History of Italian Chicago

While on the sad subject of what we lost, is anyone old enough to remember religious processions ? We used to have some amazing ones in Chicago. The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16. I watched it when I was about 5 yrs old in the 60's. Streets blocked off while old ladies walked barefoot, men carried statues, and all kinds of sodalities marched along. Then there would be a mass, a big dinner, and for the finale, a blowout fireworks show with thousands of people standing shoulder to shoulder in the streets watching. (Mostly Italian-Loafer country)

Then there was the procession at the end of the Novena to St Ann. Mounted police leading marchers down the street in the evening, while windows all along the route were lit with candles. (That was 50th-Peoria, mostly Irish)

And finally before my time (I've seen photos) where the huge May crowning processions, in which major thoroughfares were blocked off for hours. Ah those were better times. (Visitation-Englewood)

1.West Englewood-St Mary of Mt Carmel. 67th-71st Ashland to Damen, probably two thirds Italian when it was white. Mostly from Salerno, Potenza, Basilicata.

2.Grand Crossing. Not even Dominic Candeloro, who's considered the foremost expert on Italian Chicago has mentioned this area in his books. Didn't last very long, and the Italian population was simply the largest in the area between Cottage Grove-IC RR Tracks-Pennsylvania RR tracks-83rd-St. They had street processions. Area went black in the 60's. St Francis De Paula 78th-Dobson was the parish.

3.Kensington. Centered on 115th-Indiana. I'd say 115th-IC RR tracks-Pennsylvania rr tracks-Michigan ave. St Anthony of Padua was the church. Mix of Northern, Southern Italians. They wanted a seperate parish, but the Cardinal made them work together. Most Italians were gone by mid 80's replaced by Mexicans and blacks.