Chicago Commons Buidling


Founded in 1894, Graham Taylor's Chicago Commons settlement house moved into this building in 1901. The Chicago Commons provided a place for social and political gatherings, as well as one of the first kindergartens in the U.S. and other educational and vocational classes for Chicago's many European immigrants. As Taylor -- shown in the accompanying photograph in 1917 -- said, "It was the very gateway to the Northwest Side" for Irish, Italian, and later Eastern European immigrants. The Commons "free-floor" meetings also held an important place in Chicago's free speech tradition. On November 11, 1906 -- the ninth anniversary of the execution of her husband, Albert Parsons, for his part in the Haymarket Incident -- Lucy Parsons stepped to the floor to describe her path to anarchism. For Taylor, this was "the supreme test to the freedom of the floor," but Parsons was allowed to speak, and, in an understated address, she described how she "became convinced that nothing short of the end of the existing capitalistic order would bring either justice or peace."

Labor Trail





955 W Grand Ave

Chicago History Museum, DN-0068462

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

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at:

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