A visit to Schorsch Village

by Joe Zekas on 2/14/07

Schorsch Village Chicago streetscape

As I wandered Schorsch Village several weeks ago I was struck by three things: the diversity among the styles of workers’ cottages, the lack of diversity among the people, and wonder that I wasn’t run over. Schorsch Village is a place where a STOP sign has no more meaning than any other street sign, where Poles are the predominant.nationality, and where the roof-line seems fixed at one-and-a-half stories.

Schorsch Village spans the area from Belmont Ave (3200 N) north to Addison St (3600 N), and from Naragansett Ave (6400 W) west to Harlem Ave (7200 W). It’s part of Dunning, which is one of the city’s official 77 neighborhood names.

Does anyone remember the old marketing slogan for Ivory Snow, “99 and 44/100% pure?” We hope it’s purely a coincidence, but that’s exactly the percentage of the population of Schorsch Village that’s not Black or African-American, according to the most recent Census estimate.

Only a third of the housing stock in Schorsch Village dates back before 1940, and much of it was built in the 40s and 50s. Seventy-percent of the housing units are single-families that typically range in price from the low $300s to the low $400s. There are a modest number of infill new construction condos along Belmont Ave.

The Georgian-style brick fieldhouse at Shabbona Park on Addison Street is a center for neighborhood activities, and the “Home of the Sharks” community swim team.

Cafe Prague, a friendly Internet café at 6710 W. Belmont Ave, is a popular neighborhood hangout. If you visit, don’t say “Czech, please” or you might find one growling at you.

The nearest public rail transportation is Metra’s Milwaukee District West Line. The sparse commercial development lies almost exclusively along the perimeter streets of Schorsch Village, where you’ll also find some small apartment buildings.

You can view Yo’s more than 100 photos of Schorsch Village in Flickr album or slideshow format. And, if you’re up for more of a ramble around Chicago, we have over 7,000 photos of more than 140 neighborhoods at Flickr.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

woodlawnchuck February 14, 2007 at 8:34 AM

I would imagine there’s lots of illegals in a place like this too. They’re just a little bit more pale.

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Joe Zekas February 14, 2007 at 8:44 AM

wc,

There are a number of non-citizens according to the Census data. The Census Bureau doesn’t report, of course, on whether their status is undocumented.

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dn February 14, 2007 at 9:36 AM

Of course there are; they came on tourist visa’s. I can’t blame them, Poland’s economy is horrid – the population declined slightly recently due to people emigrating to the rest of Europe to find work.

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Carter February 14, 2007 at 10:47 AM

this area, perhaps a bit further west, is also unofficially called “Cop Land,” as it’s one of the places City employees can buy somewhat affordable housing on the north side, but which also allows to live as close to the burbs as possible (if the City didn’t require its employees to live in city limits many would not).

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oldster February 14, 2007 at 11:52 AM

Happy V-Day Joe – Do you remember exactly when you visited what used to be called “Candy Land?” It was a neighborhood tradition during December for all of these houses to be decked out in lots of holiday “gingerbread.” I don’t know if this happens anymore.

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Joe Zekas February 14, 2007 at 1:30 PM

I was there on January 17.

Compared to other, similar neighborhoods there was very little in the way of Christmas decorations. A few houses that were thoroughly decked out, and very little otherwise. If you follow the link to our Flickr photos you can see what I saw.

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Nonsense February 14, 2007 at 3:06 PM

I read once in the trib that it’s estimated 1 in 10 Polish residents in the US are of an undocumented status. It’s gotten so bad that the consulate is declining visitors visas outright if you are from Poland.

As a result, a lot of Poles have been moving to the UK in the recent years since the border was opened. The UK government estimated that 14,000 poles would seek residency after the border opened. Actually, over 400,000 have emmigrated since the border opened.

I was in Poland for a week in 1998. I wanted to get the hell out of there too. I don’t blame them for leaving. It’s a cold miserable place and the food was terrible.

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NSH February 14, 2007 at 3:14 PM

maybe Bobak’s should open up a warsaw location

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woodlawnchuck February 14, 2007 at 3:48 PM

Poland stinks, but you’re missing the point: so too does Mexico, but you never hear anything about the masses of people laying bricks on new constuction sites throughout Chicago because they’re white.

And before you even think about jumping on me realize that I’m whiter than the Blizzard of ’07.

