Neighborhoods for the rest of us: Avondale's Polish Patches

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Driving along North Milwaukee Avenue through Jackowo and Wacławowo in Avondale, it’s hard not to notice the signs above every storefront. Nearly every one is written in Polish. The two areas were established around the turn of the 20th century, when large waves of Polish immigrants moved to Chicago to work in local factories. Latin Americans and Eastern Europeans from outside of Poland have moved in over the years, but the Polish character remains.

Each of these “Polish Patches” gets its name from a local Polish parish, Saint Hyacinth’s Basilica (Bazylika Św. Jacka) at 3636 W Wolfram St, and Saint Wenceslaus at 3400 N Monticello Ave. (The “-owo” suffix is comparable to “-ville” in English.) Without hard and fast boundaries, they exist more as areas around their namesakes than as clearly defined neighborhoods. Wacławowo is almost entirely residential, while Jackowo is known more for the bakeries, sausage shops, restaurants and general merchandise stores lining Milwaukee Avenue.

A good excuse to visit the neighborhood and sample the local flavor is the Red Apple restaurant at 3123 N Milwaukee Ave. Its reviews on Yelp are quite positive, and in 2009 it received the Reader’s Choice award for “Best Buffet in Chicago” from the Chicago Reader.

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