Then and Now, Division-Milwaukee

1941--Division Street @ Milwaukee, view east

1949–Division Street @ Milwaukee Avenue, view east

2016--the same location

2016–the same location

The West Town neighborhood experienced a building boom in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1871.  Many of the new settlers were Poles, and in 1949 the few blocks around Milwaukee-Division-Ashland was the heart of the city’s “Polish Downtown.”  The white building at the far left was headquarters of the Polish Daily Zgoda newspaper.

Today most of the Polish population has dispersed.  The Zgoda building houses a sporting goods store.  Along the south side of Division Street, the 27-story Noble Square Co-operative has replaced the 1880-vintage buildings.  And subway trains now run under Milwaukee Avenue.




6 Responses to “Then and Now, Division-Milwaukee”

  1. 1 benson January 26, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    So many memories. Even though I grew up near Howe School near Chicago and Laramie, my folks were DP’s who came over after the war, so we spent a lot of time in that neighborhood.. My dad, especially, pretty much knew everyone there in the late 50’s and early 60’s. There used to be a cafeteria next to Leonard’s Liquor store on Milwaukee, just about a half block from where the photographer was standing. I would tag along and have a roll and orange juice for breakfast while my dad socialized and did some business.

    I remember the Zgoda, and Eagle Jewelers, a men’s store who’s name escapes me and on the corner of Milwaukee and Ashland was a record store with listening booths where could preview 45’s.

    Funny thing is, the place I miss most was a little bakery on Milwaukee near Ashland. I think it’s name was H&M and they had these layered apple and dough squares. I don’t even know what to call them, but would love to have one of those again. My dad had a time-brokered radio program on WOPA 1490am/102.7 fm) I’m guessing they were an advertiser.

    • 2 J.R. Schmidt January 26, 2017 at 8:38 pm

      My Grandmother’s nephew had a drug store at the NE corner of Division and Paulina when I was a kid around that time. Two things I remember from his store—(1) the abandoned ‘L’ station across Paulina, and (2) the Yo Ho potato chips he always gave me.

  2. 3 Melvin January 26, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    John, you did an incredible job of matching the perspective between the two photos!

    • 4 J.R. Schmidt January 26, 2017 at 8:32 pm

      That’s the nice thing about digital photography—you can take a bunch of different shots, and pick the best one.

  3. 5 Terry Banich February 21, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    John, your blog is amazing, particularly the section on bowling alleys. I lost about two hours the other day scrolling through the pictures! Anyway, do you have any pictures of the old “L” tracks along Paulina, including the abandoned Division station you remember from your grandmother’s nephew’s drug store (which I believe is now the Bangers and Lace restaurant)? I wrote an article about remnants of demolished parts of the “L” for Forgotten Chicago []– I would love to update it with some pictures you would care to share. Thank you very much! Best, Terry Banich

    • 6 J.R. Schmidt February 25, 2017 at 11:28 am

      Terry–Thanks for the compliment. I remember your “Forgotten Chicago” post on the ‘L’ remnants, and I love that website. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the Division Street ‘L’ station on the Paulina connector. The Chicago ‘L’ website doesn’t seem to have any, either. Probably the CTA has some buried in its archives. If anyone at CTA reads this, perhaps they’ll post a picture on their next annual calendar. Or maybe another reader can send us a picture.

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