Archiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2007-04 > 1176556431

From: Frederick Boland <>
Subject: Re: [IRISH-IN-CHICAGO] Chicago Flophouse
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2007 08:13:51 -0500
References: <><>
In-Reply-To: <>

Nan Brennan wrote:

>Yes, sadly, Madison Street for many decades was Chicago's Bowery or
>Skid Row.
>On Apr 12, 2007, at 11:55 PM, wrote:
>>Hello All:
>> One of my ancesters was said to have died in a Chicago
>>flophouse in the
>>1920s. In the 1920 Chicago census he and many other men were
>>listed as
>>lodgers at 919 Madison Street. Could this building have been a
>>flophouse? Was
>>Madison Street in the sort of neighborhood where flophouses might
>>have existed in
>>the 1920s?
>> Since I live in Connecticut I have no idea about the history of
>>Chicago's neighborhoods (except for the Loop). Can any of you
>>native Chicagoans help?
>>Ed O'Hara
>> See what's free at
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After my return from the Pacific in 1946 until 1949 I worked at Western
NewspaperUnion, located at Adams St and Desplaines Ave in Chicago, on
the southwest corner. On the northwest corner is St. Patrick's Church,
one of the oldest if not now the oldest Catholic Church in Chicago.
Living on the West Side of Chicago, every morning I rode the Madison St.
street car to Des Plaines Ave. and walked the two blocks south to my
job. The bodies of the "winos" (whiskey was too expensive) were
arraigned along the sides of the buildings; the sidewalks were wide so
I didn't have to step over them. I didn't consider it a dangerous
neighborhood; I don't recall ever being accosted for a handout. Not all
the locals were victims of alcoholism; many simply were living in the
SROs (single room occupancy) conveniences because it was all they could
afford on their meager pay.

The area is now radically changed. St. Patrick's Church has been
restored to its original glory--the patterns for the original Celtic
interior decorations were found and the interior redecorated. It is
now the center of the annual "World's Largest Block Party" which extends
into much of the old Skid Row area.

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