Chicago Swedes and Snus Boulevard
Chicago Swedes and Snus Boulevard
Posted by: appleuzer ()
Date: October 13, 2009 01:25AM

Has anyone heard of, or remember any instance of, the term 'Snus Boulevard" used to designate a portion of Chicago Ave that was home to many Swedes? Snus is a type of smokeless tobacco that is still very popular in Scandinavia today.

Where on Chicago Ave were the Swedish communities located?


-Mike Damian

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/13/2009 01:26AM by appleuzer.

Re: Chicago Swedes and Snus Boulevard
Posted by: Dan Pogo ()
Date: January 09, 2010 04:14AM

Well boys and girls, let's have a go at tackling this query.

For all you kiddies not in the know, our own Mr. Damian at FC has a legendary weakness for the stuff, so having my own soft spot for the chap (a heck'uva guy as they say), I might as well get to the bottom of this mystery.

Onto the task at hand.

The moniker "Snus Boulevard" is as common to [url=]Swedish America[/url] as the habit is to Swedes themselves. You'll find it in lots of urban areas where Swedes settled such as [url=]New York City, Minneapolis or Chicago[/url].

Chicago's Swedish enclaves initially began closer to the city's core. The [url=]Encyclopedia of Chicago[/url] mentions four main areas:

1) "Swede Town", the largest Chicago Swedish community prior to the 1920's, lying north of the Chicago River on the [url=]Near North Side[/url]. The infamous [url=]Cabrini-Green projects[/url] would later rise on part of this terrain.
2) [url=]Douglas[/url]
3) [url=]Armour Square[/url]
4) [url=]North Lawndale[/url]

Additionally there were smaller groups found both on the [url=]Near West Side[/url] and in [url=]West Town[/url].

It was in "Swede Town" that you'll find the stretch of Division that you're looking for. "Snus Boulevard" wasn't the only moniker people would throw at the primary business thoroughfare for local Swedes- this stretch of Division was also referred to as "Swedish Snuff Street" and "Swedish Clodhopper's Lane".

That's not the end of the story though.

Swedes began leaving "Swede Town" after the devastation of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The process accelerated in the 1880's as more and more folks left these initial neighborhoods of settlement for less dense surroundings as the community became increasingly prosperous and worked its way up Chicago's economic ladder. By 1920 Swedes dominated North Side neighborhoods such as [url=]Andersonville[/url] (also sometimes referred to as "Swede Town"), [url=]Lakeview[/url] as well as areas such as [url=]Grand Crossing[/url] and [url=]Englewood[/url] to the south. The nickname would reemerge in these new Swedish-dominated districts as the original "Swede Town" became [url=]Little Sicily[/url], such as in this [url=]memoir of Swedish Englewood[/url] which recalls the bygone days when [b]59th street[/b] was called "Snus Boulevard" (p.5).

So there ya go ;-)

Re: Chicago Swedes and Snus Boulevard
Posted by: appleuzer ()
Date: January 09, 2010 04:38AM

Thank YOU!!!!!!!!

-Mike Damian

Re: Chicago Swedes and Snus Boulevard
Posted by: jeanmari ()
Date: August 15, 2010 01:09PM

Also wanted to point out that the other Swedish neighborhood that always gets forgotten for some reason (and is still populated by many Swedish-Americans, many of whom are relatives of the original Swedish residents) is the North Park neighborhood in Chicago (near Foster & Kimball). It's home to the Swedish Covenant Church (now the Evangelical Covenant Church), Swedish Covenant Hospital, Tre Kronor/Sweden Shop, North Park University (founded by the SWedish Covenant), Center for Scandinavian Studies, North Park Covenant Church, etc.

The library at North Park University has an impressive collection of photographs, artifacts, and documents related to the Swedes in this area called the "Swedish-American Archives". If anyone knows where Snus Boulevard was, they would!

Re: Chicago Swedes and Snus Boulevard
Posted by: Berwyn Frank ()
Date: August 15, 2010 02:16PM

Mike, also as a little matter of interest, some of Berwyn's earliest settlers were Swedes. They had a colony called "Upsala" which was around 31st St. & Oak Park Ave. They had a Sweedish Baptist Church and most of the early members of Berwyn's fire Dept. were Swedes.

Re: Chicago Swedes and Snus Boulevard
Posted by: FranCarmen ()
Date: September 01, 2010 01:26PM

I've been looking into the history of the Swedish settlement of North Park. When I [url=]blogged[/url] about one of the first houses built in the area, in 1894, the first comment to the post corrected an error I had made and provided a fairly complete history of the start of the Swedish settlement in the area.

I also learned that the Swedish settlement of North Park was completely unrelated to the Andersonville Swedish community, despite their both being centered on Foster Avenue and some 12 blocks or so apart.

Tre Kronor has a couple of old photos hanging on their walls that show the neighborhood when it had just a few homes built.

Re: Chicago Swedes and Snus Boulevard
Posted by: nancybc ()
Date: March 02, 2011 03:03PM

I am coming into this discussion late but, better late....
I lived on Carmen- between Broadway and Clark- close to Foster Avenue and Ashland. We had a large Swedish population in that neighborhood. The Swedish deli was wonderful, there was a moving company on Clark named- Soderstroms or something similar and a Swedish restaurant someplace close by called the Smorgasbord. Many of my classmates at Trumbull Elementary School were Swedish. I guess that was the Ravenswood/Uptown areas?

Re: Chicago Swedes and Snus Boulevard
Posted by: davey7 ()
Date: March 02, 2011 06:20PM

Nancy - technically Uptown, but close enough to be Andersonville.

Interesting tidbit, Ann Sather var EJ svensk!

Re: Chicago Swedes and Snus Boulevard
Posted by: MollyGo ()
Date: August 06, 2011 02:57PM

My Swedish father-in-law, born in 1900 said that the area at Belmont and Broadway was called "Snuff Island.' Anyone back that up? Thanks

Re: Chicago Swedes and Snus Boulevard
Posted by: Pestromy ()
Date: February 03, 2012 11:37PM

Fun fact for you Mr. Damien: Chicago (once being the 2nd largest Swedish city in the world for almost a century) used to have its very own snus manufacturer. It was called Svenska Snusmagasinet (literally The Swedish Snus Magazine) that produced Chicago's very own Anchor Brand Snus! I believe production lasted either until the early 50's or 60's. The Snusmagasin itself was located near the intersection of Chicago and Michigan, according to the records I've found.

As for the question at hand here: Most main drags in the Swedish parts of town were called Snus Blvd. In more hilly parts of the country whole Swedish neighborhoods were often referred to as Snus Hill. This is because Snus was and is such a huge part of the Swedish identity.

As for Snus. Blvd. in this city, any of the main Swedish drags in Chicago were probably called snus blvd. I have seen and read that Chicago, Division, Clark and 59th were all once referred to as Snus or Snoose Blvd.

As for the North Park area: although Foster Ave. was never referred to as Snus Blvd., thank you jeanmari for adding North Park to that list. It is an often overlooked neighborhood, even by most Swedish-Americans. Yet it is interesting in that it is both, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city AND one of the longest lasting Swedish enclaves in the city; Swedes first arrived in the area in the 1870/80's. Today there are still both newly arrived Swedes and 5th and 6th generation descendants of Swedish settlers living in the neighborhood.

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