful.  There are some included "sub-neighborhoods", meaning they are specific areas inside the neighborhood. (All research done through this amazing site and Wiki)

Albanians
Edgewater


Armenians
West Pullman

Belarusans
Avondale
Logan Square
West Town

Croats
Armour Square Back of the Yards
East Side
North Center
South Chicago

Czechs
Archer Heights
Avondale
Back of the Yards
Bridgeport
Forest Glen
Gage Park
Hegewisch
Jefferson Park
Lower West Side
Near West Side
North Park
Pilsen
South Lawndale
West Elsdon
West Lawn

Germans
Albany Park
Auburn Gresham
Austin
Avalon Park
Back of the Yards
Belmont Cragin
Beverly
Bridgeport
Clearing
Dunning
East Garfield Park
East Side
Edgewater
Edison Park
Englewood
Forest Glen
Fuller Park
Grand Boulevard
Greater Grand Crossing
Hermosa
Humboldt Park
Irving Park
Jefferson Park
Lake View
Lincoln Square
Logan Square
The Loop
Lower West Side
McKinley Park
Montclare
Near North Side
Near West Side
New City
North Center
North Park
Norwood Park
Portage Park
Rogers Park
South Deering
South Lawndale
South Shore
Uptown
Washington Heights
Washington Park (Jews)
West Elsdon
West Englewood
West Lawn
West Pullman 
West Ridge

Hungarians
Burnside
Chatham
Humboldt Park
Lincoln Park
Logan Square
North Center
Roseland
South Chicago
West Pullman
West Town


Lithuanians
Archer Heights
Back of the Yards
Bridgeport
Gage Park
Marquette Park/Chicago Lawn
Montclare
Mount Greenwood
West Elsdon
West Pullman 

Poles
Archer Heights
Avondale (incl. Kosciuszko Park, Belmont Gardens, and Jackowo/Wacławowo/Polish Village)
Back of the Yards
Belmont Cragin
Bridgeport
Bucktown (originally called Kozie Prery [Goat Prairie])
Burnside
Calumet Heights
Dunning
Englewood
Garfield Ridge
Hegewisch
Hermosa
Humboldt Park
Irving Park
Jefferson Park
Lincoln Park 
Logan Square
Lower West Side 
McKinley Park 
Montclare 
Mount Greenwood 
Near West Side (primarily Jews) 
North Center 
North Lawndale (primarily Jews) 
Portage Park
Pullman
South Chicago
South Lawndale
West Elsdon
West Lawn
West Ridge (primarily Jews)
West Town

Romanians
Lincoln Park 

Russians
Albany Park (primarily Jews) 
East Garfield Park (primarily Jews)
Humboldt Park (primarily Jews)
Irving Park
Jefferson Park
Logan Square (primarily Jews)
Near West Side (primarily Jews)
North Lawndale (primarily Jews)
Rogers Park
West Ridge (primarily Jews)
West Town (primarily Jews)

Serbs
East Side
North Center
Norwood Park (Serb Fest is there!)
South Chicago
West Town
Wicker Park


Slovaks
Avondale
Back of the Yards
Hegewisch
Jefferson Park
Lincoln Park 
North Center 

Slovenes
East Side
Pilsen
Pullman
South Chicago


Ukrainians
Avondale
Burnside
Montclare
Ukrainian Village
West Town

Yugoslavs 
(Montenegrin, Macedonian, Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian, Bosnian)
Calumet Heights
Hegewisch
West Elsdon

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