Ever since I read about vernacular photography in a friend’s blog, I’ve been thinking about my old family photographs. Most have purely personal significance. But those taken in our backyard during the late fifties and early sixties capture scenes that were, and still are, commonplace all over Chicago–and nowhere else. I’m writing, of course, of […]
There used to be a saying, “The Swedes built Chicago.” Looking around the city today, however, you wouldn’t know Swedish immigrants made up Chicago’s fifth largest foreign-born group until 1960. The Swedish-born population peaked at 70,000 in 1930 and declined to just over 7,000 in 1970. Various neighborhoods once were predominantly Swedish. Around 1870 there was a “Swede Town” on the Near […]
A few weeks ago I told you I grew up in what amounted to a shtetl, an Old World Jewish town, on Chicago’s Far North Side. That’s not quite the whole story. A single point of origin never is the whole story for one of the city’s ever-evolving ethnic neighborhoods. In the sixties my neighborhood, Hollywood Park, was […]
Earlier this week I wrote a post about the business district that ran through the Hollywood Park neighborhood on Chicago’s far north side, calling it a small town Main Street. I had no idea. It wasn’t a small town, it was practically a shtetl, an old world town with a large Jewish population. As it turns out, […]
During the 1960s, on the three blocks of Bryn Mawr Avenue (5600 North) between Kedzie (3200 West) and Bernard (approximately 3430 West) avenues there were two gas stations; an Orthodox synagogue, or shul; an elementary school (Peterson–kindergarten through eighth grade, and still there); Irv’s Barber Shop; a Grocerland and a Jewel Foods that later became […]
One day years ago, as I rode my bike through the old Chicago neighborhood known as Wicker Park, I glimpsed at what looked like Hebrew lettering on a brick building with a blue cross. I stopped to investigate and discovered the building formerly housed Temple Beth-El.