Multi-cultural Marquette Park

We’ll be leading Walks in several new neighborhoods this year.  Perhaps the most unusual will be the Walk of the Marquette Park neighborhood, which will take place on Saturday, 7 May from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm

The Walk will be led by Rami Nashashibi, Executive Director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network and Julia Bachrach, Chicago Park District Historian.

This tour will explore the fascinating multi-cultural history of Marquette Park and its surrounding neighborhood.  The area was sparsely populated in the early 20th century, when renowned landscape architects The Olmsted Brothers created the original plan for Marquette Park.

Over the next few decades, many Lithuanian immigrants settled in the area.   When Lithuanian American aviators Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas crashed during an attempt to fly from New York to Lithuania in 1933, members of the Marquette Park community quickly began a campaign to memorialize them.  The resulting monument, installed at the southeast side of the park in 1935, is one of Chicago’s most exquisite Art Deco artworks.

Monument to Steponas Darius and Stasys Girenas, Marquette Park

Monument to Steponas Darius and Stasys Girenas, Marquette Park

In 1966, the neighborhood played a significant role in the national Civil Rights movement, when Dr. Martin Luther King led a march through the area as part of his Freedom Movement, which was devoted to reforming housing practices that discriminated against African Americans.  Angry mobs threw bottles and bricks.  Dr. King was hit on the head, but not seriously injured.

Over the years, the community has become increasingly diverse.  Today, it has a thriving Muslim community as well as an African American Jewish synagogue which will be visited on the tour.

Beth Shalom-B'nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation

Beth Shalom-B’nai Zaken
Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation

For more than a decade, high school students, organizers, public officials and religious leaders from all walks of life have organized for and passionately aspired towards building Chicago’s memorial of King in Marquette Park.  The Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial project grows organically out of this work and in time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of this historic march on August 5th 2016.  Recalling the larger legacy of this march, and remembering the struggle for justice, equity, and dignity is more urgent than ever in light of current divisive struggles in our city, country and world

On the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s march, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial project is an effort to recognize the historic importance of the Marquette Park March and leverage that moment to energize and inspire communities across the city and country.

We hope you’ll register for this Walk on Eventbrite!

2 thoughts on “Multi-cultural Marquette Park

  1. In addition to the Darius & Girenas monument, Marquette Park also has a community garden, rose garden, prairie, 9 hole golf course, and driving range. A lagoon meanders throughout the park, and can be crossed in several places with footbridges . 71st and 69th Streets are a mix of businesses and single family homes. Throughout the area large Chicago Style bungalows (and 2-flats) can be seen in the neighborhood’s side streets, along with a few of their “more modern” cousins. Where else can you find 3 elementary schools (Nativity BVM, McKay, and St. Adrian) within 1 block of each other, educating children of all cultures. Across from the Darius & Girenas monument, is Maria High School (now Catalyst Charter), and Holy Cross Hospital. The convent of the Sisters of St. Casimir is a block further east on 67th St, a major thoroughfare and a part of Chicago’s system of boulevards. Business are mainly located along Western Ave between 73rd and 63rd streets, and also on 63rd street between Western and Kedzie. It It would be very helpful to post where to meet, what sites will be visited, and their founders contribution to the history and development of the neighborhood.

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