Archiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2007-04 > 1176594740

From: Beth Walsh <>
Subject: Re: [IRISH-IN-CHICAGO] Chicago Flophouse
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2007 16:52:20 -0700 (PDT)
In-Reply-To: <>

Hi Fred,
Yes, you're right. My dad always told me that the 'winos' - the people in the doorways, the homeless etc, were not the ones to be afraid of. Unfortunately, in later years, the drug addicts were the ones to watch out for. But the Madison Ave 'skid row' area was not that bad - it was a little further west on Madison where it got a bit more dicey in the 1960s.

And yes, Old St. Pat's has been beautifully restored. It is the oldest church in Chicago. It was built from limestone quarried out in Lemont .
I remember going there every year (in the 60s-70s) to the corn beef and cabbage dinner in the church hall and then on parade day, to the Mass, long before any restoration had taken place. Now the dinner is held at Plumbers Hall over on Washington Blvd. Actually I went to the very first "Block Party", as I used to belong to the Young Irish Fellowship Club.


My dad was in the Pacific on a 'tin can' in WW II in the battle of Okinawa.

Frederick Boland <> wrote:
>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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