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dn February 14, 2007 at 4:14 PM

Or cleaning downtown office buildings after hours… (or taking care of their kids at home)

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Nonsense February 14, 2007 at 5:42 PM

“Poland stinks, but you’re missing the point: so too does Mexico, but you never hear anything about the masses of people laying bricks on new constuction sites throughout Chicago because they’re white. ”

It’s socio-economic not race. No one wants a bunch of poor uneducated unskilled criminally minded folk immigrating here. That includes the Irish, the Italians, the Germans, the Mexicans….etc..

The Poles who come here are generally better educated, are skilled in the trades, try to learn English a little more than our other immigrant bretheren, and live in safer, wealthier and better kept neighborhoods. That’s why no one complains. Although I’m sure being white helps. But then again, no one complains about the crazy number of Japanese in the NW suburbs or the all the immigrant engineers/doctors/scientists from India living in the western suburbs. SOCIO-ECONOMIC NOT RACE. Let’s say it again. SOCIO-ECONOMIC NOT RACE.

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woodlawnchuck February 14, 2007 at 6:16 PM

Nonsense,

You, my friend, are in denial. It is about race, and I quote: “no one wants a bunch of poor uneducated criminally-minded folk immigrating here.” You state a bunch of ethnicities and then, realizing that you forgot to lump Mexicans in, toss ‘em in at the end to cover your tale. That’s pretty exclusionary, I mean, the only people you missed were the Armenians and those from Ghana. It’s like me saying “the Poles sure do keep clean sidewalks. But try standing next to one of them at mass on a Sunday, they smell like an ashtray at Andy’s Bar over there on that 59th’s and Pulaski Road.”

Restated: across the board, our government doesn’t do enough about illegal immigration. Many people with ties to Eastern Europe are as criminally-minded, but -HEY- they keep clean sidewalks, so they get a pass. (And an advanced degree in those parts of the world, which seems quite common amongst the ranks of white woman driving around in yellow cars that say “The Maids”. By the way, those degrees are as verifiable as the number of cases HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa and as valuable as a medical degree from somewhere in Grenada.

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Joe Zekas February 14, 2007 at 7:10 PM

Nonsense,

The fact that Chicagoans don’t discriminate against Japanese and Indians doesn’t in any way support your argument that the discrimination is socio-economic.

Chicago does have a long, ugly and continuing record of discrimination against African-Americans.

For the record – and it cuts against your argument – Schorsch Village is about 16% Hispanic / Latino, and a high percentage of that is Mexican.

The best response I ever heard on the race vs socio-economic issue was in the form of a question that Malcolm X used to pose to audiences. This is my best recollection of it:

“What do you call a black man with a PhD in Physics?” Malcolm’s answer: well, he answered his own question with the N word, so I won’t repeat it.

You’d have us believe that Chicago doesn’t have a large, educated and affluent African-American population that somehow mystically bypasses living in places like Schorsch Village.

You’d have us believe that only white cops and city workers and, yes, masons and laborers, have an interest in living in places like Schorsch.

That’s just plain silly, and evasion of the issue that Chicago needs to find a way to get past. Denying that it exists doesn’t advance us very far.

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nonsense February 14, 2007 at 10:18 PM

Dear Woodchuck and Joe Zekas:

I’m glad to see that you both flew off the handle about race and completely missed the point. Entirely. The point was about immigrants – not African-Americans. Some group of immigrants will always take the heat and it’s usually the group at the bottom of the socio-economic scale.

It wasn’t a hundred years ago that shops would hang sign in their windows which said, “Irish need not apply.” Everyone thought (correctly or incorrectly) that the Irish were a bunch of drunken criminal slobs who couldn’t be trusted. There was a huge anti-immigrant backlash against them.

As they moved up the socio-economic ladder they turned Chicago, and many other cities, upside-down and changed the course of history forever. The population stopped complaining about the Irish immigrants a long time ago. The same applies to our Polish immigrants. Along with others such as the italians, the chinese (high school history…guess who built our railroads?)

However, our Mexican neighbors are currently taking the heat on immigration. Collectively, in very broad terms, they haven’t yet made their way up the ranks on the socio-economic scale to deflect the anti-immigrant backlash they receive today.

This of course is all speculation and conjecture. But if this thread teaches us anything, it shows that anytime anyone mentions something about race, the inner bleeding heart liberals voice their opinions.

p.s. joe – you really went off on a tangent with your Malcolm X quote, man. I lost you in the second sentence because it had no relevance. Maybe your heart is bleeding too much and it’s making your arguments incoherent?

