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Table of Contents > Chapter 7

Lower West Side (continued)

Although Pilsen ceased to be predominantly Bohemian after the turn of the century, it remained a Slavic community. By 1930, for example, immigrants from Poland and Yugoslavia accounted for more than one-fourth of the 16,000 persons who lived in the area bounded by 16th, Carpenter, 22nd, and Ashland. As Bohemians moved further west in the city and to suburbs such as Berwyn and Riverside, Croatians, Slovaks, Slovenes, and Lithuanians took their place. While these groups formed their own churches and fraternal groups, they patronized Bohemian-owned businesses such as the Leader Department Store at 1700 West 18th Street.

In Heart of Chicago and South Lawndale, the ethnic population also expanded to include Eastern Europeans of many different backgrounds. One indication of this change appeared in the formation of Slovene and Italian parishes. In 1898 Slovenian Catholics purchased a Swedish church at 22nd Place and Lincoln (Wolcott). which they rededicated as St. Stephen Church. Likewise, in 1903 Italians from Tuscany began the parish of St. Michael in the basement of the former Swedish Emmanuel Methodist Episcopal Church on 24th Place near Oakley.

While Bohemians continued to form the largest national group in South Lawndale well into the 1940s, Polish families moved into the neighborhood in large numbers. According to the 1930 census, nearly 11,000 immigrants from Czechoslovakia and 3,700 foreign-born Poles lived in the area bounded by the Burlington railroad tracks, California 30th, and Crawford. Statistics indicate that the area of heaviest Polish concentration was along 22nd Street renamed Cermak Road after the mayors assassination in 1933. The area south of 26th Street between Kedzie and Crawford. however, was still a Bohemian stronghold in 1930 with large numbers of Czech immigrants.

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