Avondale is changing — will residents get a say?
By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_
🇵🇱 AVONDALE PAST & PRESENT
Gentrification from Logan Square and Wicker Park has bled into Avondale. But residents who want a say in how the neighborhood is changing gathered this week to contribute to Avondale’s first community plan.
Collecting community input is the first phase in the multi-year plan from the Avondale Neighborhood Association and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.
Community members want protected bike lanes, retail options, a library, green spaces, and to make sure residents aren’t displaced.
Pricey condos are going up in the Northwest Side neighborhood. The business vacancy rate is 40% due to high taxes and rents, writer and former Avondale resident Mary Wisniewski told City Cast.
But it wasn’t always this way: Avondale was once the heart of Chicago’s large Polish population.
Called Jackowo, it really became a Polish destination in the late 20th century, when people came through the Refugee Act and “vacation visas,” and they ended up staying for decades. But that changed when Poland became part of the European Union in the early 2000s.
As more Latinx families moved into the area, Polish bakeries, restaurants, and dance clubs were replaced, Polish Daily News’ Joanna Marszalek told City Cast.
But today, there aren’t many Polish or Latinx businesses in the area at all.
“When a Mexican panadería replaces a Polish piekarnia, the neighborhood doesn’t lose much. It still gets fresh bread and cookies. But it’s troubling when both the Polish and Mexican shops are replaced with nothing,” Wisniewski and Marszalek wrote in Chicago magazine.
🎧 Learn more about the history of Jackowo on today’s podcast.
👉 If you’re an Avondale community member, share your ideas for the neighborhood’s future.
▪️ More cops and security guards will soon be patrolling the Red and Blue lines in response to more crime on the CTA. [WTTW]
▪️ Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan pleaded not guilty to bribery and racketeering charges at his first hearing Wednesday. He’s due back in court April 1. [WGN]
▪️ At a late-night meeting this week, Jones College Prep’s Local School Council voted to remove the South Loop school’s principal. [Block Club Chicago]
▪️ Nipsey’s is being demolished after a fire broke out at the controversial and beloved Calumet Heights restaurant. [The Triibe]
▪️ Promontory Point in Hyde Park, Central Park Theater in North Lawndale, and six more sites were put on this most-endangered list.
▪️ The Pride Parade is officially back June 26 🌈 [NBC Chicago]
🤠 COVID THEN & NOW
Frequent Chicago visitor and reader Laurie Hatfield is often here to see family, but the Houston resident was down south when shutdown struck two years ago.
After eating at an Italian restaurant and playing mahjong with friends, Laurie was supposed to go to the rodeo the night of March 11, 2020 — the day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
“I knew then that this virus was serious because nothing shuts down the rodeo,” Laurie said. (And our friends at City Cast Houston can confirm.)
Remember the last normal thing you did before 2020 shutdowns? Tell us — and let us know if you’re back at it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or text/call (773) 780-0246.
☘️ ST. PATRICK’S DAY CELEBRATIONS
SATURDAY: Family Fest at Irish American Heritage Center
Head to the Mayfair center to see traditional Irish dance, eat Irish food, and shop from Irish vendors Saturday from 1–11:30 p.m.