Tucked away in the Edgewater community on the north side, Andersonville has a reputation for feeling like a small town within a big city filled with local businesses. The neighborhood is also known for its rich Swedish heritage.
Interactive map: More from our series of community reports
The Swedish American Museum has been a community fixture since 1946, and features the story of Swedish immigrants who arrived in the neighborhood after the Great Chicago Fire.
“I think what’s so special about this museum is that it really talks about immigration,” said Karin Moen Abercrombie, executive director of the museum. “It honors and highlights immigration for everyone on the difficulties of moving from one country to another.”
Abercrombie has been in her job for 15 years and she says Andersonville really feels like walking down a street in Sweden.
Even though the neighborhood has changed over the years as new groups and cultures have started to settle in the area, Abercrombie says the Swedish roots will continue to live on for years to come.
“Even if you have businesses in the area that have nothing directly related to Sweden, they have a Swedish flag, or they like what the bedroom does by connecting the Swedish language in the neighborhood guide and the traditions that we let’s all celebrate together, ”said Abercrombie. .
Around the 1980s, Andersonville began to see a large LGBTQ population take hold.
One organization that works to promote inclusiveness and diversity in the region is the Chicago Therapy Collective, which deals with mental health within the LGBTQ community.
The “Hire Trans Now” collective initiative not only aims to empower local businesses, but also strives to find ways in which businesses can be more inclusive across the city.
“Just getting into a business before going to therapy or making a mistake can impact a person’s mood over the next few hours,” said Iggy Ladden, founder of the organization. “I would say these kinds of micro-attacks are so important, and we tell our businesses to make sure to greet neutral or read people correctly when they give clear signs.”
The district has also taken eco-responsible initiatives. The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce has worked with the neighborhood to make recycling a priority and recently recruited stores and restaurants to participate in WasteNot Compost, a pilot program encouraging businesses to learn how to compost.
“We have started a composting program with more than 20 businesses, restaurants and (and) wellness and health services to compost with their business, and we hope to add 20 more by 2022,” said David Oakes , director of business services and district director. for the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce.
Ald. Harry Osterman (48th Ward) is hoping people will buy local this year.
“One of the big parts of Andersonville is its small businesses,” Osterman said. “As we move into the holiday season, we are looking for a solid recovery where people are spending their money locally. “
Video: Watch our full interview with with Ald. Harry osterman
On Friday, the community will host ‘Late Night Andersonville’ where businesses will open after hours, which they plan to do twice a year.
The area is also home to a diverse selection of restaurants along Clark Street.
Hisham Khalifeh, owner of Middle Eastern Bakery and Grocery, has been in the neighborhood since 1982.
In his early twenties, he opened his business during a time when a large population of Iraqis lived in the area, according to Khalifeh, who says he took the opportunity to bring a selection of Middle Eastern produce to the neighborhood.
“We always have something different,” Khalifeh said. “There is something different about the charcuterie market. Now we have about 14 different kinds of hummus and everything is fresh every day.
Chicago Fair Trade, an organization focused on environmental sustainability, has opened its eighth annual vacation pop-up to just a few businesses. It is the largest local fair trade coalition in the United States.
Dozens of vendors work with countries around the world to sell handcrafted and fair trade products. One of them is Project Renew.
“All of our products are made from refugee women who are resettled in DuPage County,” said Abigail Crowder, Director of Operations for Project Renew. “We use donated textiles, so everything is unique and everything is handmade. ”
Katherine Bissell Córdova, executive director of Chicago Fair Trade, said local buyers have asked to stay open in Andersonville for the long term. The pop-up saw its sales increase by 60% compared to last year.
“Everyone asks us if we can stay here all year round,” Córdova said. “People are really happy and thank us for being there. “
Video: Watch our full interview with with Katherine Bissell Córdova
Community Report Series
“Chicago Tonight” Expands Community Reporting. We take to the streets to speak with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. Find out where we’ve been and what we’ve learned using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Points in Red represent our COVID-19 Across Chicago series; blue marks our “Chicago Tonight” series in Your Neighborhood.