Quiet residential neighborhood or busy college campus? This near west side neighborhood is both. The fates of Little Italy and University Village neighborhoods have long been intertwined.
The neighborhood’s boundaries are Ashland Avenue on the west and Interstate 90/94 on the east, the Eisenhower Expressway on the north and 18th street on the south. It is located between the west side of the University of Illinois at Chicago campus in the Illinois Medical District and the east side of the University campus.
Italians populated the neighborhood in the 19th century. The Italian community started to decline in the 1950s after being dispersed by several waves of urban renewal including the construction of expressways, development of the University of Illinois at Chicago, demolition of public housing and redevelopment.
Still, the community’s Italian heritage remains evident in the Italian restaurants and businesses line the Taylor Street corridor; and historic churches including Notre Dame De Chicago Church and Our Lady of Pompeii. A Piazza DiMaggio celebrates Joe DiMaggio’s baseball career and a bronze statue crafted in Italy celebrates Christopher Columbus. The neighborhood also is home to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.
On one side of the near west side community, residents can be found socializing on their front steps; on the other students can be found rushing to class, all within the shadow of the Chicago skyline.
Large single-family homes and townhomes are found in the more traditional Little Italy neighborhood.
University Village was formerly home to Chicago Housing Authority public housing developments, later razed and redeveloped as mixed income housing.
Today townhouses and condominiums have taken their place, redeveloped as Roosevelt Square. The UIC campus includes a game center and bowling alley open to the public.
The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum located here memorializes Jane Addams, a social reformer who became the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She worked in the early days to support immigrants who settled in the neighborhood. The museum is located in two of the original settlement house buildings, the Hull Home a National Historic Landmark, and the Residents’ Dining Hall, an Arts and Crafts building which served world-class artists and activists in its day.
The community is served by Juarez Community Academy High School and Wells Community Academy High School.
Public transportation is convenient with the CTA Pink Line and the Blue Line.