The Story of Andersonville
Though not technically one of the official 77 community areas of Chicago, Andersonville is widely seen as a distinct neighborhood. Part of the Edgewater community area, this neighborhood became a Swedish immigrant enclave after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, according to the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce. Because the city required people to rebuild with more expensive (but fireproof) brick or stone, Swedes who couldn’t afford to do so moved to Andersonville to settle in what was then an affordable suburb.
Throughout the twentieth century, other immigrant groups made Andersonville their home, including Korean, Lebanese, and Mexican immigrants, according to the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce. By the 1980s, many members of the LGBTQ community settled in Andersonville.
Andersonville’s Swedish heritage is still evident along its streets, particularly at the Swedish American Museum. The museum celebrates Swedish culture with art galleries, artifacts, and historical exhibits. It also houses the Brunk Children’s Museum– a kid-friendly, interactive space that teaches children about the immigrant experience.
The heart of Andersonville sits along a busy section of Clark Street, dotted with local shops and restaurants and brick-lined sidewalks. The Berwyn Red Line stop is the closest to Andersonville.
Neighborhood Spotlight: Women and Children First
Its purple awning is familiar to Andersonville residents and other Chicagoans who walk past its storefront on the corner of Clark Street and Farragut Avenue. Inside Women and Children First, booklovers can find more than 30,000 books arranged in colorful displays, some with handwritten notes to highlight the staff’s favorite picks.
Ann Christopherson and Linda Bubon opened the bookstore at a smaller location in 1979. It has since moved twice, but now claims to be one of the largest feminist bookstores in the country. Women & Children First “believes in the liberation of people of all genders, and chooses to actively showcase and uplift literary work that is written by people who find themselves living most precariously under patriarchy,” according to its website. The store also hosts events by authors, poets, and other artists and leading feminist voices.
Things to Do
Try out the trendy Little Bad Wolf for their burgers and cocktails and visit the “curiosity cabinet” of peculiar knickknacks at Wooly Mammoth Chicago, where you can find everything from taxidermy and antique medical tools to toys and old maps.