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.