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Table of Contents > Chapter 11

South Lakefront (continued)

The most numerous American-born ethnic groups in the area became the Germans and the Irish. Behind these were the English and Welsh, the Swedes and the Russians. Both the Irish and the German populations were about twice the size of any of the other groups. Most of the Germans and the Russians were Jews; and among the foreign-born, the Swedes were the most numerous, with the Irish and Germans coming next. In 1930, 171 black people lived in the South Shore community. They were probably employed in the apartment hotels.

Statistics show that the Washington Park connection continued to operate. A group of Jews who had lived in Washington Park founded the South Side Hebrew Congregation, the first synagogue in the lakefront community.

The Irish and the Jews quickly established their distinctive institutions in South Shore. The parishes of St. Philip Neri at 72nd and Merrill , St. Bride at 78th and Coles and Our Lady of Peace at 79th and Jeffrey became the centers of Irish religious and communal life (See Fig. 1). Jewish institutions also prospered. The two ethnic groups appeared to have created a barrier between themselves and the Black Belt. South Shore became a Mecca for the rising ethnic middle class.

A 1939 description of the neighborhood characterized South Shore as "predominately middle-class - upper middle-class, to be sure, but not social register." The groups who had fled Washington Park as the Irish moved in had by to now also left South Shore, and by 1940 there were 249 black people living in the neighborhood.

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Figure 1: St. Phillip Neri Church, 2126 E. 72nd Street, 1985.

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