Date: April 14, 2009 01:54AM
Is anybody interested in these areas? There were several Czech/Bohemian communities in Chicago, the most notable being Pilsen and Little Village (formerly Lawndale-Crawford or South Lawndale). There was also a section surrounding the vicinity of 47th & Ashland called Town of Lake. One of the most unknown Czech areas was actually in Noth Lawndale. The area is always associated with Jewish Chicago, but I find this unfair because the Bohemian's are always left out of North Lawndale's history. The Bohemian's were among the earliest settlers in Lawndale and pretty much "set the table" for the Jews. I updated the miserable little description (basically deleted it and started over) for North Lawndale on Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Lawndale I will include my contribution here:
North Lawndale (also known simply as "Lawndale") located on the west side of Chicago, Illinois, is one of the well-defined community areas in the city of Chicago.
Once part of Cicero Township in 1869, the eastern section of North Lawndale to Crawford Avenue (Pulaski Road) was annexed to Chicago by an act of the state legislature. Thereafter, streets were platted and drainage ditches were installed between Western and Crawford Avenue. The name "Lawndale" was supplied by Millard and Decker, a real estate firm which subdivided the area in 1870. In 1871, after the fire, the McCormick Reaper Company (later International Harvester) occupied a new large plant in the South Lawndale neighborhood. As a result, many plant workers moved to eastern North Lawndale. The remaining area west of Crawford Avenue was annexed by a resolution of the Cook County Commissioners in 1889. By 1890 North Lawndale was beginning to be heavily populated by Bohemians from Eastern Europe. The section most populated by the Czech's was the area from Crawford (Pulaski) west, and from 12th St. (Roosevelt Rd.) to 16th St. Real eatate firm W.A. Merigold & Co. was largely responsible for the early development of that part of the community and as a result the name "Merigold" stuck as the name of that part of the neighborhood. Czech institutions popped up in Merigold with the Slovanska Lipa/Sokol Tabor (Czech fraternal & gymnastic organization) at 13th & Karlov in 1890. In 1892 the Bohemian Catholic Church, Our Lady of Lourdes was established at the corner of 15th & Keeler, and in 1909 the Czech Freethinkers School Frantisek Palacky was built at 1525 S. Kedvale. The Merigold neighborhood would also became known as Novy Tabor (New Camp) by the Czech immigrants that settled there. The ultimate Czech institution to come to North Lawndale in 1912 was the Ceska Beseda (Bohemian Club) at 3659 W. Douglas Blvd. This club was attended by Chicago's Czech elite, as well as the visiting Czech elite of the rest of the United States and Czechoslovakia. This was the place for its refined members to celebrate and enjoy literature, drama, and music by the most celebrated and talented Czech artists. The Bohemians spread throughout the rest of the North Lawndale neighborhood and were the original owners of many of the beautiful graystone buildings that graced the picturesque streets of the neighborhood. Many of the elite members of the Bohemian community resided in the vicinity of the 1800 & 1900 blocks of S. Millard Ave. These men of wealth as well as the rest of the Czech residents of North Lawndale were heavily invested in their neighborhood, especially civically, with their influence being far reaching. An example of this was the naming of Anton Dvorak Public Elementary School at 3615 W. 16th St. after a revered 19th century Czech composer. There were several members of the North Lawndale Czech community that occupied positions in city as well as county government. In time the Czechs began leaving the neighborhood for the western suburbs of Cicero, Berwyn, Riverside, & Brookfield. By the 1920s many of the Czechs were gone and the Jews became the majority ethnic group of the neighborhood having left the crowded confines of the Maxwell Street Ghetto. North Lawndale would later become known as being the largest Jewish settlement in the City of Chicago with 25% of the cities Jewish population living in just that one neighborhood.
From about 1918 to 1955, Jews, overwhelmingly of Russian and Eastern European extraction, dominated the neighborhood, starting in North Lawndale and moving northward as they became more prosperous. In the 1950s, blacks moved from the southern states and the south side of Chicago, and unscrupulous real-estate dealers all but evacuated the white population by using blockbusting and scare tactics. In a span of about ten years the white population of North Lawndale went from 99% to less than 9%. During the turbulent times of the late 1960s and 1970s, much of North Lawndale's built environment was destroyed by the 1968 riots and by decay brought about by being an extremely impoverished area. Thousands of structures were leveled during this time and the land sat vacant until the building and real estate boom of the 2000s. Due to these factors, the total neighborhood population dropped from 124,937 in 1960 to 41,768 by 2000. In the new millennium the neighborhood began showing some signs of revitalization, but those strides have come to a screeching halt due to the mortgage crunch and real estate market collapse beginning in 2008.
According to Charles Leeks, director of NHS, North Lawndale has the greatest concentration of graystones in the city. The City of Chicago has enacted The Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative in late 2004 to aid in promoting the preservation of the neighborhoods historic graystone structures.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/14/2009 01:56AM by Berwyn Frank.