The Fascinating Ukrainian Village Chicago History That Shaped The Neighborhood
Named after the Ukrainian immigrants who came over to America and set up residence here in the early 1900s, Ukrainian Village is a relatively small but lively neighborhood in Chicago’s West Town area. Throughout the decades, the neighborhood has gone through various transformations to become an exciting and eclectic melting pot that it is today, but it is still home to the Ukrainian community and heritage in Chicago.
One of the cool things about the neighborhood is that it was declared as a landmark district in Chicago, helping preserve some of the Ukrainian Village Chicago history. Today, one can still get a glimpse into the lives of the working class Ukrainians during the early 1900s, in the form of some well-maintained cottages and residential buildings.
Why It’s Called Ukrainian Village
The Ukrainian-Americans living in the United States today, and their ancestors, largely came over during four different migration waves, starting in the late 1800s and going all the way till the 1980s. The reasons for migration and the type of immigrants have varied widely during these waves.
The first wave during 1870 – 1914 brought mostly poor and unskilled workers seeking greener pastures in America. The last wave during the 1980s, on the other hand, happened after the fall of the Soviet Union and brought highly skilled migrants. A lot of the migrants from the last wave are highly entrepreneurial and are responsible for many of the Ukrainian owned businesses and cultural centers that are present today.
When they first came over, the Ukrainian people settled throughout many small areas across Chicago, including present-day Ukrainian Village. As more people arrived, they started building churches and community centers where people could gather to socialize and worship.
One of the prominent churches, St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, was built between 1913 and 1915 in the middle of the area we know as Ukrainian Village today. This church has played an important role in Ukrainian Village Chicago history, as it helped solidify the neighborhood as a gathering spot for the Ukrainian community in the city. The area was originally settled by both Ukrainian and Polish immigrants, but gradually the Ukrainian community gained prominence, giving it the name Ukrainian Village.
Current State Of the Neighborhood
Today, it’s a largely middle-class neighborhood that has seen a growing number of new businesses, an influx of young professionals, as well as a hip and artsy crowd. The location also helps – it’s a short bus or cab ride to all the popular spots in Chicago like Wicker Park, Bucktown, and the downtown area.
The preservation of the old buildings and the addition of newer buildings has created a great combination of modern living while telling the story of the past, resulting in a vibrant and dynamic community that it is often named as one of the best places to live in Chicago. In fact, Ukrainian Village was recently named the hottest neighborhood in the country by Redfin, a nationwide real estate brokerage firm.
Despite the growth and change, the Ukrainian heritage has been protected here, and there are cultural centers, shops, and restaurants to represent the Ukrainian presence. The [Ukrainian National Museum] is located here, as well as various shops with signs in the Ukrainian language.
So, the next time you’re in Ukrainian Village, be sure to check out some of the buildings from the past to get a better first-hand understanding of the history of the Ukrainian community in Chicago. Then, of course, you can head over to one of the several [Ukrainian restaurants] in the area and get a hearty bowl of Borscht to end the day.