Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ever since we moved to...

...our new neighborhood I've often wondered if my Irish grandmother, who was born "on Taylor Street," had been baptized at Notre Dame de Chicago on the next street over. When I mentioned this to one of the locals he quickly answered, "Oh, no; if she was Irish she would have been baptized at Holy Family over on Roosevelt Road."

And that, in a nutshell, is the history of Chicago: immigrants from certain countries or regions in Europe (and elsewhere) settled together in neighborhoods, founding churches and other institutions around which they organized their lives.

With this in mind, the guys and I set out for Bridgeport last night for our third Trek/Hike there but with a different twist this time. I wanted to show them this historic neighborhood through the prism of its many houses of worship (not just "churches," as you will see).

Our first stop after taking the Halsted bus from UIC was St. Anthony Catholic Church, pictured at the top of this post, on W. 28th Place.

(For those of you not familiar with the South Side, the streets there named "Place" are actually "half" streets. In other words, while 28th Street would represent 2800 South, 28th Place coincides with 2850 South. Got that?)

Founded in 1873 by Rev. Peter Fischer, an immigrant from Bavaria, to serve -- you guessed it -- the German community of Bridgeport, the current Romanesque structure was completed in 1913.

I'll try not to weigh you down with a whole lot of architectural details (we have a lot of ground to cover), but the picture of the guys -- Bradon, Michael, John, Alan and Jack -- above was taken under a mosaic of the vision of St. Anthony of Padua over the main entrance.

From there we walked east to St. Jerome's, at 2823 S. Princeton Ave., founded by Croatians in 1912. The current structure, as best I can tell, was purchased from Swedish Lutherans in 1922.

The guys and I were getting cold and hungry by this point so we decided to skip the next stop on our itinerary, Chinese Christian Union Church, founded in 1988 in an old factory building at 3000 S. Wallace St. "Something to cover next time," John said.

We couldn't avoid The First Lutheran Church of the Trinity, at 643 W. 31st St., on our way to Fabulous Freddies Italian Eatery, at 701 W. 31st St., so I snapped a quick picture from across the street (you can see some of the guys if you squint hard enough).

The First Lutheran Church of the Trinity, the oldest Christian congregation in Bridgeport, was formed at this location in 1863 by German immigrants (again with the Germans!). The current Gothic Revival structure was completed in 1913, the same year as St. Anthony. (Were they competing with their Teutonic brethren up on 28th Place?)

The six of us then met up with Jake at Fabulous Freddies and this knowledgeable resident of Bridgeport (he even knew that Ray Manzarek of the Doors went to St. Rita!) served as our tour guide for the rest of the evening. We walked past six (!) more houses of worship, but I'll have to save them for Part II of the account of this particular Hike. I don't want to tax your attention span too much, and besides, I have to go to work!

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