Friday, December 09, 2005

East Village other

Laura Putre of Chicago Journal is correct in a Dec. 8 Viewpoints piece (not available online) that the name East Village is of fairly recent vintage. When University of Chicago sociologists knocked on doors in the 1960s, residents south of Division and east of Damen told canvassers they lived in Wicker Park. Polonia also was common coinage; a residence on Winchester Avenue north of Iowa Street has Polonia Dairy Co. carved into the stone, a relic of another day.

However, the name East Village dates at least to 1984, when the East Village Association was organized. Likely the founders of the community improvement group wanted to identify the area more closely with tidy Ukrainian Village than with troubled Wicker Park. The blue street signs with the East Village logo, which appeared on lamp posts across the group's boundaries from Milwaukee to Damen avenues and from Division Street to Chicago Avenue, have fallen victim mostly to rust.

South of Chicago or east of Milwaukee, as the seniors Putre interviewed recalled, you were in West Town, or perhaps Noble Square, a name that survives in the co-op apartments on Milwaukee Avenue. As crime receded and vacant lots were developed throughout West Town in the 1990s, real-estate ads started to spread the East Village name beyond its original boundaries.

It's good that Chicago Journal has moved into the neighborhood. It won't be long before Chicago Journal will be seen as a local fixture, or perhaps as another creation of real-estate developers.

No comments: