Polonia Triangle Neighborhood Tour


Centered at the corner of Division and Milwaukee, this tour traces the development of the old Polish Downtown. Located near this commercial triangle were once all the major institutions of the Polish-America, a mainstay of Chicago's turn-of-the-twentieth-century blue-collar community. The fountain within the Triangle holds an inscription: "For the Masses Who Do the City's Labor Also Keep the City's Heart." As industrial workers, Poles, like the Germans who preceded them, clustered around the Northwest Side's large-scale industries, including leather and tanning, iron and steel, furniture and machine tools. In the early years of the 20th century, Milwaukee Ave. was known as "dinner pail avenue" for the number of laborers trudging to and from work. Only a trace of the city's northern manufacturing district, which initially lined the North Branch of the Chicago River (and subsequently spread along the Clybourn and Elston Street corridors) remains. Yet, even as more upscale residences continue to transform today's Bucktown-Wicker Park district, the immigrants' creation of what they once called "Stanislova" is evident in ornate churches, home construction – from tenements to two-flats to bungalows – public bathhouses, and park grounds.

Important sites in the Polonia Triangle include:

*Gutmann Tannery
*A. Finkl & Sons
"*Milwaukee two-flats"
*Kosciusko Public Bath
*Immigrant tenement housing
*Pulaski Park and Fieldhouse
*St. Stanislaus Kostka
*Polish Womens Alliance
*Polish Bank and Newspaper Building
*Former home of the Polish National Alliance
*Holy Trinity Church
*Northwestern University Settlement House
*National headquarters of the Polish Roman Catholic Union

Labor Trail

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) is proud to present the Interactive Labor Trail, made possible by a generous grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. This on-line history resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. The Labor Trail is the product of a joint effort to showcase the many generations of dramatic struggles and working-class life in the Chicago area's rich and turbulent past. The Trail's neighborhood tours invite you to get acquainted with the events, places, and people -- often unsung -- who have made the city what it is today. In addition, the statewide map is just a starting point for further exploration of Illinois' labor heritage. This Interactive Labor Trail expands the number of locations and provides a greater depth of information, while giving map users the chance to add their knowledge of locations and events in the Chicago area’s working-class history.

We invite all individuals, groups, and institutions interested in the labor and working-class history of Chicago, Cook County, the Calumet Region, and Illinois to contribute to the map. Users can add new sites, edit or build upon existing entries with additional text, photographs, primary sources, audio and video files, as well as links to related websites.

Easy-to-use instructions for adding to the on-line version of the map are available at www.labortrail.org.

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at: www.workingclassstudies.org

The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle

Project Director:
Leon Fink, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Advisors:
Tobias Higbie, Newberry Library
Lisa Oppenheim, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Liesl Miller Orenic, Dominican University

Administrative Director:
Jeffrey Helgeson, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Assistants:
Aaron Max Berkowitz, University of Illinois at Chicago; John H. Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago; Erik Gellman, Northwestern University; Dan Harper, University of Illinois at Chicago; Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Web Design:
William Atwood and Melissa Palmer