Chicago’s Little Italy

When thinking about where to go with my next blog post, my mind immediately went to my mom. My family Catholic-Italian and my mom’s favorite city is Chicago. With ease Catholics, Italians, and Chicago go together hand in hand. Although Italians started immigrating to the United States in the late 19th century, they continued on throughout the 20th century. According to Dominic Candelero, “Most Chicago Italians, however, trace their ancestry to the wave of unskilled southern immigrants who came to the United States between 1880 and 1914. As a rail center, an industrial center, and American’s fastest growing major city, Chicago offered opportunities for immigrants from all nations” (36). Men and women both worked to the bone in order to support their families. Some Italians were stubborn in their ways and did not want to leave Italian traditions where they came from and I believe it is because of them that we have the opportunity to have places today such as Little Italy in Chicago. Small businesses opening as early as 1909, such as a Pizza Parlor named Pompeii, have expanded today ( It is amazing how something so small can start out and become something quite big.

One of my favorite things to do when I go to a big city is to make sure to explore the cities Cathedrals and churches. Although I have not yet had the opportunity to take a trip to Chicago, I would love to because particularly around the Little Italy area there are multiple churches worth seeing. One of the church, Notre Dame de Chicago is a very famous one that is just a block away from one of the Italian parks.

Pictured above is Notre Dame de Chicago when it was built in 1891

Another well known place to see or in my case attend mass, would be Our Lady of Pompeii and the Shrine to Our Lady of Pompeii. In mostly the same area of Little Italy. According to the home website, “The portrait of Our Lady of Pompeii illustrates the rosary as Mary’s gift to the Church, just as the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii is the gift of the Italian-American community to the Archdiocese of Chicago” ( The church is place that holds so much history, especially Catholic churches as these because they have been around for quite some time.

Because of the immense amount of Italian-American people in Chicago, there is now a Sports Hall of Fame. Stated on, “In 1978, the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (NIASHF) was founded as a non-profit, educational institution.  There are now over 200 inductees enshrined in the Hall of Fame and in its 27 years, the collection of sports memorabilia the Hall has amassed is second to none.  Some of the NIASHF’s most priceless artifacts include Mario Andretti’s Indy 500 racecar, Rocky Marciano’s first heavyweight championship belt, Vince Lombardi’s last coat worn as coach of the Green Bay Packers, and swimmer Matt Biondi’s Olympic Gold Medals” ( It is amazing to think about some of these athletes and realize they have made such an impact on American society.

One of the reasons I love America is because of the many varieties of cultures that can be found in large cities. People began to immigrate to America in hopes for better lives and what we got in return is culture that America would not be the same without.





Filed under City Cultures

3 responses to “Chicago’s Little Italy

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed your post and found it extremely interesting. I loved that you incorporated the Italian culture to Chicago. For some reason, I had never acknowledged the extensive of amount of Italian culture in it, although I should have since Chicago is known for its delicious pizza and has its own “Little Italy.” Being Italian myself, I feel as though I need to brush up on my heritage and the American cities that still share its culture, like Chicago. Though I have never been to Chicago either, I could still definitely identify with your post. I thought it was great that you hit on several different aspects of the lasting impacts that Italian culture has had on Chicago, and how you showed its Italian roots through the depictions of the Illinois city. My favorite pararaph is when you discuss the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame. My dad played baseball for the Chicago Cubs for a while so when I hear “Chicago”, I immediately think of sports, or at least a dorky picture of a grey-less, younger, and skinnier version of my dad in a Cubs baseball uniform. Also, here I’m able to really pick up on the message of your post–how much of an impact the Italian culture had on making Chicago what it is today. With the collaboration of Catholic-Italian religion, traditions, food, sports, architecture, etc. the Italian culture was able to make Chicago a culturally diverse city. Personally, I think it would be neat to see you explore this even more. What other sports stars with Italian background are included in the Hall of Fame? What other sites/monuments/buildings would people with Italian heritage like to see? I just want to know more about the Italian heritage within Chicago in every way, but that’s just me! Really enjoyed your post!

  2. I enjoyed this post too. It’s a part of Chicago history that I don’t know much about. I wonder if you might want to connect the city’s ethnic history to the way that Carl Sandburg writes about different ethnic groups in the city. You might also connect the Ernest Burgess article to the Little Italy district — does it serve the purpose that Burgess thinks ethnic zones of the city should serve? A lot of different ways to expand on this.

  3. have you been to ‘little italy’…. its completely taken over by uic’s campus..

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