Thursday, October 22, 2015

Back to My Roots in Ukrainian Village, Chicago

We were excited to visit some of the buildings open to the public during the fifth annual Open House Chicago It’s organized and run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. This event opens many historic and cutting edge buildings all over Chicago during the third weekend in October.

Since we were nearby in the Logan Square neighborhood, we decided to visit the Ukrainian Village neighborhood. This neighborhood is distinctive because many in the Chicago Ukrainian community still live there and/or maintain ties to the area returning to attend church, run their businesses, or visit friends and family. It seems to be a very cohesive community. At the same time, it has also become somewhat trendy. In recent years, some modern buildings have been built there. Enough historic ones remain, however, for it to be visually interesting to see.
modern apartment building in Ukrainian Village

typical housing in the area

My maternal grandmother came to America from the Ukraine with her family in 1905 when she was about eight years old. They were fleeing pogroms there during an outbreak of anti-Semitism. This family history has not motivated me to visit the Ukraine, but the idea of visiting Ukrainian Village was intriguing.

I enjoyed hearing people speaking Ukrainian to each other. Several Ukrainians at each site were on hand to answer questions. They told us that Ukrainian is very similar to Russian. They are both Slavic languages that use the Cyrillic alphabet. Their word endings and many word usages are different, however.

Several buildings in Ukraine Village were open and we visited a few including the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral designed by Louis Sullivan in 1903 and the St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral designed by Worthmann and Steinbach in 1913.
Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral

interior of Cathedral


interior of St. Volodymir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral
The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art had an exhibit of works by Nataliya Tyaglo, a young artist in her 30’s whose exhibit, The Ukrainian Soul, evoked the feelings if not the  style of Ukrainian artists of the past.
painting by Nataliya Tyaglo

Our last stop was the Ukrainian National Museum. This history and folklore museum is certainly worth a visit. We talked to several Ukrainians and learned about their families’ immigrant experiences. The Ukrainians, had four main waves of immigration to Chicago- the late 1800’s, the early 1930’s following a famine, in the 1940’s immediately following World War II, and right after
museum volunteer in traditional Ukrainian costume
the fall of Communism in the early 1990’s. Their families, unlike mine, had arrived in America more recently. We’ll have to return to view the history exhibit more thoroughly. Time didn’t permit on this visit.

On our way to our car, we passed by Ann’s Bakery at 2158 Chicago Avenue. While this wasn’t part of Open House Chicago, it should have been. All the baked goods looked delicious. Besides, how can you go to an ethnic neighborhood or foreign country without sampling the food? We bought a loaf of bread, sweet and interlaced with poppy seeds. We had slices of it with dinner. It was scrumptious. I’m sure it won’t last long.

I’m looking forward to Chicago Open House next year. Who knows what ethnic group we’ll discover next time. 

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