A cozy pocket nabe of Avondale on the Northwest Side, Polish Village has a lot of modest two-flats, a smattering of bungalows, and more than its fair share of sausage. This nabe has unquestionably strong community ties, whether between neighbors or extending overseas, and celebrities from the old country never miss an opportunity to pay a visit.
Polish Village, Chicago Data : Neighborhoods & Travel – Score out of 100
Polish Village , Chicago Reviews
It’s All In The Name
To most Chicagoans, labeling any one swatch of the city as a “Polish Village” seems a bit misleading, as the city is filled with dozens of Polish enclaves that seem to qualify as villages in their own right. This nabe does live up to the name though, particularly if you’re someone who is actively seeking out a little slice of Warsaw.
The churches are what stand out the most, and understandably so. They are quite large and very intricate. Those alone are worth the trip here for anyone with even a passing interest in architecture. And though not quite as prodigious, the bakeries that populate this section of Milwaukee Ave. are packed with little pieces of man-made beauty as well. From all of the different kinds of mazurka to the intricate cakes, there is something available for every sweet tooth.
Almost assuredly, the cute girl working behind the counter at whatever bakery you decide to sample will speak enough English to take your order, but not quite enough to grasp your attempts at flirting with her. You’ll have a minute to ruminate on the idea of picking up the Polish version of Rosetta Stone on the way home, but the first bite of whatever baked good you chose will wipe away that notion as well as most other conscious thought.
For social life in this nabe, there are some fun dive bars that seem to embrace a certain level of cheesiness and regularly hold karaoke nights. Of course, it’s best to stick to the classics here unless you speak, or at least sing, Polish. It’s refreshing to see un-ironic, non-pretentious karaoke, and I’d whole heartedly recommend sidling up with a Zywiec in one of these bars some time soon.
As the area is incredibly small, there isn’t a great deal of renting options, but visiting is very worthwhile. The 56 Milwaukee Avenue bus makes this readily accessibly from lots of other nabes, and it’s definitely worth a sojourn.
Even though gentrification began a decade ago, Polish Village is still home to a solid blue-color immigrant community. People here are friendly and accepting, and architecture buffs will love the St. Hyacinth’s Basicila and Wenceslaus Cathedral. People on a budget will love the low-rent bungalows and studio apartments.
Dzien Dobry! Milo Mi!
I heard somewhere that Chicago has the second highest concentration of Polish people in the world, including Poland. Many of our neighbors from the old country have spread out all throughout the city, but there is still a significantly heavy concentration both in terms of population and culture just north of me in the neighborhood of Avondale.
English seems like it might be the third language spoken (behind Spanish). I really like that kind of thing. Unlike Ukrainian Village, which is less and less Ukrainian by the hour, PV is still heavily ethnically Polish, with representative restaurants, bookstores, bakeries, bars, shops and clinics as well as the Copernicus Center which helps with community services for Chicago’s Polish-speaking residents.
The general feel is a little grimy, cheap and neglected, which means the rent is cheap and there’s some great drinking going on in this neighborhood. I have little clue how safe the neighborhood is overall for gay/lesbian/queer etc. folk, but the boyfriend and I always feel at home at Alice’s bar where a representative cross section of the neighborhood’s Polish, Hispanic and hipster populations co-mingle in peace and happiness on Karoke nights.
It may look a little shabby, but I say that this part of the city just needs a little love. The people are tremendously friendly and the breakdown leans residential. It’s just one L stop north of Logan Square, but I don’t get the feeling that the rents are rising just yet (like mine are after I moved there!)
There were (and still are) many Polish parts of Chicago, but this half mile square area comprised of the parishes of St. Hyacinth Basilica and St. Wenceslaus Church gets the name “Polish Village.” Like most Polish neighborhoods in the city, its Polish identity has faded just a bit as neighborhood demographics shift, but the Polish institutions that remain faithful to their traditions. With its offerings of sausage and Slavic pastries, Milwaukee Avenue between Central Park Avenue and Pulaski Road is the commercial heart of the neighborhood.