Exploring the Architecture of the Polish Triangle

November 10, 2013

Polish Church

Did you know? Chicago used to have the second largest Polish population outside of Warsaw, Poland, surpassed only recently in 2012. Let’s explore Chicago’s former “Polish Downtown,” currently known as the “Polonia Triangle”-the area surrounding Milwaukee, Ashland and Division. Polish history in Chicago is juicy, and I’m not just talking about the golabki served at Podhalanka on Ashland and Division.

Polish neighborhoods in Chicago change quickly, and in Polonia Triangle many little beauty marks have been left behind, from a sculpture, to a cathedral, to simply a note of music.

Primarily between 1850 and 1920, many Poles immigrated to this neighborhood, where Polish community building began with the organization of Catholic parishes. Two rivaling churches, both which still exist today, were established in the neighborhood. St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church and Holy Trinity Church had different stances on religious conservatism and emphasis (or lack thereof) of the liberation of the motherland. Because Polish Chicago parishes were historically not solely spiritual sites but also community centers for Catholic Poles, this conflict created competition between the two churches in all types of programs, services, and- lucky for us today-architecture!

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