Avondale is one of 77 officially designated Chicago, Illinois community areas. It is located on the Northwest Side of Chicago. Its main borders are the North Branch of the Chicago River, Diversey Avenue, Addison Street, Pulaski Road and the Union Pacific/Northwest rail line; bisecting the community are Belmont and Milwaukee Avenues along with the Kennedy Expressway (Interstate 90/Interstate 94).
Avondale began as an early racially-integrated village in rural Jefferson Township. The area’s initial growth started in earnest after the opening of a rail stop along the “Milwaukee Road” railway thanks in part to the clout of Michigan Senator Thomas W. Ferry, who owned land in the vicinity. However, it was not until Jefferson Township was annexed by the city of Chicago in 1889 that the area underwent its first true dense urban development.
Factories and other industries sprang up around the start of the 20th century thanks to Avondale’s dense network of transportation corridors, both through rail as well as the North Branch of the Chicago River. The plentiful jobs available in the area was responsible for drawing the initial wave of European immigrants, mostly Poles and other East Europeans, as well as Scandinavians and Germans. A small but noticeable group of Italians would later settle in Avondale as well.
Beginning in the 1980s, Latino settlement began in Avondale. A multiplicity of other diverse Eastern European ethnicities came to the area following the End of Communism in 1989, leading to Avondale’s nickname as the neighborhood “Where Eastern Europe meets Latin America”.
Avondale was the site of one of Chicago’s “Seven Lost Wonders”, the Olson Park and Waterfall complex at Diversey and Pulaski.
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