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Joe Zekas February 15, 2007 at 1:00 AM

Nonsense,

One man’s way of addressing a point is another’s tangent. Sorry I lost you.

You lost me from the outset with what appears to be ethnic bias that has nothing to do with socio-economic factors. You lost me when you ignored the very real issues at play in Schorsch Village and tried to take this in a direction that has no relevance.

You started out by saying: “No one wants a bunch of poor uneducated unskilled criminally minded folk immigrating here.”

You words implied that many poor, uneducated, unskilled folk are criminally minded.

What’s your objection to these immigrants? If it’s only that they’re “criminally minded,” why did you need to throw in the other adjectives and all the garbage about socio-economic status?

I’m grateful that hard-working people who aspire to a better life for themselves and their families are willing to endure hardships and incur risks to come here to cut my lawn, shovel my snow, bus my tables and so on – in short to start somewhere and work their way on. Such a very small percentage of them are “criminally minded” that I don’t see what relevance that has here.

I’m grateful more than anything else for having had four uneducated, poor, unskilled grandparents who probably came here illegally, as far as I can determine.

Do we have a border problem? Of course we do. Is it totally out of hand? Of course it is.

I don’t blame the people who are crossing the border for that. They crossed. They’re here. They’re adding a lot to our society. We need them. Let’s find a way to deal with the real issues here.

And by the way, survey people who know me and see if you can find anyone who would call me a “bleeding heart.”

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cityworker February 16, 2007 at 9:45 PM

New cops cannot afford Schorsch Village anymore.

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SVrules January 26, 2009 at 5:00 PM

Schorsch Village is far less white than even a decade ago. I don’t care who moves in…if you can afford to live here and maintain your home, WELCOME! As it was mentioned Hispanics, Asians, and other races are starting to move in and they bring the same values as all hard working Americans (legal and illegal). The “white/Polish” immigrants tend to be the problem. They pack 3-5 families to the home, own 10 cars, don’t shovel, and have loud drunken parties. Please I welcome all city, full time, and union workers no matter what their background.

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Maureen Schorsch May 16, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Be careful with your prejedudices toward others unlike yourself. Words hurt. By the way, my father, Bruce Schorsch and his builders worked extremely hard buiding our impecciably made, wonderful, solid, brick homes. If you don’t like it, leave. The neighborhood would propably would be better off for it.

Growing up, it was exciting having all my hundreds of cousins in the neighborhood to play with. I grew up in that neighborhood.

By the way, where did your ancestors come from? Santa Clause? Because unless you are of Indian descent, you better shut your mouth. My ancestors came here fron Austria and Germany. I must admit, they were and still are a great and wise always putting their family first.

Who ever you are, I would be interested if I get a response from such a low life as yourself. Got anything to say now? Didn’t think so!

Again, watch your words, they hurt deeply. I am oh so proud to be a Schorsch – we were raised with class and proper ediquette….and you? A day doesn’t go by whwere I am heartbroken not having gthe chance and priviledge to go back to the neighborhood where we knew we were loved…abd you? I will forever remain proud to call Schorsch Village my home. There is no other neighborhood that is so well put together with such precision and talent.

Have a good day.

Maureen Schorsch
Potawatomie Avenue
Chicago, IL

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Marie May 26, 2009 at 9:38 PM

Well said Maureen! I too grew up on your block in one of the wonderful homes built by your Dad. In fact I know people who own Schorsch homes in other areas in Chicago. They truly are the best homes built. My dear Dad loved our house. My Mom still lives there. I have many wonderful memories of the area.

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Susan February 1, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Looking at a house in Schorsch Village, did the Google street view drive through the neighborhood, and it appears that there are far more Hispanics now (or as of Aug 2011, the date of the street view) than were reported back in 2007. That on it’s own is fine, what concerns me is that Schorsch Village might become the next Berwyn. It’s not about race, it’s about how people live their lives. If the people in the neighborhood destroy their vintage homes through remodeling (remuddling), convert small single family homes to multiple units, park all of their cars on the street, don’t take care of their properties properly, allow their kids to join gangs, don’t work, invite all of their illegal friends to stay with them … the whole neighborhood is ruined. You can call me a racist, but when I see example after example of once-beautiful vintage neighborhoods being destroyed by certain ethnicities, I can’t help but think the likelihood of it happening again to other neighborhoods is high. I’m middle class, I cannot afford to have the home I purchase sink in value because the people living next to me cause future buyers to walk away.

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