Perhaps one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Chicago is Logan Square. Previously named Jefferson Township, this area was once fertile farmland, conveniently located within walking distance of the Chicago produce markets. By the mid 1800s, railroad tracks were laid throughout this community and industrial development followed.
Similar to other neighborhoods along the historic boulevard system, Logan Square’s population increased following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, although not at the same rate as other communities. It was not until the first “L” station arrived in 1890 that Logan Square became a desirable neighborhood. Following World War I, Logan Square experienced another population boom as immigrants from Poland and Russia began inhabiting the community.
In early 20th Century Chicago, the most elaborate housing was along Astor Street and on the South Shore, but the old aristocracy often shunned the new money of self-made millionaires and few were able to secure property in these prestigious areas. Therefore, a number of the nouveau riche opted to build their mansions along the boulevards of Logan Square. Many of these mansions still stand today.
Between the 1930s and 1950s, the population of Logan Square decreased. The Kennedy Expressway isolated the community from the neighborhoods to the east, and the construction of the CTA’s Blue Line disrupted the businesses in the central section of the neighborhood. But by the 1960s, the neighborhood once again saw its population increase. Since then, the Logan Square Neighborhood Association has worked to “unite institutions and residents to build and protect an excellent place to live, work, play, raise children, run a business, and worship.
Today, Logan Square is a model of ethnic and economic diversity. The community is a haven for young professionals and artists. There is a strong Polish population in the area, although two-thirds of the Logan Square community is now Latino. Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Mexicans, and South Americans have brought culture and cuisine to the community, making it one of the most eclectic communities in all of Chicago.