Avondale: A History

On Chicago’s west side, Avondale has become a buzzing up-and-coming neighborhood in recent years. Celebrated for its architecture, its skyline features towering smokestacks and dazzling cathedrals. Locals enjoy their neighborhood’s creative restaurants and businesses, fun bar scene, and low key vibe. Near the Kennedy Expressway and served by two Blue Line stations, easy accessibility has attracted many downtown commuters.
In the start of the 19th century, the area was prairie along a meandering Native American trail (which later became Milwaukee Avenue). European settlement began in 1853, and the small village of Avondale was incorporated in 1869. In these years, the community was mainly farmland, with a post office, train station, and small school. As with neighboring villages of Bucktown and Wicker Park, Avondale was annexed by Chicago in 1889.
A hotbed of industry, Avondale’s earned its “neighborhood that built Chicago” nickname. The land near the Chicago River was its industrial center, home to Florsheim Shoes, Olson Rug and Dad’s Root Beer factories. Industrial jobs and improved transportation (including the now-CTA Blue Line) attracted thousands of working families to the area. With a large Polish population (over one-third of the nearly 50,000 residents in 1930), Avondale became part of Chicago’s “Polish Triangle”.
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