Turn right on Ashland and go four blocks south to Cullerton
Street (2000 South). St. Pius Church at the southeast corner
of 19th and Ashland is another of Pilsen's churches built on the
grand scale. When the parish was founded in 1873, this part of the
Lower West Side was not yet densely populated. By the time the imposing
red brick structure on Ashland Avenue was dedicated in 1893, St.
Pius was a large Irish parish. According to the Chicago Inter-Ocean
in 1899, St. Pius was one of the poorest parishes in the city, with
not "a single wealthy person in the congregation." It
subsequently became a thriving Polish-American parish under the
direction of the Dominican Fathers who took charge in 1922. Like
Pilsen's other Catholic parishes which were divided along ethnic
lines, St. Plus is now an Hispanic parish.
Turn right at Cullerton and go one block west to Paulina
(1700 West). The house at 1632 W. Cullerton Street was the family
home of Alderman Edward F. Cullerton, one of Chicago's most notorious
Irish-American politicians. Known as "Foxy Ed" because
of his machinations as one of the City Council's "Grey Wolves,"
Cullerton was re-elected again and again by his constituents on
the Lower West Side. During his thirty-odd years as alderman,
he provided city jobs for local residents and did much to improve
city services in one of Chicago's most congested neighborhoods.
A year after his death in 1920, the City Council renamed 20th
Turn right on Paulina and go two blocks north to 18th
Place, then one block west on 18th Place to Wood Street (1800
West). At the northwest corner of 18th Place and Paulina is the
Bohemian church of St. Vitus. Between the time the parish
was founded in 1888 and the present church was dedicated in 1897,
this part of the Lower West Side was rapidly built up with workingmen's
homes. Indeed, when the tracks of the Metropolitan branch of the
Douglas Park "L" were laid in the 1890s, they passed
perilously close to the neighborhood's homes-and to the old frame
church of St. Vitus. The parish used the $25,000 settlement from
the railroad to build a beautiful new church designed by the firm
of Kallal and Molitor.