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  • Cirque Realty Group and the History of the Ukrainian Village

    DSC_0651The name Ukrainian Village kind of says it all. The area was first established by Germans, who settled in this northwest neighborhood after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Not long after, a wave of Ukrainian and Russian immigrants followed, and by the early 1900s, the majority of Chicago’s 30,000 Ukrainian immigrants resided here. Unlike neighboring Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village was primarily working class. In fact, many Ukrainian Village residents spent their days building and repairing the mansions in Wicker Park neighborhood. The installation of the elevated train line down Paulina Street (torn down in 1964) also spurred growth, but the main draw for many of the neighborhood pioneers was the presence of Holy Trinity Cathedral, built in 1903. The cathedral still remains today, and is one of the focal points of this charming Chicago neighborhood.

    Over time, the Orthodox and Catholic churches and their congregations have proved important to the Ukrainian Village’s everyday life — preserving the quaint community feel, sustaining a primarily Eastern European population, and maintaining a safe, middle-class environment, even as the areas around the neighborhood deteriorated and changed. Aside from Holy Trinity Cathedral, Ukrainian Village is home to the large golden-domed Sts Volodymyr and Olha Church, as well as the towering baroque-style St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral.

    Today, the neighborhood boasts far fewer Ukrainian residents than previous decades, as many families migrated north to other developing areas. A poll in 1990 revealed that only 2,500 residents could claim Ukrainian heritage. But many still remain, and it’s not uncommon to hear Polish and Ukrainian spoken in shops and on the streets.

    The neighborhood has become more diverse over the years.  The community is tight-knit and has yet to be taken over by large chain restaurants and businesses. Still prevalent  are  many independent shops owned by Ukrainian Village residents.