Little Italy

Chicago, Illinois

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Little Italy was never populated exclusively by Italians. In fact the Irish were the majority for many years. But along the commercial hub of Taylor St. it was the Italians who owned the shops and restaurants, giving the neighborhood its enduring ethnic feel. Long a tidy enclave close to the Loop, Little Italy suffered from a lack of clout with the Irish mafia that ran Chicago. In the late 1930s, a huge public housing development split the community in two. In the 1950s expressway construction destroyed thousands of homes and hemmed in the survivors. Then in the 1960s the construction of a new university destroyed hundreds more. Still the neighborhood hung on, and today it is thriving. West of Ashland, medical schools and hospitals contribute scores of residents (no pun intended). New condos of the usual highly variable quality are springing up between shady blocks of sturdy two-flats and long-running Italian businesses. Only the recent wanton destruction of the Maxwell St. Market shows that some things never change.

Little Italy Professional Review and Guide

"Little Italy was never populated exclusively by Italians. In fact the Irish were the majority for many years. But along the commercial hub of Taylor St. it was the Italians who owned the shops and restaurants, giving the neighborhood its enduring ethnic feel. Long a tidy enclave close to the Loop, Little Italy suffered from a lack of clout with the Irish mafia that ran Chicago. In the late 1930s, a huge public housing development split the community in two. In the 1950s expressway construction destroyed thousands of homes and hemmed in the survivors. Then in the 1960s the construction of a new university destroyed hundreds more. Still the neighborhood hung on, and today it is thriving. West of Ashland, medical schools and hospitals contribute scores of residents (no pun intended). New condos of the usual highly variable quality are springing up between shady blocks of sturdy two-flats and long-running Italian businesses. Only the recent wanton destruction of the Maxwell St. Market shows that some things never change."

Activity Type: Walking
Nearby City: Chicago
Distance: 3.3
Trail Type: Shuttle
Season: Year-round

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Jun 2018